Robert Osborn (1783-1866)

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Full nameEdit

Robert Osborn

Name variationsEdit

Robert Osborne

Vital statisticsEdit

  • Sex: Male


Robert Osborn is the son of William Osborn and Deborah.


  • Elizabeth


All of Robert Osborn's children were born in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, England Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, most likely in a house somewhere within (or immediately beside) Stoke Park, the residence of John Penn.

  • William Osborn (1812-1872)
  • Mary Osborn(1814-1898)
  • Robert Osborn (1816-????): It should be noted that there is reference to the birth of a "fine boy the night before" on the occasion of one of Robert Balmanno's visits to Stoke Park. This visit was in "November" of the year in question. His article was published in 1848 but describes events that happened about 1815. It is possible that the birth referred to is the son, Robert Osborn, but if this is the case then the year in question was not 1816. This is due to the fact that Robert Osborn, the son, was christened in October of 1816, which was before November.
  • Thomas Osborn (1818-1872)
  • Emma Osborn (1821-1877)



Robert Osborn was gardener and land steward (aka. Superintendent of the Demesne or Steward of the Manor) for John Penn of Stoke Park in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, who was Lord of the Manor of Stoke Poges. This is revealed by Mr. Robert Balmanno in an account written around 1815 of a visit to Stoke Park:

"Whilst engaged in sketching this truly classic object, a gentleman approached, who introduced himself as Mr. Osborne, the superintendent of the demense." [1]

It is further confirmed by J C Loudon writing in 1833:

"The grounds were first modernised under the direction of Mr. Repton, about the time when he and Mr. Main were laying out those of Chalfont House; but they have been since almost entirely changed by Mr. Penn, and his present most intelligent gardener and land steward, Mr. Osborne." [2]

And it is very certain that this Mr. Osborne was indeed 'Robert' Osborn as is clear from the following quote:

"A Classical Garden of the Mason School of Design, prevalent about the Middle of last Century, exemplified in the grounds of Stoke Park, near Windsor, the set of John Penn, Esq. Communicated by ROBERT OSBORN." [3]

John Penn was the grandson of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. It is known for certain that Robert Osborn was already acting as gardener and land steward for John Penn as early as 1815 and it seems likely that since his first son William Osborn was born in Stoke Poges around August 1812 that he must have been performing this role at least as early as 1812. It is also known from the quote above that Robert Osborn was still performing this role as late as 1833.

Around 1815 Robert Osborn accompanied John Penn, presumably many times, to the site of Pennsylvania Castle on Portland Island in Dorset. Since Robert Osborn was Mr. Penn's gardener in addition to being his land steward, it seems likely that Robert Osborn was responsible for the gardens around Pennsylvania Castle as they were shortly after the construction of the Castle. Mr. Robert Balmanno, in his narrative written about a further visit to Stoke Park around 1815, says the following:

"Late in the autumn and invitation was received from Mr. Osborne to spend a day or two with him; but it was not until the beginning of November that advantage could be taken of it. Arriving at his house late in the afternoon, his servant informed me he had suddenly been called away to the Isle of Portland, in Dorsetshire, where Mr. Penn was erecting a castle." [1]

Robert Osborn was also steward of the Manor of Eton under John Penn and later Granville Penn and then Granville John Penn, Granville Penn's son (see photo of clock engraving below). According to the clock engraving he was Steward of the Manor for more than thirty years. It is unclear when this 30+ year period of his duties began or end. John Penn bought the Manor of Eton in 1793 and the Penn family or their trustees held it as late as 1883.

From 1833 he became a partner with Reginald Whitley of the Fulham Nursery firm known as Whitley and Osborn. When Whitley died in 1835, the same firm was then fully owned by Robert Osborn and eventually became known as Osborn and Sons, although it appears to have continued to operate for a while after Whitley's death as Whitley and Osborn. By 1838 the name Osborn and Sons was certainly in use.

Hobbies and interestsEdit




Sources and ReferencesEdit

  1. Balmanno, Robert. "Stoke Church and Park, the Scene of Gray's Elegy, and Residence of the Penns of Pennsylvania." Graham's Magazine (Vol XXXII) February 1848: 73-86.
  2. Loudon, John Claudius. The Gardener's Magazine and Register of Rural and Domestic Improvement (Vol IX) 1833: 528-529.
  3. Osborn, Robert. "ART. V. A Classical Garden of the Mason School of Design, prevalent about the Middle of last Century, exemplified in the Grounds of Stoke Park, near Windsor, the Seat of John Penn, Esq." The Gardener's Magazine and Register of Rural and Domestic Improvement (Vol XIX) 1843: 586-589.

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