Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 48.djvu/437

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


and entitled ‘Proceedings relative to the Peerage of Scotland from 16 Jan. 1707 to 20 April 1788;’ the work has been found of great service in conducting the elections of the representative peers in Scotland. In August 1787 he had, with his fellow deputy, taken possession of the new general register house, and was instrumental in moving the records thither from the two vaults under the court of session, called the ‘Laigh Parliament House’ (October 1791).

At Robertson's suggestion searches were made in the state paper office in London for ancient records of Scotland which had been removed by Edward I. In August 1793 Thomas Astle [q. v.], the antiquary, and a trustee of the British Museum, discovered among the Harleian manuscripts (No. 4609) a curious index of Scottish charters; shortly afterwards a transcript on vellum of certain deeds relative to Scottish history (mainly of the reigns of Robert I, David II, and Robert II, together with a few instruments of earlier date), constituting the ‘most ancient Book of Scottish Record now known to exist,’ was found in the state paper office in London and removed to Edinburgh. To stimulate the discovery of other records of early Scottish history, Robertson published from a manuscript found at Wishaw in 1794 (and anterior to the Harleian draft discovered by Astle), ‘An Index drawn up about the year 1629 of many Records of Charters granted by the different sovereigns of Scotland between 1309 and 1413, most of which records have been long missing, with an introduction giving a State, founded on authentic documents still preserved, of the Ancient Records of Scotland which were in that kingdom in 1292,’ Edinburgh, 1798, 4to. Shortly after the conclusion of this laborious task Robertson set to work upon ‘The Records of the Parliament of Scotland,’ of which he had at the time of his death completed one folio volume, printed in 1804. Robertson's suggestions in the ‘Reports’ to the parliamentary commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of the records have been largely acted upon by successive deputy keepers.

At a general meeting of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, held on 28 Jan. 1799, Robertson was elected a member. He died at his house in St. Andrews Square, Edinburgh, on 4 March 1803. He married, in 1773, Margaret, only daughter of Captain Alexander Donald, of the 89th or Gordon highlanders.

[Life prefixed to the 9th edit. of Robertson's Hist. of Greece, Edinburgh, 1839, 8vo; Scots Mag. April 1803; Fasti Aberdonenses, ed. Anderson (New Spalding Club); Preface to Index of Charters; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn); Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vii. 101; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. S.

ROBERTSON, WILLIAM BRUCE (1820–1886), divine, third surviving son of John Robertson, factor on the estate of Plean and Auchenbowie, Stirlingshire, by Margaret Bruce, born Kirkwood, was born at Greenhill in St. Ninian's parish, Stirlingshire, on 24 May 1820. He was educated at the village school of Greenhill and at home, under the tutorship of his elder brother, James, who became minister of the united presbyterian church at Newington, Edinburgh. Robertson matriculated at Glasgow University in 1832, and distinguished himself specially in the Greek class under Sir Daniel Keyte Sandford [q. v.]; but, owing to his youth, he studied moral philosophy and natural philosophy at the Andersonian University, Glasgow, instead of completing at once his arts course. In 1836 he became tutor in the family of Captain Aytoun of Glendevon, taking the winter sessions at Glasgow University. From 1837 to 1841 he was a student at the Secession Theological Hall at Edinburgh. While there he became acquainted with De Quincey, by whose advice he went to Germany, entering in 1841 Halle University, where Tholuck was his chief professor. In the following year he travelled through Switzerland and Italy. Returning to Scotland, he was licensed as a preacher in the spring of 1843 by the presbytery of Stirling and Falkirk, and shortly afterwards was called to the secession church in Irvine, Ayrshire. He was ordained in this charge on 26 Dec. 1843, and it was his first and last pastorate. In 1854 he published a collection of hymns for use in his Sunday school, including among others his well-known translation of ‘Dies Iræ.’ Meanwhile, the secession and relief churches were joined in 1847 to form the united presbyterian denomination, and Robertson continued his connection with it. A new church was built for him at Irvine in 1861 and called Trinity church. His health broke down in 1871, and under medical advice he spent a year at Florence and on the Riviera. He returned to Irvine in 1873. But he was compelled to accept the assistance of a colleague in February 1876. After a two years' visit to Florence he resigned his charge. He took up his residence at Bridge of Allan, making tours on the continent in the winter. When the Luther celebrations took place, in November 1883, he again visited Germany. He died at Westfield, Bridge of Allan, on 27 June 1886.

Robertson was more famous as a pulpit