Thursday, September 1, 2011

EmigranThursday - Robert Biggar

Welcome to this week’s EmigranThursday featuring Robert Biggar of Ontario, Canada. Biographical information about him appeared on page 331 in the biography of his grandson Hamilton Fisk Biggar in the History of Cuyahoga County published by D.W. Ensign & Co in 1879. Additional sources; I do not have access to Canadian records on

Dr. Hamilton Fisk Biggar was born in the village of Oakville, Upper Canada, on the 15th of March, 1839. His grandfather, Robert Biggar, was a native of Scotland, born in Dumfries, and a member of an ancient and numerous family, the Biggars of Biggarstown, Dumfries —the family being mentioned in "Scottish Queens" as "ancient and of good repute."  He was educated for a clergyman of the Scotch church, though he ultimately gave his attention to farming. He married Mary Lander by whom he had eleven children. His son, Hamilton Biggar, was born in Queenstown, Canada, in 1806, served faithfully for many years as a pastor of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, from which, late in life, he was superannuated. He married Eliza Phelps Racy, daughter of James Racy, Esq., of Brantford, Ontario. They had a large family of children, of whom the subject of this sketch is the fourth.

Hamilton F. Biggar attended the public schools until eleven years of age, when he was apprenticed to the mercantile business with Richard Senior, of Ayre, Canada. Not liking this, he left the shop and returned to school for two years. He then attended for one year a grammar school in Brantford, Ontario, conducted by R. J. Tyner, M.A., after which he again engaged in mercantile pursuits. Not finding this business adapted to his tastes and abilities, he determined to obtain a thorough education, and at the expiration of two years entered the University of Victoria, at Coburg. Graduating from that institution as Bachelor of Arts, in 1863, he immediately afterwards commenced the study of law in the office of John Cameron, Esq., of Brantford, and passed his primary examination for a barrister-at-law, at Osgood Hall, Toronto, Canada.

Abandoning his legal studies he at length decided to enter the medical profession, and accordingly came to Cleveland in the fall of 1864, entering the Homœopathic College, from which he graduated in the spring of 1866. He then attended for a time the principal hospitals of New York and Philadelphia, after which he returned to Cleveland, opened an office and entered upon the practice of his profession. Before graduating he received the appointment of adjunct professor of surgery in the Homœopathic College, and has subsequently held, at different times, other important appointments in that institution. He was a professor of anatomy and clinical surgery for seven years, and then of clinical surgery with operations, when he resigned. For many years he held the office of registrar of the college, which he was also obliged to resign on account of the multiplicity of his professional duties.


According to FamilySearch, Robert Biggar married Mary Lauder, the daughter of William Lauder, on 27 August 1784 in Dumfries. There is no sign of children born to this couple, so they may have left Dumfries shortly after their marriage.  Hamilton, born in Canada in 1806, is clearly among the youngest of Robert and Mary's eleven children. I found two Robert Biggars born in Dumfries, one in 1773 and the other in 1776, but there is no way to tell if either is the Robert who migrated to Canada.

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