Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

My great-great-grandfather Walter is what genealogists call a brick wall. I found him first, listed in the marriage register of my great-grandmother Sarah as her (already deceased) father. His occupation is listed as an Iron Moulder. Sarah’s mother was listed as Isabella who at that time was married for the second time to George.

Marriage and children

No record can be found of Walter’s marriage to Isabella nor for a birth record for his daughter, my great-grandmother Sarah, although a birth record was found for a son Richard who was born in 1865 in the same town. Both parents and place of birth for Richard matched those of Sarah so it is reasonable to assume they are siblings and that confirms that Walter and Isabella lived in a marriage-like relationship.


If we assume that Walter was at least 20 or older when his son Richard was born, then he was born sometime before 1845. Even using a global search with multiple name variations of all records in the Registry Office, no record can be found of Walter’s birth in that town. The only two possible births are in a different town, and because his parents’ names are unknown there is no evidence to support either person as being the same Walter.


Walter died sometime after 1868 when Jane was born and before 1876 when Isabella BROWN remarried. The fact that Isabella was still living in the same town when she remarried means that Walter most probably died there.

Isabella remarried in 1876 to a George CROZIER and although she is recorded using her birth name and listed as a spinster, this record is supported by the information provided by Sarah in her marriage register. It is further supported by an 1881 census record of George and Isabella that lists Jane aged 12 as the “wife’s daughter” at the same address as the one in Isabella’s marriage register.

Census records

There is a census record of a Walter aged 7 in 1851 in the town where all the other known family members lived which would place his date of birth as 1844 and his age when Richard was born as 21. This is within acceptable limits and it is also the only Walter or any spelling variation of his family name in that town. However, there are no other records to support the idea that this is the same person.

Collateral Lines

It is often useful to explore the collateral lines of a “brick wall” ancestor as this often leads to useful information. This has not been the case in this instance

Isabella is not recorded in the 1871 census in that town. Richard and Jane were born before 1871 but they are not recorded there either. As previously noted, Isabella was married there and both she and Jane were living there in 1881 so there is no reason to look for this family anywhere else.

Richard is not recorded in the 1881 census with his mother and sister. He would have been 16 years old at that time so he could have been living elsewhere. Apart from a Birth and Baptisms record, no other records of Richard can be found.

Walter is a stubbornly brick wall.


Who am I? I am different things to different people. I am a poet, a visual artist, a sculptor of found objects, and a writer. I am a bookkeeper, an office manager, an administrator and software support consultant, even a short-order cook and barista. I am a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, a cousin and a friend. I am a traveller, a technophile, a philosopher and a student of all things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *