Robertson, Joseph Clinton (DNB00)

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ROBERTSON, JOSEPH CLINTON (1788–1852), joint compiler of the ‘Percy Anecdotes,’ born in London in 1788, was a patent agent in Fleet Street, the business being carried on until 1892 as ‘Robertson & Brooman.’ Robertson founded the ‘Mechanic's Magazine’ in 1823, and edited and largely wrote it until the year of his death. He gave evidence before the House of Commons committee on patent law in 1849. His chief title to remembrance rests on ‘The Percy Anecdotes,’ 20 vols. London, 1821–3, 12mo (subsequent editions 1830, 1868, 1869, and various American editions). The volumes, which came out in forty-four monthly parts, were professedly written by Sholto and Reuben Percy. Reuben was Thomas Byerley [q. v.], and Sholto was Robertson. The so-styled ‘brothers Percy’ met to discuss the work at the Percy coffee-house in Rathbone Place, whence their compilation derived its name. Sir Richard Phillips [q. v.] afterwards claimed that the original idea was derived from his suggestion to file the anecdotes which had appeared in the ‘Star’ newspaper over a long series of years. The ‘Percys’ did little more than classify a collection of anecdotes formed upon a similar plan. The same collaborators commenced a series of ‘Percy Histories, or interesting Memorials of the Capitals of Europe,’ but this got no further than ‘London,’ 1823, 3 vols. 12mo. Robertson also started as ‘Sholto Percy,’ in 1828, an abridgment of the ‘Waverley Novels.’ He died at Brompton on 22 Sept. 1852.

[Gent. Mag. 1852, ii. 548; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vii. 214, 3rd ser. ix. 168; Allibone's Dict. of English Lit. s. v. ‘Percy, Sholto;’ Halkett and Laing's Dict. of Anon. and Pseudon. Lit. iii. 1884; Blackwood's Mag. xi. 605; Percy Anecd. in Chandos Classics, with pref. by Timbs, 4 vols. 1868; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. S.