10 December 2007

John James Britton’s Family

John James Britton was born in Handsworth in 1832. He died in Halford, Warwickshire, in 1913.

Catherine Erskine Britton was John James’s first wife, born in Birmingham in 1839 and the daughter of James Smith (a factor) and Elizabeth Smith (née Nimmo). John James and Catherine were married in 1858 in Handsworth. She died at Cookham in 1879.

John James's and Catherine’s children:

Richard Waddams Nimmo Britton, born Gravelly Hill, Erdington 1859, died Bournemouth 1894

Ethel Alice Britton, born Accrington, Lancs, c.1860

Lilian E. C. Britton, born Petersfield, Hampshire, c.1863

Arthur Henry Britton, born Newcastle on Tyne, c.1864

Maud May Britton (née Coward) was John James’s second wife, born in Huddersfield (date unknown) and the daughter of James Eyres Coward (a surgeon) and Elizabeth D. Coward. John James and May were married in Huddersfield in 1882. She died in 1956.

John James’s and Maud May’s children:

Herbert Eyres Britton, born Alcester, 1883

Ruth Eliza M. Britton, born Alcester, c.1885

Reginald Ernest James Britton, born Alcester, c.1888

Elizabeth Hilda D. Britton, born Alcester, Warwickshire, c.1889.

Edith L. Britton, born Halford, c.1896.

Richard married Irza Vivian Geraldine Thomas in Birmingham in 1885. They had four children: Kathleen Ethel Ivy Britton, born in Astwood Bank in 1886; Lionel Erskine Nimmo Britton, born in Astwood Bank in 1887; Reginald Percy Leopold Britton, born in Levallois–Perret, France, in 1989; and Cyril Lancelot Douglas Britton, born 1891 in Christchurch.

Lilian married Frank G. Allen, a dental surgeon in Cheltenham. In 1901 they had one child, Lorna C. P. Allen, aged 15.

Ethel married Thomas Perkins, a clerk in holy orders, in Belgrave, Leicester, in 1891.

Arthur Henry became the rector of Frodesley in Shropshire and married Haidee (maiden name unknown). In 1901 they had a daughter, Haidee C. E. Britton, aged 9, and a son, Arthur G. H. Britton, aged 7.

As ever, any further information regarding any of these people is most welcome.


Snatch51 said...

John James Britton appears to have been the child of James Britton, a leathercutter, and Ruth Catherine Britton.
However, the census record of 1851 poses a problem.
Here he is described as being born in Sheffield, Yorkshire.
Could this have been true? If so, he may not have been James Britton's son, but might for example have been a child of Ruth Catherine's by an earlier marriage. He could even have been adopted of course.
There is no record of other children, but they may have grown up and moved away from home before any of the available censuses were taken. James was about 43 when John James was born, and Ruth 33.
What is certain is that they made sure he had a good education, and he was no narrow swot either: His son, Herbert Eyres Britton, testifies to him being unfailingly good company, and he managed to marry two wives, one of whom being 25 years his junior, and to produce at least nine children.
The question is, were any of them Brittons?

Dr Tony Shaw said...

But John James's marriage certificate, his son Herbert Eyres's write-up of his father in the Staffordshire poets book, and a number of other sources say he was born in Handsworth. Could it just be that the enumerator, who lists Ruth Catherine as being born in Handsworth, just transposed the two places in error? Maybe he'd visited the local beerhouse shortly before, or perhaps was just suffering from the effects of such a visit the night before?

Snatch51 said...

Herbert Eyres Britton died at Ashby-de-la-Zouch on Christmas Eve, (Dec 24th) 1940.
Ruth E M Britton died a spinster in Birmingham in May 1925.
Reginald Ernest James Britton, known as Uncle Rex), signed up for the First World War in Halifax, Novia Scotia, in 1914. Later he became a canon in Canada.
Elizabeth Hilda Dorothy seems to have been later known as Dorothy.
She met a South African and went to live on an orange farm in SA. His name was Densian-Viner, Dentian-Vinor (or some variation of these spellings).
Edith Leslie Britton died unmarried in Ramsgate on 21st July 1961. She spent many years looking after her mother, Maud, who in turn asked her grandson Peter George Milner Britton to look after Leslie, which he did.
Leslie was a beloved aunt and great-aunt and described her grandfather James Britton as "a gentlman ironmonger".

Snatch51 said...

My Great-great-aunt Lillian Elizabeth Catherine Allen, nee Britton, died in 1962 just months short of her hundredth birthday.

This longevity is heartening to me, researching my genes as I am!
I am seeking out descendants of Lillian, (known to her father as Lily), in order to find clues about the family tree.
I have been most fortunate with three other lines of descent from John James Britton:

From the Richard line, I have now met Dorothy, Cyril's youngest daughter, who has been hugely helpful, and have swapped e-mails with Rone, (Ronald Waugh), and his sister Margaret, who are also descended from Cyril.

From the Arthur line, I have been in contact with Chris Britton, and have gleaned interesting details.

From the Herbert Eyres Britton line, I have had a huge and useful exchange with Paul and Sandie.

When I started these enquiries, some ten months ago, I honestly wouldn't have held up much hope that I could have learned so much. We all have to throw stuff away sometimes, and that old heap in the attic is sometimes a tempting candidate for the skip; but at the same time it can be a goldmine in circumstances such as this, where those yellow curling letters and photos can hold the vital clue to unlocking the past.
Anyone out there with a nice big trunk full of Grannie's memorabilia?

Just to give one example which, a year ago, if I had seen it in a novel, would have seemed too far-fetched:
Via Sandie Coomber I have a copy of a family tree drawn up by John E.C. Britton of Canada. John also mentions that 'behind a picture' was found an account of the family, starting with "Sherry Hales" in 1665.
This place must be Sheriffhales, near Shifnal. The boundaries of Staffordshire and Shropshire have been altered over time, so this village could appear in records under either of these counties.

Other lines of enquiry which could be assisted by descendants from whom I have yet to hear:-

Elizabeth Nimmo was the mother of John James' first wife, Catherine Smith. Elizabeth was born in Greenock on 10th Apr 1796, and her father appears to have been called Thomas, an apothecary. Can anyone tell us who Thomas was, and if he is descended from the James Nimmo who married Mary Erskine in 1720, providing the link back to Robert the Bruce which the family claimed?

Elizabeth's mother was Elizabeth Harding. Can anyone tell us about this lady and where she married Thomas Nimmo? As the event pre-dated Registration in England, and is not coming up on the Scottish site Scotland's People, or other sites derived from it, the possibilities include links to India, to Ireland, to Canada; or even just to England after all. Bear in mind that Hardings often appeared as Hardies or Hardys, as well as Hardynges or Hardens.

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Snatch51 said...

Since Dr Shaw posted the original article on John James Britton and his children, we have discovered that there was at least one other child of John James' marriage to my great-great-grandmother Catherine Erskine Britton, née Smith.

Joline Maud Mary Britton was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 16th Aug 1866, and died of meningitis on 17th January 1869.

Would it be fanciful to imagine that we see this loss etched into John James' face in the later photos? By about 1910, a realistic date for one of these images, the old fellow had lost his eldest son, Richard, at the horribly young age of 35; little Joline; and his own first wife Catherine just six days short of her fortieth birthday.

There are also updates to the above passages about the Nimmos.

The 1720 marriage between Mary Erskine and James Nimmo is now known to be nothing to do with us, and there is information about Thomas Nimmo and his father Robert, (and grandfather, also Robert), elsewhere on this blog. Simply type the keywords into the top left box at the very beginning, e.g. Nimmo, Robert Nimmo, or Auchenblain.

Frustratingly, Elizabeth Harding remains mysterious, but we do have her on the 1841 census in Greenock; and the prima facie evidence is that she wasn't born anywhere other than in Scotland, although not in Renfrewshire!

Snatch51 said...

Elizabeth Hilda Dorothy Britton married Litten Densham Leslie Viner in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

On her birth certificate, the order of her given names was as above, but in her will, (and also in the census forms), the order was different; but does that matter? She was an artist, and many of her watercolours of Halford, where she was brought up, survive; as does a poem describing a mill, almost certainly Halford Mill.

Dorothy and Litten seem to have had the property called Blinkwater, a chicken farm near White River in the Transvaal, and Litten died at Camelthorns, Plaston, which was the residence of his son Clifford.

Dorothy probably had at least three children, but only one survived her and her husband Litten. He was Clifford David Viner, and there was a fulsome obituary to him in the Bathurst Bulletin in 2000, at the time of his death in Bathurst in the Eastern Cape, at the age of 80. Apparently he was a legend in the town and ran a security company, having previously been a major in the army.

His son Litten now survives him, and is an out-and-out outdoors man, doing stuff like building game ranches in the bush; not just in the Republic of South Africa itself, but also in neighbouring countries such as Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia.

Dorothy Britton's will, made jointly with her husband, makes provision for a gift of a ruby ring (which Aunt Minnie, or perhaps Winnie, gave her), to her youngest sister Edith Leslie Britton. She also wills a necklace, (which she states is not very valuable), to her neice Elspeth Britton as a keepsake for her. The document is slight, but touching.

It is thought that Dorothy died in about 1966, but South African records after a certain point are not open to public scrutiny.