The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

What was new in 2015?

Family History

Brecht Family/Silk Weavers named Collier

The Brechts

On a rare visit to London, I met up with a first cousin from Australia and her husband and we went to the Town House in Founier Street, Spitalfileds, a former weaver's house. The owners were in course of putting together a map of Spitalfields showing where residents with Huguenot names lived.

I was interested in Fashion Street where Heinrich/Henry Brecht was a colour manufacturer.

The map has since been published.

The Colliers

I spotted two interesting Huguenot entries:

Isaac Godier who married Eliza Collier, daughter of Charles Collier, Silk Weaver was living in Fashion Street.

Louis Gaucheron was living in Tyssen Steet. Louis' granddaughter Mary Kemp married Thomas Collier.

Robinson/Bradbrook Family Tree

A distant cousin sent me details of the burial of Susannah Amears, who was the Great Grandmother of Fenn Bradbrook:

Susannah Robinson (maiden name Amears) born 26.4.1679 died 1 May 1772 Boxgrove (Chichester District, West Sussex) and was buried at St Mary& St Blaise Church, per

Naval History - Sinking of the SS Britannia

I continue to receive enquiries from descendants of passengers and crew of the SS Btiannia sunk in 1941; some survived but sadly some did not.

Another remarkable enquiry was from the grandson of merchant seaman Donald MacDonald. Not only was Donald one of the survivors who signed my father's menu but stayed in the same hotel in Gibraltar as my father, waiting for a ship to take him back home.

Local History - Find the Lady!

Cornwallis West Family - Visit to Eccleston near Ruthin

On a recent holiday in Chester, we went to the nearby village of Eccleston adjacent to Eaton Hall, the ancestral home of the Grosvenor Family.

Hugh (k/a Bendor, one of the Family's racehorses!) Grosvenor became the 2nd Duke of Westminster in 1899 on the death of his grandfather.

Hugh married a childhood friend from Ruthin (see below), Constance (k/a Shelagh) Cornwallis West, and she bore him a son and heir Edward in 1904  but the child died in 1909 after an appendix operation.

Hugh and Constance lived lavishly in Eaton Hall and Grosvenor House in London entertaining amongst others King Edward and other members of the European Royal Family.

The couple divorced in 1919 and the Duke of Westminster had 3 further wives.

In the booklet: "The Grosvenors of Eaton", that I bought in the village church, there are a number of interesting revelations:

1. Hugh Grosvenor was with the young Winston Churchill - to whom he would later become related - when they were ambushed in a train in South Africa. The two men became lifelong friends.

2. the delay in calling a surgeon to the child Edward caused family recriminations.

3. The Cornwallis West Family sought signifkicant financial aid from the Grosvenors which caused irritation.

4. the Duke of Westminster tired of the social round enjoyed by Constance and they became estranged.


The reason the future 2nd Duke of Westminster had a childhood friendship with Constance was that the Cornwallis Wests lived at nearby Ruthin.

In 1826 Frederick West, Constance's grandfather, built a new castle on the site of the old Ruthin Castle which was virtually flattened in the 17th Century during the Civil War.

In the early 20th Century Ruthin Castle was a fashionable venue for house parties including visits from Edward VII, who had taken a fancy to Constance's mother Patsy Cornwallis West!

Ruthin Castle is now a luxury hotel.


It is interesting to reflect on whether Hugh and Constance might have remained together had the child Edward lived, with the Cornwallis Wests becoming part of the Grosvenor Family Tree.

Colin Bower
27 January 2016

Made with CityDesk