Yorkshire Chess History



Decimus Mallett Robbs











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1843/44, Gainsborough




15/09/1930, Gainsborough+




Non-Chess Life


Decimus Mallett Robbs was one of at least seven (eleven or more in total?) children born to William Robbs and Elizabeth Robbs.


William Edward Robbs

born 1831/32, born Lincoln

Maria Susan Robbs

born 1835/36, born Grantham

Emma Maria Robbs

born 1838/39, born Grantham

Edmund Frank Robbs

born 1841, born Grantham

Elizabeth Catherine Fanny Robbs

born 1842, born Grantham

Decimus Mallett Robbs

born 1843/44, born Grantham

Eliza Jane Robbs

born 1844/45, born Grantham


The justification for calling our man “Decimus” is unclear, as he appears to have been “Sextus” rather than “Decimus”.  There were perhaps four older children not listed above.


The 1851 census found the parents and above seven children living in Finkin Street, off High Street, in the centre of Grantham.  Father William was a surgeon and apothecary.  Son William was an undergraduate of London.  7-year-old Decimus was not yet listed as a scholar, though he presumably received schooling in due course.


The 1861 census found that Decimus had opted for a career in law, being an attorney’s articled clerk boarding in the household of greengrocer and artist John Barr in Church Street, Gainsborough.


In 1868, in Brigg, Lincolnshire, Decimus Mallett Robbs married Julia Paterson.  At the same time, or within three months, Charles Henry D Robbs, presumably a brother, married Letitia Paterson.  The couple appear to have lived initially in Brigg.  Decimus and Julia had at least the following four children, all born inBrigg:


Amy Haldane Robbs

born 1869

Walter Robbs

born Aug/Sep 1870

Mary Eveline Robbs

born 1872

Percy Hugh Robbs

born 1874


The 1871 census found Decimus, Julia, the first two children, and two servants, living at 18 Bigby Street, Brigg.  Decimus was now a solicitor and attorney in his own right.


At some time from 1871 to 1881, the Robbs moved to Decimus’s native Gainsborough (where there was a chess club).  Accordingly, the 1881 census found the parents and above four children living at Front Street, Morton, a district at the north end of Gainsborough.  Decimus was a solicitor.  His four children were scholars.


In 1888, Amy Haldane Robbs married Herbert Rowland Howard.


The 1891 census found Decimus, Julia, Walter and Mary living with two servants, still in Front Street, Morton, Gainsborough.  DEcimus was still a solicitor, and Walter was an articled clerk in a solicitor’s office, presumably his father’s.


In 1896, daughter Mary Eveline Robbs married Robert Berkeley Talbot.


The 1901 census found the Robb household still in Front Street.  Walter and Mary had apparently left home, but there was now living with Decimus and Julia a granddaughter, Mary Adelaide J. Howard.  There was one servant.  Decimus was still a solicitor.


The 1911 census found 67-year-old Decimus, still a solicitor, Julia and a servant living still in Gainsborough.  Decimus recorded his address in the census return simply as “Gainsborough”, though they were quite probably still at Front Street, Morton.


At the time of his death, Decimus lived at 77 Morton Terrace, Gainsborough.  By this time son Walter had become a district auditor of the Ministry of Health, and daughter Mary had been widowed.




Decimus Mallett Robbs died on 15/09/1930.  His executors were son Walter Robbs, who had become a district auditor of the Ministry of Health, and daughter Mary Eveline Talbot, who had by then become a widow (seemingly in 1929).




“D. M. Robbs” played for Gainsborough, for instance in the 1899-00 Gainsborough v Sheffield YMCA match.





Copyright © 2015 Stephen John Mann

Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information

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