Margaret Anne Skottowe Parker and Her Unfortunate Marriage

My great-great aunt, Margaret Anne Skottowe Parker, was born on 9 September 1802 at the family home, Waterview, in Passage West, county Cork. At the age of 28 she made what must have appeared to be an advantageous marriage to a lawyer from a prominent family in Cornwall.

13 May 1830, Robert J. Kinsman, late of the Inner Temple, and of Green Bank, Cornwall, married Margaret Anne Skottowe, second daughter of Alderman Richard Neville Parker, J.P., of Waterview, at a ceremony in Marmullane Church.[1]

Robert Jope Kinsman was born 15 July 1800 in Falmouth as the son of another Robert Jope Kinsman, Commissioner of Taxes, and his wife, Susanna Byrn. In 1817 he was articled as a clerk to an attorney in Budock in Cornwall[2] and on 23 October 1821 was admitted to the Inner Temple in London.[3] In 1827 he can be found back in Cornwall operating in Falmouth as “a Special Pleader of the Inner Temple, Solicitor, &c.”[4] That same year he was appointed a Master Extraordinary in the High Court of Chancery.[5]

A descendant of the Kinsman family who has written a family history devotes a chapter to Robert Jope Kinsman, junior and, based on family opinion, notes that he “apparently married against his parents’ wishes a young woman whom they considered to be unsuitable.”[6] In light of what was to follow, we can surmise that Margaret’s family would be the one to conclude that the man she had chosen to marry was entirely unsuitable.

The author of the Kinsman history quotes extensively from an incredibly presumptuous letter written in 1825 by Robert Jope, before his marriage, to George Canning, Foreign Secretary and later Prime Minister of Great Britain. He offers Canning one of the two rotten boroughs’ parliamentary seats at Callington for his son, as it was believed that Canning wanted to bring him into Parliament. His ability to provide the seat was non-existent and his own qualifications also definitely overstated—there is no record, for example, of his attendance at any university.

And now, Sir, I will not disguise from you that the object of this letter is to solicit most respectfully your favour and consideration. I am the eldest son of the family, I have been educated at University, have kept my terms at the Temple and am possessed of independence. I know most of the European languages and I have made the laws and customs of the East my study… I am now twenty-five years old and anxious to be employed. All, then, Sir, I desire, all I ask for, is that if you should find me entitled and capable you would be pleased to appoint me to some position of responsibility and respectability abroad, either in the East Indies, Europe or South America, but if I might be permitted to name I should point out Ceylon as a field for my exertions.[7]

The Foreign Secretary’s response was the snubbing: “Mr. Canning makes it a rule never to meddle in politics.”[8]

Soon after his marriage to Margaret the couple left, not for Ceylon as Robert had hoped, but for Tasmania on the brig Juno, embarking probably from Cork and arriving in Hobart on 7 November 1830.[9] Robert was admitted to the Tasmanian Bar that year, but what would become a career of fraud began almost immediately. He had begun to operate as the agent of Rowland Walpole Loane, a merchant and ship owner, but had obviously misused the position.

ROBERT JOPE KINSMAN, ESQ., my late Agent, having reported that he was nominated in Ireland, or England, a Trustee in my affairs, in these Colonies, I have to state that there is not one word of truth in any part of his representations. Neither myself nor any part of my family or connections, were ever acquainted in the slightest degree either with him or his family, until I had the misfortune to meet him here. And I verily believe he has adopted this course to give a colour to his late proceedings.

R. W. LOANE.[10]

On 7 January 1832 Robert was imprisoned for counterfeiting and altering a bill of exchange. The record does not give the date he was released, nor if he was dismissed from the Tasmanian Bar as a result.[11] However, in 1833 he and Margaret and the one of the two children born in Hobart still living, sailed on the Edward Lombe to Sydney. That year he was called to the New South Wales Bar. Two years later, in 1835, he was called before the Supreme Court of New South Wales by the General Solicitor, who wished to have Kinsman disbarred. Robert himself outlined the charges against him, which detail what had happened in Tasmania.

[At] one time I had the misfortune to be the agent of Rowland Walpole Loane,… during the time I was his agent, a little vessel called the Cape Packet was sold at Richmond, by Auctioneer Buscombe for £280. The vessel just suited for my purpose, and I accordingly bought her for £280. I gave a bill at three months, with my own, and Mr. R. W. Loane’s name attached to it; shortly after this, Mr. Loane and I had a quarrel and I ceased to become his agent, and when the bill became due it was presented to Mr. Loane who declared the amount had been altered from £208 to £280, and thereupon instituted a criminal information against me for forgery…[12]

Despite his impassioned defence, he was struck from the rolls. One of his brothers-in-law, William Skottowe Parker, who was also living in New South Wales, wrote to this own brother, Richard Neville Parker II in Ireland in September 1835 and reported:

I am sorry I cannot give you a very favourable acct. of Kinsman, what he is doing or anything else. Since I was compelled to dishonor some heavy bills he drew on me he left off writing to me, nevertheless I have written Margaret half a dozen times & pressed her to come to me with her family, till he could settle his affairs. Henry did the same but to no use; she never even answered one of the letters, no doubt so commanded not to notice us by her foolish husband, she not having the least authority over his most plausible manner. When I was in Sydney I thought that if I enabled him to follow his profession he might do well—this I did at considerable expense & trouble but all I regret to say to no purpose. I shall go to Sydney in a couple of months after this & try to find out how he employs himself to support his family.[13]

Robert’s behaviour did not change and in June 1838 he was brought before the court again on a fraud charge, acquitted and immediately taken into custody again on yet another charge.

Mr. Robert Jope Kinsman, formerly a barrister of the Supreme Court, was placed at the bar of the Police Office on Saturday, to answer a charge of fraud, preferred against him by Mr. Martin, of the Hibernia Hotel, York-street. The evidence of one of the firm of Messrs. Campbell and Co. being required, the Bench remanded the case till yesterday, when it appeared that no fraud had been committed, and Mr. Kinsman was accordingly discharged; he was, however, immediately taken into custody on a warrant, which had been forwarded from the Bench at Liverpool.[14]

He is recorded as having been jailed on 26 June, although no more is known of the case.[15] The family may then have travelled across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, as in an 1842 court case in Ireland, Robert is described as formerly of the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, Barrister and Counsel to the Government.[16]

By November 1840 the family was back in England, as a son was baptized in Gravesend at that date, the child perhaps having been born on the return voyage from Australia. They moved to Ireland and in 1842, Robert is described as “late of Wellington-terrace, City of Cork, and of Cove of Cork.”[17]

The trouble just kept on coming. On 1 August 1842 Robert was committed to Cork Gaol for debt and not discharged till 31 October 1843. In 1850, now described as “formerly a barrister,” he was charged in Liverpool Assizes with having obtained goods under false pretences from Silver, Hayter and Wren, outfitters and clothiers. He was found guilty and sentenced to a year in gaol.[18] After his release, Robert and Margaret and their three surviving children moved to the town of Onchan on the Isle of Man, where they can be found in the 1851 census. Robert was a “Barrister, Not practising.”

In 1858 the Kinsmans were back in Ireland living in Sandymount, a suburb of Dublin, where Robert was arrested at his home for fraud against his brother-in-law, Richard Neville Parker II. He was committed to the Richmond Bridewell Prison in Dublin, used to confine offenders convicted of minor crimes, on 9 August:

Charge of Forgery—Robert Jope Kinsman, Esq., residing at Sandymount, was arrested on Wednesday evening at his house by Sergeants Craven and Keegan on a warrant… at the suit of Mr. Dillion O’Connor, to whom Mr. Kinsman passed a bill of exchange in April last, purporting to be accepted by Richard Neville Parker, Esq., a solicitor on Cork. The signature of Mr. Parker is said to be a forgery…[19]

This arrest has provided us with a brief physical description of Robert: “5ft 7in Gray hair; Fair complexion; Protestant. Born Falmouth; profession: none.”[20]

The newspapers did not report on the outcome of the trial, but by 1861 Robert, Margaret and one daughter were living in Lambeth in London—in the census for that year Robert was described as a “Barrister, Retired.” In fact, he had been operating an office at No. 18 Eastcheap in London as a Notary Public and in October 1861 was declared an insolvent debtor. The London Gazette detailed the further fact that he had “lately [been] a prisoner for debt in Horsemonger-lane Gaol, Surrey.[21]

In 1855 Robert’s father had died and in his will he specifically excluded his eldest son, Robert, junior. He did, however, provide for any of Robert’s children still living at the time of his own death. He also set aside “one thousand pounds… to the benefit of the children of my said eldest son with a discretionary power to my said trustees to if they should think proper to apply the interest of the said sum of one thousand pounds for or toward the support of the said Robert Jope Kinsman the younger during his life…”[22] The Kinsman family history mentions this money in trust for Robert when it quotes from a letter from one brother, who was a trustee, to his brother who was the other. The letter is dated 1869 and makes clear that the annual interest on the £1,000, which was £31 10s, was being paid out to Robert. The trustees are unaware that Margaret has died and in discussing the use of the capital in the event of Robert’s death, the letter writer is of the opinion that it “would be a great thing to have something to pay over to the widow and to wash our hands of them.”[23]

After what must have been a difficult, stressful life with the deaths of four of her six children and her husband’s criminal career, Margaret died on 28 July 1868 at 5 Pelham Villas in Brompton in London of congestion of the lungs. She is buried in Brompton Cemetery. Robert lived on until 22 May 1874 when he died at 27 Stanford Road in Chelsea. He cannot be found in the 1871 census. He is buried with Margaret.

In 1874 and 1875, newspapers in Australia and England were advertising for “the persons claiming to be the children of Robert Jope Kinsman, the younger” to present themselves at the Chambers of the Vice-Chancellor in Chancery Lane in London to be able to claim the benefits of the winding up of the trust established for them and their father by their grandfather in 1855. By then only one unmarried daughter was alive.[24]

[1] Southern Reporter, 13 May 1830.

[2] TNA: Court of King’s Bench: Plea Side: Affidavits of Due Execution of Articles of Clerkship, Series II; Class: KB 106; Piece: 3. Available:

[3] “Inner Temple Admissions Database.“ Available:

[4] A Panorama of Falmouth. Falmouth: J. Philp, 1827, p. 40. Available:

[5] Royal Cornwall Gazette, 3 February 1827.

[6] Kinsman, Richard. West Country Kinsmans. Fareham, Hants: The Author, 2008, p. 78.

[7] Ibid, p. 76.

[8] Ibid, p. 77.

[9] The Launceston Advertiser, 15 November 1830.

[10] Colonial Times, 11 Jan 1832.

[11] Tasmanian Colonial Convict, Passenger and Land Records. Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office: GD135-2-1. Available:

[12] Sydney Gazette, 3 March 1835.

[13] William Skottowe Parker to Richard Neville Parker II, dated 17 September 1835.

[14] Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 26 June 1838.

[15] Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930. New South Wales State Archives: Roll 853. Available:

[16] Cork Examiner, 5 December 1842.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Liverpool Standard and General Commercial Advertiser, 19 March 1850; Home Office Prison Registers. TNA: HO 27; Piece: 92; Page: 175. Available:

[19] Dublin Evening Post, 7 August 1858.

[20] Ireland Prisoner Registers. NAI: No. 633. Available:

[21] London Gazette, 22 October 1861.

[22] Robert Jope Kinsman, PCC Will, 1855, PROB 11/2214/16.

[23] West Country Kinsmans, op. cit., p. 80.

[24] London Gazette, 25 December 1874; Sydney Morning Herald, 17 February 1875.

2 comments to Margaret Anne Skottowe Parker and Her Unfortunate Marriage

  • Charlotte

    Hi There,
    I am looking into Lilian Maud Dawes as part of my PhD research. She was the sister of Audrey May Dawes, who married Philip F Skottowe. I understand your research is more about the Skottowe family; however, I am wondering if you have any information about the Dawes family?

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