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Dr J L Robertson Bequest

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Dr J L Robertson Bequest

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Dr John L. Robertson, born in 1854, was Senior Chief Inspector of Schools for Scotland. He was educated at the General Assembly School in Stornoway and later Edinburgh University where he graduated as Master of Arts after three years and later Bachelor of Laws. In 1888 he was appointed as acting Chief Inspector of Schools, a position he later succeeded to fill. In 1912 he was given an Honorary LL.D. by Edinburgh University and in 1919 he was awarded a C.B. As well as the Dewar Committee he served on Lord Pentland’s Committee for the employment of Highland boys and girls and on the Craik Commission on teachers’ salaries. Sir Henry Craik, M.P. considered him to be ‘a landmark in the educational history of Scotland’.

When he died in Inverness, six years after his retirement from the post, his popularity was clear in the extent of the activity surrounding his funeral; when his body was returned to Lewis the flags on the island were at half mast and all businesses were closed at noon. All schools throughout Lewis were closed and ‘the senior boys of Nicholson Institute headed the funeral procession, which included the Lewis Pipe Band, the Brethren of the Masonic Lodge, the Provost, Magistrates and Councilors of Stornoway and members and officials of all the other public bodies’. In addition, ‘there was a very large and representative attendance of the general public, including people from all parts of the island’. Sir George Macdonald, the Secretary of the Scottish Education Department, extolled his virtues and said ‘Few men in our time have laid their native country under so deep an obligation as he has done’.

A Trust was established in his honour to help aid and assist those seeking help in education and even emigration from the islands. The Trust is still active and operated by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.


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