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Brentford Families - Christmas

The Christmas family lived in the same property in Brentford from 1841 to 1891 and was useful in pinning down who lived where in the censuses before the High Street was numbered.

A surname profiling web site (see Web Links), which maps surname density by current postal districts, shows 'Christmas' in the eastern half of England and particularly in postal areas of Stevenage and Guildford. Brentford is in Twickenham postal district and 'Christmas' shows up as a little higher than normal density in this area

I started research on this family in the run up to Christmas 2009. Since then new on-line records have enabled some additions to be made: these are indicated with (2010), (2011) etc.

(2015): a search on ancestry for the marriage of William CHRISTMAS to Elizabeth BEST prior to 1835 was successful.

William Christmas

William Christmas was the father of a small family and exits the scene in the last quarter of 1837, leaving a will which describes him as a china man of New Brentford with a wife Elizabeth and infant daughters Elizabeth and Sarah. As he died before the census there is no clue as to where he came from.

The ancestry.co.uk website includes a christening record for Elizabeth Christmas, daughter of William & Elizabeth Christmas, New Brentford parish, born 29 May 1835, maternal grandfather George Best. The source was Dr William's Library,specialising in English Presbyterianism, Unitarianism and Congregationalism. This could explain why there have been challenges in tracing the family if they were non-conformists.

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Ancestry.co.uk includes the burial entry for our William Christmas, on October 27 1837 at St Mary Richmond: he was of Brentford and aged 40. The reference 'G1N' on the entry may refer to his burial plot. The burial site suggests the Christmas family may have been from Richmond.

Ancestry.co.uk records of Land Tax Redemption for 1798 show a 'Christmas' (no forename) was the occupier of land or (more likely) property in Richmond owned by William Emmitt and taxed at 7s 4d. Another occupier, Thomas Cox, was bracketed with 'Christmas' . There are another 85 references to Christmas in the same set of records, with several in Buckinghamshire, Surrey, London and Sussex and no proof that the 1798 Christmas in Richmond is related to William Christmas, but a link is possible.

Searches of Richmond registers for other Christmas burials showed a William St(uart?) Christmas was buried on January 8 1836, age 4: the same reference 'G1N' is included under his name, unfortunately the address is not clear: but Hill Street seems likely from a later burial. There is a baptism of William, son of William and Ellen Christmas of Brentford, china dealer, at St Mary Richmond on March 1 1832, he was born January 28.

BUT the mother was not expected to be 'Ellen': the name Elizabeth was given in the census returns. William Christmas (a bachelor of Isleworth) married Ellen Stevens, a spinster of Richmond, at Richmond in 1828. So were there two couples, William and Elizabeth and William and Ellen - or just one?

Ancestry.co.uk includes several Christmas family trees, including one which has William Christmas and wife Elizabeth nee BEST, with three children: a son who died as a youngster, daughter Elizabeth and daughter Sarah.

Familysearch.org includes a baptism of Elizabeth BEST daughter of George Best and Elizabeth on 20 Oct 1793 Saint Mary Magdalen, Richmond, Surrey.

(2010) So at this point findings from 2010 have thrown in some complications but on a positive note there is a firmer link with Richmond, with a possible baptism of Elizabeth Christmas (nee Best) and evidence the Christmas family had other branches locally.

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It struck me that Ellen might be a first wife of 'our' William Christmas, and a search of burials using ancestry.co.uk supported this: an Ellen Christmas was buried on April 11 1832, age 30, at St Mary Richmond, and by the entry the same reference as appears in two other Christmas burials is written: 'G.1.N'. The address is clear: Hill Street. A bonus, from Googling on 'Hill Street Richmond' is the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames website ' A Walk along Hill Street'.

The above find narrows down the period in which William Christmas remarried to between April 1832 and his own death in 1837; one would expect him to have married before daughter Elizabeth was baptised in May 1835. Elizabeth was born in St Lawrence, New Brentford, perhaps her parents married there? In theory any marriage should be on ancestry.co.uk, but as it has not turned up I searched the marriages at St Lawrence, New Brentford and at St Mary Richmond for 1832-1835 using the browse facility- still no success.

I also checked findmypast and was side-tracked by a Lincolnshire marriage which resulted in the bride becoming 'Easter Christmas' and a Vicar-General Marriage Licence Allegation in 1836 between a groom named White and a bride called Christmas, begging to be hyphenated.

William and Elizabeth may have married in a non-conformist chapel whose records are not available online at present.

(2015): Bingo! The marriage of William CHRISTMAS to Elizabeth BEST took place at St George Hanover Square church (found on both ancestry and findmypast websites, albeit on the former his surname was transcribed as Christinas); the marriage was by banns and took place on 18 December, 1832 with Geo: and Anne BEST as witnesses; all parties signed and William and Elizabeth stated they were 'of this parish'. This places the family in Westminster at the end of 1832, although earlier in the year their son was baptised at Richmond and Ellen was buried there.

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Christmas family in censuses

The 1841 census shows William's widow, Elizabeth Christmas, aged 40 (so 40 to 44 in practice) carrying on the business as well as bringing up her two young daughters, Elizabeth aged 6, Sarah aged 4. Frances CROOK, aged just 12, was a female servant: perhaps she helped with the girls or worked in the shop. The census shows that the mother Elizabeth was not born in Middlesex, but her two daughters were.

In 1851 Elizabeth is described as a 'china and glass dealer' and the census reveals her birthplace as Richmond, Surrey: a couple of miles from Brentford on the south of the Thames. It also confirms her daughters were born in Brentford, so the family were settled here by around 1835. There is no servant living with the family, but the girls would have been old enough (at 15 and 14 according to the census) to help their mother.

What did the shop sell and who to? My guess is china and glass for domestic use and sold to Brentford people. The Grand Junction Canal ran through Brentford and could have brought stocks of china and earthenware from the Staffordshire potteries.

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By 1861 the eldest daughter, Elizabeth, was not living with her family at their High Street address. A search of the census index shows she was visiting William GRAY, a lodging house keeper at 3 Old Palace Terrace, The Green, Richmond. Was he an uncle or more distant relative? Or perhaps the relationship was through Harriet Gray his wife, who, at 59 was a contemporary of Elizabeth's parents. William Gray was 50 and born in St Peter's Kent, his wife in Guildford, Surrey.

In 1871 the Christmas family is recorded in New Brentford, mother 'dealer in china and glass', two daughters unmarried at 35 and 34. Neither had an occupation recorded against their name. Later in the year their mother Elizabeth died, aged 77.

Ancestry.co.uk includes Elizabeth's Administration details. This gives her death date as 14 Sep 1871, that she died at her High Street home, her effects were valued under 200 and administration was granted to Sarah Christmas, her daughter and one of the next of kin.

After their mother died the business continued in the hands of the two daughters. An 1874 trade directory includes the elder daughter, Miss E Christmas, china dealer, High Street New Brentford. However by 1881 it is Sarah Christmas who is running the shop and the census shows for the first time the address as '219 High Street'. Sarah had two older lodgers sharing the house: George Boxall, a retired baker, and his wife Jane, both aged 76. The index to deaths shows that Sarah's elder sister Elizabeth had died in 1877 at the age of just 41.

I checked ancestry.co.uk and Elizabeth (junior) did not leave a will.

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The last Christmas?

Sarah continued to run the business, living on her own at 219 High Street; the 1891 census shows she was an 'employer' so presumably, at the age of 54, she had some day help in the shop. The description of her occupation is 'china dealer' and later the word 'earth' has been added with a 'x': perhaps referring to earthenware either being, or not being, sold.

The Electoral Registers on ancestry.co.uk show Sarah Christmas qualified to vote in 1894 in county but not parliamentary elections due to her occupation of the house at 219 High Street.

In 1901 no. 219 High Street has a new occupant: Albert C Moore, grocer & provision merchant. Sarah Christmas, aged 64, was visiting Emma STANBURY, an unmarried lady aged 51, in Richmond (8 St John's Grove). Emma Stanbury was born in Richmond and may have been a relative of Sarah's mother. Perhaps Sarah had retired? No occupation is shown in the census.

The 1871 census shows Emma Stanbury living with her parents Joshua and Maria A in Kensington, also a sister Maria age 16. The father was a draper born in Barnstaple, Devon. FreeBMD includes the parent's marriage in Richmond registration district in 1841: Joshua Downing Stanbury to Maria Ann PEIRCE. Ancestry.co.uk has the marriage register for Richmond, but the names of the witnesses are unclear - a Joseph Peirce (Maria Ann's father was Joseph Peirce), Wm ... (possibly Peirce), Elizabeth (Keld?)and Elizabeth .....ns.

A check of the 1911 census revealed Sarah, age 74, born New Brentford, was visiting a hotel run by William Lossock, 6-9 Bridgewater Square, St Giles Cripplegate. A search of later death registrations showed a possible match in 1927 at Kingston registration District, Surrey, age 90.

Other local Christmas

Ancestry.co.uk includes a tantalising baptism at St Lawrence, New Brentford on 11 Dec 1836: Ruth Jane, daughter of Edward and Jane Christmas, china man of New Brentford. I have not looked into this family further but the sharing of surname, occupation and location suggests Edward was related to William Christmas who died in 1837.

I found a second baptism on ancestry:Kezia Amelia, daughter of Edward and Jane Christmas, marine store dealer of Old Brentford, June 28 1840 at St George's church. There is a death registration of a Kezia Christmas registered in the Jul/September quarter which seems likely to be the infant.

Edward Christmas married Jane MUMFORD at Heston in 1835. In 1841 an Edward Christmass, a labourer age 30 and not born in Middlesex, with Mary, age 3 was living at a High Street address, Old Brentford. Had his wife died in the meantime? I was not able to trace the family in later censuses, but a burial of Edward Christmas at St Mary, Ealing in 1858, age 50 may be relevant. It would be helpful to locate him in 1851 to establish his birthplace - in case he is related to William.

Jane Ruth Christmas married Richard COOKE 2 June 1860 by Banns at South Mimms, she named her father Edward Christmas, occupation jeweller. The witnesses were George TURNER and M A Christmas (? - rather faded). The 1861 census shows the couple living at a High Street address in Chipping Barnet and confirm Jane's birthplace as Brentford. Mary Ann Christmas, sister-in-law, age 22, dressmaker born 'Ealing Surrey' was living with Edward and Jane.

A William Green Christmas married Jane PENNY at St Mary Richmond on 15 November 1840. The marriage entry describes him as a carpenter of Richmond and his father's name (unclear) appears to be Major Christmas, a farmer. Is he related to 'our' William Christmas? The 1841 and 1851 censuses show him living in Isleworth with his wife and mother-in-law and in 1851 his birthplace as March, Cambridgeshire.
(2015) Major CHRISTMAS was living in March, Cambridgeshire with his wife Mary in 1861; he was a farmer; he died 23 March 1868 aged 80 leaving a will; his son William Green CHRISTMAS of 3 Phoenix Row, Isleworth was the sole executor and the effects were valued at under 100.

Catherine Christmas married James KNIGHT at St Mary Richmond, 18 August 1823, by licence. Witnesses: Elizabeth Christmas, Emily Christmas, William Christmas, Thomas Christmas.

(2015) Sarah CHRISTMAS, 31, spinster of Richmond married Thomas ALLEYN, 41, bachelor of Westminster at St James Westminster by licence dated 20 December 1780; this is of interest as the two parties were of Richmond and Westminster, places where William CHRISTMAS lived and married; also he called a daughter Sarah (ancestry)

(2015)William CHRISTMAS, gent, 1 Knightsbridge, voted in 1820 (ancestry poll books)

(2015) William CHRISTMAS was recorded as having property tenanted at the following Westminster addresses (findmypast Westminster Rate Books):
1800 Avery Farm Row, St George Hanover Square (4 rentals)
1805 Avery Farm Row, St George Hanover Square (4 rentals)
1806 Holles Street, St Clement Danes
1809 Holles Street, St Clement Danes
1812 Holles Street, St Clement Danes
1817 Holles Street, St Clement Danes
1823 Holles Street, St Clement Danes
1830 two properties Oxford Street South side
1844 Barton Street, St Margaret
1851 Barton Street, St Margaret
This may be the William Christmas found in the 1841 census at 13 Gower Street, St Giles in the Field Westminster; he was 70, occupation 'Cl?' and lived with Anna age 70, both born this county.

(2015)Possible baptisms of William CHRISTMAS:
10 April 1796 St Mary at Lambeth , son of Thomas andf Ann, born 8 Feb 1796

Christmas Tree

William Christmas (bn around 1796/7, died 1837 and buried at Richmond 27 October in grave reference G1N - with his first wife and son William Stevens; William senior was of Brentford): married
(1) Ellen STEVENS (bn around 1801/1, buried 11 April 1832 age 30, St Mary Richmond) 7 February 1828 at Richmond; he was of Isleworth, a bachelor, she a spinster of Richmond and they married by licence; witnesses: Elizabeth Stevens, Frances Stevens, Joseph POOLE, Thomas PALMER
(2) Elizabeth (nee BEST possible baptism in Richmond 1793, died 1871, Brentford) 18 December 1832 at St George, Hanover Square, Westminster;
William was of St George Hanover Square when he married in 1832 and ran a china shop initially in Richmond , living at Hill Street(1832/1836), later in New Brentford at 219 High Street (1840); he left a PCC will; children include
  • William Stevens Christmas (1832-1836); born 28 January, baptised 1 March 1832 and buried 8 January 1836, both at St Mary Richmond; a child of William senior's first marriage; he was buried in grave reference G1N, with his mother Ellen
  • Elizabeth Christmas (born 29 May 1835; died 1877) :born in Brentford; no issue; child of second marriage
  • Sarah Christmas (bn around 1837, probable death 1927): born in Brentford; no issue; child of second marriage

We do not know...

Where the Christmas family came from, although east of England seems likely.

No Sarah Christmas baptism has been found, around 1836/7.

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Published December 2009; updated December 2015