Jean Robb and Archibald Graham Lang

In the previous post, I described what became of the children of Penelope Thomson (1777 – 1847), who was married firstly to Glasgow merchant George Robb (d. 1811) and secondly to John Young (d. 1827), a former merchant and Receiver-General of Jamaica.

As noted in that post,  the first of Penelope’s children to marry was her daughter Jean (or Jane), from her first marriage to George Robb. In this post I’ll provide more information about her husband, her marriage and their children.

On 2nd April 1830 Jean, who was 20 years old at the time, married Archibald Graham Lang, a Glasgow merchant, who was ten years older than her, having been born in about 1800, the son of David Lang and Marion Graham. The 1830 Post Office Directory for Glasgow has Archibald working at Wighton, Gray & Co., of 221 Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

Their first child David Grahame Lang was born on 13th January 1831 at Bath Street, Blythswood, Glasgow. A second child, Penelope Mary Lang, was born on 8th July 1832; the witnesses at her baptism were Jean’s brother George Robb and her half-cousin John Thomson (the son of her mother Penelope’s half-brother Henry Thomson) . A third child, Archibald Graham, was born in about 1835 but I haven’t been able to find a record of his birth or baptism.

When their daughter Jean was born on 4th June 1838, Archibald and Jean Lang were living at Elmbank Crescent, a few streets away from Bath Street. She was given the middle name ‘Victoria’, presumably in honour of the new queen who had ascended the throne in the previous year.

The 1841 census finds the family at Kempock (Street) in the parish of Gourock, Renfrewshire. Archibald is 40, Jane (Jean) 30, David 10, Penelope Mary 8, Archibald junior 6, and Jane (Jean) 3. The Langs have two female servants. This must have been a temporary move, or perhaps a second home, since the family was back at Elmbank Crescent in November 1841 for the birth of daughter Helen Adelaide. Another daughter, Elizabeth Robb Lang, was born at the same address in 1845, and a son William in 1847.

The census records, which are my main source for the names and ages of the Lang children, only record those who survived. However, the baptismal records note that William was their eleventh child, which means that four of their children must have died in infancy.

The Langs were still in Elmbank Crescent at the time of the 1851 census. Archibald, now 50, is described as a ‘merchant foreign trade’, and Jean is 41. The family also employs a nursery maid, kitchen maid and house maid.

In 1861 we find Archibald and Jean living in Woodlands Road, in the parish of Milton, Glasgow. Archibald, now 61, is described as an insurance agent. Penelope, Jean Victoria, Helen, Elizabeth and William, together with two servants, are also living at the same address. Penelope and Jean Victoria are working as ‘lady governesses’ and William, though only 13, as a clerk.

By the time of the 1871 census, all of their children appear to have left home and Archibald and Jean Lang, now 70 and 61 respectively, are living with a young servant, at 4 Woodburn Place in Anderston, Glasgow. Archibald Graham Lang died in 1875 in Partick. I don’t have any information about the date and place of his wife Jean’s death.

18th century image of Caribbean slavery (via

It was Archibald’s name that first drew me to the list of Scottish slave-owners seeking compensation after the abolition of the slave trade, collated by the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project, ‘Archibald Graham Laing’ (sic) and ‘Jane Laing nee Robb’ both appear in a general list for Scotland, in association with a claim relating to the parish of Manchester, Jamaica. In a separate list specifically for Glasgow, Archibald is cited as third claimant for two claims related to estates in Trinidad, in which the number of ‘enslaved’ was 31 and 4 respectively. Lang’s connection was probably indirect, since he is described as an absentee, and as a merchant rather than a rentier. Full details of the claim shows him to have been a partner in Lang and Calder commission merchants at 41 Miller Street, Glasgow.

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