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Brentford Families - Dobson

John Bayliss wrote in June 2016 regarding the details on this website for 54 High Street, on the corner of Cage (later Ferry) Square:
Thomas Dobson is listed here as a labourer aged 19 in 1841; a fishmonger aged 36 in 1851; a fishmonger aged 50 in 1861.. He wrote 'Implausible as it seems ... I do not believe that Thomas the labourer aged 19 was the same Thomas as the fishmonger on the 1851 & 1861 censuses'.

His argument follows and describes two families - the first of labourers, the second of fishmongers.

Dobson family, labourers

The 1841 census entry shows Thomas, a labourer, lived in a household headed by Samuel Wood, linen draper, and his surname was recorded as Dobson. He was born outside Middlesex. The previous entry, Cage Square and possibly adjoining the Wood's home, was a household of two: Isaac Dobson, 30, labourer and Elizabeth age 25. Isaac was born outside Middlesex, Elizabeth was Middlesex-born.

Marriage Register info indicates that Thomas married Elizabeth Dobson (nee Higgins) in 1849 at St. Mary's, Ealing:
Marriage 11 Feb 1849, after Banns, of Thomas Dobson, Bachelor (Labourer) & Elizabeth Dobson (Widow), both of Full Age & of Old Brentford. Fathers = John Dobson (Labourer) & John Higgins (Sawyer).
Witnesses = Charles & Sarah Higgins.
This followed the burial 6 Nov 1842 in St Lawrence, New Brentford of Isaac Dobson, aged 37 of New Brentford [1805-1842].

Elizabeth Higgins, spinster had married Isaac Doberson 20 Sep 1830 in the Parish of Hanwell.

Thomas & Elizabeth then reside in 1851 at The Ham, New Brentford: Age: 30; Head; Married; Barge Carter; born Chieveley, Berks. [Wife Elizabeth 34, Pottle Basket Maker, born Old Brentford, Middx].
In 1861 they are at Brentford End, Isleworth Thomas Age: 40; Head; Married; Carter; born Berkshire. [wife Elizabeth 36, born Old Brentford, Middx].

Apr 1871 they are at 15 Sion Row, Brentford End, Isleworth, Middlesex, England. Thomas Dobson Age: 50; Head; Married; Labourer; born Baugust, Hants; wife Elizabeth 50, born Brentford, Midx. John added that Baughurst does actually fit with Chieveley as siblings were born there but family moved to Chieveley, Berks, 12 miles away. [The 1861 and 1871 censuses show some continuity in neighbours' names suggesting Thomas & Elizabeth were in the same property in both censuses]

Elizabeth has however hidden her true age from her second husband as she was born 1812, baptised St. Mary's, Ealing 1812. Higgins, Elizabeth, D. of John & Sarah. Baptized Feby 9; Born Jany 14 1812.
[there was another Elizabeth Higgins baptised in the Parish of Ealing in the County of Middlesex. Feby 18th 1821 Elizabeth, daughter of John (a Labourer) & Hannah Higgins of Old Brentford. Born Jany 19th. However she died 1840: Elizabeth Higgins Burial Age: 22 Estimated birth year: abt 1818 Burial Date: 19 Jan 1840 Burial Place: St George, Old Brentford, Middlesex. Abode: Hammersmith].

Elizabeth Dobson died 1879 & was buried in St. Mary the Virgin, Twickenham10 Feb 1879 - Elizabeth Dobson of Balmain's Buildings [Holly Road], aged 62. Her husband Thomas returns to birthplace Hermitage/Chieveley Berkshire working as a Baker with his widowed sister [a Baker/Grocer/ Shopkeeper] and dies 10 Jan 1915 aged 93.

This line forms part of John's family and details of Thomas Dobson can be viewed here or, if you have a subscription, on the ancestry website.

John noted that, with the exception of Isaac's marriage certificate, the surname is consistently Dobson in census & BMD entries.

Next John looked at the fishmongering Dobsons who lived at the 54 High Street address in the 1851 and 1861 censuses:


Dobson family, fishmongers

On the 1851 census Thomas Dobison, Fishmonger at High Street, born Thames [Thame] Oxon is 36 with a wife Eliza aged 28 (born Brentford) & a daughter Sarah 18, also born Thames, Oxon (Sarah has to be from a previous marriage/partner as Eliza is too young to be mother).
FreeBMD Marriage Index, Apr-Jun 1842, Registration district: Brentford Vol 3, Page 20:
Eliza Bright / Thomas Dobinson [others couples also listed same batch]
(This marriage cannot be found on the Ancestry London Archive Parish images but there appear to be gaps in Hanwell & St George old Brentford for 1842).
And sure enough we also have a death registration
Deaths Oct-Dec 1841 DOBINSON Ann, Registration district Brentford, Vol 3, Page 11
But again no Parish Death Record, however surprisingly she may have been buried back at Thame, Oxfordshire as seems very co-incidental to also have this registration.
Ann Dobinson Deaths Oct-Dec 1841 Thame, Oxfordshire

Searches for Thomas in the 1841 census found a Thomas Dobbinson aged 25, a Hawker at Brentford End, Isleworth. With him is [likely wife] Ann aged 30 and daughter Sarah aged 9.

John located several newspaper articles relating to this family: the first, from the Windsor and Eton Express, 5 October 1844, recorded that 'Thomas Dobinson, who attends the [Windsor] fish market, was brought up charged with a violent assault on the police', following an altercation with his wife, near the market house steps, Windsor. He was fined 40 shillings and costs of 7s 6d.
Six years later Thomas Dobinson appeared at the Windsor Court in January 1850, charged with being tipsy and causing a disturbance; on this occasion he was discharged with a caution.
It seems likely this is the Thomas Dobinson of Brentford as on 29 November 1862 the Windsor and Eton Express reported a case of a Windsor beer-house keeper charged with having his beerhouse open at 11.10am and noted 'there were also in the tap room Treadaway and Dobinson, fishmongers from Brentford'.
These articles show how newspaper articles can help 'add flesh to the bones' of a family tree; see more articles relating to Brentford fishmongers.

Returning to census evidence, in 1861 Thomas Dobson, Fishmonger resides The Square/High Street, born Tame Oxon aged 50 with 2nd wife Eliza aged 39 (born Brentford).

In 28 May 1865 there is a burial in the new burial Ground in the Parish of Ealing of Eliza Dobson aged 46 of Old Brentford. The West London Observer of 3 June reported that Eliza Dobson was 44 years and her husband Thomas a fishmonger residing at Old Brentford. A post mortem took place and it was concluded she died from heart disease.

Then the Fishmonger remarries (again 3rd wife) June 14th 1869 in St. Paul's, Old Brentford:
Thomas Dobinson aged 58, Widower, Fishmonger of St Paul Old Brentford; father William Dobinson basket maker
+ Elizabeth Lovegrove aged 42, Widow of St. Paul Old Brentford, father = Michael Gunn labourer.

I did look for a Gunn to Lovegrove marriage and didn't find one.

I agree with John's conclusions: the Thomas, labourer, 19 was a different person to the fishmonger of the same name who lived in the same property - or very nearby - in 1851 and 1861. Looking at the third marriage of the fishmonger (above) two witnesses were named: Martha Bates and Joseph Finney. The Bates family included fishmongers and earlier generations came from Thame, Oxfordshire - the same place as Thomas Dobson, fishmonger. See Bates family tree, prepared by Elizabeth Thormod, for more detail. The marriage witness may be Martha Bates, nee Dobbison, who married Henry Bates in the 1820s.
John adds 'I see that George Bates was described as a Hawker 1851 & fishmonger 1861 like Thomas 1841 to 51, progression from street market to more formal shop?'.
The second witness, Joseph Finney, was recorded in the 1861 census as a dock labourer, age 46, born Old Brentford; he lived next door to Henry Bates and family in Cannon Alley, off the High Street. Henry was a bricklayers labourer, age 25, born Thame. His daughter Martha was 3, probably named after the previous generation. Joseph Finney married Hannah Millard at St Mary Ealing on 5 January 1845; both were of Old Brentford; his father, Joseph, was a fishmonger.

Like John my searches for the Gunn/Lovegrove marriage were unsuccessful, but the following Rootschat census reference from 1851 suggests Elizabeth Lovegrove, nee Gunn, was originally married to Thomas Lovegrove:
HO107/1698 Folio 602b
Village of Whitton, Parish of Twickenham
Thomas, Head, Married, 40, Labourer, b Isleworth, Middlesex
Elizabeth, Wife, 26, b Isleworth, Middlesex
George, Son, 10, At Home, b Isleworth, Middlesex
Wiliam, Son, 7, At Home, b Isleworth, Middlesex
Elizabeth, Dau, 3, At Home, b Isleworth, Middlesex
Allen, Son, 1, At Home, b Isleworth, Middlesex

At this point the two families, one of labourers, the other of fishmongers, have been documented. John then researched an earlier generation of his family, the labourers:


The familial link in the family of labourers?

Having gone back a generation more I have been surprised that there is circumstantial evidence that Isaac Dobson, the deceased husband of Elizabeth Higgins, was Thomas's UNCLE!
Isaac was baptised 1805 in Hampstead Norris, Berkshire, same place as nephew Thomas and the burial in 6 Nov 1842 in St Lawrence, New Brentford of Isaac Dobson, aged 37 of New Brentford [1805-1842] matches.

The GRO Death Registration was not in Brentford:
Isaac Dobson
Registration Year: 1842
Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec
Registration district: St George Hanover Square

There are no Death registrations for other Isaac Dobsons in London/Middlesex, indeed only 7 Isaac Dobsons (+similar & soundex surname) 1837-1915 and the other 6 can be eliminated by fact that death age is given and for the 3 of unknown age 1840s-50's one is in Berkshire in 1844 and the Berkshire parish burial records shows that to be an Isaac aged 5. The other 2 in London can be excluded by reference to the 1851 census and finding the corresponding guys nearby.

So why buried in Brentford & GRO registered in Westminster? Well his brother lived there.
(With the caveat that of course we have no GRO deaths prior to 1837, not all Berkshire Parish records are online (but his home & nearby Parish are) not all London Parish records are online and he could have Emigrated.)

If we accept that there is a possibility that Thomas married his Uncle's wife (a non blood relation) that was not officially permissible. An 1839 version of the Book of Common Prayer confirmed that the C15-16 rules were unchanged and it was forbidden to marry
Rule 6 Father's Brother's Wife or
Rule 29 Husband's Brother's son.
Genetic genealogy website indicates it was the 1931 Marriage Act that allowed such a marriage provided the relevant party had died - in this instance Isaac Dobson.

Some conclusions

  • Surname spelling varied, particularly in the fishmonger family: Dobson, Dobison, Doberson, Dobbinsion and Dobinson
  • Having the same name and living in the same place 10 years later does not mean this is the same individual
  • Occupations may help differentiate family lines
  • A person's death may be registered outside their home district, for example if they stay with a relative during a final illness
  • Census ages can be inaccurate - the head of household may not know their partner's true age; their partner may have lied about their age; a person may not know their exact age
  • There are benefits in researching those with similar names who reside in the same place as your line - they may even turn out to be related; however such research can be hard work
  • Be prepared to be surprised!

Page published July 2016