Jardine, Robert (DNB12)

JARDINE, Sir ROBERT, first baronet (1825–1905), East India merchant and racehorse owner, born on 24 May 1825, was the seventh son of David Jardine of Muirhousehead, Applegarth, Dumfriesshire, and Rachel, daughter of William Johnstone of Linns, Dumfriesshire. After education at Merchiston College, Edinburgh, he went to China with his uncle, Dr. William Jardine, a pioneer in the East India trade and then head of Jardine, Matheson and Co. He did much to extend the business of the firm. Returning in 1859, he took up a partnership in the London branch, Matheson and Co., Lombard Street, and on the death of his brother Andrew in 1881 became head of the firm, inheriting also the Lanrick Castle estate, Perthshire, as well as much property in Dumfriesshire. He had already acquired Castlemilk, Lockerbie, where in 1865 he erected a modern mansion. In the same year he entered parliament as liberal M.P. for Ashburton. In 1868 he was elected by a small majority for Dumfries burghs, being opposed by a radical. He unsuccessfully contested Dumfriesshire against Mr. Hope Johnstone (conservative) in 1874, but carried the seat in 1880 and continued to hold it till his retirement from public life in 1892, though he had broken with his party on the home rule question. He was created a baronet on 20 July 1885. Active in county business, Jardine was for twenty-four years captain of the Lockerbie company of the king's own Scottish Borderers. He was prominent also as an agriculturist and a breeder of stock, his Galloway cattle winning many prizes at shows.

Jardine was best known as a devotee of sport. He began to run horses when in China. In 1862 his colours were registered, and in 1877 he was elected to the Jockey Club, but for fifteen years his horses ran in the name of his cousin, John Johnstone of Hallheaths, his racing partner. Their horses were mostly trained on Middleham Moor by Thomas, brother of Matthew Dawson [q. v.], and Fred Bates. Their first successes were with Rococo in the Northumberland Plate in 1866 and with Mandrake in the Great Ebor Handicap in 1867. Their chestnut colt Pretender won the 2000 guineas in 1869, and beat Pero Gomez by a head in the Derby the same year, when he was ridden by John Osborne, but failed in the St. Leger. Two years later Bothwell won the Two Thousand. In 1877 Jardine's three-year-old Hilarious won the Cesarewitch. The Manchester Cup was taken by him three times, and the Lincolnshire Handicap won in 1889. But he was most successful at Ascot, winning the Queen's Vase in 1869 and 1871, the Royal Hunt Cup in 1884, the Wokingham twice, and the Stakes seven times (twice each with Teviotdale and Lord Lome). When the Sheffield Lane joint stud was broken up, Jardine for many years bred his own horses. His last year as an owner was 1896.

Jardine was even more interested in coursing than in horse-racing, and the continuance of the sport under the disadvantages entailed by the Ground Game Act owed much to his influence. An active member of the Altcar, Ridgway and Scottish National Clubs, he was elected to the National Coursing Club in 1884. He established the Corrie and Mid-Annandale Meetings, and held Waterloo Cup nominations for thirty-nine years. The Castlemilk kennel first made its mark after 1860 and reached its zenith in 1873, when Muriel won the Waterloo Cup. The Purse and Plate were also taken several times in subsequent years. Jardine was much attached to his dogs and is said to have made selections for the Waterloo meeting in his bedroom in the last year of his life. At one time also Jardine hunted and was a founder of the Dumfriesshire foxhounds pack and a member of the Caledonian hunt. A fine specimen of the country gentleman and sportsman of the old school, he collected at Castlemilk pictures as well as turf trophies. He died there after a year's illness on 17 Feb. 1905, and was buried in St. Mungo's churchyard. Jardine's portrait by Henry Tanworth Wells was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1876. A cartoon by 'Spy' appeared in 'Vanity Fair' (1890).

Jardine married on 4 April 1867 Margaret Seton, daughter of John Buchanan Hamilton of Leny, Perthshire. She died on 7 March 1868, leaving an only son, Robert William Buchanan Jardine, who succeeded to the baronetcy.

[Burke's Peerage and Baronetage; The Times, 18 and 22 Feb. 1905; Field, 25 Feb.; Sportsman, Dumfries and Galloway Standard, Glasgow Herald, and Scotsman, 18 Feb.; Who's Who, 1905.]

G. Le G. N.