The Browns, a Glasgow weaving family

Finding Marion Brown

On 16th April 1832, Marion Brown and John Pendlebury were married, in Paisley Low Church parish. The parish record is not informative, saying only ‘John Pendelbury and Mirren Brown both in this Parish’, with the date and the minister’s name. They had five children born in Paisley, Margaret baptised on 14th April 1833, John in 1836,  Mary in 1838, Agness in 1840 and Marion in 1842. John married Marion Fisher in 1867 and they were my mother’s grandparents. Again the records of children’s births are very brief as shown by Margaret’s, ‘Pendlebury Margaret D. L to John Pendlebury and Mirren Brown’ with the dates of birth and baptism, 13th and 14th April. John Pendlebury was a hand-loom weaver who had come to Paisley (for work) from Aspull near Wigan, son of Jonathan Pendlebury, weaver in Aspull, and his wife Mary Seddon.

Who was Marion or Mirren Brown?  There are no clues in the records of her children’s births. She appears in the census records which from 1851 onwards consistently show her as born in Glasgow. She and her family are in Paisley in 1841 and 51 (all involved with weaving in 1851, except for the youngest, also named Marion). In 1857 Marion’s husband John Pendlebury died in Bridgeton in Glasgow, his age given as 71, and in the 1861 censuses Marion is head of the household in Glasgow. By 1871 she is living with the family of her son John Pendlebury.

Marion’s death in 1881 was reported by her daughter-in-law, Marion Fisher, wife of John Pendlebury. She was in her 80s and her parents were named in the record as John Brown, warper, and Margaret Anderson. Aside from this record, there were no clues to her family or origin. The name ‘John Brown’ was, needless to say, a common one, but I could find no birth in Glasgow that seemed likely to be that of Marion. Many children at the end of the 18th century did not have births registered, and I had set this line aside. 

All changed quite recently when I was emailed by a family historian in New Zealand, who had found ‘John Pendlebury’ in family marriage registrations. She had traced her line back to a William Brown, marrying Mary Carswell in 1858, with John Pendlebury as a witness, and he had also witnessed the marriage of William’s sister Elizabeth in the same year. They were children of George Brown and Elizabeth Blair, and George was the son of David Brown and Margaret Anderson, as attested by his death registration in 1855, which listed all the names of his surviving children.

Now, while ‘Brown’ is a commonly found name in Scotland, at that time there was only one John Pendlebury in Glasgow – the son of Marion Brown, whose father, John the weaver from Aspull, had died the year before. My New Zealand contact had found the births of her ancestor George, with parents David Brown and Margaret Anderson, in the parish of Glasgow Barony, in 1805, with siblings Agnes (1801) and David (1803), the baptism witnesses being James Anderson and William Brown; but then realised that there was an older child born in Glasgow parish; Marion, born on 20th August 1799, with the same witnessess.

This information breathed new life into my set-aside inquiry. While the name on the death registration of Marion was ‘John Brown’ this was a long-deceased father of an elderly woman, and the informant was her daughter-in-law who almost certainly had never met Marion’s parents. This would not be the first time that information on a death record was found to be not quite right. Further, this NZ contact sent me what information she had on her family line, and I saw that there was a very interesting name for the youngest brother of her William: Cornelius Brown.  Further, a son of her William’s was called Walter Cornelius. She had looked into possible births for David Brown, and found a George Brown and Agnes Brown, with children born from the 1760s to 1780s; and I saw that one of their children, the second born, was named Cornelius. So, armed with that name ‘Cornelius Brown’, I spent time looking through indexes of birth records, with a few additional scans from Scotland’s People, and rather longer time with the records of burgesses of Glasgow and street directories: the story of the Browns, so far as I’ve yet found it, is on the next page, the Ancestors of Marion Brown.

© Jenny Blain 2017, 2019 and 2020    email me