Miss Laura Mary BRAIN (1857–1864)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 6a, Grave C65

Laura Brain




WHO DIED JULY 29, 1864


Laura Mary Brain was born in Holywell, Oxford in 1857 and baptised at St Cross Church there on 16 August.

Her father William Brain junior was a butcher (born at Hollybush Row, Oxford on 6 June 1822 and baptised at St Thomas's Church).
Her paternal grandfather William Brain senior was also an Oxford butcher (listed in 1830 and 1835 at New Road in St Peter-le-Bailey parish, and in 1839 at St Thomas's Street). He was living in St Peter-le-Bailey parish when he married Laura's paternal grandmother Mary Ann Falkener at her parish church of St Thomas on 10 August 1820.

Laura's mother Emma Phillips was born in Highworth, Wiltshire in 1832 and baptised there on 31 August, but she had Oxfordshire connections, as her father Richard Phillips was born in Bicester.

Laura's parents were married at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon on 7 January 1851 and settled back in Oxford. Three months after their wedding the 1851 census shows them living over their butcher’s shop in George Street. This was listed between two pubs at the south-west end: the Plume of Feathers on the site of the present No. 73, and The Packet on the site of the present No. 77. Her unmarried uncle Thomas William Brain (30), who was also a butcher, lived with them, and they had one servant. They had moved to North Parade by the following year.

William and Emma Brain had eleven children, of whom Laura was the third:

  • William Brain (born in North Parade, Oxford in 1852 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 21 December)
  • Jessie Brain (born in Holywell in 1854 and baptised at St Cross Church on 21 January 1855)
  • Laura Mary Brain (born in Holywell, Oxford in 1857 and baptised at St Cross Church on 16 August)
  • Emma Brain (born in Holywell, Oxford in 1859 and baptised at St Cross Church on 20 April)
  • Alice Brain (born at 39 George Street in 1861 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 25 April)
  • Alfred Brain (born in Oxford in 1862, reg. third quarter)
  • Percy Brain (born at 39 George Street in 1864 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 28 June)
  • Henry Brain (born in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire in 1865/6 and baptised there on 25 February 1866)
  • Constance Brain (born in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire in 1867 and baptised there on 25 June)
  • Mary Brain (born in Kidlington in 1870 and baptised there on 18 April)
  • Florence Brain (born in Kidlington in 1875 and baptised there on 18 August).

The family had evidently moved from North Parade to Holywell by 1854 and were still there in 1859. They probably lived at Nos. 96/97 Holywell Street, which were said to be occupied by a Mr Brain when they were auctioned in May 1856.

They were back at 39 George Street by the time of the time of the 1861 census: Laura (4) was living at there with her parents William (38) and Emma (28), and her father was described as a butcher employing two men and two boys. Also at home were her siblings William (8), Jessie (6), Emma (2), and Alice (three months), and her mother’s sisters Laura Phillips (24) and Elizabeth Phillips (32), and her grandfather Richard Phillips (61). The family had two house servants.

Laura died three years later, a month after the baptism of her baby brother Percy:

† Laura Mary Brain died at George Street at the age of seven on 29 July 1864 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 2 August (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

Soon after Laura's death the family moved to Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, where they had two more children. They were still there in June 1867.

On 4 September 1868 Laura’s paternal grandfather, retired butcher William Brain senior, died at Grove House, Kidlington at the age of 68. His effects were under £2,000, and Laura's father William Brain junior and her unmarried aunt Mary Ann Brain were his executors.

By the time of the 1871 census Laura's father William Brain appears to have moved into his father's house in Kidlington, with his wife Emma (38) and seven of their children, as well as Emma’s sister Louise Phillips (33), a governess, a nursemaid, and two other servants. Aged 48, he was described as a farmer of 100 acres employing three men. Laura's widowed paternal grandmother Mary Ann Brain (71) was head of a separate household in Kidlington, where she lived with her 38-year-old unmarried daughter of the same name and two servants.

Laura'’s paternal grandmother Mary Ann Brain died at Kidlington at the age of 79 on 13 September 1878.

Laura’s family and their return to Oxford

In 1879 Laura’s father retired and moved back to Oxford with his family, and when in that year he took out the first lease on Arthurlee, 6 Crick Road he described himself as a gentleman.

On 22 April 1880 at Ss Philip & James’s Church, Emma’s sister Jessie Brain married Alfred Andrew, Esq., a solicitor from Northampton.

The 1881 census shows William Brain (58) and his wife Emma (48) living at 6 Crick Road with five of their children and two servants.

In 1891 their address was given as 8 Crick Road, and William Brain was now a magistrate. He and his wife lived there with three of their children, plus a cook and a general servant.

Laura's father William Brain died at 8 Crick Road on 15 August 1900. His effects came to £3,616 3s. 1d., and probate was granted to his widow Emma.

At the time of the 1911 census Laura's mother Mrs Emma Brain was still living at 8 Crick Road, with her two youngest daughters Mary (41) and Florence (37), plus two servants. She died there on 15 March 1921. Her effects came to £19,286 6s. 10d., and her executors were the farmer William Brain and auctioneer Percy Brain, who were probably her sons.



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