National Records of Scotland

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Robert Chambers (1802-1871)

Robert Chambers (1802-1871)

Publisher and writer

Robert Chambers read widely and shared his father’s love of music. The family moved to Edinburgh but were unable to afford the fees for him to continue his education at the university. He set up a book-shop in Leith which proved very successful. In 1832 he helped his brother, William Chambers, launch a weekly paper, ‘Edinburgh Journal‘. They founded W and R Chambers, publishers of school text-books, People’s Editions of literary works and the famous Chamber’s encyclopaedia and Chamber’s English dictionary. In addition to contributing articles to the journal he produced several biographical, historical and topographical works including ‘Traditions of Edinburgh’. His son, Robert, continued the publishing business.

Birth in 1802

Robert Chambers, son of Mr James Chambers, weaver in Peebles, and Jean Gibson, his spouse, was born on 10 July 1802. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Peebles records that he was baptised on 30 July by William Dalgliesh DD, minister of Peebles. The witnesses were Mr Adam Govan, merchant in Peebles, and Mr William Chambers, uncle to the child and weaver in Peebles.

Birth and baptism entry for Robert Chambers

Birth and baptism entry for Robert Chambers (90 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 768/3

First marriage in 1829

Robert Chambers, bookseller, residing in Upper Dean Terrace, Stockbridge, in this parish, married Jane Anne Kirkwood, residing in number 27 Elder Street in the parish of St Andrews, Edinburgh, daughter of the late John Kirkwood of the Custom House Glasgow. The entry in the Old Parish Register for St Cuthbert's (his parish) records that they had been 'three times proclaimed in order to marriage in the Parish Church of St Cuthberts and no objections have been offered'. It confirms that they were 'married at Springbog near Glasgow on the seventh of December thereafter by the Reverend John Thomson, Minister of the Chapel of Ease at Shettlestown Glasgow'.

Proclamation of banns and marriage entry for Robert Chambers - 1829 (his parish)

Proclamation of banns and marriage entry for Robert Chambers (62 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-2/41, page 477

There is a second entry in the OPR for Edinburgh (her parish) which provides a summary of the details above but with slight variations.

Proclamation of banns and marriage entry for Robert Chambers - 1829 (her parish)

Second proclamation of banns and marriage entry for Robert Chambers (63 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/64, page 115

1841 to 1861 censuses

Robert Chambers wasn't enumerated in Scotland in 1841 or 1861.

In 1851 Robert Chambers, 48, miscellaneous writer and publisher, was enumerated at 1 Doune Terrace in the parish of St Stephen. The census return for Edinburgh shows the household included his seven daughters and six servants. The schedule is transcribed over two pages.

1851 census return for Robert Chambers - page 19

1851 census return for Robert Chambers (57 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1851/685-1/139, pages 19-20

Second marriage in 1867

Robert Chambers LLD, book-publisher, widower, aged 64, married Mary Anne Frith, widow, aged 53, on 8 January 1867. The entry in the statutory register of marriages for St Andrews and St Leonards gives the place of marriage as North Street in St Andrews after banns according to the forms of the Scottish Episcopal Church. His address is given as 6 Gillespie Terrace, St Andrews.

Marriage entry for Robert Chambers - 1867

Marriage entry for Robert Chambers (87 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1867/453/2

Death in 1871

Robert Chambers LLD, author and publisher, died on 17 March 1871 aged 69 years. The entry in the statutory register for the district of St Andrews and St Leonards records that he was the widower of Mary Ann Frith, maiden surname (m.s.) Bryce and formerly of Ann Kirkwood. The place of death was his home at 6 Gillespie Terrace in St Andrews and the cause of death anaemia and general debility. The informant was Alex McBean, undertaker, St Andrews.

Death entry for Robert Chambers

Death entry for Robert Chambers (63 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1871/453/41

Testament of 1871

The testament of Robert Chambers was registered at Cupar Sheriff Court on 10 June 1871. One of the provisions he made was that his trustees 'shall deliver to the Faculty of Advocates for preservation in their library and as a mark of my gratitude to them for the free access they have always given me in the Library a manuscript in Ten Bound Volumes, entitled "The Lyon in Mourning".'

Testament for Robert Chambers

Detail from page 762 of the testament for Robert Chambers (87 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, SC20/50/43, pages 751-773