The Twickenham Museum
People : Merchants and Entrepreneurs

Robert Udney
West India merchant
1725 - 1802

Robert Fullerton Udney

Robert Fullerton Udney came from Udny (as it is spelt in Scotland) about 12 miles north of Aberdeen, where the family lived in the 15th century castle. Abandoned in 1634 when the family moved to their other property, Knockhall Castle, Udny was reoccupied about 100 years later and restored. Descendants of the family live there today.

In Teddington, Robert Udney acquired a property in the High Street on the corner of Kingston Lane in 1789. The land then covered about 6 acres and a house, first mentioned in 1647 had been rebuilt in 1768.A datestone carried the initials I K.

Robert Udney was the second son of James Udney and 14th owner in succession of Udny Castle. He was a very successfiul West India merchant making his own fortune and only succeeding to the paternal estates late in life. As well as the house in Teddington he also had a house in Mayfair. His brother John was consul at Venice and Leghorn and acted as his brother's agent in the purchase of paintings in Italy which he displayed in his gallery in Teddington. It is said that the reputation of the gallery was sufficient to entice George III and the Queen to breakfast with the Udneys and to inspect the pictures while on their way to Windsor.

Robert Udney married twice: first, Mary Hougham in 1749 and they had a daughter Mary who married Sir William Cunynghame and inherited the house in Teddington which her son Capt George Cunynghame occupied between 1845 and 1851. Robert married his second wife, Martha, who was about thirty years his junior, in 1787. They were friendly with Horace Walpole who wrote about Mrs Udney to the Miss Berrys. After Robert died in 1802 his widow became under-governess to Princess Charlotte of Wales who, it is said, did not like her very much.

Udney died at his London home, being described in The Gentleman's Magazine as "…much distinguished for his taste in the fine arts, and ranked with our best judges of painting…he was a man of …great liberality, and a hospitable disposition…"

Further reading:

P A Ching, Teddington in 1800 - the Year of the Enclosure, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper no 51, 1983
Website: http//
Swan & Stag Magazine, 1926
Dorman Creston, The Regent and his Daughter

back to top