Matilda Robb in the will of Lady Frances Basset

Some time ago I wrote about Matilda Robb (1805 – 1870), older sister of my great great grandfather William Robb (1813 – 1888) and eldest child of my great great great grandparents Charles Edward Stuart Robb (1779 – 1853) and Margaret Ricketts Monteith (1781 – 1843). I believe that Matilda spent much of her life as a lady’s maid to Frances Baroness Basset of Tehidy Park, Illogan, Cornwall (which we drove past at the weekend, on our journey home from nearby St Ives). I had already discovered that Lady Basset left Matilda an annuity when she died in 1855, and I have now found her will via the National Archives which confirms this.

Tehidy Park today

At the end of an extremely long last will and testament, written in 1849, Lady Basset added a codicil which mentioned a number of her servants, including Matilda. The relevant sentences read as follows:

To my Maid Matilda Robb an annuity of one hundred pounds during her life such annuities respectively to be paid by half yearly payments and to commence respectively from my death and proportionable parts thereof respectively to be paid up to the several death of the respective annuitants. To the said Matilda Robb all my wearing apparel.

It’s worth noting that most of Lady Basset’s servants were to receive an annuity of fifty pounds: only Matilda and the housekeeper were fortunate enough to be left one hundred pounds each – no small amount in the 1850s (according to one website, the equivalent of £6,750 using the retail price index or £66,200 using average earnings: either way, a tidy sum). The baroness’ clothing collection must have been worth something too, assuming that Matilda didn’t wish to wear it herself, or keep it for sentimental reasons.

Lady Frances Basset died in 1855 and her will was proven in London on 11th June of that year. At some point in the next five years, Matilda Robb moved to Gillingham Street in Pimlico, London. She married dyer Frederick Joseph King at St George, Hanover Square, in March 1860. Matilda died ten years later, in August 1870, aged 65, at the home of her brother William in Mile End Old Town.

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