What Happened to Thomas Robley (1852-?), of Scarrowmanwick?

Scarrowmanwick Farm where Thomas was born

Thomas Robley, born 1852, was the son of Joseph Robley and Jane Craggs. He was the eldest of their 6 sons: Thomas (7-10-1852), James (4-3-1854), Joseph (b.14-2-1856), Isaac (27-9-1960), William (27-8-1865), and John (13-1-1868). Joseph was my grandfather, and all the Cumwhitton, Armathwaite and Ainstable Robleys are descended from him


Thomas' father, Joseph, had inherited Scarrowmanwick equally with his brother Isaac. Isaac remained a batchelor. Joseph died on the 8th June, 1874. He left no will, and by the Letters of Administration, his estate passed to his widow, Jane (Craggs) Robley. Joseph is described as an innkeeper, so he must have been in charge of the Ship Inn. Isaac lived until 1893, and unlike his brother he did leave a will. He was retired by this time, and lived in Croglin.


This is the last Will and Testament of me ISAAC ROBLEY, of Croglin in the County of Cumberland, Gentleman. I bequeath my household furniture to my two nieces, Elizabeth, the wife of Thomas Beckton, and Barbara, the wife of William Marshall, in equal shares. I bequeath the pecuniary Legacies following (namely) To my nephew James Robley of Croglin Bridge End the sum of One hundred pounds. To my nephews Joseph Robley and John Robley of Cumwhitton the sum of One hundred pounds each. To my nephew Isaac Robley, now residing in London, the sum of One hundred pounds. To my nephew William Robley of Scarrowmanwick the sum of One hundred pounds. And to my said nieces, Elizabeth Beckton and Barbara Marshall, the sum of One hundred pounds each. I devise and bequeath all the Real Estate and the Residue of the Personal Estate unto my nephew Thomas Robley of Scarrowmanwick aforesaid absolutely subject nevertheless to all my just Funeral and Testamentary expenses and also to the payment of an annuity of Five pounds which I give unto my sister-in-law, Jane Robley, widow. . . .

All of the six brothers, then, benefited from Isaac's will. The paying out of so many legacies, however, must have contributed to the financial difficulties of Thomas,of Scarrowmanwick. Thomas also seems to have been an enterprising man, and he had erected recently, a new farm building costing 750 pounds. In 1894, the year after Isaac's death, Thomas Robley and his mother Jane Robley, widow, were declared bankrupt.

Local people seem to think that Thomas went first to Blunderfield, but did not stay there very long. This seems likely as the Lowis family farmed there, and they were the parents of Joseph's wife, Mary Ann. After that we lost track of them until the publication of the 1901 census.

1901 Census for Soulby, Westmorland

Thomas is described as a "General Labourer", and Emily and Maud as "General Servant Domestic".

Last September, on a visit to Cumbria, I passed through Kirkby Stephen. On the First World War Memorial, in the centre of the town, I saw the name PTE T. ROBLEY BORDER RGT. I photographed it, but had no idea who T. Robley might be. It occurred to me, when looking at the 1901 census, that Soulby must be very near Kirkby Stephen. My next step was to visit the Commonwealth War Graves site.

War Memorial 1914-1919, at Kirkby Stephen, Westmorland

Commonwealth War Graves


1 JULY 1916
11th Bn. Border Regiment
Son of Thomas & Sarah Robley of Soulby, Westmorland, husband of Louise Robley, 15, North Rd., Kirkby Stephen.

Blighty Valley Cemetary, Authile Wood, Somme, France.


26 Nov. 1918. Aged 24.
11th Bn. Border Regiment
Son of Thomas Robley of Soulby, Kirkby Stephen, Westmorland, husband of the late Alice Robley of Laylands, Appleby.

Cockermouth Cemetary, Cumberland.

It seems likely, from the age given, that this was Joseph. Thomas and Joseph were my father's first cousins. Any more information, from Thomas' descendants, would be most welcome.

Marian (Robley) Foster, February 2003