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Robina Norwood


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At a Glance

Robina Norwood was one of three Hillsborough, NC sisters who attended the Burwell School [1].


Robina Norwood was the second daughter and fourth child of Hillsborough, NC lawyer John Wall Norwood and Annabella Giles of Wilmington, NC. The Norwood home was the James Hogg home known as Poplar Hill Plantation in Orange County, NC on the south bank of the Eno. All three Norwood girls, Annabella Giles Norwood , Robina, and Margaret Yonge Norwood , attended the Burwell School as day students.

Robina or Rob, sometimes called Robbie, probably entered the school in 1849 or 1850. All student references to her express warm friendship and genuine admiration for the lively schoolgirl Rob.

Miss Sarah C. Ray  wrote to John A. Tillinghast, July 1, 1851:

What is Rob doing with herself? Is she as lively as ever? Tell her I say she must conclude to go to school next session, that I cannot do without her in French class.

Mary Huske Pearce  on November 1, 1851, mentioned to her cousin William N. Tillinghast Rob's ambitious program for self-improvement, something Mrs. Burwell (Margaret Anna Robertson) championed for every girl:

I think Rob will be an uncommonly smart young lady if she continues in her present course for she devotes a regular part of every day to reading, another practising on the piano, a third to sewing, and then, she says, has plenty of time to take exercise and enjoy herself in any way she pleases. I think this is a sure way of improving herself.

The Historic Hillsborough Commission now owns a handsome white centerpiece with a graceful design of convolvulus vines and flowers beautifully embroidered by Rob, proof that her program achieved results.

At the age of nineteen Rob married her cousin Thomas Webb, the youngest son of James Webb and Annie Alves Huske Webb. Both young people were direct descendants of Scotsman James Hogg: Robina through her grandmother, James Hogg's youngest daughter, Robina Hogg, and Thomas Webb through his mother, Annie Alves Huske Webb.

Thomas Webb had graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1847 with an AB, and he also took an MA in 1851. He has been described as a handsome young man, very well read, and extremely able. For a few years the young couple lived at Poplar Hill Plantation in Orange County, NC; eventually Thomas Webb formed a law partnership with his father-in-law, John Wall Norwood. The firm of Norwood & Webb established itself in a handsome columned Greek Revival office (now gone) on Court Street and did a flourishing business throughout the countryside.

About 1860 the Thomas Webbs moved to the old Webb-Long House at 117 E. Queen Street, part of which had once been Mary W. Burke's log schoolhouse. Nine children were born to them, seven of whom survived to adulthood.

Throughout the Civil War Thomas Webb did arduous service for the highly essential North Carolina Railroad of which he was president. The Red Cross established itself in the Norwood & Webb Law Office, and Thomas Webb served also as Treasurer of the Soldier's Fund. In the 1870s he suffered a severe paralytic stroke, possibly caused in part by the heavy duties of the Civil War years. At the same time his wife, Robina, was immobilized with inflammatory rheumatism. For eighteen years Thomas Webb was an invalid. He died at the age of sixty-seven. Robina lived to be eighty-four and died twenty-five years after her husband. Both are buried in the Webb-Long plot in the Old Town Cemetery in Hillsborough, NC, as are four of their children: Annabella Giles Webb,  "Bennie"  (Benjamin Huske Webb), Robin Webb, and Eliza Plumer Webb. Another son, James H. Webb, is buried in St. Matthew's Churchyard in Hillsborough, NC [1].

Biographical Data

Robina was called Rob.
She was also called Robbie.

Important Dates

Robina Norwood was born on July 18, 1835. She died on December 24, 1919, and was buried in Old Town Cemetery in Hillsborough, NC.

Places of Residence

Schools Attended



  1. Mary Claire Engstrom. The Book of Burwell Students: Lives of Educated Women in the Antebellum South. (Hillsborough: Hillsborough Historic Commission, 2007).