In the last post I announced my intention to revisit my Robb ancestors’ connections with Glasgow, in an effort to discover more about the family background of my 3rd great grandparents Charles Edward Stuart Robb (1779 – 1853) and Margaret Ricketts Monteith (1782 – 1843). Charles and Margaret were married at St Mungo’s church in Glasgow in 1802, and I’ve always assumed that the location was chosen because Margaret’s family lived in the city. According to the memorandum written in 1880 by her son William (1811 – 1888), Margaret was the daughter of John Monteith and his wife Matilda. William made the additional, astonishing claim that Matilda 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’. As mentioned in the previous post, every effort to find evidence to support these claims has so far proven fruitless.
A map of Glasgow in 1804
Despite the fact that the Robb family were originally from Aberdeenshire, I believe that my 3rd great grandfather Charles Robb also had a family tie to Glasgow. I’m almost certain that he was the brother of Glasgow merchant George Robb, who died in the city in 1811. This theory, though lacking final proof, is based on the following premises. Firstly, there is William Robb’s statement, in the memorandum already mentioned, that he had an Uncle George ‘who died many years ago leaving children but I don’t know how many’ and also ‘an Aunt called Penelope’. Glasgow merchant George Robb married Penelope Thomson in the city in 1805. William Robb’s memorandum doesn’t state unequivocally that his Uncle George and Aunt Penelope were married to each other, nor is it beyond the bounds of possibility that there was more than one couple named George and Penelope Robb living in Scotland at that time. However, that brings us on to the second piece of evidence.
The parish records for Glasgow note that on 15th January 1805, George Robb, a merchant in Glasgow, married Penelope Thomson, daughter of John Thomson of Hillhead, in the parish of Eastwood, and that the ceremony was conducted by ‘Mr William Robb, Episcopal Minister in St. Andrews’. Why would a Glasgow merchant ask a minister from St Andrews, more than seventy miles away, to officiate at his wedding? I believe it was because Rev. William Robb was George’s brother, and that he is the person referred to by his namesake, my great great grandfather, in his memorandum of 1880, as ‘my Father’s eldest brother Revd. William Robb’. The memorandum claims that the latter was ‘for some time Professor of Greek in the College of St Andrews, Fifeshire’, something for which I’ve been unable to find any independent confirmation, though we know that William was a minister in the town. There seems little doubt, however, that he was the person who married George Robb and Penelope Thomson.
Later in his memorandum, my great great grandfather notes that ‘on my Father’s death in 1853 I found among his papers a letter from Bishop Law, Primo of Scotland telling him of the death of my Uncle [William] which happened about 1838.’ In the previous post, I mentioned that the only copy of William Robb’s memorandum that I’ve seen is contained in a number of typewritten sheets that came into my hands more than forty years ago. Presumably, the original was handwritten. I believe that some minor errors may be the result of mistakes in the transcription process. For example, the presiding bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church is known as the Primus, not Primo, and we know from other sources that Rev William Robb died in 1830, not 1838. The reference is probably to Bishop David Low, not Law, though the latter never (to my knowledge) held the office of Primus. In Scotland, only the Episcopal church has bishops (hence its name), and there was only one Episcopal minister named William Robb active in the country at this period.
Rev. David Low, LL.D., D.D. (1768–1855), a Scottish Episcopal clergyman who served as Bishop of Ross between 1819 and 1850
So, although circumstantial rather than definitive, there is strong evidence that George Robb, Glasgow merchant, was the brother not only of Rev. William Robb but also of my 3rd great grandfather Charles Edward Stuart Robb. In forthcoming posts, I plan to revisit what we know about George Robb of Glasgow, and the Thomson family into which he married. I’m hoping that, in doing so, I may be able throw some light on the mystery of Charles Robb’s marriage and the origins of his wife Margaret.