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Updated 05/09/2013


Robin Adair

Robin Adair was born about 1714 and died in 1790.  At the age of 22 he got into trouble in his native city of Dublin where he was a medical student, rose to be surgeon-colonel in the British army and, having declined a baronetcy, ended his life an honorary member of the College of Surgeons, Ireland. 

Robin married Lady Caroline Keppel, daughter of Sir William Anne Van Keppel 2nd Earl Of Albemarle and Lady Anne Lennox Countess of Albermarle, in 1758.  Lady Caroline Keppel is said to have written the words of the ballad while heart-broken on account of the opposition of her family to the match. Lady Caroline Keppel was born about 1734 and died in 1769 of consumption.  Their son, Sir Robert Adair (1763-1855) became a notable member of the British diplomatic corps. 

Robin Adair became the surgeon general in charge of the first fleet to Sydney, Australia 1788 transporting convicts to Botany bay.  Governor Arthur Phillip sailed the Armed Tender "Supply" into the bay on 18 January 1788. Two days later the remaining ships of the First Fleet had arrived to found the planned penal colony. Finding that the sandy infertile soil of the site in fact rendered it most unsuitable for settlement, Phillip decided instead to move to the excellent natural harbor of Port Jackson to the north. On the morning of 24 January the French exploratory expedition of Jean-François de La Pérouse was seen outside Botany Bay. On 26 January, the "Supply" left the bay to move up to Port Jackson. It anchored in Sydney Cove and the British Flag "Queen Ann" was hoisted on shore. On the afternoon of 26 January, the remaining ships of First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove. The good supply of fresh water in the area led to the expansion of its population in the 19th century.

The tune may have been composed by Charles Coffey (died 1745); an Irish playwright and composer.  His best music includes The Devil to Pay, or The Wives Metapmorhos’d (1731), from a play by Thomas Jevon, and Ellen A Roon (1729), now sung to new words and known as Robin Adair.

Lyrics by Lady Caroline Keppel

What's this dull town to me?
Robin's not near;
What was't I wished to see?
What wish'd to hear?
Where's all the joy and mirth,
Made this town heav'n on earth?
Oh! they're all fled with thee,
Robin Adair.

What made th' assembly shine?
Robin Adair;
What made the ball so fine?
Robin was there.
And when the play was o'er
What made my heart so sore?
Oh! it was parting with
Robin Adair.

But now thou art far from me,
Robin Adair;
But now I never see
Robin Adair;
Yet him I loved so well
Still in my heart shall dwell;
O, I can ne'er forget
Robin Adair!

Welcome on shore again,
Robin Adair!
Welcome once more again,
Robin Adair!
I feel thy trembling hand;
Tears in thy eyelids stand,
To greet thy native land,
Robin Adair!

Long I ne'er saw thee, love,
Robin Adair;
Still I prayed for thee, love,
Robin Adair;
When thou wert far at sea,
Many made love to me,
But still I thought on thee,
Robin Adair!

Come to my heart again,
Robin Adair;
Never to part again,
Robin Adair;
And if thou still art true,
I will be constant too,
And will wed none but you,
Robin Adair