Robert Thorburn

Robert Thorburn, merchant, politician, premier of Newfoundland 1885-89 (b at Juniper Banks, Scot 28 Mar 1836; d at St John's 12 Apr 1906). Thorburn went to Newfoundland in 1852.

Thorburn, Robert

Robert Thorburn, merchant, politician, premier of Newfoundland 1885-89 (b at Juniper Banks, Scot 28 Mar 1836; d at St John's 12 Apr 1906). Thorburn went to Newfoundland in 1852. For most of his political life (1870-85, 1893-1906) he was an Upper House member who championed the cause of governing the colony along "strict commercial" lines. Economic, social and political conditions had combined by 1882 to install in office a Liberal Party based on government-sponsored diversification and industrialization. When sectarian riots precipitated a political crisis in 1884, Thorburn's class exploited the resulting denominational bitterness by forming a "Protestant Rights" Party and attracted sufficient Protestant support to defeat the Liberals in 1885. The resulting Thorburn-led administration unsuccessfully tried to develop the colony along "fishery" lines. Thorburn was forced by circumstance to fall back on a belated program of public works, but then was swept from power in 1889.