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Photo of Robert Oliver Foulis

Robert Oliver Foulis

Munitions Worker
Birthplace Northumberland Wylam EnglandPlace of Death London Hampstead Date of Birth: January 19, 1889 Date of Death: December 1, 1941


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by): Robert Oliver Foulis (at some point he may possibly have also used the alias Herbert Leigh).

Gender: Male.

Date and Place of Birth: 1889, Wylam, Northumberland, England.

Date and Place of Death: December 1941, Hampstead, London, England.

Nationality: British.



Childhood: N/A.

Parents: Robert James Foulis (1858-1897) and Elizabeth Rose Atkinson (1857-1896).

Parent’s occupations: According to, his father was a surgeon, who died from tuberculosis.

Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: N/A.

Occupation: He has been described in various newspaper articles as an illusionist. At some point he was said to have been the manager of a picture hall in Edinburgh.

Place of residence at Gretna: N/A.

Job title at Gretna: Munition worker.


Marital status: He may have been married.

Children: Possibly Charles A.L. Foulis. Aberdeen Evening Express – Friday 20 February 1953, claimed that he was lost at sea, on January 31st, the son of Mrs Foulis and of the late Robert Oliver Foulis, and grandson of the late Mr and Mrs Munro. 11 Jackson Terrace.

Travels: N/A.

Awards/recognitions: N/A.

Trivia / any other information: In the 1901 England, Wales and Scotland Census (when he was aged 11), he was recorded as living with Richard Pye, and Pye’s wife and son, Agnes and Arnold. Richard was a schoolmaster. Information from supports this. also suggests that at some point in his life he may have used the alias Herbert Leigh. ‘Robert Oliver Foulis born Wylam 1890, his father Robert James Foulis (Surgeon) died 1897 Phrhsis (TB),  his mother Elizabeth Atkinson died 1896.
Robert O Foulis appear 1891 census as scholar staying with Richard Pye, schoolmaster and family, he then disappears until his death – cetificate as follows
13th October 1941, 40 Loveridge Road, Herbert Leigh, Male, aged 52 years, Messenger Ministry of Supply, Cardiac valvular disease and gastritus, Laryngitis, Certified by F B Bennett MRCS, informant R M Cox, causing the body to be buried 52 Dyne Road NW6,
In the margin
In entry no 412 col2 for Herbert Leigh read “Robert Oliver Foulis otherwise Herbert Leigh” corrected on 11th December 1941 by me V A Craghill Regisrar on procluction of Statutory Declaration made by Charles Atkinson and George Atkinson Gilchrist
The latter were his mother’s relatives, not got notes to hand but think uncle and cousin. 
Can anyone find trace of Robert O Foulis between 1891-1941?  The Atkinson family had links to shipping so maybe he was at sea……….’.


In the Newcastle Daily Chronicle- Wednesday 08 March 1916, it says that he was charged at a Newcastle Police Court, with having aided and abetted a young woman in furnishing false particulars when they were staying at the Market Hotel, on January 22nd. He presented himself in court accompanied by a woman he claimed was his wife. The woman had already been charged before the Court and dealt with on a charge of having furnished false particulars. The defendant had filled in the form and given the wrong information. The defendant and the woman had travelled from Edinburgh to Newcastle, and stayed overnight at the hotel.


Dundee Evening Telegraph – Wednesday 08 March 1916: ‘The police record produced in a case at Newcastle Police Court showed that Robert Oliver Foulis (28), who was sentenced to three months’ hard labour on a charge under the Aliens Restriction Act of having aided and abetted a Dundee girl to make a false declaration at a Newcastle hotel, where the couple stayed a night, had been previously convicted for offences including fraud and false pretences’.

At the hotel his companion also signed in his name, which was the offence committed.

‘Asking permission to enlighten the justices, Mr Bateson said the couple had passed themselves off as man and wife at the hotel, and the grave feature of the case lay in the defendant representing himself as connected with the theatrical profession in some way or other’.

‘At the request of the bench, Chief Superintendent Bestwick enumerated previous convictions against accused, and alleged that Foulis advertised for female assistants to help him on the stage as an illusionist. He got the sisters from Dundee, left the younger one at Dundee, left the younger one stranded at Edinburgh, and brought the elder to Newcastle. Foulis left Newcastle and the Dundee woman, and was arrested at Carlisle’.

Foulis claimed that he was a munition worker, earning £3 a week, and that he had not left the younger sister in Edinburgh. He also claimed to have told the other sister he could only afford one room, that she could have it and he would stay at Central Station. However, they agreed to go as sister and brother and took the room.

However, his claims were disproved by the manager of the hotel.

Dundee People’s Journal – Saturday 11 March 1916: ‘It was believed that but for the police interference the older would subsequently have been stranded at Newcastle’.

Edinburgh Evening News – Thursday 16 September 1915: ‘Robert Oliver Foulis, described as an illusionist and recently manager of a picture hall in Edinburgh, was sent to prison for three months at Newcastle yesterday for larceny by means of a trick. He obtained articles worth £7 12s by representing that he was empowered to pledge the credit of a well-known customer of the firm he tricked, alleging that the man was his uncle’.

Newcastle Journal – Thursday 16 September 1915: Adds to the article above that he was of no fixed abode. It also adds that he was charged with larceny by means of a trick, of several pairs of boots, the property of Messrs Dixon, Newcastle. It is then suggested that he had called the boot shop in Collingwood Street, supposedly from a well-known customer. When he arrived at the shop he claimed to be the man’s nephew, and that his uncle was going to fit him out. Three pairs of boots were taken away on credit to the value of £3 4s 6d. He did the same thing the next day and was given two more pairs of boots. It was known that six pairs of boots were at once pledged locally. Defendant was found at a hotel in Pink Lane, with the tickets upon him. The magistrates sentenced him to three months imprisonment. Accused claimed that he had been temporarily laid up, and offered to make good the value of the boots. An application by the pawnbrokers to have the money refunded was refused by the magistrates, with the exception of one, who had taken in pawn boots that had been worn.


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