Thomas Francis Richards Briggs was born 5th April 1855 in Blue Town, Sheerness, Kent. His father Thomas Briggs died 9th August 1854. His mother Maria worked as a servant, more details below.
The 1861 UK census lists Thomas as 6 years old, living at 28 Charles Street, Sheerness, the home of his maternal grandparents Thomas Richards a blacksmith (born Plymouth Devon) and Maria nee Frost 52 years (born Plymouth, Devon). His mother Maria Briggs (nee Richards) a widow is listed at her workplace 15 Union Rd, Sheerness where she was a servant in the house of Dr. Edward Swales and his wife Mary.
In 1871 Thomas 15 years old is lodging with his mother at the home of Dr. Edward and Mary Swales, 38 High Street, Sheerness.
We don’t have a lot of information on Thomas. F. R’s younger years but by 1881 Thomas at 25years of age was a master tailor and boot repairer employing 3 men and 2 apprentices. He married Ellen Ann Baskett (my name sake) on 19th October 1880 and they lived at 41 High Street, Sheerness. They had five children namely: Nellie Florence (1882); Daisy Maria (1886); May Victoria (1888); Charles Edward Francis Briggs (1889 – my grandfather) and Frank Briggs (1894).
I have been lucky enough to have had contact with my ‘cousins’, grandchildren of Nellie, Daisy, May and Frank. Franks’ son Bernard and daughter Margaret met with us a few years ago when we were in the UK and cousin Vivien (MArgsret’s daughter) keeps in touch by email and happily shares information.
1891: the family has moved to 182 Battersea Road London and a further move by 1901 places them at 41 Fratton Road Landport, Portsmouth. We don’t know what prompted the move; the usual catch phrase for migration is ‘work’ so I guess we’ll stick with that. From this address Thomas continued his work as a master tailor and boot repairer until he died aged 49 years, 11th February 1904. Cause of death ‘apoplexy’.
We suspect Thomas may have had a previous stroke or other ailment which affected him emotionally/psychologically as well as physically. I have a letter from Margaret (daughter of Frank) in which she says ‘…according to dad (Frank), if anyone spoke at the table he (Thomas) would hit them around the head with his crutch. Frank then said “.. I hate all Yorkshire men because that’s where his father came from”. This is strange because although Briggs is well known as a Yorkshire name – his father was born in Sheerness. So it seems Thomas wasn’t a loving father figure. Again this reaction could have been a side effect of illness.
I have three images of a man who I was told is Thomas. F. R. Briggs but we have no way of proving it. I’m placing them here hoping that someone who is researching the same branch with come across this blog and recognize the person in the photos.
1881: Maria Briggs now 42 yrs, is at 8 Beach Terrace, Sheerness and listed as the owner of homes. Lodging with her is Dr. Edward Swales 51yrs and servant Eliza Batt 30yrs. Maria and Dr. Swales married in 1885 and lived in 3 Trinity Road, Sheerness. Eliza Batt stayed with Naria and Edward until their deaths. The Last Will and Testament of Edward (1899) and (Maria (1907) has information regarding other family members and includes Eliza.
Next: Charles Edward Francis Briggs son of the above.