James Robin (pronounced ROE-bin) (14 November 1817 – 23 July 1894) was a prominent businessman in the early days of South Australia. Several of his descendants were significant, in the Methodist Church and other fields. Also worthy of mention are his brothers Charles (1826? – 27 November 1872) and Theophilus (1830? – 19 September 1874).
Their father, Nicholas Robin (1788? – 5 January 1873), a citizen of Guernsey, was married to Esther de Quetteville (ca.1819 – 20 August 1855), daughter of Rev. Jean de Quetteville "The Apostle of French Methodism". He died at his home at St Jacques, Guernsey.
James Robin (14 November 1817 – 23 July 1894) was born on Guernsey and educated at Elizabeth College. Around 1835 he left for Brazil, where he spent six years with the firm of Bramley Moore & Co, returned to Liverpool, where he established a shipping agency, and married the daughter (b. 1820, d. 1? August 1907) of Thomas Rowland of Gravesend, in 1844.
In May 1851 he arrived in Adelaide, where he set up a wholesale import business Robin & Le Bair (see below).
In 1866 he was appointed vice-consul for Brazil, an honorary position he held until his death.
He had 5 sons and 3 daughters. At least three of his sons attended J. L. Young's Adelaide Educational Institution. Those who featured at prizegivings were James (from 1856 to 1861), Roland (1858 to 1864) and Henry (1858 to 1865).
He suffered from a speech defect which prevented him from public speaking, but was an ardent Methodist church-goer, and was the prime mover behind the formation of Prince Alfred College at the Wesleyan Lecture Hall, Pirie Street. He was, with brother Theophilus, on the building committee in 1867 when Prince Alfred laid the foundation stone of the main building at Kent Town. Many boys from the various branches of the Robin family left their mark in the academic and sporting records of "P.A.C.".
- Eldest daughter (Charlotte) Sophie (d. 25 August 1924) married Samuel Fiddian M.A. (d. 7? January 1904) on 9 January 1872. He was first headmaster (from 1869 to 1870) of Prince Alfred College, then proprietor and principal of Creswick Grammar School from 1872 to 1903. (He had a previous marriage, to Ella Louise Vasey in 1884; their daughter Reta (b. 1885) drowned with Maurice Robin at Ocean Grove, Victoria 28 December 1896.)
- A son, James Roland Fiddian (d. 20 February 1943) was Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria from 1938 to 1940.
- Eldest son (Rev.) James De Quetteville Robin (– 28 July 1900) married Mary Waterhouse on 15 October 1873.
- Their second son, Reginald James Robin (– 21 November 1944) married Mabel Berryman on 19 March 1913.
- Another son, Maurice (born 1888), was one of two children who drowned at Ocean Grove 28 December 1896.
- Second son Rowland Barbenson Robin (1848 – 1931) married Mary Friend Whitney Canaaway (died 6 February 1949) on April 25, 1883 He succeeded his father as vice-consul of Brazil. His son, Phil Robin, who played Australian Rules football for Norwood, was killed in France during World War I.
- Third son Henry Nicholas Robin (ca. 1849 – 16 December 1924) married Ada Marian Keeling (d. 23 December 1948) on 21 February 1883
- H. N. Robin and R. B. Robin were senior employees of James Robin & Co.
- Their fifth son A(llison) B(edford) Robin (30 September 1860 – 16 July 1942) was in the first intake of students at Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1885 under Prof. John D. Custance.
- He was a progressive and outspoken farmer and orchardist in Nuriootpa; Secretary of the Nuriootpa branch of the Central Agricultural Bureau and Secretary of the Angaston branch of the Fruitgrowers' Association. Photo of A. B. Robin He developed several fruit varieties at his "Para Grove" nursery, including the "Corona" pear, which was for a time grown commercially.
- Their youngest son Vincent John Robin MRCS, LRCP (died 2 January 1904) was a surgeon in Queensland, educated at U of A 1886, married Sarah Ann "Daisy" Buchanan 28 June 1901.
James Robin & Co.
- In May 1851 James Robin set up a wholesale import business "Robin & Le Bair" in Grenfell Street with Nicholas P. Le Bair (died 9 April 1854), frequently styled "Captain Le Bair", employing the schooner "Fame" (he had been captain of the "William", registered in Guernsey). On Le Bair's death, he assumed control of the business, then in partnership with sons Henry Nicholas Robin and Rowland Barbenson Robin as James Robin & Co.
- On 12 February 1910, fire destroyed the two-storey warehouse on the corner of Chesser Street and Grenfell Street. In 1909 the business had been taken over by S. Fiddian (grandson of James Robin) and Strachan, and the building by Richard Smith, a principal of Harris, Scarfe and Co..
brother Charles Robin (1826? – 27 November 1872) was a land dealer with an office in Gilbert Street, Adelaide. He arrived in South Australia in October 1851, a few months after his brother James.
In the London office of Robert Torrens in 1851, with fellow Guernsey citizens James Thoume and N. P. Le Bair, Charles took a lease on the Kent Town section of Adelaide, then known as "Dr. Kent's Section", with an option to convert to freehold. He arrived in Adelaide in October to find that brother James had entered a business partnership with Captain Le Bair. In 1854, Charles, his brother James and Henry Ayers purchased part of the section from Dr. Benjamin Archer Kent without reference to his previous partners. This became the subject of complex litigation in 1858 brought on by Thoume and an associate William Frederick Blanchard. The suit was eventually dropped on condition of Charles meeting some of his opponents' costs.
He returned to Guernsey soon after being declared insolvent. Properties in Adelaide and Melbourne (shops in Swanston, La Trobe and Elizabeth Streets) which he owned, or had mortgages on, had been liquidated for a fraction of their purchase price without his knowledge. Other properties in Port Adelaide and Port Augusta were liquidated after his death in Les Rohais, Guernsey.
brother Theophilus Robin (ca.1830 – 19 September 1874) was a pioneer timber merchant in South Australia.
Born in Guernsey, In 1854 he took over Lipson Street, Port Adelaide warehouse of S. R. Clarke & Co.
He was a partner in Padman & Co to 1864, then as timber merchant, built up premises on corner of Lipson Street and Port Road as Sarnia Timber Yard and Sarnia Steam Mills.
In 1859 Theophilus Robin and shipping agent Peter Le Messurier formed a partnership as Robin and Le Messurier. The partnership was dissolved on 31 August 1872. leaving Theophilus to concentrate on the Sarnia Timber business.
He was a member of the Philosophical Society and the Wesleyan Methodist church and for many years superintendent of the Archer Street Wesleyan Sunday School.
He died of erysipelas following an infected boil on his leg, leaving a widow and nine children. His widow took on his fellow AEI alumnus Theodore Hack as business partner, styling the business Robin & Hack. It was known simply as "Hack's Timber Yard" on 11 November 1884 when fire broke out, destroying not only the timber but woodworking machinery worth £5,000
On 1 March 1855 he married Stella Ann Ansell (ca.1837 – 19 July 1916) http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/49305552
Their eldest son Theophilus Hedley Robin (1859 – 12 June 1940) was a partner with Simon Harvey, Malcolm Reid and William Haslam in Globe Timber Mills around 1920.
Another son, Percy A. Robin MA (Lond), later known as P. Ansell Robin D.Litt. (ca.1860 – 28 May 1937), was educated at PAC. He was a fine cricketer, playing for Queensland, and had a distinguished career as a teacher in private schools, including Ipswich Grammar, where he was appointed Classical Master in 1886 and acting head two years later, and headmaster of the Church of England Grammar School, Ballarat in 1910, He was the author of
- Animal Lore in English Literature John Murray London 1932
- Death of Mr. James Robin South Australian Register 25 July 1894 p.6 accessed 6 August 2011
- Fire in Grenfell Street The Advertiser 14 February 1910 p.7 accessed 24 August 2011
- "LAW AND CRIMINAL COURTS.". South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 14 May 1857. p. 3. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- "COMMERCIAL.". South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 4 October 1878. p. 4. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- Native Industries South Australian Register 5 June 1868 p.2 accessed 21 August 2011
- Public Notices South Australian Register 7 September 1872 p.2 accessed 20 August 2011
- The Late Mr. Theo. Robin South Australian Register 10 October 1874 supplement p.6 accessed 26 September 2011