Great, great grandparents: John & Margaret Brockbank

My great great grandfather John Brockbank married Margaret Coward in 1855 in Ambleside, which was across the county line in Westmorland, so only the banns are recorded in the Lancashire Parish Registers:

John and Margaret 1855 banns

John and Margaret 1855 marriage cert

On 22 November 1905, The Lakes Chronicle and Reporter published an article “Golden Wedding at Hawkshead” that gives a great insight into the life of my great-great grandparents. From a second cousin, we are lucky to have a photo of John, who was a joiner. I bet he made that amazing chair!

John Brockbank was involved in a lawsuit in 1875 against Colonel Myles Sandys of Graythwaite Hall, over fishing rights on Esthwaite Water. It was heard at the Liverpool Asizes, and I probably don’t need to tell you that my gg grandfather lost. Details in this post: John Brockbank’s 1875 Lawsuit against Colonel Sandys.

John Brockbank on chair
My great-great grandfather John Brockbank (1833–1915). Photo belonging to Mabs Coates

The Lakes Chronicle article states that the couple had 13 children “six sons and seven daughters, of whom four sons and three daughters are still alive”. Before I came across the article, I thought there were only seven children, so immediately rose to the challenge of finding out about the others. Four of the five boys had large families of their own, and have separate posts:

Robert Brockbank (1856–1910) who married Sarah Proctor
Matthew Brockbank (1863–1932) who married Mary Alice Oldcorn
William James Brockbank (1865–1932) who married Ann Clark (our branch)
John Brockbank (1867–1941) who married Sarah Elizabeth Woodburn (no children)
Edward Brockbank (1873–1950) who married Louisa Barnes

Between them, the boys produced 26 grandchildren. This post will concentrate on the descendants of John and Margaret’s daughters, accounting for a further 5 grandchildren … leaving a tantalising 4 grandchildren untraced!

John and Margaret tree
Inspired by an article about John and Margaret’s Golden Wedding in 1905 that appeared in The Lakes Chronicle and Reporter, I have attempted to trace all 35 of the couples’ grandchildren.

Jane Brockbank 1860–1933

The daughter we know most about is Jane, born in 1860. The Golden Wedding article mentions that John and Margaret spent part of their month-long holiday in Kidderminster, which made me think that one of their daughters must have settled there. Sure enough, here they are the 1911 Census, Jane’s birth place emphasised.

Peever 1911
In 1911 one of John and Margaret’s grandchildren – Richard Peever – is a Customs and Excise Assistant. The family address is 66 Franche Road, Kidderminster, and they were at the same address in 1901

Here is Jane’s marriage record:

Peever marriage

Jane and Charles’ son Richard married Mary Johnson in 1912. I was thrilled when one of Richard and Mary’s grandchildren – a younger Richard Peaver – got in touch. Richard shared his tree and photos. I also learnt that Jane Brockbank was actually Jane Catherine Brockbank (the Parish Registers had not listed her middle name). Lovely to see a Catherine in the family tree!

Peever family tree

Richard Peevr in top hat
Richard Peever (1888–1969) at the wedding of his son Ronnie, 20 Dec 1939 at Worth Matravers, Dorset.

Richard told me that the Johnson family owned Victoria Carpets and moved the firm from Scotland to Kidderminster in the early twentieth century – obviously before 1912 when Richard Peever (senior) married Mary Johnson. He told me he learnt of his Brockbank connection quite recently from the Family Bible belonging to his Aunt Catherine, which he has inherited.

Richard was able to come to the Lakes and meet my Dad, brother and myself in September 2020. There are some photos of our (socially distanced) trip to Hawkshead at the bottom of this post.

Agnes Brockbank 1861–1898

Agnes was baptised on 9 June 1861, and named after a sister who had died in March of that year aged just 3. She married Wilson Rigg of Roger Ground, immediately south-west of Hannakin in 1885:

Agnes marriage to Wilson Rigg 1885

The couple had one son, William Rigg, born 1890 (he counts as one of the 35 grandchildren of John and Margaret). Agnes died at Hannakin aged just 37 in 1898. Wilson Rigg remarried in 1907 Catherine [surname unknown but born on the Isle of Mann], and William is living with them in Ambleside in 1911, a waller aged 21.

Sarah Ann Brockbank 1870–1937

Sarah Ann was baptised 11 December 1870. She had an illegitimate son in 1892:

Ernest Brockbank baptism

Sarah Ann married George Rigg around 1902 (although no record appears in the Parish Registers). In 1911 they are recorded as living it High Arnside, Coniston, with their son John Rigg.

George Rigg 1911
George and Sarah Ann Rigg (nee Brockbank) in 1911, blank columns omitted.

I wondered if two Brockbank sisters married two Rigg brothers, but this was not the case. Wilson Rigg was baptised at St Mary Magdalene Broughton in Furness, while the right hand column of the census above tells us that George was born in Westmorland.

Returning to Sarah Ann’s son Ernest Brockbank, he was brought up by his grandparents in Hannakin. The 1901 Census below shows how the Brockbank extended family had almost taken over the hamlet.

1901 Census Hannakin

I couldn’t find Ernest in the 1911 Census, even outside Lancashire. With men of his age, I always check Forces War Records, and found that an Ernest Brockbank from the Ulverston district was killed in World War I. Looking up the service number in Commonwealth War Graves shows he is commemorated at Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

Tyne Cot Ernest Brockbank

Meet-up with Richard Peaver, September 2020

Richard brought the Bible he inherited in 2006 to show us. It was purchased by his great-grandfather in 1912, but looked very similar to our Bible from 1886.

John and Allan Brockbank, and Richard Peaver with Family Bibles from 1886 and 1912. The Bibles were purchased by brothers-in-law William Brockbank (my great grandfather) and Charles Peever (Richard’s great grandfather)
Front page of family entries in Richard’s Bible. Jane Peever née Brockbank was born in Hawkshead, and was my great grandfather’s older sister

After lunch kindly bought by Richard, we went up to St Michael’s and All Angels via Hawkshead Grammar School. I’m not sure if our Brockbank ancestors would have attended that school, but then again, was Hawkshead large enough to have two schools?

Dad in front of Hawkshead Grammar School – most famous alumni William Wordsworth!
Church and part of the village taken from the western side of the church yard
Interior of the church. The Sandys Chapel can be seen in the far left corner

I was thrilled to be able to go inside the church, as I’d never been before. In the right hand corner was the chest that was used to keep the Parish Registers safe “to comply with an eclesiastical mandate of 1603” made from a single oak log.

Chest in which was kept records of baptisms, marriages and burials of Hawkshead residents for many hundreds of years. In 1983, Dad and I examined these parchments at the Lancashire County Archive Office at Preston. Now the records are transcribed and searchable for free at the excellent Lancaster Online Parish Clerk website

Outside, we found the red sandstone World War One Memorial where Ernest Brockbank and Mervyn Keats Sandys are commemorated.

Dad tells the story of how he first came to hear about his great grandfather’s 1875 lawsuit against Colonel Myles Sandys. He heard it from a Hawkshead local – strangely it wasn’t passed to him via his grandfather or father
Mervyn Keats Sandys was killed 22/23 October 1914 and is commemorated at Ploegstreet Memorial in Belgium. He was 30 years old, and was the nephew of Myles Sandys who was involved with the lawsuit. He was a Captain in the 2nd Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment.
Ernest Brockbank died 10 October 1917 and is commemorated at Tyne Cot in Belgium. He was a Private in the King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). He was the illegitimate son of Sarah Ann Brockbank and was born in 1892

In addition to the Brockbank and Sandys on the memorial, there is Robert Campbell, who was the first grandson of John and Margaret Brockbank. Many of the other names are familiar, too.

9 thoughts on “Great, great grandparents: John & Margaret Brockbank

  1. Hi Sal
    We have a Moses Brockbank here in Kirkby Stephen who I traced his tree back to the Hannakin Brockbanks I’ll see where I put the info his Moses name came from his mothers side . Also there is a Brockbank Terrace here and I think it’s the same John Brockbank who also built our old house at Alexandra Rd. I think there is also a Brockbank on the war memorial here so I’ll get the details . I’ll pass it on to Cass
    Good to hear your well and busy


    1. Ah thanks Chrys! I do want to look at the John Brockbank builder family, and also George Brockbank yacht builder soon. I don’t think we’re related to them, but putting the info online helps to organise it for me.
      Great to hear from you – I remember you helping with all our card sorting back in the day!


  2. Hi Sal, I live in Coniston and this is my Mother’s family. My Grandfather was John Victor Brockbank, his parents were Matthew B. and Alice Oldcorn. I have done some research on that part of the family, my grandfather had two brothers who emigrated to Canada (as well as other sib kings) and there’s is quite a bit of documentation about them. My Mother is in touch with the Canadian arm of the family. Are you in touch with Mass in Milnthorpe? She has done a lot of research and is the daughter of Edward B, my grandfathers brother. I have a photograph of Matthew and Alice with their children that I could send you, I can’t see anywhere on here to attach a photo.
    Hope to hear from you,


    1. Hi Robin, thanks for getting in touch, would love to hear from you and find out more about the Canadian and Coniston branches! I got my info from Mabs about 18 months ago but got stuck with the details of the Canadian descendants. Hope you got the email I sent last week as the ones via WordPress sometimes go into spam. My direct email is sal.chaffey(a)
      Thanks, all best wishes, Sal


  3. Hi Sal, I didn’t get your email and although I have tried replying to your email as above, I have had no luck. Could you confirm your email address please.


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