Robert Leslie 1700-1755 and Helen Brokie 1690-1772

Marriage Records
As early as 1705 Robert is recorded as a seaman on Robert Duncan's ship. In fact Robert Leslie first appears in records in a sasine in Robert Duncan's name dated 1705 and the witness on that occasion was Robert Leslie seaman. He appears again recorded 27th Oct 1709 Charter party between Robert Duncan skipper of the Robert of Banff and Thomas Murray merchant in Banff - witnessed by Robert Leslie servant to the said Robert Duncan 17th April 1719. Robert Duncan skipper and his wife Agnes Gray made a new marriage contract. Their first contract was dated the 12th May 1714, witnessed by Robert Leslie, mariner, in Banff. In 1719 also as mariner he again was witness for the marriage of Robert Duncan, master mariner, in Banff.

Robert Duncan appears at several different ports from Dundee in 1718 to Garmouth in 1719, in 1727 the Moray Firth and Aberdeen. Charter Party 15th July 1718, John Lindsay, James Gray and William Urquart, merchants in Fraserburg arranged with Robert Duncan to sail to Dundee and then to the harbour of Langlund in Norway with a cargo, witnessed by Robert Leslie, mariner, in Banff. Robert Leslie had been apprenticed to Robert Duncan senior for training in sailing and navigation and he progressed from seaman to servant to mariner.

In 1675 a charter party was drawn up involving Robert Duncan, skipper in Banff master of the Anne of Portsoy. Again he appears in a bond dated 1683 and again in April 1690 where his wife Isobel Innes excplained that Robert Duncan had not been able to pick up a cargo in Banff as arranged, as he was away with his bark in Inverness and had not been able to return because of bad weather.

On 20th Feb 1719 Robert Leslie married a 29 year old girl, Helen Brokie, of Cullen, a small coastal seaport ten miles west of Banff. By 1721 Robert was a skipper in Banff and Helen had set up as shopkeeper/merchant in Banff. Later that year on 17th Sept 1721 Robert purchased in the name of his first son John b29/10/1719 a half share in the Margaret of Banff from and with the other half being held by John Innes, of Knockorth which was a farm in the parish of Marnock. John was a merchant in Portsoy and the ship at that time operated from Portsoy. Profits on trading were to go to Robert Leslie on account of his son John and another condition of purchase was that the ship could not be sold without Robert Leslie's and Helen Brokie's permission.

From then on Robert Leslie traded widely as far afield as Portsmouth, Rotterdam, and Spey in 1723, Europe and Bordeaux in 1737, and Action, Down in 1738. In 1752 he took on Robert Sangster as servant to teach him sailing and navigation. Also in 1791 Helen Brokie inherited Mary Croft in Banff and other properties through her brother James from her grandfather Alexander Brokie of Bauchlaw. Her father had been a dealer in barley, wool and brandy and also a notary public in Banff.

Robert Stuart and his brother James Stuart minister of Alvah had two rigs of land in banff bounded by a croft called Mary Croft owned by Robert Leslie, shipsmaster. Also the Robert Leslie, the father, may have been a captain of one of Robert Stuart's ships. Merchants owned the ships then employed shiosmasters. Members of the landed families tended to live off the income of the family estate and tended to become merchants rather than shipsmasters. Robert Leslie was more likely to have come from an ordinary Leslie family than a landed Leslie family. The Mary Croft actually belonged to the Brokie family. It was part of three crofts on the bearside of Banff which had originally belonged to Helen Brock's great-grandfather Alexander Brokie in Bauchlaw. It had passed to one of his son's, John Brokie, grandfather of Helen and then to his son James Brokie notary public in Banff, her father. When James Brokie died in the 1690's his wife Margaret Innes had the liferent of the properties and in 1709 it is recorded that their eldest son James Brokie fell heir to the properties. Not only did he inherit these properties, but he also inherited two other crofts, one of which was Ord Croft which had belonged to his cousin, Elizabeth Brokie, only daughter of Alexander Brokie, notary public in Banff and Elspet Davidson. James Brokie who inherited all the above properties was a shipsmaster in Aberdeen. He married Christian Burnett, daughter of deceased Thomas Burnett, merchant in Aberdeen, on 31 July 1711. Thomas Burnet was also a merchant in Rotterdam. James Brokie was dead by 31st Jan 1719 when his only sister now in Life, Helen Brokie fell heir to him in the properties in Banff.

On the 5th and 28th July 1722, William Dunbart of Kincorth obtained a decreet (judgment) from the Lords of Council and session in Edinburgh against several people in Banff who owed duty on houses and shops there. One of these was Helen Brokie described as a merchant (shopkeeper) and Robert Leslie now her husband. She owed 17 merks Scots from Witsunday 1719.

Robert and Helen had four children, it was the custom in those times that the witnesses generally had the same first name as the baby.

JOHN born 29 Oct 1719

ROBERT born 4 March 1722. His witness was Robert Laude, son of Sir Robert Laude and Helen Ogilvie, Robert Duncan, shipsmaster & provost, Barbara Gordon, Christian Innes

MARGARET born 28 Mar 1724 Sponsors Wm Fraser, Lady Knockorth (Margaret Innes wife of John Innes), and Mrs Wood

WILLIAM born 31 Aug 1726 Witnesses William Leslie, John Turner, Mrs Leslie - mother

In the register of deeds dated the 10th Jan 1723 a charter was made between John Gordon, merchant in Fochabers and Robert Lesly master of the Margaret of Banff - his ship was presently in Portsoy and he was to transport salmon and other goods and then return to the harbour of Spey where he was to remain for six days for the goods to be unloaded. Witnesses were John Innes of Knockorth, Peter Bard in Portsoy and Peter Lorimer, servant to the Earl of Findlater.

He was again recorded in 1737 as a shipsmaster in his own right trading with the continent of Europe. In the Annals of Banff vol 2 page 227 there is an entry stating that Povost Hamilton of Bordeaux sent a hogshead of strong claret by Robert Leslie.

In Mar 1738 an action was raised against Robert Leslie by John Wood tackman of the shore dues of Down because he claimed that Robert Leslie owed fifty pounds Scots for 40 anchorages of his ship "when he came to Down" and one pound four shillings Scots for a fir tree delivered to the said Robert Leslie for his use of his ship.

There is a short run of accounts for the use of mortscloth and bells at funerals. From this it would appear that John Innes of Knockorth was buried on 5th Jan 1754 and that Robert Leslie was buried on the 17th Aug 1755. the bells for Robert Leslie, shipsmaster - four pounds ten shillings.

Robert Leslie had financial dealings with William Earl of Fife. In those times there were no banks so people raised money by borrowing from other people. The borrower would have to repay the lender at a certain date plus interest (annual rent) and if he defaulted would also have to pay a penalty (liquidate expenses). Such a loan was recorded in a bond or obligation. for the lender this was a good way of investing money, provided he lent money to someone whom he was sure was able to repay the amount and interest.

Robert invested two seperate amounts of money with the Earl of Fife. First in 1742 he lent five hundred marks ( A mark was worth 13/4d Scots and one pound Scot was worth1/12th of a pound sterling). Five hundred pounds would be worth about twenty eight pounds sterling, interest was to be paid annually to his wife Helen Brokie during her lifetime and after her death repayment was to be made to his son Robert. Secondly he lent one thousand pounds Scots worth about 83 pounds sterling. Interes was to be paid to his wife Helen Brokie during her lifetime and after her death to her daughter Margaret.

He apparently left no Will as there is no record in the Commissary Court and he seems to have otherwise provided for his family before his death. His elder son John started with a half share in a ship and after his life interest of income to his wife Helen, he left the avove loans to his other children.

Helen Brokie outlived both her husband Robert who died on 17 Aug 1755 and the Earl of Fife who died later in 1763. The moneys were therefore repaid by the Earls son James from the sale of lands etc from his father's estate on the 12th July 1768. In the same deed of discharge Robert Lesly the father was Lesly and his lawful son Robert was Leslie. Both amounts would have provided an income for Helen Brokie during her lifetime. Helen died on 15th April 1772.
Many thanks to Russell J Lesslie for sharing his life's work with his  extended and descendant family