Biographical note in in the "Biographical Register of Saint Andrew's society of the State of New York, Volume 1, by William MacBean. Published in 1922.

Robert Lenox of Kirkcudbright and New York

Robert Lenox was the son of James Lenox, of the Parish of Kirkcudbright, and grandson of William Lenox, of Milnhouse in the same parish. His mother was Elizabeth, daughter of David Sproat, all of the Parish of Kirkcudbright. He was born in the town of Kirkcudbright, December 31, 1759, and died in New York City, December 13, 1839.

His parents were in somewhat straitened circumstances and unable to support their large family and consequently Robert Lenox, with his brothers, David and William, came to America just prior to the Revolution, being sent out to join their uncle, David Sproat, a merchant in Philadelphia, who had come to this country in 1760.

After his arrival Robert was sent to school for a short time at Burlington, New Jersey, and then joined his uncle who had moved to New York. He appears to have remained with his uncle, who was then acting as Commissary-General of Naval prisoners in North America, and was employed as clerk, acting at times as "director of Flags of Truce." During the war he made various trips between New York, the West Indies, Charleston and elsewhere to conserve his uncle's business interests, and was at one time taken prisoner by a French man-of-war but soon released at the request of his brother, Major David Lenox, who had taken up arms on the American side.

Upon the evacuation of New York by the British in 1783 he went to Scotland with his uncle, Mr. Sproat, to assist him in settling his accounts with the British Government. He returned to this country in the following September and then took up his permanent residence in New York City. Previous to his departure he had married a daughter of Nicholas Carmer, a merchant of this City, who was later a vestryman of Trinity Church and one of the Commissioners for rebuilding that church in 1788. Robert was subsequently joined by his youngest brother, James, who came out from Scotland, and they established the great commercial house of James Lenox & William Maitland in 1796.

James Lenox retired from the firm in 1818 and returned to Scotland, where he died in 1839; the firm becoming successively Kennedy & Maitland ; Maitland, Phelps & Co., and later Maitland. Coppell & Co. Robert Lenox soon became one of the greatest merchants of the day, trading extensively abroad, in the West Indies and throughout this country. His business transactions for many years surpassed in importance and extent those of any other merchant in this City at that period and he rapidly amassed a large fortune.

He was a man of great strength of character and unswerving integrity. Through a fortunate investment in land, bounded by Fourth and Fifth Avenues and Sixty-eighth and Seventy-fourth Streets, which became known as the "Lenox Farm," and which he held tenaciously and impressed upon his son, James Lenox, the wisdom of holding, the family became very wealthy. The History of the Chamber of Commerce states of Robert Lenox: "He was one of the most extensive as well as successful merchants in the United States," and at his death, "an eminent merchant who for a period beyond the ordinary course of human life had been distinguished for great prudence, a clear and sound judgment and unblemished reputation."

Mr. Lenox held numerous positions of trust and importance during his lifetime. He was Alderman of this City, 1795-97, and 1800-02; one of the founders of the Lying-in Hospital, incorporated in 1799, and its President, 1829-35; a member of the Chamber of Commerce; Vice-President, 1819-26; and President from 1826 until his death in 1839; a Trustee and Chairman of the Board of Managers of the Sailors' Snug Harbor; a Trustee of Princeton College; an elder of the First Presbyterian Church for over thirty years, and director in many other institutions and corporations. In politics he was a Federalist, a strong believer in free trade and one of the delegates to the celebrated free-trade convention held at Philadelphia in the autumn of 1820. In January, 1824, he was appointed Chairman of the Committee of Correspondence organized to oppose the threatened increase of the tariff.