Inputting my latest findings about the Robbs and Thomsons into Ancestry has already borne fruit. I was directed to a record in the 1861 England census which matched the details of George Robb (born 1806), the son of George Robb (born 1769) and Penelope Thomson.

At Little Friday Hill in Chingford, Essex, we find George Robb, 55, his wife Jane Robb , 47, their son George M Robb, 28, and their daughter, Penelope Ann Royd (Boyd?) Robb, 21, all born in Scotland. They also have a servant and a cook, both hailing from Dry Drayton in Cambridgeshire. Not mentioned in the record is George and Jane’s other daughter, also Jane, who would have been 27 by this time, and may well have been married and living elsewhere.

Under ‘profession’, George senior declares: ‘I live upon interest of my money’. This is not surprising, as by this time he had benefited from the legacies of his mother and stepfather, as well his aunt Elizabeth (see previous posts on Thomson/Young wills). His son, George, is described as an ‘artist’.

At this time, Chingford was a relatively quiet village and Friday Hill was home to a number of wealthy men. The Robbs’ neighbour on one side was the Deputy Cashier of the Bank of England, George Forbes, another Scotsman, while on the other side, at Great Friday Hill, was the grand house of the Rector, Robert Boothby Heathcote, whose large household on the night of the census included a number of family visitors and a long list of servants. And next door to him was the home of one Godfrey J Thomas, baronet.  Heathcote’s home, more often referred to as Friday Hill House, was a local landmark and is now an adult and community education centre. The area was developed as a housing estate in later years and I don’t know if the Robbs home at Little Friday Hill survives.

So far, I’ve been unable to find any trace of the family after 1861, or any indication of whether the youngest George Robb achieved any recognition as an artist.


‘I had also an Uncle George who died many years ago leaving children but I don’t know how many. I had also an Aunt called Penelope, but…I never saw any of them or heard anything from them’.

In 1861, while George Robb junior was a man of independent means living in splendid retirement in Chingford, his cousin William (who wrote the above) was living less than 10 miles away in Mile End Old Town and working as a humble law stationer’s clerk.