The Anguish of Henry Bramall - Sheffield 1886

In the autumn of 2016 I posted an article to the site titled "The Anguish of Clara Ann Bramall - Hillsborough Sheffield." It involved the Bramall family - this form is from the 1891 Census and shows Clara living with her husband WILLIAM BRAMALL and baby daughter CATHERINE at 40 Leader Road Sheffield

Clara was going to watch every one of her nine children being buried before herself died at the age of 89 at Sheffield's City General Hospital. But what was even more tragic is that three of her daughters committed suicide by drowning. 

In April 2017 I was contacted by a descendent of the Family

" A cousin of mine recently found your website with the story of Clara Ann Bramall .Clara’s husband, William, is my 3rd great uncle. His father, Henry Bramall , is my 3rd great grandfather. It might interest you to know that the sad story of this family did not begin with William and Clara, but in fact with Henry , who also committed suicide , although not by drowning."

I decided to see if I could find out more about Henry and the circumstances of his death

The following is from the 1871 Census and shows Henry living with his family 


1871 Census

1881 Census

Henry is described as a Farmer of 27 acres and also a File Manufacturer. He employed nine men and two boys. The first report appeared the Yorkshire Post Wednesday 10th March 1886 and refers to his death in the early hours of Tuesday when he was discovered by two of his sons hanging from a kitchen beam. In the note he left behind he refers to the grave allegations made against him by his wife Jane. The census forms refer to his wife as Catharine but a check on the BMD registers found that a Catharine Bramall had died in the September quarter of 1881 age 49 (Wortley Volume 9c Page 141). They had been married 27 years. 

There is also a record of Henry's second marriage 

Marriage 03 May 1884 • Madeley, Staffordshire, England Jane Mountford (1844–)

And it was this marriage that was directly responsible for his death less than two years later. The first report is from The Yorkshire Post Wednesday 10th March 1886


The Yorkshire Post Wednesday 10th March 1886

York Gazette dated Saturday 13th March 1886


York Herald dated 13th March 1886

It is clear from the reports that Henry was not over familiar with his teenage daughter Mary Eliza. Even his wife and daughter stated that this was the case. And yet Henry was "perpetually tantalized" with these totally unfounded allegations thrown at him by his wife. Evidence was also produced that demonstrated that his wife Jane had a severe personality disorder, one so bad that it resulted in Henry taking his own life. The reports are entitled "Suicide of a Sheffield Manufacturer/Steel Merchant" but the verdict was not one of suicide. It was an open verdict that was delivered by the jury, not one of suicide, which it plainly was. The only reason I can think of for this, is that if Henry's death had been suicide he would not have been able to be buried in accordance with the tenets and rites of the Church of England. 

Given the actions of his callous and vengeful wife Jane, the jury must have decided that this was not an option and so returned an open verdict. There is an indication in the report with the term "Ultimately" which infers that the jury did deliberate on the matter.

And so Henry was afforded a full Christian burial in his local churchyard as the record shows.   

Burial Record for Henry Bramall - St Nicholas Church, Bradfield, Nr Sheffield 

There is also an indication that Henry had written Jane out of his Will the day before he took his own life. I do know what became of Jane after the event. It was  highly unlikely that she would have remained in the district given the scandalous and unfounded allegations that she made against Henry. The Bramall family had lived in the area for generations and would have been well-known to many. Jane on the other hand had not connections with the area and would be viewed as an outsider even if she had not conducted herself the way she did.

In 1881 she appeared in the census as an unmarried head of a household living on an annuity. It looks as though her marriage to Henry was her first and she clearly had great difficulties in adapting to her new role.

Name Jane Mountford
Age 37
Estimated Birth Year abt 1844
Relationship to Head Head
Gender Female
Where born Bettley, Staffordshire, England
Civil parish Chorlton on Medlock County/Island Lancashire Country England
Street Address 47 Avon Street
Occupation Annuitant
Registration district Chorlton ED, institution, or vessel 25 Piece 3917 Folio 91 Page number 28
Household Members 
Name Age
Jane Mountford 37
Thomas Hancock 39 

By 1891 she was living with at King Street Fenton Stoke on Trent with her "husband" Alexander Shaw, 52 year old coal miner. Even though she is listed as "wife" I can find no trace of a marriage.


1891 Census

1901 Census

Ten years later the couple were living at a different address in Fenton - 89 Grove Road 

The final census I have is the one conducted in 1911. They are listed as married and had been so for 47 years. This is clearly incorrect but given Jane's past it is hardly surprising.

Looking at Alexander Shaw - he is possibly this person, dying just before Jane in the quarter to March 1915. I have found no record of another Alexander Shaw dying in Staffs between 1915 and 1939 (when he would have been 100). Sadly there is no probate record to confirm the address.

Name: Alexander Shaw
Event Type: Death
Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar Registration Year: 1915
Registration District: Stoke On Trent
County: Staffordshire Event Place: Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire, England
Age (available after 1866): 74
Birth Date (available after June quarter 1969): Birth Year (Estimated): 1841
Volume: 6B Page: 253 Line Number: 118 

If anyone can furnish me with details of her life please let me know.


1881 Census

Name: Henry Bramall
Age: 53
Estimated birth year: abt 1828
Relationship to Head: Head
Spouse: Catherine Bramall
Gender: Male
Where born: Bradfield, Yorkshire, England Civil Parish: Bradfield County/Island: Yorkshire Country: England
Street address: Barton House [Birtin House] 
Marital Status: Married
Occupation: Farmer & File Manufacturer (27 Acres) Employing 9 Men & 2 Boys
Registration district: Wortley ED, institution, or vessel: 7 Piece: 4619 Folio: 95

Page Number: 45
Household Members: 
Name Age
Henry Bramall 53
Catherine Bramall 49
J.H. Bramall 25
W.H. Bramall 23
A.H. Bramall 20
M.E. Bramall 15
Frank Bramall 12

1871 Census 

Name: Henry Bramall
Age: 43
Estimated birth year: abt 1828
Relation: Head
Spouse's Name: Catharine Bramall
Gender: Male
Where born: Oughtibridge, Yorkshire, England
Civil Parish: Bradfield Ecclesiastical parish: Oughtibridge Town: Gate
County/Island: Yorkshire Country: England
Registration district: Wortley Sub-registration district: Bradfield ED, institution, or vessel: 7g Household schedule number: 131 Piece: 4659 Folio: 102 Page Number: 27
Household Members: 
Name Age
Henry Bramall 43
Catharine Bramall 39
Joseph Hudson Bramall 15
William Henry Bramall 13
Arnold Hector Bramall 10
Mary Eliza Bramall 5
Frank Bramall 2
Henry Slaney 17

Henry Bramall

1828 • Ecclesfield, England, United Kingdom
25 May 1854 • Ecclesfield, Yorkshire, , England Catharine Hudson (1831–1881)
Birth of Son Joseph Hudson Bramall(1855–1924) Jun 1855 • Bradfield, Yorkshire, England
Birth of Son William Henry Bramall(1857–1926) dec 1857 • Oughtibridge, Yorkshire, England
Birth of Son Arnold Hector Bramall(1860–1900) 9.11.1860 • Oughtibridge, Yorkshire, England
Birth of Daughter Mary Eliza Bramall(1865–1942) 1865 • Oughtibridge, Yorkshire, England
Birth of Son Frank Bramall(1868–1946) 1868 • Oughtibridge, Yorkshire, England
Death of Wife Catharine Hudson(1831–1881) 15.9.1881 • Bradfield
Residence 1881 • Bradfield, Yorkshire, England
Death 9.3.1886 • Wortley, England, United Kingdom 


York Herald dated 13th March 1886

York Gazette dated Saturday 13th March 1886

The Yorkshire Post Wednesday 10th March 1886

UK Census

Burial records - St Nicholas Church Bradfield Nr Sheffield

Free BMD

This page was last updated on 07/02/18 10:26

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