Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lemon, Robert (1779-1835)

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LEMON, ROBERT (1779–1835), archivist, born in London in 1779, was the son of Robert Lemon, chief clerk of the record office in the Tower. After being educated at Norwich grammar school under his uncle, George William Lemon [q. v.], and assisting his father at the Tower for about eighteen months, he was appointed on 24 June 1795 an extra clerk in the state paper office. In February 1801 he became second clerk. The keeper, John Bruce (1745–1826) [q. v.], who was also historiographer to the East India Company, availed himself of Lemon's services in preparing the ‘Annals’ of the company (1810). Lemon became deputy-keeper of the state paper office on 23 Jan. 1818, and began to arrange systematically records including royal letters, Irish and Scottish correspondence, royalist composition papers, and Gunpowder plot papers. At the end of 1823 he found the manuscript of Milton's treatise, ‘De Doctrina Christiana.’ Thereupon, on the advice of Sir Robert Peel, home secretary, a commission for publishing records of historical value was issued on 10 June 1825, and renewed on 14 Sept. 1830. Lemon was appointed secretary. By his exertions the documents belonging to the reign of Henry VIII were arranged for publication.

The state papers were ultimately removed from Scotland Yard and Great George Street to a more suitable house built for them in St. James's Park, in which Lemon had private apartments assigned to him. He died on 29 July 1835, and was buried in Kennington churchyard. By his wife Sarah (1772–1826) he had a son, Robert Lemon [q. v.], and a daughter.

In 1798 he helped to compile the valuable appendix to the ‘Report on Internal Defence,’ which chiefly relates to the preparations made against the threatened invasion of 1588. He was associated with his father in preparing the ‘Calendars of the Charter Rolls and Inquisitions ad Quod Damnum, and of the Inquisitions Post Mortem.’ Elected F.S.A. in May 1824, he contributed to the ‘Archæologia’ (xxi. 148–57) the warrant of indemnity to lord treasurer Middlesex for the jewels sent to Charles, prince of Wales, in Spain.

Among those who benefited by Lemon's knowledge was Sir Walter Scott (cf. postscript appended in November 1829 to the cabinet edition of Rob Roy). Lemon illustrated his copy of Scott's novels with transcripts of historical documents.

[Gent. Mag. 1835, pt. ii. pp. 326–8; Greville Memoirs, 1st part (4th edit.), iii. 44.]

G. G.