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Brewster - Livett conundrum.

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Brewster - Livett conundrum.

Postby phsvm » Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:38 pm

I'd be really grateful to hear others thoughts on this conundrum.

A friend has asked me to look into her family tree. She has some information that a relative has given her which I'm basing my assumptions on.

Census returns indicate that George Brewster Livett was born in Huntingdon in 1869. Both his children also bear the name Brewster. In some places in appears to be a hyphenated surname, in others a middle name. Whichever is the case George obviously wanted his sons to have the name Brewster.

George first appears in the 1871 census in Huntingdon with his 'parents' William and Mary Livett. However - there is no record for a birth of a George Livett in Huntingdon and in fact no births registered to William and Mary Livett, nee Paget anywhere. There is, however, a birth for a George Brewster in Huntingdon on 27 March 1869 whose parents were (now this bit I haven't seen but I think my friend's informant must have seen a birth certificate) John Henry Brewster and Marian Brewster, nee Barrand. John is recorded as a commercial traveller. Looking for other births for this couple brings up Samuel, Elizabeth, Emma and William, all born in Sleaford, Lincs between 1851 and 1859.

Was George a late edition to the family? By the looks of it no because, if this is the correct couple, John, seemingly known as Henry died in Sleaford in 1859. I've found Mary Ann on later census returns with at least one of her children and she lists herself as a widow. So did she find herself aged 40 and pregnant 10 years after her husband's death and travel 50 miles across the county boundary to Huntingdon to give birth and then give the child away to William and Mary Livett?

I've found John/Henry and Mary Ann Brewster on the census in 1851 and Henry is listed as a Currier as he is on the 1841 census. Interestingly, William Livett is listed as a cordwainer. So we have two occupations where their paths could have crossed. Did Henry meet William by selling him leather? Did Mary Ann know them because of this and go to them when she had a child to find a home for? Did Mary Ann give a slightly vague description of her husband - commercial traveller with the name John Brewster - to cover her tracks and keep her respectability in her home town?

Of course I may have completely the wrong family but any thoughts or suggestions on this would be gratefully received.
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Re: Brewster - Livett conundrum.

Postby MoVidger » Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:52 pm

Looks like George (coach builder, age 21) is lodging with the Leggott family in St Pancras in 1891. Unless I have the wrong George. On Ancestry is his name is transcribed as "Geo Suite".
Interestingly, the Leggot's have a housekeeper named Mary Murphy. She's described as "sister-in-law" and is also from Huntingdonshire. She appears to be Mary Eliza Murphy, parents are William and Mary Ann Murphy.
Mary Ann Murphy's (nee Livitt) younger brother William appears to be the father of George Brewster Livett. Still not sure where the "Brewster" comes from. Interesting that George's 1896 marriage is recorded under two surnames: Livett and Brewster.
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Re: Brewster - Livett conundrum.

Postby woodchal » Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:02 pm

I have a very similar situation in my family, which although hushed up for many years, was shared when one of my cousins started tracing the family and asking questions. It is only a generation ago so I have changed the names but the story goes like this..

My mother and all of her siblings had the name name "Lewis" in their name, but this had never been used in front of myself or my cousins, who all used the surname "Norman". So they were William Charles Lewis Norman etc.

It transpired that my grandmother had indeed married a John Norman, but he had absconded (it turns out to India with his army unit). Eventually my grandmother and my biological grandfather George Lewis got together and had children. They were registered under her married name with Lewis inserted as a middle name.

The children grew up with George Lewis as their father, but using the "wrong" surname. The neighbours all knew the situation and such illegitimacy was more frowned on back then, which explains their reluctance to use the name Lewis. In terms of genealogy we were lucky that my cousin asked questions 30 years ago otherwise we would have been left with the same conundrum as you,

So based on what you have said...George Brewster may well be the real father and Livett may have gone missing. However there may be other explanations.
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Re: Brewster - Livett conundrum.

Postby Artognou » Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:47 am

I have had similar things in my family tree as well, on both sides.
They took AGES to find out, one of them partly thanks to this forum and another was through putting my head together with a distant cousin.
My grandfather's middle name was Wyatt and we never knew why, his father had a similarly unusual middle name and after a bit of research, I found out that Wyatt came from the married name of a 5th great aunt and was used as a kind of 'tribute' to this particular couple, who put my 3rd great grandfather up after his parents had died in a short space of time, I believe he would have been in his early-mid 20s.
This appears to be the thing in my family, using old family names and even using names of friends as a mark of respect, but there have been a couple where I have been left well and truly stumped!

I have also found occasions where a child was given a middle name of a different gentleman and the surname of the father of several children, only to find out that the child was born well after a year of the death of the alleged father!
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Re: Brewster - Livett conundrum.

Postby Amazinggrace » Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:59 am

One that I have come across is that the persons middle name turned out to be the name of the
hotel the parents stayed on their honeymoon!!!!
Grace :D
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Re: Brewster - Livett conundrum.

Postby MayHam » Tue Jan 21, 2020 2:04 pm

Just to further confuse things...
There was a George Brewster born about 1806 in Boston, Lincolnshire.
He *may* be the same man living in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire in 1841 with the Robinson Family.
In 1851, he is back in Boston with his cousins, the Cornnells.
Can't find him in 1861, but in 1871, it looks like he is married and living in Bourn, Lincolnshire.
He died there in 1873.

When you wrote Mary Livett, nee Paget, did you mean Elizabeth? FMP lists a marriage in 1860 between William Livett, born 1836, son of John, and Elizabeth Paget, born 1834, daughter of Thomas. FreeBMD lists a William Livett baptised 1837 in Huntingdon to John & Mary (North, according to the GRO for brother, John). Elizabeth Paget says she was born in Whittlesey but the only record I can find is the 1841 census which lists Thomas & Elizabeth with their children and possibly Mother-in-Law, Sarah Moss? I can't find them after 1841. Am wondering if they knew George Brewster who seemed to support young families.
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Re: Brewster - Livett conundrum.

Postby MoVidger » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:09 pm

phvsm - as regards the 1869 birth certificate for George Brewster, is your friend's informant able to provide the birth address given? Was it a Huntingdon address? It may offer a clue as to a connection to the Livett couple.
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Re: Brewster - Livett conundrum.

Postby phsvm » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:28 pm

MayHam - thanks for highlighting this other George Brewster. I don't think that family is anything to do with our George. Various census retuns all show his plce of birth as Huntingdon, not even Huntingdonshire so quite specific.

Yes, I did mean Elizabeth, not Mary Paget.

MoVidger - Unfortunately, my friend was given all the paperwork we have on the family by a cousin and she can't ascertain where it came from before then. She's asked the cousin for more information. I've ordered the marriage certificate for George Brewster and Mary Rose, as opposed to George Livett and Mary Rose, so we'll see what that brings.

We have one of his son's WW1 Military records but they don't help and have now ordered his other son's WW2 records. Unfortunately, even the two sons seem to use the two surnames, some times hyphenated, sometimes using Brewster as a middle name. It's almost as if what ever mood took them!

Another bit of information I did find about Henry Brewster is that he is mentioned quite a few times in the local press in and around Sleaford. One one occasion it's a death announcement for one of his children and it gives his occupation as currier. I can't imagine the run of the mill worker would appear in the press so that rather gives weight to his widow Mary Ann moving out of the area to give birth to an illigitimate child and then giving it away.
Last edited by phsvm on Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Brewster - Livett conundrum.

Postby MoVidger » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:35 pm

They could order the birth certificate, as I can't help but feel the birth address will be helpful.
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Re: Brewster - Livett conundrum.

Postby phsvm » Tue Jan 21, 2020 5:43 pm

I'm fairly confident that the information I have about the birth registration of George Brewster is accurate - it even gives the name of the registrar - although as you say knowing where he was actually born as opposed to the birth being registered may help.
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