Children of John Brinsmead

This page provides a compendium of information currently on hand about John and Susan Brinsmead's children. It is a working document which may contain inaccuracies. Any corrections or additional information would be welcome. Footnotes refer to sources where possible.

John Brinsmead, 1842   

We know little about John Brinsmead Junior. From the GRO index, he appears to have died in the winter of 1863 at 20 or 21 years old.

Rose Anne Brinsmead, 1843

Rose Anne married a Mr. Henry Billinghurst. Later in the history of John Brinsmead and Sons, a Mr. H. F. Billinghurst became managing director and was acting in that capacity when the firm announced it would shut down on February 5th, 1920[1].

The Times of London account of Rose Anne’s will reads as follows: “BILLINGHURST, Mrs. Rosa Ann, of Battersea Park, S.W., widow of Henry Billinghurst, of Blackheath (net personalty £20,156) Gross value £22,832.”[2]

Thomas James Brinsmead, 1844

His father took Thomas into partnership when he was age 26[3]. He married Elizabeth.  He left the firm when it was incorporated in about 1899. In 1901 he and his wife Elizabeth and daughter Winifred lived at 7, Fellows Road, Hampstead.

Elizabeth lived at Belsize Grove Mansions, Hampstead N.W. London. She died on May 29th, 1929 at Worthing, age 82. She left an estate worth £28,860 (£25,863 of it personalty). The newspaper account records small bequests to her maids, Sidwell Osborne and Annie Pratt, but no details of the beneficiaries of the bulk of her estate[4].

Laura Elizabeth Brinsmead, 1846

Laura Elizabeth married a man named Gilbert Lewis Bauer before Dec 28, 1899. Mr. Bauer was a harmonium manufacturer. He appears to have been born in 1845, the son of William Bauer and Mary Ann[5]. In 1880, his premises were at 49 Tottenham Street, Tottenham Court Road Cleveland Street Fitzroy Square and 50 Albert Street Mornington Crescent Regents Park and before that 101 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square. One of his locations was known as the “Cumberland Works”. In 1880 he got into financial difficulties however, rather than go bankrupt, he entered into a consensual liquidation arrangement with his creditors. He owed £3497 and paid 2/6 on the pound. Mr. Bauer must have died by October 22, 1909, since Laura Elizabeth was a widow by that date[6]. 

Apparently Laura Elizabeth Bauer moved at some point to Salisbury in what was then Southern Rhodesia. The account of her will shows net personalty of £20,465[7].

Edgar William Brinsmead, 1848

John took Edgar into the partnership sometime later than Thomas[8]. He became the managing director of John Brinsmead and Sons Ltd., apparently after the firm was incorporated in about 1899.

In 1901 the family lived at 16 Fellows Road, Hampstead, just down the street from his brother Thomas. Edgar William Brinsmead died on November 28th, 1907 at 5 Hillside Mansions, Jackson’s Lane, Highgate age 59. He became manager of the John Brinsmead and Sons Ltd for a short time when Horace G. Brinsmead resigned[9]. He was blind for many years. Despite this he wrote A History of the Pianoforte. First written in 1866, this book has been republished on at least two occasions and is still in print.

Edgar William had a son, Horace Clowes Brinsmead, who was born at Hampstead in 1883. Educated at Clifton and Cranleigh, Horace enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial force. He became a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1920, an aviation official and a representative at the Paris Peace Talks following the First World War. After the war he served at Australia’s Director of Civil Aviation. He married the daughter of an M.P., the Honourable Charles MacDonald. He was seriously injured in a plane crash in Bangkok. He died, at age 51, in March, 1934.[10]

Emily Eliza Brinsmead, 1849

Emily Eliza was married by 1909.[11] However, she was referred to as Miss Emily Brinsmead in 1907 on the occasion of her parent’s 70th wedding anniversary.

John Brinsmead left Emily Eliza the remainder of his household and personal effects. He also left her a one seventy share of his estate. She was apparently single at the time of his death.

Walter Sydney Brinsmead, 1852

Known as Sydney, he seems to have remained single and lived with his parents most of his life. He worked in the factory as a piano tuner. John Brinsmead left Walter Sydney Brinsmead a £300 annuity.

Horace George Brinsmead, 1856 – 1908

William Latey provided the following notes on his grandfather:

“Horace G. Brinsmead went to sea on leaving school, but at their request left the merchant service and joined his father’s and brother’s business learning the work in every department thoroughly and practically at the bench. In 1876 he represented the firm at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, this being the first occasion on which the firm obtained a first award at an international exhibition. On his return he introduced American ideas into the manufacture of pianos and up-to-date methods of advertising. He suggested to his brother Edgar to advertise under the name of Brinsmead, which was begun in 1877. In 1879 he went to Australia to represent the firm at the Sydney International and obtained highest awards for the firm, ditto 1880-1881 at Melbourne International, ditto Christchurch International. He opened up such a vast business that not even after opening a new factory could the firm fulfill the orders. He doubled the business and when he returned to England he was taken into the partnership. He preferred life in the Colonies however and he resigned the partnership, keeping the sole right of the Colonial business.

He went planting for a time, but returned to England and found that in the interim the firm had lost nearly all the business in the Colonies. He agreed to take it up again and went out afresh.

In 1898 with wife and family he took a trip to England, and at his father’s request agreed to enter into partnership again and take a third of the business, his two brothers taking the remainder, while the father retired. Prior to settling down however he made a tour of the Colonies to fix up agents, etc., and while he was away other arrangements were made, no agreement having been signed.

When he returned he found his brother Tom had left the business, which was to be turned into a limited liability company. Under persuasion he became managing director but found it impossible to work with the new people introduced into the concern and resigned, starting business for himself.”

Horace was present at his parent’s 70th wedding anniversary and assured the employees present of his father’s wish for their success.[12]

While Horace George Brinsmead took a one 6th share of his father’s estate, along with his siblings, the shares assigned to Horace and to his brother Edgar were retained in trust for their benefit rather than given to them outright.[13]

Horace George Brinsmead died through suicide on July 22nd, 1908 at age 52. He shot himself in the heart with a revolver at his warehouse in John Street, adjoining Tottenham Court Road. He left a letter for his wife saying he was expecting trouble in the near future. He had some months before suffered from influenza. He had been in business on his own account after leaving John Brinsmead and Sons Ltd.[14]

Horace George Brinsmead had at least four children: Known are the second son Cecil Horace Brinsmead, a younger son Noel J. Brinsmead born in Sydney, Australia on December 15, 1895 and a daughter Anne Emily Brinsmead. Anne Emily married William Latey, a prominent divorce lawyer and later a High Court Judge who was the son of John Latey, the sometime editor of the Illustrated London News and the Sketch newspapers.

Horace George Brinsmead was educated at Mr. Cherrill's School in Hampstead and at the University college School. He became an apprentice in the merchant service, and before winning his second mate's certificate had at least two narrow escapes from death during adventurous voyages. Anxious to serve his country with as little delay as possible he put in for both the Army and the Navy, hoping to secure a commission in one or the other service, and by coincidence was gazetted simultaneously. He chose the later commission and speedily won distinction at Eastchurch and on Salisbury Plain as a skilful airman. He left England on October 30, 1915 and was one of the first to fall for his country in the campaign near Salonika.[15]

Noel Brinsmead arrived in Canada at age 16 on the SS Canada in 1912. He is listed on the Home Children Index of ArchiviaNet. He signed up for the Canadian Army in 1917 in Montreal, but on his attestation papers he says that he had already served two years in the Buffs. He is also reported to have been severely wounded in the second battle of Ypres in May, 1915.[16]  There is a Noel J. Brinsmead listed for the Canadian Expeditionary Force with Regimental Number 1251799 Reference Number RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 1073-8. 


[1] Times of London, 5 February 1920, page 12, col b and 7 February 1920, page 9, col. b.

[2] Feb 27, 1931.

[3] Notes by William Latey, Q.C. - 1976

[4] Times of London, 15 July, 1929, page 9 col. d.

[5] IGI Record Gilbert Lewis Bauer - Christening 14 Dec 1845 – All Souls, St. Marylebone, London, England. Batch Number C053911

[6] E-mail from Chris Willis, 10/11/00

[7] Her will was probably probated in England, as would be common in cases where the bulk of the person’s property remained in England. From the amount, it would appear that her estate remained similar in amount to her legacy from her father.

[8] Notes by William Latey, Q.C. - 1976

[9] Times of London Nov. 29, 1907 (page 11 col f)

[10] Times of London, March 12, 1934 (page 19, col c)

[11] E-mail from Chris Willis, 10/11/00

[12] St. Pancras Gazette

[13] Times of London – Wills and Bequests – 25th April, 1908 (page 12 col e)

[14] Times of London, 23rd July, 1908 (Page 14 col e)

[15] Times of London, 14 January, 1916 (Page 4 col b)

[16] Ibid.

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