William Robb (1813 – 1888)

Charles Edward Stuart Robb’s son William married Fanny Sarah Seager (daughter of Samuel Hurst Seager and his wife Fanny) at St. George the Martyr, Queen Square (mistakenly given as Queen Street in the family Bible), Bloomsbury in May 1836. They were both 22 years old. They had five children: Fanny Margaret (1838 – 1840), William Henry (born 1841), Elizabeth Margaret (born 1843), Matilda Fanny (born 1846) and Charles Edward (born 1851).

 Fanny’s father Samuel died in 1837. She gave birth to a daughter, Fanny Margaret, in the following year, but the child died at the age of two. Curiously, the 1841 census has Fanny Rob (sic), an embroideress aged 25 and born in about 1816, living with 55-year-old Fanny Seager, a laundress, in Hemlock Court, St. Clement Danes. The same census has William living with his parents in Charing Cross Court. Hemlock Court was close to Lincoln’s Inn and a number of the neighbours appear to have been law stationers like William, so perhaps this was the young couple’s home and Fanny’s mother was living with them. William may simply have been visiting his parents on the night of the census. Or Fanny may have been staying with her mother in the aftermath of, or anticipating, the birth of her son, William Henry. At any rate, the couple went on to produce three more children after William Henry. Elizabeth Margaret was born in 1843 and Matilda Fanny in 1846. Fanny died four days after giving birth to Charles Edward in January 1851 and was buried at the Tabernacle in Tottenham Court Road. She was 36 years old.

The census of March 1851 has William Robb, a widower and law stationer’s clerk, born in Richmond about 1814, living with Willie aged 9 (which would match his son William Henry) at 16 Queen Street in the parish of St. Anne’s, Soho. There seem to have been two Queen Streets in the parish at the time: one off Great Windmill Street near Piccadilly Circus and the other off Dean Street, near Soho Square, roughly where present-day Bateman Street runs. (Update: it’s definitely the Soho Queen Street, as the other one was in the parish of St. James.)

We know from the same census that Elizabeth and Matilda Fanny (also known as Fanny) were living or staying in nearby Gerrard Street with their maternal grandmother, Fanny Seager, and with their uncles Samuel, Edward (both carpenters) and Henry (a printer) and aunt Edith (an embroideress), all of whom who would later emigrate to New Zealand. But the whereabouts at this time of the new baby, Charles Edward, are unknown (perhaps sent out to a wet nurse?). 

Three years later, in June 1854, William married again, this time to Marianne Mansfield Palmer, who was born in 1830 in Longton, Staffordshire (into a family of bookbinders), at St. Clement Danes in the Strand. They had ten children: Lydia Palmer (born 1855), Alice Martha Stormont (born 1857), Marianne Mansfield (born 1858), Rose Emma Tunstall (born 1860), David Enoch (born 1863), Eliza Annie (born 1865), Gertrude Constance (born 1867), Alexander George (born 1870), Grace Amy (born 1872) and Arthur Ernest (born 1875). [Note: The latter is not to be confused with William’s grandson of the same name, born 22 years later.]

The 1861 census has William, aged 47 and still working as a law stationer’s clerk, living at 15 St. Ann’s Road, in the new suburb of Mile End Old Town, just off Bow Common Lane and not far from the City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery. [This must have been a new house, as the road did not exist and the area was undeveloped in 1851.] Matilda (14) and Charles Edward (10) are now living with William and Marianne, as are Lydia, Alice, Rose and young Marianne, and also Edward Palmer, a widower aged 27, working as a dock messenger (?), who is probably a relation (brother?) of Marianne’s.

Ten years later William and Marianne are living at nearby 31 Turners Road in Mile End (which seems to have been another new building development) with Lydia, Alice, Marianne, Rose, David, Eliza, Gertrude and Alexander. By 1881 they had moved to 70 Turners Road and had added Grace and Arthur to the family. William, 67 by now, is still described as a stationer’s clerk, while 17 year old David is working for the Post Office.

 Of William’s and Fanny’s children, Charles Edward is the only for whom we have any further information: we don’t know what became of William Henry, Elizabeth or Matilda Fanny (though the latter two may have remained with the Seagers, and perhaps emigrated to New Zealand with them?).

As for William’s and Marianne’s children, we know that Lydia married Charles Frederick Walkley  of Leytonstone in 1887 (his second marriage) and died at the Refuge, Clarendon, Edgbaston in 1897. Alice married Alfred Timpson at Wycliffe Chapel in Mile End in 1874, had seven children, and died in 1895. Marianne married Edwin Harris of Battle in Sussex in 1901. Rose had two children – Bertram Poulides Robb and Daisy Gertrude Poulides Robb – by an unknown partner. David married Emma Judd in 1892 and they had four children: David, Sissy, Clara and Winifred. Gertrude married a Mackenzie and had a son Donald. Alexander married Jane Sherwood in East Ham in 1907, had seven children (Alice Rose, Alexander Arthur, Grace, George, Marion Lilian, William H. and Constance Ruth) and died in Croydon in 1921.

In June 1880 William wrote a memorandum giving details of his family history, which was copied into the family Bible and verified by his son Charles Edward.  Marianne died in 1883 in Mile End. William died in August 1888 at 25 Oxford Street in Whitechapel, not far from where the Royal London Hospital now stands. He was 75 years old.

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