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Robertson, Martin (1856–1926)

Death has claimed one of the bes known and respected citizens of Wollongong, whose practical Christianity marked him out as a personality who was honored and esteemed by many friends.

We refer to the death of Mr. Martin Robertson, editor of this journal for the last 19 years. He passed away at his residence, Smith-street on Tuesday morning.

Although he had been ill for more than four weeks, the critical stage developed suddenly.

To his fellow townsmen, who looked to see him resume his activities, the shock of death was very great.

The oldest member of Wollongong's newspaper world, probably few people knew this district, from Clifton to Albion Park, so well as he did. In the years gone by, as a reporter, he travelled regularly; much of it on a push bike, and his weekly visits to each centre won him firm friends and admirers among the older residents.

He was a man of gentle ways, shy and utterly unobtrusive, but warm and genial in intercourse and no man has ever given himself more devotedly to his work. The 'South Coast Times' with which in its various phases, he had been connected for almost forty years, was his life, and even of late years, in spite of visibly increasing frailty, he persistently refused to sacrifice his loved work to m his physical well-being and lean more upon others.

Visitors from the staff of another country paper remarked that the atmosphere of the 'South Coast Times' office was like that of a big united family. So many of the men have spent their whole working lives under Mr. Robertson's direction that this description is an eloquent tribute to his utterly kind and loveable nature. Nor has anything ever marred the warmth and cordiality of rag his relations with the Staff of the contemporary newspaper, "The Illawarra Mercury."  The Staffs of both papers paid him a much appreciated tribute by marching at the head of the funeral procession.

Used as he was to attending the meetings of every organisation in the town, Mr. Robertson was keenly interested in every phase of public life, and it was never a hardship to him to spend his evenings listening to the deliberations of councils and committees. Though no man was more retiring, he did occasionally act on committees, and was instrumental in the recent successful revival of the eisteddfod in Wollongong. Faithful to the Church of his fathers, he attended service regularly at the Presbyterian Church, and was first secretary and afterwards Superintendent of the Sabbath School. For many years he had been an elder of the Church.

Mr. Robertson was a native of Hamilton, Scotland, and went from school to the office of his father, a solicitor. But while still a youth he lost both parents, and came away from Scotland. He went first to the island of Tabago, in the West Indies, where he acted as overseer on the sugar plantation, owned by a friend of his family. Soon, however, he came to Australia, and joined his uncle, Charles Tennant, then owner of the well known Grafton cattle station, Broadmeadows. Captain Fraser, ex-pilot of the Wollongong station, remembers him as a passenger on the boat which he then commanded, plying between Sydney and the Clarence. His young manhood was spent in the Grafton and New England districts.

He was 70 years of age and leaves a widow, two daughters and a son, to mourn the loss of a devoted husband and father.

His character was such: that all who knew him could stand up and say: "He played the game of life truly." He believed that happiness came to man only as he practiced doing right, and was one who realised that God made him for a purpose.

The writer of this notice has been associated with the late Mr. Robertson, on the literary side of this journal for upwards of 20 years, and knew him as one to advocate good citizenship, and as one who abhored anything dirty or contemptible. It is certainly the desire of this scribe to act on the good advice given, and to endeavour to rise to the high ideal the late editor has set.

The funeral on Wednesday was well attended. Many old friends stood around the graveside at the Presbyterian Cemetery and listened to the service conducted by Rev. H. C. Wilson, who paid very high tribute to the Christian character of the deceased.

The Rev. H. M. Riley (Congregational) assisted and led in Prayers.

The chief mourners were Mr. Malcolm Robertson (son) and Mr. C. Grieve (brother-in-law).

Original publication

Citation details

'Robertson, Martin (1856–1926)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 28 November 2021.

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