Henry Haliburton Robinson was an uncle of Harry Estcourt Robinson, one of the airmen who died at Beverley Aerodrome. His nephew's story is to be found in Beverley Aerodrome and Bishop Burton Article 3 A member of the Robinson family, Nick Hyde, has provided this transcript of an obituary by Eerrnest Goulding of the grandly named Henry Haliburton Robinson. He appears to have not been connected to Bishop Burton in any way but readers may well find it of general interest.

HENRY HALIBURTON ROBINSON.
BORN FEBRUARY 24th 1857; DIED JANUARY 11th 1931

Henry Haliburton Robinson, younger son of Colonel Wm. Robinson, R.E., was born at Halifax, Nova Scotia. During his early years his parents transferred their home to Jersey, where he received his early education at the Victoria College. In 1876 he entered Magdalene College, Oxford, and was elected to an open Demyship of the College after a competitive examination in Natural Science. He obtained First Class Honours in Natural Science at the University, graduating as B.A. in 1879 (M.A., 1889).

After leaving Oxford, Robinson continued his studies at the Normal School of Science (later the Royal College of Science), where he headed the list in the examination of 1881. His ability was recognised by Sir Edward Frankland, who stated that "Mr. Robinson distinguished himself so much in my ordinary classes at the Normal School of Science, South Kensington, that I gave him a place in my Research Laboratory, where, in conjunction with Dr. Japp, he made a successful research on the constitution of amarine and lophine." The results of this work were published in the Journal of the Chemical Society (J., 1882, 41, 323) and in the Berichte (Ber., 1882, 15, 1268).

In 1882, Robinson was appointed First Assistant to the Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, where he remained for five years, conducting classes in chemical analysis, especially as applied to agricultural products and materials, and giving courses of lectures on mineral chemistry. He also acted as Librarian to the College and in this capacity prepared a new catalogue which, according to Mr. J. B. McClellan, the Principal of the College, he compiled with great care and skill."

He returned in 1887 to the Royal College of Science, where he co-operated with Sir Edward Thorpe in an investigation of the active principles of buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), the results of this work being published in a paper on "frangulin" which appeared in the Journal of the Chemical Society (J., 1890, 57, 38). During this period he compiled certain articles for Thorpe's "Dictionary of Applied Chemistry", among which those on "Waxes" and "Albuminoids " are specially worthy of mention. With reference to the latter Sir Edward Thorpe stated that "at the time of its publication Mr. Robinson's article on the Chemistry of the Animal and Vegetable Albuminoids was regarded as the most complete and accurate digest of what is confessedly one of the most complicated sections of physiological chemistry which had hitherto appeared in our language." At this stage of his career Robinson's skill in the construction and arrangement of apparatus for chemical tuition led to his being selected by the Museum Authorities for the task of re-organising the methods of performing the experimental illustrations required for teaching the courses on inorganic chemistry held in connexion with the Science and Art Department examinations.

In 1889, the Chinese Legation having applied for advice and assistance in the selection of a gentleman qualified to teach chemistry in the Imperial College at Canton, established by H.E. Chang Chih Tung, Viceroy of the Provinces of Hupeh and Hunan, Robinson was recommended as being eminently suitable for the appointment, and was selected by Sir Halliday Macartney. A little later he was transferred to Wuchan, where he organised the Board of Mines College, remaining there as Professor of Chemistry and Physics until April, 1899; he then accepted an invitation to occupy the same position at the Kiangnan Provincial College, Nankin. Before the end of the year, however, the College was summarily closed by the anti-progressive party of the Chinese Government, and Robinson returned to England.

He joined the staff of the Imperial Institute in 1900 as a special research assistant, a position which he occupied until November, 1914. During this time he was engaged in the investigation of plant products, among his principal researches being those on the gum of Cochlospermurn gossypium (J., 1906, 89, 1496) and on the constituents of Indian oil of turpentine derived from Pinus Longifolia (P., 1911,247).

After leaving the Imperial Institute, Robinson passed the remainder of his life in retirement. During recent years his health gradually failed and he passed away at a nursing home in Ealing in January, 1931, at the age of 73.

Robinson was a very successful teacher and a most conscientious and painstaking investigator. Although of a quiet and retiring disposition, he was open-hearted, sympathetic and generous. All who came in contact with him were impressed by his high sense of honour and his unvarying courtesy.

 

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