Robert Skill, occupation carpenter, came to Western Australia with a complement of 65 Royal Sappers & Miners and two officers of the Royal Engineers. These men came on the ship Anna Robertson arriving from England on 18th December 1851, as Instructing Warders to the convicts.
Robert Skill’s name is on the Muster Roll and Pay List for 1st September to 31st December 1851 [WO11-126] which shows his total pay for that period as £7 7s. 5d. Skill was assisting in the building of Guildford Convict Hiring Depot and was an instructing warder there from December 1852 to April 1853. After being hospitalised for some months, he died of consumption in Fremantle on 21st August 1853 and was buried in Alma Street or Skinner Street Cemetery, Fremantle; he was 28 years old.
As for Robert Skill’s life prior to coming to Western Australia, very little is known. From the civil censuses, we know that he was born in Lincoln in 1825 and that by the age of 15 was an apprentice joiner. Ten years later in 1851, he had already enlisted in the Royal Sappers and Miners Corps and was an unmarried man living in the RSM Barracks at Woolwich Arsenal. The first quarter muster confirms that he was with the 20th Company at this time. His exact date of enlistment in the Army and his service number are not known. If any new information comes to light, it will be posted here. Meanwhile, Private Skill rest in peace.