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Not Brentford

Brentford Families - Sims

Starting point - an emigrating family

My name is Bill Goodall from Napier New Zealand, I came across your wonderful web site while researching my great grandfather Walter William Sims.

He may also be known as William Walter Sims.I know the family came from Middlesex as indicated on their passenger list but I have a reference in a notebook that reads "Sims Walter William born 13-4-1869.Son of Robert Sims and Ann BURROWS at Brentford".

I have no idea if the family lived in Brentford or travelled there for the birth. Robert Sims was born c1849 and Ann was born c1851. The family (2 adults & 6 children ) sailed from Plymouth 24-3-1883 on the British Queen. A 7th child was born 8 days out of Wellington NZ.

Robert listed his occupation as a Skin dresser and his eldest son Robert jnr aged 15 is listed as a Butcher. I have tried to find them via the internet thru census lists and parish records without any luck. In fact I haven't had much luck with records here in NZ either. I would be ever so greatful if you could throw any light on the Brentford connection.


Research findings

A couple of questions: was the notebook recording the Walter William Sims birth something handed down in the family from the 19th century or is it the result of someone researching the family more recently?

There is a birth registration:
Sims Walter William Brentford Registration District Volume 3a page 40 in the April/June quarter 1869 (FreeBMD)
which fits the birth date you have.

If you are confident the notebook birth entry relates to your family then it is probably worth getting the birth certificate to confirm Ann's maiden name and Robert senior's occupation. I was unable to find a marriage of Robert to Ann using FreeBMD.

Have you the names of the other children who emigrated apart from Robert, the eldest? In theory they should help locate the family in the 1881 census before they left and the birthplaces of the children may show where the family lived at various points.

There is a possible match for Robert and Ann in the 1871 census at 16 George Street, Kensington (about 5 miles east of Brentford, near central London) but the parents are older than expected:

  • Robert Sims, 30, car man, bn Uxbridge
  • Ann Sims, wife, 25, bn Uxbridge
  • Robert J Sims, 4, bn Amersham
  • William Sims, 2, bn Brentford

A carman drove a horse and cart carrying goods.

There are a couple of possible Robert Sims born Uxbridge in the 1851 census.


Bill replied:

That birth Registration certainly fits. Ann's maiden name was Burrows. The names and ages of their children are as follows. The ages are as per the 1883 passenger list:
  • Robert 15
  • William Walter 13
  • Thomas 8
  • Jane 6
  • Frederick 4
  • Elizabeth 1
  • Ann 8 days

The family came out as Government Immigrants, which means they were assisted immigrants. Ages and dates of birth were often altered to suit the occasion.

I have found a connection to Robert jnr who was still practising as a butcher in 1900, and to Elizabeth Louise Sims born Brentford 1882 and died here in Napier 1969. She married twice, firstly in 1897 and then 1925. Both her husbands were brothers. I have also found a reference to a Frederick John Sims for 1902. I'm having to fly blind on their names as I only have their first names to go by.

A bit more research

Looks like you have got quite a challenge.

If the notebook is modern maybe someone has done some research, found the birth registration and possibly bought the birth certificate, showing the birth date and mother's maiden name. Does it prove that William Walter and Walter William are the same person and part of your family? I am not sure. Have you got any other evidence that Ann's maiden name was Burrows and that Walter was born in Brentford? The father's occupation would also be included on the birth certificate.

You mention Elizabeth Louise was born in Brentford 1882, was this from the passenger list or a later census? It would be useful to have details of the other children's birthplaces if they are included on the passenger list.

What ages did Robert and Ann give when they emigrated?

The main sources that should be helpful are FreeBMD (for Robert's marriage and birth registration of the children) and the 1881 census, which should include the family before they left England. I have not been able to find the family in the 1881 census, suggesting that the surname was not correctly entered or transcribed, or that the family was missed. I checked for Elizabeth's birth registration in Brentford Registration District around 1882, but without success. I tried for some of the other children, Thomas, Jane, Frederick - but without success. However Sims is quite a common surname.

The family I found in 1871 (see above, Kensington) I have been unable to find in 1881, which does not prove it is your family, but if not suggests they also disappeared before 1881 - which seems a little unlikely. However Robert's occupation is different to that when he emigrated. Brentford had a parchment works and tannery so there were opportunities for a skin dresser to work there, but if so I would expect him to appear in the 1881 census.

Uxbridge, the birthplace of both the parents in 1871 census entry, is 7-8 miles from Brentford. The Grand Union Canal links them as well as roads.

At the end is a list of Sims/Simms births registered at Brentford between 1866 and 1882 - I also checked SIMES, SYMS and SYMMS - there were a few entries but they did not appear to match your family names.

Have you located the death registrations of Robert and Ann and if so did these provide any more details of their birth origins/dates?

Apologies for all the questions, but it does look a tricky one to tackle, so you will need all the evidence you can muster.


Bill replied:

This week I have managed to get Walter William Sim's Death cert. and Elizabeth Louise's Death cert. as well as Walters Marriage cert.

I haven't managed to find Robert Sims senior or Ann Sims deaths anywhere yet but am still looking. Roberts full name appears to be Robert Joseph Sims, his son has the same name. Ann's name was Ann Maria Burrows although on one document it is spelt Burroughs.

I have Elizabeth as being born in Brentford (from her Husbands family tree ) on her death cert. she was born in "Dephford", Kent, I presume that should read Deptford.

On Walter's Marriage cert his mother is known as Annie Sims nee Burrows. Roberts occupations have been listed as skin dresser, labourer and engineer, in the colonies we are very adaptable!

Roberts age on the passenger list was 34 and Ann's was 32 but these were often created to fit in with the assisted immigration requirements. It does tend to make things more difficult at our end doing research.

The family you found in the 1881 census looks to be the right one,with Robert jnr having the middle name Joseph. I hope you are able to do something with this information.


A bit more research

Good to see you are making progress on a family that may have had to choose carefully how they presented themselves when it came to official records.

Having Robert's middle name of Joseph made it possible to search for all Robert Joseph birth registrations in 1866 -1867 inclusive (Robert J was 4 in the 1871 census, birthplace Amersham, Buckinghamshire).

The following entry was the best match:
Births Jun 1867
** Burrows Robert Joseph Amersham Registration Disctrict 3a 417

Strangely there were NO Robert Joseph births at all in 1866 (but around 50 in 1867) even though the FreeBMD database is near completion for both years. It is possible the above birth is relevant and Robert senior and Ann were not married at the time.

I re-checked for a marriage between June 1867 and the birth of Walter William, who was registered as a Sims in Brentford Jun 1869 but without success. (The only Robert Joseph marriage I found happened to be in Brentford, but was to a Mary Ann ELMS and they had children baptised in Brentford until 1885).

I re-checked for daughter Elizabeth's birth and the best matches in Brentford and Greenwich (which includes Deptford) were:
Births Sep 1881
Sims Julia Elizabeth Brentford 3a 103 (not expecting forename Julia)
** Sims Elizabeth Louisa Greenwich 1d 983 (looks more promising)

Then tried Frederick John (1878-1879 inclusive) birth registrations (whole of England and Wales) - there are lots, best matches:
Births Sep 1878
BURROWS Frederick John Islington 1b 295 (about 8 miles from Brentford)

Births Mar 1879
** Sims Frederick John Greenwich 1d 1001 (includes Deptford)

Births Sep 1879
Burroughs Frederick John Grantham 7a 483 (long way away)
Simm Frederick John Newcastle T. 10b 2 (long way away)

The certificates marked ** are potentially useful - if they are for your family then you will have addresses at points prior to their emigration, more information about Robert's occupation and hopefully they will confirm Ann Burrows as mother. Or they may not be your family's, which will deepen the mystery of where Robert and Ann hid themselves for the period between 1871 and their departure.

I made a few more attempts to locate the family in the 1881 census but without success. What a puzzler. If you are able to find any more information please let me know, am happy to help further but stumped at present.


Updates from Bill 2015,

We had come to a brickwall with Robert and Annie after they arrived in NZ in 1883 with neither deaths or burials recorded. They left Wellington a couple of years after arrival and headed here to my home town, Napier.

As they had never married there was no divorce and both married here, Robert to Rosanna Aplin in 1891 and Annie in 1888, to a local maori, KIng Karaitiana, but they angloised his name to Ring Cryton. They had a daughter, Amy Blanche Cryton born 4 months before their marriage. Annie died in 1893 and Robert Sims died in 1904 in Napier.

We know which cemetery Robert is in, (about 3kms from where I live) but there is no record of which plot he is in. Ann Burrows/ Sims/ Cryton is supposedly buried in Hastings cemetery, about 18kms from me, but they have no record of her. Her death certificate says she was buried by a Presbyterian minister in Hastings cemetery. We are now trying to get more info from the old church records, not very promising yet.


Sims births registered in Brentford, 1866 - 1882 inclusive from FreeBMD

Mar 1866
Amy K E
Jun 1866
Mar 1867
Thomas Malcolm
Thomas Malcomb
Dec 1867
Louisa Mary A
Mar 1868
Jun 1868
Sep 1868
Edwin Herbert
Mar 1869
Jun 1869
Walter William
Dec 1869
Albert Henry
Mar 1870
George William
Jun 1871
Maria Romsey
Sep 1871
Dec 1871
Sep 1872
Eleanor Sophia
Mar 1873
Bessie Snowdrop
Jun 1873
Frederick Albert
Sep 1873
Mar 1874
Sep 1874
Mar 1875
Jun 1876
Angus Montague
Dec 1876
Henry Rumsey
Mar 1877
Frances Eliza
Julia Frances
Jun 1877
Percy John
Sep 1877
Jesse Dalton
Dec 1877
James Arthur
Jun 1878
Mar 1879
Lucy Rosetta
Jun 1879
Arthur James
Sep 1879
Mar 1880
Florence Emily
Sep 1880
Edith Annie
Emily Harriet
Florence Isabel
Sep 1881
Henry James
Julia Elizabeth
Nelson Hubert
Mar 1882
William Richard
Sep 1882
Eric Dinmore
Dec 1882
Alfred William


Page published October 2010