Robert ARCHIBALD was born in 1729 in Inveresk which is on the southern outskirts of Musselburgh. Robert's grandson Henry's christening record gives Robert's profession as collier and his residence as Musselburgh which may have simply been given as the nearest town.
He married Jean HUNTER in 1752 and they had eight children in Newtown a few miles south of Musselburgh.
Robert was a collier like his father and would have been under same bondage as all other miners in the area. It was likely that he was 'arled' by his father, thereby guaranteeing he would become a miner and subject to the laws governing the bondage of miners to colliery owners.
In 1775 the laws governing the rights of miners were revised beginning the process of emancipation. By this act all new hands entering into the collieries after 1 July 1775 were to be freed in age-groups; those under 21 and aged 35-44 on 1 July 1782, those between ages of 21 and 34 on 1 July 1785 and those 45 years of age and over on 1 July 1778. On 1 July 1775 Robert would have been 45.
It appears however that the ending of John Wauchope's lease of Edmonstone Colliery gave the miners an early opportunity exercise new rights and offer their services to other coalowners 'upon reasonable terms' as evidenced in an advertisement dated 5 October 1777 shown below.