ROBERT B. SHIRLEY was born in Madison county, Illinois, October 9th, 1850. His father, William C. Shirley, is a native of Tennessee. He emigrated to Illinois in 1842, and settled in Madison county, where he engaged in farming for a number of years. He afterwards removed to Staunton, Macoupin county, where he followed the mercantile business. In 1845 he married Mary Hoxsey, a native of Madison county. Her parents were Virginians by birth. Mr. Shirley remained in the mercantile business until 1860, when, after the breaking out of the war, he became a government contractor. In 1857 he was a member of the state legislature, and also in 1867. During the time he was a member, in 1867-68, he procured the passage of an act chartering the Decatur and East St. Louis railroad, and afterwards built the road. He is still a resident of Staunton.
The subject of our sketch received a good English education in the common schools of his native place, and in 1867 he entered the scientific department of the university at Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1873 he entered the law office of William R. Welch of Carlinville, and commenced reading law. In June 1876, he was admitted to practice. In October, 1878, he formed a law partnership with S. T. Corn, state's attorney, which still continues. In politics he is a straight democrat. Mr. Shirley is a young man of fine address and appearance and of more than ordinary legal ability. He is industrious and untiring in the cause of his client.