Following our discovery back in February that there were even more Combridges in Brighton and Hove than we had realised, we journeyed back there last month to photograph more of the places where they all lived and worked.
Thomas Combridge had moved his family to Brighton from Southborough, near Tunbridge Wells, in 1842, in the hope that the sea air would improve the health of his wife. We know that he set up his butcher’s shop at 26 Western Road, which today is one of the main roads linking Brighton and Hove. Daniel Thomas, his son, who was already following in his footsteps as a butcher, albeit somewhat reluctantly (see blog of 27 February), appears on the 1851 census at that address along with his two younger brothers, James and William, but also with his older sister Esther, who is described as a ‘schoolmistress’.
Daniel’s eldest brother Caleb, born in 1823, had also relocated to Brighton, but had married Priscilla in Edmonton before his appearance in the 1851 census working as a butcher and living at 77 Trafalgar Road. Confusingly, the business was at 72 Trafalgar Street. The couple had a daughter Clarissa. Seven years later, however, Priscilla died in Southwark. Caleb went on to marry Charlotte Boon in Brighton in 1862.
Following father Thomas’ death in 1853, Daniel Thomas took over the business at 26 Western Road, and by 1861 the business had expanded into the adjacent property – number 27 – where his sister Esther and their widowed mother Philadelphia were now living, together with their brother William, also now a butcher. At this point Esther was working as a governess. Unfortunately I can’t find either Caleb or younger brother James in 1861, but by the 1871 census both of them had died – James in 1868 aged only 37 and Caleb in 1870 aged 47.
The pull of a career as a butcher was obviously a strong one with the Combridges: Caleb’s son Frederick, born in 1853, also took up the trade, and can be found in Page’s Brighton Directory of 1884 at 5 Terminus Road, where he continued until his death in 1905.
Esther, meanwhile, continued her career in education and can be found in the 1871 and 1881 censuses, still at 27 Western Road, working as a school mistress. Esther died in 1895 in Brighton.
Tracing the movements of the Combridge butchers in Brighton, has thrown up a number of questions: what was Caleb doing in London? Where was James in 1861? Why can’t I find Frederick in the censuses? And where was Esther in 1891? And as for Daniel’s other sister, Mary, we haven’t even begun to look for her…..