Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 48.djvu/348
[Hew Scott's Fasti Eccl. Scot.; Robe's Works; Mun. Univ. Glasg. vol. iii.; Wodrow Correspondence.]
Fancy,’ 1745, 8vo; and ‘Counsels and Comforts to Troubled Christians,’ Edinburgh and Glasgow, 1749. He continued at Kilsyth till his death, 26 May 1753. He married Anna Hamilton, who survived him twenty years.
ROBE, Sir WILLIAM (1765–1820), colonel royal artillery, born at Woolwich in 1765, was son of William Robe, second lieutenant in the invalid battalion royal artillery, and proof master in the royal arsenal, Woolwich, and of Mary Broom his wife. He entered the royal military academy at Woolwich on 20 Oct. 1780 as an extra cadet, and was gazetted to a commission as second lieutenant in the royal artillery on 24 May 1781. Robe served from June 1782 to July 1784 at Jamaica, acting as adjutant and storekeeper. After two years at home he was in 1786 sent to Canada. He was promoted first lieutenant on 22 Nov. 1787, and returned to England in 1790.
In April 1793 Robe went to Holland with the artillery under Major Wright, part of an advanced force of the Duke of York's army, the main body of artillery under Sir William Congreve [q. v.] embarking in May. Robe took part in the siege defence operations at Willemstad, with which the English share of the campaign commenced. He was appointed, in addition to his ordinary duties, acting adjutant and quartermaster, and, at the instance of Congreve, he was made inspector of ammunition. Robe was at the battle of Famars, the siege of Valenciennes, the operations around Cambray, the siege of Dunkirk, the siege of Landrecy, and the operations near Tournay, including Lanoy and Roubaix. He took part in the retreat into Holland, and was particularly engaged at the bridge Waerlem and at Nimeguen in October and November 1794, returning to England towards the end of November.
Robe was promoted to be captain-lieutenant on 9 Sept. 1794, and was appointed quartermaster in the 1st battalion of artillery at Woolwich on 25 Nov., remaining there for nearly five years. In 1797 he originated the first regimental school for the children of soldiers; the Duchess of York subscribed liberally; the school proved a success, and the board of ordnance undertook its direction.
In 1799 Robe embarked for Holland with the Duke of York's army in the expedition to the Helder. He was appointed brigade major of royal artillery under General Farrington. He was present at the battle of Bergen on 2 Oct. 1799, on which date he was promoted to be captain; took part in the capture of Alkmaar on 6 Oct., and returned to England with the army on the 3rd of the following month, when he was posted to the 9th company of the 2nd battalion.
In the following year he was transferred to the command of the 9th company, 4th battalion, and was sent to Canada, where he served on the staff until 1806. Having considerable knowledge of architecture and drawing, he was employed to design and to superintend the erection of the church of England cathedral at Quebec, which remains a permanent record of his talent. He was promoted regimental major on 1 June 1806, when he returned to England, and regimental lieutenant-colonel on 13 Jan. 1807.
Robe accompanied the expedition to Copenhagen under Lord Cathcart in 1807. Major-general (afterwards Sir) Thomas Blomefield commanded the artillery, and Robe, who had command of the batteries of the left attack, was favourably mentioned by Blomefield in his report upon the bombardment.
On 12 July 1808 Robe sailed for Portugal, in command of the royal artillery of Wellesley's expedition. He was present at the battles of Roliça and Vimeiro, and was mentioned in despatches. At Vimeiro he used shrapnel shell for the first time, and was so pleased with its effect that he applied for large supplies of it. On the evacuation of Lisbon by the French, Robe took possession of the ordnance in the citadel; and when Sir John Moore's army left for Spain, Robe remained in command of the artillery at Lisbon, under Sir Harry Burrard and Sir John Craddock, until the arrival of Brigadier-general Howarth in April 1809.
On Wellesley's return from England to take command of the British forces in the Peninsula, Robe served as a lieutenant-colonel of artillery, and was in charge of the artillery reserves. He took part in the advance against Soult to the Tras os Montes, the capture of Oporto in May, the advance into Spain against Joseph Buonaparte, the battle of Talavera, 27 July 1809, and in the subsequent retreat over the Mesa d'Ibor to Truxillo, and thence to Badajos. In 1810 he was appointed to the command of the royal artillery driver corps, and he took part in the retreat to the lines of Torres Vedras, including the battle of Busaco, on 28 Sept.
In 1811 Robe was engaged in all the active operations of the pursuit of Masséna to the neighbourhood of Ciudad Rodrigo. In August he returned to England on account of his health, but rejoined the army before Badajos on 20 April of the following year, the morn-