Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Patterson, Robert Hogarth

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PATTERSON, ROBERT HOGARTH (1821–1886), journalist and miscellaneous writer, was born in Edinburgh in December 1821, and educated for a civil engineer at the high school of that city. When quite young he entered the printing-office of his cousin, John Ballantyne, as a press corrector. In 1852 he left the printing business to become editor of the ‘Edinburgh Advertiser.’ In 1858 he removed to London as editor—afterwards proprietor—of the ‘Press,’ and in 1865 he was appointed editor of the ‘Globe’ newspaper; but he resigned the post in 1869 to join the board of referees appointed by parliament to investigate and report upon the best means of purification of coal-gas in London. Chemistry had always been one of his favourite studies, and his scientific knowledge enabled him to take a leading part in the proceedings of the referees, which resulted in the discovery of the process still in use for the elimination of sulphur and ammonia impurities from gas.

In 1872 he proceeded to Glasgow as editor of the ‘Glasgow News,’ but his health broke down and he returned to London in 1874, where he resumed his literary work, contributing articles on politics, finance, science, and history to various magazines. In early life he contributed articles to ‘Chambers's Edinburgh Journal,’ and latterly he wrote for the ‘Quarterly,’ ‘Blackwood,’ ‘Bentley,’ and the ‘Dublin University Magazine.’

He had gained a reputation as a financial expert, and was consulted by both the Bank of England and the Bank of France on financial and currency questions, and was elected a fellow, and afterwards a member of council, of the Statistical Society. He died at Hammersmith on 13 Dec. 1886. He had married, in 1848, Georgina, daughter of Captain Thomson of Perth.

Patterson was the author of: 1. ‘The New Revolution; or the Napoleonic Policy in Europe,’ Edinburgh and London, 1860 (a work which attracted considerable attention, owing to the singular fulfilment, soon after publication, of several of its predictions). 2. ‘Essays in History and Art,’ Edinburgh, 1862 (reprinted from ‘Blackwood's Magazine’). 3. ‘The Economy of Capital; or Gold and Trade,’ Edinburgh, 1865. 4. ‘The Science of Finance,’ Edinburgh, 1868. 5. ‘Railway Finance,’ Edinburgh, 1868. 6. ‘The State, the Poor, and the Country, including Suggestions on the Irish Question,’ Edinburgh, 1870. 7. ‘Gas and Lighting’ (British Manufacturing Industries Series), London, 1876. 8. ‘The New Golden Age and the Influence of the Precious Metals upon the World,’ 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1882. He was also the author of the following pamphlets: ‘Indian Politics: two essays on Self-Government in India and the Indian Land Question,’ 2 pts. 1864, 8vo; ‘Municipal Finance; the Gas and Water Supply of London,’ 1867, 8vo; ‘Gas Purification in London, including a Complete Solution of the Sulphur Question,’ Edinburgh, 1873, 2nd edit. 1874; ‘Robespierre: a Lyrical Drama,’ 1877, 8vo; and ‘Light Theories: Suggestions for a New System of Cosmical Science.’

[Irving's Eminent Scotsmen; obituary notices in the Times and the Athenæum, December 1886; information supplied by the family.]

G. S-h.