George Robb and Jane Sharp Thomson

Continuing with my account of the second generation of the Robb-Thomson-Young family in Glasgow, I turn to George Robb, who was born in about 1806, the first child of Penelope Thomson (1770-1847) and George Robb senior (1769 – c. 1811) – the latter being the older brother of my 3 x great grandfather Charles Edward Stuart Robb.

On 26 June 1831, George junior married his half-cousin Jane Sharp Thomson in Glasgow. He was 25 and she was 17 (early marriages seem to have been a habit in this family). Both were said to be resident in the parish of Barony. Jane was born in Hillhead, the daughter of Jane or Jean Sharp and Henry Thomson, who was the half-brother of George Robb’s mother Penelope. Jane was the younger sister of wine merchant John Thomson, about whom I wrote in the last post.

George and Jane’s first child, George, was born in about 1833, though I’ve yet to find any documentary evidence for this. According to later records, his middle name was ‘Meikleham’. If this name was given at his christening, it’s evidence of a connection between the Robb-Thomson-Young family and the Meiklehams that pre-dates Penelope Young’s marriage to William Meikleham, in 1844 (which I’ll write about in another post).

A second child, Jane, was born in 1834, but again I’ve been unable to find any birth or baptism record. However, the 1851 census states that she was born in Old Monkland. There’s no available record, either, for the birth of daughter Penelope Ann Boyd Robb in about 1840. (The middle name ‘Boyd’ may eventually provide a clue to names in the earlier generations of the Thomson or Robb family.)

In the absence of baptismal records for their children, we can’t be sure where George and Jane Robb were living in the early years of their marriage. However, by the time of the 1841 census, the year after daughter Penelope’s birth, they were living at Parkend, a rather grand house in Saltcoats, Ayrshire. As I noted in an earlier post, the Robbs were sharing Parkend with John Mann who, like George, was 35 years old, and also like him, was described as a ‘coal and iron master’. I’m still curious as to how George came to be in this occupation. In the will of his aunt Elizabeth Thomson, which was written in 1836, George is described as a ‘writer’ (lawyer).


By June 1851, George, Jane and their three children are back in Glasgow, at 145 Hope Street, in the centre of the city, where they are joined by general servant Margaret Laurie. George is now described as a ‘veterinary surgeon, MRC [Member of Royal College] of veterinary surgeons’. I’m convinced that this is the same George Robb who was previously a ‘writer’ and a coal and iron master, so we have to assume that he experienced a dramatic change of career in the intervening ten years.

The following month saw the court cases over the disputed will of Elizabeth Thomson, in which George Robb was a key protagonist, and about which I’ll say more in another post. Suffice it to say that the outcome of the case appears to have enabled George and Jane to retire, by 1861, to the substantial property of Little Friday Hill in Chingford, Essex, where they lived on the interest of their money, and were able to support their son George’s career as a budding artist. As I noted in another post, by 1871 the Robbs were at the White House in Great Bromley, living on ‘income from dividends’, and later at Mistley Abbey, Great Mistley, where George died in 1879 at the age of 73. Jane died in 1884, aged 70.

Friday Hill House, the home of the Robbs' next-door neighbour in Chingford

Meanwhile, George Meikleham Robb lived and worked as an artist and sculptor in the Lake District, from 1871 at the latest, until his death in 1891 at the age of 58. His sister Penelope remained in Mistley and died in Ipswich in 1900, at the age of 60.

Until now, I thought I had lost trace of George and Jane Robb’s other daughter, Jane, who did not appear to follow them to Essex. However, in the course of reviewing information for this post, I’ve made some interesting discoveries about Jane Robb, which I’ll share in the next post.

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3 Responses to George Robb and Jane Sharp Thomson

  1. Bob Kearney says:

    The photo on your site of Friday hill House is in reverse, i.e. a mirror image which you probably took from the Chingford Historical society web site. Having grown up in Chingford and spent many happy hours in Friday Hill House from the age of 12 until I was about 20 when it was a community centre a thriving hub of many clubs, societies an organisations, I know it well. I spent most of my time in the tower room there which was the Amateur Radio Club. I have told the Chingford Historical Society that the print they have has obviously been produced from a reversed negative but they have never changed it.
    It’s sad to see and hear that all the clubs and organisations had to leave by being forced out by massive increases in rent by the local council who owned it, now I see from the web that they put it up for sale and it has probably been sold for conversin plush appartments. Can they wonder why all the children and teenagers have nothing to do and cause problems when they forced such a lot of good organisations out, who helped and guided them and kept them occupied with various hobbies and interests at such a wonderful place.
    Best regards
    Bob Kearney

    • Martin says:

      Thanks for this information, Bob. Interesting to hear about the later history of Friday Hill House. Best wishes, Martin

      • Bob Kearney says:

        Thanks Martin , you are most welcome. I don’t think they have managed to sell Friday Hill House yet as I read it is all boarded up which is very sad.
        You mentioned Little Friday Hill. I meant to say that Little Friday Hill house which is about 300 yards away from Friday Hill House and was rumoured to be connected with the main house by tunnels became a very popular pub appropriately named The Sir Loin. My Amateur Radio club members spent many happy hours in there after being expelled by the caretaker at Friday Hill House community centre when he closed up on our meeting nights.
        The tunnel story could possibly be true, as in the cellar at Friday hill house there were bricked up arches in the walls and I recall when they widened the road at Friday Hill circa 1960 at the junction of Friday Hill and Simmons lane (Frday Hill House is in the latter) whilst excavating for the new road they opened up a very large circular brick lined underground Ice house which I recall looking down into and it had many items left in it. It was obviosly for the main house and being midway between Friday Hill House and Little Friday Hill House may have been connected to them by tunnels. The ice house is marked on old Ordnance survay maps which you can view at

        Hope it is of some interest



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