Frank Bown, aged 23 (born 1876, died 1899)

The family history of the surname Bown.
Particularly with reference to Michael Bown and Rebecca Keirle, from Othery, Somerset, their son Alfred Bown, and his direct descendants (1800 - 2002).




- Last update : (information 18 Apr 02, website 19 Aug 02)- See the highlighted text for what's new.
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In November 1999 I was considering my work commitments in the forthcoming twelve months and decided that I could spare a bit of time to try and research my family history. What I did not realise then was that it was going to take a quite a lot of time and effort to try and get results. I did not appreciate that I would face so many problems going back over the years, being patient whilst waiting for certificates and information and realising disappointments arising from dead ends.

My dad, Frank Bown, I remember, showed me a coat of the Bown arms maybe 20 years ago and I thought, (wrongly) that because of this some family history had already been researched. In December 1999 I was sitting down at his kitchen table and told him that I wanted to research our ancestry. We started trying to put names and dates down on paper, but soon realised we had a great deal of research to do.

Looking at my cryptic notes of that first meeting I decided at that time we would start to trace the Bown lineage. To start from the beginning (or the end if you look at it a different way) I have four children, Alice Bown aged 3, Victoria Bown aged 6, and from a previous marriage Jennifer Bown aged 22 and Richard Bown aged 25. My current marriage started in 1992 (and hopefully this is my last)! My previous marriage occurred in 1974. Click here for photos of myself with my wife Debbie, also my son Richard.

I was born on 20 May 1956 to Frank and Josephine Bown I have two brothers, Chris born 1954 and Vincent born 1962.

In the North East, where we all grew up we appeared to be the only Bown family, and still do. Frank Bown married Josephine Robson on 29 March 1952 and settled down here in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Frank actually has a middle name Romaric and it is important, from now on, that we call him Frank Romaric Bown. My mother Josephine Bown (nee Robson) was born on 14 August 1929.


Frank Romaric Bown was born at Downside (house name), Abbey Road, Westbury on Trym, Bristol. My mother, Josephine Bown was living in Newcastle upon Tyne when the couple met. By the way, they met coming back from Scotland on a train, on leave, from National Service. Click here to see photos of my Father.

The reason why we are all settled in the North East now is mainly because of my grandfathers career. My grandfather, Frank Romaric Bown's father was Alfred Henry James Bown who died in 1957, shortly after I was born. I therefore have no memories whatsoever of my grandfather, all I have is a picture of myself sitting on his bed, when I was less than one year old. I do however have a copy of a self portrait which he painted after he was recovering from a heart attack, I also have a painting of this hanging in the hall of my house, but unfortunately it is not dated. Alfred Henry James Bown relocated from Bristol to the North East in 1934 and ran the Port of Sunderland during the Second World War. He had two children Frank Romaric Bown (my father) and Helen Theresa Bown born 12 July 1933, who subsequently married Ken Hibbett. I do see Helen and Ken occasionally, as they now live in Devon, but Helen proved invaluable in my research at the next stage.

Alfred Henry James Bown was born 2 January 1899 and subsequently married Ethel May Ham, who was born on 8 October 1896. All that was known of Ethel May Bown (nee Ham) was that her father had a Tin Smith shop at 15 Pery Road, Bristol. (There was also the suggestion that she came from Somerset, from a family of south country farmers). Alfred Henry James Bown was a shipping clerk in Bristol and gradually progressed in his profession and eventually he was made General Manager at the Port of Sunderland during the Second World War and subsequently received an OBE from the Queen for his work. Click here to see a photo of my Grandfather.

Now the picture starts to become very cloudy.

(See More Bristol Bown Families under "Internet Research")


My father, Frank Romaric Bown knew nothing whatsoever of his paternal grandfather, not even his name. All that was known was that he died tragically. Alfred Henry James Bown had no full brothers or sisters. His mother, did remarry (a Harry Connock) after Alfred Henry James Bown's fathers death, and they subsequently had further issue. My father Frank Romaric Bown has actually met Harry Connock, but since then Harry Connock has passed away. This is all I had to go off so the next piece of research was going to be difficult. My father, Frank Romaric Bown, suggested that I wrote to his sister, Helen Hibbett, as she had some knowledge of the Connock family and were still in touch with an old Aunt. I subsequently wrote to Helen asking her for any information and Helen kindly wrote back to me with the following information.

"I had hoped to have heard by now from Beryl Hodges to whom I wrote before Christmas. Beryl, a lady now in her late 70's, is a cousin of my father, and it was Beryl's mother and father who had much to do with father's up bringing. I know Beryl quite well, in fact her mother came to our wedding, and we correspond always at Christmas. When I hear from Beryl hopefully she will be able to fill in some of the blanks. Uncle Harry Connock had his home with Aunty Alisa at Long Ashton, and she was his second wife, his first wife Lilly died from a fatal insect bite in the very early years of their marriage. As far as my records are concerned father's birth registration document reads as follows: "I the undersigned do hereby certify that the birth of Alfred Henry James Bown born on 2 January 1899, has been duly registered by me at entry number 238 of my register book number 162 witnessed this 18th date of February 1899". I began this letter over a week ago and since then have contacted Beryl by telephone thinking she may have mislaid my letter. The result was a very interesting conversation but very little new information emerged. However the one very important fact is that my grandfather Bown's Christian name was FRANK. So that answers your question as to why your father was baptised Frank and as I think I told you, his second name ROMARIC had no family connection but relates to my parents honeymoon spent in Bruges, Belgium and their interest in churches and the lives of the saints. Beryl could tell me little about my grandfather Frank Bown that was new to me. He died a very young man with cancer of the throat when my father was a tiny baby. He married Kate Larcombe, and here is your Irish connection, since the Larcombes came originally from Ireland. After her first husband died she married Harry Connock the stone mason who worked for William Cowlin in Bristol, and they had four children Harry, Kate, Elsi and Will, all now dead. It was at this time that the baby was looked after by Kate's unmarried sister Agnes (Beryl's mother) and her mother, also an Agnes, presumably to allow the young mother to go out to work. Subsequently when Beryl's mother Agnes married Harry Connock father went to live with them".

Well that letter was very interesting and set me on course for my next line of research, to look for Frank Bown (My father's grandfather, my great grandfather).


So I now had an approximate date of when Frank Bown died, it must have been within two or three years of Alfred Henry James Bown's birth, i.e. between 1899 and 1902.

I went to the Newcastle local library and looked up on the civil records and found Frank Bown's death in the second quarter of 1899. I then subsequently applied to the General Register Office for a copy of the death certificate and waited with anguish for three weeks.

The death certificate eventually arrived. On 4 April 1899 Frank Bown died at 84 Hill Avenue, Bedminster, Bristol aged 23 years. His occupation was that of a Carter (one who drives carts). He died of cancer in throat, exhaustion and his death was notified by Kate Bown, widow of the deceased present at death, 84 Hill Avenue, Bedminster, Bristol. His death was registered on 5 April 1899. I subsequently found out that Frank Bown was a Carter for George's Brewery in Bristol, this Brewery was subsequently taken over by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries during, I think, the 1980's.

Armed now with the positive information regarding Frank Bown and his wife, I visited the Newcastle Library again, and obtained the relevant references to obtain the marriage certificate from the general register office and this duly arrived on 6 March 2000 which give me the following information. Frank Bown and Kate Larcombe were married on 25 May 1896. At that time Frank was aged 20 and Kate was aged 19. They were both bachelor and spinster respectively. Frank's occupation was described as a Haulier. At the time of their marriage they were living at 3 Whitehouse Street, Bristol, and were married at the parish church of St Lukes, Bedminster. Marriage certificates give you very good information regarding ancestry and it was learned from the marriage certificate that Frank Bown's father was Alfred Bown, Labourer. Kate Larcombe's father was Thomas Larcombe, Metal Worker.

We have to pause here for a few thoughts for Frank Bown. He was aged 20 when he was married on 25 May 1896, his son, Alfred Henry James Bown was born on 2 January 1899 and four months later Frank died, aged 23 years. A pretty sobering thought, and one which makes you appreciate your own life and all that is around you. Click here to see a picture of my Great Grandfather. I have now also obtained a picture of my great grandmother, frank’s wife Kate Bown (formerly Larcombe), click here for photo (Kate is on the left)


By now I was starting to use the Internet and using various search engines to see if anyone else was searching the Bown family history in the Gloucester/Avon/Somerset areas. I came across a very helpful Dave Bown who's website is at He is extremely enthusiastic about the Bown family history in the Somerset area, and in particular a village called Middlezoy. He had produced on an Excel spreadsheet, a list of all the Bown's in Somerset, taken from the 1881 census records. Dave has helped me tremendously, and a great deal of gratitude is heaped upon him for the work he has carried out, for I believe what should be hundreds of Bown's in the Somerset area. Dave sent to me via e-mail the 1881 census of the Bowns of Somerset. Remember I was looking for a Frank Bown who was born in 1876 who's father was Alfred Bown.

Unfortunately the 1881 census sent me off on the wrong route. I could not find a Frank Bown born in 1876 with a father called Alfred. I found various Frank Bowns, and various Alfred Bowns but the dates did not marry up and I spent at least a month trawling through the Internet on genealogy pages and applying for various birth certificates from the General Records Office, which proved to be of no use. I then decided to take a gamble. There was a large family on the 1881 census with the surname Bown, father was not Alfred, but Albert, but in any event I decided to write to the General Records Office and try and obtain a birth certificate for a Frank Bown who is described on the 1881 census as a scholar, who was born in 1876 who was said to be the son of Albert Bown, and Frank Bown was said to be born in Bridgewater and Albert Bown (his father) was said to originate from Othery, Somerset.

I eventually received this Frank Bown's birth certificate which showed the following, and was a relief. "Frank Bown born 8 January 1876 at Angel Crescent, Bridgewater, mother was Emily Susan Bown, formerly Greenham, father was Alfred Bown of Angel Crescent, Bridgewater, Police Constable. The 1881 census was therefore incorrect, what a relief!

Referring now back to the 1881 census which had incorrectly been transcribed, we have to substitute the Albert shown, age 35 in 1881 for Alfred, and we also find that Frank Bown had various brothers and sisters as follows: In 1881 Adolphus Bown was aged 10 (born approximately 1871), Alfred E Bown aged 1 (born approximately 1880), Alfred H Bown aged 12 (born approximately 1869), Emily Kate Bown aged 7 (born approximately 1874), Lithie J Bown aged 8 (born approximately 1873), Minnie Marie Bown aged 3 (born approximately 1878). Now, in case you are wondering, I have now been able to trace some of these brothers and sisters,

In October 2000 I received an E mail from a Geoff Brightman who was doing some family research for a work colleague named Jon Bown. Jon lives near Bristol, and his father is Frank Bown, His grandfather (now deceased) Frank Adolphus Bown, and his great grandfather was Adolphus Bown, who was my Great Grandfather Frank's brother!

Geoff Brightman was also doing research for his partner Dawn Thompson, who also had a Bown family connection, in that her Grandmother's sister, Kate Rosina Thompson, married an Edgar Ernest Bown on 27 August 1923. Edgar Ernest Bown was born circa 1910 a son of Oliver Bown and Florence Bown (nee Pidgeon). Oliver Bown was born circa 1871 in Middlezoy and died in 1928. Still no connection to my Bown family tree, I then established that Oliver's father was also an Oliver Bown (born in Othery circa 1841) who married Rosina (born in Weston Zoyland, Somerset circa 1847). This Oliver was my Great Great Grandfather Alfred's brother, son of Michael & Rebecca Bown. In a visit to Bristol, Taunton, Aller & Othery in March 2000 I met Geoff Brightman, Dawn Thompson, Jon Bown and his father Frank and their family, also the Bown researcher Dave Bown - see the section "Othery & Bridgwater Visit" (coming soon).From these internet connections I have been able to make the additional following Bown cousins connections: Stephen Bown, Richard Bown, Kate Bown --- Harold W Bown, Albert Bown, Leonard Bown, Kate Bown, Edgar Bown----Vernon Edgar Bown b1936, Paul Bown b1967, Simon Bown, David Bown -- Ron Bown-- Ian Bown, Simon Bown, Mark Bown---Paul Bown, Steven Bown.--John Bown--Morris Bown.

Now we have loads to go on. Civil records started in 1837 so there was a great chance that I would be able to build up some picture of Alfred Bown's life, since the 1881 census also gave me details of the places of birth of the various family members as follows: Adolphus - Chard, Alfred - Othery, Alfred E - Bridgewater, Alfred H - Chard, Emily Kate - Bridgewater, Emma (his wife) - Crewkerne, Lithie J - Othery, Minnie Marie - Bridgewater. Again, I visited the Newcastle Library, obtained the appropriate reference numbers and applied for all the births certificates that I could find on the civil records list. All the birth certificates came back with no surprises, but the only deviations related to the places of birth and of Alfred's profession. You may recall that earlier in this reference work I mentioned that at the time of Alfred's son Frank's marriage, Alfred was a Labourer, but before that he had his career as a Policeman. Alfred's career went like this, on 18 September 1868, when Alfred Harry was born he was a Railway Porter, on 5 August 1870, when Adolphus was born he was a Railway Policeman, in 1873 when Lithie J was born, I do not know as I have been unable to obtain the birth certificate, since it is missing, on 5 March 1974 Emily Kate was born in Angel Crescent, Bridgewater and Alfred was a Policeman, on 8 January 1876 when Frank was born in Angel Crescent, Bridgewater Frank was a Police Constable, on 8 December 1877 when Minnie Maria was born at ? Street, Bridgewater Frank was still a Police Constable, and again still a Police Constable when Alfred Edwin was born in Bridgewater on 19 January 1880 at ? Street, Bridgewater.

Adolphus Bown married Mary Ann Smith on 5 October 1891 and they had six children, James (died in infancy), Katherine Kate (Spinster), Frank James Bown, Minnie Bown who married Lawrence Halpen, Grace Primrose who married Reginald Cooper and Alfred Bown (Uncle Bunk). Click here to see a photo of my Great Uncle Bunk..

Minnie Maria Bown married Ernest Robert Donovan on 12 September 1868. Frank Bown from Bristol, Adolphus Bown's Grandson has a recollection of an Uncle Ern, could this be the Uncle Ern he remembers?

Emily Kate Bown Married Reuben Lee on 25 May 1896.

Now, the Internet proves its worth and tells me that Angel Crescent is still standing and is occupied by firms of Accountants and Solicitors, ironic isn't it, Dave Bown has again been extremely helpful and has sent me an old map, dated 1903 showing Angel Crescent in the heart of Bridgewater, not far from the High Street. When I made by visit to Somerset in March 2001 I found this imposing Line of houses, Click here to see a picture of Angel Crescent.


I have mentioned above that Frank Bown died age 23 in 1899 in Bedminster, and my research during 2001 and the beginning of 2002 has concentrated on the brothers and sisters of Frank in the later years. I do not know when Frank arrived from Bridgwater to Bedminster (it must have been after 1881) but it appears the whole family (Alfred and Emma Susie with their children including Frank) ended up in Bedminster. Frank’s brother Adolphus ran The Railway Tavern, (info from Jon Bown, But I think he means the Railroad Tavern, sine Mary Anne Bown was the registered victualer, St Philips, among other pubs.

I still had no record of Frank’s father’s (Alfred) and his mother’s (Emma Suzie) deaths so I traced the microfische records at Newcastle library and found the records and applied for the death certificates.

Emma Susan Bown died aged 61 on 11 September 1910 at 94 York Road, Bedminster, wife of Alfred Bown a tramway company labourer present at the death was a Lily Wride, daughter of 10 Francis Place, Bedminster. (This stumped me at the time because I was never aware that there was a daughter called Lily - but all become clear a couple of months later - see below.)

18 days later on 3 October 1910 Alfred Bown, aged 65, a labourer of 94 York Road Bedminster was found dead at Brunswick Tram Depot, Bristol. An inquest on 4 October 1910 stated, “found dead having died of heart failure.”

Alfred’s son Frank had brothers Adolphus Bown, Alfred Harry Bown born 1869, and sisters Lithie J Bown born 1873, Emily Kate Bown born 1874, Minnie Maria Bown born 1878 and Alfred Edwin Bown born 1880.

I have now made contact with the grandson of Lithie Jane Bown, his name is George Wride and he lives in Fishponds, Bristol. Lithie Jane Bown apparently married a Mr MEADE, but was subsequently widowed and at the age of 35 Lithie from 1 Francis Place married a Frederick Charles Wride of 11 Francis Place in 1909 and they subsequently lived at 10 Francis Place, Bedminster (just round the corner where her brother Frank Bown lived) Lithie Jane Bown used the name of Lilly (and Lily.) I now have a photo of Frank’s sister Lithie J and I will shortly put this on the web site.

When Frederick Charles Wride married Lithie J Bown (Lily) there was a FN Bown as a witness, where did this FN Bown come from as I have not come across her or him before. I do know of a two Florence Bown individuals, the first was a daughter of Oliver Bown and the second was Oliver Bown's wife Florence Bown, formerly "Pidgeon" This Oliver was Lithie's 1st cousin.

Lithie died on 11 March 1949 at 10 Francis Place Bedminster aged 76

George Wride the grandson of Lithie J Bown lived at 9 Whitehouse Street and remembers “Auntie Min” (Minnie Maria Bown) and he used to pass her house at 98 York Road in Bedminster on his way to school as a junior.

Minnie Maria Bown married Ernest Donovan at St Lukes Bedminster on 19 September 1896. Minnie was living at 84 Whitehouse Street, Bedminster. They had at least one daughter, Elsie, who married a Norman May and they had two children Janet & Sandra.

Emily Kate Bown married Reuben Lee at St Lukes Bedminster on 25 May 1896. Emily was living at 3 Whitehouse Street, Bedminster.


Well, we now know that Alfred was aged 35 in 1881. The 1881 census also tells us that he came from Othery, in Somerset He was therefore born approximately 1846. Civil registration started in 1837 and therefore it was just possible that he was included on the civil registration lists. Yet another trip to Newcastle Library since I found an Alfred Bown born in the first quarter of 1846 at Middlezoy, which is a village approximately 1 mile away from Othery. With bated breath I awaited the birth certificate and this eventually arrived which stated on 8 February 1846 Alfred Bown boy was born to father Thomas Bown and mother Sarah Bown formerly Scribbins. Father Thomas was a Labourer.

Now, you might think to yourself "right lets now go down the next line", Alfred is said to be the son of Thomas and Sarah, but do we have the correct "Alfred" Yes, Alfred was born in February 1846, approximately the right date, there is no evidence to corroborate that Thomas and Sarah are the parents of the Alfred we are looking for. Yes, Middezoy is only 1 mile from Othery, but it is Middlezoy and not Othery. I therefore thought the best thing to link Alfred with his parents is to apply for a marriage certificate from the General Records Office which would show Alfred's true parents. I had traced a marriage between an Alfred Bown and an Emma Greenham in Newcastle Library and armed with this information I asked the General Records Office to do a search on a marriage that took place in last quarter of 1867. I thought I would also check the marriage of Thomas Bown and Mary Thatcher, who you may remember we thought were Alfred's parents. Thomas Bown and Mary Thatcher's marriage certificate arrived on 11 April 2000 and stated they were married on the 1 November 1864. Thomas Bown was a Labourer and his father was Thomas Bown also a Labourer. Was this the line we were going to follow? The next day I received the answer. The marriage certificate of Alfred Bown and Emma Suzie Greenham arrived, married 19 December 1867 at the parish church of Chard in the county of Somerset, Alfred was a bachelor and his profession was that of a Policeman. He was living at the time in Furnham (it's a place very near Chard), Susan Greenham was residing at Fore Street in Chard, (this still exists), her father was Amos Greenham, Servant. Emma Susan was also a Servant. Well, we had finally found the correct marriage certificate, which is confirmed by the occupation of Alfred as a Policeman in 1867 and also that of his wife who is described as the mother of his children.


Well, I first & last visited Othery in February 2001, flew 300 miles from Newcastle to Bristol, picked up a hire car and traveled South West to Othery, passed the London Inn in Othery and booked in to the Olde Pounde Inn in Aller a couple of miles away, a really nice pub & Hotel, recommended by Dave Bown from Chedzoy, in the early 1800’s it was called the White Lion. After putting down our bags, the first stop was quite obviously back to the London Inn. Imagine it……….here is where my ancestors lived 150 years ago ….. I walked into the pub with much trepidation & excitement, not knowing what hung on the walls .. ….possibly old photos of my ancestors …….. newspaper cuttings that related to my family ……..A landlord that knew of my ancestors ………. Friendly locals recalling the old days………..where was the bedroom that Michael & Rebecca Bown possibly slept, …… where did Alfred sleep? …….No, this was now a local working persons pub, not for idle inquisitive chat from an outsider.

I should have been more positive, made more of an effort, been more assertive, after all, this is why I spend over £500 and three days to make the trip…but no I bottled it.

Anyway, I had found on the internet that a Brian J Bown , Farmer lived at Little England Farm in Othery, not far from the London Inn, and the next day met Geoff Brightman and his partner Dawn who is related to a Bown I was related to in Bristol. I had met him through the internet when he was searching on behalf of a colleague Jon Bown who turned out to be a cousin of mine, related to Adolphus Bown (Frank’s brother) We picked them up at Bridgwater railway station and went to Othery. Geoff is a very nice determined person and we ended up knocking on Brian J Bown’s door. Brian answered, a very fit, very healthy traditional West Country farmer, still a bachelor, and a very contented person. He was very courteous, and I was able to place him as a cousin of the Middlezoy Bown family of Dave Bown’s tree, and probably, but not yet proved a cousin of mine. We have since spoke and exchanged correspondence and phone calls and I hope to meet him again in the summer of 2002 on my next visit.

The next day I met Dave Bown from Chedzoy, whom I had corresponded continually over the internet over the previous twelve months, again another potential cousin to be confirmed. Our thirst and attitude to history knowledge almost identical, and we could have talked for hours but I still had to meet other confirmed cousins from Bristol before getting on our flight back to Newcastle.

When I had driven to Bedminster I phoned Jon Bown, my new found cousin, and he took us to his father’s house, Frank Bown (probably named after my Great Grandfather Frank who died age 23 in 1899), met his brothers and parents. They were such a nice family… only wished I had been and still were part of their family in the true sense of the word. They made Debbie and I very welcome and I applaud them, we have kept in touch by e-mail since and we will meet again.


During recent Othery research I came across a reference to a Zion or Sion Church in Othery. (more soon, the records are now available).


The great revelation that marriage certificates gives us is that the correct Alfred Bown's father was that of Michael Bown a Hay Dealer. Obviously I therefore had the incorrect birth certificate for Alfred Bown, I went back to Newcastle Library and searched the microfiche index for Bown births between 1840 and 1846. I found six Alfred Bown births and I am including the Alfred Bown born in 1846 (for which I already had a copy of the birth certificate). I therefore thought I would try a birth in the third quarter of 1844 for an Alfred Bown and duly applied for the birth certificate, this came back about six weeks later (genealogy must be getting very popular, since the Records Office are under tremendous strain these days).

This is what I had been waiting, for the birth of Alfred Bown on the 18 June 1844 at Othery, father Michael Bown, Farmer, mother Rebecca Bown formerly Keirle (Rebecca could not sign her name at that time since the birth certificate is marked with a cross). Rebecca at the time lived in Othery. I have now found my great great great grandfather Michael Bown from Othery. I was still very busy on the internet and had made a number of contacts with other Bowns which proved very helpful.


I found a contact on the internet for a Warren Haley. I wrote to Warren in April 2000 and explained to him my dilemma and asked whether he could help. He replied as follows: Hi Steve, I wish I could help; however, I know a lot less than you do concerning the Bowns surname. I think perhaps Dave Bown could help you out. My maternal great grandmother was a Jane Bown date of birth 6 July 1850, Somerset, England, date of death 25 January 1860 hear in Jacksonville, Illanois, date of marriage: 9 December 1875 in Somerset, England. She married Samuel Shepherd Keirl(e), date of birth: 4 October 1853, Somerset, England, date of death 3 May 1928 hear in Jacksonville, Illanois. All I now know about Jane's parents are that her father was Michael Bown date of birth 1801, Somerset, England, date of death August 1876. Married in Somerset, 16 April 1831 Rebecca Keirl(e), date of birth 1808, Somerset, date of death December 1876 Somerset could this be the same Michael as Alfred's father, Michael.? Later research revealed an Othery baptism record of 29 June 1849 of a Jane Bown to Michael Bown, Innkeeper

Time to go back to the Newcastle Library, I checked the death records for the whole of England for any Michael Bown who died between 1864 to 1878 and to my surprise there was only two Michael Bown deaths between these dates. Firstly there was a Michael, died in the second quarter of 1872 aged 82 and he died in Newport Pagnel near Milton Keynes. The second was a Michael Bown who died in Somerset aged 75 in the third quarter of 1876, and this appears to be both possibly Warren's relative and could possibly be mine.

I was still in contact with Dave Bown who gathered a great deal of information, and he let me have copies of e-mails that he had between Jeg White. Jeg had been researching the Bown family history in Somerset, and particularly Middlezoy and Othery for a long, long time, and he wrote, (to Dave) "I visited your website sometime ago and meant to contact you in due course… The Bown records may have been linked with the Othery records (which were both very badly kept) but I have made various notes over the years and I could be of help to you". I therefore contacted Jeg White and asked whether he had any information in connection with census records between 1841 and 1881 and he gave me the following information. : 1841 census has Michael Bown aged 37 Farmer from Somerset, wife Rebecca aged 30 from Somerset, daughter Grace aged 9 from Somerset, Henry aged 7 from Somerset, Oliver aged 1 from Somerset, Henry Numan, aged 20 Male Servant (not from Somerset).

I also had the 1851 Somerset census records from a CD produced by an individual in Canada and this has shown the following records for Michael and Rebecca Bown as follows: Michael Bown aged 48, Inn Keeper, Othery, Somerset, Rebecca Bown aged 40, Othery, Somerset, Grace Bown aged 18, Othery, Somerset, Robert Bown aged 16, Othery, Somerset, William Bown aged 10, Othery, Somerset, Samuel Bown aged 7, Othery, Somerset, Michael Bown aged 5, Othery, Somerset, Rebecca Bown aged 2, Othery, Somerset.

Jeg White also went on to provide the 1861 census details as follows: Michael Bown aged 58, Inn Keeper, born Somerset, Middlezoy. Rebecca Bown aged 51, Somerset. Othery, Grace Bown daughter, unmarried aged 27, Othery, Charles Henry Bown, son, unmarried.

Michael Bown's son Charles Henry Bown was a Hay Dealer and married Gabrill Norris (b 1846) on 23 March 1867. Henry & Gabrill Bown are on the Othery 1881 Census, but Gabrill died in 1882 aged 36, and is buried in Othery Cemetery.

Oliver Bown (b 10/05/1840) a Hay Merchant married married Rosina Rose Perry (b 1849) on 18 September 1882 and they had four children, Stephen Bown (b1870 Middlezoy), Oliver Bown (b1871 Middlezoy), Richard Bown & Kate Bown.

We have Michael Bown's birth at 1801. This appears to have come from his death record, wherein he was said to be 75 when he died in 1876. I could not find the baptism record in the Othery Parish records (Click here to view the Bown Othery Parish records) and I think a more accurate year of birth can be taken from the various census records which puts his birth nearer to 1803.

The first mention of Michael Bown in Othery is his marriage to Rebecca in 1831 when Michael was a farmer. (I have not been able to trace which farm in Othery). Michael, between 1851and 1860 was Inn Keeper at The London Inn, Othery. Click to see pictures of Othery Village school, The London Inn, The Parish Church of St Michael and The Old Bakery (Where Michael's son Charles Henry worked as a baker in 1861) There is also a picture of two gravestones in Othery church yard side by side, both with a death date of 1876, the inscriptions are illegible, could these possibly be the graves of Michael & Rebecca???

When researching the Bown History in Othery I have established from the Othery 1841 Tithe Apportionment book that Michael Bown did not own any properties but occupied several properties including 510, Tapping Wall, meadow, and 138, Thornhill, arable. Michael Bown also occupied 32, house and garden, and 353, Rex Mead, meadow. I have not yet been able to trace these exact locations but plot 32 is in the region of where the flour mill is shown in Othery (On the 1904 O.S. Map) south east of the parish church

The 1871 Othery Census records show that Michael Bown, age 69, was by then a Hay dealer, born Othery, on folio 32, with wife Rebecca age 62 and daughters Jane, 21 dressmaker, and Emily, 14, All born in Othery. (Emily was actually their granddaughter - Grace’s daughter, but there is still a bit of confusion since Emily’s baptism records shows Grace the mother and Michael ? Bown as father.?????)


Rebecca Keirle was said to be born in 1808 in Somerset, this information came from a keirle descendent in Jacksonville, Morgan County, Illinois. I think this is a presumption based on her alleged age when she died.

Rebecca was actually baptised as Rebecca Richards on 18 June 1811, in Othery, an illegitimate child of Charlotte Richards. Charlotte also had one other illegitimate child, Anne, baptised 12 November 1813, in Othery. Charlotte then married Samuel Keirle on 11 February 1815 in Othery. Rebecca then assumed her father's surname of Keirle until she became a Bown when she married Michael. Samuel & Charlotte Keirle then had further children and one of these was a Charlotte Keirle (half sister to Rebecca) who went on to marry a Job Salway and they had a number of children, including Ellen Salway, who is named on Rebecca's death certificate as Rebecca's niece, present at the death of Rebecca Bown.

I have also noted that when Jane Bown, Michael & Rebecca's daughter married Samuel Keirle on 19 December 1875, a Job Richards was a witness!!!

With the new Knowledge now received that Rebecca's mother was a Charlotte Richards I went back to the Othery parish records and found a whole host of information regarding Rebecca's Ancestors:

Charlotte Richards, Rebecca's mother, was baptised to Jonathon & Mary Richards in Othery on 24 March 1788. Jonathan & Mary (nee Hucker) married 10 May 1784 in Othery and had four other children, Joseph bap 27 December 1785, Rebecca bap 22 February 1790, Jesse (Male) 3 January 1793 & Henry bap 5 June 1798.

Jonathon's parents, (Rebecca Bown's Grandparents),were probably Mathew & Anne (nee Meade) Richards. Jonathon was baptised on 30 November 1756 in Othery.

Mathew Richards was probably the Mathew who was baptised 7 July 1734 in Aller, son of William & Anne (nee Weech) Richards. William & Anne married 14 May 1727 in Aller.

Michael and Rebecca's daughter Jane born 1849 married Samuel Keirle. Between them they had eight children, one of whom was Harry Kay Keirl (spelled this way from this point on) born 19 May 1887 died 17 February 1920 in Jacksonville. He married on 10 April 1910 in Jacksonville to Lona Estella Morrow, born 4 February 1892 died 24 June 1950. Harry Kay and Lona Estella had four children one of whom was Juanita Viola Keirl, born 27 October 1916 died 24 June 1983. She married Warren Kenneth Haley (born 29 March 1912, died 8 November 1944, born and died in Jacksonville) Warren and Juanita had four children one of them being Walter Warren Haley born 6 March 1934 in Jacksonville, still living.

Jane Bown's husband, Samuel, was the eldest son of James and Mary Keirl (Mary formerly Doster), married 8 April 1852 in London. James's parents were George and Ann Keirl (Ann formerly Shepherd), married 6 October 1823 in Aller. George Keirl was the fourth child of Edward and Joane Keirl (Joan formerly Gillert) born 1761 died 1841, married 11 May 1784 in Western Zoyland. Edward was the eldest son of John and Ann Keirle (Ann formerly Jenkins), married 1757 in Middlezoy of Edward Keirl who married a Mary.


Now, I have found a very interesting web site in USA at and On here I found the Illinois Morgan County death register records, and found the death of Emily Bown who was born in Somerset, was widowed when she died and she died on 1 June 1878 aged 21 years and five months. This puts her date of birth at January 1857. You may be wondering why I have pulled this record out, but I have found in the Othery Parish records the baptism of an Emily Bown. The mother of Emily was Grace Bown, single woman, and Emily was baptised on 22 February 1857. The baptism certificate shows that the father was a Charles Hillier. The birth certificate shows date of birth 5 January 1857, mother Grace Bown, Othery, but no mention of the father

I have an internet contact, a John White, who is a Bown descendent who has provided me details of the 1861 census which has the family as follows.

Michael Bown, head, married 58 in keeper born Middlezoy.

Rebecca wife married 51 Othery.

Grace daughter unmarried 27 Othery.

Charles Henry son unmarried 26 Baker Othery.

Oliver son unmarried 20 Innkeepers son Othery. Birth Certificate now located - born 13 April 1840, Othery - father Michael Bown Farmer - informant Rebecca Bown - Mother.

Jane daughter unmarried 11 Scholar Othery.

Emily granddaughter 4 Othery.

I think it is therefore safe to assume that this Emily was the daughter of Grace Bown, daughter of Michael. The interesting thing is that the 1861 census seems to be the most accurate which therefore sheds the doubt on the existence of Samuel Bown (who may have been incorrectly identified as Alfred), and Robert Bown (who may have been incorrectly identified as Charles Henry).

This Emily Bown married a Charles Bown on 23 August 1876 in Morgan County Illinois.

I have also found the death of a Grace Bown who is buried at Woodson, Illinois, Diamond Grove cemetery on 29 June 1905 aged 74 years. This Grace would therefore be born approximately 1831 and is most likely Grace Bown, daughter of Michael Bown.

I have also found a marriage between Grace Bown and John Bown in Illinois on 23 November 1871.

Now I know that you will seem its strange that we have Bowns marrying Bowns, but I would like to point you to a very interesting web page I came across….. I can't find the web address but this was a history of Morgan County Illinois; its past and present, and obituary for a John Bown which reads :-

"Bown, John, Farmer and Stock Raiser, Sec.26, p.o. Jacksonville: He was born in Somerset, England, about the year 1826: emigrated to America in 1868 and settled in Morgan County: He married Grace Bown (his cousin): She was born in Somerset England about the year 1828: There are Charles J, Rosanna, Emily, John, James: Owns 180 acres of land".

If this is our Grace Bown who married her cousin, John, then this may help us to go further back since John's father would have been Michael's brother. It turns out that this John Bown came from Middlezoy born 1829 the son of Robert Bown born 1794 and his wife Anne (Champion). This line of the Bown family has been traced back to William Bown (born 1724), and is documented in Dave Bown’s web site referred to above. John was previously married to Louise Hucker (from Othery) and the Charles Bown mentioned above who married Grace’s daughter Emily was a child of John & Louise. After Emily died on 1 June 1878 aged 21 years and five months Charles married Evelina Bilger on 27 April 1880.

More Soon...

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