Thomas Nye Brittain – shoemaker and sometime China Dealer

Thomas Nye Brittain

My 3xgreat grandfather, Thomas Nye Brittain was born in Wheelock / Sandbach in about 1811. He was baptised at St Mary’s Sandbach on 9th April 1815 along with his sister, Mary Ann. The surname was spelled “Brittin” and their parents were Thomas and Elizabeth. It seems that at the time, people from Wheelock had to go into Sandbach, a couple of miles away, as there wasn’t yet a church in Wheelock. His father was a boatman, and possibly may have worked on the Trent and Mersey Canal. Thomas Nye Brittain didn’t follow this trade, choosing instead to become a shoemaker.

On 6th May 1830 he married Hannah Marsden at the church of St Mary the Virgin, Blackburn. Hannah was a Blackburn girl – but how and why Thomas was in that particular town is, at the moment, a mystery. By 1835 the family was in Birmingham. Two of their children, Thomas and Elizabeth, were baptised in St Phillips Church on 8th June 1835. The family settled in Birmingham for several years; in the 1841 census they are living in Union Passage and several more children have appeared. The family now comprised Thomas and Hannah (both working in the shoe trade) and the children John (11) Thomas (7) Elizabeth (7) Hannah (2) and Ellen (3 months).

By 1851, however, they had left Birmingham and moved to London. It took me ages to find them on the 1851 census as the family is indexed as Benton or Benten depending which website you look at. I’m certain it’s the right family though. Thomas is now described as a China Dealer. We’ll never know why he decided to change occupation – and why, as later censuses show, the foray into china dealing was short-lived.  At first I thought that perhaps he had come to London to try a new trade, but the 1851 census led me to a different conclusion.

The details of the 1851 census are as follows:

6 Little Charlotte Street, St Pancras, Marylebone          HO107 Piece:1494 Folio:127 Page:33    

Thomas ,40,                            china dealer, born in Sandbach, Cheshire

Hannah, (wife) 41                  no occupation, born in Blackburn, Lancashire

John, 20, (son)                       shoemaker, born in Blackburn, Lancashire

Thomas 17 (son)                   china dealer’s assistant, born in Birmingham

Elizabeth 14 (daughter)      scholar, born in Birmingham

Hannah 11 (daughter)        scholar, born in Birmingham

Ellen 7 (daughter)               scholar, born in London

Matilda Adams , 37            assistant to a china dealer, born in Birmingham

Jane Tradley (?) 30           shoemaker born Staffordshire

Charles Chant 33               shoemaker born Ovenden (?) Somerset

Elizabeth Seally* (?) 25      servant for house, born in Germany

John Scielly* (?) 30 (lodger)  cabinet maker, born in Germany

(* these two surnames are unclear – he is listed as married, she is unmarried)

The details for daughter Ellen were interesting because in 1841 Ellen was 3 months old. Had she died, and another child been given the same name? I found her birth registration and sent for the certificate. The second Ellen was born on 20th February 1844 at 11 Black Horse Yard in the district of All Souls, Marylebone, which is not far from Little Charlotte Street where the family was living in 1851.  Her father Thomas’ occupation was a shoemaker – so the family had left Birmingham by 1844, and between then and 1851 Thomas became involved in the china dealing trade.

I checked back to the Brittain family in the  1841 census and found that Matilda Adams was living in the same building in Union Passage – she was 26 and a shoe binder. She had presumably moved to London with them or joined them later.

To be continued…..

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About familyhistoryfootsteps

I'm enjoying early retirement! I have been researching my ancestry for several years and am interested in all aspects of family history especially local and social history.
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