Neal relations at Cuckoos Cup, The Wrekin

How to Brake the records

Here is a good illustration of how being open to inquiries on family history can pay dividends. A comment on The Tonypandy that Mum knew article gave some information on a family in that town, living just round the corner from our crew in the early 1900s. A long shot, but could Cutlock and Co come up with any pointers? No harm in seeing if the focus of attention (Florence M Reed) was easy to find in the 1911 census and yes a match came up on an Ancestry search straight away.

This was where curiosity, experience and a desire to find some useful info came up trumps. The 1911 census form was supposedly filled in by the head of household, and a careful study of the writing can be revealing. Mother Clara was down as born in Somerset, with the original town name crossed out and replaced with “Tiverton” – which is in Devon. It was still possible to make out the previous name underneath, which looked like Severton – a badly spelled version of Seavington I’d come across before, perhaps produced by someone unfamiliar with the area interpreting a Somerset accent. I’m guessing that someone is the oldest son listed on the form. Why crossed out and replaced with Tiverton? Perhaps because father Walter came from a place near there and there was some confusion between the generations (nothing new about that!).


Seavington (actually two villages – St Michael and St Mary variations) is a key place in the Scott/Vickery family line. Putting Clara there was shaky, but this quickly moved onto a firmer footing. The eldest son shown on the 1911 record was a stepson, Archie age 22, surname Mitchell. Search on Clara and Archie’s details (with surname Mitchell) for 1891 and there they were in Rhondda with husband John and 2 more children, the elder giving a likely marriage date of about 1885. Most likely in Somerset, seeing as two children were born there as well as John and Clara. Yes, that checks out – John William Mitchell married Clara Brake in 1884, Chard district, which is the right area.

Now pursuing Clara Brake as a youngster, what do we find but she and her family appear on the 1871 census next to a Vickery family. And amazingly, this proves to be the long missing record for my 2x great grandmother Mary Ann Vickery, her brother Joseph, widowed mother Mary and grandfather Charles {1}. Cue for some jumps of delight.

The Brakes are off

No stopping the Brake vehicle now.

With this close connection between the Brake family and my Vickerys, it occurred to me that there was already a Brake in the family tree. Mary Ann’s husband Walter Scott remarried, after her death, to Emma Brake {2}. Clara’s father George is quite probably Emma’s older brother {3}.

Looking again at the 1891 census for Clara, then living at 6 Knoll Terrace, Clydach with John Mitchell, I spot why that address was familiar. Charles Scott, age 17, eldest son of Walter and Mary Ann and my great grandfather, was a lodger with the other family living in that house. Could Charles and Clara being “step-cousins” have meant that she found this place for him when he moved (by himself) from Somerset? Or perhaps the other way round? Update – note 5 makes this observation redundant.

One way or another, this is a further example of Somerset families sticking together when they moved to the coal mining areas of south Wales.


1. The 1871 census for Vickery had been transcribed on Ancestry as Vickey – a  variation on the name that I must have overlooked. Plus Charles’ age had been read as 22, rather than 82, but I’ll admit the writing is unclear here.

2. Emma Brake, born 1846 Seavington St Michael, parents Charles Brake, Mary Bargery. Married Walter Scott 1885. Her children:

  • Charles, baptised Charles Cornelius Rowsell Brake 21 Oct 1871, married Mary Elizabeth Swain 1897.
  • George W Brake 1879-1883.
  • Beatrice Maud Scott b 1886, m George Edward Passmore 1907, d 1947 Yeovil
  • Peter Scott b 1887 – Update coming soon, Nov. 2016.
  • George Scott b 1889, m Mary Elizabeth Swain 1897, possibly d 1950.
  • Walter Scott 1890-1896.

3. There is more than one George Brake around, and there are oddities making the identification probable rather than definite. All other children of Charles and Mary appear in the Seavington St Michael baptism record (checked via Seavington web museum lists), but George, born about 1844 before all the rest, doesn’t. Charles Brake is a blacksmith (as was his father David, who has an interesting probate calendar record), and George appears as such in 1861 when still living with his parents, but later is a labourer. The closest other George Brake (baptised 1843 Seav St Mike) is now ruled out, as he emigrated with parents Jonathan/Mary Ann to Detroit in 1848 (and possibly was killed in a shooting accident 1880).

4. Clara Brake was baptised 27 January 1867 Seavington St Michael, but born about 1865.

5.1891 Wales Census Silly me. The “other family” at 6 Knoll Terrace in 1891  is Clara’s parents (George and Sarah Ann) and her siblings. The surname is so written by the enumerator that the Ancestry transcriber made it out as “Beathe” rather than Brake – it is the line up of children’s names that makes this a definite match.


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