The Brickmakers of St Albans (index)
James DIXON, born St Albans in 1838, was the son of John DIXON and Mary WICKS, He lived in Sopwell Lane and became foreman brickmaker for Mr C Miskin on the brickworks on Bernard's Heath. There is also information about his brother Richard, clay? pipe maker, and his son John, brickyard labourer.
[Unless otherwise stated family information comes from the IGI, VRI, and census data.]
John DIXONmarried Mary Wicks at St Albans Abbey on 26 October 1833. John DIXON was a pipe maker [St Peters Baptismal Register] and he died in Sopwell Lane in 1845.
Mary WICKSwas born at Ayot St Lawrence in about 1810, and in the 1851 census was a 40 year old widow and straw hat maker living in Sopwell Lane with six children, all born in St Albans. In the 1861 census Mary (48, trimming weaver) was married to Caleb GRIMSHAW (55, confectioner born Hockcliffe, Beds) in Sopwell Lane with children Ann and William. The 1881 census shows her as Mary GRIMSHAW (67, married, charwoman, born Ayotts St Lawrence) living in Sopwell lane with her daughter Ann and a grandson, John DIXON (son of James). She died in 1884 aged 74.
Her children in 1851 were:
James DIXONwas 13 and a straw hat maker in 1851. In 1861 he was living in Sopwell Lane, next door to his mother. He was described as a 22 year old labourer and was already married to Susan (23, born St Albans). In the 1881 census he lived in Sopwell Lane and is shown as a brickmaker. He was still living in Sopwell Lane at the time of the 1891 census when he was employed as a brickyard foreman.
He worked as foreman for MrC. MISKIN as the following press report, from the Herts Advertiser of 15th December 1883 shows:
COUNTY PETTY SESSIONS. Saturday
George North and Samuel Taylor, wretchedly clad young fellows, were charged on remand with sleeping in an out-house in the brick yard of Mr. C. Miskin, Bernard's Heath, and with doing damage to the amount of 5s to 200 bricks.
Police-constable Brown found the defendants asleep, in the place referred to, early on the morning of the 4th inst. They were lying on some unburnt bricks, which they had damaged by walking over. There had been previous complaints, and witness took them into custody.
Mr. Miskin said that a good deal of damage had been done by men of the defendant's clan. The bricks were put there to dry. There was a flue running underneath the floor and this kept the place warm.
James Dixon, the foreman of the yard, gave corroborative evidence.
Defendants admitted going into the place to sleep, but denied that they in any way damaged the bricks.
North said that on the night in question he went to the Workhouse and asked them to give him a night's lodgings, but they would not.
The Magistrates dismissed the case of vagrancy and convicted defendants on the charge of damaging the bricks. North, who had been seven times previously convicted, was committed to goal for two months with hard labour and Taylor, against whom there was nothing previously, was fined £1, or 14 days.
The offence described was not uncommon - as there were quite a few homeless vagrants about who found the brick sheds a warm place to spend the night.
There was also aJ Dixon listed as playing cricket on Bernards Heath, in September 1890, as one of Mr Miskin's employees - but it could have been either James or his son John DIXON who then would have been about 23.
September 23, 1890. Cricket on the Heath. Conservative Club v C.Miskin's Employees. Played on Bernards Heath on Saturday.
J Dixon, H Paul, H Saunders, Toms.
[From letter by Reg Auckland, 22/1/2001]
His family, as determined by the 1881 and 1891 census returns, were all born in St Albans and living with him in Sopwell Lane:
Also present in 1891 was
The 1899 St Albans Almanac is the first one to list aJ DIXON at 33 Sopwell Lane (with earlier editions listing few or no entries for Sopwell Lane - so the absence is not significant). It is not known whether this is James or John.
For more on this family see DIXON, St Albans, 19th century
If you can add to the information given above tell me.
Page updated May 2006