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British Industrial History

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Robert 'Old Bob' Stephenson

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1750 Robert 'Old Bob' Stephenson was born in Wylam, Northumberland the son of Robert Stephenson and Isabella Twizel

He was the foreman at the Wylam Colliery pumping engine.

Robert Stephenson's father was a Scotch man, who came into England in the capacity of a gentleman's servant. Mabel, his wife, was the second daughter of Robert Carr, a dyer at Ovingham. The Carrs were for several generations the owners of a house in that village adjoining the churchyard; and the family tomb-stone may still be seen standing against the east end of the chancel of the parish church, underneath the centre lancet window, as the tomb-stone of Thomas Bewick, the wood-engraver, occupies the western gable.

They married on 17 May 1778.

Robert and Mabel had six children:

James Stephenson, Jemmy. Born March the 4 day 1779;
George Stephenson. Born June 9 day 1781;
Eleanor Stephenson. Born April the 16 day 1784; Died 1818.
Robert Stephenson. Born 10th March 1788;
John Stephenson. Born November the 4 day 1789;
Anne Stephenson. Born July the 19 day 1792

For some time after their marriage, Robert resided with his wife at Walbottle, a village situated between Wylam and Newcastle, where he was employed as a labourer at the colliery; after which the family removed to Wylam, where he found employment as fireman of the old pumping-engine at that colliery.

Mabel Stephenson was a woman of somewhat delicate constitution, and troubled occasionally, as her neighbours said, with "the vapours." But those who remembered her concurred in describing her as "a real canny body;" and a woman of whom this is said by general consent in the Newcastle district may be pronounced a worthy person indeed, for it is about the highest praise of a woman which Northumbrians can express.


1817 Robert was buried on 20 June 1817

1818 Mabel was buried on 27 May 1818

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