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Robert Barbour - 1797-1885

16/05/22
Capture 2
Bolesworth Castle 3

Robert Barbour was born in 1797 in Kilbarchan, a village in the west central Lowlands of Scotland. He was educated at Glasgow Grammar School and graduated from the University of Glasgow.

Robert's link to the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge, of course, is that in 1856 he purchased Bolesworth Castle and its Estate; the Bolesworth Estate now being one of the principal partners of the Sandstone Ridge Trust.

Sold by Auction in Chester in one lot on Thursday 23 October 1856, the 'Plan and Particulars' relating to the sale, state:

*the Estate comprised upwards of 2,321 Statute Acres of Fine Land
*was situated in one of the most commanding positions in the County
*was richly wooded
*extended over several Townships (on the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge)

What brought Robert to Cheshire relates to the strong trade links which existed between the textile centres of Glasgow and Manchester. At 18 years of age, Robert took the decision to move to Manchester where he joined company with a fellow Scotsman John Macfarlane to act as a Commission Agent for the sale of fabrics such as linen, calico and jean (a tough twill weave cotton).

When Macfarlane retired Robert asked his brother George to be his partner as 'Robert Barbour and Brother'. They became one of the most successful textile merchants in Manchester with large warehouses in Piccadilly and Aytoun Street. Robert was also one of the founders of the Manchester and Liverpool District Bank.

In 1827 Robert married his first wife Elizabeth Allan, daughter of a wealthy Scottish banker. They lived in Mosley Street, Manchester, where the following year they had a daughter also named Elizabeth. Tragically, Robert's wife died shortly after childbirth and their daughter Elizabeth then died, aged 6.

Following the deaths of both his first wife and his daughter, Robert then married Janet Fleming in 1836 in Scotland. They were to have four children, two of which survived; Janetta and George.

Like many successful businessmen at the time, Robert chose the countryside over urban life and left Manchester in 1856 after purchasing the Bolesworth Castle Estate.

Robert's life was rooted in the Presbyterian Church where he invested much time and money into building new churches and schools, one example being the school at Harthill on the Sandstone Ridge.

He also introduced piped water to Harthill where the well can still be seen in front of the old school-house.

Our thanks to Wendy Bawn
Ref: 'Bolesworth and the Barbours' Wendy Bawn and Diana Barbour, 2017
Ref: 'Plan and Particulars', Bolesworth Castle Estate, 1856