Spirit of Mayflower: Hawkers and the Bramley's in the 1800's

Part of my Spirit of Mayflower project is exploring migration and family history inspired by the Mayflower story. My family history is peppered with stories of migration, albeit smaller in miles, the times and circumstances would still have caused great upheaval.

During this week I have been delving into the lives of my Gt, Gt, Gt Grandfather Thomas Bramley who was born in Leicestershire c.1848 and was later baptised at St Mary’s Church, Blidworth, Nottinghamshire. His father was a shopkeeper in Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire and Thomas followed his father into the family business as life as a Hawker.

During a visit to Nottingham Archives I have found some fascinating stories about him and his family, which included moving multiple times, finding himself in the bankruptcy court in 1878, changing his entire families surname and moving them to Ilkeston, Derbyshire.

Life in Ilkeston under a false name must have been difficult, and he took up a job as a coal miner. This career change must not have been a good fit for Thomas as I find him back as a Licensed Hawker and reverting to his true name in 1891. In fact the whole family help out as hawkers, his wife Ann, son John Thomas and daughter Floria are Hawkers Assistants in the 1891 census. 

After some time Thomas and wife Ann move back to Hucknall Torkard, but some of their children stay in Ilkeston carrying on with the family trade. Son John Thomas Bramley marries Elizabeth and has a son, also called John Thomas.  Luckily I managed to find a picture on the local history group facebook page, showing wife Elizabeth with their son. The shop was on Nottingham Road and later moved to White Lion Square where it remained a local hardware shop up until the 1970’/80’s when the area was redeveloped.

Reading the facebook posts really helped bring this part of my family history alive, with many people remembering popping into old Mr Bramley’s shop.

Although I don’t yet know much of what became of Thomas Bramley once back in Hucknall, I did find him in Kelly’s Directory of Nottinghamshire in 1900 listed as an Earthenware Dealer.

Wife Ann received poor relief around this time, listed as ‘Infirm’ she was awarded £3 S2 D6, she later died in 1901 aged just 53 years of age.


 Bramley’s shop, 356 Nottingham Road, Ilkeston c.1901

Bramley’s shop, 356 Nottingham Road, Ilkeston c.1901