James Robertson (British Army officer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

James Robertson
40th Governor of New York
In office
1780 – 17 April 1783
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byWilliam Tryon
Succeeded byAndrew Elliot (acting)
Personal details
Fife, Scotland
Died4 March 1788
London, England
ProfessionMilitary officer, official
Military service
Allegiance Great Britain
Branch/serviceBritish Army
RankLieutenant General
Battles/warsFrench and Indian War

American Revolutionary War

James Robertson (1717 – 4 March 1788) was a British general and colonial official who served as the 40th Governor of New York from 1779 to 1783.[1][2]


Robertson was born in Newbigging, Fife, Scotland where he was baptized on 29 June 1717.[3] He came to the American colonies in 1756 as a Major of the royal American troops under the command of the Earl of Loudoun. He became a lieutenant colonel in the 55th Regiment of Foot on 8 July 1758.[4] After his service in the French and Indian War, he was influential in getting Parliament to establish the Quartering Act of 1765,[5] which also gave Robertson the role of Barrackmaster General for the colonies, making him responsible for 27 barrackmasters from Saint Augustine to Louisbourg, Nova Scotia and Detroit, Michigan.[6]

Robertson was promoted colonel and was the commander of the 60th Regiment of Foot in January 1776. He was commissioned Major General on 1 January 1776. He commanded the 6th brigade at the Battle of Long Island.[4]

He was instrumental in fighting and stopping the Great Fire in 1776, which destroyed 500 homes and about 1/4 of Manhattan in September 1776. He returned to England in February 1777. He was appointed civil governor of New York in 1779, and arrived in New York City in March 1780, and was appointed Governor on 23 March 1780. He was commissioned Commander in Chief in North America on 4 February 1782.[7]  He was made a Lieutenant General on 20 November 1782. He issued a proclamation of Thanksgiving on 14 January 1783.[8]

On 5 May 1783, he met with General Guy Carleton, General Henry Clinton, and Admiral Robert Digby, about the planning for the evacuation of New York City.[9]

Leaving for England, Robertson was replaced as commandant of New York City by Major General James Pattison, and as governor by Lt. Gov. Andrew Elliot since 17 April 1783. Robertson died in London on 4 March 1788.


  • Ronald W. Howard (ed) The twilight of British rule in revolutionary America: the New York letter book of General James Robertson, 1780–1783, New York State Historical Association, 1983; ISBN 978-0-917334-12-2


  1. ^ "Scotland's Mark on America". Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  2. ^ Charles Zebina Lincoln, ed. (1909). State of New York: Messages from the governors. 1. J.B. Lyon company.
  3. ^ WH Auden
  4. ^ a b Roster of St Andrew's Society of the State of New York
  5. ^ New York History: Quarterly Journal of the New York State Historical Association, 1985, Volume 66, page 451
  6. ^ Klein, Milton M. and Howard, Ronald W. The Twilight of British Rule in Revolutionary America: The New York Letter Book of General James Robertson, 1780-1783 (Cooperstown, NY: New York State Historical Association, 1983
  7. ^ Commission (1782) National Records of Scotland GD172/2610, Papers of the Henderson Family of Fordell (GD172).
  8. ^ James Robertson's proclamation
  9. ^ David Lee Russell (2000). The American Revolution in the Southern colonies. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-0783-5.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
William Tryon
Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Andrew Elliot