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Not Brentford

A Ghost Story

Part 1

Whilst working through the 1811 census of Old Brentford, the name Stephen Ghost stood out: such an unusual name. Sometimes 'unusual' results from mis-hearing or mis-spelling of another name, for example a Copperthought found in the 1801 census was recorded in other records as Copperthwaite. Was there really a Stephen Ghost?

No one has traced the family of Stephen Ghost on Ancestry - perhaps he was not named Ghost, or has no descendants with an Ancestry subscription - and so a project to find out more about him started in December 2021: a Ghost story to complement a longer running project, the Christmas (family) tree.

In the 1811 census Stephen Ghost was a head of household in Old Brentford. The house was occupied by two families, in all two males and two females, all engaged in a trade and therefore adults. It is not known if the two families were related, nor how many were in each family: Stephen may have had a wife and child, or been a widower or bachelor. So what more can be found out about Stephen Ghost and where he lived?

The first source considered is the Ealing Land Tax, records of which are available on Ancestry for 1780, 1782-1808, 1810, 1816-1824 , 1826-1832. They span over 50 years - much of a lifetime.

The 1810 Land Tax record for Ealing was a year before the census and it does include Stephen Ghost, see below. He was the tenant in Old Brentford of a tenement and school room owned by Samuel Webb, assessed value (or rental) £4. This confirms Stephen's name and suggests he may have been a schoolmaster.

1810 Land Tax page heading
1810 Land Tax Ghost entry

Was he living in the same house as in the census a year later? As a tenant he could pack up and move, but if he was the schoolmaster his accommodation could be tied to his work, in which case he was more likely to stay put.

More to follow...

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The 1811 census transcript is here, thanks to John Gauss (not Ghost!).

Read about some of Brentford's ghosts:
The Barge Aground ghost remembered by Richard Stibbons, early 1960s
Inverness Lodge's hauntings are remembered by several
Patsy Langley recalls the Honeywell ghost from the late 1990s

Page published January 2022