Robert ROXBURGH Cecilia Anderson ROXBURGH Helen Anderson ROXBURGH Mary Evelyn ROXBURGH  ROXBURGH Mary Hutchison BELL M. H. ROXBURGH Helen ANDERSON treeI88.gif

Robert Anderson ROXBURGH

about 1867 - 15th Feb 1950

Life History

about 1867

Born

19th Sep 1893

Married Mary Hutchison BELL

about 1894

Birth of daughter Helen Anderson ROXBURGH

10th Oct 1896

Birth of daughter Mary Evelyn ROXBURGH

9th Jun 1901

Birth of son ROXBURGH

9th Jun 1901

Death of son ROXBURGH

3rd Jan 1932

Death of Mary Hutchison BELL

15th Feb 1950

Died

Robert Anderson Roxburgh was Naena and Evelyn's father. Robert was apparently always referred to as 'Robin' even by his daughters; they never once appear to allude to him as 'father'. A letter - “just a wee note of love and congratulation on the success of Tukeson.” - from Evelyn to her father around 1924 begins “Dearest Wee Robin”. The date of the marriage is given as 19th September 1893 on Evelyn's Birth Certificate. I never met him and know almost nothing about him other than what is revealed in the following three published pieces about him.

First a piece Signed 'M' from The Scots Law Times 27 March 1937 on his retirement.

MR R. A. ROXBURGH.

LATELY DEPUTE CLERK OF SESSION.

The retirement of Mr R. A. Roxburgh from the post of Depute Clerk of Session removes from the Parliament House a highly efficient and much respected official.

Lawyers throughout Scotland who, during the last fifty years, have been accustomed to visit the Supreme Courts cannot easily forget the tall figure, the dignified and debonair bearing, of “R.A.”

Born in Kinross, educated at the school there and at Dollar Academy, Mr Roxburgh, after serving his apprenticeship as law agent in Kinross, left for Edinburgh, where he attended the law classes of the University and subsequently qualified as a solicitor. But instead of seeking a business he found the Parliament House in the late eighties of the nineteenth century too strong a magnet. He became clerk to several counsel of note - they were giants in those days: David Dundas, A. 0. M. Mackenzie, Constable, Comrie Thomson, Alexander Ure - each of whom had a large practice. When Mr Ure was given his commission as Lord Advocate Mr Roxburgh accompanied him to London. Later, in 1912, he was appointed Assistant Clerk of Court, and in 1920 was promoted Depute Clerk.

Mr Roxburgh combined in a high degree efficiency as a clerk with a native grace and courtesy. Where other officials might find cause for annoyance and righteous indignation "R. A." would continue unperturbed.

Mr Roxburgh was not only an excellent official, he is a novelist and a playwright of note. His Robin Bide-a-Wee and Ninian Herd have been highly praised by competent critics, while his plays have been enjoyed by all who had the privilege of seeing them performed.
Mr Roxburgh, will not, we hope, abandon either of these forms of Art. If we may be permitted to make a suggestion as to the line which his next enterprise should take, it is that he write an account of the Parliament House as it was when he knew it in all its glory. That would be a revelation to the post-war habitué of the House.

In any event his numerous friends will wish him a long and happy retirement.

Naena's diary for 1950 chronicles her father's last days. In early February - about the 4th - Robin complained of stomach pains and was “put to bed” by his doctor. “Dr A. said he had a chill which had affected the lining of the stomach, but is not worried at all about him.” He seemed to rally but on Feb 10 Dr A. had him X-rayed. On the 11th “I ring Celie who says the X-ray showed a heart condition but not as advanced as Dr Allison had feared.” But on 13th Feb “Dr A. had seen him and is coming again tonight, but thinks one of us should go.” Which task fell to Evelyn.

She flew there and later on the 13th reported “she had spoken to Dr A. who was better pleased with Robin in the evening, and repeated he thought he might even get over this attack. She thought R. was very ill, but better than she expected to see him...” On the 14th Dr Allison had been and said “his heart is failing fast.” and later “Evelyn had to tell poor Celie that there is no hope at all, and it is a matter of two or three days at the most.”
On February 15th Naena rang Evelyn in the morning. Robin had slept pretty well and was quite peaceful, and apparently confortable. When asked, he always said he was “quite all right.” Later on “after dinner we rang Evelyn again and she told me that Robin died at 5 o'clock”, just as they were begining tea in his bedroom. She asked him if he would have any, and he whispered “not now”, and gave a slight cough, put his arms out and died instantaneously. She said she had never seen anyone go so quickly.

Poor Celie was much upset. Oliver [?] had been with them when I rang. He in tears. Robin looked very young and beautiful, but unlike the Robin we knew. He had gone back to 20 years old. Oliver had said: “This is a boy!”

This is an obituary signed 'J. C.' - from an undated un-named paper.

LATE MR R. A. ROXBURGH

Lawyer and Playwright

 THE death occurred late on Wednesday evening of Mr R. A. Roxburgh, M.B.E., who was for many years a highly respected Court of Session official, and who was also well known in literary and dramatic, circles.

A native of Kinross-shire, he took his law l classes at Edinburgh University, and subsequently qualified as a solicitor. Shortly thereafter he began an association with Parliament House which extended' to nearly half a century, during which period there were seven Lord Presidents-Inglis, Robertson, Kinross, Dunedin, Strathclyde, Clyde, and Normand.

After acting as clerk to many well-known counsel, he was appointed Assistant Clerk of Session in 1912, and Depute Clerk of Session in 1920. He had a thorough knowledge of procedure, and carried out his duties with marked efficiency and courtesy. He retired to 1937.

Mr Roxburgh, who was best known as the author of the two Scottish novels, 'Robin Bide-a-Wee' and 'Ninian Herd', was intensely Interested in the theatre. He was actively associated with the former Edinburgh Repertory Company, and at least one of his plays was first staged by them in the Music Hall. His plays included 'Tukeson's Thumb' and 'The Abbey Laird,' which relates to the old custom/of sanctuary at the House of Refuge in the Abbey of Holyrood.
He had many friends who were connected with the theatre, and many memories of the London stage in the early years of the century. His friends included the miner-dramatist, Joe Corrie, who, when visiting Edinburgh, usually stayed with him.

A year or two ago he had a bad fall which handicapped him physically for a time, but, up to the end, his mental powers remained unimpaired, and a few weeks ago he read through the whole of Byron's plays.

AN APPRECIATION

 The death of R. A. Roxburgh has removed another link with the Parliament House of an earlier day. A long professional career as Advocates' Clerk, Clerk to the Lord Advocate, and Depute Clerk of Session brought him prominently in touch with several generations of practitioners and members of the Bench and Bar. He loved the life of the Parliament House, its humours, its family atmosphere, and all of the wide brotherhood were his friends.

Experience and a detailed knowledge of procedure made his advice widely sought and valuable, and it was freely at the disposal of all, from the Judge on the Bench to the newest-caught apprentice. His neat, distinguished figure was itself a symbol of the man, gracious, courteous, and notable. In addition to the wide range of his legal interests, Mr Roxburgh had a fluent pen and at least two works to his credit. His memory will long be kept as that of a skilled and courteous official as well as of a man of a particularly sweet and gentle nature.

Finally an unsigned off-print from the March 1950 Congregational Supplement of St Stephen's Comely Bank Church, Edinburgh.

ROBERT ANDERSON ROXBURGH, M.B.E.

 There was a large attendance at the Funeral Service of Mr. R. A. Roxburgh, who died on 15th February in his 83rd year. The Service was held on Saturday, 18th February, at 10.30 a.m. in the Church and was conducted by the Rev. Dr. Oliver Russell, who paid the following tribute:-
“As the Christian Gospel is the story of a life, so the life of a Christian is the story of a gospel - a proclamation of good news. Such a life we contemplate to-day.

“Nearly 83 years ago Robert Roxburgh was born in Kinross. He was educated at Dollar Academy and Edinburgh University where he studied law. For nearly fifty years he was associated with Parliament House and when he retired as Depute Clerk of Session he had the honour of being awarded the M.B.E. for his services.

“When I first met him, he was over fifty years of age. We formed a friendship which has lasted without a flaw until this day. But neither then nor later did he seem even middle-aged. Everything about him remained boyish - his slim active figure : his lean alert face: his endearing interest and ardour. He ever drank at the fountain of youth. He had a great gift for friendship, winning thereby a wide range of interests; but very dear to his heart was his own congregation. He eagerly participated in many of its activities and his work as Sunday School Superintendent is a golden memory to many.

“At the time of his death he was Senior Elder, having been ordained in January, 1904. As an Elder he fixed himself firmly in the reverence and affection of his District, and on the Kirk Session he ascended to the supreme place among his brethren, reigning there full of years and honour with a mild and undisputed sway. As a speaker, he had an impromptu perfection of phrase, so that his talk was as finished prose, sparkling with humour that was always tolerant and debonair. One never heard him speak with asperity but always with dignity and sincerity in a melodious voice full of warmth and colour.

“When he spoke of the things of the spirit there was a throb in his utterance, a power of conviction, a sense of filial piety, an unction which deeply moved his hearers because they felt that behind his speech lay a heart that was one of the truest, bravest and gentlest that ever beat. The secret of his serenity, strength and joy is that he was self-consecrated by open-eyed and deliberate selection to the Christian life. He was no poor straw driven by every wind but a man dominated by conviction, serving a worthy Master, knowing the chief end of man. Thus every day was rich and bright to him and through a devastated world he could find his way in confidence and peace.

“During the last years of his life he had often to endure weakness and pain but under these buffetings of Fate he neither winced nor complained. The spectacle of his gentle fortitude was both a heartbreak and an inspiration. There was never a whisper of those repinings and arraignings of Providence to which even the well-disposed give voice under the pressure of their pain. Not as a mutinous rebel, but as a true son he carried himself and, more than any man I know, possessed his soul. His religion was not as a dark cloak to be assumed on appropriate occasions but was the sunshine of an inner radiance expressed unconsciously, as in God's great servant of old, who wist not that his face shone.

“How wide must be the circle of those who are his debtors! He liked people and evoked the best in them, sending them away uplifted to a courage, even a gaiety, somewhat like his own. How greatly gifted he was! What do your sorrowing hearts recall about him? - loyalty, honesty, generosity, courage, courtesy, tenderness, self-devotion, helpfulness, piety? He never imputed unworthy motives, nor bore a grudge, nor took a mean advantage. He was kind to all the weak and spent himself for others.

E'en as he trod that way to God,
So walked he from his birth
In simpleness and gentleness
And honour and clean mirth.

“To the dear sister whose life was so long integrated with his own in mutual love and service, and to the beloved daughters, to whom he was no heavy father but the gay, wise comrade of their projects and exploits, we offer our profound and respectful sympathy in this shadowed hour.

“And so in the light of an immortal hope we bid farewell meantime to a dear friend - a beautiful soul with whom we lovingly walked while the years remained and whose memory we shall ever cherish till for us too the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”

I have his two best known novels; 'Robin Bide-a wee' (1928) inscribed "to my dear wife with fondest love from 'the author'" and 'Ninian Herd' (1929) inscribed "to my dear wife - R.A.Roxburgh". Both were published by William Blackwood and Sons. We have all sorts of other manuscripts but they have yet to be sorted through. The books read quite well. The characters are convincingly drawn and the dialogue, if a little quaint, is no worse than that written by better known writers. But the plots seem dated and not just because they are in the genre of historical romance.