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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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CROCKER, ROBINSON (1819-1864)

CROCKER, ROBINSON, general merchant, sawmill owner, consular agent, magistrate and MLA; b. Derby, 29 Oct 1819, s/o David R. Crocker and Mary Newcomb m. 1st, 1844, Alice Percival, d/o John Percival and Judith (Collins) Brown; and 2nd, 1863, Mary Jane Saunders, d/o Alexander Saunders and Mary Jane Benn, of Nelson parish; d. Chatham Head, 28 Nov 1864.

After remaining in school longer than most of his contemporaries, at the Newcastle and Northumberland County grammar schools, Robinson Crocker married and settled on a farm at Derby. His situation in life was altered in the early 1850s by his father-in-law, John Percival, who made him a gift of the store and sawmill business formerly owned by Alexander Fraser Jr at Chatham Head. "Robinson Crocker is carrying on a great business at Long Fraser's place," stated Andrew Mason in a letter written in 1853. "He got it from old Percival as his wife's dowry."

In addition to the Chatham Head mill Crocker was soon operating a sawmill at Nelson and was trading not only in lumber, but in fish and practically everything else, "from shoes to sugar." For several years he was one of the largest employers on the Miramichi. In 1855 he was appointed a justice of the peace and in 1858 vice-consul at Miramichi for Sweden and Norway. He was a commissioner of the Seamen's Hospital, an officer in the militia, a Mason, and an adherent of the Anglican church. In 1861 he was elected to a seat in the provincial House of Assembly.

All came to a halt for Crocker in the 1860s, however, when illness devastated his family. His first wife died in 1862, at age forty-three, and he in 1864, at age forty-five. Three of their four children died before the age of twenty. His personal illness may have been the cause of his bankruptcy, which occurred during the last year of his life. His millsites at Nelson and Chatham Head were purchased jointly by Charles Sargeant and James Mitchell. Later the Chatham Head site became the location of Sargeant's sawmill, and the Nelson site that of the mill and store of George Burchill & Sons.

Crocker's second wife, Mary Jane Saunders, who was widowed approximately a year after her marriage to him, became the second wife of Thomas Ambrose in 1876.

Sources

[b] church records [m] Gleaner 2 Nov 1844; official records [d] Gleaner 3 Dec 1864 / Barnes's; Facey-Crowther; Gleaner 19 May 1855, 11 Aug 1855, 31 Oct 1857, 6 Nov 1858, 10 Sep 1859, 26 Nov 1859, 14 Jul 1860, 10 Jan 1863, 5 Sep 1863, 21 May 1864; Graves; Manny Collection (F6); Percival Genealogy; Tilley Collection (F4/ 10)


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