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Brentford Market: Links with Bedfordshire
BackgroundClaire Noble, research historian (corehistory.com), has recently caught the research bug for her own family history. She used to live and work in Gunnersbury/Kew and had no idea her own family had strong links to the area:
"I did none of this research as a professional project - in fact, I was in Normandy recently and saw a lone Commonwealth war grave in the churchyard of the hamlet of Sully near Bayeux, for JP Noble. It gave me quite a shock. After some research, I ascertained that he wasn’t a relative. My sister had started the family history project a few years back but there were huge gaps in our knowledge and, with the bit firmly between my teeth for JP Noble, I was up and running for our own family. Finding my great-grandmother's divorce papers in TNA’s catalogue was the real game-changer and I now completely understand the energy with which people pursue their family trees. There’s something very reassuring about finding one’s origins and there’s always more to find out."
Research into Bedford/Brentford links
Ebenezer Little of Blunham, Bedfordshire (1871-1944) is registered in 1906 as having a stall at Brentford Market (Stall 8, Brentford Market). His abode is described as Blunham, Bedfordshire. He is described as a market gardener in the 1901 and 1911 census returns. He himself was a Blunham man, and later lived down the road in Great Barford and Biggleswade.
Ebenezer is also registered in the 1922 electoral register for Brentford and Chiswick. His abode then is given as Great Barford and he has pitching stands 33 and 34. Next to him in the 1922 register, and in the market, is William Brooksbanks, abode Roadside Farm, Biggleswade, Beds, at pitching stands 35 and 36.
Ebenezer shared his stands with his great-nephew Harry George Compton (1900-1955), abode Elstow Road, Kempston, Beds, described as a fruit and poultry farmer in the 1939 register.
These three men are the only Bedfordshire men registered in the market for 1922.
But, as through the centuries with all markets, Brentford market was clearly a great meeting ground and source of information.
In 1925, Harry from Kempston and great-nephew of Ebenezer, married Florence Amelia Jarrad (1899-1961), who was born and brought up in Gunnersbury in streets now largely destroyed by the Chiswick roundabout and flyover. She lived in Surrey Road during her early childhood and thereafter at 42 Stonehill Road where she and Harry lived with her parents, Amy and William for a few years.
Harry and Florence moved to Kempston in 1928-9, initially to live with Harry's parents on Elstow Road. Around this time, Florence's mother, Amy, died (she is buried at Ealing and Old Brentford Cemetery, Ground L Div., Grave 7P, interment 1981), Florence's father remarried (staying at Stonehill Road), and Florence and Harry had their first child who was born in Bedfordshire.
So far so good. The story is simple. Ebenezer Little, a market gardener, sells produce at Brentford Market and introduces his great-nephew, Harry, a fruit and poultry farmer, to market life in Brentford. Harry meets a local lass, Florence, and they live happily ever after.
But there is an additional dimension to this tale, connected to 42 Stonehill Road.
In 1919, Queenie Constance Hailes was born at this address, to Elsie Mabel Hailes (1891-1931). Elsie had married Robert Stanley Hailes in 1915 and he went to war. At some point in 1918 (whether before or after Robert's return), Elsie left the family home and lived with one, Jack Aldridge for 6 months (as detailed in the divorce papers). The time span must have covered May 1918 as in February 1919, she had the child, Queenie, who was considered to be Jack's child. By 1920, Robert had divorced his wife. He then went to India with the army for several years and Jack had completely disappeared.
The twist is this: Elsie Mabel was born and brought up in Kempston. She came from a large, well-established Kempston family, the Folkes, and her appearance in Gunnersbury in order to have her child is startling to say the least.
There appears to be no connection with the Brentford Hailes family and it also seems that a rift had developed between Elsie and her family in Kempston. She had numerous siblings and a huge extended family who could have taken on her child if need be, but she appears in Gunnersbury in 1919 and is registered on the electoral rolls for a Chiswick address from 1929. This is after the 1928 legislation lifting the property ownership restrictions on women voters. She dies of broncho-pneumonia in the West Middlesex Hospital in 1931, having never remarried and with no other children. The baby was apparently put up for adoption.
A Kempston/Brentford Market link makes sense of this tale. So far, the origins of this link can be traced to Ebenezer Little whose wife was herself from Kempston and, just as word would have spread around Kempston and beyond about Elsie, so word would have spread via Brentford market that a Kempston family was looking for somewhere to send their daughter to have her baby. The majority of stallholders at the Brentford market in 1922 were relatively local to the Brentford area, including some who lived in and around Stonehill Road.
And why would the Jarrad family of 42 Stonehill Road decide to take in Elsie? She was a married woman aged 27, expecting a baby by a man not her husband. The obvious answer is that they took in boarders, but they have their own tale to tell.
William (b. 1879), father of the house, came from an Islington family and his mother died either during or shortly after giving birth to him. He was sent to live with relatives (Mercer/Messer family) who lived in Duke Road, Chiswick, then Stonehill Road. His own wife, Amy (1882-1928) was born in Notting Hill. She and William married early in 1899 and their daughter Florence was born in November. They all show up at 42 Stonehill Road in the 1911 census, along with two male boarders.
The Jarrads didn't have any other children. We can speculate about the impact of the death of his mother on William. Did Amy have a difficult time when Florence was born? Maybe. Were the Jarrads familiar with the Bedfordshire men at the market, barely a hop and a skip away? Most probably. Had Harry and Florence, born less than a year apart, met by late 1918? Who knows...
Brentford Market is the star turn in this tale. This connection, that led Elsie from Kempston to 42 Stonehill Road in difficult circumstances flourished and came full circle with the marriage of Harry Compton and Florence Jarrad and their own life in Kempston. They ultimately lived only across the road and a few doors down from Elsie's own parents.
NotesThe site has a detailed history of Brentford's market and also some views of the market building attended by the three Bedfordshire men: a High Road, Gunnersbury, market buildings to the left, 1906 and a later view of the frontage.
As well as the three men from Bedfordshire, Claire also noted traders at the market from Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire and further afield in 1922.
Page published July 2018; updated January 2020