Henry Robertson Hartley

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Henry Robertson Hartley (12 November 1777 Southampton – 24 May 1850 Calais, France) was an eccentric and philanthropist and is the founder of the Hartley Institute which became the University of Southampton.[1]

The arrival of Prime Minister Lord Palmerston for the opening of the Hartley Institute on 15 October 1862

Early life[edit]

His father was George Robinson, a mayor of Southampton and JP who was also a strict Calvinist.

Hartley attended Southampton Grammar School (now King Edward VI School, Southampton).[2] As a reaction against his strict upbringing as a youth he adopted a libertine lifestyle. This left him with VD which gave him problems during the rest of his life. His marriage in 1798 was a failure and was annulled in 1802.

Later life[edit]

In 1821 he inherited a considerable fortune on his mother's death. He led a reclusive life and in 1842 made a will leaving most of his estate to the city of Southampton. He wished his house to be a museum promote the study of natural history, astronomy, antiquities, classics, and oriental literature. The Hartley Institution was founded in 1862 by the city combining a museum, library and venue for public lectures. It evolved into Hartley College (1896), Hartley University College (1902), University College of Southampton (1914), and the University of Southampton (1952). Hartley's house was demolished.