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1942 Robert Whyte and grandson John R Whyte

Robert Thomas Whyte (1863 - 1948)


As a young man he possibly rebelled at 1) having his life dominated by a distant father, Provost Whyte and

two elder brothers, 2) to having to join the family tannery business, and 3) opposition to marrying the

woman he loved.  During 1890 he left Scotland to emigrate Victoria, Australia (possibly sailing on the MV

“Victoria”.  In Melbourne, June 1891 he married Isabella Adamson who went out from Forfar to join him

(possibly on the MV “Orizaba”, early 1891). They settled in Traralgon, a county town in a dairy farming area

of Gippsland, about 160km east of Melbourne.  He was a member of the choir of St John’s Church there.  


However, by March 1892 the families had persuaded them to return to Forfar and for him to take a role in the

family business.  He possibly regretted this for most of his life. On their return they stayed initially with her

parents.  Effectively with no business experience or training, he oversaw the rapid decline of the family

business as centralized low-cost manufacturers took over all the artisanal leather, boot and shoe industries

across Scotland.  In 1902 there was also a major fire at the Tan Works on Castle Street.


He was the only son to have children and established his family at “Broombank” in Forfar.  After the death of

his wife in 1930 his daughter Gerty looked after him and the house for the next 18 years.  He was said by all

who knew him to be a nice and kindly man, who certainly put family duty above his own family interests and

happiness. He died at 85.                  

His wife

Isabella Adamson (1864-1930)

Their children

Mable Moffat 1892, Gertrude (Gerty) 1894, William (Will) 1895, Alfred (Alf) 1897, and John Sydney (Syd) 1899.

His siblings

- William (1857-1921) was a practicing Edinburgh lawyer (SSC) and a committed bachelor.  He carried out the detailed family genealogy work in the early 1900’s that is the foundation of this history.

- John (Jack) (1859-1950) - see photo opposite.  He was married to Agnes Craik (1865-1945) but they did not have any children. They lived in “Lilybank” Forfar.   He played a limited role in John Whyte & Sons and apparently made little other notable contribution to Forfar life.  But he was “famous” in town for riding his bicycle home in the rain with an umbrella above to shield him.  His wife Agnes was a leader in the local Red Cross (see picture and letter of recognition from the Countess of Strathmore (1862-1938)  - the Queen's maternal grandmother).

- Helen (Nell) (1860-1935) unmarried - see photo opposite

- Margaret (1864-1944) married Henry (Harry) Craik in 1902, Forfar. They had no children.

- Ada Rose (1870-1959) 

Catherine (1872-1952) were unmarried and latterly lived together with Ada in St. Albums Road, Edinburgh (arranged and aid for by their elder brother William) until their deaths in the 1950’s.  I often visited them in this house as a little boy, with my father.

Photo c 1902

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