The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Brecht One-Name Study


My mother was Doris Ivy Brecht and we have been researching the Brecht Family Tree for many years.

As shown in the following notes, and the attached Indication of Population Distribution:

Indication of Population Distibution

Brecht is a comparatively rare name in Britain. Nearly all people named Brecht in England are descended from George Frederick Brecht:

George Frederick Brecht

Main sources of information

Early Records

Pallot Index

Marriage of Heinrich Brecht and Mary Somes at St Mary's, Islington in 1808 (Information checked at London Metropolitan Archives)


9 entries including:Christening of Heinrich and Mary Brecht's daughter Maria Catran Brecht at Christ Church, Spitalfields in 1812 and her burial in 1814.

London Metropolitan Archives

Burial of daughter Charlotte Brecht, Fashion Street at Christ Church, Spitalfields in 1819 (Age 9)
Burial of daughter Elisabeth Catharine Brecht, Fashion Street at Christ Church, Spitalfields in 1821 (age 5)

Photograph of the magnificent church, Christ Church, Spitalfields, which my wife took in 2001.

Web-sites of Family Search (New) and Find My Past

Burial of Mary Brecht (age 35) Henry's wife at Christ Church, Spitalfields 3.1.1819

London Directories

Kent's Original London Directory 1823

Brecht H manuf,of painting colours
12-Fashion-str. Sptalfi.

London Metropolitan Archives

Burial of Eleanor Brecht, Fashion Street at Christ Church, Spitalfields in 1824 (age 17 months)

Trade Directories

Henry Brecht, Colour Manufacturer (Pigot's 1824, Fashion Street, Spitalfields and Kelly's 1836, Bethnal Green)

London Metropolitan Archives

Marriage of Henry Frederick Ludewig Brecht, widower and Harriet Piper at St George in the East in 1837

Photograph of the equally magnificent church, St George in the East, which I took in the 1980s

Death of Henry Brecht in Bethnal Green and Burial at Christ Church, Spitalfields in 1838
Grant of administration of the assets of Frederick Ludewig Brecht to Harriet Brecht in 1838

Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths

From 1837 (when registration began) to 1999 there have been:

A list of these entries is attached:

List of Brecht Births, Marriages and Deaths

A number of certificates have been obtained including:

A list of certificates held is attached:

List of Certificates Held


Census Records Held

Correspondence with cousins

Invaluable information (including photos) has been obtained from two first cousains, two descendants of Walter Frederick Brecht and one descendant of his brother Albert Brecht. At that time, none of these descendants/cousins knew of each other's existence or my mother's.

Summary of Findings

Beliefs / Myths


It was thought that the family name was Van or Von Brecht and the family emigrated to England from Belgium where there IS a village named Brecht.

Years later and extraordinarily, we were given details of ancestors in Germany:

Progress Report 2011

Progress Report 2014

The House in Richmond

Naval Interests/Connections

Three of the cousins had heard of these beliefs/myths and more!

Name Variants

To avoid anti-German sentiments in the build up to World War I, some members of the Brecht family adopted the name Brett though some used the name Brecht for legal purposes.

In U.S.A. there is a Name Variant BRIGHT and there is an active message board for the Brecht and Bright names.

Roots of the Brechts and Brights in the USA

Pastor Ernst Brecht

One interesting and enjoyable diversion was the discovery of a marriage between Ernst Wilhelm Brecht and Charlotte Gruner (address given as Buckingham Palace!) in London in 1850.

Ernst Brecht became the first Pastor at the Ango-German Church in Hull and later the Pastor in Engelbostel near his home town of Hannover.

Charlotte Gruner from Coburg became one of the governesses to Queen Victoria's children.

The Royal Archives at Windsor sent letters on my behalf to descendants in Germany and USA, and there was a fascinating exchange of information.

Details of the Pastor's Family Tree is attached:

Pastor Ernst Brecht's Family Tree- with ancestors and descendants in Germany and USA.

Progress Made in 2004

I received a fantastic letter from, and met, a first cousin who was born in South Africa and unbeknown to my family had found work in England:

Progress Report for 2004

Progress Made in 2005

I proved for the first time that Heinrich Brecht and Henry Brecht were one and the same.

I obtained information about the Brechts and Brights in the USA:

Progress Report 2005

Progress Made in 2006

My cousin produced a wonderful photo of my mother as a young girl,with her parents and sisters taken at Shoeburyness:

Progress Report 2006

Progress Made in 2007

One of the best years so far including tracing the burial of Henry Brecht in 1838 (age 54).

Progress Report 2007

Progress Made in 2008

A wonderful year for contact with cousins. Found Henry Brecht's death certificate indexed as Breacht!

Progress Report 2008

Progress Made in 2009

Memorable year for meeting cousins and visiting Fashion Street, Christ Church, Spitalfields and St Mary's, Islington.

Progress Report 2009

Progress Made in 2010

After some great years, this was a quieter one as I started to work on the Big One! project.

Progress Made in 2011

Tantalisingly, I became close to solving he mystery of which of Henry's children were Mary's and which Harriet's when I found Mary Brecht's burial in 1819:

Another big leap forward came from Germany. A solicitor in Germany had put an entry in the Sugar Bakers Database:

for Jurgen Christoph Brecht who appeared to be the Uncle & Godfather of Heinrich/Henry Brecht born in Germany in 1784.

Progress Report 2011

Progress Made in 2012

I summarised the few entries for the name Brceht in the Electoral Rolls 1901-1961 and did some research into the name Somes.

Progress Report 2012

Progress Made in 2014

We were able to build on the information on the German Family Tree discovered in 2011. One of my cousins found research undertaken by Edgar Culp that took us back to Andeas Brecht born in 1597.

Progress Report 2014

Progress Made in 2015

I was delighted to meet up with a first cousin from Australia and her husband, and take them on a tour of the City and East London. Unfortunately, I have mislaid the photos I took:

Progress Report 2015

Progress Made in 2016

There was detailed research undertaken:
- into the Barnett Brechts (see Progress 2020)
- resulting in finding entries in the names Braesht and Bracht:

Progress Report 2016

Progress Made in 2017

Quite a bust year and made progress in a detailed way including:
- finding a Census entry in the name of Bright
- searching Ancestry for ant entry under the name Brecht

Progress Report 2017

Progress Made in 2018

The main event was the publication of the 1939 Register of England and Wales.

I received, and found out myself, a lot more information about the notorious George Henry Brett (born Brecht) who was jailed in Australia for attempted murder and was later murdered himself:

Progress Report 2018

Progress Made in 2019

I had a closer look at the 1939 Register and Ancestry published entries in the Probate Registers 1858-1995:

Progress Report 2019

Progress Made in 2020

A quiet year but I did learn more about the Barnett Brechts:

Progress Report 2020

Things we wish we knew

There are still areas of research to develop and mysteries to solve, which are summarised in the attachment:

Things we wish we knew

Colin Bower
8 March 2021

Links to:
Brecht One Name Study - Main Index:

Main Index

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