The Auchterless kirk session minutes for 10th March 1799 read as follows:
After sermon session met and constitute. Compeared James Robb in Fisherford confessing himself guilty of antenuptial fornication with Elizabeth Robb, an unmarried woman who was his servant the preceding half year, and craving to be absolved. This session agreed to. He was accordingly rebuked, fined and dismissed from discipline. Session closed.
Presumably this is the James Robb, son of George Robb and brother of my 3 x great grandfather Charles, who would inherit the Fisherford property on the death of Rev. William Robb in 1830. I don’t know of any other James Robb living in Fisherford at this time. James was born in 1772, and would have been almost 27 at the time of this appearance before the kirk session.
The first curious thing about this account is that ‘our’ James married Christian Harper in the previous year – 1798. He would marry an Elizabeth – surname Manson – in 1822, after Christian’s death. Therefore ‘antenuptial’ seems an odd term to use, unless it meant sex outside as well as before marriage. The second curious thing is the name of his partner in adultery, Elizabeth Robb. I’m intrigued to know who this was, and whether she was any relation to James. The only person I can find in the contemporary records, for now, is the Elizabeth Robb born in 1761 to another James Robb, husband of Barbara Raeburn. If my speculations about the family are correct, then this Elizabeth would have been ‘our’ James’ first cousin, though it’s odd this isn’t mentioned in the session minutes.