This blog grew out my research into my family’s history. It tells the story of an extended family living in Glasgow in the nineteenth century – the family of my 4th great uncle, Glasgow merchant George Robb (1769 – c. 1811). George and his wife and children were part of a nexus of linked families that included merchants, manufacturers, plantation owners, lawyers, artists and administrators – many of them implicated in the infamous ‘triangular trade’ that connected Glasgow with Africa and the New World. I believe that their story is of interest in its own right, but that it also provides a fascinating insight into life in Glasgow, and the city’s links with the New World, in the nineteenth century

The name ‘Merchant City’ refers, strictly speaking, to a particular district in the East End of Glasgow, which contained many of the residences and warehouses of wealthy merchants. Some, though not all, of those mentioned in this blog lived or worked there, but I hope I’ll be forgiven for using the term more liberally to refer the city as a whole in its mercantile heyday.

New readers start here.

I welcome comments on my posts, and would be particularly interested to hear from anyone who can shed further light on the lives of those whose stories I tell here. You can also email me at:


Martin Robb

See the sidebar for links to my other history blogs.

The cover image is from a painting of  ‘Old Glasgow Cross or the Trongate‘ by John Knox (1778 – 1845), Glasgow Museums Resource Centre.