London Clay Pipe Studies

The clay tobacco pipe industry in the parishes of St Margaret and St John the Evangelist, Westminster

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16 (later 22) Parker Street (183269)

The Brooksbanks family

There is doubt as to whether pipes were manufactured at this address. Although a branch of the Brooksbanks family of pipe makers occupied it for 37 years there is no evidence (such as entries in trade directories) that they had a workshop there. In fact, during their period of tenure no commercial properties were listed in Parker Street in the principal trade directories.

William and Jane Brooksbanks moved into 16 Parker Street in 1832. Little is known about them prior to this; the 1861 census indicates that Jane was born in Chelmsford, Essex. The Brooksbanks name seems to have its origins in northern England, so perhaps William was also not a native of London. Prior to their arrival in Westminster the couple were living in north London, and their first two children were baptised in the parish of St Luke Old Street, Finsbury:

John, born 9 September 1828; baptised 18 October 1829

William Saunders, born 21 April 1830; baptised 16 May 1830

The Parker Street house seems to have stood since at least the end of the 18th century. It can be identified on the first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1869 (Fig 22), which also shows a detached outbuilding at the end of the yard that might conceivably have been a workshop of some kind. In 1831 (the year prior to the Brooksbanks' arrival) the street was renamed (formerly Bennet Street) and acquired by Messrs Stephen James and John Cutter. The houses were all assessed at an annual rent of 10. None of the previous tenants at number 16 are believed to have been pipe makers. 

Fig 16  Extract from the Ordnance Survey map of 1869, locating the house in Parker Street occupied by the Brooksbanks family

William and Jane Brooksbanks had four more children, all of whom were baptised at St Margaret's, Westminster:

Nathaniel #1, baptised 4 August 1835

Harriet, born c. 1833; baptised 8 March 1841

Nathaniel #2, born c. 1837; baptised 8 March 1841

Jane Ann, baptised 23 November 1840

William died in 1849, aged 43, and was buried at St Margaret's on 1 March. His widow, Jane, became head of the Parker Street household. In the 1851 census she was recorded (aged 46) as a pipe maker, as were her surviving sons John, William and Nathaniel, although by 1861 Nathaniel had given up the trade to become a 'vocalist'. In 1851 the household included also Jane's daughter Harriet (unemployed at that time, but subsequently a tailoress), John's wife Susan and his young daughter Harriet. 

Jane Brooksbanks was responsible for the poor rate until 1869, after which time the family disappear from Westminster records. The new occupant of the house was Henry Francis Higgins, who is not thought to have been a pipe maker.

Another (presumably related) branch of the family was recorded in a house in Upper Garden Street, St John the Evangelist, Westminster in the 1841 census. This was Thomas and Catherine Brooksbank, presumably husband and wife, who were then in their early twenties. Thomas was described as a tobacco pipe maker, and Catherine as a tobacco pipe trimmer. They shared the house with William Ricketts (aged c. 50) and Frances Ricketts (aged c. 40), again presumably husband and wife. William was a tobacco pipe maker and Frances a pipe trimmer. The 1841 census is the only known reference to any of these people and there is no evidence that they were making pipes at that address.

Other Brooksbanks working as pipe makers elsewhere in Westminster were Sarah, who was listed in Pigot's directory at 9 Husband Street, Golden Square, St James in 1836 and John, recorded at Husbands Street, St James in 1832. A John Brooksbanks was named as an assistant of the company in 1821.

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