Below : West Cottage Last residence of Robert Cross - picture taken in 1986 by the late John Keir Cross
Robert Cross retired to Edinburgh, where he continued to contribute to profesional journals.
He moved to West Cottage, Torrance of Campsie, sometime in the 1890s. Family stories tell of him still sleeping at night
with a gun beneath his head. In his later years he was very badly affected from attacks of malaria-fever.
He died there in 1911. He is buried at Cadder Cemetery. Bishopbriggs. A small biblical scroll marks the spot. The headstone
letters are badly faded but record his name and origins .....ROBERT CROSS OF KILMARONOCK.
One particular story, which featured in the Nilgiri Express - an Indian sub continent newspaper, from the 1880s, is interesting.
Other evidence ( from letters ) suggests that by this time Cross had quarrelled with the Establishment, about certain chinchona
species cultivation in the sub-continent, especially in Madras. The Express article refers to Cross's shipwreck in 1875 and
of being given very little recognition for his services - afterall Markham and Wickham received knighthoods - Spruce - a sick
man on his return from South America - had received a life time pension from the Government.
Cross did spend a fair bit of time in the 1880s being paid as Acting Superintendent - it sometimes looks as if this was
in order to keep him on the payroll. He worked in several of the Southern Indian plantations and saw at first hand how the
new generation of gardeners and Indians planters were planting and replanting chinchona. He pointed out in correspondence
to Kew Gardens that a monumental mistake had been made - he felt one of the biggest in the history of botany - that the wrong
species of chinchona was being over-cultivated in India.
As for rubber cultivation in Ceylon - and hence the Nilgiri Express's article Cross was also feeling let down and unrewarded
in relation to his contribution to rubber plant transfers.
The article ends as follows:
One would think after perusing the foregoing ( referring to Cross's contribution to the collecting of rubber trees, plants
and seeds in South America in 1875 and 1876 ) that Government - I think this means the Indian government as Cross was recompenced
and paid for his services to the India Office - would hasten to reward the man who had performed such great public service
for the benefit of the community. The gallant explorer did not receive the smallest recognition for his great services. He
was at Nilambur establishing the growth of the rubber trees which he had introduced into this country after such toil, danger,
and privation, and in reply to some overtures made on his behalf to the Secretary of State, a telegram was received. What
the purport of this telegram was we know not, but its contents so disgusted the explorer, that he shook the dust from off
his feet and departed to seek fresh fields and pastures new.
Cross eventually did obtain an annual annuity - it is recorded in his inventory of Estate of 1911. He also received a
variety of payments for his services, details to follow later on this site.