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Which William Brown?

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Which William Brown?

Postby JaneyH » Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:08 pm

I've put off looking at the Brown branch of my family tree for many years, given how common the surname is. My Dad did some work on it back in the 1980s and this is what I'm using as a starting point.

My 3x great-grandfather William Brown lived in the small village of Offley, near Hitchin in Hertfordshire. He married Sarah Sanders in Offley in 1792 and they had (to my knowledge) four children: James, Mary Ann, George and William (my 2x great-grandfather). While his wife Sarah appears in the Census in 1841, 1851 and 1861 William does not, suggesting he died prior to 1841. Sarah died aged 90 in 1862, suggesting a year of birth of c.1772.

The trouble is in finding suitable burials and baptisms for William. Parish records for Hertfordshire are on FMP, and the best that I can come up with are the following:

- burial April 1837 aged 68, suggesting year of birth 1769
- burial August 1831 aged 66, suggesting year of birth 1765
- baptism 1768 to Thomas & Elizabeth Brown
- baptism 1769 to William & Sarah Brown

I've scratched my head a fair while over this and have concluded that either burial could relate to either baptism ... in which case I can't establish who William's parents are. The 1769 baptism might just shade it if we assume that the name runs in the family. (Note that the William in question named a son William, so he could easily have had a father by that name too.) Neither the banns nor the marriage register entry mention parents for either bride or groom. Just to confuse things further there's another William Brown marriage in Offley around the same time - to a Susannah Brace, in 1791.

Any suggestions gratefully received!
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Re: Which William Brown?

Postby ksouthall » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:28 pm

I had a look for wills in Offley but I couldn't find any on Ancestry which specified Offley. There may be one on there for him, described as just Hertfordshire, though.
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Re: Which William Brown?

Postby ianbee » Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:55 pm

Just going on the indexes I can't see all those children's baptisms, not in Offley anyway.
In 1841 Sarah has an Eliza Brown, 17, with her
Eliza may have been an illegitimate daughter of Harriet Brown, and baptized in Offley as Elizabeth in 1824?
She married George Tilley in Offley in 1845, and Sarah Brown born Hitchin is lodging with them in 1851.

Harriet may have married James Young in Hatfield in 1828, and then remarried in Offley in 1849 to Richard Gudgin?

In 1861, Sarah Brown, 88, born Hitchin, is in Offley, living with her daughter Rebecca Martin, 55, born Offley

Baptisms in Offley to William + Sarah from the online indexes are
William 1793, Frances 1795, Martha 1797, Mary 1800, Katherine 1802, Rebecca 1805, Harriet 1811, Sarah 1811, Charlotte 1816
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Re: Which William Brown?

Postby ianbee » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:34 pm

OK, James, Mary Ann, George and William are children of William Brown and Mary. Baptisms for them in Offley from 1826 to 1834
But in the census returns this William Brown seems to have reduced his age somewhat, did he die in March qtr 1864, age 66?
How do you know he wasn't the son of William and Susannah? William Brown, baptized Offley, 26 February 1797.
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Re: Which William Brown?

Postby ianbee » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:06 pm

Just to confuse things further (sorry!)
If that is your William, 60, with married son George, 30, in Offley in 1861, then it says he was born St Pauls Walden.
Which may not be accurate of course. But in St Paul's Walden in the 1790's a William and Susannah Brown were having children at the same time that the aforementioned William and Susan/Susannah were having them in Offley! The ones in Walden go back earlier though.
So, a William Brown was baptized in St Paul's Walden, 3 May 1795, parents William + Susannah. Possible siblings include James and George, among quite a few others.
Haven't seen the burials though.
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Re: Which William Brown?

Postby ianbee » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:45 pm

On the other hand,
Marriage in Offley, 19 March 1853
Name: George Brown
Age: 23
Father's Name: William Brown
Spouse's Name: Charlotte Martin
Spouse's Age: 21
Spouse's Father's Name: Samuel Martin

Charlotte must then have been a daughter of Samuel Martin and Rebecca Brown (with whom the aged Sarah Brown was living in 1861)
So did George marry his cousin?

Who registered the death of Sarah in 1862, presumably Rebecca?
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Re: Which William Brown?

Postby JaneyH » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:18 pm

Hi ianbee, thanks for your fresh eyes and wisdom, as always! I'll try to roll things together into one response.

I've found Sarah Brown in the 1841, 1851 and 1861 Censuses as mentioned. In 1841 I surmised that the 24-year old Eliza Brown was probably a grand-daughter, though I hadn't determined whose daughter she was. I hadn't traced the Tilley link although I noted that Sarah was lodging with this family in 1851. I also made the connection as to her 1861 residence, and yes - I agree - that George Brown married his cousin Charlotte Martin. (Always a sharp intake of breath when I discover a cousin marriage!) I haven't yet sent for any certificates so Sarah Brown's 1862 death certificate seems a good place to start.

In terms of William Brown (born c.1793) I agree that the ages indicated by the Censuses are a bit variable. I've noted the 1864 death aged 66 (and the burial) but equally I found a record in the 1871 Census in the Union Workhouse in Hitchin for a William Brown aged 78 ... although this gives Letchworth as a place of birth, which doesn't tie in.

As to the reason I've allocated William Brown (born c.1793) to William & Sarah (nee Sanders) rather than William and Susannah (nee Brace) I'm going purely on the tree that my Dad gave me. I don't have much documentary evidence, but it would have been compiled many years ago with input from my Grandma in the 1970s and handed down through the generations. That's not to say there weren't mistakes, of course!

If nothing else, it goes to show why I've left this branch for so long - even in a tiny rural area there are several over-lapping families! I've mapped all the Offley Browns from 1841/51/61 but I think I now need to do the same for St Paul's Walden.
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