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  • ID: I64060
  • Name: Robert Augustus Chesebrough 1 2 3 4 5
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 9 JAN 1837 in London City, Greater London, England 6
  • Baptism: 8 FEB 1837 Old Church, Saint Pancras, Greater London, England 7
  • Note: Old Church, Saint Pancras, Middlesex (now Greater London), England
  • Death: ABT 11 SEP 1933 in his home, Spring Lake, Monmouth County, NJ 8
  • Burial: 11 SEP 1933 The Bronx, New York City, Bronx County, NY 9
  • Note: Woodlawn Cemetery
  • Note:

    1. Robert was the inventor of Vaseline and founder of the Chesebrough Ponds Corporation that manufactured Vaseline, Ponds hand lotion and other products worldwide. He was also noted for his inventions of commercial heating and ventilating a ppliances he used in the buildings he built and which attracted the attention of other builders and architects.

    Robert began the manufacture of petroleum and coal products in 1858, being among the first to embark in the industry. The business steadily developed, and in 1870 he discovered and patented the product universally known as Vaseline. This pr oduct was early also called "Skunk Oil." In 1876 he organized The Chesebrough Manufacturing Company, which, in 1903, had branches in London, England; Paris, France; Berlin, Germany; and Montreal, Canada. In 1881 he erected an office buildi ng facing Battery Park, New York City, which was later removed and replaced by the Battery Park Building, the new Chesebrough Building was erected on the corner of Pearl and State streets, facing the park, and the new Maritime Building, in th e rear of the Battery Park Building. The Chesebrough Building Company that was also founded by Augustus owned all three buildings.

    2. From Wikipedia:

    Robert Chesebrough, (1837-1933) was a British-born chemist and inventor of petroleum jelly, trade-named Vaseline. He also founded the company that later became Chesebrough-Ponds, a leading manufacturer of personal care products. Chesebrough p atented the process of making petroleum jelly (U.S. Patent 127,568) in 1872.

    Chesebrough began his career as a chemist distilling kerosene from the oil of sperm whales. The discovery of petroleum in Titusville, Pennsylvania rendered his job obsolete, so he traveled to Titusville to research what new materials might b e created from the new fuel.

    Chesebrough's success stemmed from firm belief in his product. Before Chesebrough began selling petroleum jelly, he tested it on his own cuts and burns. Having demonstrated the product's efficacy on himself, Chesebrough was still unable to se ll any to drug stores until he travelled around New York State demonstrating his miracle product. In front of an audience he would burn his skin with acid or an open flame, then spread the clear jelly on his injuries while demonstrating pas t injuries, healed, he claimed, by his miracle product. To further create demand, he gave out free samples.

    Chesebrough opened his first factory in 1870. The first known reference to the name Vaseline is in his U.S. patent: ?I, Robert Chesebrough, have invented a new and useful product from petroleum which I have named 'Vaseline?'" . The name has b een anecdotally claimed to be from the German word for water, wasser (pronounced vahser), and the Greek word for oil, elaion, but this is unconfirmed.

    Chesebrough lived to be 96 years old and claimed to have eaten a spoonful of Vaseline every day. He was such a believer in Vaseline that during a bout of pleurisy, he had his body completely covered in the substance. He soon recovered.

    3. From Henry Hall's "America's Successful Men of Affairs: An Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography", Vol 1, New York, NY; New York Printing Co., 1895; pages 137 - 139:

    "ROBERT AUGUSTUS CHESEBROUGH, inventor and manufacturer, while born in London, England, Jan. 9, 1837, is
    a scion of some of the most patriotic and ancient American families. The paternal ancestor of the family was William
    Chesebrough, who sailed from Cowes with Governor John Winthrop, March 29, 1630, and settled in Boston, Mass.
    Here he filled several official positions, and in 1634 was chosen High Sheriff. In 1651, he obtained by grant from
    Connecticut, about 2,300 acres of land, which grant was confirmed by the general court at Pequot, on which he
    settled and built a homestead. On this land now stands the present city of Stonington, Conn., where live many of
    his descendents. A new commonwealth was here established. William Chesebrough, the first 'Comytioner' or
    magistrate thereof, was in 1664 chosen as first representative to the General Court at Hartford to adjust the dispute
    as to boundaries with the State of Connecticut. Robert Chesebrough, the paternal grandfather of the subject of this
    sketch, was the fifth son of Nathaniel, who was the grandson of William Chesebrough.

    Henry A. Chesebrough, father of Robert A. Chesebrough, was a dry goods merchant of New York city, who lived
    at No. 7 Bridge Street, then a fashionable place of residence, and grandson of Robert Chesebrough, dry goods
    merchant and founder and president of The Fulton Bank.

    Through the maternal line, the subject of this sketch descends from William Maxwell, founder and president of The
    Bank of New York, the first financial institution ever established in this State, who upheld the cause of the American
    Revolution and derived his pedigree from a family prominent in Scottish history. The Maxwells were earls of Nithsdale
    and barons of Herries. James Homer Maxwell, son of William, married a daughter of the patriot, Jacobus Van Zandt,
    whose family were driven from New York city by the British occupation and saw much of the operations and
    experienced many of the hardships of the heroic struggle for American independence. Miss Van Zandt became
    an actual eye witness of the battle of Monmouth, and, as a bride, she had the honor of opening the first inauguration
    ball as the partner of General Washington. Their son, William H. Maxwell, was the titular earl of Nithsdale at the time
    of his death in 1856. Mr. Chesebrough's mother was a daughter of Richard M. Woodhull, and granddaughter of James
    Homer Maxwell, and also a grand niece of General Woodhull of the American army, who fell in the battle of Long
    Island. The family Bibles of the Maxwells and Van Zandts are yet preserved in this family, and rank among the most
    interesting and valuable relics of that time. But there are two others of note, which may be seen in the old Senate
    House in Kingston, N.Y., being large oil portraits of the father and mother of the spouse of William Maxwell, which
    display a number of holes, punched by the bayonets of the British soldiers, when the latter occupied the Maxwell
    home on Wall street. They were presented to the collection by Mr. Chesebrough.

    The subject of this biography attended the best schools in New York during boyhood, and, in 1858, began the
    manufacture of the products of petroleum. This industry, yet in its infancy, had attracted attention for a few years
    only, and Mr. Chesebrough became one of the pioneers in the utilization of petroleum for the purposes of man.
    Success attended his efforts from the start.

    As a result of continual experiments in distilling and filtering petroleum, he discovered and patented, in 1870, the
    substance now known as Vaseline. When the value and uses of this product had been developed and introduced by
    him, Mr. Chesebrough engaged in its manufacture, and has introduced it not only to the people of the United States at
    large, but to the inhabitants of nearly every civilized country under the sun. In 1880, the business was incorporated as
    The Chesebrough Manufacturing Co., with a capital of $500,000, Mr. Chesebrough acting as president from 1880 to
    the present time. The production of Vaseline has increased steadily, and a growing foreign trade has resulted from the
    establishment of branch offices and distributing depots in London, Paris, Berlin and Montreal.

    His discoveries and enterprise having been followed by a suitable reward, Mr. Chesebrough has now become a large
    owner of realty in the metropolis. In 1881, he erected the huge office building, which bears his name, facing the
    Battery, and was led by scientific interest to devote his personal attention to its arrangement. He introduced heating
    and ventilating appliances of his own invention into this structure; and these have since attracted wide attention among
    architects and owners. The Real Estate Exchange originated with Mr. Chesebrough, and he was second vice-
    president and one of the building committee of the Consolidated Stock Exchange. The removal of the immigrant station
    from Castle Garden to Ellis Island in the harbor grew very largely out of his vigorous efforts in that direction. The
    Battery Park is now no longer flooded with unattractive strangers and emigrants, as in former years.

    The action of Mr. Chesebrough, in 1878, with reference to the Paris Exposition, illustrated his energy and public spirit.
    The Federal Government had been unaccountably slow in providing for a general display of American products and,
    finding the inertia of the authorities too great to be overcome, Mr. Chesebrough called together a number of Americans
    who wished to exhibit at Paris, and, through Frederick R. Coudert, the lawyer, secured from the Duke Descazes
    permission for a display of products by Americans on their private account. This proceeding spurred the State
    Department into action, and an American exhibit finally took place under proper authority.

    During the exciting Mayoralty contest in Long Island City, between Mr. Gleason and Mr. Sanford, in 1892, the Street
    Improvement Commission of that city, of which Mr. Sanford was president, was accused of gross frauds and
    irregularities. At a citizen's meeting, Mr. Chesebrough was elected chairman of an Investigating Committee to ascertain
    the facts. He employed an expert accountant to examine the books and contracts, and a few days before election
    made his report, exonerating Mr. Sanford and the Commission, which, being published in the Long Island City
    newspapers, resulted in the election of Mr. Sanford by a few hundred majority, showing a marked change of public
    sentiment against Mr. Gleason.

    Mr. Chesebrough has always shown an interest in public affairs, and in 1894, he received a nomination for Congress
    from the Republicans of his district in this city. He made a gallant fight, but the time was too short for a suitable
    canvass against the heavy Democratic majority of the district; and, although he cut down the Democratic [p.140]
    majority from over 10,000 to 1,300, he suffered the same fate as Levi P. Morton when he first ran for Congress, and
    was beaten.

    By his marriage with Margaret McCredy, sister of Mrs. Frederick R. Coudert, April 28, 1864, Mr. Chesebrough has
    three sons and a daughter, Robert M., William H., Frederic W., and Marion M. Chesebrough. Mrs. Chesebrough died
    April 3, 1887. The summer home of the family was formerly at Legget's Point on the Sound, north of the city, but has
    now been sold to an English syndicate for division into lots. The family live at No. 17 East 45th street every winter,
    and usually spend their summers either in travel or in the suburbs. Mr. Chesebrough is a member of the Union League,
    Riding and Manhattan Athletic clubs, and was president of the Down Town Republican Club in 1890. He is a writer of
    ability, and author of 'A Reverie and other Poems,' which were favorably reviewed by the press. A calm, judicious,
    energetic business man, he has won position by his own efforts, and the general esteem by his upright character."

    4. From Thomas William Herringshaw's, "Herringshaw's Encyclopedia of American Biography of the Nineteenth Century", Chicago IL: American Publishers' Association, 1902; page 211:

    "CHESEBROUGH, ROBERT AUGUSTUS, manufacturer, inventor, was born Jan. 9, 1837, in England. As a result of
    continual experiments in distilling and filtering petroleum, he discovered and patented, in 1870, the substance now
    known as Vaseline. In 1881 he erected the huge office building, which bears his name, in New York city. He
    introduced heating and ventilating appliances of his own invention into this structure; and these have since attracted
    wide attention among architects and owners. The Real Estate exchange originated with him."

    5. Biography on Find A Grave (

    Inventor. A chemist, he created what became known as petroleum jelly, which he trade marked as "Vaseline". Born in London,
    England to American parents, he was raised in New York City, New York, and trained in chemistry. When petroleum was
    discovered, he commenced research to see how it might be used. This led to his invention of petroleum jelly, which he patented
    under the name Vaseline in 1872. Having trouble selling the product for use on cuts and burns, he took to the road as a pitchman
    and marketed it himself. Part of his demonstration was to burn his own skin and then spread Vaseline on the injury while extolling
    the healing properties of the product. He went on to found the Chesebrough Manufacturing Company, which later merged with the
    T. T. Pond Company and became known as Chesebrough-Ponds. He retired as company president in 1908. Although the medicinal
    values of petroleum jelly were mostly disproved during his lifetime, Chesebrough, who lived to be 96, attributed his longevity to t
    fact that he ate a spoonful of Vaseline every day.

    6. Census Records:

    1880 US (1 Jun)

    Robert CHESEBROUGH Self M Male W 46 NY Manufactorer Of Vasaline NY NY
    Margert CHESEBROUGH Wife M Female W 45 NY House Keeper NY NY
    Robert CHESEBROUGH Son S Male W 15 NY At Scho
    Wm. H. CHESEBROUGH Son S Male W 13 NY At Scho
    Frederick CHESEBROUGH Son S Male W 10 NY At School NY NY
    Marion CHESEBROUGH Dau S Female W 7 NY At Ho
    Eliza ONIEL Other S Female W 55 IRE Servant IRE I
    Viola GULACT Other S Female W 48 GER Servant GER G
    Adelph HEBERT Other S Female W 18 FRA Servant FRA F

    Birth Year <1834>
    Birthplace NY
    Age 46
    Occupation Manufacturer Of Vaseline
    Marital Status M
    Head of Household Robert CHESEBROUGH
    Relation Self
    Father's Birthplace NY
    Mother's Birthplace NY

    Census Place New York, New York (Manhattan), New York City-Greater, New York
    Family History Library Film1254894
    NA FilmT9-0894
    Page Number195C

    1900 US (1 Jun)

    Name:Robert A Chesebrough
    Titles and Terms:
    Event Type:Census
    Event Year:1900
    Event Place:Borough of Manhattan, Election District 24 New York City Ward 29, New York County, New York, United States
    Marital Status:Widowed
    Race (Original):W
    Relationship to Head of Household:Head
    Relationship to Head of Household (Original):Head
    Birth Date:Jan 1837
    Immigration Year:1838
    Father's Birthplace:New York
    Mother's Birthplace:New York
    Sheet Number and Letter:3A
    Household ID:50
    Line Number:15
    Affiliate Name:The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
    Affiliate Publication Number:T623
    GS Film Number:1241116
    Digital Folder Number:004114683
    Image Number:00556

    Robert A ChesebroughHeadM63England
    William H ChesebroughSonM33New York
    Frederick W ChesebroughSonM29New York
    Rosie NellockHousekeeperF64Germany
    Josephene ReynoldsServantF44New York

    Citing this Record:
    "United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 13 April 2015), Robert A Chesebrough, Borough of Manhattan, Election District 24 New York City Ward 29, New York County , New York, United States; citing sheet 3A, family 50, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,241,116.

    7. Robert's obituaries courtesy Kathy Hill Dec 2006:

    New York Times, Sept. 9, 1933:

    "SPRING LAKE, N. J., Sept. 8 - Robert Augustus Chesebrough, former President of the Chesebrough Manufacturing
    Company, makers of Vaseline and other petroleum products, died here at 6 o'clock this evening at his home in
    Prospect Avenue, at the age of 96. A general breakdown due to age was the cause of death. He came down stairs
    for dinner last night. Today he sat up for luncheon in his room, but felt ill afterward and went to bed. In recent months
    he had been able to take short walks, and two years ago he dived from the springboard into the pool of the Beach
    Club. The near relatives who survive are a son, Frederick Woodhull Chesebrough of Millbrook, N. Y.; a daughter Mrs.
    Charles Davison of Millbrook, and two grandchildren, Howard C. Davison of Millbrook and Mrs. Margaret W. Davison
    Johnson, wife of Dr. Vansel S. Johnson of New York City."

    New York Times, Sept. 11, 1933:

    ?CHESEBROUGH ? At his residence, Spring Lake, N. J., in his ninety-seventh year, Robert Augustus Chesebrough.
    Funeral services Monday, Sept. 11, at 11 A.M. at St. Bartholomew?s Chapel, 50th St. and Park Av., New York.
    Interment Woodlawn Cemetery. Kindly omit flowers.?

    8. More about Vaseline:

    Petroleum jelly or petrolatum is a byproduct of the refining of petroleum, made from the residue of petroleum distillation
    left in the still after all the oil has been vaporized.

    Vaseline is a brand of petroleum jelly originally produced by Chesebrough-Pond's Inc., and currently by Unilever.

    Petroleum jelly was discovered by Robert Chesebrough in 1859 in Brooklyn, New York. Chesebrough was intrigued by
    the paraffin-like substance that stuck to the drilling rigs. All the riggers hated the stuff because it caused the rigs to
    seize up, but they did use it on cuts and burns because it helped them heal faster. Chesebrough bottled the petroleum
    jelly and took it back to his office where he tested it on himself.

    He gave out free samples across New York and within six months he had twelve wagons distributing the product,
    under the trade name Vaseline, across the state.

    In 1872, Chesebrough patented (U.S. No. 127,568) the process of making petroleum jelly. The patent said that
    distillation by heat under vacuum involves less heat than without the vacuum, and yields a better quality of jelly. The
    product is then filtered through bone-black. The patent says its uses include currying, stuffing, and oiling all kinds of
    leather. The finest grade of petroleum is also adapted for use as a pomade for the hair. It is also an excellent treatment
    for chapped hands and toenail fungus.

    In bullfighting, petroleum jelly is placed on a bull's eyes in order to hinder its sight.

    Petroleum jelly used to be used as a sexual lubricant, particularly for anal sex, but it has the inconvenience of
    damaging latex condoms. The availability of water-based personal lubricants reduced this usage. It also used to be
    recommended for lubricating rectal thermometers or enema nozzles, but, again, water-based personal lubricants are
    better for that usage.

    9. More about Unilever:

    Unilever is a European Union (Anglo/Dutch) corporation which owns many of the world's consumer product brands
    in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. Unilever employs more than 247,000 people and
    had a worldwide turnover of ?48 760 million in 2002.

    Unusually, Unilever has two parent companies: Unilever NV in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and Unilever PLC in London,
    United Kingdom. Both companies have the same directors and effectively operate as a single business. The current
    chairman, 2004, for Unilever NV is Antony Burgmans while Niall FitzGerald is the head of Unilever PLC.

    Unilever's major competitors include Nestlé and Proctor and Gamble.


    Unilever was created in 1930 by the merger of British soap maker Lever Brothers and Dutch margarine producer
    Margarine Unie, a logical merger as palm oil was a major raw material for both margarines and soaps and could be
    imported more advantageously in larger quantities.

    In the 1930s, the business of Unilever grew and new ventures were launched in Latin America. By 1980, soap and
    edible fats contributed just 40% of profits, compared with an original 90%. In 1984 the company bought the brands
    Brooke Bond tea, Faberge and Elizabeth Arden, but the latter was later sold (in 2000) to FFI Fragrances.

    Unilever acquired Chesebrough-Ponds, the maker of Vaseline, in 1987, which strengthened its position in the world
    skin care market. The company later absorbed the American business Bestfoods, strengthening its presence in North
    America and extending its portfolio of foods brands.

    Today the company is fully multinational with operating companies and factories on every continent and research
    laboratories in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the United States India, and China.


    Unilever has a portfolio of about 1000 brands, many of them local that can only be found in certain countries. The
    brands fall almost entirely in two categories as set out below.

    Food and beverage brands:

    Ades, Becel, Ben and Jerry's, Best Foods, Bertolli, Birds Eye, Blue Band, Boursin, Brooke Bond, Calvé, Findus,
    Flora, HB, Hellmann?s, Knorr, Lipton, PG Tips, Pot noodle, Ragu, Magnum, Solero, Slim Fast, Walls.

    Home and personal care brands:

    Axe, Calvin Klein, Cerrutti, Cif, Comfort, Domestos, Dove, Elizabeth Arden, Hindustan Lever Limited Impulse,
    Rexona, Lux, Persil, Ponds, Rinso, Signal, Suave, Surf Valentino perfumes Vaseline.
  • Reference Number: 64060

    Father: Henry Augustus Chesebrough b: 7 MAR 1801 in New York City, New York County, NY
    Mother: Marion Maxwell Woodhull b: 11 APR 1811 in New York City, New York County, NY

    Marriage 1 Margaret McCredy b: 30 SEP 1841 in New Rochelle, Westchester County, NY
    • Married: 28 APR 1864 in New Rochelle, Westchester County, NY 10
    1. Has No Children Robert Maxwell Chesebrough b: 6 FEB 1865 in New York City, New York County, NY
    2. Has No Children William Henry Chesebrough Sr b: 17 AUG 1866 in New York City, New York County, NY
    3. Has No Children Augustine Chesebrough b: 1 APR 1868 in New York City, New York County, NY
    4. Has No Children Frederick Woodhull Chesebrough b: 9 JUN 1870 in New York City, New York County, NY
    5. Has Children Marian Maxwell Chesebrough b: 3 JAN 1873 in New York City, New York County, NY

    1. Author: Anna Chesebrough Wildey
      Title: ''Genealogy of the Descendants of William Chesebrough, Founder of Stonington, Ct.'' (Larry Chesebro's personal file)
      Publication: Name: New York: Press of T. A. Wright 1903; Location: Chesebro' Reference Material;
      Source Medium: Book


      Page: pages 378 and 379
    2. Author: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
      Title: IGI British Isles, v3.06 - 5.0
      Publication: Name: FamilySearch(tm), (c) 1999-2005 by Intellectual Reserve Inc.; Location:;
      Source Medium: Church Record


      Text: Batch C047933, Parish registers, 1660-1875 Church of England. St. Pancras Old Church (St. Pancras), London City, Greater London, England
    3. Author: The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies
      Title: Pallot's Baptism Index For England: 1780 - 1837
      Publication: Name: online version 2001; Location: Canterbury, Kent, England;
      Source Medium: Book,
    4. Title: Cemetery, Burial and/or Gravestone Records
      Publication: Location: Subject Surname Source File or listed Cemetery;
      Source Medium: Tombstone


      See notes
      Page: Find A Grave
    5. Author: US or state government
      Title: Census Records
      Publication: Name: Various; Location: Subject Surname Source File
      Source Medium: Census records from, LDS FamilySearch, or MyHeritage and etc. as recorded in notes

      See notes
      Text: see notes
    6. Title: ? Place Rec: London City, Greater London, England
      Author: Place Rec Id [P216]
      Source Type: Place Details
    7. Title: ? Place Rec: Old Church, Saint Pancras, Greater London, England
      Author: Place Rec Id [P12460]
      Source Type: Place Details
    8. Title: ? Place Rec: his home, Spring Lake, Monmouth County, NJ
      Author: Place Rec Id [P12459]
      Source Type: Place Details
    9. Title: ? Place Rec: The Bronx, New York City, Bronx County, NY
      Author: Place Rec Id [P8814]
      Source Type: Place Details
    10. Title: ? Place Rec: New Rochelle, Westchester County, NY
      Author: Place Rec Id [P1815]
      Source Type: Place Details
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