Matthew was born at Barnard's Castle, County Durham on 27 August 1786, to John Brown (1765-1837)and his wife Margaret. John was probably a cabinet maker as this is the trade that young Matthew was to follow and such trades are usually passed from father to son. In later years Matthew would be listed on census forms as an organ and piano forte maker. He probably was engaged in the construction of the wooden cases rather the musical workings of the instruments.
By 1815 we find Matthew is the south of England, living in Dover, Kent, and it is there that he marries his first wife Amelia. The following year Amelia gives birth to their first child, John Alexander (1816-1874). Two more children follow, Matthew (1818-1874) and Eliza in 1821. As we know that Amelia died in 1821 it was probably during childbirth or from complications resulting from it.
|Dover, Kent, circa 1800|
In the 1841 census Matthew is as living at 22 North Street in the village of Lexden near Colchester while his son Matthew, also a cabinet maker (as is his another son, Henry) lives a few doors away with his wife Rebecca. By a strange coincidence, a few days before I decided to write this piece I traveled to Colchester to visit an old friend and we actually found ourselves in Lexden. Although formerly a village, Lexden has now been absorbed by the expansion of Colchester. When I was checking the 1841 census I noted yet another coincidence : North Street (which no longer exists) is listed directly after Mile End Road, Colchester, the very street where my friend lives. As they are both in different parts of town this momentarily confused me - until I realised that the 1841 street listings were alphabetical.
|19th Century Lexden|
The story, of course, does not end there. We now turn to Matthew's son, also called Matthew Hill Brown (Hill had been his grandmother Margaret's maiden name). Like his father and his half brother, Henry, the younger Matthew, is a cabinet maker and, as we saw above, in 1841, he was living with his wife Rebecca in North Street, Lexden. In 1861 his address is given as Golden Acre which was, it seems, adjacent to North Street. Matthew and Rebecca, in 1861, have six children ranging from Henry, aged seventeen, through eleven year old twins Ellen and John, followed by Matthew, Charles and finally eleven month old baby William. By 1881 The family are at 42 West Stockwell Road and the census lists a granddaughter, Lilley, at the address and a lodger, Henry William Burrows - a china and glass packer. Of the Brown children Charles is working as an upholsterer and William as a wine and spirits cellarman. Another of the children is of particular interest. This is Matthew, full name - like his father - Matthew Hill Brown. On 25 July 1877, twenty-four year old Matthew joined the British Army Service Corp.at Westminster, London, He would serve in the army for twelve years, until 25 July 1889. In 1881 he was a corporal stationed in Aldershot. His family's wood working skills were put to good use as he trained as a "Wheeler" or Wheelwright. In 1884, presumably while stationed in Devon, he married Elizabeth Susan Leaman at Stoke Demerel (i.e.Devonport) When he left the army the couple moved to West India Dock, Plumstead where he is listed as a carpenter in 1891. His children are named as Walter, Alice and George. His death is recorded in West Ham in 1937.
|Winsley Square, Colchester, where Matthew Hill Brown|
was living in 1901
In the next part of the story will follow his son Henry Whitmarsh Brown who was Alva and Alvin's great-grandfather.
TO BE CONTINUED.