I should start by explaining how my research into Robb family history began. In 1972, when I was about 16, one of my father’s cousins, Edna, visited from New Zealand. There was a big family party at my Uncle Alan’s house in East Ham, at which Edna described how she had been tracing the family’s history during her visit. She told us that our ancestors were from Scotland, and even claimed that we were descended from Rob Roy MacGregor. I think she had visited Scotland; she had certainly managed to get hold either of a family Bible or some information written in it. We were given a photocopy of this information, which I took home and pored over. It appeared to consist of a number of extracts run together and at first it was difficult to determine who had written which part.
However, in time I managed to sort out the authorship and chronology and began to construct my first family tree. I was fascinated to discover that my 3 x great grandfather had been a Scotsman named Charles Edward Stuart Robb, named after Bonnie Prince Charlie, for whom his father had apparently fought in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. It was also intriguing to read that Charles had married Margaret Ricketts Monteith, the granddaughter of Viscount Stormont, another Jacobite, and that Charles’ brother, Rev. William Robb, had been a professor of Greek. But my newly-created family tree, and the source it was based on, raised as many questions as they answered, of which the foremost was this: how had this conservative, educated and aristocratically-connected Scottish family turned into the Nonconformist, working-class Robbs of East Ham?
It would be a number of years before I could make much progress in answering this and other questions. In the meantime, I filled in details of recent generations of the family, by talking to relatives. But it was only with the coming of the internet that my researches into past generations really took off. I joined Ancestry and Genes Reunited and began to discover census returns, death certificates and so on, that rounded out the picture. Having a public family tree also put me in touch with other people researching similar areas, which has been enormously helpful.
I’m now able to put together a fairly detailed account of our branch of the Robb family over the past 250 years. Of course, there are still some significant gaps, and plenty of unanswered questions, but I’m hoping that sharing the story will encourage others to add to it.