They say great things come in small packages; what I found inside the back of a photo album, regretfully there were no names to these photos, could not have come any smaller than three death notices cut out of a newspaper. Whenever I come across surnames such as Brown or Smith it makes my heart sink. These surnames are so challenging to research simply because they so common.
My 3x great-grandfather Robert Henry Brown, son of Joseph Brown, was born c. 1843 and he married Mary Jane Nesbitt on 21st May 1861. They went on to have at least 11 children, only five of whom would live to be adults:
1. Charles b. 1863, m. (1) Sarah Witherall 6th March 1886 and (2) Mary Stewart 19th September 1894. Charles died 24th August 1932 aged 69.
Charles had three children with Sarah Witherall:
· Allen Nesbitt Brown b. 23rd June 1890, m. Margaret Jane Hamilton 30th July 1919
· Margaret Graham Brown b. 30th December 1886
· Robert Henry Brown b. 19th May 1888
There was a further five children from his marriage to Mary Stewart:
· Mary Jane Brown b. 17th December 1896 – d.29th March 1959
· John Stewart Brown b. 1895 – d. 13th May 1901
· Annabella Brown b. 6th July 1898 – d. 24th November 1898
· Charles Joseph Brown b. 19th November 1902– d. 4th January 1971
· Annabella b. 1900 – d. 4th October 1961
2. Allen Brown b. 21st February 1866 – d. 1867
3. Annabella Brown b. 27th September 1868 – d.5th February 1931
4. Mary Jane Brown b. 27th September 1868 – d.3rd June 1942. She had an illegitimate son by the name of Ernest Grey Brown b. 24th January 1903
5. Joseph Brown b. 25th December 1870 – d. 19th March 1873
6. Letitia Brown b. 9th February 1873 – d.1873
7. Letitia Brown b. 7th June 1875 – d. 19th January 1878
8. Margaret Stewart Brown b. 20th June 1877 –d. 10th August 1878
9. Robert Henry Brown b. 17th May 1879 – d. 1st March 1880
10. Letitia Elizabeth Brown (2x great-grandmother) b. 26thJune 1883, m. John Cobain 9th July 1909 and d. 8th April 1976
Letitia and John had three children:
· Mary Jane Cobain b. 21st October 1909 – d. 27th March 1929
· Robert Henry Cobain b. 25th October 1910, m. Mary Sweeney 11th August 1939 and d, 23rd September 1985. They had one daughter.
· Letitia Elizabeth Cobain b. 12th July 1917, m. Adam Moore 25th December 1940 and d. 11th January 1963. There were four children from this marriage
11. Henrietta Brown b. 26th August 1884 – d. 24th October 1884
On both census records for Robert Henry Brown, there is a resident of 38 Townsend Street by the name of Eveline Brown. Her year of birth was estimated as 1887 and she was listed as being Robert’s daughter. I located a birth record for an Eveline Brown b. 30th April 1887 with the mother being listed as Mary Jane Brown, Smoother and lived at 27 Cumberland Street in Belfast. It might not seem like much but the address for Henrietta Brown, who was born three years earlier, was given as 27 Cumberland Street. In 1901 Henrietta’s sister Mary Jane is listed as being a Smoother. I strongly suspect that Eveline Brown is not the daughter of Robert Henry Brown but is in fact his granddaughter. Eveline went on to marry a Michael Coleman on 11th February 1923 and she died 25th August 1939 aged 52.
Robert Henry Brown worked as a mechanic all of his life before his death on 20th September 1919 at the age of 76. One of the newspaper cuttings in the photo album confirmed what I already knew. There was another cutting that mentioned a Jane Brown who had died 9th October 1919 with further details mentioning a husband William John Brown and a daughter called Letitia. The informant on the death certificate was a Charles Brown living at 22 Bootle Street and he is named as being her nephew. I now had confirmation that William was a brother to Robert because census records for the above mentioned Charles Brown give 22 Bootle Street as his address.
The third and final cutting was for an Edith Wright, daughter of Nathan Wright, who had died 19th October 1923 at the residence of her sister (Battenburg Street) Mrs Adrain. Using the address of Battenburg Street I found Edith living with her sister Elizabeth Adrain in 1911. Elizabeth had married an Alexander Adrain six years earlier on 12th July 1905 but the marriage only last 1 year 10 months as Alexander died from Pneumonia in 1907. Further research lead to the discovery that both sisters were part of a family of 10 children born to Nathan Wright and Jane Brown:
1. Thomas Wright b. 1855, m. (1) Sarah Jane Courtney 16th January 1875 and (2) Katie Agnes Roe Feely 14th January 1887. There were four children from his first marriage:
· Jane b.18th October 1875,
· Elizabeth b. 16th November 1878 - d. 11thSeptember 1886
· Thomas Wright b. 13th January 1881
· Sarah Mary Wright b. 30th November 1882 –d. 4th May 1901
Thomas had a further two children with Katie:
· Robert James Wright b. 2nd April 1890
· Margaret Ann Wright b. 21st February 1894
2. Agnes Wright b. 1863
3. Elizabeth b. 1865
4. Robert Wright b. 16th March 1864
5. Mary Wright b. 30th June 1866, m. William Henry Steer 24th December 1891 and d. 3rd September 1937.They had two children Mary Jane Elizabeth Steer b. 12th October 1894 and William Nathan Steer b. 23rd August 1896
6. Hannah Wright b. 15th November 1868, m. Frederick Leslie Patton 25th December 1903. They had two daughters called Winifred Agnes b. 4th May 1909 and Edith Hannah b. 31st October 1909
7. Margaret Wright b. 6th April 1871
8. Edith Wright b. 28th April 1873 – d. 19th October 1923
9. Helena Wright b. 16th May 1875 – d. 7th February 1891
10. James Wright b. 20th April 1877
So always pay attention to the little things in genealogy, you never know what path the journey might take you down next!