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Brentford Families - Ricks

Angela wrote in 2016 with information about the Ricks family.

1911 Census

The 1911 census for 15 Boars Head Yard shows:

  • James Ricks, head, 40, waterman employed by Emanuel Smith, Tug & Barge Owners, born St Giles Oxfordshire
  • Mary Ricks, wife, 42, Wilton near Northampton
  • Emma Ricks, dau, 19, market gardener employed by Mr Moore, market garden merchant, Brentford
  • Ruth Ricks, dau, 15, packer at jam factory, Brentford
  • Vincent Ricks, son, 11, Southall
  • Fanny Ricks, dau, 9, Anfield
  • Ethel Ricks, dau, 6, Southall
  • Lily Ricks, dau, 2, Brentford
  • James Ricks, son, 3 weeks, Brentford

The census shows James and Mary had been married 20 years in 1911 and had 7 children, all surviving. Their home had 4 rooms.


15 Boars Head Yard was on the west side of the Yard and near the river, I have a plan from the 1909/10 valuation showing a block of 5 properties, no 15 was next to the property nearest the river and looks L-shaped. Very handy for a waterman. If you look at the occupations page you will find some notes about watermen.

I think the 4 room description from 1911 census suggests it would be a 2 up 2 down property with a washhouse at the back.


Janet McNamara advised about marrying outside the bargee community:

'Canal people were know as water gypsies and not popular in the settled communities like the travellers who went around the roads in colourful caravans.

It was probably prejudice but these things go through generations. They just were not trusted as being honest but were very loyal to their own communities. The 20th century had the No Blacks/No Irish/No Asian periods. People often fear what they don't know or understand so shut it out.

From the wife's side it must have been quite a culture shock. She might not have been accepted by the land community, she possibly found it hard living in the same place all the time and her own family might have made things difficult for her too.'

Angela, 2016

Thanks to Angela who wrote in July 2016 with information about the previous generation of this family:
James Ricks, whose daughter Emma Mary was baptised in Brentford in 1894, was the son of Nathaniel Ricks and Fanny Humphries. In 1891, Nathaniel and Fanny were "parked up" in Odd Rode, Cheshire. Fanny was a widow when she married Nathaniel and James was their only child.

The 1881 census shows the family on the Mary Ann at Kingswinford (historically in Staffordshire), Stourbridge, Worcestershire

  • Nathaniel Ricks, married, 41, boatman
  • Fanny Ricks, married 42
  • John Seamore, 16
  • Henry Seamore, 13
  • James Ricks, 9
all were born in Oxford and Nathaniel Ricks signed the census form.

In 1871, she and her first husband, John Seymour are parked up at Napton, Warwickshire with many other members of the Humphries clan. John Seymour transported coal from the Moira Colliery in Leicestershire.

Angela's Spellweaver website has many documents about canal boat people that give insights into their lives.


The site has several references to Emanuel Smith (or Emmanuel Smith) - try a search on the home page.


Page published October 2011; updated April 2021