Rev. William Robb, the elder brother of my 3 x great grandfather, Charles Edward Stuart Robb, was an Episcopal minister, chaplain to a peer of the realm, a published poet, and possibly a professor of Greek. Writing in a memorandum on 20th June 1880, when he was 67 years old, my 2 x great grandfather William Robb recalls his father’s family:
I don’t know much about my Uncle and Aunts but I know my Father’s eldest brother Revd. William Robb was for some time Professor of Greek in the College of St. Andrews, Fifeshire. He never was married….The last I remember of my Uncle William is when I was 3 or 4 years of age seeing him on a visit to my Father’s at Malton in Yorkshire, when he stopped some time and used to take me on his knee and tell me to be a good boy and he would make a Gentleman of me. Since that time when he left Malton to return home I never heard anything of him till on my Father’s death in 1853 I found among his papers a letter from Bishop Law, Primo of Scotland telling him of the death of my Uncle which happened around 1838.
There’s a record of a William Robb, son of George Robb, being christened in Auchterless in 1763, which would fit with the dates that we have for George’s other sons, making William the eldest. It would also mean that Rev. William was about 75 years old when he died. William’s younger brother George married Penelope Thomson in Glasgow on 15th January 1805, the record showing that the ceremony was performed by ‘Mr. William Robb, Episcopal Minister in St. Andrews.’
As yet I haven’t found any supporting evidence of Rev. William’s role at the College of St. Andrews, which later became the University of that name. However, his position as chaplain to Lord Elibank, a member of the aristocratic Murray family, is confirmed on the title of page of a collection of poems that he published in 1809. There’s a copy of the book in the library at Stanford University, California, whose catalogue records the following information:
ROBB (William) Poems Illustrative of the Genius and Influence of Christianity: to which are subjoined some fugitive pieces. By William Robb, Episcopal Clergyman in St. Andrew’s, and Chaplain to the Right Honourable Lord Elibank. Embellished with a highly finished engraving of the ruins of the Cathedral of St. Andrew’s and Chapel of St. Rule. Edinburgh: Printed by John Moir, Royal Bank Close, sold by P. Hill, Constable & Co. and S. Cheyne; by Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe, London; and G. Scott, St. Andrew’s [sic]. 1809 Octavo in 4s. First edition. Contemporary 1/2-calf, marbled boards. Spine blocked in gilt. 264 pp. Frontispiece. Contents leaf misbound at end of volume. Contains the errata. Spine sunned. Edges a little rubbed. Some scattered foxing. Jackson, Annals, p. 336.
We also know that Rev. William Robb contributed regularly to the journal The Anti-Jacobin Review, described by Emily Lorraine de Montluzin as ‘a vehicle for religious and political propaganda’ which ‘evolved into an increasingly strident mouthpiece for anti-Catholic rhetoric and worked to inflame resistance to Catholic emancipation among the diehard Protestant readers to whom it catered.’ According to Wikipedia, the journal was ultra-Tory, often scurrilous, and ‘a vocal element of the British Anti-Jacobin backlash against the ideals of the French Revolution.’ de Montluzin provides a list of William’s contributions to the journal:
8 (Sept. 1807): 104–07. Poem: ‘Elegiac Verses on the Ruins of St. Andrew’s [sic]. By the Rev. W. Robb’. Revd William Robb. [William Robb, writing from St Andrew’s, signed his full name to a contribution inAJR, 28(1807): 527–28.]
Appendix to Sept.–Dec. 1807: 527–28. Poem: ‘Verses on Education. Written by Desire of the Right Honourable the Countess of Kelly’. Revd William Robb. [Signed ‘William Robb’; dated from St Andrew’s, where Robb was an Episcopal clergyman.]
Oct. 1808: 224. Poem: ‘Jeu d’Esprit. On the Meeting of the Imperial Plunderers at Erfurth’. Revd William Robb. [Signed ‘R.’; dated from St Andrew’s, from where Robb sent signed verses to the AJR on various occasions during 1807–08.]
(Nov. 1808): 335–36. Poem: ‘God Save the King. With additions and alterations suited to the times. By the Rev. W. Robb’. Revd William Robb. [Dated from St Andrew’s; cf. AJR, 28(1807): 527–28.]
Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to read any of my 3 x great uncle’s poetry but haven’t given up hope of doing so (though I might find the politics hard to stomach!). Amazingly, his collection of poems is listed at Amazon, though it’s currently unavailable.