Papers of Robert Hartley Cromek (1771-1812)

Scope and Content

Cromek mentioned in a letter of Allan Cunnigham to David Laing, dated 26 April 1839. Letters about Cromek from J. Scholey to Thomas Hartley Cromek, 1862-1863. Cromek's works presented to the British Museum by Thomas Hartley Cromek in 1867.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Hartley Cromek was born in Hull in 1771. A career in law was abandoned and he followed an inclination towards literature and art, living and studying for a time in Manchester where he developed a liking and talent for engraving. He went to London to study under Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815) and involved himself in engraving book-plates. He then took up print-selling and publishing. While in London he became acquainted with William Blake (1757-1827). In 1808 he visited Scotland to collect information about Robert Burns, meeting Allan Cunningham (1784-1842). His work includes engravings for Canterbury Pilgrims, illustrations for The grave by Robert Blair (1699-1746), illustrations in The reliques of Robert Burns (1808), and those in The remains of Nithsdale (1810). He also made the plates for Sharpe's edition of The spectator. Cromek died of consumption at the age of forty-two in London on 14 March 1812. He left a widow and two children, one of whom was Thomas Hartley Cromek (1809-1873), painter.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.5. Craik-Drake. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908. (2) Williamson, George C. (ed.). Bryan's dictionary of painters and engravers. Vol.1. A-C. New ed. Rev. Enlarged. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1930. (3) Redgrave, Samuel (ed.). A dictionary of artists of the English school: painters, sculptors, architects, engravers and ornamentists. New ed., Revised. London: George Bell and Sons, 1878.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

Larger amount of material relating to Cromek's son, Thomas Hartley Cromek. However, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes references to Robert Hartley Cromek, namely: letters (66) to James Montgomery, 1807-1810, Sheffield Archives, Ref. SLPS NRA 8514 Montgomery; grangerized copy of Reliques of Robert Burns, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MSS 1654-55.