One of the pleasures of researching your family history is the occasional discovery of living relatives that you’ve lost touch with, or didn’t know you had. This blog has already been instrumental in re-uniting my mother with her long-lost cousin. And now it’s put me in touch with a second cousin of my own, of whose existence I was previously unaware.

The other day I received a comment on one of my blog posts from a Michael John Robb. At first, I thought this must be my youngest brother who has that exact name. But it turns out that this Mike Robb is the grandson of Joseph John Robb, one of the elder brothers of my paternal grandfather, Arthur Ernest Robb. Mike and I have subsequently exchanged emails and shared information about our branches of the Robb family. Some of the similarities are quite striking.

St. George's Wesleyan Chapel, Cable Street

Joseph John Robb was born on 7 April 1880 in Trinity Street, West Ham, the second son of my great grandparents, Charles Edward Robb and Louisa Bowman. In the 1901 census, when Joseph was 21, he can be found visiting the home of Wesleyan evangelist William Leighton and his wife Edith in Bromley Street, Stepney. At the time Joseph was working as a law stationer, the occupation pursued by his late grandfather William Robb. Ten years later, when the 1911 census was taken, Joseph was still in the same line of work, but now he was living at 4 Grace’s Alley, off Wellclose Square in Whitechapel.

The census was taken in April 1911 and in September of the same year Joseph Robb married Mary Alice Tyler at St. George’s Wesleyan Chapel in Cable Street. She was born in 1881, the daughter of gas engineer Thomas George Tyler and Mary Ann Page, who lived at 6 Wellclose Square. By this time Joseph had changed professions and was working as a chartered accountant’s clerk. He would eventually become chief clerk at Allan Charles & Co.

Joseph Robb was a Methodist local preacher (like my father, Peter Robb) and a founder member of Edgware Methodist Church. He and Mary Alice had only one child: their only son Arthur Charles Robb was born on 3 January 1914 at 17 Dartmouth Road, Hendon, and baptised on 8 February at the Old Mahogany Bar Methodist Mission, Stepney. This was in fact the former premises of Wilton’s Music Hall, which had been taken over and turned into a church by the Methodists in 1891.

Joseph John Robb died on 29th March 1950 at Northwood Hills, Middlesex. His wife Mary Alice died on 4 November 1961 at St. John’s Nursing Home, Tankerton, Whitstable, Kent.

Wilton's Music Hall, Wellclose Square

Arthur Robb married Constance Eleanor Arthy on 1 July 1939 at Edgware Methodist Church. Constance, also born in 1914 in South Hackney, the daughter of John Francis Arthy and Emily Eleanor Middleton of Bethnal Green. Arthur worked as an actuary at the London County Council (later the GLC) before and after the Second World War, rising to the rank of Major in the RAOC. He achieved a BSc in Maths by studying part-time at Birkbeck College, London. Arthur was a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and was awarded an MBE in 1962 and OBE in 1977. According to Mike, he played a key role in setting up the Local Government Pension Scheme. In 1959, he and Constance moved from Orpington to Whitstable where Arthur held a number of posts at St. John’s Methodist church, including circuit steward (again, just like my own father).  Arthur died on 1 December 1989 at Whitstable and Tankerton Hospital from stomach cancer, and Constance died on 16 January 2003 at Bradley Views Nursing Home, Tankerton.

Arthur and Constance Robb had three children. Michael John was born on 13 February 1949. He studied Maths at St. Peter’s College, Oxford, and is a software engineer by profession. He married Christine Patricia Skinner, the daughter of the Methodist minister at St. John’s, Whitstable.  Geoffrey Alan was born on 26 February 1951. He worked as a chemical engineer and married Diana-Joy Bapty, an Australian. After a number of postings around the world, including Nigeria and New Zealand, he retired to a farm in Western Australia.  Joyce Margaret was born on 24 January 1954. She worked as a teacher and still lives in Whitstable.