Robert COOMBS (1855–1909)
His wife Mrs Emma COOMBS, formerly Mrs Webb, née Sampson (1839/40–1930)
St Paul (St Barnabas) section: Row 26, Grave E9½

Robert Coombs


DIED MAY 24, 1909


[Bostock was able to
read a second inscription
to his wife
Emma Coombs
who died in 1930 aged 90,
but this is now obscured
by the footstone]



A. W. H.*



* This grave marker has an inscription on each side and has been turned round and reused. This side, facing east, was originally the back of the grave marker, and the other side has fancier carving.

Originally this was the grave of
Alfred William Hallett (died 1878)
(see separate page). The footstone for Hallett can be seen here on the Coombs side.

In 1909 (over 30 years after the death of Hallett), the plot was reused for the burial of Robert Coombs, and later for his wife

Robert Coombs was born in Oxford in 1855 and baptised at St Thomas's Church on 26 July, the son of the cooper John Coombs and Ann Fletcher, who were married at St Paul's Church on 7 April 1844. His father died near the end of 1859, and In 1861 Robert (6) was living at 82 Friar Street, St Ebbe's with his mother Ann (36), who was a charwoman, and his older siblings Lucy (15), James (13), Elizabeth (12), Ann (10), Jane (9), and John (7). By the time of the 1871 census Robert (15) was living at 15 St Mary Port Street, Devizes where he was the apprentice of the tailor Robert Sampson (the father of his future wife).

Emma Sampson was born in Watford, Hertfordshire in 1839/40 and baptised there on 2 February 1840, the daughter of Robert Sampson and Sarah Bellchambers. At the time of the 1841 census Emma (2) was living at the Essex Arms Tap in Watford, where her father was publican as well as working as a tailor, with her parents and her older siblings James (13), Sarah (9), Robert (7), Edward (5), and Thomas (2). By 1849 the family had moved to Oxford and at the time of the 1851 census her father was working as a tailor in Pembroke Street, St Ebbe's and she had four more siblings: Mary Love (9), George (7), Ellinor (4), and Harriett (2). Her parents then moved down to Devizes in Wiltshire with their children.

In the second quarter of 1858 at Devizes, when she was only 18, Emma Sampson married her first husband Edwin Webb, and they had the following children:

  • Emma Webb (born in Devizes in 1861/2, reg. first quarter of 1862)
  • Mary Love Webb (born in Devizes in 1863, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Edwin Robert Webb (born in Devizes in 1865/6, reg. first quarter of 1866)
  • Ada Ellen Webb (born in Devizes in 1870, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Theresa Webb (born in Devizes in 1872, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Edith Mary Webb (born in Devizes in 1873, reg. second quarter).

At the time of the 1861 census Emma (21) was living at Devizes Green with her husband Edwin (23), who was a drummer with the Wiltshire Militia Staff.

By the time of the 1871 census Emma was living at the Militia Stores, Devizes with her husband, who was now a gardener, and their children Emma junior (9), Mary Love (7), Edwin Robert (5), and Ada Ellen (five months).

Emma's husband Edwin Webb died in Devizes at the age of just 35 in 1873 (reg. second quarter), around the same time as the birth of his youngest child, Edith.

Emma Webb gave birth to a son two years after her first husband's death, and it is possible that Robert Coombs, who was only 20 at the time, was his father:

  • Frederick Webb (born in Devizes in 1875, reg. second quarter).

In the fourth quarter of 1877 in Devizes, Robert Coombs (22) married Mrs Emma Webb (37).

At the time of the 1881 census Robert (26) was a tailor, living at 48 Sheep Street, Devizes with Emma (40), who was a dressmaker, and five of Emma's children: Emma Webb (19), Theresa Webb (9), Edith Webb (8), and Frederick Webb (5). Her daughter Mary Webb (17) was living with her uncle and aunt Robert & Ellen Taylor at the Devizes & North Wiltshire Club: they were the steward and stewardess of the club, and she worked there as their housemaid; and her son Edwin Webb (15) was a Private in the 99th Foot Brigade based at Le Marchant Barracks, Devizes. Her daughter Ada Webb (10) is hard to find.

In 1891 Robert Coombs (36) and Emma (50) were living at Paradise Square in Oxford with Theresa Webb (18), who was a tailoress, and Frederick Webb (15), who was a Post Office assistant: Robert described them as his children rather than his stepchildren, but only Frederick was likely to have been his. Kelly's Directory for 1899 gives their precise address as 46 Paradise Square.

By the time of the 1901 census Robert (49), a tailor (employee) and his wife Emma (60) were living at 23 Richmond Road with their Oxford-born niece Lily Coombs (13) and two boarders.

Robert Coombs died in 1909:

† Robert Coombs died at 23 Richmond Road at the age of 53 on 24 May 1909 according to the grave marker and is recorded as having been buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 21 May, but one of those dates must obviously be inaccurate (burial recorded in the parish register of St Barnabas's Church).

At the time of the 1911 census Mrs Coombs was living alone and running a boarding house at 23 Richmond Road. She died there in 1930:

† Mrs Emma Coombs née Sampson died at 23 Richmond Road at the age of 90 in April 1930 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 15 April (burial recorded in the parish register of St Barnabas's Church).



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