The Rev Robert Pitcairn, Vicar of
Englishcombe, twenty-first in descent, was the eldest son of the
Rev James Pitcairn of that Ilk, Prebendary of Exeter, Rector of
Compton Bassett and West Kington.
Robert went to Oxford, and an extract
made by John Griffiths, M.A. Keeper of the Archives, states that
in “1764 Aprilis 11 Mert. Robertus Pitcairn 18, son of Jacobis
Pitcairn de West Kington Coun. Wilt. matriculated and took the
degree of B.A. at Balliol, Oct. 17, 1768, Cler.fil.”
Robert Pitcairn of the Parish of
Hungerford, in the County of Berks, and Denne Mallam, of the
Parish of Chilton Foliot, were married in the Parish Church of
Chilton Foliot by Licence25 September 1775. Robert Pitcairn was thirty years of age when he married
and his wife eighteen.
Robert Pitcairn was considered a
first-rate preacher – in fact, he would not have been chosen as
one of the select preachers at Greyfriars if he had not been
eloquent. About ten
years after his marriage he was given the living of Englishcombe
in Somersetshire; but he did not hold it long, as he died at the
comparatively early age of forty-seven.
H died on the 7th May 1792, and was buried in
the church at Spitafields, in his own vault beneath the altar,
with two of his children. Three
of his children, two boys and a girl, died young.
His voice was very fine one, and people
are said to have gone to Spring Gardens Chapel on purpose to hear
him read the “Lord’s Prayer,” as he was supposed to read it
very beautifully. His
son William used to tell of a miraculous escape from death by
lightning that his father had.
“He was sitting in his study one day during a
thunderstorm. The house was struck by lightning, and the wall of the room
he was in was split and pushed out, the electric fluid going into
the earth. His watch,
which was in his `fob,` was melted, also his knee buckle at the
side next the injured wall; he was stunned but not otherwise
Mrs Pitcairn was early left a widow to
mourn her husband’s loss. She
seems to have been a very sweet, as well as a very religious
woman. There is a
miniature of her. She
was very good, and her sons were devoted to her.
Three of his children, two boys and a
girl, died young. Joseph Axford died September 25 1780 and Denne
Catherine died 18 March 1784.