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Charles Henry Brown (1858–1946)

Mayor of Oxford 1932/3


Charles Henry Brown was born at Finchley in London on 9 December 1858 and baptised there on 5 December. His parents were George Brown, a gardener born at Beddingham in Norfolk, and Sarah, born at Chediston in Suffolk.

Charles's parents moved around the country, and was a carman by 1856: their first child Katherine (or Catherine) Brown was born at Chediston in Suffolk in 1852; their next child George Benjamin Brown was born at Tongham in Surrey in c.1855/6 and baptised at Aldershot on 6 July 1856; Charles himself was born in Finchley in 1858; Herbert Brown in Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire in 1859; and the first of their two children given the name Walter Brown was born at Hatfield, Hertfordshire in 1860

At the time of the 1861 census Charles (2) was living at Cold Harbour, Finchley with his father George (31), who was now working as a domestic coachman, his mother Sarah (30), and his siblings Katherine (8), George (5), and Walter (five months).

Charles then continued to move around with his family: the second Walter Brown was born at Alvenham, Hertfordshire in 1863 and Arthur Brown in Edgeware, Middlesex in 1866.

The family then moved to Cassington, where Charles attended the Bluecoat School. His youngest brother Frank Donald Brown was born there in early 1871.

At the time of the 1871 census Charles (12) was living at the Vicarage in Cassington with his father George (42), who was now a farm bailiff, his mother Sarah (42), and his siblings Katherine (18), Herbert (10), Walter (7), Arthur (4), and Frank (one month). The Vicar of Cassington lived alone in part of the Vicarage as a lodger.

Charles's his first job was with a wheelwright at Enstone, working from 6am to 8pm. He was then apprenticed to a harness-maker at Bicester for five years. His wife Mary Ann was born in Bicester, and he probably met her there. He went on to work at Eynsham and then in London. He also had a period as a journeyman at Faringdon (then in Berkshire).

George Henry Brown married his wife Mary Ann in 1878/9, and they had ten children, of whom two were dead by 1911. They included:

  • George H. Brown (born at Bethnal Green in London in 1880)
  • Charles Herbert Walter Brown (born at Shoreditch on 25 July 1882)
  • Sarah Katherine Lucy Brown (born in Oxford on 13 December 1885 and baptised at St Barnabas Church on 14 January 1886)
  • Hilda Lily Brown (born in Oxford on 25 June 1887 and baptised at St Barnabas Church on 21 July 1887)
  • Arthur William Brown (born at 20 Albert Street, Oxford in 1890 and baptised at St Peter-le-Bailey Church on 16 March)
  • Frederick Thomas Brown (born at 20 Albert Street on 28 December 1891 and baptised at St Barnabas Church on 24 January 1892; died at 13 St Aldate's Street aged two months, with funeral on 20 March 1892 at St Barnabas Church, so probably buried in St Sepulchre's Cemetery)
  • Edith Emily Brown (born in Oxford on 31 July 1895 and baptised at St Aldate's Church on 23 August)
  • Elsie Mary Brown (born in Oxford on 25 September 1897 and baptised at St Aldate's Church on 20 October)
  • Frank Reginald Brown (born in Oxford on 13 March 1901 and baptised at St Aldate's Church on 10 April)

The couple obviously began their married life in London. At the time of the 1881 census Charles (23), who was now a saddle & harness maker, spent census night on his own at 47 St Peter Street, Hackney, without his wife and baby son.

By the end of 1885 Charles Henry Brown had moved with his family to the city of Oxford and set up his own business there.

At the time of the 1891 census Charles (32), described as a self-employed saddle and harness-maker, was living at 20 Albert Street, Jericho with his wife Mary Ann (35) and their first five children George (10), Charles  (8), Sarah (5), Hilda (3), and Arthur (1).

Kelly’s Directory for 1891 listed him thus: “Brown Charles Henry, 12 St Aldate’s st & 20 Albert ”.

The family appear to have moved to 12 St Aldate's Street early in 1892.

In 1899 his son Charles junior enlisted in the Royal Marines.

In 1901 Charles (45), described as a saddle and harness maker and an employer, was living at 13 St Aldate’s Street with his wife Mary Ann (42) and six of their children: Sarah (15), who was working as a dressmaker, Hilda (13), Arthur (11), Edith (5), Elsie (3), and Frank (eighteen days).

His son Charles was married in 1908:

  • On 28 December 1908 at St Aldate's Church, Oxford, Charles Herbert Walter Brown (26), who was a submariner, married Edith Kate Taylor (23) of 21 Buckingham Street, the daughter of the bus driver Charles Richard Taylor.

At the time of the 1911 census Charles (52) was still a saddle and harness maker living at 13 St Aldate's Street with his wife Mary Ann (55) and their three youngest children Edith (15), Elsie (13), and Frank (10).

Brown came on to the City Council as the Liberal representative for the South Ward in 1916.

By 1920 he was living at 1 Wytham Street in South Oxford.

His daughter Edith was married in 1920:

  • On 26 August 1920 at St Matthew's Church, Oxford, Edith Emily Brown (25) of 1 Wytham Street, Hinksey married Percy Stuart Mills (27) of 16 Newton Road, the son of the late Christopher Mills, commercial traveller.

Brown was elected Sheriff of Oxford for 1923/4 and an Alderman in 1930

In 1932 Brown was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1932/3). He took an interest in the launching of the Hinksey swimming pools and the allotment movement. He was a Governor of the Radcliffe Infirmary, and a Member of the Board of Guardians (and later of the Public Assistance Committee).

By this time Brown had moved his business to Oxford’s indoor market: Kelly’s Directory for 1935 lists “Brown C.H. & Son, saddlers, Market bldgs, Market st”.

Brown was for many years a sidesman at St Aldate’s Church, and was also a member of the Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers. He was an honorary member of Hannington Rowing Club. He belonged to the Sons of Temperance Friendly Society, and was an Honorary Member of the Ancient Order of Foresters and Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows, the Ancient Order of Britons, and the Buffaloes. He was also a member of the Alfred Lodge of Freemasons.

His wife Mary Ann Brown died at the age of 79 and was buried at Wolvercote Cemetery on 20 November 1934.

Brown was still living at 1 Wytham Street in 1941. He retired from the city council that year.

By 1945 he was living 45 St John Street.

† Charles Henry Brown died at 45 St John Street at the age of 88 on 24 August 1946. His funeral was at St Aldate’s Church on 27 August, and was attended by his sons George H. Brown, Charles H. W. Brown, and Arthur W. Brown, and his daughters Miss Elsie Mary Brown, Mrs Edith Mills, and Miss Hilda Lily Brown. He was buried with his wife at Wolvercote Cemetery (Grave C1/147).

His effects came to £600 10s., and his executors were his youngest son Frank Reginald Brown, who was a saddler, and his solicitor.

His son Charles Herbert Walter Brown died at the age of 68 and was buried in his parents' grave on 14 December 1951.

His daughter Sarah Catherine Lucy Brown never married. She died in Oxford in 1977.


See also:

  • Oxford Monthly, July 1933, pp. 26–7
  • Oxford Monthly, November 1933, p. 27
  • Oxford Times, 30 August 1946, p. 8c (obituary)
  • 1871 Census: Oxford (Cassington), 1448/30
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (St Thomas 6), 1169/120
  • 1901 Census: Oxford (St Aldate), 1384/27
  • Royal Marines register of service: his son Charles's records

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 8 November, 2018

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