Auchterless kirk today

Auchterless kirk today

My fellow family historian and distant relative, John Brechin, has found notes he made when examining the minutes of the Auchterless Kirk Sessions recently. The notes refer to other mentions of Robb family members, besides those I’ve already discussed. I’ve tried to link these individuals to people we already know about. So, taking them in order:

(1) On March 4th 1750, John Rob, lately in the parish, now in the parish of Inverkeithney confessed his antenuptial fornication with his, presently ill, wife Martha Wilson in Forgue. Mar 11th rebuked, Mar 18th absolved.

I’ve written about this John Rob or Robb (probably resident at Newbigging) before, but I misread his wife’s name as Coilson. Here’s what I wrote:

In 1749, a John Robb in Inverkeithney marries a Martha Coilson [Wilson] of Auchterless, though it’s unclear whether this is the same John (of Inverkeithney, but late of Auchterless) who in the following year had a daughter Elspet ‘born in ante-nuptial fornication’.

As I’ve mentioned before, the fact that couples accused of fornication had since married appears to have been no excuse in the eyes of the puritanical kirk sessions.

(2) On December 31st 1767 Alex Rob in Logie Newton was made an Elder

This could be one of the two Alexander Robbs that I wrote about in this post. In other words, he could be the Alexander, born in about 1714, who married Mary Raeburn in 1743. We know that he ended up at Logie Newton, where he died in 1811. He may be the Alexander Robb of Logie Newton who was a baptismal witness on various dates in the 1760s. Or he could be his son, also Alexander, born in 1746, who married Amelia Cruickshank in 1779, though he may have been too young to be made an elder of the kirk by 1767.

This reference confirms the association of the Auchterless Robbs – or at least this branch – with the Presbyterian kirk. Curiously, their Cruickshank neighbours (and relatives by marriage) in Logie Newton were stalwart members of the local Episcopal chapel at Tillymorgan, as were later generations of the Robb family.

(3) On December 24th 1774 (1773?) Alexander Mearns and his wife Mary Robb were accused of uncleanliness, and on August 2nd 1774 they were absolved and having to pay 5 shillings.

A Mary Robb was born to James Robb of Bruckhills in 1755 – she would have been 19 in 1774. In 1747 another Mary was born to Alexander Robb in Mains of Badenscoth – she would have been 27.

It was probably one of these who married Alexander Mearns in 1778. However, this means that they weren’t formally married at the time of the 1774 kirk session. Did the kirk recognise a common law partner as a ‘wife’?

(4) On July 5th 1787 Grace Robb a servant in Newmills was with child in fornication and accusing John Mavor a servant in Kirktown as father. She accuses, he denies and takes an oath of purgation. On 11th August 1805(!)  Grace was seriously exhorted to repentance and absolved.

A daughter Grace was born to James Robb in Bruckhills in 1759. She would have been 28 at the time of the first of these kirk sessions. I can’t find any record of a John Mavor in Auchterless.

(5) In 1834 and 1835 James Robb was sub tenant at Nether Thornybank, James Robb tenant at Fordmouth of Fisherford, and Alexander Robb tenant in Logie Newton.

The 1851 census mentions a James Robb, age 52, born in about 1799, living at Thornybank in Auchterless. He’s described as a farmer of 4 acres of land. His wife is Margaret (maiden name probably Shand), 40 (born about 1801) and they have two daughters: Margaret, 25, a house servant, and Eliza, 7. I haven’t yet found them in the 1841 census or worked out their relationship to ‘my’ Robbs.

As for the James Robb of Fisherford, this is almost certainly the brother of my 3 x great grandfather Charles, who inherited the family property (or rather, tenancy) from his older brother, Rev William Robb, and he from their father George. James was certainly in Fisherford, and described as a crofter, in the 1841 census.

What’s great about this new reference is that it gives us a name – Fordmouth – for the property at Fisherford, which should make it possible to identify the place where my 3 x great grandfather was born on old – and perhaps more recent- maps of the area.

Picture 1

Fisherford in 1873 – from Old Maps

The Alexander Robb of Logie Newton mentioned here could be the one born in 1782, son of Alexander and Amelia, who farmed there until the 1840s and then retired to Aberdeen, where he died from chronic bronchitis in 1865, aged 82.

(6) On 3rd May 1849, compeared on a reference from the kirk session of Huntly James Robb confesses himself guilty of antenuptial fornication and was absolved.

As John Brechin says, this is obviously not the James who we know would be in gaol for murder at this time. At this stage, I’m unsure who it is and what the Huntly connection might be – it doesn’t seem likely it’s either of the James Robbs mentioned above, as they would have been too old and long-married by this time.