More about Thomas Nye Brittain

At the end of my previous post on this subject I left Thomas in London, working as a china dealer in 1851.  It seems that he continued in this occupation for a while, as the 1856 London Post Office Directory lists him at 6 Charlotte Place and he is described as a “glass and china dealer”.   By 1861 something had obviously happened which had made him give up the china trade and return to shoemaking.  He is listed at 7 The Grove, St Pancras, described as a shoe manufacturer; his wife Hannah is a bootbinder and the only child living with them now is 17 year old Ellen who is also working as a bootbinder.

By 1871 Thomas and Hannah had moved again to 24 Chalton Street, St Pancras.  They seem to have fallen on harder times as the house comprises 4 households altogether.  Thomas is still listed as a shoemaker.  Chalton Street formed part of the Somerstown estate.  Many of the houses were in multiple occupation – the inhabitants seem to be solidly working class.

I’ve not yet managed to find Thomas in 1881.  Hannah died on 28th July 1881, in Friern Barnet Lunatic Asylum. (“Colney Hatch”)  She was 72 and the cause of death is stated as “exhaustion from decay with paralysis and diarrhoea”.  Thomas registered his wife’s death and gave his address as 96 Chalton Street.  Hannah was probably buried at the Great Northern Cemetery in New Southgate as burials at the asylum itself stopped in 1873.

Ten years later Thomas was living on his own at number 94 Chalton Street, aged 82, still listed as a shoemaker, and he died on New Year’s Day 1894 at the same address.  The cause of death was senile decay and bronchitis (7 days).  His son in law, George Holt (who had married Ellen Brittain in 1865) registered Thomas’ death.  Thomas was buried in a public or common grave in St Pancras Cemetery on 6th January 1894.
(grave reference BB/341 courtesy of

Thomas’ decline into what might have been  a lonely old age seems very sad for someone who had seen quite a few places before settling in London.  Life in Somerstown towards the end of the 19th century must have been very different from his early life in Cheshire.   He had moved from Wheelock to Blackburn (where he married), and then to Birmingham, finally arriving in London and changing trade for a while.  He ended up buried in a common grave; it seems none of his children had the means to give him a private burial.

In another post I’ll explore what happened to Thomas and Hannah’s children.


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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3 Responses to More about Thomas Nye Brittain

  1. drbillshares says:

    Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill 😉

  2. Hello and welcome to the blogging world! I found your blog through I look forward to hearing your stories.

    Carrie @ Not Your Mother’s Genealogy
    a.k.a “DearMYRTLE’s daughter

  3. I love the deceased online website. I hope it continues to grow (and quickly!).
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

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