Robert Milligan (Bradford MP)

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For the merchant, shipowner and slave owner (1746-1809), see Robert Milligan.
Robert Milligan
Born 10 October 1786
Dunnance, Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
Died 1 July 1862 (aged 75)
Acacia, Rawdon
Occupation Member of Parliament for Bradford, 1851 - 1857
Spouse(s) Phoebe Briggs
Parent(s) John Milligan and Elizabeth Charters

Robert Milligan (10 October 1786 – 1 July 1862) was an English Liberal Party politician and the first mayor of Bradford.[1]

He was elected unopposed as Member of Parliament (MP) for Bradford in West Yorkshire at a by-election in October 1851, and held the seat until the 1857 general election.[2]


Robert Milligan was born at Dunnance, Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland on 10 October 1786 to John Milligan (1740 - 1819) of Dunnance, Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. John Milligan was a tenant farmer who married his second wife Elizabeth Charters(1739 - 1831) in 1783. The couple had five children of which Robert was the second child.[3]

Robert Milligan moved to Cross Hills in Craven in about 1802 as a "Travelling Scotchman" working as a door to door salesman. Robert married Phoebe Briggs (1796-1868) at Guiseley in 1818. They had no children but adopted Susan (1813-1886) daughter of Robert's brother, John jnr.[4] By 1810 he had opened a drapers shop in Westgate, Bradford[1] eventually becoming a buyer for Leo Schuster & Co. of Manchester and through that job met Henry Forbes (1790-1870).[4] Together they formed Milligan, Forbes & Co, Stuff Merchants that became synonymous with the stuff trade of Bradford and housed in an impressive new premises on Hall Ings, Bradford in 1853. The Milligan and Forbes Warehouse, now considered Bradford's first palazzo, has been the headquarters of the Telegraph and Argus since the 1920s.

By 1847, Robert Milligan's esteem had risen enough for him to become the town's first mayor and chairman of the new borough magistrates.[5] He was later Liberal MP for the borough in three successive Parliaments from 1851 - 1857.[1] Of a strongly liberal position, Milligan was sympathetic to the Chartists who were active in Bradford during his tenure as M.P.[6] and held strong views on parliamentary reform and the emancipation of West Indian slaves.[4]


Milligan died at his Acacia estate in Rawdon on 1 July 1862. He is buried under an impressive 20 feet (6.1 m) pillar in Undercliffe Cemetery, whose very existence is at least partly due to Milligan as a member of The Bradford Cemetery Company. The flattering description reads:

"First Mayor of Bradford on 1847 and MP. Erected palazzo style worsted warehouse. Funeral cortege was headed by representatives of Bradford Corporation, Board of Guardians and JPs. Then friends, policemen and the undertaker. Then employees. Then the hearse drawn by six black plumed horses. Then four coaches containing the male members of the family. Then gentlemen in private carriages."


  1. ^ a b c James, John (1866). History of Bradford. Manchester: E.J Morten. p. 15. 
  2. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2 ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 57. ISBN 0-900178-26-4. 
  3. ^ Cox, Sheila (1987). "The Travelling Scotchmen - The Milligans of Dumfriesshire and Yorkshire". The Bradford Antiquary. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Wilcock, D.C. (2000). "A History of Rawdon". Aireborough and Horsforth Museum Society. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Wright, D.G. (1987). The Chartist Risings in Bradford. Bradford: Bradford Libraries and Information Service. p. 40. 
  6. ^ Wright, D.G. (1987). The Chartist Risings in Bradford. Bradford: Bradford Libraries and Information Service. p. 47. 

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Perronet Thompson and
William Busfield
Member of Parliament for Bradford
1851 – 1857
With: Thomas Perronet Thompson 1851-1852
Henry Wickham Wickham 1852-1857
Succeeded by
Henry Wickham Wickham and
Thomas Perronet Thompson