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Sir Robert Anderson, bt (1837 - 1871):
Businessman and civic dignitary

Sir Robert Anderson of County Monaghan became a highly successful businessman and civic dignitary in Belfast, founding and running one of the city’s leading department stores and as both High Sheriff of Belfast and two terms as Lord Mayor.

He seems to have come from Ballybay, County Monaghan, where his father came from. He joined, at age 15, the firm of John Arnott, the highly successful businessman, MP and philanthropist, who although based in Cork, southern Ireland, had an outlet in Belfast, where Anderson went. He set up, with John B McAuley, the business which bore their names and was one of the most prominent businesses – manufacture and retail – in Belfast, as well as having one of its most prominent city centre buildings; he was a director of a number of firms in the textile business, not just in Belfast; he also had a business interest in Monaghan, and was made High Sheriff of that county, where he also owned an estate at Mullaghmore. 

In 1894 he became a city councillor, representing St Anne’s ward in south-west Belfast. In 1903, by which time he was High Sheriff, he was knighted, was Lord Mayor in 1907-1909, and again in 1914-1915 following the death in office of the incumbent, RJ McMordie. Already knighted he was created a baronet in 1911 as Sir Robert Anderson, 1st baronet, jointly of Parkmount in the County of the City of Belfast and of Mullaghmore in the County of Monaghan.

He was a committed Presbyterian who was involved in temperance activities and supported the YMCA; he also bred stock at Mullaghmore. He married in 1890 (his bride an Ulsterwoman, from Donegal) but died without issue, so that the baronetcy became defunct, but the firm of Anderson & McAuley flourished well into the twentieth century.

Born: 1 December 1837
Died: 16 December 1871
Richard Froggatt