4x great grandparents: Robert Brockbank & Sarah Williamson

We first learnt about my 4x great grandfather in the early 1980s when my dad and I visited the Lancashire Archives at Preston. We were allowed to handle the original Parish Registers for Hawkshead, and copied each birth, marriage and death into a notebook. The process took two full days!

At home, we copied each entry onto a card and laid them out on the floor. Gradually we were able to connect them, and make larger ‘family cards’. Now of course everything is on the Lancashire Online Parish Clerk site, which has been a huge help!

My 4x great grandfather Robert Brockbank was born in 1746 in Arnside, just north of Tarn Hows, and about 5km from Hannakin where he later settled.

Robert 1746 baptism

Two of the cards we connected early on, was the burial of his first wife Susannah and the baptism of their daughter – also Susannah – on the same day. So poignant!

Susannah 1772

I’ve searched for a burial or marriage for baby Susannah, but found nothing. Nor does she appear on the censuses, so her fate will remain a mystery.

Robert however had an illegitimate child before marrying his second wife, Sarah Williamson. “Robert Brockbank the Supposed Father” caused much amusement!

Robert 1775

There’s a Hawkshead marriage for Robert Birkett 9 June 1800 to a Betty Boulton “Spinster of this parish”, although Robert is listed as “Merchant, parish of Lancaster”. It feels like the same Robert, but would be difficult to follow up, given that the first census did not take place until 1841.

Returning to Robert and his new wife Sarah, they had seven children, all born at Hannakin, a kilometre south of Hawkshead. This was to become the family home for three more generations!

Of the seven children, two we know of (blue asterisks) have descendants still living.

Robert and Sarah

The fascinating story of Sarah Brockbank’s life was re-constructed with help of her 4x great-granddaughter Beth in Florida. Dad and myself did DNA tests in 2018 and found shared DNA with Beth, whose Cooper ancestor emigrated to Quebec around 1919; see Brockbank 5th cousin found through DNA testing!

It’s lovely to see the eldest two of the children above living to a ripe old age in the 1851 Census.

Matthew and Ann 1851

These eldest children never married and also lived in the same house at Hannakin in 1841. Going back to the parents, Robert died in 1822, Sarah in 1814. Their Brockbank descendants are followed in 3x great grandparents Robert Brockbank and Agnes Taylor.

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