Robert Kitson [Obituary]

Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1885, Vol XVII, p.65.


Rev. W. Harpley

Prepared by Michael Steer

Kitson & Vivian was a Torquay private bank formed in 1833 by local solicitor, William Kitson, with Edward Vivian and Captain W. Vivian. It was also known as the Torquay Bank. It enjoyed a reputation as the ‘most fashionable bank’ in this leading seaside resort and was acquired by Lloyds Bank in 1900. The Kitson family resided at Hengrove House, which has since become part of Torbay Hospital. The hospital was initially founded as the Torbay Hospital, Provident Dispensary and Eye Infirmary in 1844. Construction started in 1850 with the first wing completed in 1851 and a second wing added in 1878.  After its management decided to build a new hospital, Hengrave House was purchased from Major K.P. Kitson. The new facility opened in 1928. Details of the purchase are presented in Russell’s (1960) History of Torquay, p. 170.  The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

ROBERT KITSON was the youngest son of the late Mr. W. Kitson, of Hengrave, Torquay, and was a member of the firm of Vivian and Kitsons, bankers, Torquay. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, where he took his B.A. degree in 1866. He proceeded to the degree of M.A. in 1874.

Mr. Kitson filled many honorary offices in the town. He was the Treasurer of the Torquay Local Board of Health, Chairman of the Torquay Market Company, and Treasurer of the Torquay Errand Boys' Association. He held similar offices in, or was connected in other ways with, the St. Raphael's Convalescent Home, the Torquay Cricket Club, the House of Best at Babbacombe, the Seaman's Shelter, and the Torbay and South Devon Club. Despite his failing health, he discharged the duties of his various offices in such a manner as to command general confidence and the highest respect.

He joined the Association in 1878, and was selected by the Council as a Vice-President Designate in February, 1885.

For many years he suffered from a delicate constitution and latterly he had spent a portion of his time abroad. Early in the present year he again sought the shores of the Mediterranean, and went to sojourn at Cannes; but the steady advances of his disorder could not be arrested, and he died at the Hotel de Provence, Cannes, on^ March 3rd, in the 41st year of his age.