St Albans


The Brickmakers of St Albans

William Howard




[Unless otherwise stated family information comes from the IGI, VRI, and census data.]

Barbara Tearle (b.tearle @t is the great great granddaughter of William and has provided key information relating to his pre-brick-making days.

William Howard seems to have come to brick making later in life - but as the occupation "labourer" is very general this may simply reflect the limitations of surviving records. 

Barbara reports: William Howard was born in 1833 in St Albans into a large family who were members of the Dagnall Lane Baptist church. His parents were James and Elizabeth Howard (nee Parker) and the younger members of the family are recorded in the 1851 census.

 Name  Relation Age Birthplace Occupation
James Howard Head 50 Sandridge Brewers Man
Elizabeth Howard Wife 45 Bennington Does Wash
John Howard Son 11 Scholar at Home St Albans
Lydia Howard Daur 9 Scholar at Home St Albans
Jesse Howard Son 7 Scholar at Home St Albans
Esther Howard Daur 5 Scholar at Home St Albans

The eldest sons, Thomas and James had already emigrated to Australia.  I don't know where William was in 1851.  [He may be the 17 year old labourer from Hertfordshire lodging with John Fain in Aylesford, Kent, in the 1851 census.] He enlisted in the Royal Marines on 18 March 1853 for 12 years and bought himself out for 20 on 6 April 1857. In the records of  his services he is described on enlistment at age 18 years 9 months, 5ft 8in tall, dark complexion, hazel eyes, dark brown hair, marks on back of neck and had had smallpox, was single and a labourer.  He served on HMS Cressy from 30 December 1853 to 24 December 1855 and then on shore in UK for the remainder of his service.  HMS Cressy went to the Baltic in both the 1854 and 1855 campaigning seasons, so he never went to the Crimea itself. 

 While he was away, his parents and all his brothers and sisters emigrated to Australia and settled in Sydney.  By the time William left the Royal Marines, he had married a St Albans girl, Hannah Constable.  They lived in Bermondsey for a few years, where my great grandfather was born, [and where the 1861 census shows he was employed as a coachman] then returned to St AlbansWilliam and Hannah had a large family.  [The 1871 census shows him working as a carman.] He was a member of the Dagnall Lane Baptist church and his son Thomas was a member of the breakaway Victoria Street Baptist Tabernacle, [see WATTS, St Albans, 1865-1880s]. About 25 years ago the Dagnall Lane Baptists kindly let me look at their records which enabled me to trace his family's emigration to Australia and when I visited Australia several years ago, I visited the church that they helped found there.

In the 1881 census he was living in Victoria Road, St Peters Parish, St Albans

 Name  Relation Age Birthplace Occupation
 William HOWARD   Head   45   S Albans   Labourer 
 Hannah HOWARD   Wife   42   S Albans    
 James HOWARD   Son   19   S Albans   Labourer 
 Alice HOWARD   Daur   16   S Albans   Hat Sewer 
 Ada HOWARD   Daur   13   S Albans   Scholar 
 Albert HOWARD   Son   12   S Albans   Scholar 
 Florance HOWARD   Daur   9   S Albans   Scholar 
 Walter HOWARD   Son   7   S Albans   Scholar 
 Alfred HOWARD   Son   7   S Albans   Scholar 

It is not known when William became involved in brick making but in the early 1880's James Dickson started on the development of lower cost housing between Sandridge Road and the Midland Railway line, north of Sandpit Lane, including Culver Road and a brickworks. The first reference to William Howard working for James Dickson is in the press report Stealing Lead Piping in 1889, where he clearly had a responsible position in the brick works. His address is given as St John's Road (later renames Walton Street). The following year he gave evidence relating to The Death of Leonard Margrave on Bernards Heath in 1890, when he is described as the foreman at the brick works.

In the 1891 census he was living at No 1, St Johns Road, in the Parish of Sandridge, (and also in the City of St Albans).

 Name  Relation Age Birthplace Occupation
 William HOWARD   Head   56   St Albans   Carman 
 Hannah HOWARD   Wife   51   S Albans    
Alice STEVENS Dau, Widow 26 London Straw Hat Machinist
Ada HOWARD Dau 29 London Domestic Servant
Florence HOWARD Dau 17 St Albans Laundress
Walter HOWARD Son 17 St Albans Labourer
Alfred HOWARD Son 16 St Albans Labourer
Alice STEVENS Gd Dau 5 St Albans Scholar

The fact that he is described as a "carman" is interesting - suggesting William's skills at the brick works related to his skills with horses - rather than personally making bricks.

In the mid-1890's James Dickson built two larger houses facing onto Sandpit Lane, with a back-entrance onto the brickworks, and Lyle Perrins (who has done much research on Hertfordshire brick works) has suggested that William Howard lived in one of them. These brickworks closed in 1899, but William Howard was described as a "Brick Makers Foreman" in the 1901 census. He was living then at 34 Culver Road, St Albans.

 Name  Relation Age Birthplace Occupation
 William HOWARD   Head   64  St Albans   Brickmaker's Foreman 
 Eliza HOWARD   Wife   47  America    
Gertrude LUCAS Step Dau 26 Harpenden Dress Maker
Alice WYKES Boarder 28 Harpenden  
Eva WYKES Boarder's Dau 4 mo St Albans  

It is not clear whether he still worked for James Dickson, or if not which brick works was involved. (The nearest brickworks still operational in 1901 were those of Jacob Reynolds, near the school in Sandridge Road, and possibly the Sandpit Lane brickworks (Marshallswick) under W. A. Dixon.)

The 1901 census shows that William had remarried an American-born widow who, at the time of the 1891 census, had been the wife of John Chambers, an engineer fitter, living in Sandridge Road. It may be that he was responsible for equipment used for brickmaking.

August 2008

Mary Byrnes (marynell.byrnes @t of Cambridge wanted to contact Barbara Tearle about the Australian side of the Howard family - but the email address appears to be invalid. In passing she she had been told that John Howard, the former Australian Prime Minister, was Jesse Howard, born 4th September, 1843 in Hertfordshire.

Jesse Howard (aged 11, born St Albans) arrived in New South Wales, Australia,  on the Blenheim, in July 1855, with his father and probably other members of the family. I have checked online using google and elsewhere and the general opinion would seem to be that Jesse is the great grandfather of the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, and died in 1910. (I leave others to check the Australian records.)

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

Page updated August 2008