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     The Brains Family

William Brains was born in Orton, Peterborough in 1843 and the earliest census records show that he lived with his grandfather John, an agricultural labourer and mother Sarah (later censuses list William’s mum as Ann) in Orton Waterville. William married Emma in 1868 and they made their first home in Eyres Road, Stanground. William had found employment in the brickyards as a brickmaker and by the 1871 census the couple had had a son George 3 months. The family expanded and by 1881 were joined by Kate 7, Charles 5 and Harry 3.

It was very common in the Fletton area for workers to move from district to district, as housing became available and as workers changed employment from one brickyard to another, as some yards rented housing to their workers. You can see this movement when you look on the 1891 census at the birthplaces of William and Emma’s children: George 20 and Kate 16 were born in Stanground, Charles 14 born in Yaxley, Harry 12 and Nellie 9 born in Stanground and Emily 5, Boyce 4 and Robert 4 months born in Fletton. In 1891 William and Emma were living at 2 Hill House, Village Street.


Not only did William work in the brickyards but so too did sons George and Charles in 1891, Harry and Boyce in 1901 and Harry, Boyce and Robert in 1911. It was not unusual for fathers and sons or other family members to work together. Work in the brickfields was often done by gangs and when families worked together loyalty and hard work were guaranteed.

At only 51 Emma died on 7 May 1900 and was buried at St. Margarets on 10 May 1900. (see below)

By 1901 William along with Nellie, Emily, Boyce and Robert had moved to Persimmon Terrace on High Street, which would indicate that they worked in the Hicks yard, as these houses were owned by the Hicks and Gardener brickyard based close to Fletton Lodge. Living with William in 1911 was Harry, Boyce, Robert and Nellie. George, Charles and Kate also remained local. George married Emily and after their first child Arthur was born in Thurby, Leicestershire they returned to live at 1 Nigel Villa, Duke Street, Old Fletton where George was a labourer in the brickyards.

Charles, a labourer with G. N. R., married Ada on 3 January 1901 and after a short stay in Padholme Road with Ada’s mum moved back to 169 High Street, Fletton.

On 5 March 1898 Kate married James Lester at St. Margarets Church. After their marriage they settled at 22 Persimmon Terrace, only two doors away from her father William.

During the Great War Harry served in the Royal Field Artillery. On discharge he settled in Fletton and was also employed in the brickyards.


Robert also served in the Great War in the Essex Regiment.

Only Emma moved away from Fletton and even then she did not move far. In 1911 she was in domestic service for Samuel Gray a merchant. On 29 October 1912 she married Frederick Buck a night watchman and they settled in Gladstone Street, Peterborough.  


William died on 5 May 1913 and was buried in St. Margarets churchyard. (below)                           

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William Brains.jpg
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