Robson, James (DNB00)

ROBSON, JAMES (1733–1806), bookseller, the son of a yeoman, was born at Sebergham, Cumberland, in 1733. He came to London at the age of sixteen, and entered the shop of his relative, J. Brindley, of New Bond Street, known as the publisher of a series of editions of the Latin classics. Robson succeeded Brindley in 1759, and carried on the business for nearly forty years with credit and success. Between 1765 and 1791 he issued many catalogues, some of auction sales, including the libraries of Dr. Mead, Martin Folkes, Edward Spelman, Prebendary Bland, Joseph Smith, consul at Venice, and others. He collected the papers contributed by George Edwards [q. v.], the naturalist, to the ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ and published them with the Linnean ‘Index’ and a life of the author in 1776. In 1788 he accompanied James Edwards [q. v.] and Peter Molini to Venice in order to examine the Pinelli library, which Robson and Edwards purchased for about 7,000l., and sold by auction in 1789 and 1790 for 9,356l. After the death of his eldest son Robson gradually withdrew from business. About 1797 he was appointed high bailiff of Westminster. He rebuilt, and was the sole proprietor of, Trinity Chapel in Conduit Street, a chapel of ease to St. Martin's, first erected by Archbishop Tenison.

Robson was an enthusiastic angler, and was nearly the last survivor of the monthly dining club at the Shakspeare tavern, among whose members were Cadell, Dodsley, Longman, Lockyer Davis, Tom Paine, Thomas Evans, and other well-known booksellers. It was under their auspices that Thomas Davies brought out his ‘Dramatic Miscellanies’ and ‘Life of Garrick,’ and among them was first started the proposal which led to Johnson's ‘Lives of the Poets.’ Robson died at his house in Conduit Street on 25 Aug. 1806, aged 73 years. His wife was a Miss Perrot, by whom he had James (1766–1785) and George (who took orders, and became in 1803 a prebendary of St. Asaph), other sons, and five daughters.

[Gent. Mag. 1806, ii. 783, 871; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 634, 661–3, v. 322–6, vi. 434–43; Nichols's Illustrations, iv. 881, vi. 678; Clarke's Repertorium Bibliographicum, 1819, p. 499; Timperley's Encyclopædia, 1842, p. 825.]

H. R. T.