n.b. research into this issue has continued until now – November 2018. The results of that research are laid out in an additional PDF document which can be downloaded here…
(n.b. there are additional facts added to this page resulting from research in early 2019. They are clearly marked.)
You only have to look at a present-day Ordnance Survey map of the Gloucestershire in general, and the Stone/Damery/Alkington area in particular, to see the Browns lived in a very small area. Added to that, the ability to travel in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries was curtailed, geographically, by bad roads, and, as an Agricultural Labourer, economically by being tethered to the land or a lord of the manor. It simply wasn’t easy to move around at will. Not to mention working from dawn till dusk, 6 days a week and how that wouldn’t leave you much time to travel anywhere, even if you could. So it’s not at all surprising people in the main lived their lives in small communities.
It wasn’t until census records started in 1801, and every 10 years subsequent to that, we became able to see who lived where and amongst whom. Genealogical research forces you to read census records. They are a mine of information, not only about your ancestors but about country life in the relevant decades.
In those records, you can see your bloodline ancestor but you can also see parents, siblings, and lodgers. And, if you turn the pages backwards and forward you can see who is living around them.
As I’ve said already; people don’t move around much and because of that they would have probably attended the same church and occasional festivals. It was a very small world indeed. I’ve talked previously about ancestors living under a teacup placed on a map. I believe we can narrow that down even more, possibly to the area bounded by an eggcup placed on an Ordnance Survey map of the area.
Human nature being what it is boy meets girl and so the family of man continues, as it should. And if you live close by and can’t travel it stands to reason the gene pool of your locale is where you will first look to make your choices.
So it was, I discovered the Trotman family living and amongst my ancestors. For at least one of my forebears, the link became physical.
George Brown (1816-1897).
He was a son of George Brown and Edith Mathews, as was my Great, Great Grandfather Joseph Brown (for sake of clarity we call him ‘the gamekeeper’).
For the purpose of this set of web pages- where I have been following the bloodline- I would not normally produce so much information about a sideways relative, but this was interesting, so I tracked great uncle George, his ‘Wife’ and their children.
Here’s the Trotman connection with the Brown’s.
I warn you, it’s messy and complicated.
George struck up a relationship with Mary Lewis Trotman. They had many children before they were finally married. Mary herself had 2 illegitimate children already, we think by 2 fathers. Let’s deal with those first.
The first of the 2 illegitimate boys, George Knight Trotman, was baptised November the 15th 1835 in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. His mother was shown as “Mary Trotman, a single woman”. He was born in Woodford. Mary would have been 18 or thereabouts.
We find him in the 1851 census, aged 15, living with Mary Lewis Trotman – then called Brown, but unmarried – together with George Brown and George Brown senior. (Mary was shown as George Brown Seniors daughter in law. Not true).
The child George Knight Trotman is shown on that 1851 census as “son of Mary Trotman”. No father is shown.
In case you are wondering; the name Knight is from Mary’s mother family.
This element of this document was revised in February 2019
The second of the 2 illegitimate boys, William Savage, was baptised February the 8th 1838 in Berkeley. He is shown as being born in “Woodford”. His father is shown as “Anthony Savage”. He was thought to have been a Gamekeeper at some time, though he was shown on the registration of birth as being a “labourer”. The mother was shown as Mary Trotman, she was the informer and she lived in Woodford.
We have him in the 1841 census aged just 3 living in his great grandfather’s house (Henry Lewis) together with his grandmother Mary Trotman, his mother Mary and her siblings and with George Knight Trotman, his brother/half brother mentioned above.
However, until recently we were unable to find him in 1851. We know he wasn’t living with his mother (who at the time was with George Brown) so where was he?
It transpires he was living with his grandmother in Woodford. (there was an extreme error of transcription by Ancestry. He is shown as Notman and living with an Andrew Notman)
We don’t know why he was not living with his mother. We can only guess, or indeed why he wasn’t living with his father. What we do know is he went on to marry Eliza Lee and have many children.
This element of this document was revised in February 2019
Back to Mary Lewis Trotman.
Mary was the daughter of one William Trotman and Mary Knight. She was the first of their daughters.
Her father, William Trotman, from Woodford, was sentenced to death at the Lent Assizes in 1831 for housebreaking. The sentence was later commuted to transportation. The penal system first put such prisoners on prison hulks out in the Thames estuary awaiting the ships which would transport them. William became ill and because of the fear of contagion he was moved to a prison in London where he died in 1834 as a “convict in the general penitentiary”.
Mary and her many siblings became fatherless. It was around this time she had the 2 illegitimate children one of whom, the second had the name Savage attached to him.
John Henry Brown. B1842 (later Trotman)
The first of the children of Mary Lewis Trotman and George Brown was John Henry Brown later Trotman. He was born 8 May 1842, Woodford Gloucestershire. and he died, aged 85 in June 1927 Bridgend Glamorganshire.
When John Brown was born on 8 May 1842 in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, his father, George, was 26 and his mother, Mary, was 25.
His birth certificate shows:
- Him being born “8th May 1842 at Woodford”;
- Him being christened “14th June 1842” in the sub-district of Berkeley;
- Him being christened as “John Henry Brown”;
- His father as “George Brown”;
- His mother as “Mary Brown formerly Trotman” ( Note…they were not married at this time.)
You can see from this he is clearly shown as having a father called George Brown, and yet he refers to himself as Trotman. Likewise, all of his children are named Trotman (whereas they are genetically Brown’s).
We can discover no reason for this aberration in the naming convention. It appears to be simply perverse. Even when he marries he says his father is Trotman.
John’s first marriage.
He married Esther Painter November the 9th 1868 in Wooton Under Edge. The certificate shows him as being from Tortworth and Esther from Huntingford.
Most curiously it shows his father as Joseph Trotman! Do we have the right marriage here?
BTW we have his next brother – similarly declaring himself to be a Trotman who, when he gets married says his father is George Trotman. Very, very confusing indeed.
One of the witnesses is Mary Trotman. Could this be Mary Lewis Trotman, the common law wife of George Brown? Did mother’s ever appear as a witness?
The declarations of name etc on this marriage certificate cause us to wonder:
- Why this change of name?
- Why not show his true father’s name?
- Why Mary persisted with the Trotman name?
- Have we got this wrong?
John Brown Trotman and Esther Painter had nine children together.
- William Trotman 1869-1901
- George Henry Trotman 1870-1949
- Edith Ann Trotman 1874-1930
- Mary Elizabeth Trotman 1876-1946
- Ellen Trotman 1879-1949
- Sarah Annie Trotman 1880-1951
- Alice Maud Trotman 1884-1945
- Milly Brown Trotman 1886-1966
- Mary Jane Trotman1887-1905Hester died in 1887. As this was the same year her last child was born, we wondered if the birth of this last child caused complications ending in Esther’s death. Esther was 40 at the time.
John’s Second marriage: Sarah Jane Fletcher/Mulrooney (or Mulroney).
He then married Sarah Jane Fletcher 1857-1915.
He married Sarah on the 12th May 1892 at St Brides Major in the Vale of Glamorgan.
We have no marriage certificate for this wedding. We simply have the index for that year 1892 Q2 11a 1053. She was married as Sarah Jane Mulrooney, despite completing the census the year before as being Sarah Jane Fletcher. More confusion.
Sarah had been married before. She married Martin Mulrooney in the State of Ohio, Cuyahoga County USA 21st February 1882.
Martin was born in Killarney around 1865, though there is some doubt about his date of birth. It could be as early as 1849. He died in 1914 in Kentucky, USA.
So far as we know, Sarah and Martin had one child together (Sarah Ann Mulrooney – born 1884 in Ohio. Died in wales in 1941)
We looked for evidence of the death of Martin Mulrooney prior to the marriage of Sarah to John Brown Trotman in 1892. There is no evidence of any such death. In fact, quite the opposite appears to be true*.
Martin Mulrooney died in Kentucky in 1914. He did not die before Sarah Jane re-married.
But there’s more:-
Sarah Jane Fletcher had siblings.
- Oliver 1858-1918 – Oliver died in Ohio ( did he go to Ohio before his sister one wonders)
- Elizabeth Mary 1865
- Edwin W 1868
- Fanny Ruth 1870
- Edith R 1875
- George H 1875
- Mabel Louisa 1882
*Family stories tell of the younger sister Elizabeth “going to Ohio to help her sister Sarah Jane”.
Elizabeth took up with Sarah’s husband Martin Mulrooney. We have not pursued this angle of research but at first glance, it appears they had 6 children together. There is evidence of Elizabeth as the mother and Martin as the father attending the marriage of a son they had between them. Family stories tell of Elizabeth being excluded from the family, never to be spoken to again. That story is evidenced below where a descendant of the couple is searching for information.
(Apologies for the poor reproduction of the piece.)
It now transpires Elizabeth had a child by Martin Mulrooney just 2 months from when Sarah Jane’s child was born. Clearly the effects of this duplicity by both her husband and her own sister was devastating. This explains why she took her child and returned to Wales.
This is now evidenced by Martin Mulrooney’s descendants.
Sarah Jane obviously left the USA, returning to Wales with her daughter as they both appeared on census records in Wales. Sarah Ann Mulroney (she later showed her name as Fletcher), dropping the Mulroney. Sarah Snrs daughter, lived with her grandparents, the Fletchers, in Wales on their return.
Clearly, Sarah Jane did not die as is inferred above. Both sides of this broken marriage asserted the other was dead it appears. I suppose back then it was just not possible to check – if indeed there was any need to.
With no death of MartinMulrooney and no apparent divorce, one can but question the validity of any subsequent marriages of both Martin Mulrooney and Sarah Jane Fletcher/Mulrooney to any respective partners. Added to which, Martin Mulrooney would have been a Catholic. There was no divorce allowed to Catholics.
In the 1891 census, John is shown as “Widowed” and Sarah as “Sarah Jane Fletcher” a Servant – House Keeper in his household.
n.b. They had a child outside of marriage by then, Lydia, and she is shown on the census as his daughter.
Sarah and John married in 1892. She married as Sarah Jane Mulrooney, a widow.
We know Martin Mulrooney did not die and his descendants say there was no divorce.
It is difficult to draw any other conclusion from this other than she misleads the church, the authorities and maybe even her new husband John – understandable though this may have been in the circumstances surely it makes this marriage void. In any event the children born to her and John Brown/Trotman are now Brown’s mis-named as Trotmans and there is doubt cast upon there legitimacy.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive“ and this is surely a tangled web indeed.
This element of this document was revised in February 2019
The children of John Trotman and Sarah Jane Fletcher were:-
- Lydia Emily Trotman 1890-1968, born before they were married;
- Joseph Edwin Trotman 1893-1966;
- Leah Olive Trotman 1897-1939;
- Esther Beatrice Trotman 1902-1969;
- Caroline Trotman 1905-1991
Sarah Jane Fletcher died in 1915 leaving John a widower again.
He died in Bridgend, Glamorganshire, Wales in June 1927 aged 85.
Well, as you can see this is a tortuous and complicated mess with untruths being told all over the place, illegitimate children and unexplained name changes. Throw into that mess suspected illegal marriages using fraudulent information and who knows where we end up?
One thing is pretty certain though is many people who believe themselves to be Trotman’s are genetically Brown’s
We are going to require some substantial DNA testing of the living to prove who is who, called what and comes from where. That’s assuming of course if after all this time anybody cares.
One last thing… Sarah Jane Fletcher had an Older brother Oliver Montague Flecher who deserted from the Royal Navy in Portsmouth before fleeing back to America from whence he came.
You couldn’t make this up, could you? It’s a ready-made book or even TV series I think.
For us, on these Brown pages, this is an interesting diversion as the people concerned are peripheral to the bloodline we are from. Except, there is the slight possibility that John Brown’s father was not George Brown, but his younger brother Joseph. The importance of that possibility is that Joseph is in my direct bloodline, making all of these people very close indeed. How do we prove that? As the 2 possible fathers were brothers DNA may be confused. Perhaps we will never know.
A request for help.
In order to clarify at least part of this mess, we are looking for a DNA match with anybody who flows from John (Brown) Trotman via either of his 2 marriages. If you feel you are related and have an Ancestry DNA test could you make contact or simply check to see if you have me in your list of DNA contacts?
You will find me listed on Ancestry DNA with a username of Volvov60.
If we share DNA it proves John Brown (Later Trotman) B1842 in Woodford, was the son of George Brown B1816 in Michaelwood, Gloucestershire. We would then be related via George and one of his brothers, Joseph Brown, who is in my direct bloodline (B1820 in Michaelwood, Gloucestershire)
Revised Februay 2019