John de Robeck was born in 1862 at Gowran Grange, Naas, County Kildare, Ireland. He was the second son of the 4th Baron de Robeck. In 1875 he entered HMS Britannia as a naval cadet and in 1876 served in China and later off Newfoundland. In 1900 he commanded HMS Pyramus. In 1904 he was censured over HMS Leander refit and put on half-pay. In 1907 he commanded HMS Carnarvon and was Inspecting Captain of training ships. De Robeck became Admiral of Patrols in 1912. In 1914 he commanded the Ninth Cruiser Squadron. In 1915 de Robeck was Second in Command to Admiral Carden at the Dardanelles and in March that year he succeeded Admiral Carden. In 1916 he commanded the Second Battle Squadron, of the Grand Fleet. In 1919 de Robeck was Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, and High Commissioner, at Constantinople then in 1922 he became Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic. In 1922 he also married Hilda M. Lockhart, the widow of Colonel Sir S. M. Lockhart. In 1924 de Robeck resigned and the following year was made Admiral of the Fleet. De Robeck died in London in 1928.
This collection consists of De Robeck's naval, official and personal papers. The naval and official papers include Midshipman's Logs, correspondence and Fleet orders. The personal papers include correspondence and diaries.
The archives of Admiral Sir John de Robeck were deposited at Churchill Archives Centre by his great nephew, the 7th Baron de Robeck, in July 1965. By the terms of the Admiral's will they had been kept in the family's possession, first in London and then at Gowran Grange, Naas, County Kildare, until the last of his contemporaries had died. Mrs Jocelyn Proby (widow of the 7th Baron) added the Midshipman's Logs to the collection in 1982.
Most of the papers had been placed in large envelopes, prior to deposit at Churchill Archives Centre, but few of the envelopes had been labelled and there was no distinguishable order or arrangement in the contents of each envelope. The one exception to this was the official Gallipoli files (DRBK 4/1-44) which were in official jackets, well-arranged and labelled. As a result it was necessary to break up the contents of almost every envelope into smaller groups. The papers were divided into three main groups of Personal, Naval and Literary papers. The bulk of the papers are in the naval group and the arrangement of them is largely chronological. This is because Admiral de Robeck's career is divided into clearly-defined periods of service and at the end of each period his papers seem to have been gathered together and put in store. At the end of each section the "private correspondence" for the period has been arranged in chronological order. The Admiral, or his secretary, described everything as private which was not sent officially to the Board of Admiralty or similar body. Where some of the private correspondence has been arranged by correspondent or subject, this reflects a tentative arrangement found when the papers were being sorted.
This collection is on loan from the de Robeck family.
The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Churchill Archives Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. A prior appointment and two forms of identification are required.
Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.
Please cite as Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Admiral Sir John de Robeck, DRBK
Churchill Archives Centre also holds the papers of Admiral Lord Wester Wemyss (GBR/014/WYMS).
Copies of this finding aid are available at Churchill Archives Centre, at the Historical Manuscripts Commission in London and on the Janus website: http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk.
This collection (fonds) level description was prepared by Louise King of Churchill Archives Centre in June 2004. Information was obtained from the catalogue originally produced in 1967. The catalogue was fully retroconverted by Madelin Terrazas in December 2009.