Robert Trimble Collection

The Robert Trimble collection of 430 titles of Irish literature and Trimble's published works on slavery was donated to the Alexander Turnbull Library by his daughters in 1941. The collection is part of the Turnbull Named Collections.

The collection is rich in Irish literature and includes Trimble's own published works on the slavery issue. The 126 pre-1800 imprints were removed from this collection and are now housed in the Rare Books Collection and may be accessed from there.

See Robert Trimble's papers in the Manuscripts collection

Spines of the seven volumes of Annals of Ireland, illustrated with Celtic harps.
John O’Donovan, Annals of Ireland, 1856. Record page

About Robert Trimble

Colonel Robert Trimble (1824-1899) was born near Belfast, Ireland and was educated at Belfast Grammar School. He spent some time in the United States in the 1840s, and was at Manchester in the early 1850s, and in Liverpool shortly afterwards, representing the New York firm of William Watson and Co. He became a partner in the firm just before the American Civil War, in which he worked strenuously for the northern cause. At the close of the war he was awarded a silver medal in recognition of his services to liberated slaves.

In 1856 he married Jane Heywood, daughter of Alderman Abel Heywood of Manchester. One of their sons was Montfort Trimble (1862-1940) who also donated a collection of books to the Alexander Turnbull Library.

More about the Montfort Trimble Collection

Robert Trimble followed the principles of Manchester liberalism, advocating free trade, the abolition of state churches, a national system of education, and army reform. He participated in the early volunteer movement, being a member of the first battery raised at Garston, Lancashire, and was appointed a lieutenant-colonel and eventually a colonel in 1875.

Robert Trimble emigrated to New Zealand in 1875 with his family and settled at Inglewood, Taranaki, where he was one of the first settlers on the Moa block subdivision. His departure from Liverpool was noted in The Liverpool Town Crier (v.2, no.56, Saturday 30 January 1875, p.42) with a paragraph entitled "Our portrait" accompanied by a loosely inserted portrait.

Once in New Zealand, he took an active part in local affairs, being a member of the Inglewood Town Board and first chairman of the Taranaki County Council. In 1879 he was elected to parliament for Grey and Bell, which he represented until 1881. From 1881–1887 he represented Taranaki. One political commentator described Trimble as being a useful Member of the House, as opposed to others who were categorised as "useless" or "worse than useless" [Ignotus, Peeps into politics, Wellington, 1881, p.15–16]. In later years he was a judge of the Native Land Court, and a Justice of the Peace for the colony of New Zealand.

The Alexander Turnbull Library Annual Report for the year ended 31 March 1942 records that "Another very significant gift was the library of Robert Trimble, of Inglewood, presented on behalf of his three daughters by Miss Nora Trimble. This is extremely rich in the history and antiquities of Ireland, and includes excellent works on English history and literature." (Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1942, H.22, p.8). Trimble died at his residence on 5 September 1899.

Photograph of Robert Trimble.
Robert Trimble, ca 1870s. Ref: 1/2-022068-G

Access items in this collection

Original items in this collection can be requested through the Library’s catalogue and consulted in the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room.

This collection is catalogued online and may be called up as a list on the National Library catalogue by searching ‘RTrimbl’ using the ‘in call number’ search option in the NLNZ catalogue advanced search.

Presentation bookplate inside a cover, reading 'Presented by the daughters of Col Robert Trimble on Inglewood. 1941.'
Trimble presentation bookplate in the Acts of the Archbishop Colton, 1850. Record page