The children of Penelope Young, formerly Robb, née Thomson

When retired merchant and colonial administrator John Young died in Glasgow in 1827, his widow Penelope was 50 years old. Of the children from her first marriage to Glasgow merchant George Robb, George junior was now 21 (and, as I noted in a footnote to the previous post, already working as a legal apprentice), Elizabeth 20, John 19, and Jean 17. As for the children from her second marriage to John Young, Penelope junior was about 12, Janet 11, and John 8.

The first of this next generation to marry was Jean Robb, Penelope’s youngest child by her first marriage to George Robb. The parish register for Glasgow Barony reports that ‘Archibald Graham Lang merchant residing in Glasgow and Jean lawful daughter of the late George Robb merchant residing in Blythswood Hill’ were married on 2nd April 1830 by Rev. Dr. Gavin Gibb, who was, among other things, a professor of Hebrew at Glasgow University and a former moderator of the Church of Scotland. I mentioned Archibald Graham Lang, and speculated about his possible family connection to the lawyer Archibald Grahame, in a footnote to the last post.

St Vincent Street on Blythswood Hill, Glasgow around 1830, by Joseph Swan (via

According to Wikipedia, ‘Blythswood Hill was developed as a result of the westward expansion of the city in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Likened to Edinburgh’s New Town, it housed the city’s wealthy merchants and shipping magnates in four (or more) floored Georgian townhouses. The centrepiece of the area is Blythswood Square’.  Assuming that Jean was still living at home with her mother when she married, this record provides a clue as to where Penelope Thomson moved to after the death of her second husband John Young, and the consequent sale of Meadow Park House.

A year later, on 26th June 1831, Jean’s older brother George Robb married his half-cousin Jane Sharp Thomson, daughter of his mother Penelope’s half-brother Henry. The parish register notes that George was employed as a (law) ‘writer’, that Jane was the daughter of the late Mr. Henry Thomson, and that both parties resided in Barony. The latter was a parish that included many of the rural districts to the north of Glasgow which have now been swallowed up by the city. Barony parish church survives as Strathclyde University’s Barony Hall.

Barony church, Glasgow, in 1827, Glasgow University Library, Special Collections (via

One year after this event, on 24th January 1832, there was another marriage between half-cousins when Jane Thomson’s brother John, 20, married Penelope Young, daughter of Penelope Thomson by her second marriage to John Young. Penelope junior would have been only 17 or 18 at the time. John was said to be resident in Blythswood Town, while Penelope is described as the daughter of ‘the late John Young Esq. Meadow Park’. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Archibald Wilson of Cardross, the clergyman (and relative) who married Penelope’s parents.

On 12th October 1835, Janet Young, daughter of Penelope Thomson and John Young, and Manchester-born merchant Jackson Walton, were married by Rev. Nathaniel Paterson in Glasgow.

On 16 August 1836, Elizabeth Robb, sister of George junior and Jean, married Glasgow merchant John Burns. She was 29 and he was 31. Jean, who was said to be residing in Barony, was described in the record as the ‘daughter of the deceased George Robb Esq. merchant Glasgow’. This ceremony was also conducted by Rev. Nathaniel Paterson, said to be the minister of St. Andrew’s parish.

That leaves John Robb, son of Penelope Thomson by her first marriage to George Robb senior. We know that John had died by 1836, when a claim for compensation following the abolition of slavery was made by ‘George Robb, Archibald Graham Laing & Jane (his wife, formerly Jane Robb, a spinster), and Elizabeth Robb, all of Scotland, by J.G. Vidal, as administrator of John Robb, late of Scotland, a gentleman.’ I’ll have more to say about this and other similar claims, and what they tell us about the Robb-Thomson-Young family’s involvement in the ownership of slaves, in another post. For now, this claim suggests that John Robb died in his early twenties, probably unmarried.

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