BROWN and WILKES stonemasons in Bridgnorth 1860-1872

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Corinne
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Does anyone know anything about this stonemason family please? 

William BROWN born about 1815. Wife Mary Ann born about 1811 previously married to WILKES and had 2 sons John WILKES born 1834 and Charles WILKES born 1836 (my 3x great grandfather), all stonemasons. William and Mary had one son Robert E BROWN born London 1846, who became a stone carver. None of these families were born in Bridgnorth nor did they die there as far as I can find. John WILKES children were born Bridgnorth but everyone else came from Wolverhampton, Staffs or Warwick.

William BROWN in the 1861 census, home address 13 Mill street, employing 17 men and 2 boys. He is in the 1863 directory at Cann Hall, Bridgnorth, 'statuary, marble and stone mason, mural monuments, headstones and general cemetery work'. He does not appear in the 1871 census but his stepson John WILKES is now at 13 Mill Street with his own family, 'marble and stone mason employing 1 man and 2 boys'. John WILKES is in the 1870 directory in Cemetery Road but now no William BROWN in Bridgnorth at all.

Charles WILKES was a stonemason in the Brown household in 1861 but is found in lodgings in Woton Under Edge, Glos. in 1871, stonemason, with his own family. He seems to have travelled around working as he was in Macclesfield 2 years earlier when my 2x great grandfather was born. 

Most of the record sources don't seem to cover either the time range or the family names and I'm running out of ideas! I am looking for any local knowledge about the family while they were in Bridgnorth because they sound like they had quite a presence for a few years. I'm also having trouble tracing them before 1851 and after 1871 so any snippet would be very welcome. 

Thanks

Corinne

Gwynne Chadwick
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Hi Corinne,

Welcome to the Shropshire Family History Society forum.

There is a lot of information available locally in Bridgnorth about the WILKES family of Stone Masons.  In the next few days I'll see what I can put together for you.

Meanwhile, I have these entries from my own book "Bridgnorth - News and Events between 1852 and 1900"  It consists of any interesting events I noticed in the local newspaper, the Bridgnorth Journal.  The date of publication is shown.

1856 21 June. Married in St Mary's. John WILKES, Stone Mason to Ann Matthews. Both of Quatford.

1863 5 Sept. Charles WILKES, Stone Mason attempted suicide in the railway tunnel. Arrested by Police Officer Instone.

1863 21 Nov. For Auction - Stock in Trade, marble, head stones etc. Property of the Late Mr W BROWN, Stone and Marble Works at Cann Hall.

1863 5 Dec. Notice - John WILKES has taken to the business of his Late father in law William BROWN, at the Stone and Marble Works at Cann Hall.

1864 12 Mar. Notice - William BROWN intends to continue the business of his Late son, at the yard of Mr Pickard in Whitburn Street. Stone and marble works, head stones.

1892 5 Mar. Married in St Mary's. John T Peddie of Edinburgh to Emily WILKES, 2nd dau of the Late John WILKES of Cann Hall.

1893 11 Feb. Died in Edinburgh. Mary Ann WILKES, third dau of the Late John WILKES of Cann Hall.

1898 9 Apr. Married in St Mary's. Roger Pole, eldest son of C Pole, Chief Constable of Halifax to Annie, youngest dau of the Late John WILKES of Cann Hall.

There are at least 11 WILKES buried in Bridgnorth Municipal Cemetery but I need time to establish which are connected to your family.

Amongst many, many BROWN's in the cemetery, is William BROWN who died in 1863 and has a headstone that I could photograph for you.

Hope it helps,

Gwynne Chadwick

 

 

SFHS WebMaster
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I found, whilst researching my wife's Stone Mason ancestors, that there is a Stone Masons Index being run somewhere. Short on time now but try:-

Warwick University's Stonemasons and Quarrymen

Trade Union Ancestors

 

 

Michael J Hulme
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Hello Corinne

I refer to the paragraph "1898 9 Apr. Married in St Mary's. Roger Pole, eldest son of C Pole, Chief Constable of Halifax to Annie, youngest dau of the Late John WILKES of Cann Hall." in Gwynne's reply. With the help of my brother in law I can add the following information.

To say that he was Chief Constable for 27 years the piece below is all that was written about his time as chief in the Halifax Force history by PC Jack Wild, written in 1968.

In 1876 Mr. Charles Pole was appointed Chief Constable, and by this time the strength of the force had been increased to the Chief Constable, 2 Inspectors, 1 Process Server (Sergeant), 1 Detective Inspector, 1 Detective Sergeant, 10 Sergeants, and 53 Constables, a total of 69 men.

This had been necessary by the expansion of the Police area to take in adjoining Townships of Ovenden, Southowram and Skircoat and later, in 1900, those of Northowram and Warley.

Under the command of Charles Pole the public confidence in the Police was fully restored, but only by a firm yet tactful control of the force.

During these late Victorian years, Halifax was regarded as a tough town, the licensing restrictions were fewer and the public houses more numerous. It had a large cosmopolitan population due to the many building and civil engineering works in and about the town. Most of this labour was housed in the many common lodging houses, and on pay days and weekends certain parts of the town had an unsavoury reputation.

In fact the conditions that had fostered the earlier allegations against the Police were again present and strained the diplomacy of the force to the utmost. Dealing firmly with these rowdy elements, and having the full support of the Magistracy, Mr. Pole helped to make Halifax a more respectable place by the turn of the century.

Prior to becoming chief of Halifax he was chief of Grantham for 3 years. He originated from Leicestershire, as did his wife, and the older children were born at various Leicestershire places, which suggests that he may have been in the police force there. Roger, for instance, was born at Melton Mowbray.

Mike

Corinne
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Last seen: 9 years 12 weeks ago
Joined: Wednesday, 16-07-2014

Thank you all so much! I am very grateful for your comprehensive replies and from these I have been able to fill in some of the gaps and research further with more confidence. 

Gwynne, your book sounds very interesting "Bridgnorth - News and Events between 1852 and 1900". I only had one real confusion which is that "1864 12 Mar. Notice - William Brown intends to continue the business of his late son....."  I wonder if that refers to John Wilkes continuing the business of his late [step] father as William Brown was reported as being deceased in your 1863 note? (John Wilkes was William Brown's step son but descriptions are often a bit adrift in records aren't they so father in law is probably explainable). 

I would be delighted if you could photograph William Brown's headstone who died in 1863! Thank you, that would be marvellous. I will do some work on 'my' Wilkes and send you a list of names and dates of the ones I know if that would be helpful, for the 11 Wilkes in Bridgnorth Cemetery. At present I only know that John and Charles Wilkes had an older sister Mary Ann born 1831 but don't know if she married and she doesn't appear in the Bridgnorth censuses for 1861 & 1871. She was with William Brown and wife Mary Ann (nee Wilkes nee ?????) in the 1851 census in Little Vauxhall, Wolverhampton. 

William Brown's son Edwin Robert born 1846 was baptised in Paddington, London, but used the name Robert all his life. He became a stone carver, married Sarah Silvester and seems to have lived in Upper Penn, Staffs (1881 census). Sarah emigrated to Canada about 1919 with their son Frederick Silvester Brown born about 1888 (1921 Canada census). I haven't located where Robert died yet.

Webmaster, thank you for your internet links. I had been on the Warwick Uni's site and noted a couple of William Brown's but haven't established a definite yet. The Trade Union Ancestor site looks fascinating and I will take time to read and learn from it's content so thanks again.

Mike, I was very interested to read about Charles Pole's career and it certainly puts life into the names and dates doesn't it. It sounds like he did a very good job and faced a difficult task, lucky Halifax! It was poignant for me to read as I used to be a youth/advice worker and we did a lot of work helping the police 'out on the street' where drugs and alcohol played a prominent role in the troubles! 

Thank you all again for your help and I will join your society and hopefully be able to contribute something in return although I am down south so won't be able to join in physically!

Corinne

Gwynne Chadwick
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Joined: Sunday, 19-06-2011

Hi Corinne,

Glad to help.

I fully understand your confusion when you say; "I only had one real confusion which is that "1864 12 Mar. Notice - William Brown intends to continue the business of his late son....." I wonder if that refers to John Wilkes continuing the business of his late [step] father as William Brown was reported as being deceased in your 1863 note?"

I believe the published Notice is correct and provides you with a hidden gem of information (the name of William's father) My own interpretation is that John WILKES bought the business of his stepfather William BROWN who died in 1863. I suggest the deceased William BROWN had a father, also named William BROWN, who placed the Notice that he also intended to continue the business of his late son, albeit from Whitburn Street not Cann Hall. He would therefore be in competition with John WILKES.

I've photographed eight various items for you and put them all on a temporary web page from where you can copy them if you wish.

http://www.rafbridgnorth.org.uk/familyhistory/variousfolder/various.html

They include;

The two public Notices referred to above.

The newspaper article about your 3 x great grandfather attempted suicide and the subsequent Court case. I hope it's not too distressing for you.

The two announcements about the marriage of Katie WILKES mentioned below.

Photographs of the memorial headstones of William BROWN and John WILKES.

I have these entries from my second book "Bridgnorth - News and Events between 1901 and 1920" The book consists of any interesting events I noticed in the local newspaper, the Bridgnorth Journal.

1903 5th Dec. Married at St Mary's. Christopher Henry Stubbs of Newcastle (Staffs) to Katie Wilkes, dau of Mrs A WILKES of Cann Hall, Bridgnorth. Also see 12th Dec. issue.

1903 12th Dec. Married at St Mary's. Christopher Henry Stubbs to Katie, youngest dau of the Late John WILKES of Bridgnorth. Also see 5th Dec issue.

1915 17th July. Died in Edinburgh. Ann Wilkes, age 82, widow of John WILKES, Late of Cann Hall, Bridgnorth.

There is a book "Talking with Past Hours" being the diary of a William Fletcher in Bridgnorth between 1858 and 1860. An brief entry on Thursday 20th October 1859 reads "Up at 6.30. Went in the Low Town [an area of Bridgnorth] to BROWN's to choose the colour for poor Father’s grave stone."

That helps you date when the family arrived in Bridgnorth.

Family burials in Bridgnorth Municipal Cemetery.

BROWN William, a Stone Mason, age 47 of Mill St. Buried on 14th October 1863. Grave No.985 Consecrated area. Headstone photographed on 17 July 2014.

BROWN Mary Ann, Widow of William, age 82. Buried on 15th February 1888. Grave No.1687 New Consecrated area. No headstone found on 17 July 2014.

WILKES John, a Stone Mason, age 47. Buried on 24th March 1881. Grave No.1376 Consecrated area. Headstone photographed on 17 July 2014.

If required, there are various photographs available of Cann Hall. No.13 Mill Street, Bridgnorth. The Hall was demolished soon after 1957.

You mention that Robert Edwin BROWN married Sarah SILVESTER. Have you seen the (very probable) burials of their three young children in Merridale Road Cemetery, Wolverhampton between 1879 and 1884 ?

Hope it helps,

Gwynne

 

Corinne
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Last seen: 9 years 12 weeks ago
Joined: Wednesday, 16-07-2014

Hi Gwynne

I feel like I've won a prize! You have given me so much help and information, I am truly grateful. 

I spent hours over the weekend looking for the baptisms etc of the 3 Wilkes, Mary Ann, John and Charles in Wolverhampton, their birth place on the census returns. I found what I believe is the family but I also found an exact match for Charles in Warwick where William Brown came from and happened to have his daughter Frances BROWN baptised on the same parish register page! So I shall have some jigsaw work to do to work them out and establish who is or isn't what. I shall look up Robert E Brown's children that you suggest, thank you for that. I think I have that register on pdf from the Wolverhampton site.

When I was digesting your first lot of information I did do a bit of maths and realised William BROWN could have had a father to take on his business after the death of his son at quite a young age. Thanks for the pointer though. I really feel like I'm getting to know the family now! Thanks for your warning about Charles Wilkes attempted suicide article but I am 'ok' with it. It was interesting in fact because his son was a bit too fond of alcohol too so maybe we've uncovered an addictive gene in this line! If I've found the right family in Wolverhampton, his father (Jeremiah) died very young and I am searching for a report on that but it would be interesting if that turned out to be alcohol related! 

I have downloaded the items you put on the temp web page and will now go and look at your books link before sitting down and digesting it all in detail. I will treasure the photos Gwynne as I doubt I will ever be able to get to Bridgnorth in person. Can I pay you some expenses? Did you cut all that grass?!

Many thanks

Corinne

 

Gwynne Chadwick
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Last seen: 32 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: Sunday, 19-06-2011

Hi Corinne,

Thanks for the offer of expenses but it's not necessary. My time is free and I incurred little or no expense.

I try to provide unique information beyond that given in the census returns and records that are available on line.

Although you may know of these marriages, here is the full information from the Parish Registers.

Marriages at St Mary's Church, Bridgnorth.

16 June 1856.

John WILKES, age 22, Bachelor, Stone Mason of Mill Street. Father = Jeremiah WILKES, Hairdresser.

to Ann MATTHEWS, age 24, Spinster, Servant of Mill Street. Father = John MATTHEWS, Carpet weaver. Witnesses = Mary Ann WILKES and William MATTHEWS.

(so your 4 x great grandfather was Jeremiah WILKES - see final paragraph below)

6 Jan 1875.

James THIRKETTLE, Full age, Bachelor, Collector of Mill St. Father = Daniel THIRKETTLE, Tailor.

to Caroline WILKES, Under? age, Spinster of Mill St. Father = John WILKES, Stone mason. Witnesses = William THIRKETTLE and Joseph M.....?

25 Feb 1892.

John Thomas PEDDIE, age 32, Bachelor, Printer of 17 West Preston? St. Edinburgh. Father = James PEDDIE, Printer.

to Emily WILKES, age 32, Spinster of Cann Hall, Mill St. Father = John WILKES, Stone mason. Witnesses = Robert WILKES and Mary Ann WILKES.

? April 1898.

Roger POLE, age 29, Bachelor, Dyer of Cann Hall. 13 Mill St. Father = Charles POLE, Chief Constable.

to Annie WILKES, age 24, Spinster of Cann Hall. 13 Mill St. Father = John WILKES, Stone mason. Witnesses = Robert WILKES and Katie WILKES.

2 Dec 1903.

Christopher Henry STUBBS, age 29, Bachelor, Post Office Clerk of 29 West Brompton. Newcastle, Staffs. Father = William Henry STUBBS, School master.

to Katie WILKES, age 29, Spinster of Cann Hall. 13 Mill St. Father = John WILKES, Stone Mason. Witnesses = Dorrie PEDDIE and ?

Finally, the Christenings at St Peters, Wolverhampton, of the three children of Jeremiah WILKES, Hairdresser and Ann.

Mary on 8 Aug 1830.

John on 18 Aug 1833.

Charles on 15 Sept 1835 (your 3 x great grandfather)

Do let me know if there is anything else in Bridgnorth I may have.

Gwynne

Corinne
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Hi Gwynne,

I've been digesting all the information you sent and doing a bit more work on the Browns and the Wilkes. 

Mary Ann Wilkes, the older sister of John Wilkes of Bridgnorth, married William Henry Walton (a locksmith) in Wolverhampton in 1856. They had moved down to Newington, London, by 1871 and stayed there, bringing up a family. I now know quite a bit about her now. 

I bought Robert E Brown's birth certificate and he was born at 6 Green Street, off Harrow Road, Saint Mary, Paddington, Middlesex on 4th November 1846. I haven't yet been able to find out why they were in London at that time.

William Brown senior who carried on the business of his late son in 1863 came from Lillington in Warwickshire. In the 1841 census he is there aged 45, stonemason, with his wife Frances 45, son John 18 stonemason, Henry 10, Harriett 8, Mary 6 and Frances 1. Next door to them is a 'Lees' family who could be related to Ann Lees, wife of Jeremiah Wilkes (John and Charles' parents) and later wife to William Brown of Cann Hall.

In 1840 in Lillington, there are the baptisms of William Brown senior's daughter Frances and next to it a baptism of a Charles Jeremiah Wilkes son of Jeremiah and Marianne, father was a barber. As our three Wilkes children (Mary Ann, John and Charles) were baptised in Wolverhampton I am trying to discover if the Lillington Wilkes could be their grandfather or an uncle. 

William Brown senior died in Bridgnorth 22 February 1868 but is buried in Worfield St Mary where he and his his wife Frances Saxton Brown have a plaque on the wall of the church.

You kindly asked if there is anything else in Bridgnorth I may inquire about - you also mentioned there are pictures of Cann Hall. I would very much like a picture of Cann Hall if you can point me in the right direction as I haven't been able to find one on line that gives a descent view! There is an Ann Lees who married James Thomas in Bridgnorth in 1842 Oct-Nov quarter. Are you aware of this lady and who she might be? It was only the name Lees and being in Bridgnorth which made me note it during searches. 

When I was noting where my information came from I got the word 'of' in the wrong place and made you Gwynne of Chadwick, Shropshire FHS instead of Gwynne Chadwick 'of' Shropshire FHS. Thought it sounded rather good! smiley

Thank you again for all your help. I've joined the SFHS and enjoyed reading the journal. 

Corinne

Gwynne Chadwick
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Last seen: 32 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: Sunday, 19-06-2011

Hi Corinne,

As requested, I've added two photographs of Cann Hall. Mill Street, Bridgnorth to the temporary web page.

http://www.rafbridgnorth.org.uk/familyhistory/variousfolder/various.html

I can't help with the marriage of Ann LEES to James THOMAS in Bridgnorth District in 1842.
Although those two names only are on the same page on Free BMD, were they married?
There isn't a marriage at either of the two CoE Churches in Bridgnorth town nor is the marriage listed in the Shropshire BMD database (incomplete)

Gwynne

Corinne
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Last seen: 9 years 12 weeks ago
Joined: Wednesday, 16-07-2014

Hi Gwynne

Thank you so much, you have been very kind and I appreciate all your help. I hope others can benefit from our correspondence and who knows, perhaps a descendent and searcher for Wilkes/Brown/Lees might find me on here one day and get in touch! 

Thanks again and best wishes

Corinne