Dad‘s (F H Barrett 1923 – 2003) mother was Beatrice Grant. Her father was Joseph and her mother was Beatrice Grant formerly Croft (who we all knew as Granny Grant).

Beatrice (dad’s mum) and her father Joseph’s details are well known, accurate and documented.

Joseph’s father was James Grant a brick maker. Joseph and his father John have been very difficult to research with as much accuracy as I have achieved before because:

  1. Birth dates have been suspect when compared to death dates, marriage dates and  James and John’s birth dates. James was unable to write( born out by his mark x on marriage certificate) so one could suppose he couldn’t read either, which maybe one contributing factor for the questionable dates.
  2. Census searches, we all know that the dates are not entirely accurate on them but its never been my experience that they are more than a year or two different. Mary, James’ wife, had her birth place different on each census she had Shropshire, Wolverhampton, Cardiff and “on sea”. She was actually born in Hinstock, Shropshire.
  3. The surname Grant is very common. They might as well have been James and John Smith for all the good it did in research. There is a plethora of Grants in Scotland and Ireland.

James’ questionable birth date

According to the 1861 census he was 41 which would give him a birth year of 1820. This also ties up with the 1871 census. On 1881 census he is 64 which makes his birth year 1817, which ties up with his death certificate as he died in 1885. on the 1841 census he is 15 which makes his birth year 1826 In 1871 and 1881 James is in the Uxbridge Union Workhouse, which as Paul found out, later became the Nurses Home at Hillingdon Hospital, and I stayed there at some point during my training!

John Grant

Working backwards, John died in 1881 age 76, which makes the birth year 1805. 1841 census has birth year of 1811. His place of birth, Richmond, Surrey and James was born at Kew so these two things tie up as well as their occupations as they are both brickfield labourers.

The dilemma is that if John was born in 1805, then how could he be the father of James born 1817/1820. John’s wife Mary was born in 1811, so impossible. But the scenario that John and Mary were parents of James might only work if James was born in 1826. The problem here is that Mary would only be 15/16 and he certainly would have been born out of wedlock but that is not that unusual. The census’ show John’s wife to be Mary Anne born in Chitchester. This was cross referenced and found a Mary Anne Neighbour born in Chitchester 1812. This was felt to be correct as on 1841 census with John and Mary is a Lydia Neighbour age 11 either a sister, niece or even a daughter born before they married. John and Mary were married at St. John’s Church, Hillingdon which we all know very well.

A search was done to see if John was born much earlier and also had a previous marriage and his first wife died. No data could be found to support this idea. It is not known when they actually moved to Hillingdon but the common factor with them all is they lived at Cowley Mill/Little Britain and remember Dad mentioning this.

Any comments, Please!

Sheila Wheatley

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Paul Barrett

    If only we had the resources of BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ to throw at this! 🙂 It is so frustrating when you feel that you are getting a grip on it, only to have it thrown in the air by conflicting dates,

    Did people not know when they were born? Did they not care? Did they lie deliberately? Did they distrust the authorities so much that they provided false information to thwart the purpose of the Census? Were they trying to hide some family secret?

    I think that the best you can do is make sure all the names in this article are linked to the individual’ records in the tree and then we ‘ll see if the internet search engines can link us up with other researchers. I sent you an email on how to do that. And I will add that into the help system too, for future reference. I will also update the tags to make them more comprehensive, to see if that helps our search ranking.

    I am not sure we will ever get to the truth of this unless there’s another family out there somewhere that has the answers and comes knocking

  2. Sheila

    You hit nail on head in second paragraph. Those were my thoughts exactly. They could have been afraid of someone tracking them down possibly because they were in debt. James and John were frequently in the workhouse. If unable to read and write perhaps they didn’t know their birth dates! I think it’s more likely they had a great mistrust of authority. Who knows?!

    1. Paul Barrett

      Actually, there’s another possible reason. National schooling did not start in England and Wales until 1833 so the level of adult literacy in the labouring classes at that time would have been low to zero. It’s unlikely there would have been any records of their births in their possession and a low chance they could read them if there were.

      So they probably genuinely did not know.

  3. Paul Barrett

    The Grants’ just got even weirder for me at a later stage of the story.

    I was reattaching the 1871 census for the family when I started to wonder what was going on. I had John, Rachel and Joseph on the Uxbridge Union Workhouse Census return but no sign of Mary, John and George. But we know that George lived till 1946 and his mother till 1915. So where were they?

    Something clearly happened around the time of the birth of George, in Jan 1870.

    A search for George Grant on the Census records brought up an entry that showed Mary, William, John and George were living in Little Britain. It’s odd on several levels, because the girl, Rachel was not with her mother, which is what you might expect.

    However, both William and George were earning a wage as brick makers, presumably in the nearby brickfields which had begun operation in the early 19th C and lasted, on a large scale until well into the late 20C. I believe there’s even a small operation there today.

    George, at only 1 years old, clearly needed to be with his mother.

    Perhaps that’s why James, Rachel and Joseph were the only ones in the workhouse. At 4 years old Joseph may have been deemed old enough to survive that, and Rachel was not quite old enough to work so had to go there, along with their father to look after them.

    But why were the two sons’ wages not enough to support the family? It was not uncommon for large families to survive on the income from one labourer. And John was also a brickmaker, so why was he not working? With 3 wages coming into the house surely they could have made ends meet?

    Or had he suffered some sort of injury that prevented him from working? Even if that was true, there were still two wages coming in.

    As an aside, the Census return records that Rachel was born in 1860 in the workhouse. So this wasn’t the first time that they had been in the workhouse.

    Looking through a history of the brickfields in Hillingdon, I noticed that the work was seasonal. Is THAT the reason for their apparent destitution? Many of the Uxbridge area brickfields were sited on land that had previously been used for Arable farming, so that probably means that agricultural labouring jobs were hard to find.

    I wonder what the truth is?

  4. Sheila

    If I remember correctly, there were a couple of occasions when different members of the family were I the workhouse. I agree with you that it is all very strange and difficult to know what to make of it.
    Your information about the brick fields is very interesting and it hadn’t registered with me before that it was seasonal work.

  5. Paul Barrett

    Having got the bit between my teeth on the Grants in 1871, I decided to look for the missing child, Augusta, and see if I could track her down. And while tracing a common name like Grant is generally difficult, a name like Augusta reduces the permutations a lot.

    I think I have found her birth, marriage, 1871 Census location and death index. It’s all on her record here

  6. Sheila

    Brilliant!
    Does each person have a note section that I could add my research notes/personal profiles to?

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