Isabella Robley (1830-1907)

At 3 pm.,on Tuesday the 9th. Of September 1902,the singing of the hymn 'All people that on earth do dwell' heralded the service of dedication of a portion of the new tower, peal of bells and a clock for the church of St. Mary and St. Michael, Egremont in West Cumberland,by the Lord Bishop of Carlisle. The peal of bells was the gift of Lord Leconfield and the clock the gift of Miss Isabella Robley of the nearby village of Beckermet.

Another hymn was specially written to commemorate the occasion by Canon Rawnsley, 'Angel voices from the steeple throbbing through the sunlit air'.

Now in the year 2002 the church has celebrated the centenary of the dedication.

Isabella's clock is by Wm. Potts and sons of Guildford Street, Leeds. The specifications included that it be a solid clock with a 5 feet 6 inches face, constructed of cast iron and having a 12 month 'warantee' and a further guarantee that it would keep time to within 6 seconds per month. The price to supply and install was 145 pounds.

Isabella Robley was born in 1833 at Howbank Farm to the north of the market town of Egremont. She was the daughter of Thomas Robley (1785-1867 ) and Isabella Mossop. When her mother died in 1857, she remained at Howbank and kept house for her father and her brothers ,John, Thomas and William.

Her father died in 1867 and he left his properties at Egremont, St. Bees, Skelton and Lazonby to his sons, John and Thomas. His son, William, who had left for Australia, was left a small annuity and daughter,Isabella, all her mother's property.

In 1875 Isabella became one of the beneficiaries under her Uncle John's will. John died a very wealthy man and the share of the fortune enabled her brothers to dispose of the farms at Egremont and St. Bees and go into early retirement. All three moved to the nearby village of Beckermet. Isabella kept house for her brother, Thomas, at Hollin How (Holly House). Then in 1894 when Thomas was aged 61 he married Elizabeth Smith, the daughter of John Smith of Midtown Farm and Thomas' next door neighbour in Beckermet.

Thomas and Elizabeth moved to 'Coneygarth' in Beckermet, leaving Isabella at Hollin How. Isabella maintained her close interest in the church of St. Mary and St. Michael in Egremont which culminated in her gift of the clock.

She continued living at Hollin How until failing eyesight forced her to move to 'Ingleberg', her brother's new house in the village. There she was known affectionately as 'Aunty Robley' by her nephew and nieces. She died in 1907 and is buried with her mother and father in the Egremont Cemetery.

Written by John Robley her great nephew.

Pen and ink drawing of the church of St. Mary and St. Michael by Stubbs.