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Robert Ritchie

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Robert Ritchie (1795-1871)


1872 Obituary [1]

MR. ROBERT RITCHIE, the second son of Charles and Mary Ritchie, was born in Edinburgh on the 25th of September, 1795, and his education was principally conducted at the High School of that city.

He entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman in September, 1811, a post he speedily relinquished for the now extinct East India Company’s naval service.

After two voyages to India he left the sea, and joined in his father’s business in Edinburgh, soon becoming the principal, devoting himself mainly to iron founding and kindred engineering manufactures, which, however, he ceased to pursue whilst still in early life.

Mr. Ritchie was distinguished for his scientific and literary attainments, and he was a member of many societies. He was a Fellow, and, at one time, Vice-President of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts; a member of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland; and was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 4th of February, 1845. For his literary communications he received seven medals from the two former societies, and once special thanks. His writings have had a wide circulation, and are of a practical character. In his work on railways, published in 1846, he gave expression to his views on railway accidents.

In 1842 and previously he advocated the application of steam to farming purposes, pointing out thme any uses to which fixed engines might be applied.

In 1851 he made a report, as secretary of the mechanical section for the Lothians, for the Great Exhibition of that year. But it was as an engineer in ventilating and warming, sciences in which he may be regarded as a pioneer in Scotland, that he was latterly chiefly engaged. His opinions on domestic, public, factory, ship, mining, farm steading, and forest ventilation, were published in various works between the years 1832 and 1862, and form a standard series on the subject ; and the successful application of his views may be seen in Balmoral Castle, in Stewart’s Hospital, the College Library, the Advocates’ Library, and the Signet Library, the Register House, the General Post Office, and the Parliament House, and Courts of Law, Edinburgh, the Courts of Law and the General Post Office, Glasgow, in Marischal College, Aberdeen, and in numerous mansions, court houses, prisons, and churches scattered over the country.

As a citizen of Edinburgh, so early as 1825, he occupied the position of Moderator of the Society of the High Constables, and in 1826 entered the Town Council.

In 1829 he filled the office of Admiral of Leith, and more than once, commencing in 1827, was elected a magistrate of the city, doing the duty of police judge; and for several years he was Old Bailie. In 1854 he was Baron Bailie of Portsburgh ; and, in 1855-56, was the last Baron Bailie of Canongate and Calton.

As a governor of Heriot’s Hospital he took a warm interest in that institution, and accomplished many improvements in connection with it ; he also wrote interesting reports on the question - Who was the architect of Heriot’s Hospital? He was for many years an active member of the Paving Board and of the Water Company, and of the Session of the Iron Church, and for several years sat as representative elder of the Town Council in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; recently he was Moderator of the High Constable and Guard of Honour of Holyrood, and besides holding other offices, was a member of the City Parochial Board.

Be was a moderate Conservative in politics, and took an active part throughout a long course of years in the committees and in canvassing for the Conservative cause in Edinburgh, and in 1837 was Chairman of the Edinburgh Conservative Association.

Mr. Ritchie was a man of no ordinary ability. Honourable, straightforward, and manly, whilst not hesitating to expose any underhand proceedings, he did not shrink from expressing his opinions, and supported them with consistency and courage. His manner was retiring; he was a man of genial nature, and of much goodness of heart, and was recognised and valued for his sterling worth.

For some time before his death his physical strength had been failing ; and on the morning of the 1st of May, 1871, he was struck with paralysis, from which he never rallied, and expired on the 3rd of the same month in the seventy-sixth year of his age.


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