Brooks Family
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The BROOKS Family

Z1 William BROOKS

William BROOKS was probably born about 1760.

Resided in St George’s Bloomsbury in 1791.

Occupation: Stone Mason.

William married Elizabeth.

They had one child:

Z2 William Thomas James (1784-1843)

William’s father might also have been a William BROOKS. A Will has been found of a John Knight of Lingfield, Sussex that mentions a William BROOKS.


5 April 1758

In the Name of God Amen

I John Knight of this Parish of Lingfield in Surrey

Finding myself sick and very weak in body but sound in my understanding do here make my will and testament committing my soul in the said of my dear redeemer so freely resign my will to my maker’s pleasure hoping to find everlasting peace and my body to be plainly and decently interred

And I make my son John Knight and William Brooks my whole and sole executors to pay off my lawful debts given them above their equal shares with the rest of my children Edward my son accepted who is to have with the Executors twenty pounds more than the equal shares of them all amounts to

And my daughter Mary to have more than what she had already twenty pounds of money paid her in six months after my decease and no more at all after that is paid her

But for the other of my daughters Sarah and Susan and my sons John Edward and William Brooks to divide equal everything of my stock, goods and chattels only twenty pounds more to my executors and my son Edward each of them then Sarah and Susan.

As for my mother I give her forty shillings per year as long as five years if she lives that time to be paid by the Executors out of the whole stock in equal parts to be left in the executor’s hands by the rest as well as them and at the end of five years an increase to be paid and

I give to my two sisters Elizabeth and Mary a payment of two guineas each of them to be paid them by my executors at proper times

As customary in wills so in this being my will I do set my mark and seal

John Knight

April the 5th day in the year of our Lord 1758

In the presence of George Browne John Ready

In 1791 William Brooks entered into an agreement to build property in Cleaver Square, London. The following is an extract from the indenture:

Picture 41- Cleaver Square in 1898

Picture 42 - Cleaver Square 2001


In the Poor Law Books of 1794, William Brooks appears living at 8 Brooks Place (part of Cleaver Square). He paid an annual rent of 28s.

From at least 1792 until 1829, a William Brooks was the landlord of a property at 8 Leicester Square. The name appears on rent books at the Westminster Archive index. This was probably William Brooks senior and then later his son.

Found at the Westminster Archive, a deed 102/49 that reads in part:

"This Indenture made the Twentieth day of May in the forty-fifth
year of the reign of our sovereign Lord George...Between William
Brooks of Herne
Hill in the parish of Saint Mary Lambeth in the
County of Surrey Esquire of the one part and Samuel John Stump of Leicester Square...Miniature Painter...that for and in consideration of the Yearly Report covenants and Agreements
hereinafter...demise lease and to farm let unto the said Samuel John Stump...being behind and adjourned to a certain lately occupied by Mr Polton together with all cellars..."

Z2 William Thomas James BROOKS

Born on 2 January 1784 in Eagle Street, Bloomsbury. William Thomas James was baptized in St George the Martyr, Bloomsbury on 29 February 1784.

Recorded residing at Salvador House, Bishopsgate in 1822; and in Scarbrook Place, Croydon in 1840.

William Thomas James died in Croydon Surrey on 26 May 1843, at the age of 59. Cause of death: Natural death by disease of the Heart.

Occupation: Architect, Stonemason.

On 7 June 1810 when William Thomas James was 26, he married Elizabeth BANKS, in St Paul's, Covent Garden, Westminster.

Elizabeth was born in 1783 in Aldgate, London.

Elizabeth died in Croydon Surrey in 1865, she at the age of 82. She was buried on 3 August 1865 in Queens Road Cemetery, Croydon.

Occupation: Milliner, Annuitant.

They had the following children:

William - Born in 1814, died 12 November 1837 aged 23. Believed that he committed suicide because of debt problems

Z3 Amelia Jane (1818-1900)

Maria - Born in 1821 in Croydon

Isabella - Born in 1824 in London

William was a stone mason and seems to have been very successful.

A ‘Mr Brooks’ was the architect and builder of the College of London in 1815. It may have been the same man.

In the 1820s there was a lot of money about for building. After the Napoleonic Wars, the French had to pay war reparation to England and a lot of this money paid for London's expansion. London grew very rapidly in this period.

William Brooks was involved in the building of four churches in South London - St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke and St John. These buildings still survive. Enormous churches built in the same Greek style with stone column fronts.


Picture 43 - St John, Waterloo; St Luke, Norwood; St Mark Kennington; St Matthew Brixton

These four churches were built in the period 1820 to 1825. The architect was Francis Octavious Bedford. He also built some other churches in London.

The Church of England Record Centre holds an extensive file of original documents relating to the building of these churches. It includes legal and conveyance documents, plans for the buildings and minutes of meetings. An extensive search of these papers has revealed many references to Francis Bedford, but not to William BROOKS. His exact role is therefore not known.

However it has been established that in 1822 William was living at Salvador House, a large private residence in Bishopsgate, London (close to the present Liverpool Street railway station). Ten years later living at the same house is Francis Bedford, the son of Francis Octavious Bedford, architect. The son later went on to become a very famous Victorian photographer.

In 1820 a ‘William Brooks’ gave the sum of £60.15s.0d (equivalent to £3071 at 2001 rates) towards a reward fund for the capture of the capture of the Cato Street conspirators. This was an audacious attempt to assonate the entire British cabinet by anarchists.

William is supposed to have made a lot of money but lost it gambling. There is a story that some property in Oxford Street, London, lost in a gamble would revert to the family after 100 years. However, family members may have got the address wrong. A William Brooks was the landlord of 8 Leicester Square (less than a quarter of a mile away) from at least 1792 to 1829.

William is listed in the 1822 Post Office Directory as "Wm. Brooks, Architect, Salvador House, Bishopsgate, London". He is listed in the 1841 Census as living at Scarbrook Hill, Croydon, aged about 60 with wife Elizabeth aged about 50 and daughters Maria about 20 and Isabella about 15.

William died in testate. Letters of administration were granted to his wife, Elizabeth in 1843. His estate was valued at £20 (equivalent to £1,042 in 2000).

Z3 Amelia Jane BROOKS

On 26 August 1840 when Amelia Jane was 22, she married Thomas GROSSMITH (G7).

Return to GROSSMITH Family


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