He was born 16 December 1838 in Magdeburg, Prussia He emigrated to England and worked for a coal export concern before building up a fleet of colliers and founding the Ropner Shipping Company in Hartlepool in 1874.
In 1888 Robert Ropner acquired a shipyard at Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham. Ropner established a successful shipbuilding firm, which built many trunk deck ships. No longer limited to hauling coal, Ropner also established a company to operate tramp steamers. Although the shipyard went into liquidation soon after what was then known as the Great War, the shipping company continued to operate through both World Wars, despite heavy wartime losses of vessels.
Robert Ropner served as High Sheriff of Durham in 1896 and from 1900 to 1910 represented the constituency of Stockton-on-Tees in the House of Commons. Having been knighted in 1902, he was created Baronet of Preston Hall, Stockton-on-Tees, in the County Palatine of Durham, and of Skutterskelfe Hall, Hutton Rudby, in the North Riding of York on 20 August 1904.
Ropner died 26 February 1924, aged 85, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son John. His third son William Ropner was the father of the Conservative politician Sir Leonard Ropner, 1st Baronet of Thorp Perrow. Robert Ropner is buried in the family vault at All Saints churchyard, Hutton Rudby, North Yorkshire.
- Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990.
- Leigh Rayment's list of baronets – Baronetcies beginning with "R" (part 2)
- Tramping to Success and Ropners, Owning and Building Ships, Shipping Lines. PortCities Southampton. Retrieved on 2007-11-18.
- "Ropner Shipbuilding". The Best of British Engineering 1750s - 1960s. Grace's Guide. 16 September 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Robert Ropner
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
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(of Preston Hall and
John Henry Ropner
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