My 3 x great grandparents, Charles and Margaret Robb, had two sons named George William. The first was born in Alloa in 8 November 1808, but died two weeks later. The second was born on 13th October 1811 in Richmond, Yorkshire. In the 1841 census, when he was almost 30 (his age is mistakenly  given as 25 in the census record) George was living with his parents at 29 Charing Cross and (like his father and younger brother William) working as a clerk.

George William Robb died of influenza and bronchitis on 8th December 1847, at the age of 36 years. I’ve just obtained a copy of the death certificate, in which his occupation is given as solicitor’s clerk  (like his father Charles). The death was registered by his brother William, my great great grandfather, who was present at the death.

George’s address at the time of his death is given as 8 Villiers Street, a narrow road which, then as now, led down from the Strand to the Thames (in those days, to the Hungerford Stairs, now to Embankment Station and Hungerford Bridge). We might note that his mother Margaret had died four years earlier, in 1843, and it’s likely that his father Charles had moved by this date to Lambeth, where he is to be found in the 1851 census. It’s possible that George moved from Charing Cross at the same time.

The death certificate gives William’s address as 49 Parliament Street Westminster. Parliament Street is the road that continues south from Whitehall towards the Houses of Parliament and today is lined with government buildings. Apparently in the late 18th century it was a narrow road of terraced houses, but I’m not sure if this was still the case in the 1840s. I wonder if William gave the registrar his workplace address for some reason, and whether this indicates that his work as a legal clerk / stationer was connected with the business of government in some way? This would certainly fit with what we know of his brother John, who was working as a parliamentary agent at around this time. (On the other hand, I’ve always imagined William working closer to the inns of court, and that this led to his meeting with his wife-to-be, Fanny Seager, who was the daughter of Samuel Hurst Seager, a porter at the Inner Temple.)

Certainly, the Whitehall address seems some distance from William’s other addresses, which were all in the Soho / Covent Garden area (until he remarried in 1854 and moved to the East End). In 1838, when their daughter Margaret Fanny Monteith (also known as Fanny Margaret) was born , William and his wife Fanny were living at 6 Tavistock Street in Covent Garden., and William was described as ‘clerk to a solictor.’ In April 1841, when their son William Henry was born, William and Fanny were living at 12 Old Compton Street. At this time William’s occupation was given as ‘clerk’.  At the time of the census in June of the same year, William, still described as a clerk, was with his parents in Charing Cross, and Fanny with her mother in Hemlock Court, close to the law courts.

In 1843 when their daughter Elizabeth Margaret was born, William was described as a ‘law stationer’. By 1851 William and Fanny were living at 33 Old Compton Street. It was here that their son, my great grandfather, Charles Edward Robb, was born, and where Fanny died shortly afterwards. By the time of the census of that year, William and his son William Henry (‘Willie’) were living at 16 Queen Street, Soho, while his daughters Elizabeth and Matilda Fanny were with their Seager relatives in nearby Gerrard Street.

It would be fascinating to discover who William, George William, and their father Charles, worked for, and where their offices were. I wonder if there is some kind of register of early 19th century London solicitors or law stationers?