Chasing a Family Named Brown in New York

Just Kill Me Now!


I was led to William and Elizabeth through their daughter Frances (Brown) Frith (1815-1854) who was interred in Cypress Hills Cemetery. My distant cousin Chris Beal had sent me a good bit of information, but with even more information online now it was important to take a second look. In hopes of learning more, I retraced some of Chris’s steps (he’s an excellent genealogist so it was easy to go down the path he had blazed) and contacted Cypress Hills to request a plot listing for Frances and those interred with her in the Brown-Frith plot, Sec 2, Lot 161. I received an interment list with 21 more people on it. Of those 21, I’ve been able to establish the familial relationship between Frances (Brown) Frith and 17 of those individuals, including her parents William and Elizabeth Brown.1 Many are William and Elizabeth’s children and grandchildren.

Page 2 of the interment record which provided the "age at death" and interment date.

Page 2 of the interment record which provided the “age at death” and interment date.

There was also a major “breaking down the brick wall” moment with this family when I really paid attention to the 1868 Certificate of Death record of Elizabeth Heriott Brown.2
Eliz dc 1868 - Copy
In the summer of 2010, I found this record in Salt Lake City, but there was nothing else to help me at the time. I didn’t know where to look in Sussex, so I just tucked the file away and went to work other lines. This year, I decided to revisit each of my lines and write about them. In writing about a family your perspective changes and you have to go back and look for things you may not have looked at before. There has been an explosion in “searchable” online records in the last few years and suddenly the things I most needed began to fall into place.
The clues and questions in my file from 2010:
1. Her name – DUH! I didn’t really miss this one. Heriott had to be a family or maiden name. But 5 years ago, I found no records for an Elizabeth Heriott – NONE, NADA, ZIP, ZERO. They simply weren’t online in 2010.
2. The completeness of this record – records from this era are notoriously lacking in detail and normally would only give an age in years or say England. Why is this record so complete with a full name, age, and location of birth?
3. The address where she died. The address meant nothing at the time, but it factored in this time when I did a search and worked with the address.
4. The name of the doctor and his address. I knew that she had a son named Edward, but he wasn’t a doctor, and he wasn’t living in Brooklyn then. His address meant nothing to me in 2010, but by the time I revisited the family in 2015 it would mean more – half the damn Brown/Frith/Brimlow clan lived and worked with walking distance of this location.

Here’s what I now know about the family and how I know it.

WILLIAM BROWN was born about 1790 in the vicinity of Lewes, Sussex, England. I have used his birth year from the earliest found document that William would have provided the information for, which was an 1835 passenger list. Big surprise, there are several William Browns in that area of Sussex, and I have not yet determined which birth or christening record might be his.

ELIZABETH HERIOTT was born 6 May 1791 in Sussex, England. This information came from her 1868 death record which provided her age at death in days, months, and years along with her maiden name and place of birth. While this information is often suspect, I’m now comfortable accepting the information as I have discovered the person who created the 1868 death record was her grandson, Dr. Edward A. Brown, MD. Based on this information, I can now extend the research. While I’m fairly sure I’ve nailed her parents down, I’ll wait until I can look at the actual records to see if I can gather more information before declaring them here.

WILLIAM and ELIZABETH married on 23 or 25 Jul 1809, in Saint Nicholas Church, Brighton, Sussex, England. 3 Two marriage listings were found on FamilySearch and Elizabeth’s name is listed on both as Betty Herryott. I’ll be looking at the images for these records in Salt Lake City this spring before making a final determination. This could simply be a transcription error, or there may be some other reason for the two dates. I can at least say they were married in July of 1809. As stated in previous posts, people often married at the main cathedral rather than in their home parishes simply to save a bit of money. There was the standard fee to marry in your town, plus an added fee to the city or county for registration. If you went the main church, you only had to pay the fee for the city you were in.

While I haven’t yet located all the children’s baptism records, some of the family members appear to have been baptized in St. Anne’s in Lewes, and Lewes is about 10 miles outside of Brighton in the farmlands. I’ll be going through the films for the churches in Lewes on my next trip to Salt Lake City.

How did I know to look in Lewes? William Mason (son of William and Elizabeth’s oldest daughter Sarah) stated in his 1892 passport application that he was born in Lewes, and I found his birth was registered there.4 The birth registration also states that his mother and grandfather are from there, so it is reasonable to continue researching the Browns and Heriotts in this location.5
Wm 1931 Birth - Copy
William and Elizabeth had ten known children, all of whom were born in England. All of their children immigrated to New York – eight sailed aboard the Henry Thompson with William and Elizabeth, arriving on 11 Apr 1835.6 Oldest daughter Sarah’s husband William Mason and their two children, William and Henry, were also on that ship. Daughter Frances (Brown) Frith arrived in 1837 with husband William. I have not been able to determine exactly when son John Brown arrived.

The Brown and Mason families are at the bottom of the image.

The Brown and Mason families are at the bottom of the image.

The ten children as I currently know them:
Sarah Brown Mason (1811-1849) m. William Mason
John Brown (1814-1848)
Frances Brown Frith (1815-1854) m. William Frith
William Brown (1816-1856) m. Harriet (Unknown)
Edward Brown (1819-1906) m. Ann Burnett
Marshall Brown (1822-1851)
Catherine Brown (1824-????)
Mary Ann Brown Pringle (1826-1904) m. Robert William Pringle
James Brown (1829-1870) m. Unknown
George Brown (1831-1846)

From the time of arrival until their interment we’re reasonably able to trace William and Elizabeth. There is an 1840 Federal Census, 5th Ward, Brooklyn, Kings County that fits, but is typical of the 1840s – hardly perfect.7
1 Male 50-59 (1780-1790) William (b.1790)
1 Female 40-49 (1790-1800) Elizabeth (b.1791)
1 Male 20-29 (1810-1820) William (b.1816) or John (b.1814)
1 Male 15-19 (1821-1825) Marshall (b.1822)
1 Male 10-14 (1826-1830) James (b.1829)
1 Female 10-14 (1826-1830) Mary Anne (b.1826)
1 Female 5-9 (1831-1835) No known daughters this age, but there is a son George not accounted for who was born in 1831. Of note – Son Edward was married in 1839 so he doesn’t appear on this record. Daughter Catherine b. 1824 would have been 16 in 1840. It is possible, but not probable that she had married. It is also possible that she was simply missed in the numbers. However, it is much more likely that Catherine died prior to the 1840 census.

William’s occupation on the passenger list was farmer, which hardly seemed to mesh with someone coming to New York or Brooklyn. However, on the above shown birth record, his daughter Sarah states she is the daughter of “William Brown, pork butcher” of Lewes, Sussex.8 An 1844 New York directory lists “Brown, William, butcher, b.r. 343 Grand.”9

He was interred in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, Kings, New York, on 12 Aug 1848.10 His interment record lists his age at death as 63 (1785), but it’s not known who provided that information, nor is it known if William actually died in August 1848 or if he died earlier and was reinterred from elsewhere. I have not been able to locate a death record or obituary for him.

Locating Elizabeth between William’s 1848 death and her own death 20 years later was a real challenge. I first located her with her son William in 1850 in Ward 10 of Brooklyn.11 I have listed the family here in the same way they are listed on the record:
William Brown, 31 -1819, England, Painter
Elizabeth, 61 – 1789, England
James, 16 – 1834, Ireland, Painter – not our James who would be 5 years older
Harriet, 29 – 1821, England –
Charles, 4 – 1846, Pennsylvania
James, 3 – 1847, Pennsylvania
Margaret, 1 – 1849, Pennsylvania
There are also two borders who have no occupations and do not yet appear to be related.

In 1855, Elizabeth Brown, age 56 (1799) was found living with her youngest daughter Mary Ann and her husband Robert William Pringle in Brooklyn.12 She remained with Mary Ann and Robert for the remainder of her life. Elizabeth’s son James is with them in 1865, as is grandson William Brown.13

Elizabeth died from general debility compounded by pneumonia on 29 Jan 1868 in Brooklyn, Kings, New York, and was interred in Cypress Hills Cemetery on 31 Jan 1868.14 A death notice for Elizabeth appeared in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Thursday, 30 Jan 1868, pg 3, c2 “BROWN – On Wednesday, Jan 29th, at the residence of her son-in-law, R.W. Pringle, 114 Franklin ave, ELIZABETH BROWN, wife of Wm. Brown, deceased, of Sussex, England. In the 77th year of her age.” I found no will or probate records for Elizabeth. There are no stones or monuments in the family plot.
LOT cypress hills
The next post will be about their 10 children.

1. Interment Records, Cypress Hills Cemetery Plot Record for Lot 161 in Sec 2. Elizabeth H. Brown, age 76 interred 31 Jan 1868. Cit. Date: 12 May 2014.
2. New York death certificate 647 (1868), Elizabeth Heriott Brown, died 29 Jan 1868, born 6 May 1791 Sussex, England. Cit. Date: 9 Jun 2014.
3. Marriage Record, Saint Nicholas Church, Brighton, Sussex, England, William Brown and Betty Herryott, Marriage, St Nicholas’ Church Brighton, Brighton, Sussex, England, 25 Jul 1809; citing 00264, West Sussex County Record Office, Chichester; FHL microfilm Cit. Date: 9 Jun 2014.
4. “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” database and images, (accessed 9 Nov 2015); William Mason born 13 Dec 1831, Lewes, Sussex, England, arrived 1835, a resident of New York City and Brooklyn since arrival, appliction dat 5 Apr 1892, Brooklyn, Kings, New York.
5. “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” database and images, (accessed 9 Nov 2015); William Mason born 13 Dec 1831, Lewes, Sussex, England, arrived 1835, a resident of New York City and Brooklyn since arrival, appliction dat 5 Apr 1892, Brooklyn, Kings, New York.
6. “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” online images(accessed 12 May 2014), manifest, Henry Thompson, 11 Apr 1835, William Brown and Family. Cit. Date: 12 May 2014.
7. 1840 U.S. census, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, p. 620, line 16, William Brown; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 12 May 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M704, roll 289. Cit. Date: 12 May 2014.
8. England, birth certificate for William Mason, Son of William and Sarah Mason, born 13 Dec 1831; Lewes, Sussex, England registration district, Non-Comromist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970, Piece 4674: Dr Williams’ Library, Index to Birth Certificates, 1828-1837 sub-district. Cit. Date: 9 Nov 2015.
9. 1844 Brown, William (p. 54) City Directories – New York – Fold3
10. Interment Records, Cypress Hills Cemetery Plot Record for Lot 161 in Sec 2. William Brown interred grave 13, 12 Aug 1848. Cit. Date: 12 May 2014.
11. 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 10, Kings, New York, p. 188B, dwelling 1115, family 1845, Elizabeth Brown; digital images, Ancestry (accessed 9 Nov 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll M432 520. Cit. Date: 9 Nov 201.
12. 1855, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, E.D.1, Kings, New York, dwelling 345, family 446, line 34, Elizabeth Brown; digital images, Ancestry(accessed 9 Nov 2015).
13. 1865 NewYork State Census, Brooklyn Ward 2, Kings, New York, p. 59, family 422, line 31, Elizabeth Brown; digital images(accessed 9 Nov 2015).
14. Interment Records, Cypress Hills Cemetery Plot Record for Lot 161 in Sec 2. Elizabeth Brown interred grave 13, 31 Jan 1868. Cit. Date: 12 May 2014.

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