Dr. Alexander Rocke Robertson was born in 1801 in Peebles, Peebleshire, Scotland. His father was Dr. James Robertson and his mother was the former Elizabeth Tate. His father studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and he became a skilled surgeon. Dr. James Robertson did not marry Elizabeth Tate until he was 47 years old. Together they had 6 children, Dr. Alexander Robertson was one of their 3 sons. Upon his death in 1817, Dr. James Robertson was the Superintending Surgeon in Bengal, India. Dr. Alexander Robertson followed in his father’s footsteps and studied medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland, graduating from the Royal College of Surgery 1826. He joined the Royal Navy and he was made a ship’s surgeon travelling between Britain and India. Dr. Robertson arrived in Chatham, Ontario in 1830 and became one of the city’s first doctors.
Dr. Robertson rented office space from William and Walter Eberts for his surgery and family practice as well as space in which he and his landlord’s brother Henry Eberts operated a pharmacy. Dr. Robertson, married their sister Euphemia Eberts on March 11, 1839. Euphemia was born on the 10th of June, 1818, the 4th of 7 children born to Joseph Eberts and the former Anne Baker. Her siblings were William, Walter, Henry, Catherine, Nancy and Frances.
Dr. and Mrs. Robertson purchased property on the south side of Water Street in Chatham and built a home they called Heatherdale. They became parents to 9 children: James Joseph (1840), Alexander Rocke (1841), Anne (1843-1850), Elizabeth (1846), Margaret (1847), William Tate (1848), Charles Murray (1854) and Frances Ellen (1856) and a son, who died shortly after his birth in 1845.
In 1841, Dr. Robertson was commissioned as Surgeon of the 2nd Regiment of the Kent Militia. That same year he formally received his licence to practice medicine in Upper Canada. He was appointed as a coroner on the 14th of July, 1846. Dr. Robertson was elected the first Reeve of Harwich Township in 1850. In 1848, Dr. Robertson took on Dr. Charles James Stuart Askin as his partner in the medical practice carried on in the Eberts Block. The building burned to the ground in the great fire in downtown Chatham in 1854. Dr. Robertson moved his practice to his residence on Water Street. He continued to see his patients from this location until his death.
Dr. Robertson advertised his practice in the 1864-1865 Kent County Directory and Gazetteer. He was listed as a Justice of the Peace in that same publication.
Dr. Robertson died on the 11th of September 1864. He was buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham. Mrs. Robertson died in Owen Sound on the 12th of October, 1876. The medical tradition established by Dr. Robertson and his father continued with grandchildren and great grandchildren becoming doctors and outstanding community minded citizens.
*Dr. Charles James Stuart Askin also appears on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.