The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Progress Report  2004

Progress in the following subjects in 2004 has been summarised under the following headings:

Family History
Brecht One-Name Study
Naval History: Sinking of SS Britannia 1941
Local History: Find the Lady!

Family History

In the last 12 months or so, I have gained from a wide range of research activities:

Information on the Internet and & CD-ROM

I went on a local training course and learnt how to use such web sites as Family Search, Freebmd and 1901 Census, and searched for entries for all 16 families. As a result I have found information for which I have been looking for years. This is a fast-growing area of potential research, e.g. various databases are on-line at the Family Records Centre.

Public Record Office, Kew

This is an enormous centre and the staff are very knowledgable. I was able to trace the Army career of my wife Chris' grandfather, Walter James Collier. He saw service as a rifleman with the Sherwood Foresters and we now have his Army record to go with photographs of him taken in and out of uniform in which he is wearing his medals. I was less successful in:

Naval career of Henry Saunders

In 1844, he claimed to be late Mate R.N. which I now know to be officer rank. Frustratingly there are two reference cards which are supposed to summarise the naval career of a Henry Saunders, but there has been an error in the cross-referencing and no way of remedying it it seems.

Visits of My Own

London Metropolitan Archives

The Archives were closed for stocktaking when I was last in London but I plan to look up my grandfather William Bower's record when he joined the training ship Exmouth as a young boy from the East End of London.

Family Records Centre, Islington

I have continued to use the freebmd web site and birth, marriage and death certificates to get addresses to trace families in the Censuses. I have made steady progress but still have a long list of items to look up at the Family Records Centre, my favourite of the record centres to date.

Summary of Findings


I have traced the death of Benjamin Bates Bower in Whitechapel in 1876 which may enable me to trace the family in 1871 Census, though it will not solve the mystery why my great grandfather George Christopher Bower was living with his grandfather in 1851 and his uncle Alfred in 1861. In a marriage certificate in 1864 Benjamin's occupation was given as photographer. Intriguingly his brother Alfred had a photographic studio in Whitechapel Road during 1862-1882.


I obtained the 1889 death certificate of Martha Hannah Hennen who after the death of George Christopher Bower married Frederick Hennen. This may enable me to trace the family in the 1891 Census. The aim remains to trace her birth certificate but there were many Martha Jones'!


An internet search has traced my Uncle John Reuben Hayes previously thought to be Reuben. I am hoping that I can obtain birth and marriage certificates to give me addresses. I have also used freebmd to trace the marriage of Thomas William Hayes and Elizabeth Bradbrook which I am hoping will give me some infomation that will be of some help.


I obtained the birth certificate of another child Mary Hayes to prove that her mother's maiden name was Gardner; one certificate had suggested it was Garner. No further progress has been made with this difficult name with its variants, e.g. Gardiner.


Some time it would be good to update the Family Tree provided to me, using the 1881, 1891 and 1901 Censuses.


My great grandfather Charles Herbert Saunders was:

It appears that stoker was a maritime term as against fireman on the railways. Still flimsy information to trace his careers at the Public Record Office though! Still stuck on finding out more about his father Henry Saunders and the latter's other son Francis.


My great grandfather James Seabourne died in 1866. His widow Ellen Maria (Holbrook) Seabourn remarried a Robson and I am trying to establish what happened to the family after 1881.


There were a number of silk weavers named Collier in London in 19th Century and I am struggling to find a link beween the different families.


I continue to watch for articles etc about a descendant Joan Hughes, one of the first female professional pilots.


We made an enjoyable visit with friends, who knew the area, to the Guidford area including Send & Ripley and Ewhurst (where the Peryer/Perrier Family lived) and West Clandon where both families lived.


The research into these Suffolk families is dormant and exchanges of correspondence have dried up. Things should develop again when I type up my records and identify the next areas of potential research. Unexpectedly by 1901 Jeremiah Marjoram had moved to the Enfield area and was living with his daughter Eliza Hunt. His daughter Susan Marjoram appears to have been living next door at the time of the Census.

Future Plans to Develop Family History

In 2005/6 I aim to type up amendments to my records to date and update the Family Tree using Family Tree Maker, as well as continuing visits to the Family Records Centre etc

Brecht One-Name Study

Edie& Ivy Brecht

My mother gave me two photographs of her cousins Edie (taken with my mother as a young girl) and Ivy Brecht. I obtained birth certificates which tied up with information provided by my mother's sister Aunt Ellen Brecht. It seems that the parents of Edie and Ivy and also Rose, Henry and Elizabeth Brecht lived in Grange Road, Plaistow in 1898-1900 but there is no record of them in the index to 1901 Census (mis-spelling?). Hopefully Elizabeth's death certificate in 1904 may provide the address to enable me to search in the 1901 Census.

Family Tree Magazine

An entry in the magazine brought me an exciting reply from my first cousin Vernon Brett who was able to tell me what happened to his father Arthur Brett (born Brecht) after he emigrated to South Africa, following which contact was eventually lost between Arthur and his mother and sisters. His two sons had returned to the UK, since when Vernon's brother Howard Brett had emigrated to Australia. I have met up with Vernon and been in regular contact with my new-found cousins. I was able to provide photographs of their parents taken in England before they were married in South Africa.

Meeting Cousin Vernon for the first time at Fordingbridge

Guild of One-Name Studies

I registered my One-Name Study with the Guild and I hope that this coupled with my web site will produce some responses.

University of the Third Age (U3A)

I benefitted a great deal from my membership of one of U3A's study groups. I joined in on the following visits:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Parkstone, Poole

This was a small record centre with very helpful staff. I was surprised yet saddenend to find an additional entry to the IGI, i.e. the burial of Maria Catran Brecht at Christ Church, Spitalfields in 1814; she was born in 1812.

Main objective

My main aim is to find the burial of Heinrich/Henry and Mary Brecht which might give ages/dates of birth.

Naval History

Sinking of the SS Britannia in 1941

Guildhall Library, City of London

The Guildhall hold Lloyds List and other records covering shipping movements in World War II (including the sinking of the ss Britannia) which are very interesting. I ordered access to:

Voyage Record Cards 1941

Convoy sailing from Liverpool bound for Bombay

Convoy sailing from Gibraltar bound for the Clyde

War Loss Records 1941

This was a summary of information provided by the Admiralty and Lloyds List including the position of the Britannia when it was sunk and two ships who picked up survivors. My father was shocked at the number of crew and passengers who were lost.

U3A Visit to Public Record Office

My Father's return to UK on Empress of Japan in 1941

My father would have liked to know the other ships in the convoys fom UK and on his return. I was given the convoy number for the return trip, by the Guildhall but there did not appear to be any other information available.

U3A Visit to Newspaper Library (part of British Library), Colindale

I was able to order in advance two 1941 national newspapers on microfilm and was able to obtain copies of cuttings about the sinking of the s.s. Britannia to show my father which he found fascinating

Local History

Find the Lady!

In the web site, I have included a summary of the research I have undertaken into which lady owned a Victorian Calling Book which my mother bought on Lymington Market some years ago.

I hope that publishing this article on the web will: Find the Lady!

Colin Bower
28 February 2007

Links to:

Progress Reports - Index

Made with CityDesk