Joseph Brown, my Great-Great Grandfather was born c 1838 in Ponteland, Northumberland, shortly after Queen Victoria came to the throne. He was baptised in November 1838, in this old stone font in St Mary’s Church. He was one of 7 children of Joseph Brown, a horse-breaker, and himself grew up on the land with the 1851 census finding him as a 13-year-old agricultural labourer.
However like many of the northern-England ancestors I’ve been checking out recently he makes a change of career and joins the army. The 1861 census finds him down in the North Camp at Aldershot, Hampshire, a Private with the 45th Foot (Nottinghamshire) Regiment.
I would be interested to know where Joseph was in 1871, perhaps overseas, as I’ve not been able to find him on the census. I did find this entry from 1872 when he leaves the army, marked as ‘Deserter with Protecting Certificate’. Initially shocked then confused, I wonder what could have happened to him to have him leave the army suddenly in this way yet not be discredited for his life back home.
He married his English wife, Alice Hedley, on 20 August 1872 in Byker, where she was newly returned from childhood and domestic service in Edinburgh.
Together they had six children – all boys – four of whom also went into the military in some capacity, so whatever his experiences there doesn’t seem to be family apathy or dislike of military life. They were John Joseph Hedley, Michael, James Denholm, William Hindmarsh, Thomas Henderson and Albert Edward and I’ll tell some of their stories in the next few weeks.
I have done a fair bit of searching for the maiden name of his mother Jane – so far fruitless – and the names Denholm, Hindmarsh and Henderson were prime suspects. Denholm, however, appears to be from his brother-in-law James Jervie Denholm, who married his youngest sister Elizabeth. Henderson is the married surname of Alice’s sister Mary. Hindmarsh is still unaccounted for, so fingers crossed….
The 1881 census finds Joseph and Alice, with their first four sons, living in Byker, Northumberland, with Joseph working as a ‘Carpets upshot planner’, but by 1891 he’s found in Leeds, West Yorkshire, working as a carpet planner. He had retired by the time of the 1911 census.
Joseph died in summer 1920, back in Newcastle Upon Tyne registration district. Alice lived on a further 3 years until early 1924, when she died in Leeds.
© Text and photo copyright Lynne Black 8 November 2014
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/joseph-brown-1838/