Provenance of the Peter Robinson papers




The centrepiece of the documentary record of Robinson’s assisted emigrations is the collection known as “Peter Robinson papers”. Original items are held in the Peterborough Museum & Archives. Microfilm copies are held in the Archives of Ontario and the Library and Archives Canada.

Peterborough Historical Society

The Peter Robinson Papers came into the possession of the Peterborough Historical Society in 1899. The collection includes a letter that provides a glimpse of how the transfer of ownership occurred.1The letter is inserted inside the front cover of a bound volume identified as 9 – RETURN OF EMIGRANTS EMBARKED AT COVE in Table 1 below. Christopher Robinson QC is the son of John Beverley Robinson, Peter Robinson’s older brother.

Here’s our transcription of the letter:

[Handwritten: “To be returned to T. A. S. Hay”]

E. B. Edwards
Barrister &c.
Peterborough, Ont. Canada

Peterborough, February 21, 1899

T. A. Hay Esq.,
Secretary, Peterborough Historical Society

Dear Sir: –

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that I have received from Mr. Christopher Robinson QC a letter from which the following is an extract, “I have your letter and am very glad indeed that the books have been so much appreciated and found so interesting. Upon reflection I do not think that I can do better than leave them with your society as you suggested. It seems to me that Peterborough is their proper resting place, as there, much more than elsewhere, people may be found having a personal interest in their contents, and I shall be glad therefore to let them remain.”

The books referred to are the original records containing the names of all the persons who came out in the emigration of 1825, the name of the ship in which they came out, and the Township in which they were settled. The allowance of provisions to each person is also shown. It is safe to say that there is no such accurate record in existence with regard to any other early body of immigrants [Handwritten: “in this neighbourhood”]. The Townships in which they were settled are Douro, Ennismore, Smith, Otonabee and Emily.

In looking over these books may be seen the names of many whose descendents [sic] have occupied honored positions in the community. To the descendents [sic] of these pioneers and to every student of the early history of our country, these records cannot fail to be of the greatest interest and importance.

Yours truly,

[signed] E. B. Edwards

[Handwritten: “The books are now in the hands of the Secretary of the Historical Soc who will be glad to allow anyone interested a perusal of them.”]