Which George Robb is the right one?

Following on from my last post on the background of Charles Edward Stuart Robb, I’ve been trying to confirm the identity of his father. If, as I concluded in that post, Charles’ father – my 4 x great grandfather – was called George, then when and where was he born, and who were his parents and family?

We are working on the assumption that he is the same George Robb who married Jean Syme from Methlick in 1762. If so, he would need to have been born no later than about 1744, and (assuming this was a first marriage) no earlier than around 1720 (which would make him around 40 when he married – and bear in mind that the last child of his that we know of, Charles, was probably born twenty years or so after the marriage).

The other information we need to factor in is his grandson William’s statement that ‘my Father’s father’ (i.e. George) was ‘engaged…in the affair of Prince Charles attempt to gain the crown 1745/6′. Now, it’s unclear what ‘engaged’ means – after all, Viscount Stormont’s ‘engagement’ in the Jacobite rebellion (mentioned by William in the same sentence) appears to have consisted solely of inviting the Young Pretender into his home at Scone. But if we assume that some kind of military engagement is meant, then we can perhaps assume that George would need to have been at least fifteen or sixteen (?) at the time. This suggests that the latest date for his birth might have been around 1730 – if we’re not to dismiss the story of his involvement as family legend.

I began by searching in the Old Parish Records (bearing in mind the proviso in the last post about the possible absence of some Episcopal church records) for any George Robbs born in Auchterless parish between 1720 and 1745, and found that there were none. I then widened the search to the whole of Aberdeenshire, and found 4 possible candidates, under the following dates and places:

1724 Ellon

1726 Drumoak

1733 Fraserburgh

1737 Drumoak

The 1724 birth in Ellon was to one Gilbert Rob ‘in Little Arnage’. It turns out that this a fairly substantial property a few miles outside the town of Ellon. The baptism of young George Robb, on 7 July, took place before two witnesses, one of whom was from the parish of New Deer, some way to the north. Further searching uncovered the fact that Gilbert Rob was born in Ellon on 16th March 1685 and that he married Marjory Steiven there on 26th May 1723, so George was probably their first child. The only other child I can find for them is Martha Rob, born on 11th April 1736 in New Deer. My interest in this line of Robbs was aroused for a number of reasons: the size of the property of Little Arnage might indicate a degree of wealth that could explain the later status and education of George’s sons; it’s not far from Methlick, where ‘our’ George’s probable future wife lived; and Ellon, and even more so New Deer, are not very far from the Buthlaw area where Rev William Robb’s family are said to have originated.

The 1726 Drumoak birth was to an Alexander Robb in Redford, which is some miles south of Aberdeen and seems too far from Auchterless.

The Fraserburgh birth in 1733 was to a ‘John Rob in Cardno’ – again, not very far from Buthlaw – but I haven’t been able to find out any more about this family.

The 1737 Drumoak birth was to James Robb and Janet Robb in Colesford (?), who are said to have had 3 children at one birth. John was born in 15th June, while George and Mary arrived on the 18th. Like Redford, Drumoak is some distance south of Aberdeen and it seems unlikely that this family would have had property as far north as Auchterless – but I may be wrong.

Later, searching for other Robb births in Aberdeenshire, I discovered that an Alexander Robb in Boddoms, Peterhead, had a son ‘Georg’ born in 1720.

In other words, there’s no real clue in these records to confirm which, if any, of these George Robbs is the right one.

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