ROBERTSON, Alexander (1779-1856), of Hoebridge Place, Woking, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 14 Feb. 1779, 4th s. of Rev. James Robertson, minister of Ratho, nr. Edinburgh, by Jean, da. of Alexander Robertson (1710-73), minister of Eddleston, Peebles. m., 1da.1
Robertson was a son of the manse. On his mother’s side her father and grandfather were ministers, the latter being a merchant’s son. His father was minister of Ratho for 42 years until his death in 1802 and his eldest brother served Livingston nearly as long, though when he was in Parliament Alexander attempted, unsuccessfully, to secure a better crown living for him. His brother John died on his way to India in 1795, intending to be a surgeon in the East India Company service, and it appears that Alexander too was on the civil establishment, though he is omitted in the lists.2 He was an East India Company stockholder by 1806. If he was, as seems very likely, the author of the pamphlet3 attributed to him, Reflexions on the present difficulties of the country and on relieving them by opening new markets to our commerce and removing all injurious restrictions, by an old Asiatic merchant (1820), he was in India in 1814-15 and committed the reflections to paper on the voyage home; he had previously submitted papers to the government on the subject of oriental trade; had approved administrations from 1793 to 1814, although they were extravagant, but now felt that only by unrestricted trade, which meant abolishing the East India Company monopoly and opening markets in China (which he had visited in 1811) and the Far East, could Britain maintain her commercial prosperity against new rivals. On his return to England he was evidently involved in an East India shipping agency, though he later invested in South American mining as well.4
In 1818 he was returned at Grampound after a contest and held his seat until the disfranchisement of the borough. He did not speak before 1820, though later he became an able and well-informed spokesman on financial and commercial affairs. He voted with the minority on the Windsor establishment, 22 Feb. 1819, on the Marriage Act amendment bill, 26 Apr., on the sinking fund motion, 13 May, and the foreign enlistment bill, 21 June. He died 17 Dec. 1856 at Hoebridge Place, Woking, where he had resided some 30 years.5
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Margaret Turnbull Robertson, ‘of unsound mind and incapacitated from managing herself and her affairs’, according to his will, PCC 1857, f. 62.
- 2. Fasti Eccles. Scot. i. 182, 221; Add. 40381, ff. 440, 443: The Late Elections (1818), biog. app.
- 3. BL 8220, a.17(6) (dated 19 May 1819). There was another Alexander Robertson, a partner with Hogue and Davidson in Bengal, (d. 15 Jan. 1822, aged 42) who might have been the author.
- 4. PCC 1857, f. 62.
- 5. Gent. Mag. (1857), i. 251; Brayley, Surr. ii. 27.