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Please can you help in trying to trace my mother’s side of the family? My great-grandfather was George BROWNING, born in Somers Town, in the parish of St Pancras in 1869. He married Caroline GREEN at Islington Register Office on 8th August 1888. His age on the marriage certificate says 20; she was 18. George’s father is named as William BROWNING (deceased). The occupation for both father and son is ‘baker journeyman’.

              I found a death certificate for a William BROWNING who died, aged 36, in 1879. I also found that William married Emma PRATT in February 1862. On their marriage certificate it says they were both residents in St Pancras (no address given). William’s father is named as George BROWNING. Both father and son’s occupation is ‘wharfinger’. Emma’s father is deceased but there is no name given.

              I have searched and I am now hitting a brick wall as I would like to know where George BROWNING, William’s father, came from and what was his wife’s name; and if there were any siblings. Also I would like to know about Emma: was she illegitimate?

Maureen Carpenter


It is very important, when undertaking any research, to try and build up a full picture of the family that you are researching. Therefore, if you have not already done so, you need to find George BROWNING with his family.

              Working backwards from the known to the unknown through the census returns, William aged 16 was located, with his father, George (aged 42) on the 1861 census. George is recorded as being born in Farringdon, Hampshire. George’s wife is given as Mary A BROWNING, aged 30 years. You have to remember that the relationship given in the census is to the head of the household. Therefore, also given the fact that if Mary’s age is correct, then she would have probably been too young to have been the mother of William and his older siblings.

              In 1851, George was located with his wife, Eliza: he was born in what looks like ‘Haton’, Hampshire. It would therefore appear that George married twice. This all needs to be carefully checked. These are almost certainly the correct family units but possibly a little more evidence is required, such as finding the two marriages for George.

              As to Emma PRATT, the fact that her father’s name is not given on her marriage certificate may indicate she was illegitimate. The 1851 census includes at least three Emma PRATTs, born 1843 ±5: Emma, aged eight, daughter of Caroline, a widow; Emma, aged three, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth; and Emma Ann, aged seven, daughter of Anthony and Ann.

              The FreeBMD site ( includes a number of Emma PRATT births 1837–1848, including one in Pancras Registration District in the September Quarter 1843. This you need to check out further.

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