BRASH, St Albans, 1870 to about 1900

September 2001

D Madderson of Blyth, Northumberland, says Great grandfather Thomas Littlejohn Brash and his wife Catherine Dryden were married in Stepney in 1882. They had five children born in St Albans, all but one of them my (grandfather) died in a St Albans workhouse in 1891. After this date I cant find any trace of Thomas or Catherine. Their deaths are not on the St Catherines list. Older relatives who have related a story to me, goes that Catherine turned alcoholic, Thomas was a schoolmaster at Peckham. There was a shooting, and someone took my grandfather to Wales. I cant find out what or even if any of this happened, but I am sure something did, if so there must have been something in the local Herts papers from about, 1891 on. I would love to find out ,and would greatly appreciate any info you or any of your site users may have come across. Your site was a gem of a find as I am quite a novice as yet.

.I started by looking to see if I could find Thomas Littlejohn Brash in the 1881 census - and he was lodging at 4 Hazelwood Terrace, St Albans:




Hemel Hempstead, Herts






Quainton, Bucks






London Islington



Thomas L. BRASH



Haddington, Scotland


Certified Teacher

I then looked in the Post Office/Kelly's directories for the period

1866 Nothing

1870 Schools: British: Spencer Street: Thomas Littlejohn Brash, master

1878 Schools: British: Spencer Street: Thomas Littlejohn Brash, master

1882 Schools: Board Schools: Spencer Street (boys): Thomas Littlejohn Brash

1886 Thomas Brash, Hill Street

Schools: Board Schools: Hatfield Road (boys) built in 1881 and enlarged in 1885, for 400 boys; average attendence 340; Thomas Littlejohn Bash, Master.

1890 Nothing - John Roe was master of Hatfield Road School.

Clearly something went disastrously wrong for the wife and children of someone of Thomas Littlejohn Brash's status to end up in the workhouse. This may match up with some aspects of your story - for instance did he go to prison leaving the family destitute.

There are files in the St Albans Central Library (which I am afraid is not very helpful for you) that could help. There are street directories for almost every year and a check of each year between 1885 and 1890 could indicate when the family moved out of their house within about a year. Because he taught in a Board School it should be possible to get a finer date as the School Board net once a month, with a detailed report in the Herts Advertiser (on microfilm in the library). These reports should include details of his "resignation" and replacement and if the Board minutes suggest his departure was forced the previous few weeks papers are likely to give details of any trial, etc.

P.S. There was only one workhouse in St Albans. I did not look for Catherine Dryden or her family.

October 2001

D Madderson replied:  My grateful thanks for your most prompt and informative reply. I gave you a little wrong info when I wrote to you. I said that the 4 children who died in the workhouse was in St Albans, when in fact the children's death certificate states that it was in Camberwell. Please accept my deepest apology if this caused any waste of your time. Thomas Brash was still alive and recorded as being a schoolmaster in Peckham then (1891) so I guess the trail runs cold at St Albans, and it seems I must continue from 1891 at Camberwell if possible. Thanks anyway Chris, and I shall continue looking up your great site.

If Thomas Brash went straight from St Albans to Peckham one must seriously wonder why his children died in the Workhouse. Was the fever hospital (for highly infectious diseases) in the grounds of the Camberwell Workhouse? Was there a major epidemic on at the time?

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

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