Robert Travers Atkin

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Robert Travers Atkin
Robert Travers Atkin.png
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
for Clermont
In office
1 October 1868 – 29 January 1869
Preceded by John Scott
Succeeded by Oscar John De Satge
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
for Member for East Moreton
In office
17 February 1870 – 7 March 1872
Serving with Henry Jordan
Preceded by Arthur Francis
Succeeded by Samuel Griffith
Personal details
Born (1841-11-29)29 November 1841
Fernill, Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland
Died 25 May 1872(1872-05-25) (aged 30)
Sandgate, Queensland
Nationality Irish
Spouse(s) Mary Elizabeth Ruck
Relations Baron Atkin (son)
Occupation Journalist, Newspaper editor, Newspaper proprietor

Robert Travers Atkin (29 November 1841 – 25 May 1872) was an Irish-born newspaper editor and politician in colonial Queensland, Australia.[1] He was a Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly.

Early life[edit]

Atkin was born in Fernhill, County Cork, Ireland.[1] In 1863, he emigrated to Queensland, spending around a year and a half in central Queensland. He had a fall from a horse and injured his chest, the effects of which were long-lasting.

Newspaper editor[edit]

Atkin became editor of the Brisbane Guardian but resigned over policy disagreements. In partnership with W. C. Belbridge, Atkin started the Queensland Express in August 1868, but the paper lasted less than three years.[2]


On 1 October 1868, Atkin was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland for the seat of Clermont. He resigned on 29 January 1869, claiming it was the only honourable course of action due to "the treachery, the weakness, and the lust for office" of the leaders of the Queensland Parliament. However, it was suggested that he resigned before his election was voided because his nomination was invalid.[3][4]

On 17 February 1870, Arthur Francis, member for East Moreton, resigned due to insolvency, and a by-election was called. On nomination day, 19 February 1870, there were two candidates: Atkin and Robert Cribb (who had previously represented the electorate from 1863 to 1867). In his nomination speech, Atkin made accusations against Cribb, who replied vigorously defending himself. The somewhat unexpected outcome of this verbal exchange was that Cribb announced he would withdraw his nomination. Cribb said that if Atkin believed he could represent them so well, the best thing they could do would be to let him try, predicting that Atkin would either resign or be asked to resign within six months. Being the only remaining candidate, Atkin was declared elected.[3][5]

Cribb's six-month prediction did not come true. However, Atkin did not complete his term, as he resigned on 7 March 1872 due to serious ill health (pulmonary tuberculosis).[6]

Later life[edit]

Atkin died at Sandgate, Queensland on 25 May 1872, aged only 30. He was also buried at Sandgate, where a monument was erected to his memory by the members of the Hibernian Society of Queensland, of which he was vice-president.[1] The inscription on the monument says:[7]

This broken column symbolises the irreparable loss of a man who well represented some of the finest characteristics of the Celtic race — its rich humour and subtle wit, its fervid passion and genial warmth of heart. Distinguished alike in the press and parliament of Queensland by large and elevated views, remarkable powers of organization and unswerving advocacy of the popular cause. His rare abilities were especially devoted to the promotion of a patriotic union amongst his countrymen irrespective of class or creed combined with a loyal allegiance to the land of their adoption.

Robert Travers Atkin memorial[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mennell, Philip (1892). "Wikisource link to Atkins, Robert Travers". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource 
  2. ^ Morrison, A. A. "Atkin, Robert Travers (1841–1872)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Alphabetical Register of Members of the Legislative Assembly 1860-2012" (PDF). Queensland Parliament. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "No Title.". Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald & General Advertiser. National Library of Australia. 11 February 1869. p. 2. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "EAST MORETON NOMINATION.". The Queenslander. National Library of Australia. 19 February 1870. p. 3. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Queenslander. SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 1872.". The Queenslander. National Library of Australia. 9 March 1872. p. 4. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "File:Robert Travers Atkin monument detail.JPG". Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
John Scott
Member for Clermont
1868 – 1869
Succeeded by
Oscar John De Satge
Preceded by
Arthur Francis
Member for East Moreton
1870 – 1872
Served alongside: Henry Jordan
Succeeded by
Samuel Griffith