Sir Robert Herron, Knight

[Hawaiian Gazette 1 November 1898]

I must admit, I didn’t know that a son of Cairneyhill was a Sir and a Knight until one evening recently when I was meandering in the Dunfermline digitised newspapers and I found an intriguing article about a visit to Cairneyhill by Sir and Lady Herron:

Dunfermline Saturday Press 29 September 1888

Distinguished Visitors

‘Sir Robert and Lady Herron arrived in the town from Kingstown, Dublin on the evening of Saturday last, and took apartments in the City Arms Hotel. We understand Sir Robert’s intentions by his visit were stimulated by a laudable desire to see his native village (Cairneyhill) and visit the scenes of his boyish rambles.

Sir Robert and his lady drove to Cairneyhill Church on the Sunday, and attended the forenoon and afternoon services there, and in the evening were present at the centenary service held in Chalmers Street Church, Dunfermline. On Monday they visited the Corporation Buildings, the Abbey Church and Ruins and St Margaret’s Power-loom Works, where they were shown over the same in the most courteous manner by Mr William Robertson, the senior partner of that establishment. They afterwards visited Sir Arthur and Lady Halkett at Pitfirrane, leaving here in Tuesday forenoon for a tour through the Highlands.

About nine years ago Sir Robert, then Mayor of Kingstown, Dublin, presented that town with a town-hall at a cost of between £6000 and £7000, and after opening ceremony gave a most sumptous banquet to over six hundred of his townsmen and friends. In consequence of his many munificent acts during his municipal reign, Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen conferred the honour of knighthood on him on the occasion of her Jubilee.

Sir Robert is presently on his marriage tour, and we cannot do less than wish him and his bride good weather and every enjoyment.’

Robert was born in Cairneyhill on 17 August 1835 to Robert Herron, a carrier, most probably the equivalent of a postman, and Lillias Henderson. I am most impressed by Robert junior’s rise from the son of a Cairneyhill postman to a Knight …..

Sir Robert’s obituary in the 1 November 1898 Honolulu edition of the Hawaiian Gazette tells us more about Sir Robert’s life:

‘It is a sad and sorrowful duty to announce the death of Sir Robert Herron, Knight, which took place at his residence on Kinau Street, in this city, Friday afternoon. Sir Robert, who had not been in good health for some time, was taken seriously ill on Tuesday, the 18th inst. This was during the absence of Lady Herron and most of the family, who were attending the marriage of the eldest son on Hawaii. The medical attendants of Sir Robert, Drs Herbert and Humphris, were immediately summoned and declared his condition to be critical. Word was sent to Lady Herron, who returned to town on Saturday night last. From the time of her arrival Sir Robert appeared to rally, and hope was entertained of his ultimate recovery, but at midnight on Thursday a change for the worse took place and Sir Robert slowly sank until his death, at 1.45 o’clock Friday afternoon, all the members of the family in Honlulu being present when he passed away.

Sir Robert was born on August 17 1837 [date contradictory to the Cairneyhill Church Registers] at Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. In early manhood he went to Dublin, Ireland, and entered on a commercial career at Kingstown, Dublin. After being appointed Magistrate for the County of Dublin, and chairman of the Kingstown Commissioners for a number of years, Sir Robert finally received the honor of Knighthood in 1887. In 1890 he sold out his commercial interests and retired from business, and in 1894 settled with his family in Honolulu.

During his residence in Ireland Sir Robert was a prominent member of the Masonic Order, and frequently visited the local lodges in Honolulu. He was twice married. His first wife died in 1883 leaving him a son Robert, who died in 1887. His second wife, Anna Danford, survives him. Besides the widow, Lady Herron, he leaves a sister, Mrs McIntyre, residing in Scotland; his relatives in Honolulu are Mr and Mrs Danford, Rev V H and Mrs [illegible], Judge W L and Mrs Stanley, Mr Wm Danford and the Misses Alys and Ana Danford. The funeral service will be held from St Andrew’s Cathedral at 3 o’clock this afternoon, the interment taking place in Nuuanu cemetery.

Sir Robert Herron was a fine type of the Christian gentleman. he was a tall, strong, handsome man, dignified yet genial, always graceful, one whom it was a pleasure and a privilege top known. He became well-known in Hawaii and was exceedingly well-liked. He had full success in a business career, was well to the fore in politics in his own country and was considered a man of distinction. He was a favourite with many of the noted personages of Great Britain and was known as one of unbounded hospitality.’

Robert Herron’s parents and siblings are buried in Cairneyhill graveyard:

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