Peter Brown Family History

James brown (1847) & Matilda Shirley

General History

James Brown Matilda Shirley




James Brown & Matilda Shirley were one of my 3rd generation ancestors.

Key Dates:

James Brown was born on 11th November 1847 in Oxted, Surrey and was baptised in Oxted on 16th January 1848. He was the son of William Brown & Jane Colegate. He married Naomi Matilda Shirley on 27th April 1872 in Felbridge, Surrey. James died on 23rd August 1924 at Lowlands, Newchapel, Surrey and was buried in Blindley Heath churchyard (aged 76').

Naomi Matilda Shirley was born on 18th August 1850 in Blindly Heath, Godstone, Surrey and she was baptised on 10th November 1850 in Blindley Heath, Surrey. She was the daughter of James Shirley & Sophia Strip. In 1871 she was probably living in Kentish Town, St Pancras, London. She died on 10th November 1936 at Lowlands, Newchapel, Surrey and was buried in Blindley Heath churchyard with James.

Children Returns to 'Top of Page'

James and Matilda had ten known children:

Alice Alfred Joseph Minnie Elsie Beeney Annie James Frank Edith
  1. Alice Jane Brown was born on 11th March 1873 in Newchapel, Horne, Surrey.  In 1901 she worked as a " Cook Domestic" in Courthouse, Nutley, Maresfield (owner was Charles W Keene and wife Annie). She married William Wickham in about May 1902 in Uckfield RD, Sussex. William was born in about December 1873 in Nutley, Sussex. He  was a Brickmaker – the brickworks being at the end of Hamsey road, Sharpethorne, where they lived. Alice and William had no children. Alice died in about 1929 in West Hoathly, Sussex.
  2. Alfred Brown was born in about August 1874 in Newchapel, Horne, Surrey (Godstone RD), but maybe possibly died after 2 days (source is family memories). However BMD shows a Alfred who died in about February 1879 in Godstone RD, Surrey ('aged 5').
  3. Joseph Arthur Brown was born on 21st March 1876 in Newchapel, Horne, Surrey. He married Edith Gertrude Razzell in about February 1889 in Reigate RD, Surrey. Edith was born in about 1878 in Horley, Surrey. In 1901 Joseph was a driver for Coal & Corn Merchant and the family was living at Fern Hill, Burstow. However his wife left him in about 1909 and he bought up his children in Horley and at the time of the 1911 census he was living at 2 Flints Cottage, Ladbroke Road, Horley. He later worked for the circus, “Sankey’s”, as a mechanic/lighting man and travelled with the circus. He later lived with his parents in Horne for a period and he returned to Lowlands just before his death in about May 1932 and died there aged 56. He was rumoured to have a very bad temper. The 1911 census also shows he had difficulty spelling and his occupation is shown as 'Carman' for a coal merchant. He possibly had four children of whom one had died prior to 1911:
    1. harriet Elsie Brown (shown in 1911 census as Elsie Horrot) was born in about 1900 in Horley , Surrey. It is believed she had 10 children
    2. Minnie Matilda Brown was born in about November 1903 in Horley Surrey (Reigate RD). She had two children- names unknown, and the daughter later emigrated to Canada.
    3. Arthur James Brown who was born in about May 1907 in Horley, Surrey (Reigate RD). He married Nora Whittaker and had three children (names unknown). Prior to marriage he lodged with his Aunt Edith.
  4. Minnie Brown was born on 11th April 1878 in Newchapel, Horne, Surrey. In 1901 she worked as a " Housemaid Domestic" for John Henderson & family in Effingham Park, Copthorne. She married James Tatnall in about August 1908 in Lingfield, Surrey. James Tatnell was born about March 1877 in Lingfield, Surrey, ( shown on BMD in district of East Grinstead, Sussex) but was killed on the railway line prior to 1922. James and Minnie had four children: At about 1911 Minnie & James were living with his mother (Susanna) in New Town, Lingfield (see census information below)
    1. Alec James Tatnall was born in about August 1909 in Lingfield, Surrey (Godstone RD). He was a Parson in Reigate & Exeter but had no children.
    2. Percy J Tatnall was born in about November 1911 in Lingfield, Surrey (Godstone RD). He was married with two children.
    3. Christina M Tatnall was born in about February 1914 in Godstone RD, Surrey. She had 3 children.
    4. Alfred Tatnall was born in about February 1916 in Godstone RD, Surrey and had one daughter.
  5. Elsie Brown (or Elsey) was born 30th March 1880 in Newchapel, Horne, Surrey. She was unmarried when she had a son Percy. She later married John Smith. Details of Elsie Brown are shown separately as she is a direct ancestor.
  6. Beeney Brown was born on 29th September 1882 in Newchapel, Horne, Surrey. His actual forename is not known but his initials were ‘JB Brown’ (as given on address details on an envelope). Source 5 shows his name registered as 'Beeney'. Beeney emigrated to Alaska in early 1900's (or after 1897 as is in family photo but not in 1901 census). His big toe was believed to have been frozen off. His last known address was PO Box 87, Lake Stevens, Washington, USA
  7. Annie Brown was born on 23rd June 1884 in Newchapel, Horne, Surrey. She died after a few months in about September 1884.
  8. James Brown was born on 8th September 1887 in Newchapel, Horne, Surrey. He does not appear anywhere on 1901 census but he is living at Lowlands in the 1911 census. He served as a driver in the Royal Field Artillery and was killed in WW1 on 23rd October 1918.  (Service Details are- Rank:Driver; Number: 944617; Burial: Belle Vue, British Cemetry, Briastre - grave B-24; Immigration: "D" Bty 210th Bde. Royal Field Artillery. James is mentioned on the WWI memorial in Horne churchyard.
  9. Frank Brown was born on 10th April 1891 in Newchapel, Horne, Surrey. He had a dishonest reputation as did his son, and worked on a farm in Wilmots lane but later lived at Firle. He married Eva B Coleman in about November 1914 in Godstone RD, Surrey. Frank & Eva had two children:
    1. Mona V Brown was born in about February 1916 in Sevenoaks RD, Kent.
    2. Edward F Brown was born in about February 1919 in Godstone RD, Surrey.
  10. Edith May Brown was born on 7th May 1896 in Newchapel, Horne, Surrey. She married Norman J Whittaker in about May 1927 in Godstone RD, Surrey.  Norman was born in South Godstone in about 1906 (he was about 10 years younger). He died in a torpedo attack on his ship in WW2, there being only one survivor from the ship. They lived in South Godstone when married and had two children:
    1. Norman Frank Whittaker was born in about March 1929 in Godstone RD, Surrey. He was in transport in Edenbridge
    2. Irvine E Whittaker was born about June 1932 in Godstone RD, Surrey. He was a postman.

Personal History Returns to 'Top of Page'

James Brown

On his marriage to Matilda Shirley in April 1872, James moved to Frogit Heath, now known as Newchapel. The marriage certificate actually shows him as living in Newchapel at the date of marriage, (so he may have moved there earlier) and he is shown  as living at  Frogwood Heath, Horne at time of 1881 Census. Neighbours house was "Lowlands" occupied by "Arnolds" and "Streeters". He worked as an Agricultural Labourer. During the later period of his life he worked as a roadman called a "Roader" as well as managing a little smallholding (cow, pig, horse and chickens). A lot of wine (Plum/potato/Fruit) was made (and drunk). James Brown could not write as marriage certificate was marked with a cross.

It is thought that James & Matilda lived intially in Cherry Tree Farm Cottage in Frogit Heath, Newchapel and later (c1880) moved to Lowland Cottages nearby. The family stayed at Lowlands until 1936. The timing is a bit unclear as Mary Brunt and her two sons occupied the Cherry Tree Farm cottage in 1871 and Mary Fillery and her family had moved into the cottage by 1891(source-Extracts from “Clayton's Ancient Enclosure on Froggit Heath” However James's Marriage certificate only show location as Newchapel and Elsie's Birth certificate only shows location as Froggatt Heath as does the 1881 census for James.

Lowlands alias Lowlands Cottages

Lowlands, now known as Little Brook Cottage, off East Park Lane, is situated in the parish of Horne and falls slightly outside of the Felbridge boundaries.  There were in fact two cottages making up Lowlands, each of two bedrooms, living room and scullery. In addition there was a thatched annex with two rooms and there was also a dairy attached. In 2000 Peter Gray, in his book, Horne, a history for the Millennium, descripbed Little Brook Cottage is as a "Brick and tile-hung cottage with outshot; central hallway and end chimneys on the ground floor only.  Similar though smaller to Kingswood Farmhouse [the neighbouring property to the south] with originally fewer hearths suggesting a somewhat lower status dwelling and earlier date".

There is some evidence for this property having been a Beer Shop coming from the documented memories of Les Oliver, former resident of the Newchapel area, written from the mid 1930’s.  In his notes on The Lowlands he writes:
About 1860 this [Little Brook Farm] was a Beer-Shop known as Lowlands.  Traces of the Beer-Shop are still to be found in the bars of the windows and the beams which have holes in them, which indicate a game called “Kicking Jenny” used to be played [there]. [There were] 2 cottages: Jenny Brown in one, Mr and Mrs Noble then [the] Smiths, [with] Streeter, [the] far side.  A Smith married a Brown’s daughter.(PB note: there are timing inconsistencies here). Mr Brown of Lowlands used to carry the children through the mud to the bottom of the lane [East Park Lane] so they could get to Sunday School at the Public Room.  The roads were originally footpaths between adjoining houses and plots of land and each [footpath] would not cross his neighbours or his own cultivated lands.  Consequently they went around and the paths were longer and not straight. (source- Extracts from “Eating and Drinking Establishments of Felbridge - Part 4”

In January 1885 William Brown, father of James died at Lowlands. It is not clear whether whether he was living there or visiting James who lived there. (in 1881 William was living at Langham Lodge, Tandridge lane). In 1901 James is shown on the census as occupying one of the cottages, Abraham Streeter another and also Bradford family probably occupying the annex. In 1911 James is shown on the census as occupying one of the cottages but in 1912 when his daughter Elsie returned home she is thought to have occupied the annex. Elsie's daughter remembers Elsie's parents lived in one cottage until their deaths (father died in 1924 and mother in 1936) and from 1926 Elsie, her husband John Smith and the children lived in the other cottage. Up to then, Elsie lived in the annex but  the children actually slept in the parents cottage. At this time Matilda’s sister Polly Noble & husband David had lived in the other cottage up to about 1925. After 1926 the annex was not used for sleeping in. Matilda died at Lowlands in 1936.

Alfred Palmer was the son of George Palmer, of Huntley and Palmer fame, the biscuit manufacturers of Reading. Sometime around 1869, George Palmer had bought West Park, along the north side of West Park Road, and in 1869 had the large residence known as West Park House built as a ‘shooting lodge’. Alfred Palmer inherited West Park on the death of his father, extending the property in 1898. At the time of purchase in 1869, West Park amounted to 220 acres but during the ownership of the Palmers they amassed an estate of 2,239 acres, Lowlands Farm being one of their acquisitions (including Lowlands cottages). On 20th May 1936, Alfred Palmer died, having been pre-deceased by both his wife Alice Maria and son Eustance Exall Palmer. On 17th September 1936, the West Park estate was put up for auction, Lowlands Farm forming Lot 2.

See also map of Frogit Heath

Matilda Brown

The forename ‘Naomi’ of  Naomi Matilda Shirley does not seem to appear elsewhere except on her birth certificate and gravestone- otherwise she was always known as Matilda.
Her parents had paid one old pence a week for someone to teach her so she could read and write. She was well brought up and her family went to church in top hats (James Brown's family wore smocks). In 1871 she was working in Kentish Town, St Pancras, London as a servant for Christopher R Solomon and family.
Matilda is remembered as a straight laced person, who was pleasant, but seldom laughed. She had a good reputation for dealing with illnesses and looking after ill people. She was known to be knowledgeable (presumably from her education).
After her husbands death she remained in black clothes until her own death.

Verification & Concerns Returns to 'Top of Page'

  1. The marriage certificate of James Brown to Matilda Shirley on April 27th 1872 shows his father was a William Brown and he was aged 24 giving his year of birth as 1848 (+-1 year). The BMD database shows only one James Brown for that period.
  2. The birth certificate of a James Brown in the Godstone registration district area showed a birth date of 11th November 1847 to parents William Brown and Jane Colegate who lived at Staffords Wood, Oxted.
  3. Census:
    1. 1881 census in Horne shows James 32 (born Godstone), Matilda 30 (born Godstone), Alice 8, Joseph 5, Minnie 2, Elsie 1 living at Frogwood Heath.
    2. 1891 census in Horne shows James 42 (born Godstone), Matilda 41 (born Godstone), Joseph 15, Minnie 13, Elsie 11, Benny 8, James 3 living at Frogwood Heath.
    3. 1901 census
      1. Horne shows James Brown 52 (born Godstone), Matilda 50 (born Godstone), James 13, Frank 9, Edith 4. Living at Frogwood Heath.
      2. Burstow shows (Family ref ) - Joseph A Brown 25 (Horne), Edith G 22 (Horley), Harriet E 8 months (Horley). Living at Fern Hill, Burstow. Driver for Coal & Corn Merchant.
      3. Horne shows (Family ref ) - Minnie Brown 22 (Horne, Kitchen maid). Working for John Henderson & family at Effingham Park.
      4. Maresfield, Sx shows (Family ref ) - Alice J Brown 28 (Horne). Servant for Charles W Keen & family. Living at Court House, Maresfield.
    4. 1911 census:
      1. Horne shows James Brown 61, Matilda 60, Frank 23, James 19 . (Note the ages of James and Frank are shown incorrectly and should be the other way round- James 23, Frank 19). James & Matilda had been married for 39 years and had ten children of which eight were still living. They lived at Lowlands, Newchapel, Lingfield in a house with 5 rooms.
      2. Lingfield shows Edith May Brown age 14 working as a kitchen maid for George Walker at Waterside, Lingfield, Surrey.
      3. Godstone shows James (Jim)Tatnall 34, Minnie (32), Alec 1, Susanna (mother) 76, Mary Ann (sister) 40, living at New Town, Lingfield, in the parish of Limpsfield. Jim & Minnie had been married for 2 years.( The 1880 census for Tatnall showed George 48, Susanna 46, Peter 15, Mary A 10, Emily 8, Jim 4 all living in Lingfield)
      4. East Grinstead shows Alice Brown (age 38) & William (age 38) Wickham living at Hamsey Road, West Hoathly and have five boarders. William was from Nutley and was a General Labourer. Alice & William had been married for eight years and they lived in Hamsey Road, West Hoathly in a house with seven rooms.
      5. Horley shows Joseph Arthur Brown 34, Elsie Horrot 10, Minnie Mitilder 7, Arthur James 3 living at Ladbroke Road. He had been married for 11 years and had four children of which three were still living. He was living at 2 Flints Cottage, Ladbroke Road, Horley in a house with three rooms..
Documents Returns to 'Top of Page'

Certificates & Official Records

  1. James Brown Birth Cerificate
  2. Matilda Shirley Birth Certificate
  3. James & Matilda Marriage Certificate
  4. James Brown 1881 Census
  5. James Brown 1891 Census
  6. James Brown 1901 Census
  7. James Brown 1911 Census



Double click on photograph to get larger image

1. James Brown & Family c1897 James Brown & family 1897   2. James Brown & Family c1922 James brown & family c1922
3. Matilda Brown c1930 Matilda Brown c1930   4. Alice Brown & Bill Wickham Alice Brown & Bill Wickham
5. Matilda, Edith & Florrie 1922 Matilda 1922   6. Beeney Brown 1900 Beeney Brown
7. James & Matilda's Grave James Brown Grave      


Sources Returns to 'Top of Page'
  1. Other Sussex Parish Registers – Ardingly, Bolney, Chailey, Crawley, Cuckfield, Ditchling, East Grinstead , Fletching, Horsted Keynes, Hartfield, Ifield, Lindfield,  Maresfield, Newick, Rotherfield, Slaugham, Tandridge (some), West Hoathly, Withyham, Worth
  2. Other Surrey Parish Registers – Bletchingly(some), Burstow, Caterham , Charlwood, Crowhurst, Godstone, Horley, Horne, Limpsfield, Lingfield, Nutfield, Oxted, Rusper
  3. Other Kent Parish Registers – Ashurst, Cowden, Edenbridge, Speldhurst
  4. Family (Latter day Saints): For initial identification of details only
  5. FREEBMD (Index of birth, marriages, deaths post 1837)
  6. Census records - National Archives -1901,1911
  7. Census Records- 1881 Family Search CD
  8. Census Records - 1841, 1861, 1871 - British Origins Web site
  9. Census 1851- Godstone District CD
  10. Surrey Marriage Index CD
  11. Surrey Burial Index CD