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Robert Watson Boyd (1852 - 1887)


  • (20/09/1852) Born in Gateshead, son of a wherryman.
  • 1880
  • (10/02/1880) Boyd raced Elliott on the Tyne for 400 a-side. This was Boyd's last ever win, winning easily on the day.
  • 1887
  • (01/07/1887) Died at the age of 35. Report from the Daily Exchange Newspaper: "It is with extreme regret that we have to chronicle the death of Mr. R.W. Boyd, ex-champion sculler of England. The sad event took place at the deceased's residence Shakespeare Hotel, Middlesbrough, at one o'clock this morning. Mr Boyd was only 35 years old, and his sudden and premature death will be deeply regretted by a very wide circle of acquaintances and admirers, not only in Middlesbro', but perhaps to a greater extent, on Tyneside. Mr. Boyd was born at Gateshead on the 20th September 1852, and as his father was a wherryman on the Tyne, it is not surprising to find that at the early age of 15 young Boyd was attracting a great deal of attention on account of his performances with the sculls. After competing in many small local races, he joined Lumsden, of Blyth, and at the age of 20 Boyd and his companion were looked upon as the champion double scullers of England having pulled off the honours in an encounter with Taylor and Winship, and beaten all-comers on the Thames, including Green and Thomas. From this time the double sculls were discarded, and having launched out as a sculler, a race of a mile was arranged on the Tyne between Boyd and Sadler, and in this event Boyd came off victorious, although in a subsequent encounter he was defeated by Sadler on the Thames. His next opponent was Higgins, and it was always a matter of difficulty to decide which was the better man, as out of four or more encounters, each claimed an equal number of victories; but it was from Higgins that Boyd snatched the proud title of Champion Sculler of England. In the competition for the Newcastle Chronicle Challenge Cup Boyd beat Lumsden, Elliott, and Nicholson, but the cup eventually came into the possession of Higgins, who proved victorious on three successive occasions. Both Elliott and Boyd had held the championship of England, and each had beaten the other, Boyd winning in the contest for the Newcastle Chronicle Cup, and Elliott defeating him in the race on the Thames for the cup offered by the proprietors of The Sportsman. These two rivals had long looked askance at each other, and finally a match was arranged to be rowed on the Tyne for 400 a-side. The event came off on Tuesday February 10th 1880, the banks being lined with enthusiastic supporters from all parts of the kingdom. Public opinion was decidedly in favour of Boyd, although the gentlemen from London, where Elliott's stake had been found, never flinched in supporting their man. The race, however, proved a somewhat easy victory for the Middlesbrough man. This was the last contest in which Boyd proved victorious. Almost immediately after the race Boyd, no doubt elated by his recent success, issued the following challenge:-

    "Last night, at the Beehive Inn, Mr. Christopher Barrow authorised Mr. T.B.W.Whitefoot, the editor of The Sportsman, to keep back 50 from the stakes won in yesterday's race as a deposit for Robert Watson Boyd, of Middlesbrough, to row Edward Hanlan, of Toronto, a match over the Tyne Championship course for the Sportsman championship of England Challenge Cup, 200 a-side, and 300 if necessary, or any man in the world can be accommodated with a match on the Tyne, from the Mansion House to Scotswood Suspension bridge, for a stake of 200 aside, and 300 more if required".

    This challenge as will be remembered, was promptly accepted by Hanlan, who practically won from the start of the race. The last appearance of Mr. Boyd in public was was when he was beaten on the Tees by Laycock of Sydney. Since that time, the deceased has led a somewhat retired life, and never again attempted to measure blades with any of his old rivals. Last year when Hanlan visited this country, he was entertained by Mr. Boyd at the Shakespeare Hotel, and the two old rivals became the best of friends. To his many acquaintances, Mr. Boyd was always genial and warmhearted, and his premature removal from this life will be deeply lamented by all who came into contact with him. He leaves a widow and a small family to mourn his loss. He was taken to his last resting place, the New Cemetery, Middlesbro', along a route which passed the Shakespeare Hotel where a dense crowd was assembled, and thw whole route to the cemetery was lined with people of all classes of society awed and silenced by the sad and imposing occasion.
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