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Friday, 18 October 2013

Burdett Lambton Brown

Burdett was baptised in Washington, Co Durham in November of 1820 and first appears in the census of 1841 living in the household of his brother (or so it appears due to the ages given) George, possibly George's wife, Catherine and their son, Anthony - relationships are given in the 1841 census. George is a smith (like their father Ralph) and Burdett is an engineer. Why Burdett? It's a tradition in that part of the north east for some families to 'protect' surnames by using them as given names and I suspect that is the case here.

Burdett married Ann Morgan in 1844; she was the daughter of an engine driver. They had two children, Jane and Hannah but Ann died in 1849. By this time, the family was in Chepstow, Monmouthshire.  Burdett returned to the north-east of England to marry his second wife, my great, great aunt, Elizabeth Mary Brown.
I suspect these two are cousins, because of the coincidences elsewhere in the family of the surnames they used for given names for their children, but I need to do more research on this.

Their fist child was Ralph Lambton Brown, then Lizzie Sarah, Mary Oughton Brown, George P(hilip?) and Thomas Lumsden Brown (not to be confused with my great great grandfather of the same name, Elizabeth's youngest brother).Ralph and Lizzie were both born in Chepstow, Mary in Newport (also Monmouthshire), George in West Bromwich (Staffordshire, modern day West Midlands) and Tom in Wednesbury Staffs, now West Midlands). The family moved a lot with Burdett's profession.

Catching up with the family via censuses, in 1851 they were living in Chepstow and Burdett's profession is given as practical engineer. In 1861 in Wednesbury and Burdett is manager & engineer (but where is Ralph? At school somewhere?).

In December of 1861, John James Russell (as far as I know, no relation!) of the Crown Tube Works, Wednesbury in the county of Stafford, Patent Tube manufacturer and Burdett Lambton Brown of the same place, Engineer in the employ of the said JJR applied for, and were granted,  a patent 'for an invention for improvements in apparatus used in the manufacture of taper tubes'.  You can find more information about the Crown Tube Works at:

In 1871, at the same Church Hill address, Burdett is 'Wrought Iron Tube manufacturer employing 35 men and 16 boys'; Ralph has re-appeared an at the age of 19 is a wrought tube maker and they have a domestic servant. Their daughter, Mary, died later that year.

Lizzie Sarah married Samuel Hodgson in 1875, a clergyman and judging by later censuses and the birthplaces of their children, they travelled round a lot! I need to look him up in a Crockford's! I wonder if this relationship had an effect on Tom? Lizzie and Samuel's second child, William Hope Hodgson became an author and is now recognised as an important pioneer of 'modern imaginative fiction' (see: but you'll need a subscription)

George married Jane Jones in Wednesbury in 1879 and settled in nearby Walsall and became a bank clerk

By 1881 the remaining family had moved on again and were living in Hanover Square, Leeds; Burdett is an agent to a wrought iron tube depot and Ralph is a clerk to a wrought iron tube depot. Tom, who always seems to have been called Tom and not Thomas, was listed as being a theological student.

Burdett died in Leeds in February 1888 and Elizabeth and Ralph remained there sharing their home until  at least 1911. In 1891, at the census they are joined briefly by a Mary Holwell, the sister of Amelia Holwell who had married Tom who by then had been ordained as an Anglican priest and was living in Monkwearmouth (and I do have his entry from Crockford's)

Ralph died in 1914 in Leeds; the informant of his death was Tom so I don't know if Elizabeth was still living at this point. I suppose that street directories will need to be consulted if I want to take this any further or maybe cemetery records but Elizabeth Brown is quite a common name especially in a city the size of Leeds.

A really interesting sideline that make family history so rewarding!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Finding Timothy

While making arrangements for Mum's funeral, I had to go into Cardiff City Library to access an attachment to an e-mail I'd received (it was PowerPoint which I can't currently open on my PC). Since I'd booked the computer for an hour, I thought I'd use the time to use '' which I don't have a subscription for but you can access in most libraries. Findmypast and Ancestry have different resources so it's often a question of subscribing to one rather than both (at least for those of us on a budget)

Anyway, findmypast have Parish Burial Records and as a reader of this blog may remember, I've had trouble finding my ggg grandfather, Timothy Jones, the first of my blacksmithing Joneses. And there he was in the records for St Llonio, Llandinam (Montgomeryshire):

Timothy Jones, abode Kerry, buried 28 Jan 1824 aged 35

Which of course begs a few questions! Why was he buried in Llandinam when his abode was Kerry? Was he visiting Llandinam - there's a smithy there, was he working there? Did he die in Llandinam? Why didn't they take him home to Kerry?

One mystery solved, another takes its place


I've been quiet for a while as I've come to terms with the loss of my Mum; she passed away on 22 March. At some point, I'll bring myself to complete her dates on Ancestry but in the meantime, it's rather nice to still see her as 'living'.

Hers was the death certificate I least wanted to receive and on my family tree - the basic one that just includes the blood line - I'm the only one left living. And oddly (or not, perhaps someone else can comment on this) since I've just written a new tree out to sit on the wall near my desk, the vast majority of that direct line died in the first half of the year (February, March and April are particularly bad months for Family Russell-Jones). Is that reversed in the southern hemisphere I wonder?

At least now there's a new opportunity to get the family headstone restored and updated; Mam's ashes are being interred with her parents (and there'll still be room for me when I'm gone) so we can make sure they're properly identified and commemorated.

Sad times.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

GRO Certificates

Every so often you need to confirm what you think you know and ordering a certificate from the General Register Office is a good means of doing so. It's not cheap - each certificate costs £9.25 these days but the system is easy and straightforward so it's often worth it. If you get the details right to start with!!

Today, the postman has delivered 3 certificates.
1. Death certificate for Frederick Woolley, my gg grandfather. Frederick died on 20th March 1913 at Bryn Street, Newtown (in the old county of Montgomeryshire).  His occupation is given as house plumber and painter. The cause of death is given as 'Fatty degeneration of heart' & 'cardiac failure'. The informant is son Fred living in Cross Street, Newtown.

2. Death certificate of Eliza Woolley, the widow of Frederick who died 27 June 1922, again in Bryn Street. cause of death here is 'cerebral haemorrhage'.

Perhaps it's a bit morbid to order death certificates but they could prove useful to pick up on any recurring causes of death which we today ought to know about.

3. The third certificate is a marriage certificate; Luigi James Bellisario and Emma Lowe. I ordered this to check whether it was the same branch of Bellisarios as Gabriel in Cardiff and indeed it is. It looks as though Luigi James was born around 1865, but where? The 1881 census has him living in Cardiff but born in Italy and under the name of Bellmaris rather than Bellisario (a mistranscription error) so not always easy to follow.

Anyway, things to work on thanks to today's certificates

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Coming soon....

I'm expecting certificates from the GRO (General Register Office) tomorrow; one marriage certificate and two death certificates which I intend to open as I blog....these may answer queries or open new cans of worms...oh how I love family history!!

Monday, 18 February 2013


I think Gabriel Bellisario was born in Rome around 1840; he first shows up in British records in 1859 when he married Mary Ann Agnes Hogan in Bristol; a son, Luigi Garibaldi Bellisario was born in 1860.

In 1861 he was recorded in the census in Sheffield (rented accommodation I think) with Mary Ann and Luigi; his profession being 'Professor of Music'. Young Luigi didn't last long, he died in 1861, Mary Ann died in 1870. At some point, Gabriel moved to Cardiff and by the 1871 census, he's in Chrichton Street Cardiff with 'wife' Amelia; his profession is now 'photographer'.

In 1871 Gabriel is living in Tudor Street (that's where I go now to catch a bus when the city centre is closed off for rugby internationals) although his photographic studio is 226 Bute Street (over a chemist shop) which sadly no longer exists.

Gabriel and Amelia married in Cardiff's registry office in April 1874. Gabriel's father is Luigi Bellisario, profession - author. Google hasn't produced anything to verify this, so if anyone knows anything different...

In 1881, everything changes, there's new information! Gabriel is head of the household with Amelia as his wife...but!! Here's also James, son aged 16, born Italy, profession 'embosser'; Joseph, son aged 14, born Bristol, mechanic and Ernesto, aged 2. Amelia's mother, Fanny Littleton is also part of the household and is described as 'paralytic'. Fanny died in 1885 and is buried in Cathay's cemetery in Cardiff.

James and Joseph - what happened to them? Do I look for James and Joseph or the Italian equivalents?

In 1891 we're still in Tudor Street (with the studio in Bute Street) but by 1901, Gabriel and Amelia had moved to Beauchamp St and Ernesto had moved out.  In 1901, at the age of 23, Ernesto was in Liverpool and married to Frances Georgina Russell. Of which, more later)

In the 1911 census, Gabriel is listed as photographer and musician; I'm following up on local newspaper items where it looks as though he was playing the double bass at various concerts (how many signor Bellisarios were there in Cardiff anyway?)

Gabriel died in Cardiff on 26 Feb 1916 and is buried with his mother-in-law Fanny in Cathays cemetery (I was able to place flowers on their grave last Palm Sunday - a Welsh tradition); Amelia died in 1935 but is not with Gabriel and her mother; she's in a different part of Cathays in a common grave. I'm not sure why or how this happened but I did place flowers on her grave too last Palm Sunday)

Saturday, 16 February 2013


Sometimes, researching your family history throws up some absolute gems. My family names include Jones, Brown, Morris, Lewis and Little. So when a name like Bellisario pops up you really pay attention!!

I'm originally from North Yorkshire; Middlesbrough (note the spelling) to be exact. I currently live in Cardiff and I had thought that my only connection to the city was my sister-in-law who was born here. Not so.

Thanks to Ancestry I discovered something about my great grandfather (John Russell)'s elder brother, Richard. Richard served in the army (more about him in a future post I promise) between 1858 and 1881; he was demobbed in Monmouth and (probably, I can't find a marriage certificate) there married one Elizabeth Jenkins. The whole Jenkins family moved to Stockton-on-Tees and there was born Frances Georgina Russell.

Apparently, Elizabeth Jenkins was a music hall performer and Richard and Frances followed her in to the profession (as did Elizabeth's other relatives).

On 11 April 1901, Frances married Ernesto Luigi Gabriele Bellisario, a native of...Cardiff! Ernesto (Ernie)'s father was Gabriele Bellisario, a photographer.  I shared this with my sister-in-law; 'Bellisario - that rings a bell' she said. Sure enough, she had some photo portraits of some of her Cardiff family (Chedzoy/Talbot) taken by Gabriel Bellisario - what are the chances?

More to come on the Bellisario connection!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

My kinda town...Chicago

As a teenager, I was a fan of the band Chicago and loved their music; loved their album covers!! Now I discover a link...

Great great uncle, George Thomas Morris apparently moved there in 1907/8. I'd seen links on Ancestry and wondered if it really was him (too many American family history researchers see a Jones from Wales and think there's a link; Wales is small but there are more Joneses than you can shake a fist at) but I couldn't see any evidence.  Now I have an annual Ancestry Worldwide Membership and can see emigration documents, I can confirm the details. On the passenger listing for the SS Mauretania (no less!!) George and his family arrived in New York (en route for Chicago) on 26 Nov 1909. Mrs Morris of Ladywell Street, Newtown (Montgomeryshire. Wales) was named as 'nearest living relative in country whence alien came'.

I can follow the family up to the 1940 US census in Cook County, Chicago and would like to learn more about son (George William ) Marshall Morris as there's an uncanny sort of link to my maternal side where Marshall is used as a given name in the Stonehouse family (a branch of which also went to America)

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Agar - not just a jelly

Elizabeth Agar, according to copied notes of the Stonehouse family bible, was born at Wood Top, Carlin How on 22 Feb 1828, the daughter of William Agar

I'd been stuck with this for ages as I couldn't find any records for her at either Loftus or Brotton (the nearest churches) but thanks to Ancestry's links I saw someone had her as being baptised in Liverton. And there she was, baptised on 23 Feb 1829, daughter of William Agar and his wife, Elizabeth. This brings into a little doubt her date of birth as being a year previous, but then, some of my Welsh ancestors were baptised when they were 13.

I'd known Elizabeth had an illegitimate child in 1852 and I somehow had the idea that she was pretty much on her own, but having been able to check the censuses, found that she wasn't very far from her dad and her uncle.

In the 1841 census, Elizabeth is with her grandparents, Robert and Mary Pearson/Peirson (see how hard it is to follow families some times?) in Liverton and in 1851 she's in Danby (at the property next door to her dad) with the Baker family and a couple of farmhands who may well be responsible for the illegitimate child.

That child was Mary Jane Agar; at age 8 (1861 census) she's with the Williamson family in Cobble Hall Danby (next to Box Hall where her mam was) and was still there in the 1871 census. My Mam told me that she'd been 'in service' so I was prepared to look further afield for her. In 1881 she was in the Hall, Flasby, Skipton in the household of John Norcliffe Preston (Capt Hussars retd) as a parlourmaid; in 1891 at Baildon (Otley) in the household of Edward Salt (son of Titus Salt of Saltaire) as a waiting maid.

Elizabeth Agar's father, William Agar was baptised on 31 March 1798 in Danby. He first appears in the census of 1841 at age 40 in the same household as Jane Agar, 70, baker. He married Elizabeth Pearson in Liverton on 6 July 1823. A daughter Jane was born in 1824 and our Elizabeth in 1829. Sadly , his wife Elizabeth died in 1829 and William shows in the 1851 census as a widower with the Sawlor /Sowler family with whom he remained til his death in 1872.

William's father was Jonathan Agar, chairmaker and he married a Jane Ableson in 1796 in Danby. More work to do here to carry the line back a little further but I hadn't thought that we were so connected to Danby.  Or Liverton come to that. All places I know quite well but never thought there was a family connection!