George Brown 1816-1897

When George Brown was born about 1816, in Gloucestershire, his father, George, was 29 and his mother, Edith, was 31. He married Mary Lewis Trotman on December 26, 1860, in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. They had 10 children in 19 years. He died in October 1897 in Thornbury, Gloucestershire, having lived a long life of 81 years.

Insofar as our line of the family is concerned George’s tree is a branch off the bloodline and has therefore been of secondary interest, until now.

This George was the son of another George Brown (1787-1865) and brother of our line’s Joseph, the gamekeeper. It’s only as we started to go sideways along the branches that we discovered George’s family. And interesting it is too.


Figure 1. 1841 census showing George Brown etc

In the 1841 census above we find George, aged 25 living with his widowed father George aged 55, his brother Joseph aged 20 and sister Mary aged 15. They are living in St Michaels Wood in the area collectively known as the Tithing of Alkington in the Parish of Berkeley, Gloucestershire. George isn’t married here.

The 1851 census finds George supposedly married to Mary. But, in truth, that wasn’t the case. (George didn’t marry Mary until 1860).


Figure 2. 1851 census George, Mary, and family

Who was Mary?
Mary was in fact, Mary Lewis Trotman (B circa 1821). Mary and George were not married at the time of the 1851 census. Obviously, that fact slipped their minds when they made the false declaration as it did George’s father, George Senior.
One can only speculate as to why they felt they need to lie and again why they needed to get married after 17 years of living as man and wife. I’m afraid we’ll never know the answer to those questions.

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Figure 3. They were married in 1860

Mary is herself a similar conundrum. Who is she? How many children does she have?

Once more, looking at the 1841 census, in which we previously found George living with his widowed father and his brother – If you look at the top of the page, figure 1.  you’ll see George was 25. Where was Mary at that time? Was she nearby? Was she married?


Figure 4. 1841 census showing Henry Lewis etc

Yes, she was nearby, in Woodford in fact, and discoverable within the 8 sheets of the Alkington census of that time. It really was a small world back then. People only traveled as far as they could comfortably walk to find a mate. George, in St Michaels Wood and Mary, in Woodford would have been quite close neighbours.
However, we find yet another anomaly with this couple. the 1841 census, figure 4.  shows Mary is living with:-

  • 80-year-old man, Henry Lewis (B1761),
  • Mary Trotman (Snr B1796) a Charwoman,
  • Mary Jnr herself aged 20,
  • William aged 20,
  • Ann aged 10,
  • Absalom aged 9,
  • George aged 6,
  • William aged 3.

It is worth noting George’s wife Mary, (That’s Mary Jnr in this list) referred to herself as Mary Lewis Trotman. Why?

We discover the Henry Lewis (1761-1844) she was living with was the grandfather of Mary Lewis Trotman as her mother was married to William Tratman or Trotman. William was subsequently found guilty of theft and was sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted but he died in a prison hulk on the Thames estuary in Essex. We can’t explain why Henry Lewis’ son did not use his name but chose instead that of his mother, Martha Trotman.

If all of that wasn’t enough to be going on with, we have those 2 last children in the list above George and William… I don’t believe they are Mary SNRs children as they look out of place besides, Mary SNRs husband was imprisoned or dead by then.

I believe they are Mary JNRS children. In fact, we find one of these 2 children, George, on the 1851 census aged 15 and living with Mary his mother and George Brown together with his half siblings.


George Knight Birth

On the census, he is shown separately as being “George Trotman – son of Mary Brown”.  You can see on his birth certificate above he is recorded as being “son of a single woman”.


Birth William Trotman 1838

The other brother William, we understand from another researcher, chose to remain with his father who was a man called Anthony Savage according to the birth certificate above.

Lastly, there is said to have been a considerable split in the family. Some of George and Mary’s children chose to either permanently or temporarily not use his name. Preferring the name Trotman. So we have a curious position where there are people who are descendants of those ‘name changers’ who have been living as Trotman’s  for over 150 years but are in fact genetically Brown’s in makeup.

PDBarton Dec 2016.

Postscript dated January 2017.
Having spent many confusing and frustrating hours picking at the complexity of this family we have managed to understand the issues surrounding George, his wife Mary and their family.

Also, in digging for the truth, we have brought to light information about John Brown – later Trotman, one of George’s enigmatic sons. Both are in PDF form below.



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