Robert Alonzo Brock

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To enumerate the activities of Mr. Brock would require a volume, so long continued and valuable has been his public service. No historian of the future, writing of Richmond or Virginia, but will be indebted to him for painstaking, well-preserved search. He is passionately devoted to everything that bears upon the antiquities of the state, and no man of his day has done more to promote their investigation and study. Eleven volumes of the reports of the Virginia Historical Society bear his name as secretary of that society, as secretary of the Southern Historical Society his work has been valuable, and as historian and register of the Virginia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, he has rendered a service that will never be forgotten. As business man, antiquarian, historian and genealogist, his whole career has been connected with the city of Richmond, although since 1881 he has surrendered all other interests to devote himself to study and research among the records and antiquities of Virginia. He is a member of seventy of the learned societies of the United States and Europe, his reputation far overreaching state bounds. When Junin Winson was preparing his now standard reference work. "Narrative and Critical History of America," Mr. Brock was selected to write the chapters on Virginia. A notable feature of his work was his connection with the "Richmond Standard" as associate editor, 1879 to 1882.

Robert Alonzo Brock was born in Richmond, Virginia, March 9, 1839, son of Robert King Brock, born 1801, and Elizabeth Mildred (Ragland) Brock, both of Hanover county, Virginia, paternal grandson of John Phillips Brock, maternal grandson of Fendall Ragland. The Raglands descend from John and Anne (Beaufort) Ragland, who came from Glamorganshire, Wales, in 1720, and settled in what is now Hanover county, Virginia, then a part of New Kent county. Robert King Brock was a prosperous merchant of Richmond, a man of noble and upright character, whose influence over his son was most beneficial. His wife was also a woman of strong character, and in the training of her son developed those traits that have been prominent in securing him recognition as the highest authority of Virginia antiquities, early history and family pedigrees.

As a boy, Robert A. Brock was passionately fond of reading, and early developed a love of antiquities. At the age of thirteen he left school, entering the employ of uncles engaged heavily in the lumber business, using his wages in the purchase of books of various kinds. He later engaged in business for himself, but when war broke out between the states he enlisted in the First Company, Twenty-first Regiment Virginia Infantry, serving actively one year, being connected with Winder Hospital during the remainder of the cruel struggle. He returned to mercantile life after the war, engaging in the lumber business from 1865 to 1881 with considerable success. In 1875 he was elected corresponding secretary of the Virginia Historical Society, and in 1881 retired from business to devote himself entirely to study and research. In 1887 he was elected secretary of the Southern Historical Society, which position he yet retains. From 1879 to 1883 he was associate editor of the "Richmond Standard." He retired from the secretarial position he held in the Virginia Historical Society in 1893, but the eleven volumes of the reports of that society that he prepared will forever link his name with the society and perpetuate his fame among students of Virginia history. His work as secretary of the Southern Historical Society has been equally valuable, twenty-two volumes of its reports, and many of the otherwise unpublished details of the great civil war have been preserved by him in the society records. A wonderful, valuable collection of newspaper cuttings, relating to the war, has been preserved by Mr. Brock, by pasting them on substantial paper and binding in book form.

The writings of Mr. Brock are many, chiefly historical and genealogical. The card index of the Virginia State Library devotes twenty-three cards to the enumeration of his books and pamphlets, while the "Richmond Standard" was enriched by his many contributions during his three years' associate editorship. His library is the envy and delight of historians and students of history, the term "book miser" having been applied to Mr. Brock by a witty friend. He has material, about ready, for a history of Virginia, and should such a history be issued in his thorough painstaking style, it will be of incalculable value. As historian and register of the Virginia Society, Sons of the American Revolution, since its inception in 1880, he is now its secretary. His honorary membership in the William and Mary chapter of the famous Phi Beta Kappa Society was conferred in partial recognition of his abilities and invaluable service to his city and state. His membership in about seventy learned societies of the United States, Canada and Europe have been many of them conferred in recognition of his high standing, fie is also a member of the Masonic order and is past worshipful master of his lodge.

Mr. Brock married (first) April 29. 1869. in Richmond, Sallie Kidd Haw, born in Hanover county, Virginia, July 13, 1835, of English descent, died February 6, 1887, leaving two children : Elizabeth Carriugton and Ann Beaufort. He married (second) Lucy Ann Peters, born in Richmond, December 15, 1855. daughter of Walter S. Peters, a merchant of Richmond, and his wife, Victoria (Jackson) Peters. Child by second marriage: Robert Alonzo (2), now a law student at Richmond College. The family home is at No. 517 West Marshall street, Richmond.


1.) Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography Under the Editorial Supervision of Lyon Gardiner Tyler, LL. D.
Volume IV.
New York Lewis Historical Publishing Company 1915
Copyright, 1915 Lewis Historical Publishing Company

2.)Texas Library: "Editor: 1887-1910, R. A. Brock."