#52Ancestors #50 – Thomas Henderson Brown – the best man and the bride’s sister

Thomas Henderson Brown, born 1881, was the fifth of six brothers and he’s the final one I’m featuring in my blog.  The sons of Joseph and Alice Brown, in order, were JJ Hedley, Michael, James Denholm, William Hindmarsh, Thomas and Albert.

Photo of a Brown family wedding

Brown family wedding, possibly Thomas & Clara’s wedding in 1919

In 1910, at the age of 28, Thomas was a witness at his younger brother Albert’s wedding to Miss Fanny Swallow.  Fanny was the third of six sisters: Amy, Ethel, Fanny, Clara, Ida and Elsie.  Ten years later in December 1919, by then aged nearly 40, he married Fanny’s younger sister Clara.

My Dad and I are currently playing photo detective with a couple of wedding photos. I’m sure Thomas’ older brother (my great-grandfather) Michael is the man in the black hat – he was obviously very fond of that hat as he’s wearing it in other photos!  So there we go, another photo of Michael, and also perhaps my great-grandmother Sallie next to him, although in most of her photos she looks wistful rather than happy so I’m not 100% sure.

And I think that Thomas may be the groom, although I would appreciate views of any historical clothes experts out there in case it’s actually the 1910 wedding of Albert and Fanny.  Although two of the men are in military uniform they were reservists so would have had uniforms before the war.

52 Ancestors logoLike Albert Thomas worked in the clothing industry, unlike warehouseman Albert, Thomas worked as a clothier’s cloth cutter.

I don’t know what happened to them after their wedding, no clue!

© Text copyright Lynne Black 14 December 2014

First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/thomas-henderson-brown/

#52Ancestors #49 Albert E Brown, clothiers’ clerk and soldier

Albert Brown, the youngest of six sons of Joseph and Alice Brown. He was born in Newcastle in 1884 but by the age of 6 the family had ‘emigrated’ to Yorkshire and he was living in Leeds, so perhaps he had a hybrid accent.

His wife Fanny was the third of six daughters of a commercial traveller and book keeper called Fred Swallow.  Fred and his wife Ann (nee Holdroyd) seem to have travelled round a lot after their childhood and marriage in Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

Photo of Attestation of Albert E Brown witnessed by BSM Michael Brown

Attestation of Albert E Brown witnessed by BSM Michael Brown

By 1901 Albert was 16 and working as a clothiers’ clerk.  However, like his brothers, he saw service in the army.  At the age of 24 in 1909, whilst working as a stockman for J Hepworth & Sons he attested for four years service with the Royal Field Artillary, 151st West Riding Brigade.  I was looking at his sloping-back signature when I noticed that the witnessing signature on the line below was that of his older brother BSM Michael Brown, my great-grandfather.  Well that should have made it easy for Michael to be sure that Albert’s information was accurate!

The following year Albert and Fanny married in Leeds, with Albert’s older brother Thomas as one of the witnesses. Their honeymoon baby Mona was born a month before the 1911 census.

52 Ancestors logoAlbert was working as a stock-keeper and warehouseman by the time his daughter was born.  However during the first world war Albert was away with the 49th Divisional Company, Royal Field Artillary in France.

My grand-father’s hand-drawn family tree notes that Albert died in 1980, I don’t know when Fanny passed away.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 7 December 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/albert-e-brown/

#52Ancestors #48 James Denholm Brown and Ellen Howell

Photo of James and Ellen Brown and family

James and Ellen Brown and family

James was born in Newcastle in early 1878 and grew up in its Byker area with his parents and five brothers.

His father Joseph was a carpet fitter, but had previously been a soldier, like James’ two older brothers JJ Hedley and Michael.  His mother Alice had been a domestic servant before her marriage.  James had three younger brothers, William, Thomas and Albert.

James was working as an office boy by the time he was 13.  By the time he was 21 in 1899 he was working as a clerk.

Runaway Horse story, Yorkshire Evening Post 1894

Runaway Horse story, Yorkshire Evening Post 1894, from FindMyPast’s British Library Board’s records

He married Ellen Howell in St John’s Parish Church, Leeds that year; she was the daughter of the late James Edward Harvey Howell, a cab proprietor (see newspaper story).  The 1891 census intriguingly stated her occupation at the age of 16 as a school teacher, but her wedding certificate did not enter a profession against her name.  James’ older brother Michael was a witness, as was Ellen’s younger sister Ada and a Henry Howell.

James and Ellen had their first daughter Alice in 1900, a Victorian; Hedley Harvey born in September 1901 and Dorothy, who arrived in 1905, were born in King Edward VII’s reign. In 1901 and 1911 James was working as a woollen manufacturer’s clerk; Dorothy’s baptism record in 1905 describes him as a cashier.

During the war James served as a Lance Corporal in the 14th Northumberland Fusiliers, and was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

52 Ancestors logoIn 1931 he was the witness at his daughter Dorothy’s marriage to Cyril Short in St Stephen’s Church, Leeds.  Dorothy was working as a typist when she married, I always like it when I find out women’s occupations outside the home.  His son Hedley married Constance Pickard in 1936; I don’t know the end of their sister Alice’s story.

James died on 1 March 1964 at the grand old age of 86.  I suspect Ellen died before him as she wasn’t named in his will.

© Lynne Black, 29 November 2014
First published:

http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/james-d-brown/

#52Ancestors #47 J J Hedley Brown, acting with distinction in the Boer War

J J Hedley Brown

J J Hedley Brown

John James Hedley Brown was the oldest of six brothers who grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland.  He was the older brother of my great-grandfather Michael.  Their father Joseph had been a soldier before becoming a carpet-seller, and so far I’ve discovered 5 of the 6 brothers also served in the Army.

Hedley’s preferred name was his mother’s maiden name – Alice Hedley was English but had grown up in Scotland. But hers is a different story.

The 1891 census finds Hedley working as a clerk – woollen [manufacturer?] However in 1892, aged 18 years and 9 months, he attested as a Private in the 3rd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.  He was 5′ 9″ weighing almost 9st, of fresh complexion with blue eyes and dark brown hair.

I’ve come across a significant number of events in Hedley’s life from exploring the military records.

In 1893 he joined the Royal Engineers, by then he had a scar on his right eyebrow and his right forearm.  In 1895 Hedley was stationed down in Portsmouth.  One day when off duty, he and another soldier were setting up some goalposts, when out of a silent sky flew a golf ball, hitting him on the head behind his left ear and knocking him to the ground.  He felt groggy but carried on, but quarter of an hour later he returned to the barracks and was carried to the hospital.  There was an enquiry – no-one had been heard to shout a warning when teeing off.  The golfer had offered compensation immediately after Hedley had been struck but Hedley turned it down, but the golfer then promised to cover the costs of his engineer pay lost while Hedley was in hospital.  The medical notes say that it “will not in all probability affect his future efficiency as a soldier”  Fortunately this proved to be the case.

In March 1900 he was promoted to Corporal, promoted to Serjeant in December 1900, became Mecht Staff Serjeant in August 1901.  In March 1904 he was re-engaged to complete 21 years service.  In January 1905 he reverted at his own request to Sergt; in December 1905 he was promoted again to QMSjt [Quartermaster Serjeant].  In July 1908 he became QMSgt (Instructor) and promoted again to Sergt Major in August 1911.  In 1912 he was transferred and appointed Sgt Maj (Instructor).

An extract from [Boer War] Army Orders from Pretoria, South Africa, dated 16 July 1901 was also included in Hedley’s file:

The G.O.C-in-C has been pleased to sanction the promotion of the under-mentioned NCOs and men for distinguished gallantry in the field.
13 December 1900.  Seach Light Section, R.E. to the Serjeant.
On 13th Decr 1900, proceeded alone, though the Boers held all the intermediate country strongly, to repair the telegraph line from Rietfontein and Rustenburg, and got it through.  Also for conspicuous courage in blowing up a mill under heavy fire.

The report of the gallantry of these N/C/Os has been received with much satisfaction and has been duly noted.  A Corps Order is enclosed herewith confirming these promotions.

This then had earned Hedley the promotion from which he later reverted; he was 26 and maybe didn’t feel ready.

52 Ancestors logoThere are also records of Hedley becoming increasingly skilled as an electrician – Skilled in July 1894, Superior in December 1894 and Very Superior [great title!] in March 1896.

The military records also mention that in 1902 he’d married Florence Roberts in Leeds, his brother Michael was witness at their wedding, and that together they had 3 children:  Florence Mary, William Hedley and Eric.

I found another mention of of Hedley in the British Newspaper Archive.  In November 1933 there was a public appeal for a new hospital in Leeds, Hedley had made a contribution which was specified in the Yorkshire Post.

Hedley died in the spring of 1953.

© Text and photo copyright Lynne Black 23 November 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/j-j-hedley-brown/

#52Ancestors #46 William Hindmarsh Brown – facing the tiniest of foes

Photo of Bermuda at sunset, photo by DPA Watts, Morguefiles

Bermuda at sunset, photo by DPA Watts, Morguefiles

Like his father Joseph and older brothers Michael and Hedley, William had been drawn to the military life.

Although William was born circa October 1879 in Byker, Newcastle Upon Tyne, he’d moved to Leeds with his family before the age of 12.  His father Joseph Brown was a soldier and later a carpet fitter; his mother Alice, nee Hedley, had worked as a domestic servant before marriage.

In his teens William joined the Volunteer Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment.  Many of his brothers were clerks but William’s education was noted as ‘2nd class’ [nice!] and perhaps the idea of sitting in an office wasn’t appealing.  He must have enjoyed his time in the Regiment as on 10 September 1897, in Halifax, he enlisted with the Royal Engineers and in early 1898 was posted as a sapper.

William was a fairly tall lad of 5’ 8½”, of fair complexion with brown hair and blue eyes.  Intriguingly he’s recorded as having scars on both knees.

William was posted to Bermuda, where he arrived in December 1898.  His records (found via FindMyPast) show him as receiving a slight injury to his right hand which probably frustrated him an engineer and soldier.

However it wasn’t that which defeated him in November 1902, it was something still feared by millions: typhoid.

We have a family record of his memorial card which was handed down through his brother Michael’s family to my dad, William’s great-nephew.  It reads:

In Loving Memory of
William Hindmarsh Brown
(3rd Company, Royal Engineers,)
The beloved son of Joseph and Alice Brown
Who Departed this life, Thursday November 20th, 1902 Aged 23 years 

The last post has sounded:
the solder sleeps
Till the night is ended
And the morning breaks

52 ancestors logoWilliam was interred in one of the cemeteries at St George’s parish in Bermuda, info on these available at http://bermuda-online.org/britishmilitarygravesbda.htm and http://bermuda-online.org/britarmy.htm

© Lynne Black, 17 November 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/william-hindmarsh-brown/

#52Ancestors #45 BSM Michael Brown, Inspector of Postmen

Sgt Michael Brown c1906

Sgt Michael Brown c1906

Michael Brown is my great-grandfather.  My Dad knew him, and was evacuated to his house during the war where he recollects Michael would listen intently to the war news on the radio, but Michael died long before my time.

He was the son of Joseph Brown and Alice nee Hedley and was born in 1876, the second of six brothers.  These were Hedley, James, William, Thomas and Albert and four of these six I know to have been in the army. All were born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, but at some point in the late 1880s the family moved to Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Michael was a sharp-shooter in the army cadets and we have a collection of newspaper reports such as this one about inter-Brigade shooting competitions.

Shooting match report, 4 November 1899, Yorkshire Post

Shooting match report, 4 November 1899, Yorkshire Post

He became a reservist and served in the 69th (West Riding) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.  I have a huge amount of information about Michael’s military career thanks to my dad who’s doing a fantastic job learning about the various horrific battles and near-death situations Michael survived.

Hopefully we’ll get it made up into a book, so I’ll not go into too much detail.

Image of paragraph listing DCM information

Information about Michael Brown’s award of the DCM

However I will just share this:  Michael was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1918 “when the battery came into action direct from a very long and trying march, he displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.”  Sadly the medals are no longer in our possession, they were sold at Christies as part of a package which included a photo of Michael marching at the head of his battery.  Maybe the photo will suddenly display on a WW1 website or magazine.

My great-grandmother, Sarah E Halliday

My great-grandmother, Sarah E Halliday

Michael’s other, civilian, life-long profession was that of postman.  By the age of 16 in 1891 he was working as a telegraph boy in Leeds and by 1901 was the town postman.

He married Sarah Emmaline Halliday in 1902. ‘Sallie’ had been born in Leeds but was descended from a Gateshead family. They had one child, William ‘Bill’ Halliday Brown, in 1905.

In 1911 the census records his occupation as “Town Postman Acting As Asst Inspector Of Telegraph Messengers”.  After the war they continued to live in Leeds and by 1931 when Bill married, Michael was the Inspector of Postmen.  In 1936, or just after, he and his fellow post office workers were awarded the King’s Silver Jubilee Medal.

52 Ancestors logoMichael was clearly very loyal to his regiment as in April 1939 he obtained permission to open a recruiting office in Roundhay Road to recruit to the 69th (West Riding) Field Regiment R.A. (T.A.).

Michael died in London in 1951, a year after his wife Sallie; they had been staying with Bill and Phyllis who’d been taking care of them.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 12 November 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/michael-brown/

In memory of the 306 men shot at dawn

starryblackness:

A fantastic blog post; the injustice screams through the years.

Originally posted on The Lives of my Ancestors:

For 90 years their names were blighted with shame and history tried to forget them.

The Shot at Dawn Memorial is a British Monument at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, in Staffordshire, UK. It memorialises the 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers executed after courts-martial for cowardice or desertion during World War I Source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7146/6432814907_01a610dfc8_z.jpg

The Shot at Dawn Memorial is a British Monument at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, in Staffordshire, UK. It memorialises the 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers executed after courts-martial for cowardice or desertion during World War I
Source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7146/6432814907_01a610dfc8_z.jpg

Their names were never remembered on memorials and family’s often hid the truth, shame was too much off a burden when so many had died with honour.

Their crime was cowardice and 306 young men – four of them just 17 – were shot at dawn during the First World War.

For most of these young men, cowardice was far from the truth, it was the traumas of war, break downs amidst the unspeakable horrors they endured in the trenches.

In 2006 all 306 men received a posthumous pardon, some names went onto being inscribed…

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