The Story of a Family of Itinerant Robleys.

"All Cumbrian Robleys are related, somewhere in the distant past they share a common ancestor". This was my assertion and to a very large degree I have been able to confirm my earlier remark though research conducted in conjunction with Marian (Robley) Foster. However, there remained a few Robleys that I was initially unable to connect to the main Robley family tree and this story relates to one of these families.

William Robley who was christened on the 25th. of November 1787 in Cumwhinton, Cumberland, the son of Joseph Robley and Agnes Pearson. His parents were farm servants and only five years prior to his birth had been subject to a Removal Order given at the Kendal, Midsummer Sessions 1782.

"Joseph Robley, his wife, Agnes and three children, Joseph 5, Thomas 4 and William 2 to go from Orton to Wetheral, Cumberland, No appeal lodged.".

This may have been as a result of a termination of an indenture or the family having become dependant on the Parish. The Law of Settlement 1691-1834 gave the parish these powers of deportation.

Nothing is known about William's early years other than the facts surrounding his birth. However, on 20th November 1809, he married Nancy Bell in Bromfield, Cumberland. She was the daughter of Thomas Bell and Dorothy Hetherington.She was born about 1789 in Castle Carrock, Cumberland.

William and Nancy had eleven children although it appears that only six survived childhood. It is through their birth records that it is possible to trace the frequent family movements from 1813 to 1851. From the many relocations and the status of the marriages of daughters to farm servants and labourers, this generation of Robleys were itinerant workers, probably also farm servants.

Their eldest child, Mary,was born in Castle Carrock and christened on 19 August 10. She married Thomas Graham whom she must have met while they were both servants at the recently completed "Scaleby Hall", Cumberland.

Mary and Thomas Graham had six children, all born while they were working at Scaleby Hall. They were Dorothy abt. 1831, Mary abt. 1835, Elizabeth abt. 1836, Henry abt. 1838, Thomas abt. 1841 and William abt. 1848. At the time of the 1841 census they were living at Stone Knowe, a hamlet in the parish of Scaleby, and Thomas is described as a farm servant.

Their daughter, Dorothy, was named after her grandmother, Dorothy Bell and Dorothy was to become a favoured christian name for this family.

Cumbria County Council readings of the tombstones in Scaleby churchyard show:-

In Memory of Mary

the wife of Thomas Graham

and eldest daugther William & Ann Robley of Castle Carrock

who died at Scaleby Hall 31 January 1852 aged 42 years.

"A loving wife, a parent dear.

In virtuous path she trod.

A neighbour kind, a friend sincere;

May Heav'n be her abode."

Their second child and eldest son, Joseph was born in Dissington, Northumberland in about 1812. Joseph Robley married Elizabeth Workman, five years his senior, in Ravenstonedale, Westmoreland on 30th May 1830. She was the daughter of John Workman and Isabella Varay born in Morland, Westmoreland in 1807. As late as 1829 the Robleys were living in Westmoreland at Brough under Stainmore situated close to Ravenstonedale.

The 1841 census shows Joseph, aged about 29 and married to Elizabeth (Workman) living at All Saints, Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne and working as a miller. By the time of the 1851 census, father William, son William, together with his eldest son, Joseph were all living in Shotley Bridge and working in the flour milling business, presumably as a family venture. The two Williams are described as millers and Joseph as a miller's agent. While the actual circumstances are not known, it is tempting to paint a possible scenario with Joseph the entrepreneur and the Williams as the workmen.

William senior was retired before 1861 when he was 83 years old. In retirement he move from Shotley Bridge to live in Muggleswick with his daughter, Elizabeth and her husband George Stephenson.

On 31st. August 1852 Joseph and Elizabeth sailed from London aboard the 672 ton ship the 'Joseph Fletcher' bound for Auckland, New Zealand and New Plymouth. The move may have been prompted by his father, William's decision to retire having reached the age of 74 years.

In New Zealand it is probable that Joseph soon set about establishing himself as a miller once again. Disaster struck in 1860 when Elizabeth Workman died in Auckland. Soon after her death, Joseph married again in 1860 in Auckland to Elizabeth Hanson.On the 27th, November 1857 Joseph and Elizabeth sailed from Plymouth England as passengers on the 'New Zealander' (Captain J Pook), arriving Auckland on 19th March 1858. What prompted his return visit to the old country after only 5 years absence is not known.

The Auckland Electoral Roles 1853 to 1864 see him registered as a voter and his wife, Elizabeth Hanson, is registered in 1900 after women received the franchise.

Joseph and Elizabeth Hanson had three children while living in New Zealand. The children were:- Dorothy Ann born 1860 and died 1862, Elizabeth Novelty born 1862 and died 1934 in Auckland and Melina Hanson born 1864, who married Charles Knowles in Auckland in 1891.

In 1893 a petition was delivered to the New Zealand Parliament demanding suffrage and among those signing the petition were two Robley women, E. and J. Robley. E Robley must be Elizabeth Novelty, the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth, and the J Robley her mother (Mrs Joseph Robley). The address of both was given as Princes Street.

Joseph is listed as being called for jury duties in 1860 while living at Hobson Street and he is listed in the Auckland Commercial and Professional Directory for 1866/67 as Miller of Wyndham Street.

By the mid 1860s Joseph was well established as a Miller in Auckland and advertising Robley's Patent Aerated Flour, claimed to be excellent for baking tea cakes, puddings and digestive biscuits, digestive brown bread and pastry of all kinds!

The undersigned would beg to intimate to his
friends and the public generally, that in intro-
ducing the AERATED FLOUR as an article of
Food, both wholesome and excellent, it will be found
specially adapted for the preparation of BREAD
without the aid of Yeast, consequently it is much
sweeter and more nutritious than formented Bread.
it is also most excellent for Tea Cakes, Puddings,
Biscuits and for Pastry of all kinds the Aerated
Flour cannot be surpassed. To test its value a fair
and Impartial trial is solicited.

Auckland, December 12, 1866.

Joseph died on the 18th August 1884 at the age of 71 while living at Grey Street Auckland. His wife, Elizabeth carried on the business.

In returning thanks for the support accorded to her
late husband, begs to inform the public that she will
continue to carry on the business as formerly, and
hopes to merit a fair share of patronage.
Infants' Food and Patent Self-raising Flour of the
Best Quality

Address: J. ROBLEY
On the 17th. August 1887, only three years following his death, a meeting of creditors was called by the Supreme Court of Bankruptcy in Auckland in the case of Elizabeth Robley trading as J Robley of Auckland, Baker. What caused the business to crash is not known but it may have resulted from a lack of will and drive once Joseph had departed and there was no Robley son to carry on the business.

Elizabeth Hanson, died some 24 years later on the 20th September 1908 at the age of 78. She is buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery in Auckland.

The third child and second son of William and Nancy, Thomas, was christened at Lazonby on 29th of December 1813 and it is probable that he died young.

The send daughter, Elizabeth was christened on 22 June 1815 at Castle Carrock. She married George Stephenson in Durham in 1853 following the family's move from Cumberland to Co. Durham.

George was a grocer and living at Muggleswick, Co. Durham.

She had a son, John, born in Castle Carrock on the 8th October 1837 some six years prior to her marriage to George. The child was christened as John Robley (no father named), but later took the surname of Stephenson. There must be some doubt though if the child was actually his.

The third son William, was christened in Bolton, Westmoreland on 21 Septmber 1817 and died as a child before 1822.

The third daughter, Ann, was christened in 1819, again in Bolton (Boughton), Westmoreland. She married Thomas Binks of Darlington, Co. Durham in 1840. On the 1851 census Thomas was described as a miner.

The fourth son, William, was born in June 1822 in Brough Under Stainmore (now known as Brough), Westmoreland and the 1851 census shows him living with his parents in Shotley Bridge and his occupation as miller, the same as his father. William Emigrated to New Zealand sometime after 1851, most likely to join his elder brother, Joseph. He died on 10th of September 1876 in Auckland, New Zealand. The cause of his death is recorded as paralysis.

The fourth daughter, Dorothy, was born at Brough under Stainmore, was chistened on 12 January 1825 and died on 17 January 1825, as an infant.

The fifth son, John, was born at Brough under Stainmore, was chistened on 28 December 1825 and died on 4 January 1826, as an infant.

Their fifth daughter, Dorothy, was born in Brough under Stainmore and christened on 25 December 1826. She married George Strong on the 5th of November 1846 in Moreland, Westmoreland. George was an agricultural labourer.

A year prior to her marriage in 1845 Dorothy had a child who was christened Thomas Robley and later, following her marriage, changed his name to Thomas Robley Strong. I seems likely that the child was George Strong's.

The 1901 census records a young Robley Strong, aged 15 living with his father, Thomas Robley Strong and his mother Sarah Hopes in Hesket in the Forest, Cumberland. Thomas Robley Strong was a platelayer with the railways and young Robley a railway porter with the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company.

Sarah Hopes was Thomas's second wife. His first wife, Mary, he married in April 1869 in Penrith. The 1891 census shows Robley Strong living with three siblings, Arthur (1878), Martha (1880) and George H (1883). Robley Strong died in 1969 in Northumberland at the age of 83 having risen to the rank of passenger guard, Carlisle, while still with the LMS.

The other children of Dorothy and George following their marriage were:- John abt 1848, William abt 1851, Margaret A abt 1853, Agness abt 1855, Joseph abt 1858, George abt 1862 in Penrith.

The sixth daughter, Agnes, was born at Brough under Stainmore, and was christened on 1 November 1829. No more information has been discovered for Agnes, and it is assumed that she too had an early death.

Written by John Robley. Researched by John Robley & Marian Foster. January 2015.