Harrington Robley, contributed by his gt. grandson, David Colwell

Harrington Robley, the son of Robert Robley and Ann Harrington, was born on 15th January 1824 and christened at St. Cuthbert's Church, Carlisle on 15th August, 1824.

His father, Robert, followed the trade of Callico-Printer. His works, which were called the Woodbank Printworks were situated two and a quarter miles from Carlisle near the Great London Road. His mother, Ann , was the daughter of Robert and Mary Harrington, Gentleman of Carleton, Cumberland.

The Harringtons are of some interest in this story. Ann's cousin, Robert Harrington (1805-1884), the Carlisle artist, was apprenticed as a Calico Printer at the Woodbank Calico Printing Works and his brother James is said to have been the first of his family to go to Glasgow. It must have been through him that the Robleys ended up in that city.

This James Harrington was the grandfather of the Royal Academician, Harrington Mann (1864-1937). Harrington Mann had a daughter, Cathleen Sabine Mann (1896-1959), who was also an artist, and who became the second wife of Francis Archibald Kelhead Douglas, 11th Marquess of Queensbury. The present Marquess of Queensbury, carries Harrington in his name.

Harrington Robley must have learnt the trade of Print Cutter at his father's and grandfather's works at Woodbank, near Carlisle, for at the time of his marriage he is described as a Print Cutter of Dunoon. It seems that he had followed his sister Mary, and cousin James Harrington up to Glasgow. They had gone there in the early 1830's. In 1848 he sailed to America from Glasgow with his brother, James Robley, but it is not known how long he stayed there. James kept a journal about his trip to America, from 28th August 1848 to 9th October 1848. It survives and the CHBC has made a transcription.

Isabel (Pitcairn) Robley, contributed by David Colwell.

Harrington's marriage to Isabel Pitcairn took place at Govan. Isabel was the daughter of Andrew and Ann (Tait) Pitcairn. Her father, Andrew, was the Superintendant of Quarantine & Lazeretto at Holy Lock at the time of Isabel's birth in 1831. Isabel's sister, Margaret, married the shipping magnate, Thomas Henderson. One of the witnesses to the marriage was Harrington's niece, M.A. Sewell, and another was his wife's sister's husband, Thomas Henderson.

Thomas Henderson, along with his brothers John, William and David owned the Henderson Shipping Line - otherwise known as the Anchor Line. They possessed ships almost as great as the Titanic. It was obviously through the family connection to Thomas Henderson that Harrington started up his trade supplying the Anchor Line Ships with provisions. David Henderson had married another of the Pitcairn sisters. Their family had been ship owners for some generations.

Harrington and Isabel had 7 children: Christopher (b.1862), William Pitcairn (b. 1864), Annie Pitcairn (b. 1866), Harrington (b.1868), Isabel (b. 1870), Margaret Henderson (b. 1871), Josephine Mary (b. 1873). Harrington died in 1874 when he was 6 years old.

In the census of 1871 Harrington was described as a Ship Store merchant of 18, Montrose St., Helensburgh with a staff of cook, housemaid and nurse living in. In 1881 he was a Provision Merchant of 46 Colquhoun Street, Row, Dumbartonshire with a staff of governess, cook and housemaid. In 1891, a merchant of 12, Suffolk St. Row with a staff of housemaid, cook and laundress living in By the time of his death in 1895, he was described as a Produce Merchant.

His firm Robley & Co., is listed as Ship Store Merchants of 80 and 82 York St., Glasgow in 1891 and in "Glasgow and its Environs" (1891), a description of the company is given.


Ship Store Merchants and Export Grocers, 80, York Street, Glasgow

The process of growth of the Atlantic and other ocean liners, from vessels of comparatively small tonnage to the large floating towns which now crowd the great waterways and perform their journeys with as much precision as railway trains on land, has been so natural that we are apt to forget, or at least underrate, the magnitude and complication of the interests involved, and, of these interests, by no means the least important is the feeding of the crew and passengers. The magnitude of the task will be realised if we consider that one of these great steamships often carries one thousand or more adults on board, and that supplies for 32 days for the voyage out and home have to be provided.

Nine hundred persons for 32 days is equivalent to 28,800 persons for one day, or the population of a town of considerable size, and yet this work is being carried out daily by Messrs. Robley & Co., Ships' Store merchants, as a simple matter of business. Their trade consists exclusively in supplying the Anchor and other lines of emigration ships with "ships' stores", and they are the largest house in this line in Glasgow.

The business was established in 1862, and their premises in York Street consist of a large suite of offices on the ground floor with ample warehouse accommodation in rear extending to Robertson Street, where the bulk of their vans are loaded and unloaded. The term ships' stores is so comprehensive and includes such a large number of duty paying articles that a firm, carrying business on such an extensive scale as Messrs. ROBLEY, occupy large bonded store? from which goods such as tea, coffee, dried fruits, tobacco, lime juice, wines, spirits, and beer can be drawn as required. Their bonded stores are situated opposite at No. 35, York Street.

The following items, selected from the list of stores required to be shipped by The Government for an ocean liner carrying 785 adults to New York, will afford some criterion of the magnitude and complexity of Messrs. ROBLEY's business: Biscuit, 2,340 lbs.; flour, 16,072 lbs.; beef (salt) 5776; beef (fresh) 10,800 lbs.; coffee, 672 lbs.; tea, 287 lbs; sugar, 4032 lbs.; salt, 560 lbs.; mustard, 108 lbs.; pepper, 56 lbs.; marmalade, 546 lbs.; vegetables, 21 cwts.; potatoes, 240 cwts. While under the head of medical comforts we find such items as brandy, 13 galls.; stout, 80 doz.; loaf sugar, 448 lbs.; essence of beef (jib. tins), 138 lbs.; rusks, 38 lbs. The price list issued by the firm includes every kind of dried fruit, jam, biscuits, arrowroot, malt and hops, hams, cheese, and all sorts of candles, soda, soap, dried fish, tinned goods, spices, preserved meats and vegetables, tobacco and cigars, lime juice, wines, and spirits; in fact every article of food which may be required by crew or passengers on ships in any service whatever for long or short voyages. The long experience of the firm in these matters and the vast extent of their business are a sufficient guarantee that the goods supplied are the finest quality at a reasonable price, and that orders will be executed with that promptitude, dispatch, and certainty which is one of the first requirements of such a business.

Harrington died from an effusion of the brain. The Helensburgh & Gorelock Times of 27th March 1895 carried the following:

ROBLEY. - At Kintillo, on the 23rd. inst., aged 70, Harrington Robley. - Friends, please accept this (the only) intimation.

The death announcement states the 23rd. whilst a hand-written copy of his death certificate states the 25th.

Another obituary notice, in the local press, said:



In the death of Mr. Robley at Kintillo, on Saturday morning, Helensburgh loses a quiet, unostentatious, and upright residenter. For some time the deceased was in failing health, and the end was not altogether unexpected. In city shipping circles Mr. Robley was well known, and up till a few years ago he took at active interest in his firm, Robley & Co., York Street, who have long held important contacts for victualling the Anchor Liners. Mr. Robley, who had reached his alloted span, is survived by a widow and grown-up family of sons and daughters. The funeral took place yesterday (Tuesday) to Dunoon.

Harrington wrote his last Will on 8th February, 1888 and it was confirmed in the court books of the Commissariate of Dumbarton on 26th July 1895 - value of estate, 20,583.17.11. By his will he left everything in trust to his wife, during her lifetime, and after her death in equal shares to his children or their issue. He appointed his wife, his son Christopher, and his wife's relations John Henderson, Shipbuider of Meadowside, Patrick and David G. Henderson, Shipowner of Union Street., Glasgow (this latter declined to act) as Executors.By a Codicil dated 8th June 1892 he appointed Andrew Bonar Law an Executor and stipulated that sums advanced to that date to his second son, William, should be cancelled and should not affect his share of the estate.

Charles H.B. Cole, Devon, UK. October, 2005.

Photographs contributed by David G. Colwell, California, U.S.A.