This entry is part 13 of 16 in the series Brickwall Browns

In my last two posts, I began to search for new evidence based on the gaps in my existing research and in this post, I will continue that search.

Searching for New Evidence

So far, I’ve been searching for the Healey connection but today, I’m going to begin looking for the parents of George Brown. According to all of the records found so far for George, he was born in Sheffield in about 1815. Who were his parents?

Possible Baptism Records

There were three churches in Sheffield at the time of George Brown’s birth:

  • Sheffield Parish Church (St. Peter, now the Cathedral)
  • St. Paul’s Church (built in 1721)
  • St. James’s Church (built 1789 by pew proprietary)

In addition, there were three ancient chapels:

  • Attercliffe (1630)
  • Ecclesall (13th century)
  • Shrewsbury Hospital Chapel

Sheffield Parish Church

The most likely church to find George Brown’s baptism is the Sheffield Parish Church of St. Peter because this is where George and Ann Brown were married and it is where their first known son George was baptised in 1837. Since all of the records seem to agree on 1815 as his birth year, it seems reasonable to search from 1810 to 1820 for births and baptisms.

Baptisms 1810-1820

  1. George, son of Joseph and Mary Brown, blacksmith, born 29 June 1811, baptised 28 July 1811 (Page 109 of Index)
  2. George, son of Samuel and Jane Brown, file smith, born 15 December 1814, baptised 8 January 1815 (No 1032/page 127a)
  3. George, son of Edward and Mary Brown, farmer, born 2 January 1815, baptised 27 January 1815 (No 1122/page 139)
  4. George, son of George and Esther Brown, grinder, born 11 November 1816, baptised 30 January 1817 (No 1892/page 237)

Reconstruct the Families

Using the same indexes, I will look for other children of these four sets of parents, if any

Family #1 | Joseph and Mary Brown, blacksmith

  • George Brown, born 29 June 1811, baptised 28 July 1811

Joseph and Mary Brown, the first family, do not appear to have any other children baptised at the Sheffield Parish Church of St. Peter. There could be multiple explanations for this. George may have been their only child or they may have had the rest of their children baptised elsewhere or they may have left the area or one or both of them may have died after George’s birth.

Family #2 | Samuel and Jane Brown, filesmith

  • William Brown, born 28 February 1803, baptised 3 April 1803
  • Sarah Brown, born 30 July 1805, baptised 14 August 1805, burial 20 July 1806
  • John Brown, born 29 July 1807, baptised 16 August 1807
  • Samuel Brown, born 14 May 1810, baptised 10 June 1810
  • George Brown, born 15 December 1814, baptised 8 January 1815
  • Frederick Brown, born 27 March 1817, baptised 20 April 1817
  • Joseph Brown, born 6 September 1822, baptised 6 October 1822
  • Catherine Brown, born 17 April 1826, baptised 28 February 1827

Of the four, the most likely family appears to be the second family listed with parents Samuel and Jane Brown. Samuel Brown is a filesmith (which could refer to either a file forger or a file cutter) and it was common for sons to follow the same occupation as their father. My George Brown gave his occupation as ‘file cutter’ on all of the numerous documents in my collection. Looking at the other children of Samuel and Jane, there is a William and a Joseph and my great-grandfather’s name was William Joseph. By no means is this in any way conclusive, but it was common to name children after older family members. With that said, none of the known children of George and Ann were named Samuel or Jane, however there are gaps of several years between their known children and it seems likely that they may have had other children who did not survive.

Family #3 | Edward and Mary Brown, farmer

  • Samuel Brown, born 25 January 1810, baptised 26 January 1814
  • Joseph Brown, born 5 June 1812, baptised 26 January 1814
  • Elizabeth Brown, born 27 December 1813, baptised 26 January 1814
  • George Brown, born 2 January 1815, baptised 27 January 1815
  • Edward Brown, born 28 February 1819, baptised 7 February 1821
  • John Brown, born 12 December 1820, baptised 7 February 1821
  • Eliza Brown, born 19 April 1823, baptised 15 June 1823

Edward and Mary Brown were a farming family. Since this time period was at the beginning of the industrial revolution in Yorkshire, it is quite possible that one or more of their sons might have decided to pursue a trade other than farming. Besides Edward and Mary, the other family names were Samuel, Joseph, Elizabeth, John and Eliza. None of the known children of George and Ann Brown were named with these names with the exception of Joseph which was used for the middle name of my great-grandfather.

Family #4 | George and Esther Brown, grinder

  • Samuel Brown, born 30 January 1813, baptised 18 April 1813
  • Susannah Brown, born 18 July 1815, baptised 20 August 1815
  • George Brown, born 11 November 1816, baptised 30 January 1817
  • Sarah Brown, born 17 August 1819, baptised 9 October 1825
  • John Brown, born 2 March 1822, baptised 9 October 1825
  • Mary Brown, born 15 February 1824, baptised 9 October 1825

Lastly, there is the family of George and Esther Brown. George was a grinder, a different occupation than a file cutter or file smith. While it was not uncommon for the same man to work at both grinding and cutting in the earliest periods of tool making in Sheffield, by the early nineteenth century, these were two very distinct occupations. It seems least likely that these our my George’s parents. The family names include Esther, Susannah, Sarah, John and Mary and none of these names repeat in George and Ann’s known children.

1841 Census

George Brown, born circa 1815

  • George Brown, born 1815, Ecclesall Bierlow, no occupation shown, with Elizabeth Brown, aged 35 and Priscilla Brown, aged 1
  • George Brown, born 1816, Sheffield North, with Ann Brown, aged 25 and George Brown, aged 3
  • George Brown, born 1816, Sheffield North, steel caster, with Sarah Brown, aged 30, Mary Brown, aged 3 and Elizabeth Brown, aged 1

Sheffield Residents, Surname Brown, Occupation file cutter, filesmith, etc.


  • John Brown, aged 50, born 1791, 50 New Meadow Street, Sheffield, filesmith
  • Elizabeth Brown, aged 37, born 1804, Charlotte Square, Sheffield, file dresser, with Ellen Brown, aged 13, and Ann Brown, 30
  • Henry Brown, aged 30, born 1811, Green Sameer, Sheffield, file smith, with Mary Brown, aged 30, Ann Esther, aged 8, Joseph Brown, aged 6, George Brown, aged 1.
  • John Brown, aged 25, born 1816, Dill Street, Sheffield, file cutter, with Ann Brown, aged 20 and William Brown, aged 1.
  • Joseph Brown, aged 15, born 1826, Bailey Street, Sheffield, file cutter, with Jane Brown, aged 65.

Sheffield North

  • George Brown, aged 25, born 1816, Waterey Lane, Sheffield North, file cutter, with Ann Brown, aged 25 and George Brown, aged 3.
  • Robert Brown, aged 15, born 1826, Wakry Street, Sheffield North, file cutter’s apprentice, with Joseph Smith, aged 30, file cutter, Julia Smith, aged 25, Joe Smith, aged 10, Albert Smith, aged 6, Wilfred Smith, aged 3, James Bingham, aged 20, file cutter apprentice.
  • Samuel Brown, aged 30, born 1811, Cornish Street, Sheffield North, file striker, with Samuel Brown, aged 25, file striker, and Hannah Brown, aged 30
  • George Brown, aged 48, born 1793, Dunn Street, Sheffield North, file grinder with Ester, aged 48, John aged 15, file grinder, William aged 15, file grinder, Richard, aged 13, file grinder, Jonathan, aged 12.

Brightside Bierlow

  • Enos Brown, aged 35, born 1806, Wicker, Brightside Bierlow, file grinder, with Mary Brown, aged 25, Edward Brown, aged 3, Enos Brown, aged 1
  • Edward Brown, aged 35, born 1806, Nursery Street, Brightside Bierlow, file grinder, with Milbank Brown, aged 60.
  • William Brown, aged 25, born 1816, Nursery Street, Brightside Bierlow, file grinder, with Ann Brown, aged 20, John Brown aged 6 months.
  • Edward Brown, aged 22, born 1819, Burton Head, Brightside Bierlow, file smith.

Ecclesall Bierlow

  • Joseph Brown, aged 27, born 1814, Trafalgar Street, Ecclesall Bierlow, file smith, with Elizabeth Brown, aged 21.
  • John Brown, aged 25, born 1816, Shildon Street, Ecclesall Bierlow, file maker journeyman, with Elizabeth Brown, aged 65

1851 Census

Surname Brown, Occupation file cutter, filesmith, etc., Born in Sheffield, Living in Sheffield

  • John Brown, aged 61, born 1790 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, Ellison Street 2 Court, Sheffield, file cutter, with Elizabeth Brown, aged 46, wife and Jane Brown, aged 17, daughter
  • George Brown, aged 36, born 1815 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, 1 Court 5, Scotland Street, Sheffield, file cutter, with Ann Brown, wife, aged 38, born in Liverpool, George Brown, son, aged 13, file cutter, Caroline Brown, daughter, aged 9, scholar and Ann Brown, daughter, aged 2.
  • Samuel Brown, aged 40, born in 1811 in Sheffield, 33 Cornish Street, Sheffield, file striker, with Hannah Brown, wife, aged 38, Mary Brown, daughter, aged 14, Maria Brown, daughter, aged 11, Hannah Brown, daughter, aged 9, Samuel Brown, son, aged 6, Emma Brown, daughter, aged 4 and Ann E Brown, aged 1.
  • Samuel Brown, aged 38, born 1813 in Sheffield, Victoria Square Oborne Street, file grinder, with mother, Esther Brown, aged 58, Esther Brown, sister, aged 18, and Ann Brown, sister, aged 16.
  • George Brown, aged 34, born 1817 in Sheffield, 1 Trinity Street Court, Sheffield, file grinder, with Sarah Brown, wife, aged 30, Eliza Brown, daughter, aged 12 and Henry Brown, son, aged 8.
  • Frederick Brown, aged 34, born 1817 in Sheffield, 9 Windles Yard Lambert Street, file cutter, with Sarah Mellor, servant, aged 24.
  • Edward Brown, aged 32, born 1819 Sheffield, Matthew Street, file hardener, lodger with Hannah Hawke, aged 41.
  • William Brown, aged 25, born Sheffield, 3 Court Edward Street, Sheffield, file grinder, with Amelia Brown, wife, aged 24, Charles Brown, son, aged 5, William Brown, son, aged 2 and Sarah Davison, aged 18, servant.
  • Matthew Brown, aged 25, born 1826, Sheffield, 3 Court Fitzwilliam Street, Sheffield, file smith, with Sarah Brown, wife, aged 28 and Mary Foulstone, aged 21, servant.
  • George Brown, aged 17, born 1834, Sheffield, 54 Leicester Street, Sheffield, file cutter, living with uncle George Slinn, aged 43, born 1808, silver smith pierce worker, aunt, Ann Slinn, aged 37, cousin, Fredrick G Slinn, aged 9, Ann C Slinn, cousin, aged 5, Sarah Slinn, cousin, aged 2, and Jonathan Badger, aged 67, carpenter, the father of Ann Slinn.
  • George Brown, aged 16, born 1835, Sheffield, Parkway and Scotland Street, Sheffield, spring knife cutlers apprentice, with John Woolhouse, aged 31, spring knife cutler and Mary Ann Woolhouse, aged 25.

Surname Brown, Occupation file cutter, filesmith, etc., Born Elsewhere, Living in Sheffield

  • Jane Brown, aged 74, born 1777 in Woodhouse, Yorkshire, 29 King Street, Sheffield, file cutter widow, living in a lodging house operated by Sarah Fellows.
  • Henry Brown, aged 43, born 1808 in Ebrington, Yorkshire, Sarah Street, Sheffield, file hardener, with Mary Brown, wife, aged 44, born Dobbin Hiles, Yorkshire, Ann Brown, daughter, aged 18, born Masbro, Yorkshire, house assistant, and George Brown, son, aged 10, born Sheffield.
  • Edward Brown, aged 43, born 1808 in Africa, Cheney Square, Sheffield, labourer in a file manufactory, with Hannah Brown, wife, aged 39, born Birmingham and Anthony Rushton, step-son, aged 13, born Birmingham, scholar.
  • John Brown, aged 40, born in 1811 in Newcastle, Durham, 24 Linderick Road, Ecclesall Bierlow, file cutter, with Ann Brown, wife, aged 31 from Nether Hallam, William Brown, son, aged 10, Elizabeth Brown, daughter, aged 8, Margaret Brown, daughter, aged 3, and two lodgers, Walter and Rachel Wilkinson, aged 31 and 27 respectively, from Staffordshire and Berkshire.
  • Joseph Brown, aged 37, born 1814 in Winberton, Yorkshire, Hanover Street, Ecclesall Bierlow, file smith, with James Brown, son, aged 7, Ann E Brown, daughter, aged 4, Frederic Brown, son, aged 2. Also in the household is James Jackson, file smith apprentice, aged 15, born Sheffield, a servant, and a visiting family with surname Hoyle/Parkin.
  • Elizah Brown, aged 28, born 1823, Nottinghamshire, 33 Mathew Street, Sheffield, file grinder, with Mary A Brown, wife, aged 26, Henry Brown, son, aged 3 and George Roddis, aged 27, born Whiston, Yorkshire, lodger and file grinder.
  • John Brown, aged 16, born 1835, Bradfield, Yorkshire, 34 Forty Row, Sheffield, file grinders apprentice, with father Jonathan Brown, aged 51, born in Derbyshire, general labourer, mother Hannah Brown, aged 57, born in Derbyshire, fork filer, brother, Jonathan Brown, aged 9, born in Hallam, Yorkshire.

Surname Brown, Occupation file cutter, filesmith, etc., Born in Sheffield, Living Elsewhere

  • John Brown, aged 29, born 1822, Sheffield, Hulme Holl Lane, Newton, Manchester, Lancashire, file grinder, with Mary Ann Brown, aged 26, Derbyshire, Elizabeth Brown, daughter, born Sheffield, aged 3, Eliza Ann Brown, daughter, born Newton, Lancashire, aged 1, Richard Brown, brother, aged 23, born Sheffield, file grinder, and Edward Parkin, lodger, aged 19 from Bradford, Yorkshire, steel filer.
  • George Brown, aged 40, born 1811 in Sheffield, Court Mill Street, Holbeck, Yorkshire, file cutter, lodger with Susannah Lickley. Notes: Holbeck is a district in Leeds and several other lodgers originally from Sheffield are residents of the same household, including George Thackray, aged 34, pick hook grinder, George Hodgson, aged 24, NK, George Thomas, aged 25, file handler, Thomas Thompson, aged 16, grinder and Alfred Tinings, aged 24, file cutter.

By 1851, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing and the internal migration of people from rural to urban centres was underway. There were many new Brown families in Sheffield and some of the old ones had moved to other cities throughout England. In addition to file smith or file cutter and file grinder, there were now men who identified their occupation as file hardener and one who was a labourer in a file “manufactory”.

Perhaps by sorting out all the various Brown families and determining how they interconnect, I might make some headway in at least determining who my George Brown’s parents were not, even if I can’t determine for sure who they were.


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