Wednesday, 20 October 2010

James Thomas Robarts


        James Thomas: (1784-1825) married Charlotte Lloyd and had issue; he also had 4 illegitimate children by his mistress Antonia Torna. He was employed by the East India Company in Macao and Canton for many years, latterly as the second supercargo on its Select Committee (i.e. its second most senior officer).  He died on the day he was due to embark from Macao to England in January 1825. His wife took the boat with their 5 children but without him and their youngest son, Alexander Robert Robarts (who was born 14th Nov 1824) was baptised on the St Helena on 12th April 1825, with Charlotte named as a "passenger").

  While still a junior supercargo in 1806, he had helped set up Baring & Co (in partnership with James Molony and George Baring and associated with Thomas Beale and Charles Magniac, founder of the firm that became Jardine Matheson), a private agency which dealt in cotton and opium - London withdrew permission for private trading in 1809 and there was much protest from such juniors, whose commission and opportunities to reap large rewards suffered badly. By 1812, he was in the list of supercargoes with Molony, George Urmston and William Fraser, his duties to 'copy the general books and weigh Teas'.

In 1816, he was one of three - with Malony and Madniac - appointed to look into the repayment of debts following Thomas Beale's business failure. Between 1819 and 1821, he was in England for health reasons, and on his return to duty he continued up the Company ladder until he was second supercargo on its Select Committee, and by then so ill that he had soon to be invalided out of the service. He died on the day he was due to embark from Macao for England. Other observers have misread his name as Roberts, and he is not to be confused with his contemporary, John William Roberts, who became its President in 1806, died in the Company house in 1813, and was buried in its garden (now the Camoens Garden).

A full sized, granite chest-tomb, his memorial lies further along the wall in line with 156, head towards the east. A moulded plinth rests on its podium, the sides and ends of the box have raised tablet surfaces, and mouldings on the heavy tabletop, which has rounded sides and ends, surround an inscription with well cut, nicely spaced lettering, reasonably easy to read:

To the memory of James Thomas Robarts Esq. Many years in the civil service of the Honourable East India Company at Canton. In the Empire of China who died at Macao January 28th 1825 in the 41st year of his age.

His will and codicils became a bone of contention between his widow and her new husband and his family, as reported in the Times:

London Times
12 JULY 1827

PREROGATIVE COURT, WEDNESDAY, JULY 11
IN THE GOODS OF JAMES TIERNEY ROBARTS

The deceased testator, Mr. Robarts, was a resident at Canton. In the year 1821 he visited England, where he executed a will: he returned to China, and in 1823 he signed, in the presence of witnesses, a codicil, which was not attested although it contained the attestation clause.  This document was transmitted to England, to accompany the will; it increased the sum allotted to Mrs. Robarts, namely 1,000 pounds (in addition to 3,000 pounds per annum) to 3,000 pounds.  It contained also certain other alterations, particularly with respect to some natural children of the testator, by a woman with whom he cohabited, named Antonia Turner, and for whom he had provided in his will.  He died at Canton, possessed of property amounting to 90,000 pounds.  The widow has since married Mr. Robert Dent, brother of Mr. Dent, one of the witnesses in whose presence the codicil was signed.

DR. LUSHINGTON now moved that notwithstanding the defect in the codicil, it might be admitted to probate.

SIR JOHN NICHOLL could not grant this on mere motion without the parties, whose interest was affected by the instrument, being cited or proof of intention on the part of the testator to abandon the attestation, although the sending it home was some evidence of his desire that it should operate.

The will was finally proved in 1831.

His widow, Charlotte Lloyd, remarried Robert Dent and, having had five children with James, went on to have a further five with Robert. Their first child died young and the second surviving was killed in Cawnpore in 1859.

Their third surviving son, Henry William Dent, married Emma Sabine Dent (1839-1863), daughter of William Dent (b. 1860) of Bickley, Kent - I presuppose they were cousins of some kind.

JT's elder brother, George James, also had an unexpected illegitimate family with  Mary Ann Harben and a will which also ended in Chancery:

Reports of Cases Decided in the High Court of Chancery

CASES IN CHANCERY. 558

ROLLS.-1830; May 26. MILLS v. ROBARTS.

Where a testator gives legacies to children, provided they attain twenty-one, with a gift over if the children die before twenty-one, and appoints trustees and guardians to the children, with a request that they will attend to their education, the children are entitled to the interest of their legacies for their maintenance and education, until they attain twenty-one or die under that age.

GEORGE JAMES ROBARTS by his last will, after bequeathing a legacy to Mary Ann Harben, and giving to Charles Mills and Abraham Wildey Robarts a sum of £8OOO in trust, to pay to her the interest during her life, referred to a settlement which he had previously made of £10,000 three per cent. consolidated bank annuities for the benefit of Mary Ann Harben during her life, and then proceeded in the following words:- "

"I do will and bequeath this said sum of £1O.OOO three per cent. consols, after the decease of Mary Ann Harben, to be equally divided between her two children hereafter named : viz. Georgiana Charlotte Harben Robarts, and her infant brother not yet baptized, but whom I purpose to name, James George Harben Robarts, for their joint use and benefit for ever. In the event of the said children dying before they attain the age of twenty-one years, I then will and bequeath the said £10,000 three per cent. consols to the survivor; or in case they both die before they attain the age of twenty- one years, I then will and bequeath the said £10,OOO three per cent. consols to my nephew Harry Robarts and his heirs for ever. In like manner I will and bequeath to my two children, Georgiana Charlotte Harben Robarts and James George Harben Robarts, after the decease of their mother, Mary Ann Harben, in equal proportions, the sum of £8000 before named in this my will and testament, subject to the same provision as is directed in the above paragraph; viz. in the event of the said children dying before they attain twenty-one years of age, I then will and bequeath the said sum of £8000 to my nephew Harry Robarts and his heirs for ever."

" I will and bequeath," continued the testator in a subsequent part of his will, " to my daughter Georgiana Charlotte Harben Robarts, daughter also of the above named Mary Ann Harben, the sum of £1O.OOO sterling, for her own absolute use and benefit, provided she attains the age of twenty-one years ; in default of this, I will and bequeath the said £10,000 sterling, to her brother James George Harben Robarts, provided also he attains the age of twenty-one years, but in default of this, I will and bequeath the said £10,OOO to my nephew Harry Robarts and his heirs for ever. I will and bequeath to James George Harben Robarts the sum of £10,000 sterling, for his own absolute use and benefit, provided he attains the age of twenty-one years ; but in default thereof, I will and bequeath the said £10,000 sterling, to his sister Georgiana Charlotte Harben Robarts ; but in the event of one or both of them dying before they attain the age of twenty-one years, I then will and bequeath the said £10,OOO to my nephew Harry Robarts and his heirs for ever. I will and bequeath that the legacy duty on the legacies bequeathed to Georgiana Charlotte Harben Robarts, and James George Harben Robarts, be paid by my executors out of the residue of my property. I will and bequeath to George Francis Stuart the sum of £10,000 sterling, for his sole use and absolute disposal, provided he attains the age of twenty-one years ; but in default thereof, I then will and bequeath the said £10,000 to my nephew Harry Robarts and his heirs for ever. I constitute and appoint my brother Abraham Wildey Robarts, and my much esteemed friend Charles Mills, junior, of Birchin Lane trustees and guardians to the several persons before named in this my last will and testament : and I earnestly implore and request that they would have the goodness to act, and to attend particularly to the education and well being of Georgiana Charlotte Harben Robarts, and see that she is properly and virtuously brought up and educated ; and I further will and direct that the said Georgiana Charlotte Harben Robarts is on no account to dispose of herself in marriage without the previous consent of her guardians, either before or after she attains twenty-one years of age, on pain of forfeiting two-thirds of the value of the legacies bequeathed to her in this my will. I earnestly recommend the said Georgiana Charlotte Harben Robarts and her brother to the favourable notice of my mother, sisters, and family in general ; and I hope and trust, they will have some feeling consideration for the circumstances of their birth, and to do all in their power
to make them respectable and happy in life."

The testator concluded his will by bequeathing the residue of his property to his brothers and sisters, and appointing Charles Mills and Abraham Wildey Robarts his executors. The bill was filed by one of the executors ; and the question in the cause was, whether, the two children, Georgiana Charlotte Harben Robarts and James George Harben Robarts, were entitled to interest on their legacies of £10,000 each for their maintenance and education during their minorities.

Mr. J. Russell, for the plaintiff.

Mr. Pemberton and Mr. Roots, for the children of Mary Anne Harben: Though the legacies are given to the children, only provided they respectively attain the age of twenty one, the testator has placed himself in loco parentis towards these children, and they are entitled to the interest of the money for their support and maintenance. Inckdon v. Northcote,(a) Acherly v. Vemon.(b) These two children have no immediate provision, except the legacies in question. What, then, did the testator mean by appointing Mr. Robarts and Mr. Mills trustees and guardians to them, and requesting those gentlemen to take care of their education ? They could be trustees only of the legacies, and it was only out of the interest of the legacies that the expense of the education of the legatees could be defrayed. The testator, therefore, must have meant to postpone the possession, and not the vesting of the legacies. Branstrom v. Wilkinson.(a)

Mr. Tinney and Mr. Rolfe, for the residuary legatees:-These legacies are expressly given only on condition that the legatees attain twenty-one ; if they do not attain that age, there is no bequest to them, and all that was intended for them goes over to other persons. How, then, can they be entitled to any benefit from this bequest, until the annexed condition is fulfilled ? In Branstrom v. Wilkinson the legacy was given, when the child attained twenty-one ; and the father of the legatee was appointed trustee of the legacy during her minority. The word " when" is not so strong as the word " provided ;" and, though in the present case trustees are appointed, yet the trust is not expressly referred to the legacies of £10,000. The testator seems to have used the words " trustees" and " guardians" as synonymous. His object was to appoint guardians for these illegitimate children, who might superintend their education ; that was a purpose which he could not legally effect and it is difficult to conceive how the use of this vague term can control the clear unequivocal import of the words of direct bequest. The testator had made a large provision for the mother; and, upon her death, the principal, amounting to £18,000 consols, was to go to the children. The children might, during their minority, become entitled to this property; and, therefore, the appointment of trustees was not superfluous.

THE MASTER of THE ROLLS :- The testator appoints two gentlemen to be trustees and guardians of these children, and requests them to attend to their education ; and the case of Branstrom v. Wilkinson is an authority directly in point, that they are entitled to the interest of the sums given to them until they attain twenty-one, or die under that age. The same principle applies to the legacy given to George Francis Stuart.

Should I be worried?

1 comment:

  1. I came across your interesting site as I am trying to track info about James Thomas Robarts - however I cannot see which church his memorial is in and wonder if you could let me know. Many thanks
    barclay.price@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete