The only surviving son of Sir Helenus Robert Robertson and his wife Kate Ann Banks, he was born at Upton Grange in Cheshire and educated at Eton College and New College, Oxford. On the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 he was commissioned on the General List. He transferred to the Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1916, ending the war as a Brevet Major and being appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1919. Born with the surname Robertson, he assumed the triple-barelled name Fitzwarenne-Despencer-Robertson on 17 July 1916, in accordance with the wishes of the late Edmund Fitzwarenne-Despencer; however only two of his surnames were regularly used.
At the 1922 general election he was elected as Member of Parliament for the Islington West constituency in London. However his small majority was not sustained at the 1923 election, and was unsuccessful when he contested the seat again in the elections of 1924 and 1929.
However, in 1931, he was elected as MP for the Salisbury constituency in Wiltshire, at a by-election on 11 March following the resignation of the Conservative MP Hugh Morrison. Despencer-Robertson held this seat until his death. On the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 he was commissioned on the General List and served until his death as Military Secretary at Headquarters Southern Command, reaching the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He died in 1942 at the relatively young age of 55, possibly due to a heart attack brought on by overwork.
- Fox-Davies, Arthur (1929). Armorial Families: a Directory of Gentlemen of Coat-Armour. London: Hurst & Blackett, Ltd.
- "No. 29675". The London Gazette. 21 July 1916. p. 7274.
- Craig, Frederick (1983). British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-49. Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
- "Despencer-Robertson". UK Parliament website.
- National Portrait Gallery: Collection of Portraits of James Despencer-Robertson
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by James Despencer-Robertson
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir George Elliott
| Member of Parliament for Islington West
| Member of Parliament for Salisbury
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