Thomas Brookes of Stafford, St Thomas and Weeping Cross.
Ann, wife of William Mountfort died in South Africa on 5th June, 1863. An announcement in the Grahamstown Journal reads:
Died, - At Manley's flat, on the 5th instant, ANN, the beloved Wife of William Mountford, [sic] - aged 75 years. - greatly lamented by her husband and family. She was one of the 1820 Settlers, and the eldest daughter of the late Mr Brookes, of Weeping Cross, near Stafford. Her end was peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ann Brookes and William Mountfort had been married at Tixall, near Stafford, in 1809. The entry reads:
[Entry number] 106.
William Mountfort of the parish of Hanley in the county of Stafford & Ann Brookes of the extra-parochial place of St Thomas, adjoining to the parish of Tixall, were married in this church by licence this thirtieth day of November in the year 1809.
[Signature of William Corne], rector
This marriage was | [Signature of Wm Mountfort]
Solemnized between us | [Signature of Ann Brookes]
In the presence of | [Signature of Ann Bradshaw?] [Signature of H Cole]
[Tixall Marriages 1754-1812 Staffordshire Record Office F3380/1/2]
The Brookes family was then living on the site of the Augustinian Priory of St. Thomas of Canterbury, founded in about 1174(1).
Ann's parents can be identified as Thomas Brookes and Elizabeth Perry(2). Thomas was born about 1759(3). He was apprenticed to Joseph Starkey, a Stafford Baker on 20th Jun 1773 and admitted as a freeman of Stafford Borough on 11th Sept, 1780(4). The couple's earlier children were baptised on the day of their birth so they probably lived in Stafford town until about 1790. They may have moved to the Mill at St Thomas by 1791 when the Stafford section of the Universal Directory includes "Thomas Brookes, Miller & Baker". They were there by 1793 when Thos. Brookes issued a receipt connected with St Thomas Mill(5). Brookes is mentioned at St Thomas again in 1798 when there was a dispute with local landowners over flooding caused by the mill. At this time he was renting the mill and some land from Lord Talbot at an annual rent of £75. It was proposed that he should be offered the mill and the farm at St Thomas previously occupied by Samuel Peakes(6) at a combined rent of £420 pa. By 1805 Brookes was also farming lands in Baswich owned by other landlords(7). This land appears to be some of that which had been involved in the 1798 dispute and which bordered St Thomas Mill on the Baswich side of the River Sow.
In 1805 the Staffordshire Advertiser announced the death 'Yesterday se'nnight, aged 43, [of] Mrs Brookes, of St Thomas near this town.(8)' In 1808 The same paper announced the death on January 31st 'aged 23, Mr S Brookes, of St Thomas, near this town'(9). In 1809 Ann Brookes 'of the extra-parochial place of St Thomas, adjoining to the parish of Tixall' was married at Tixall(10). In 1811 Thomas Brookes 'of St Thomas in co. Stafford' sold land in Haughton to Mr Will. Swann of Haughton(11). Possibly as a result of this connection, in 1814 the Staffordshire Advertiser announced the marriage 'On Tuesday [26 April], at Stafford, Mr Wm Brookes, of St Thomas to Miss Swan, of Haughton.'
A 'Valuation of Fixtures &c at Saint Thomas in the County of Stafford belonging to Mr Thomas Brookes, and taken to by Earl Talbot, May 1818'(12), suggests that the family left St Thomas at this time. This is borne out by a directory of 1818 which lists 'Brookes T. Farmer, Weeping cross' under 'Baswich near Stafford'(13). It is clear from the rent books that Brookes continued to occupy the lands in Baswich(14). It is possible that the 1818 directory refers to Brookes son, Thomas jnr, but it seems more likely that the family worked the farm together. We know that Thomas jnr and his brother John continued to farm the Baswich lands after the death of their father along with 'The Misses Brookes' - probably Mary and Harriet - who paid the rate after the death of Thomas jnr.
During the period for which rate books survive(15), Thomas Brookes is one of the largest ratepayers in Baswich. The Baswich Vestry Minutes record that in 1821:
Mr Brookes having lodged a Complaint against the equality of the present poor's Rate it is ordered that the Churchwarden & Overseers be instructed to employ a proper person to measure the Lands in the Liberty of Baswich Walton & Milford, field by field, preparatory to a fresh survey & Mr Twigg having mentioned Mr Davenport as a proper person for that purpose & Mr Tavernor having seconded it, it is agreed that the Churchwardens & Overseers be empowered to agree with him for a new measurement of the Liberty - and for making a new poor's rate.
Presumably this explains why, from the 1822 rate onwards, the rateable value of Brookes' land has fallen by about 25%.
From 1823 Thomas Brookes paid an additional rate for a coalwharf (sometimes 'Coalwharf House'). This may be a venture of Thomas Brookes jnr. who appears in a directory of 1834(16) as Thos. Brooks of Weeping Cross, Baswich, Farmer & coal dlr.
Thomas Brookes senior died 'On Tuesday last [27 Nov 1827], at Weeping Cross, at an advanced age, Mr Thomas Brookes of that place, formerly of St Thomas, near this town.'(17) He was buried at St Chad's, Stafford, on December 1st.(18)
The family still retained the rented land in Baswich at the deaths of Thomas jnr. and his brother John in 1834. For a further year the poor rate was paid by "Brookes Misses" but by August 1835 occupation had reverted to the owner, Mr Hazledine. It seems likely that the Misses Brookes were the Mary and Harriet Brookes of West Derby, Lancashire, who give their occupation as 'retired farmer' in the 1851 census(19).
Thomas' wife, Elizabeth, was a member of the Perry family of Stafford. Her mother was named Mary, probably the Mary Padmore who married Humphrey Perry at St Mary's, Stafford, on the 5th January, 1762. An earlier Humphrey Perry was Mayor of the town in the late 1600s.
Thomas and Elizabeth had a sequence of children baptised at St Mary's, Stafford(20):
- Thomas Brookes (bapt 13 Nov 1782), took over rate payments for his father's lands in Weeping Cross, Overseer for the Poor at Baswich, 1828-9 and 1833-4. Died "On Tuesday last, Mr Thomas Brookes, farmer, &c, of Weeping Cross, near this town, aged 54[sic].(21)" Buried April 5th, 1834 St Chad's, Stafford. Aged 51.
- Samuel Brookes (born & bapt. 23 Dec 1784), Died 31st January, 1808 "aged 23, Mr S Brookes, of St Thomas near this town.(22)" Buried 3rd February, 1808, St Chad's Stafford "Samuel Brookes (fm St Thomas)".
- John (born & bapt. 25 Nov 1786) Died "On Thursday last [24 April 1834], Mr John Brookes, farmer of Weeping Cross, near this town, aged 47. We announced the death of Mr Brookes' Brother in our paper of the 5th inst.(23)"
- Ann (born & bapt. 12 Jan 1789) Married William Mountfort, baker of Hanley and emigrated to South Africa. Died June 1863 at Manley's Flat, nr. Grahamstown, South Africa.
- Ellen Brookes (Born 24 Dec 1790, bapt. 25 Dec 1790) Married Richard Baskerville on 21st November, 1810 at St Mary's, Lichfield. They had several children baptised in the parishes around Stafford in the period 1810-1828, at least one 'of the Extraparochial liberty of St Thomas' which might suggest that they took on the lease of St Thomas Mill after Thomas Brookes left in 1818. Their daughter Anne married Thomas Carter Phillips (born Wrockswardine, Shropshire) and is found in 1851 and 1861 censuses living with her husband and various unmarried Brookes aunts in West Derby, Liverpool.
- William Brookes (bapt. 12 May 1793) Married "On Tuesday [26 April, 1814] at Stafford, Mr Wm Brookes, of St Thomas to Miss Swan, of Haughton.(25)" William Brookes and Mary Swann were married at St Mary, Stafford on 26 April 1814(26). William died at the Bear Inn, Stafford, on 7th Sept 1832.
- Mary Brookes (born 6 Dec 1795, bapt 9 Dec 1795)(27)
- Elizabeth Brookes (born 4 Mar 1798, bapt 6 Mar 1798) "Eliz. dr. of Thos Brookes (Baker)" was buried at St Chad's, Stafford, on 9th July, 1798.
- Harriott Brookes (born 10 Jun 1799, bapt. 14 Jun 1799)(28)
I have not yet managed to discover Thomas Brookes' parents or place of birth. If he was born in 1753 (as his age recorded at his death suggests), the only likely baptism record found in Staffordshire so far, is at Leek. As there was a Brookes family working as millers in Leek at the time, this seems a lead worth investigating, especially as they were near neighbours of the Mountforts. Thomas Brookes and Thomas, the father of William Mountford, were the same age; a childhood friendship between them might explain the later marriage of their children.
On the other hand, Thomas Brookes is named in the 1800 will of his brother, John, farmer of Leese Farm, Castle Church parish, Stafford. Thomas himself owned lands in Haughton and Castle Church (two parishes adjoining Stafford) - which seems to suggest a family connection with the area. Against this, none of John Brookes family appears to have been buried in any parish close to Stafford (though newspaper announcements show many of them to have died there) - suggesting that they may be buried at an ancestral parish farther away.
In 1781, Thomas Brookes was a witness to the will of Joseph Starkey, Baker of Stafford. Brookes was an apprentice of Starkey and there is some evidence that he took over Starkey's bakery business in Stafford(29). The connection with the Starkeys may be deeper as it appears from Joseph Starkey's will that he owned Leese Farm – the property which John Brookes was leasing at the time of his death. Joseph Starkey's younger brother, John, had land in Wheaton Aston on which his grandson later built the house where I lived until recently. A Brookes family, once Lords of the Manor of Lapley and Wheaton Aston, left the village at about the time that Thomas and John Brookes were born.
John Brookes of Lees Farm, parish of Castle Church, co. Stafford. Will dated 8 January 1800
[Almost certainly the brother of Thomas Brookes of St Thomas (trade, connection with William Swann, similarity of names of their children).]
Wife: Margery Brookes. [Probably Margery Ashton who married a John Brookes at Castle Church, 14 June, 1783. She was still at Lees Farm in 1834 (White's Directory). The Staffordshire Advertiser announced her death in issue of 19/11/1836: 'Mrs Brookes of the Leese Farm, in her 74th year'.]
Brother: Thomas Brookes of Stafford, Baker.
Friend: William Swann of Billington, Farmer.
Leaves: all leasehold estate etc. in trust for wife and children.
Children: (Named in will) John, Ann, Ellen, Mary, Samuel, Sarah and any his wife 'may be ensient with' - which she was.
IGI has following children baptised at Castle Church, parents John & Margery:
Sarah 19/2/1795 (mar Samuel Bagnell, Castle Church, 6/6/1816?)
Harriett 23/6/1797 (died? check reg).
Harriet Jane 4/5/1800 mar William Hall, Castle Church, 31/8/1824
Brookes events from Castle Church PRs (version from Ancestry.co.uk)
08 Aug 1788 Ellen, d. of John Brookes & Margery (born 03 [Aug] 1788 ) bap.
23 Jun 1797 Harriett, d. of John Brookes & Margery, born and bap.
04 Jun 1784 John, s. of John Brookes & Margery (born 03 [Jun] 1784 ) bap.
14 Jun 1783 John Brookes, b., & Margery Ashton, x, s., and a minor, with consent of her father, lic. mar.
01 Jun 1792 Samuel, s. of John Brookes & Margery (born 23 May 1792 ) bap.
23 Oct 1805 William Hall, b., p. Ronton, & Ann Brookes, s., & a minor, with consent of parents, lic. mar.
23 May 1790 Mary, d. of John Brookes & Margery (born 18 [May] 1790 ) bap.
29 May 1679 Samuell, f. Gorge Brookes, de Forbridge, weeuer bap.
19 Feb 1795 Sarah, d. of John Brookes & Margery (born 04 [Feb] 1795 ) bap.
04 May 1800 Harriett Jane, d. of Margery, wid. of John Brookes, deceased (born 02 [May] 1800 ) bap.
Staffordshire Advertiser also announces:
"Miss Brookes of Lees Farm to Mr W Hall of Ranton at Castle Church" in issue of 26/10/1805
Death of Miss Brookes "daughter of Mrs Brookes of Lees Farm" in issue of 24/7/1813.
Lees farm (now spelled 'Leese' is off the Newport to Stafford Road, just to the West of the M6. It is still shown on the local OS maps but I have not visited it and can't say if the present buildings date back to the Brookes' time.
Announcements from the 'Staffordshire Advertiser' (I only made summaries of these as I did't realise at the time that the Brookes of Lees farm were related).
Issue of 19/11/1836. Death notice of Mrs Brookes of Lees Farm in her 74th year.
Issue of 26/10/1805. Marriage of Miss Brookes of Lees Farm to Mr W. Hall of Ranton at Castle Church. [This refers to the marriage in the CC regs: '23 Oct 1805 William Hall, b., p. Ranton, & Ann Brookes, s., & a minor, with consent of parents, lic. mar. ' which is interesting in the light of the marriage of your Harriet nineteen years later: 'William Hall b. p. St Mary in Stafford to Harriett Jane Brookes s.otp by lic. 31 Aug 1824. Witnesses: William Hall and John Tildesley.']
Issue of 24/7/13. Death of Miss Brookes of Lees Farm.
Issue of 8/6/16. Marriage of Miss S Brookes of Lees Farm to Mr S Bagnall, Butcher of Bradley.
I have not been able to find a burial record for John or his earlier daughter Harriet at CC or in any of the surrounding parishes. I assume that they were returned to an ancestral parish elsewhere for burial. John's will is dated 8th Jan, 1800 and Harriet (christened on 4 May, 1800) is described as 'd. of Margery, wid. of John Brookes, deceased', so, presumably John died between these two dates.
In his will John lists his six surviving children living at the time of his death and also makes provision for 'any child or children .... as my said wife shall be ensient with at the time of my decease'. He appoints his wife Margery, his brother Thomas and his friend William Swann of Billington as his executors. Thomas Brookes and William Swann were obviously friends too. I have found several documents regarding joint purchases and sale of land in their names. Some of this may refer to the disposal of John's property but some predate John's death. Thomas's son, William, married a Miss Swann of Haughton in April 1814.
Brookes in Baswich Parish Registers
Probably not connected with our family.
Thomas Brookes married Maria Pool, 25 July 1700.
John and Sarah Brook[e]s had several children:
(Sarah Brookes was born abt. 1676, the daughter of John and Suzan Eggington. Married John Brookes 16 Oct 1701. She was buried 20 May 1716).
Sarah chr. 3 Oct 1702
John chr 14 Oct 1705 Died 16 Apr 1721
William chr 4 Jun 1708
William Brookes mar Mary/Maria Hales 13 Feb, 1732. She died a few weeks later (buried 20 May 1732). William Brookes, Widr. married Hannah Furber, 2 Sep 1765. William Brookes was buried Feb 10 1769
Edith chr 29 Mar 1712, died 18 Nov 1712.
Hannah chr 25 Feb 1714, died 7 Mar 1714.
Thomas chr 17 Apr 1715, died 4 May 1715.
Robert Brookes and Sarah Pakeman had child:
(Unmarried. She subsequently married John Withnall on 26 May 1734) Anna chr 24 Apr 1715
John and Maria Brookes had child:
(Second marriage of John above and Mary Sanders. Married 16 May 1717) Maria chr 22 Mar 1718
John Brooks mar. Mary Evans, 5 Jun 1726. 3rd marriage?
John Brookes bur. March 10 1743/4
Hannah w of William Brookes bur 27 Jul 1764
Mary Brookes, of Walton, wid. bur Jan 15 1765
Dorothy w of William Brooks bur July 2 1775
William Brookes (pauper) buried May 9 1792.
(1) After the dissolution, the Priory passed into the hands of the Fowler family. Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, later purchased it. Her son, John Spencer, later Lord Spencer, sold it to Lord Talbot who left it to the Shrewsburys. The Priory site was used as a cotton mill for a short period in the early / mid 1700s and then as a corn mill until the early twentieth century. vide Alfred Middlefell: The Story of the Ancient Parish of Berkswich, Part 1, p. 59ff.
(2) A Thomas Brookes and Elizabeth Perry were married at St Mary's, Stafford on 7th September, 1782 - a little more than two months before the baptism of our couple's first son.
(3) His age at death suggests a birth year of 1753 but the date of his apprenticeship and admission indicate that 1759 is more likely. There is no obvious baptism entry at any of the Stafford churches in 1753. If his family was already at St Thomas he may have been baptised at Tixall. The only baptism on the IGI in Staffordshire is in Leek and may be that of the son of near neighbours of the Mountforts.
(4) The playwright R B Sheridan, MP for Stafford was also admitted on this day.
(5) Stafford Rec. Office D240/E/F/1/37/30. There may be a family connection to St Thomas.An undated list of chief rents connected with St Thomas, apparantly from the later 18th century, lists a 'Fras. Brooks' [S.R.O. D240/E/12/1/37]
(6) Proposed in a letter from Thomas Mills Jnr., Lord Talbot's land agent. The increase of £120 pa. on the previous rents due to proposed improvements by Lord Talbot. S.R.O. D240/E/C/1/47/8.
(7) S.R.O. has a run of Poor Rate books from 1805 forward. In 1805 Brookes paid just over 20% of the total Baswich rate (excluding that levied on houses etc).
(8) Staffordshire Advertiser, 2 Nov 1805. She is probably the Eliz Brookes (mistakenly described as 'infant' in the register) buried at St Chad's Stafford, 30th Oct 1805.
(9) Buried at St Chad's Stafford, 3rd February, 1808.
(10) There is no rate payment for a house in Baswich parish until 1822 when the Baswich ratebooks include additional payments by Thomas Brookes for 'Coalwharf House'.
(11) S.R.O. D1798/582/10. Brookes acquired the land in 1790 in partnership with Samuel Peake ('late of Stafford, now of Manchester, Gentleman' ) - connected to the Samuel Peakes who had St Thomas Farm prior to 1798?
(12) S.R.O. D240/D/3/2/1
(13) Staffordshire General & Commercial Directory, Part 3, 1818 (S. Staffordshire).
(14) With the exception of the Baswich land rented from Lord Talbot and a small parcel belonging to Mrs Brown (later, Thomas Fisher) - together less than 10% of the total.
(15) 1805 through to beyond the death of Thomas jnr.
(16) Whites History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, 1834.
(17) Staffordshire Advertiser, 1st December, 1827.
(18) St Chad's Burial Register: "1827 [Entry] 207, Thomas Brookes, [of] Baswich, Dec 1st, [Aged] 74"
(19) vide inf.
(20) If St Thomas was an extra-parochial place, baptisms, marriages and burials probably had to take place in such neighbouring parishes as were amenable. The Brookes' pattern seems to have been baptisms at St Mary's and burials at St Chad's.
(21) Staffordshire Advertiser, 5th April, 1834.
(22) Staffordshire Advertiser, 6 Feb, 1808.
(23) Staffordshire Advertiser, 26th April, 1834.
(25) Staffordshire Advertiser, 30 April 1814.
(26) St Mary, Stafford. Marriage Registers.
(27) Mary Brookes, unmarried, retired farmer, born Stafford, Stafford[shire] age given as 47 (not 55) is living at 14 Church Road, West Derby, Lancs. in 1851 census. FreeBMD has death entry Jun 1854 W Derby 8b 311. However, Mary was still alive in 1861 census, still living with Thomas Phillips.
(28) Harriet Brookes, unmarried, retired farmer, born Stafford, Stafford[shire] age given as 45 (not 50) is living at 14 Church Road, West Derby, Lancs. in 1851 census. FreeBMD has death entry Jun 1854 W Derby 8b 333.
(29) Payments by the churchwardens of St Chad's Church to Starkey for communion bread later become payments to Brookes.