It was on Butter Street, Alcester, at the back of the parish church, that Lionel Britton's paternal grandfather John James Britton had a solicitor's practice in the 1880s. The firm was Britton & Son, Lionel's father Richard Wadhams Nimmo Britton running another practice at Astwood Bank. It was unsuccessful, and Britton & Son went into bankruptcy in 1888. Richard then unsuccessfully tried to find a job as an assistant schoolteacher, before moving to France as a legal clerk; there, Irza gave birth to Percy, their third child. After a few years the family returned to England, where Richard resumed practicing as a solicitor in Bournemouth, and where the family income was supplemented by Irza working as a boarding house keeper. A fourth child, Cyril, was born in 1891, and by the end of the following year the couple had significant debts. In 1894, when Lionel was seven, Richard died of tuberculosis. Irza, who already had at least one suitor, remained in the area and married a gunner in the Royal Navy in 1897, although no other details of this marriage appear to have survived, and she was later to change her name back to Britton.