What happened to Sarah Bryant?

What indeed!

I went to the Record Office with a list of things to look at, and the last item was to find out what happened to Sarah Bryant.  Or more specifically, “what happened to Sarah Bryant (née Backshell) and her daughter Georgiana after 1881?”

It wasn’t until after lunch that I made it that far down the list.  I was at The Keep in Brighton and had spent a fruitful morning taking advantage of access to FindMyPast.  But now for Sarah Bryant, my great great grandmother, who was in Newhaven at the time of the 1881 census with her 26 year old daughter Georgiana.  Her husband George had died five years earlier, aged only 50, and it seems that Sarah had moved from London back to Sussex, the county of her birth, to be nearer relatives.  I looked for her in 1891 to no avail.  Then I looked for Georgiana and found her in the household of William and Harriet Wise and family in Brighton where she was described as a niece.  Despite being now aged 36 she had no occupation.  In 1901 she was still with them in Pelham Street and again in 1911, this time in Kensington Place, now apparently 54 but single and with no occupation.  So next I needed to look for a death for Sarah and I quickly found a likely civil registration entry of March Quarter 1891, Lewes Registration District, aged 61.

Turning to the Sussex Family History Group database I thought I would look for Sarah’s burial.  I could find nothing.  I turned for help to the volunteers in the SFHG room.  With no likely matches on their database we tried Ancestry, and up popped an intriguing entry just below the civil registration details:  UK Lunacy Admissions.  Clicking through, it revealed a national list of Asylum Admissions records, with the information that Sarah A Bryant, female pauper, was admitted 14 June 1881 and died 11 March 1891.  Ok, that was progress – but admitted to where?  It didn’t say.  This time a member of The Keep staff came to my assistance, suggesting St Francis Hospital, Haywards Heath.  We looked at the online catalogue and found the relevant entry and ordered up the document.  He was quite excited about this too, producing a book on the history of the Sussex Lunatic Asylum called ‘Sweet Bells Jangled Out of Tune’ by James Gardner and telling me that the building is now luxury flats – the one his friend has just bought is where the toilets used to be!

Fifteen minutes later I was looking at the documents relating to Sarah’s time in the Asylum.  The first document was the Notice of Death, stating the apparent cause of death to be disease of the heart.  The next document was entitled Notice of Escape.  It seems that at 7.15pm on 20th July 1881 Sarah managed to escape; however her freedom was very shortlived as she was recaptured and brought back at 7.40pm the same evening.

The third document was the Notice of Admission.  She was certified to be “suffering from Mania” on her admission on 14th June 1881.  She was described as aged 51, a widow, abode Newhaven, religion Church of England.  Was this her first attack? Yes.  Duration?  About a fortnight.  Her next of kin was given as her son, Arthur Curtis Bryant of Chapel Place, Belgrave Square, London.

And then the Admission document got even more interesting.  Whether suicidal – “has threatened”, Dangerous to others – “yes”.  Oh dear, what indeed had happened to Sarah?

She was examined by a doctor at her home in Newhaven the previous day.  His comments make uncomfortable reading:  “she says that she has been poisoned and that she is on fire.  Is very excitable, talks in a rambling manner.  Seems lost and appears to have a dread of something”.  “Georgina Bryant her daughter says that she has threatened to cut off her head and to cut her own throat”.  Harriet Wise was also in attendance when the doctor examined Sarah and I wonder whether she will turn out to be a sister of Sarah.  Likewise a Frances Jeffrey was also present, described as a sister in law.  I need to work out the relationships there.

Poor Sarah and poor Georgiana.  It must have been a traumatic time for all of them.  I wonder whether Georgiana or any of the other relations visited Sarah during the almost 10 years that she was in the asylum?  I wonder how Sarah was treated and cared for?

And one more thing – I noticed on the Admissions document the entry ‘Supposed cause – hereditary’.  This leads me to wonder how they came to that conclusion.  Did a similar thing happen to either of her parents?  I’m now itching to discover what happened to James and Philadelphia Backshell, her father and mother…

Haywards Heath Asylum
St Francis Hospital (Asylum) Haywards Heath, Sussex

 

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More Combridge Butchers in Brighton

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’.

Western Road Hove
26 and 27 Western Road Hove

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.

Trafalgar Street, Brighton
72 Trafalgar Street, Brighton

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.

Terminus Road, Brighton
5 Terminus Road, Brighton 

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…..

 

 

 

To Brighton and back

Over the last three years that my daughter has been at the University of Sussex we have got to know the route to Brighton pretty well.  It is a pleasant journey, with no motorways involved, and although it can be tedious if you get stuck behind something slow, it’s been lovely seeing the Sussex countryside through the seasons.

With my daughter having finished her finals, last week I spent a day in Brighton with her and we visited Preston Manor, just north of the centre of Brighton.  In years gone by this was the home of the Stanford family.  I have never seen so many Chinese porcelain lions – apparently collected as a ‘conversation piece’!

Preston is mentioned in Clare Jerrold’s ‘Picturesque Sussex’, which I have referred to before in my blogs, and which was published around 1906He refers to “its 60 acre park and its little unique church of pure Saxon build”.  We went in the church (now no longer used for worship, but maintained by the Historic  Churches Trust) and marvelled at the wall paintings .

Preston Park
St Peter’s Church, Preston Park

The return journey from Brighton passes many places mentioned in ‘Picturesque Sussex’.  As you turn off the A27 at Shoreham to head inland you get a splendid view of Lancing College, which Jerrold refers to as a “fine landmark for those at sea”.  Shortly afterwards you pass the turn for Bramber, which Jerrold says is from the Saxon ‘Brymm burh’, meaning a fortified hill and where once, apparently, “the sea flowed as far as this, where was then the estuary of the Adur, and large ships could anchor before the castle”.  With the forthcoming EU Referendum in mind it is interesting to note that “Bramber has also the distinction of having in the bad old days been the most rotten borough in England, the voters having been eighteen in number”.  The population of Bramber may still be small, but I hope a few more than 18 turn out to vote this coming Thursday!

The A283 bypasses the pretty town of Steyning, which will have grown extensively since Jerrold’s day.  He describes it as “a quiet place, devoting itself more or less to agriculture”.  Soon after Steyning, Chanctonbury Ring is seen to the left on the Downs.  I can remember my Granny telling me that the beech trees there were planted by Charles Goring, and this is confirmed by Jerrold:  “These beeches were planted by one Charles Goring of Wiston in 1760, and at once render remarkable a height which is third only to Cissbury and Ditchling”.  There was a historic connection between Wiston and West Grinstead, where she grew up, but no doubt the origin of such a landmark was at any rate well known.

Another great house passed on this route is Parham, “one of the most noted houses in the county”, according to Jerrold, and possessing “one of the three Sussex heronries”.

Parham House
Parham House

The next sizeable place on the route is Pulborough.  Earlier in the year much of the low-lying land had flooded around here, which was great for the wading birds visible from the hides at the RSPB site down the road.  Jerrold refers to “the marshy levels of Pulborough, where the Arun and the Rother meet” and where apparently evidence of Roman occupation has been discovered.

I usually skirt around Petworth, where Jerrold recommends a visit to the Park, but sometimes glimpse the deer over the park wall.  The parkland, now maintained by the National Trust, is one of those designed by Capability Brown.

Passing to the north of Midhurst, you get a view of the ruins of Cowdray Castle away to the left, which Jerrold describes as a “beautiful ivy-covered ruin”.  It was the gift of Henry VIII to Sir Anthony Browne, the father of the first Viscount Montague.  Although it burned down in 1793, today it’s an interesting place to visit and no longer covered in ivy.

Cowdray Castle
Cowdray Castle – image from ‘Picturesque Sussex’ by Clare Jerrold

 

Cowdray Castle
Cowdray Castle today

 

 

 

 

 

And thence home.  Jerrold quotes Cobbett in his book:  “I have never seen the earth flung about in such a wild way as round about Hindhead and Blackdown”.  Well, certainly on a fine day the views are beautiful, and I feel fortunate indeed to live so close to this lovely countryside.

The reluctant butcher

Samuel Combridge was not the first in his family to run a shop, by any means.  It turns out that his father, Daniel Thomas Combridge, was a butcher, as was his father before him.

He was, it seems, a reluctant butcher.  How do we know that?  Well, from an unusual source:  a book found at The Keep last week entitled ‘Further History of The Gospel Standard Baptists’, by S F Paul.  It was already known that Daniel Thomas had been a key member of the Galeed Chapel in Gloucester Road, Brighton.  This book has a large section on his contribution to the church and some invaluable biographical information.

The family moved to Brighton from Southborough, near Tunbridge Wells, in 1842, as the sea air was beneficial to Daniel’s mother’s health.  They took a shop in Western Road, Hove, for Daniel’s father Thomas to continue his butcher’s trade but, we are told, “ [Daniel] had an aversion to the butcher’s trade in which his father was engaged; but after trying other occupations for some months, he was sent for to assist in the office of another butcher in the town, and continued there nearly five years”.  He eventually became a partner in his father’s business, at which time we are told that “his mind was rather set upon youthful pleasures”.  However, he came to develop a strong Christian faith, which saw him through his father’s death, business difficulties and his first wife dying at the age of 30.  In 1862 Daniel Thomas married for a second time, to Sarah Pattison, who would be the mother of Samuel.

Around the time of Samuel’s birth Daniel Thomas became one of the founding members of the new Galeed Chapel.  The book tells of further family bereavements, including the death of his eldest daughter at the age of 15.  However, in 1875 Daniel Thomas was in a position to buy a house in Leopold Road, Brighton, quite near to the chapel and soon after he was able to sell his business and devote himself to church matters full time.

Daniel Thomas’ second wife died in 1895.  The book describes a visit to “his eldest son in Edgbaston”, who we know to be Cornelius Combridge, son of his first wife Miriam Funnel.  The following year he married his third wife, Rhoda Gardiner.  Following two heart attacks, Daniel Thomas died in September 1915.  Rhoda, who was 30 years younger than him,  lived until 1938.

In my trawl through the Brighton trade directories at The Keep the earliest entry I found for Thomas Combridge was in 1846 at 26 Western Road, Hove.  Eventually in 1861 the entry is for ‘Combridge and Son, butchers’, which bears out what is mentioned in the book, and then just ‘D.T. Combridge’ from 1867.

By 1884 the Western Road butcher’s has been taken on by John Martin Combridge.  I’m not exactly sure of the relationship, but in the 1871 census a John Martin was described as a nephew of Esther Combridge, the sister of Daniel Thomas, so it looks as though this was a relation who was somehow adopted as a Combridge.  Business seems to have gone very well for John Martin, as by 1892 he had expanded into 27 Western Road as well as opening another store at 79 and 80 North Road.  The 1906 Towner’s Directory was the last reference I could find to him.

The Combridge empire was further enhanced by Daniel Thomas’ older brother Caleb also having a butcher’s business, continued by his son Frederick at Terminus Road.

We feel another trip to Brighton coming on, to visit all these various locations!

Galeed Chapel Brighton
Galeed Chapel is still there in Gloucester Road, Brighton