In this recent post I reproduced a memorandum written by my great great grandfather William Robb (1813- 1888), in which he recorded details of his parents’ families. The memorandum ended with this tantalising sentence:

My mother Margaret Ricketts Monteith was the only daughter of John Monteith and Matilda his wife who was the daughter of Viscount Stormont who was engaged as well as my Father’s father in the affair of Prince Charles’ attempt to gain the crown 1745/6.

I have searched in vain for any independent confirmation of these striking claims. I have been unable to find a source, at Scotland’s People or elsewhere, for the birth of a Margaret Monteith around 1782 (Margaret died in 1843 at the age of 61). Nor have I found any record of a marriage between a John Monteith and Matilda, which presumably would have taken place before about 1781, and at the earliest around 1750.

Finally, none of the Viscounts Stormont who were alive around this time appear to have had a daughter named Matilda. It’s seems unlikely that William would have got his maternal grandmother’s name wrong, since it was clearly a name that was passed on through the family: his older sister, born in 1805, bore the same name, as did one of his own daughters.

On the other hand, William wrote the memorandum when he was about 67, a few years before his death, and he would have been remembering information told to him by his mother and father, who had died some 27 and 37 years before respectively. Certainly, some of the other details in his memorandum are open to question. For example, he claims that his uncle, Rev.William Robb, was professor of Greek at the college of St.Andrews. Again, I’ve not seen this mentioned in any of the records relating to Rev. William, and it seems an odd fact to single out, while neglecting to mention his incumbency at St Andrews, his chaplaincy to Lord Elibank, or his poetry. Then there are the slight errors in the reference to Rev William’s death, which is said to have happened around 1838, when in fact it occurred in 1830, and the reference to Bishop Law as ‘Prime’ (= Primo) of Scotland, a position he never held. Was my great great grandfather selecting facts to achieve a certain effect? Or perhaps he misremembered certain details of what his parents told him so many years earlier?

The other vital piece of information that I’ve been unable to confirm is the marriage of my 3 x great grandparents, Charles Edward Stuart Robb and Margaret Ricketts Monteith. It’s claimed that this happened in October 1802 at St. Mungo’s, Glasgow, which I think was Church of Scotland (?) However, Charles and Margaret had their first child, Matilda, baptised at St. Paul’s Episcopal Chapel in Aberdeen. This Episcopalian connection may provide a clue as to why records of Margaret’s birth and her parents’ marriage are missing from the predominantly Presbyterian Old Parish Registers.

Scone Castle, historic home of the Viscounts Stormont

On the other hand, the connection to Viscount Stormont seems an unlikely fact to have got completely wrong. If Margaret Monteith was born around 1780, then it’s likely that her mother Matilda was born sometime between 1740 and 1760. If Matilda’s father really was Viscount Stormont, the most promising candidate is the 6th viscount, David Murray, who lived from 1690 to 1748, inheriting the title in 1731. What’s more, he was known for his Jacobite sympathies, and would have been alive at the time of the ’45. If Matilda was his daughter, then she would need to have been born before or shortly after he died (meaning that she would have been at least in her early thirties when her daughter Margaret was born).

However, the records I’ve seen claim that the 6th viscount, who married Anne Murray in 1726, had two sons and two daughters – Anne, who died unmarried in 1818, and Margery, who died in 1799.

The 5th Viscount Stormont married Marjory Scott in 1688 and they had the following children:

David Murray, 6th Viscount of Stormont (c.1689–1748)

Hon. James Murray (c.1690–1770), Jacobite Earl of Dunbar

Hon. John Murray (died young)

Hon. Catherine Murray (d. 25 November 1754), died unmarried

Hon. Marjory Murray, married Col. John Hay of Cromlix

Hon. Amelia Murray (d. 8 February 1774), married Sir Alexander Lindsay of Evelick, by whom she was mother to Margaret and John Lindsay.

Hon. Charles Murray, died without children

Hon. Robert Murray, died without children

Hon. Margaret (c.1702 – 18 April 1785), died without children

Hon. Jean Murray (d. 10 August 1758), unmarried

Hon. Nicola Helen Murray (d. 7 November 1777), died without children

Hon. Mary Murray, died unmarried

Once again, no sign of a Matilda, and anyway, the dates are far too early.

As for the 7th Viscount, who lived from 1748 to 1793, the dates are too late, and in any case he was a loyal minister of the Hanoverian court, not a Jacobite. His children were Elizabeth, Caroline, David, Charles, George and Henry.

There is obviously some connection with the aristocratic Murray family. My 3 x great grandfather’s brother, Rev William Robb, was chaplain to Lord Elibank, himself a Murray, though I’m not quite sure of his precise relationship to the Stormont branch.

Perhaps William got confused: maybe his grandmother was a Matilda Murray, but her relationship to the Stormont branch of the family was less direct?

If anyone can help with this longstanding family mystery, I’d be extremely grateful. I’d also welcome comments or suggestions from anyone with information about a John Monteith marrying a Matilda (Murray), probably in the Glasgow area, in the mid-18th century, as well as anyone who can help me out with the Ricketts connection.

Advertisements