The family of James Robb, born 1772

My 3 x great uncle James Robb was born in Auchterless, Aberdeenshire in 1772, possibly the second or third oldest son of George Robb and Jean Syme to survive into adulthood. He married Christian Harper in 1798,when he was 26 years old, and they had seven children: John (1799), William (1800), Janet (1802), George (1804), James (1806), Charles (1814) and Katharine (1816). Christian died in 1821 and in 1822 James married for a second time to Elizabeth Manson, with whom he had one child, also Elizabeth (1831).

According to the memorandum written in old age by my 2 x great grandfather, William Robb (1813 – 1888), on the death of Rev. William Robb, which took place some time between 1830 and 1888, James took possession of the family’s property in Fisherford. In fact, the 1841 census has James, together with his wife and 10 year old daughter, living in Fisherford, and described as a crofter. 

James’ son George married Isobel Clark in 1824, when he was 20, and they had eight children: George (1825), James (1827), Elizabeth and Janet (both 1830), Helen (1832), John (1834), Alexander (1836) and Charles (1842). In the 1841 census, George, Isobel and their family are also living in Fisherford, where he is working as a slater. 

Isobel must have died not long after the birth of their son Charles, for in 1845 George married for a second time to Elizabeth McKenzie of Daviot. They had six children together: Barbara (1846), William (1848), Mary (1850), Annie (1853), Isabella (1862) and Jane (1864).

As reported in a number of other posts on this site, George’s son James was hanged for murder in Aberdeen in 1849. 

Although George’s father James did not die until 1857, it seems that George probably took over management of the family farm in Fisherford before that date. In the 1851 census he is described as as farmer of 20 acres and an innkeeper, and his property would seem to be the largest in the village. The same census lists his 80 year old father as a farmer of 9 acres, living with his wife, Elizabeth, 67, together with a female servant, and a young boarder.

James Robb died on 18 July 1857. His death certificate describes him as a farmer of Fisherford, son of George Robb, flesher, and Jane Robb nee Sim (Jane and Jean seem to have been fairly interchangeable in the records, and my 4 x great grandmother’s name was spelled as both Syme and Sim in different records). The cause of death is  given as old age, and the informant was James’ son Charles, who was not present at the death (this is the Charles born in 1814, who would have been 43 by this time: we have no record of where he was living or working after he left home). James was buried in the churchyard at Culsamond.

By the time of the 1871 census, when he was 64, George Robb is described as an innkeeper and farmer of 44 acres, all arable, employing two servants. Perhaps the increased size of the property resulted from taking over his father’s farm on his death, or alternatively from becoming wealthy enough to purchase additional land? 

George Robb died in Fisherford on 17th March 1880 of acute bronchitis. He was 74 years old. The informant was his brother Charles: the same person who had registered their father James’ death 23 years earlier. This could be the Charles Robb who married Agnes Wight in Auchterless in 1836 (when he would have been 22), but that needs further research.

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