This entry is part 3 of 16 in the series Brickwall Browns

In this post I begin to review all of the existing evidence and see if there are any more clues that I missed the first time around.

Reviewing the Evidence

Birth and Baptism of George Brown junior

  • 1837: George and Ann’s first son is born: George Brown on 27 July 1837 in Sheffield
  • 1837: George Brown Jr is baptised at St Peter and St Paul in Sheffield on 27 November 1837

The information for George Brown’s birth and baptism came from a transcription of an entry in a parish register for St Peter and St. Paul Cathedral that I found on Find My Past and it doesn’t seem as though I’ve ever seen the original.

“Parish Records,” database of transcriptions, brightsolid, Find My Past ( accessed 29 July 2011), baptism of George Brown 27 Nov 1837, parents George and Ann of Sheffield, father filesmith, born 27 Jul 1837, Sheffield SS Peter & Paul Cathedral; citing Sheffield & District Family History Society.

Civil registration began in England on 1 July 1837, only a few weeks before George’s birth and details of the registration process were still being worked out. It was two days after George’s birth that a notice appeared in the Sheffield Independent on 29 July 1837 describing the registration districts including the Sheffield North District:

The Sheffield North District shall comprise St. Philip’s Church, and to take all that part of the said Township which lies North West of the last described Boundary line, and following the Boundary of Nether Hallam, from West to Philadelphia, and thence taking the South West Side of the River Don, to the Ladies’ bridge.

Registrars for the various districts were still in the process of being appointed. On 19 August 1837, a reminder appeared in the same paper:

REGISTRATION OF BIRTHS. – We beg to remind those who had children born in the early part of July of the propriety of no longer delaying to register births. By the new law, a child may be registered within six weeks of it’s birth without any payment. After the child is six weeks old, the registration can only be made on payment of 7s. 6d. 

There is a registration in the index for a George Brown, born in Sheffield in the fourth quarter (October to December) of 1837. While this would be a late registration, it could be the registration of George Jr.’s birth since parents sometimes lied about a child’s birth date to avoid paying the 7 shillings and 6 pence fine for late registration. This birth certificate is something I should order.

England & Wales, “FreeBMD Index 1837-1983,” database, FreeBMD ( accessed 28 March 2015), birth of George Brown; citing Sheffield Dec [quarter] 1837, vol 22: 399.

1841 Census

  • 1841: Census taken on 6 Jun 1841 shows George Brown, aged 25, file cutter; Ann Brown, aged 25; George Brown, aged 3 all born in Yorkshire, living on Watery Lane in the Netherthorpe district of Sheffield

According to the collection information at Ancestry:

The 1841 Census for England was taken on the night of 6 June 1841. All responses were to reflect the individual’s status as of 6 June 1841 for all individuals who had spent the night in the house. People who were traveling or living abroad were enumerated at the location where they spent the night on census night.

Information in the England 1841 census:

  • Name of street, avenue, road, etc.
  • House name or number
  • Surname of head of household
  • Name of persons who had spent the night in the household
  • Age*
  • Sex
  • Person’s occupation
  • Where born**

*The ages of people over 15 years old were usually rounded down to the nearest 5 years. For example, someone who was actually 24 years would have their age listed as 20, and someone who was actually 27 years old would have their age listed as 25.

**The “Where Born” column only asked two questions – 1) whether born in same county, and 2) whether born in Scotland, Ireland, or Foreign Parts. Possible answers and abbreviations to question #1 include: Yes (Y), No, (N), or Not Known (NK). For question #2, the following abbreviations were used: Scotland (S), Ireland (I), and Foreign Parts (F).

The document I downloaded back in 2006 for the Brown family is shown below:

George and Ann Brown 1841 census
1841 England Census,” database on-line and digital images, Ancestry UK ( : downloaded image 5 August 2006), Class: HO107, Piece 1335, Book: 9, Civil Parish: Sheffield, County: Yorkshire, Enumeration District: 21, Folio: 49, Page: 8, Line: 12, and GSU roll: 464281; Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1841.

My great great grandparents, George and Ann Brown were living on Watery Lane with their oldest child George junior, who was three years old. George senior is shown as aged 25 as is his wife Ann meaning that they both could have been anywhere between 25 and 29. That means both of them would have been born somewhere between 1812 and 1816.

GB and AB 1841

One of the first things I notice is that Ann Brown is listed as having been born in Yorkshire, not outside of it as would have been the case if she was born in Liverpool Lancashire. Perhaps there is a reason why I’ve never found an Ann Healey born in Liverpool!

Immediate neighbours included:

John Foster, a screw maker, aged 35, with wife Elizabeth 30, children Hannah 11, Elizabeth 5, Thomas 3

Isaac Oates, a pen knife cutler, aged 30, with wife Maria 30, children Sarah 7, Elizabeth 5, Edward 3, Harriett 6 months.

Occupation: File Cutter

George Brown’s occupation was listed as ‘File Cutter’ on the 1841 census, a dangerous job involving working in a cramped position, running the risk of lead poisoning and of developing hand and wrist problems. File cutting was a manual operation. Using a hammer, chisel, and lead block, the file cutter sat with knees on either side of a ‘stock’ or ‘pillar’ into which was inserted a steel block known as a ‘stiddy’. The file was laid on the stiddy, on top of a block of lead to protect the uncut side of the file. The file was then cut with the chisel by a series of very swift blows, ranging from 70 to 80 strokes a minute. A file might have twenty-two thousand cuts in all, each made by one blow of the file cutter’s hammer.


On the first page of the folio, the boundaries of this neighbourhood are shown as written by the enumerator:

1841 census area description

The area of Sheffield where George and Ann Brown lived in 1841 was sometimes known as the Netherthorpe district and a map of it below shows both Watery Lane and the surrounding neighbourhood.

Map 1841 Watery Lane

Landmarks in the neighbourhood include

  • St Philip’s Church on the junction of Infirmary Road and Penistone Road was formed in 1828
  • General Infirmary on Infirmary Road had opened in 1792. It was renamed the Royal Infirmary in 1897 and closed in 1980
  • Sheffield workhouse was converted from a former cotton mill on Kelham Street in 1829 and could house about 600 inmates
  • Kelham Island, Union Wheel and Soho Wheel were all factories where metal manufacturing was done, in particular grinding

Birth and Baptism of Caroline Brown

  • 1841: George and Ann’s daughter is born: Caroline Brown in the December quarter of 1841

The only source I have for the birth of Caroline Brown is the entry in the Free BMD database. I should send for her birth certificate to confirm this information and to get an exact date.

England & Wales, “FreeBMD Index 1837-1983,” database, FreeBMD ( accessed 27 March 2010), birth of Caroline Brown; citing Sheffield Dec [quarter] 1841, vol 22: 565.

Birth and Baptism of Ann Brown

  • 1849: George and Ann’s daughter is born: Ann Brown in about 1849

The only source I have for the birth of Ann Brown is her age of two as found in the 1851 census, and as confirmed by the 1871, 1881 and 1891 census records. There are three possible birth entries in the Free BMD database, two from 1848 (Ann Brown) and one from 1849 (Ann Elizabeth Brown) and I should send for her birth certificate to get an exact date for her birth.

England & Wales, “FreeBMD Index 1837-1983,” database, FreeBMD ( accessed 31 March 2015), birth of Ann Brown; citing Sheffield Jun [quarter] 1848, vol 22: 668.

England & Wales, “FreeBMD Index 1837-1983,” database, FreeBMD ( accessed 31 March 2015), birth of Ann Brown; citing Sheffield Jun [quarter] 1848, vol 22: 691.

England & Wales, “FreeBMD Index 1837-1983,” database, FreeBMD ( accessed 31 March 2015), birth of Ann Elizabeth Brown; citing Sheffield Jun [quarter] 1849, vol 22: 671.

To be continued….

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