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Brentford Families - Nay

In February 2016 Meurig Jones wrote to say he noticed that Alfred Nay was recorded on Brentford's WW1 memorial. He added that Alfred served in the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902 as Pte 3111 Middlesex Regt. He served in the Relief of Ladysmith campaign being engaged at the battle of Spion Kop (amongst others). Peter Stuart (not a Nay descendant) added some additional detail; in April 2016 Mike Baker wrote to say he is researching the Bethnal Green branch of the family: see note at end for contact details.

None of Alfred's descendants have been in touch through the website as at February 2016 and a check of electoral registers for any Nay living in Brentford in 2002-2014 turned up just two names, so it wouldn't appear to be a local name. So what could a few hours research establish about Alfred?

1911 census

First port of call findmypast: the 1911 census shows Alfred living at 39 Hamilton Road Brentford in a 5-roomed house (this excluded any bathroom, closet or scullery). Alfred was 39 at this point, a gas fitter for the Brentford Gas Company, and he had been born in Bethnal Green London - his age suggests a birth year of 1871/2. He had been married to Mary for 16 years (suggesting a marriage in 1894 or 1895) and they had six children, four of whom survived and were living at home: Mabel 15, Winifred 12, Alfred junior 7 and Edward 5. Mary was the same age as Alfred and was a Brentford girl; the eldest daughter Mabel was born in Hounslow and her three siblings were Brentford-born. The two 12 and 7 year-olds were at school, Mabel was a domestic servant and little Edward was still at home: the census was taken on April 2nd, before Good Friday on the 14th: he may have started school in the summer term.

The census schedule was filled in correctly, no mis-spellings or crossings out, and was in a fluent hand - Alfred was a confident writer and must have had a good education, either with the military or before he joined up.

Whilst searching for Alfred in 1911 another match stood out: Albert Alfred Nay, age 53, who was living in at 40 Menolte (Menotti?) Street, Bethnal Green. Albert was a dock labourer and had three children still at home, Albert Edward 24, Alice 20 and Edwin 18. His home had four rooms and the form was completed with less confidence, with uneven handwriting. Two of his children had unusual occupations: Albert Edward was a 'hair labourer'; and the youngest, Edwin a 'walking stick man'; Alice was a tailoress. Albert senior's wife was Annie Elizabeth, age 46 and she and the three children were born in Bethnal Green, Albert was born in the City of London'.

Could Albert be related to Alfred? His middle name Alfred and residence in Bethnal Green, Alfred's birthplace, suggests there may be a link. However his stated age of 53 makes him too young to be the father to Alfred.

Marriages

Returning to Alfred, ancestry website was searched as this has a good collection of records from London Metropolitan Archives including parish and electoral registers. A search for Alfred Nay, born around 1872, brought up a possible marriage in 1895 at St Dunstan and All Saints Stepney:

Alfred Nay, 23, bachelor, cabinet maker, 20 Benjonson (?) Street, son of Daniel Nay, silk weaver
Mary Goddard, 23, spinster, same address, dau of Thomas Goddard, painter
They married on 25th February by Banns, both signed the register and the witnesses were George Want and Alice White - no indication they were family.

This seems likely to be the couple from 1911: their names and ages fit, Stepney is under a mile and a half from Bethnal Green. Also Goddard is a well-established name in Brentford, Mary's birthplace. A search on this site for 'Thomas Goddard' revealed a match on the Goddard family page which confirms the marriage is the correct one:
'Thomas Goddard (1845 – 1920) ... also lived in the area, he chose a career as a Painter and Glazier... there are four generations of Goddard’s living and going strong, descending from Thomas.'

This research seemed to be going so well until another 1895 marriage was found, this time in St Phillip's, Camberwell:

Alfred Albert Nye, 23, bachelor, gas fitter, 3 Victory Place Waite Street, son of Walter Thomas Nye, licensed victualler
Edith Hughes, 22, spinster, 549 Old Kent Road, dau of Joseph Hughes, blacksmith
This marriage took place three weeks after the Stepney one, on March 18th 1895, was also by banns, and was witnessed by Walter Nye and Louisa Hammond. All parties signed the register.

In one respect this is a better match to the Alfred Nay found in Brentford in 1911: both had the occupation of gas fitter; however his wife of 16 years was Mary in 1911, not Edith and so far there is no indication that Albert was part of his name.

Given two people with similar names I find the best approach is to research both and attempt to pin each of them down through occupation and family circumstances, ideally at the same date - and there is a potential bonus in finding they were related.

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Another look at the 1911 census

Starting with the 1911 census, a search for Alfred Albert Nye found a good match in Camberwell, where the couple married in 1895: Albert Nye was 39, married 16 years with four children, all of whom survived, and he worked as an engineer's fitter at a biscuit factory. He was born in Camberwell, his wife Edith, 38, was born in Shrewsbury, Wales (sic) and their four children were born in Bermondsey. Their children were at home: Frederick, 15, a kitchen porter at the biscuit factory, Lillian 13 and Myrtle 10, both at school and finally Walter 5, at home. The latter may have been named after his grandfather. The family lived at 42 Catlin Street, Bermondsey, a four-room property, slightly more modest than Alfred Nay's Brentford home.

As an aside the father and son probably worked for Peek Frean: the Shady Guide to London website notes 'Built in 1866, Peek Frean and Co's biscuit factory gave Bermondsey the nickname 'Biscuit Town' for popular creations that included the bourbon and the Garibaldi. It employed generations of local residents.'

Conclusions

So there were two families, both headed by men named Alfred (Albert) Nay (Nye), who married three weeks apart and each had two girls and two boys aged 5 to 15 in 1911. It appears Alfred Albert Nye had adopted the name Albert by 1911. Only Alfred Nay had links to Brentford, where he and his Brentford-born wife had settled by the turn of the century, and these led to him being commemorated on the Brentford war memorial.

WW1 records

In order to attempt to add to the account above, army service records were checked; this website includes a list of WW1 Service Records of men with Brentford links and Alfred's name appears here. The original records, on ancestry website, show he was 41 years 4 months when he enlisted in Brentford on 31st August 1914 and his trade was 'canvasser'. He had previously served in the army in the 2nd Middlesex ('time expired'). Along the long edge of this form someone has written 'Killed in Action 25-4-15 Next of Kin no(tified?)'.

He joined as a private but was promoted to corporal on the 9th March 1915, just weeks before his death at Zonnebeke, Belgium. He served in England briefly, then Gibraltar, had three weeks at home in February /March 1915, then was sent to France on the day of his promotion. His next of kin was wife Mary Nay of 39 Hamilton Road - the 1911 census address - and in 1919 she signed to acknowledge receipt of his 1914-15 Star medal . She was awarded a war pension of 23s 6d a week for herself and two children, with effect from 15th November 1915.

Alfred's service record includes a description which allows us (at last) to picture him: he was 5' 7.5" tall, weighed 150lb, had a fair complexion, fair hair and blue eyes.

Daniel Nay, silk weaver, father of Alfred

Going back a generation, a brief foray into census records located a good contender to be his father, known to be Daniel Nay, silk weaver, from Alfred's marriage in 1895: in 1871, 1891 and 1911 a Daniel Nay lived in Bethnal Green; he was a silk weaver, retired in 1911 when he was a widower living on his own. In 1871 and 1891 family were with him. He was born in Bethnal Green around 1731/2. I have not pursued him further back - but it should be possible.

Thanks to Peter Stuart, who wrote the day after this page was published, having Daniel Nay and family in the 1881 census. They were at 1 West Street, Bethnal Green; I had given up searching for the family in this census but Peter found them recorded as May, not Nay: Daniel May, head, 49, silk weaver, born Bethnal Green
Mary A May, wife, 41, silk weaver, Bethnal Green
Mary A May, dau, 22, silk weaver, Bethnal Green
Daniel May, son, 18, porter, Bethnal Green
Richard May, son, 16, silk spinner, Bethnal Green
William May, son, 14, porter, Bethnal Green
Edward May, son, 12, scholar, Bethnal Green
Joseph May, son, 10, scholar, Bethnal Green
Alfred May, son, 8, scholar, Bethnal Green
James E May, son, 1, Bethnal Green

The above census shows Alfred as a boy and confirms this is the right Daniel Nay. Peter also located Daniel's marriage on FreeREG:
County Middlesex
Place Bethnal Green
Church name St Andrew
Register type Transcript
Marriage date 29 Mar 1858
Groom forename Daniel
Groom surname NAY
Bride forename Mary Ann
Bride surname CAKEBREAD
He added Pity his possible mother didn't work at Peek Frean !!!

WW1 records for another Nay

Finally, one more service record was consulted due to its familiar names: Albert Alfred Nay, Private (regimental no. 283961) in the 4th Battalion of the London Regiment, Royal Fusiliers. His discharge papers dated 15th July 1919 include the address 40 Menotti Street, Bethnal Green - the address of the dock labourer Nay found in the 1911 census, so not the Camberwell family. A very quick dip into his lengthy service history shows he was 33 on enlisting in 1915, that he served in England and France (where he suffered a leg injury from being kicked by a mule); his previous occupation was carman and he was 5' 2.75" tall, 130lb in weight. His next of kin was his mother, Mrs Nay of the Menotti Street address: presumably his father died between 1911 and 1915.

Some questions...

As with most research there are loose ends and a sense that the whole story has not been told (and perhaps from archival sources alone it never will be). However there are some questions it would be satisfying to find answers to; some may be easy to address, others might take many hours or not be possible at present (ever). They are noted here to finish this stage off (and may be added to as other things occur...)
  • Was Alfred born in Bethnal Green (as stated in 1911) or Brentford (as stated on enlisting)? Peter Stuart's 1881 census find puts the family in Bethnal Green; the reference to Brentford as Alfred's birthplace when enlisting must be a clerical error or misunderstanding
  • Where does his wife Mary Goddard fit into the family of Brentford Goddards?
  • Was his father Daniel Nay, a silk weaver, descended from a Huguenot family?
  • Is Alfred related to the same aged Alfred Albert Nye (and if so how)?
  • Are either of the families linked to the family of 40 Menotti Street in 1911, headed by the older Albert Alfred Nay?
If you can add to the account please get in touch. Alternatively Mike Baker is researching the Bethnal Green branch of the family; he adds 'there seems to be a strong presence of the Nay surname in the Bethnal Green area and I think it would have continued but for a lot of daughters and no sons'. Mike can be contacted at
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Page published February 2016; updated April 2016