The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Progress 2023


The actvities in 2023 may be summarised as:

Family History/The Big One!

Seabourn(e)/Saban Family

I listed a number of Census amnd Parish Records entries but did not make any progress in finding the birth/christening of James ( born c 1824 in Great Hallingbury) nor details of his father John.

Holbrook Family

I set up separate files for the Holbrooks and wrote a Big One report.

Somes Family

I made another attempt to find the parents of Mary Somes who married Heinrich/Henry Brecht.

It is possible that she was related to Thames Watermen named Somes and I undertook some research into them.

Brecht One-Name Study

The main activities were:

- being contacted and updated by a cousin
- I indexed& analysed the entries in the 1921 Census
- I found out more about the Barnett-Brechts
- I traced a firm of dyers in Fashion Street in 1817 at the same time as Henry Brecht was a "manufacturer of colours" in the same street.
- as part of a Creative Writing Project (for Silk Weavers named Coliier), I wrote a long-overdue account of a meeting in Spitalfields with a first cousin from Australia in 2015.

This was the first time that we had met and the Project was the highlight of the year.

Silk Weavers named Collier

I found out a lot motre about the Silk Industry in Spitalfields including research into a map of Spitalfields to which the names of apprx 350 Hugueneot residents, including silk weavers, had been added.

Find the Lady!

I hopefully provided easier access to the contents of the Calling Book, by putting each original page with an attempted transcription!

The page numbers were also added to the Names Index.

Sinking of SS Britannia 1941

I listed the various ways in which the number, of people on board and those that survived, had been reported

Family History

Seabourn(e)/Saban Family

I began the year in looking at the Parish Records for the Seabourn(e)/Saban Familty who lived in Little and Great Hallingbury and other small towns on the Essex/Herfordshire border.

The Church of St Giles, Great Hallingbury

I would love to trace the christening of my Great Great Grandfather James Seabourn/Saban. As shown in the following records, there are many name variants:

Birth/Christening c 1824 Great Hallingbury

James Seaborn (father John Seaborn)

Marriage 1847 Hackney

James Seaborn (father John Seaborn)

1851 Census West Ham

James Saban (age 26) born Hallingbury, Essex

1861 Census Plaistow

James Seabourne (36) born Great Hallingbury, Essex

1866 Death Plaistow

James Seabourn (42)

I have listed quite a few Census entries and Parish Records but cannot find James' birth/christening nor his father John in GHreta Hallingbury.

Census entries

Parish Records

Holbrook Family

The Holbrook Family are closely linked to the Seabouurn(e)/Saban Family and any information obtained had been filed withe Seabourn papers.

I decided to set up a separate set of records for the Holbrooks:

- Where they were and what they did
- Parish Records
- Certificates held
- Census Entries

I also found a potential marriage:

Lee, Kent

William Thomas Holbrook
married 3.6.1828
Sarah Maria Bicknell

While I had the papers out, I went on to prepare a report in the Big One! format.

The Big One! - Holbrook Family

Brecht One-Name Study

I received a welcome e-mail from one of my cousins again. He updated me on changes in his branch of the family tree.

Interestingly and unusually, he is related to a Brecht (Walter) who married a Saunders (Ruth), while I am related to the Brecht brother (Arthur) who married the Saunders sister (Ellen), the latter being my grandparents.

Walter Brecht & Ruth Saunders on their Wedding Day

Births, Marriages & Deaths

The details of the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths in Ancestry are still mainly 1837-2005 though I did find an additional death in the name Brecht:

Jan 2007 Register

Elizabeth Clara Brecht
Died in Cstl Pt and Rec
Born 11.1.1913

I found out from another source that she died 4.1.2007 in Canvey Island, Essex.

I did find out a bit more about her:

Jan-March 1913 Register

Elizabeth C. Bruce
born West Ham, Essex

St Matthew, Custom House, Victoria Docks, Essex

Elizabeth Clara Bruce bp 29.1.1913
(Parents Herbert & Clara Bruce)

1939 Register of England and Wales

Elizabeth C. Bruce
Born 11.1.1913
Living with her parents at; 26 Dickens Road, Cann, East Ham
(The name Brecht had been added to denote her married name)

Oct 1947 Register

Elizabeth C. Bruce
Married 1947 West Ham, Essex
William J. Brecht

Somes/Soames Family
- (Another) Search for Mary Somes

In 1808 Mary Somes married Heinrich Brecht at St Mary, Islington (and it appears that her sister Elizabeth Stanley Somes married there in 1809).

The couple ran a colour making business whilst living at Fashion Street, Spitalfields.

Visit with Cousins to see Fashion Street

There had been a christening in another Somes family living in Fashion Street:

Christ Church, Spitalfields

John Somes bp 5.10.1783 (21 days old)
(Parents John Somes Victualler of Fashion Street and Elizabeth).

I have assumed that Mary's parents were William & Elizabeth Somes. William was a Waterman of Lime Yard, Virginia Street, Shadwell approx. 1783-1792.

I recently stumbled across another potential piece of evidence:

St George's Church, Hanover Square

St George Hanover Square

John Somes
married 5.7.1779
Elizabeth Reynolds

Witnesses: Ann Baker and Mary Reynolds.

This appears to link with another marriage:

St George, Hanover Square

William Somes
married 26.5.1782
Elizabeth Stanley

Potentially Mary's parents

This strengthens my previous assumptions:

Previous Search for Mary Somes

It is possible that Mary's grandparents were John & Mary Somes. Also it appears that John was part of a dynasty of Thames Watermen named Somes.

I completed 2 further pieces of research:

Search for John Somes, Thames Waterman

Analysis of the Tombstone above including Watermen named Somes

I also summarised the Somes files to date in an Index.

1921 Census

Brecht One-Name Study

I returned to the 1921 Census and bought trancriptions of the 35 entries in the name Brecht plus 2 families in the name Brett from Find My Past

I listed the entries in alphabetical order and also in families with some conclusions:

1921 Index to Brechts/Bretts

The Final Census (for me!)

The 1931 Census was destroyed in World War II and no Census was taken in 1941. So the next Census to be published will be 1951!!
Fortunately we have the Register of England & Wales in 1939.

It has been quite a journey and there is an interesting pattern to the Brecht Family in the Censuses of 1891-1921 plus the 1939 Register:


I identified 21 Brechts including 4 transcibed as Bright


33 Brechts were identified


67 Brechts were identified (see Note 1)


46 names in all were identified
(35 Brechts and 11 Bretts)


42 names in all were identified
(28 Brechts,  6 Bretts & the names of 8 children had been redacted  - see Note 2)

Throughout there may have been additional entries missed because of transcription errors.
Also in 1921 and 1939 there may have been more people who had adopted the name Brett.

Note 1

The reason for the gradual increase from 1891 to 1901 and 1911 was that George Frederick Brecht & Mary Ann (Walland) Brecht had 9 sons and the numbers in the Censuses increased as the sons got married and had children of their own.

Note 2

The 1939 Register was published well before the normal 100 year secrecy protocol could be observed, so the details of young children were redacted/blocked from viewing.

In cross-referencing from one Census to another, I found some extra entries in the 1939 Register:

Margaret Brecht
29 Victoria Park Road, Hackney

Annie A. Brett living with her mother Anne H. Brecht
at 91 Haig Roiad, West Ham

Henry Brett (Annie's father)
living at 38 Vernon Road, West Ham

Esther H. Brecht
Living in Norfolk

The Barnett-Brechts

I found an additional entry in the 1939 Register of England & Wales.

The entry was in the name George Bretcht rather than Brecht but at some point the name "Barnett-Brecht had been added above:

The Barnett-Brechts

I also traced his wife Ellen at the City of London Hospital.

Julia (Barnet) Brecht

I also returned to the research into Julia Mary Barnett (whose second marriage was to Charles Brecht) as there were many gaps to be resolved.

I found a few extra entries which showed that Julia's mother remarried in 1882, which appears to have had an impact on Julia.

At times she was homeless and commited crimes before marrying Arthur Sheldricks in 1893.

There are still gaps but I now have a fuller picture of her life.

Julia (Barnett) Brecht

Henry Brecht, Colourmaker

In looking at the Silk Weavers named Collier Project, I found 2 more references to Henry Brecht:

History, Directory & Gazetteer of the County of York
Select Lists of the Merchants & Traders of London 1822

Colour Manufacturers

Brecht, Henry
12 Fashion Street, Spitalfields

Johnstone's London Commercial Guide & Street Directory August 31 1817

12 Fashion Street, Henry Brecht, Manufacturer of Colours

There was another interesting entry that year:

61 Fashion Street, Bredell & Chabot, Dyers & Scourers

I wonder if the two businesses traded!

Meeting with First Cousin 2015

Also see Silk Weavers named Collier below.

Our Probus Club set up a new Creative Writing/Reading Group and we were encouraged to bring a piece of writing, around the word "cafe", to the first meeting.

It reminded me of a memorable meeting with my first cousin from Australia and our visit to the Town House in Spitalfields.

I found that I had not written up an account of the meeting nor coulkd I find the photos I took.

On surprisingly finding the photos, I duly wrote a description of the visit but this generated a chain of events:

Creative Writing Project

Meeting with Cousin 2015

The Project and the research into the Huguenot Residents/Silk Weavers in Spitalfields were the highlight of the year.

Silk Weavers named Collier

Robert Collier

In 2020, I stumbled across a Robert Collier, who was part of a co-partnership with James Vavasseur & others.

In trying to find out more, I came across articles which name some of the other manufacturers, that individual families with their home looms supplied.

Search for Robert Collier

Between them, the articles also give a picture of the history and structure of the silk industry.

The Town House, Fournier Street

Our Probus Club has set up a new Creative Writing/Reading Group and we were encouraged to bring a piece of writing, around the word "cafe", to the first meeting.

It reminded me of a memorable visit that I made to the Town House in Spitalfields.

I duly wrote a description of the visit but this generated a chain of events:

Creative Writing Project

Index to research undertaken

Find the Lady!

The Crozier/Burrard Family

In June, the New Milton Advertiser & Lymington Times reported on a visit to Lymington by descendants of the Crozier/Burrard Family:

The Croziers

Calling Book Contents

I took the opportunity to:

1. add a copy of each page of the Calling Book with a transcription underneath:

Calling Book Pages

2. add the page numbers to the Names Index:

Calling Book Names Index

It was a bigger job than it sounds!

It reminded me of how difficult it was to read the Lady's writing.

Sinking of the SS Britannia 1941

I was working on the Project when I came across an article in a database/website that I didn't remember: (Events/ww2 Timeline/25 March 1941):

World War Database 25 March 1941

This artcle reminded me of the various attempts at publishing how many crew and passengers were on the Britannia and how many survived.

The database is in agreement with some other sources of those on board:

203 Crew
281 Passengers
484 Total on board

but not 255 lost.

The War Record Card I saw at London's Guildhall gave the following breakdown:

203 Crew (Missing 122 - 118 lost)
281 Passengers (Missing 127 - 123 lost)
484 Total (Missing 249)

giving survivors as 235

Wikipedia uses 484 and 249. uses these figures and 122 and 127.

Collier Family

I was provided with a little more information on Dennis Collier, one of Chris' Cousins.

Colin Bower
1 January 2024

Made with CityDesk