The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

An Introduction to the Family Tree 


Approximately 25 years ago, when my Aunt Ellen Brecht was still alive, we started to collate the Bower/Brecht Family Tree. Our research received two main impetuses:

In the 1980s, I did a lot of research and when I retired from NatWest Bank in 1996, I decided to start up the research again in earnest. Over the years the project has had its highs and lows but the research has made an absorbing and challenging hobby and brought us into contact with cousins on the Brecht side of the family and relatives in the Collier Family Tree, including relatives in Canada, a number of whom we have met.

Our Parents

Our Great Grandparents

Our aim had always been to research the families of our Great Grandparents:

Places of Interest

We have made enjoyable and interesting visits to places of interest including:

Visits - Index

Many time-consuming visits have been made to record offices in London, Kew, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Parkstone, Poole but it has been rewarding to find out information particularly our parents were alive.

Nature of Research

The nature of the project has now changed. Much more information has been published in directory, fiche and CD-ROM formats so that a great deal of research may be undertaken at home. Two particularly beneficial projects were the countrywide initiative to collate a surname index for the 1851 Census and the sale of the whole of the 1881 Census on CD-ROM. The internet now offers enormous potential with access to records like the 1841-1911 Censuses, IGI/Family Search, Births, Marriages and Deaths (BMD) and Parish Records.

I have gradually built up a reasonable amount of directories, books and fiche. I have joined Family History Societies and subscribed to periodicals. By listing my areas of interest and following up other people's entries I have had many superb replies particularly on the Pitts, Hayes, Brecht, Saunders, Walland, Collier, Hunt and Marjoram names.

Towards the end of the last century, I read that people engaged in family history should publish their findings as a contribution to the new Millennium. So in 1999/2001, for each of my 8 great grandparents' names and Chris' 8, I typed up a summary of records that had been obtained to date and the actions still to be undertaken if anyone wanted to continue! Some of the main information was summarised on to Family Tree Maker Sheets and later entered into the software package Family Tree Maker. I wish that I had been able to do this from the start!

Last year I began to type up new summaries of my research in a project I have named, the Big One!

a href="../../../Articles/TheBigOne/ElectronicFilofax/Index.html">The Big One!

Where our roots are

Our roots are mainly in London:

Bower/Pitts West Middlesex (Fulham)
Bower/Jones East End of London (Whitechapel, Mile End, Limehouse)
Hayes/Gardner North London (Islington)
Brecht/Saunders/Seabourn(e) East End of London/Essex (Limehouse, Plaistow)
Brecht Spitalfields and Bethnal Green
Whoreland/Walland East End of London (Shadwell)
Collier/Gardiner East End of London (Bethnal Green)
Collier North London (Hackney/Homerton, Enfield)

Other ancestors came from:

Jones Yorkshire
Hayes Bath, Somerset
Bradbrook Ipswich, Suffolk
Bradbrook/Robinson Bognor, Sussex
Brecht Germany
Walland Cambridgeshire (Meldreth, Melbourn)
Saunders Gloucestershire (Cheltenham), Hampshire (Portsmouth and Portsea), Devon (Plymstock)
Neville Devonport
Saban (Seabourn) Great Hallingbury, Essex
Collier Gosport/Portsmouth, Hampshire (Eliza Adams(wife)),Kent (Chatham)
Peryer/Perrier/Smith Ewhurst, Cranleigh, West Clandon, Send & Ripley
Hunt/Farrow/Marjoram/Ransom(e) Suffolk (Debenham, Wetheringsett, Crowfield)
Hunt Toot Hill, Essex

How far back?

One of the questions that genealogists are often asked is: "How far back have you got?" Though this is not always the main objective, our current progress in tracing our earliest roots of our 4 main names is:

For nearly 100 years the Bowers (George Bower then William Bower) had a small-holding at Rowberry Mead in Fulham which is still there as a children's playground on the Thames towpath near Putney Bridge.

In 1851 census, William's son Christopher Bower was the victualler at the George Inn in Walham Green (now Fulham Broadway). Before that he was a grocer and a tailor before dying in 1851 age 56. His son Benjamin was also a tailor but his son George Christopher Bower (my great grandfather) was a baker, staying with his grandfather and an uncle respectively in 1851 and 1861 at the time of the censuses.

In 1808, Heinrich (later Henry) Brecht married Mary Somes at St Mary's Islington. He was a colour manufacturer of Spitalfields and later Bethnal Green who died in 1838 (age 54). He had a lot of daughters (4 of whom died young in Spitalfields). His wife Mary died in 1919 (age 35) and Henry married Harriet Piper in 1837. Henry died in 1838 and Harriet married Henry Colvin the same year.The UK Family Tree is largely descended from Henry's son George Frederick Brecht (my great grandfather) born1834/5, who had a lot of sons!

In 1853, Charles Collier (Chris' great grandfather) married Matilda Gardiner at the Parish Church of South Hackney. Charles was a ropemaker in London and for a time at Chatham. His father was also a Charles Collier, silk weaver. We found the family (much bigger than we expected!) in the 1841 Census. Charles Collier Silk Weaver was age 35 and his wife was Eliza Adams.

Silk Weavers names Collier

The family lived in the Debenham area of Suffolk for many generations. In 1851 William Hunt (Chris' great grandfather) married Harriet Farrow in Crowfield. His father was also William Hunt (parents John Hunt and Barbara Spall who married in Wetheringsett in 1791).

Future Research

Over the years many mysteries have remained unsolved particularly the missing registration of births. It is the Brecht and Hunt families that offer the most scope for advancement for different reasons. I have advertised my interest in Brecht as a "One-Name Study" as the name is so rare. There is information that has the Hunts living in Suffolk for many years but as ever it is a question of tying up: "Who's Who!"

Colin Bower
28 February 2011

Links to:

Family History - Index
Family Tree
Names Index

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