Topic: Hugh Robison (1825-1900): A Biography
Hugh Robison arrived in Dunedin on 6 March 1850, on the 'Lady Nugent' and left there for Sydney on 3 March 1856, on the 'Thomas Henry'. This biography of Hugh Robison was written by his great grandson, James Erskine Robison.
Hugh Robison was my great grandfather. He was born in India in 1825. His father, who was of Scottish extraction, was in Calcutta a senior magistrate of the East India Company. His time in New Zealand, from 1850-1856, is well reported (1). Most notably, in 1854 he became the first European resident on the current site of the city of Oamaru, where he farmed sheep on about 20,000 acres of lease hold land.
Particulars of his birth, marriage and death and those of many other Robison family members are recorded as notes in “The Robison Family Bible”. Particulars of his marriage are inscribed on the “Robison Family Silver Mug”, with those of other inheritors of this Mug, which has traditionally been passed down the male line of our family, since the beginning of the 18th Century.
Very little is known of his early life, before arriving in New Zealand and his activities in Australia, where he went from New Zealand in 1856, are not well reported. However, it appears he was educated in Edinburgh and then became a merchant, possibly in Calcutta, before arriving in New Zealand in 1850. He was also engaged in mercantile and pastoral enterprises in Australia. His friend, possibly from his time at school in Edinburgh, Alexander Stuart (1824 – 1886), was his business partner in these enterprises. Stuart later was premier of NSW and was knighted for his services.
In 1862 Robison married the eldest daughter of Charles Cowper, who was to be five times premier of NSW and they had 5 children, all male. In 1876, Robison was appointed to be “Inspector for Charities” in the colonial administration of NSW and he was in that appointment also a member of the “Aborigines Protection Board”, from 1883 to 1888. He died in 1900 of pneumonia, following “heart failure”, during an inspection of property he owned at Tyndale in NSW.
Childhood and Ancestors
Hugh Robison was the second son of C.K. and E.M.A. Robison (nee Carr). He was born on 15 Aug 1825 in Calcutta and baptised there by the Venerable Archdeacon Carrie on 21 Jan 1826 (2 and 3). His father was a senior magistrate in Calcutta, who had been in the service of the East India Company from when he arrived in India in about 1814 (2 & 8). Prior to that his father had been in Edinburgh, a “writer to the signet”; namely a lawyer (9).
According to the 1841 Scotland Census records, Hugh and his brother John were then with their grandmother, Rachel Robison (nee Wright), at No 16 Rutland Street, Edinburgh. She was the widow of the eminent physicist, John Robison, MA, LLD, FRS, FRSE, previously mentioned, who had been the Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University, from 1774 until his death on 30 Jan 1805 (2 & 10). Professor Robison’s father was John Robison, who had been a merchant and had retired in circumstances of some affluence to his estate at Boghall in Baldernock, Stirlingshire, which is where the Professor was born on 4 Feb 1739 (10 & 17). The grandfather of Professor Robison was Alexander Robison, who it is believed was a “Wright” (millwright perhaps) in Tinwald, Dumfriesshire, where he died in 1719 and was buried in the churchyard of the Tindwald Parish Church (11 & 12).
It is possible Hugh Robison and his long time friend and business associate, Alexander Stuart, were educated together in Edinburgh. Stuart was a year older than Hugh, when he was with his brother John in Edinburgh in 1841, and Stuart attended the Edinburgh Academy (school) from 1832, matriculating at Edinburgh University in 1837 but did not graduate (4).
On 11 Sep 1830 Hugh Robison arrived in Hobart with his grandparents. They were the Deputy Assistant Commissary General of Quinta, Devon England, Samuel Carr (originally Ker) and his wife Ann Carr (nee Browne) (2 & 13). Carr was “…. en-route to Sydney, where he served until 1836 (and) He returned to Van Diemen’s Land however and was appointed acting Colonial Auditor when (F.T.U.B) Boyes acted for the Colonial Secretary in 1842 (then) He returned to England in Apr 1846” (2). Whether or not Hugh accompanied them to Sydney is not known.
There are records of a later arrival by a Hugh Robison in Hobart, by sea on the Merope, on 14 Feb 1832 (14). If it was him, aged 6 and half years, possibly he was en route from Calcutta to begin his education in Edinburgh, following in the steps of his brother John. As already mentioned, they were together in Edinburgh for the 1841 Scotland Census. In that case, he would have likely travelled from Hobart to Sydney, where his maternal grandparents then were, then to England from Sydney. Not quite 7, it is expected he would have been in the care of an adult, who may have been either/or both of the other passengers on the Merope who were Mr EC Innes and Lieutenant and Mrs Robertson (15). Regrettably, shipping records could not be found to support this contention.
Residency in New Zealand
According to records of passengers on vessels for New Zealand, Hugh Robison arrived in Dunedin on 6 Mar 1850 on the Lady Nugent, having departed from Graveside, England on 7 Dec 1849, and he finally left there on 3 Mar 1856 for Sydney on the Thomas Henry (19).
Hugh Robison’s friend and business partner, Alexander Stuart, followed him to New Zealand in 1851 (4). Very possibly they had been together in Calcutta, where Stuart had come from England in 1845 to work for Carr & Tagore & Co., a large mercantile and banking firm. Perhaps Robison also worked for this firm (his mother was a Carr). As discussed, it is also possible they had both been at Edinburgh University at the same time. Stuart certainly was a student there but he did not graduate (4) and it would be surprising if a youth of Hugh Robison’s background, was not.
“Charlotte Godley, who was a fellow passenger on the Lady Nugent, wrote that Robison had been a merchant in Calcutta and that he had entertained the other passengers with stories of his Indian experiences and of former voyages. She describes him as a “fair, gentle man’” (Note 1 (a)). “Robison was a young man who had been in India and was a partner in an Australian shipping business which sent cargoes of sheep to New Zealand” (Note 1 (b) page 54).
“Robison had been a purchaser under the Otago scheme and held a suburban ten-acre lot somewhere between Dunedin and Port Chalmers, as well as a rural fifty-acre section at Tokomairio near Milton (is now about 60 km by road South of Dunedin). A few months after his arrival he paid a short visit to Sydney, and then seems to have divided his time between his farm and a business which he and a business partner named Alexander Stuart had established in Dunedin” (Note 1 (a), page 48).
He was the first European resident on the current site of the city of Oamaru, who on 28 Feb 1853 applied for a pastoral licence on Run 15 (“Oamaru”). My estimate is that Run 15 would have been at least 20,000 acres in area. On 2 Jan 1854 he was granted a 14 year lease for the run, having first cleared the Run by “firing” for grazing and stocking with sheep. It is thought possible these sheep were part of a shipment of 1000 which arrived at Dunedin on 17 Jun 1852, in the barque Louisa, of which Alexander Stuart and Hugh Robison were the agents.
The publications identified in Note 1 (a) to Note 1 (d) report in some detail on his occupation of Run 15, as above and following. He first built a rough shelter on the North bank of the lagoon, assisted by three Maori who also put up whares for themselves. Robison’s hut had an earth floor and was constructed from cabbage tree stems, flax stalks, plastered with clay and thatched with raupo (bulrush). It was around 12ft x 8 ft with 5 ft walls and had a sod chimney at one end and a calico door at the other end. He slept on the ground on a bed cut from tussocks, bounded by a trunk of a cabbage tree. Before long he erected a more substantial dwelling in a better and elevated position on a mound back from the lagoon. This hut was of sod plastered with clay. It was thatched with raupo, and had two rooms and a lean-to. He installed a housekeeper, Maggie Lindsay. He put up a small woolshed near the lagoon, dug out an area for a sheep-dip, had a yard and shed for milking. He engaged Andrew McNeil to be his general assistant. In 1855 he was joined in these ventures at Oamaru by his younger brother Harrie Carr Robison. Then in Feb 1856, when Robison was about to leave Otago to re-settle in Australia, McNeil married Maggie Lindsay. In 1857 the Run was taken over by the Filleuls and sold two years later to James Hassel.
In a biographical account of Alexander Stuart, it is reported that he failed in a sheep run at Otago with his friend Hugh Robison (4). However, Hugh’s brother Harrie Carr Robison remained involved with other Pastoral Runs in Otago, after his brother Hugh had gone to Australia in 1856. From 1855 to 1859 Harrie had the leasehold of Run 19 (Waiareka), which adjoined Run 15 (Oamaru) and from 1858 until 1863 he was the leaseholder for Run 201 (Omarama). He then was the holder, from 1863 until 1871, of the leasehold of runs at Waipahi and Wairuna. It was in relation to these two land holdings that he was declared bankrupt by the Supreme Court of New Zealand on 21 Mar 1871 (5). He then moved to NSW where he was married in 1876 (20). He died in 1908 (18).
Hugh Robison was also involved in the civic affairs of the Otago District. He was on 7 Jun 1852, recorded to be an elector for the Dunedin District (Note 1 (f)). 1 May 1855 he was one of 23 electors for the Northern District of Otago (Note 1 (g)). On the same date, for the Residents Magistrates Court, Dunedin, he is recorded to be a “householder” and “stock owner” residing at Omaru (sic), Waitaki (Note 1 (h)). On 12 Jul 1852, he was with two other “gentlemen”, appointed by the Colonial Secretary’s Office in Wellington, to be a Magistrate of the Province of New Musterfor the District of Otago (Note 1 (i)). He was also a Justice of the Peace in Jan 1852 and Dec 1855, but possibly for all of that time from 1852 until he left New Zealand in Mar 1856 (Notes 1 (a) and (i)). He was also active with his church. For example, in Jan 1852 with a committee formed to raise money to maintain a clergyman and he was a member of the “Little Enemy”. This was a group who rebelled against the Scottish “establishment” in Otago (Note 1 (a)).
Responsibilities as Head of the Family
Hugh’s elder brother John, died in 1845 of plague at Bhaugulpore in India, where he had been serving as a lieutenant in the Bengal Artillery (6). Their mother and father also died of plague in India, at Calcutta, on 29 Oct 1837 and 11 Apr 1846, respectively (2). Two of Hugh’s other and younger siblings, both boys, also died in India, when they were infants (2).
Presumably, Hugh became responsible for supporting and settling in to employment his surviving and younger siblings, following their father’s death in 1846. The youngest of them, Samuel George Robison, was in 1851 a school student at Chuddleigh in Devonshire, only 25 km from his maternal grandparents, who were then living at Torquay (1851 England Census). Probably he was at this school when his father died. On 17 Oct 1853, aged 16 he joined the Royal Navy as a clerk and was embarked on a career as a “Fleet Paymaster” (7).
As already reported, the next born, Harrie Carr Robison joined Hugh in New Zealand in 1855. The next born, after Harrie Carr, was William Smoult Robison, who was from 18 Nov 1857, an employee of the Bank of NSW in Sydney, Beechworth, Wangaratta and Mudgee, before becoming their Branch manager in Christchurch, from Mar 1869 until he retired on 31 Dec 1889 (Westpac Bank record of employment). Following his retirement, he returned to Britain, where he died at Torquay on 4 Feb 1912. He and his brothers were born in Calcutta(2).
In an Oct 1882 “Return of Freeholders”, the next born sibling, Euphemia Anne Robison, is recorded to have held 346 acres at Selwyn in New Zealand, which is near Christchurch. It is not known when she arrived in New Zealand but she never married. Therefore it appears likely she did so to be near to her brother William and his family in Christchurch. She was born in Clifton, Gloucester, England(2). Where she died is not known.
Life in Australia
According to an on-line report by Mount Morgan Shire Council, Hugh Robison was the first person to settle in the region known as Dee Valley, which includes Mount Morgan, where he established a cattle property called Calliungal Cattle Station. Presumably, he began developing this property soon after 1856 when he leftNew Zealand for Sydney. Included with Robison family memorabilia deposited with the Mitchell Library in Sydney, are documents connected to Hugh Robison and Calliungal Station (21).
Based on the following reminiscence by the daughter of a gold prospector at Caoona in Nov 1868, Hugh Robison was still developing his property of Calliungal at the time; “Although we came from Sydney…. We were at the point of boarding for Victoria when my father, a carpenter, was offered a contract by Hugh Robison to build a house at Calliungal Station, 60 miles from Rockhampton” (From a research paper entitled “Canoona – Boom to Bust in 66 days” by Suzanne Rose Palmer-Gard of Kabra QLD).
Based on the following report, the venture at Calliungal appears to have failed financially, albeit apparently after Hugh Robison had died in 1900; “CALLIUNGAL – …… Of its early history Mr. Archer writes:- ‘ The managing partner was Mr E.G. Wood, and his partner was, I think named Robinson (sic). In common with all the other country mentioned, Calliungal was originally stocked with sheep. The sheep after a time did not do well, and it was thought they might thrive better if turned loose in paddocks. Heavy expense was incurred in erecting sheep proof fencing, but the experiment was a failure and the firm never recovered from the heavy liabilities incurred. Mr. Wood, after 41 years, left the place, ruined’ ” (22).
However, whilst sheep are reported above to have been farmed on Calliungal, the following report demonstrates that at least from 1866, cattle were also on that property; “… on contract with Calliungal station; account Hugh Robison, Esq., 200 bullocks and 70 cows..” (23).
Clearly, he was also involved in pastoral ventures in NSW, before or as well as the one at Calliungal Station in QLD, and probably whilst he was in New Zealand. By way of example, he was the representative for the sale by auction in 1857 of a large and apparently valuable property in the far WNW of NSW (24). Presumably, Alexander Stuart, Hugh’s friend and business associate, was also involved in this venture. Perhaps it was from this property came the sheep Robison and Stuart imported in New Zealand, referred to in the earlier part on Hugh’s occupation of Run 15 at Oamaru.
On 20 Jan 1862 The Sydney Morning Herald published a report of his wedding, as follows; "On Saturday, the 18th instant, at St Paul's Cobbitty, by the Very Reverend Dean Cowper, assisted by the Rev. Thomas Hassall, M.A., Hugh Robison, Esq., of Calliungal, Queensland, to Charlotte Eliza, eldest daughter of the Honourable (sic) Charles Cowper, of Wivenhoe" (Certificate of Marriage 1690 also refers).
Charlotte Eliza was born on 8 Nov 1838 at "Wivenhoe", in Narellan near Camden NSW and baptised at St Paul's Church Cobbitty on 6 February 1839. She was the 2nd daughter of Sir Charles Cowper and Eliza Sutton of "Wivenhoe". He was 5 times premier of NSW and had built there a magnificent Georgian manor house and other improvements for farming, on a very large tract of land originally owned by his half-brother, William Macquarie Cowper. It had been given to him in 1812 by his god-father, Governor Macquarie and Charles acquired the land from him some years later. “Wivenhoe” was the old home in Colchester, Essex, of Eliza Cowper (nee Sutton). The father of Charles and William, the Rev. William Cowper and his family, had arrived in Sydney on 18 Aug 1809, where William had been appointed to be the third Chaplain for the NSW colony.
Hugh and Charlotte Eliza had five children, all boys. Sadly she died on 3 Mar 1875, at Nattai NSW of "Miscarriage and Congestion of Liver" (Death Certificate 5041). It is thought she miscarried following a fall on the stairs at "Wivenhoe", where she and Hugh were living with their children. Their youngest was then only 15 months old. She was interred in the Cowper family vault in St Paul's churchyard at Cobbitty NSW.
Following her tragic death, Hugh engaged a housekeeper to help care for their five children, who were then aged from 4 to 8 years. She was Sarah Burr, who was called “Sasie” by the children. From about that time the family home was “Holmgate” at Summer Hill, in Sydney.
It appears likely that after his marriage on 18 Jan 1862, Hugh Robison left the management of his pastoral ventures to others. He was well connected with the “ruling class” in the NSW colony, not least because his father-in-law, Sir Charles Cowper had been five times premier of the NSW colony and Alexander Stuart also became a politician and the NSW premier, for which he was also knighted. Arguably, these connections led to his appointment on 12 Sep 1876, when 51, to the position of Inspector of Public Charities for the colony. A perusal of some of his annual reports to the Colonial Secretary reveal this appointment was not a sinecure. Rather, his work in this appointment appears to have been very like what might be expected of a “Minister for Social Services” in the modern era, albeit charitable organisations, with financial assistance from government, were in the main providing for the needy, rather than government instrumentalities and infrastructure as now is the case.
Articles commenting on his reports as Inspector of Charities, quoting verbatim from them, were published by the local press and are available on line (e.g. Evening News (NSW)), Sat 13 Apr 1878, Page 4 and The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 5 Jun 1880, Page 8). These reports show Robison to have been an erudite and capable administrator, one who appears to have been motivated in his opinions by a strong sense of public duty; a perceived need for the public to strive to use their best endeavours to care for themselves; and a belief as a practicing Christian, of a need for government to be charitable where the needy could not cope on their own.
He was from 5 Jun 1883 to 15 Oct 1888, also a member of the Aborigines Protection Board, where his knowledge, experience and the resources he had available to him as the Inspector of Charities, would have been of great benefit in the work of this Board. Reports to the Colonial Secretary on the proceedings of this Board are also available on-line (http://asset0.aiatsis.gov.au).
Wreck of the Duncan Dunbar
The Duncan Dunbar left Plymouth on 2 Sep 1865 with passengers and cargo for Sydney. Probably, “Mr and Mrs Hugh Robison”, who were reported to be among the passengers, are those who are the subject of this Narrative, namely; Hugh Robison and Charlotte Eliza Robison (nee Cowper). Anyway, on 7 Oct 1865 the Duncan Dunbar was wrecked on the reef Las Rocas, off the coast of Brazil. The next day, all 117 persons on the vessel made a perilous crossing by boat and raft to an isle above the reef. They were stranded there for 10 days before being recovered by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company vessel Oneida and transported back to Southend. Presumably, the passengers then resumed their interrupted voyage back to Australia. (Refer reports in the Sydney Morning Herald on 22 and 23 Jan 1866).
Death and Burial
Hugh Robison died on 25 Jul 1900 at Tyndale, Clarence River, Maclean, from pneumonia, 6 days after “heart failure” (Cert. 9430). He was buried in Maclean Cemetery, Anglican Section B, Row H inLot215. The headstone is a marble cross mounted on three steps. The inscription reads "IN MEMORY OF HUGH ROBISON, born 15th August 1825, died 25th July 1900. Thou shalt shew me the path of life, in Thy presence is the fullness of joy".
- Reports on Hugh Robison during his residency in New Zealand, during 1850-1856, are contained in the following publications: (a) “White Stone Country the Story of North Otago” by K.C. McDonald (1962); (b) “Early Northern Otago Runs” by Robert Pinney (Collins books); (c) “Run Estate and Farm” by W.H. Scotter (1948); (d) “Pioneers Explore Otago” by Herries Beattie; (e) Columns in the Oamaru Mail from K.C. McDonald on 14 Jan 1953 and 28 Feb 1953 entitled “Oamaru’s First Settler”; (f) Otago Witness, Vol 6, Issue 73 dated 9 Oct 1852; (g) North Otago Times, Vol XXXIII, Issue 68093 of 6 Aug 1889, Page 3 (h) Otago Witness dated 26 May 1855 on Page 3; (i) Wellington Independent, Vol III, Issue 706 dated 17 Jul 1852; and (j) Otago Witness, Issue 214 on Page 2, dated 29 Dec 1855.
- The Robison Family Bible (See Attachment 1).
- The 1826 East India Register (vide The British Library India Office Family History Search website) records the birth on 15 Aug 1825 to “The lady of C.K. Robison, Esq., of a son”.
- The Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 6 (MUP, 1976)).
- Otago Daily Times, 22 Mar 1871, Page 1.
- British Library India Office History Search web site (Ref N/1/13 f.44).
- The National Archives (UK) ASM 196/76/414 and ADM 196/79/315).
- Asiatic Journal, Vol 28 (Jan-Apr 1839).
- 1811-1813 Scottish Post Office Directories.
- Dictionary of National Biography, Vol XVII (1909).
- The Old Parish Records for Dumfrieshas the following entry; “Aprile 18th 1722 John Robison, merchant son of decast (deceased) Alexr. Robison, wright in Tinwall and Jean Lawson daur. of Hugh Lawson were married”.
- A letter from the Scots Ancestry Research Society, B26800 dated 31 Oct 1995 reported that they thought it possible that the following entry in “Memorials of Tinwald Parish” by Alexander McCracken and Robert Shannon (1979), was for Hugh Robison’s great-great-great grandfather: “129 Slab. Here lies Alexr. Robison, died 15 th July, 1719, aged 54”.
- Tasmanian passenger arrival record, as follows; “Family - ‘Carr’; Given Names - ‘D.A.C.G. & Mrs’; Ship - ‘Henry’; Arrival - ‘11 Sep 1830’; Remarks - ‘& Child’; References - ‘CUS/1/1 P18’”.
- Hobart Library microfilm CUS 30 p73, film roll 22168 has the following passenger arrival record forHobart; “By the ‘Barque’ Merope from Isle of France (Mauritius) 14 Feb 1832. Lieutenant Robertson, Mrs Robertson, Mr EC Innes, Mr Hugh Robison, George Dali, A Chae”. A report of this arrival in The Hobart Courier on Sat 18 Feb 1832 identifies the passenger “Mr Robison”, to be “Master Robison”.
- Mr EC Innes may have been the husband of the Mrs Innes who was a fellow passenger of Hugh’s mother, on a voyage she made toMauritiusin Sep 1832 with Hugh’s younger brothers, Harrie Carr and William Smoult Robison (16). Lieutenant Robertson may have been Hugh’s kinsman (Referring to Attachment 1, Hugh Robison’s great grandfather John, assumed Robertson for his surname when he was a merchant in Glasgow, in the mid-1700s and he had baptised as Robertson 7 of his 8 children, 3 of whom were male, including a Hugh).
- CalcuttaMagazine and Monthly Register, Volumes 33-36, Page 130 and TheCalcuttaChristian Observer 1832, Page 263.
- OPRs for Glasgow Parish: “8th February 1739 John Robison, Jean Lawson, a lawful son John born 4th instant at 7 in the morning, baptised by Mr. Robison, witness John Robison senior, and Mr. John Robison stud … (Scots Ancestry Research Society B268000 of 15 Apr 1970 refers).
- Certificate of Death 6557 for Harrie Carr Robison in 1908.
- Noted in “Early Settlers” reference cards, discovered in the library in Tauranga. Regrettably the record then made of the identity of the shipping records concerned, was lost.
- Harrie Carr Robison was married on 4 Jul 1876 to Mrs Eliza Jane Wild, the widow of barrister-at-law, WV Wild, at St Barnabas Church inSydneyby Rev Joseph Barnier (The Sydney Morning Herald on 18 Jul 1876, Page 10).
- The Mitchell Library inSydneyholds the following records in connection to Hugh Robison and Calliungal Station: (a) “White Card” Reference ML DOC 729 accounts for two letters received by Hugh Robison in 1900, one from Trebeck &Son asking if he was interested to sell the property for around 10,000 to 12,000 pounds. The other is a Power of Attorney for Hugh Robison, dated 30 Apr 1900 from Mortimer M Mackellar, concerning selection 8V on Calliungal. (b) “Pink Card” Reference 7-771: ML DOC 2014 refers to among other documents, two letters dated 3 Jun 1889 from Edmund Wood, Calliungal, QLD, mainly concerning management of Calliungal Station. (c) “Blue Card” Reference UNCAT MSS SET 468 accounts for, among other documents, numerous letters from among others, Edmund Wood from Calliungal, indicating that Wood was the manager or perhaps co-owner of the property (The Woods were related by marriage to Alexander Stuart, Hugh’s friend and business associate).
- From a report in 1929 on Pastoral Stations in Bananan Shire, from information largely supplied by the Shire Clerk.
- TheBrisbaneCourier on 14 Jul 1866.
- On 8 May 1857, The Sydney Morning Herald published a notice for the auction on 14 May that year of “Eurimbola Station”, in the Wellington District, a place which is about 360 km WNW of Sydney in NSW. The property was being sold on instructions from Hugh Robison, together with 9980 sheep and improvements. These included a five-roomed veranda cottage with kitchen and laundry; a four-stall stable; stone-built store containing overseer’s rooms and meat-house; dairy; woolshed; drafting yard; men’s huts; extensive garden, well stocked with fruit trees, vines, etc; and horse cultivation paddocks together with five out-station huts with yards.
- New ZealandHerald 18 Mar 1912.
- “British Crests: Containing the Crests and Mottos of the Families of Great Britain and Irelandtogether with those of the Principal Cities: and a Glossary of Heraldic Terms”, published in 1871 by Alexander Deuchar (1777-1844). He was a seal engraver and Lyon Herald at the Court of the Lord Lyon (the authority for heraldry in Scotland) and revived the Templar tradition in Scotlandin the early 18th Century in order to establish a new form of chivalry.
- Alexander Deuchar attributes the crest, a hand holding up a crown, which is pictured as crest 4, in Plate 14 of his volume, to both Professor John Robison ofEdinburghUniversityand Robertson of Struan:
Attachment 1: The Robison Family Silver Mug and Bible
The Robison Family Silver Mug, a handsome half-pint tankard, is hall-marked 1714/15, and is engraved with the initials for and names in full of Alexander Robison and Sarah Wells and "1692" (their presumed date of marriage). So possibly the Mug was a silver anniversary gift (i.e. 25 years after their marriage).
This Mug is also inscribed, as under, with the initials of those of his descendants who inherited the Mug, their date of marriage and the initials of their spouses:
- "AR SW 1692" (Alexander Robison & Sarah Wells)
- "JR JL 1722" (John Robison & Jean Lawson)
- JR RW 1777 ((Professor) John Robison & Rachael Wright)
- "JR JG 1816" ((Sir) John Robison & Jean Grahame)
- "CKR EC 1822" (Charles Knowles Robison & Elizabeth Carr)
- "HR CEC 1862" (Hugh Robison & Charlotte Eliza Cowper)
- "ECR CAW 1900" (Edric Cowper Robison & Constance Ada Wilshire)
- "REHR EUS 1928" (Ronald Edwin Hugh Robison & Elsie Una Shelley)
- "JCR GLT 1960" (privacy constraint on identity)
Names shown above in full and in brackets are recorded in a Bible owned originally by Charles Knowles Robison ("The Robison Family Bible") and/or in a manuscript found in this Bible. This manuscript was written by Helen Robison (nee Walker) (1874-1955), the wife of Hugh’s son John Harrington Robison and it includes information provided by Hugh Robison’s brother Harrie Carr Robison (b. 1830). This Bible and her manuscript are now with the Lismore (NSW) Museum. The Library of NSW also has photographs, documents and other memorabilia connected to this Robison family.
The Mug bears a coat of arms and the motto of Robertson of Struan, and another motto; namely, ‘TUTE TUA TUTA' (your safe things safely). Fairbairn's "Crests of the Families of Great Britain andIreland" attributes the latter motto, together with a crest of a hand holding up a royal crown, to the Robison surname.
Presumably, Fairbairn relied for this information on a volume published in 1871 by Alexander Deuchar (26). On Page 241 of this volume, are the following entries:
- “Robertson of Straun, a dexter hand holding up an imperial crown, all proper. Vitutis Gloria merces. Pl. 14.cr.4.”
- “Robison, Professor, Edinburgh, a hand holding a royal crown, proper. Tute tua tuta. Pl. 14.cr.4.
The present holder of the Mug has written that it appears from the variations in style of script engraved on the Mug, that its fourth holder, Sir John Robison (1778 - 1843), had inscribed on the Mug the heraldry and motto of Robertson of Struan and the latter motto presumed to be that of his Robison family.
Referring to Page 241 of Deuchar’s volume and Notes 26 and 27, arguably, Sir John Robison would have quite reasonably believed as the first born male to Professor John Robison, he was entitled to adopt the heraldry of Roberson of Struan and the motto Tute Tua Tuta.
The current holder of the Mug also participated in the Robertson Clan's DNA Research Project. Whilst he was deemed to be descended from a Robertson, he was advised that he was not descended from the chiefly line of Robertson of Struan.
Possibly, the reason for him being deemed via DNA testing, to be descended from a Robertson and not of the chiefly line of Robertson of Struan, is that some of his Robison ancestors assumed the name Robertson and their descendants retained that spelling (e.g. Three of the four male children born to John Robison, who married Jean Lawson in 1722, were baptised “Robertson”).