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Beginning a Dynasty of Dyers

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Family stories abound about the man (or men?) who founded our family’s Dynasty of Dyers.

I was delighted when my father asked to me to take care of family papers (the earliest dated 1748) as I was the only one of his children who showed an interest in the family history. That period of delight turned to sadness when he died the following day.

Amongst those papers was an indenture, dated 1798, whereby William Brabazon was apprenticed to Joseph Sandell, a Dyer. William Brabazon was described as a ‘Boy of the foundling hospital’. William was bound for seven years “to his master faithfully serve, his secrets keep, and his lawful commands to everywhere gladly do.” He could not marry, play at cards, haunt taverns or playhouses etc.

The family were understandably confused when they saw these papers as they had no knowledge of William Brabazon. An aunt, born in 1894, suggested that ‘a baby, complete with an elaborate layette was left at the door of an orphanage with instructions that he should, at the age of sixteen, be given the choice of three Professions – to become a Doctor, a Lawyer or a Dyer’. This was obviously a complete fabrication as the Thomas Coram Foundation provided me with the information that he was left with them by his mother who stated that her name was Ann Jones.

The family came to the conclusion that William Brabazon had later decided to change his name to Augustine Fitzgerald. But why?

They had gone back through their pedigree and noted that Sarah Ann Fitzgerald had, in 1849, married William John Davies. That document showed that Sarah’s father was Augustin(e) Fitzgerald, dyer, deceased.  Things still did not add up for me and further research showed that both William Brabazon & Augustin(e) Fitzgerald were baptised at the Foundling Hospital on November 1st, 1780. I have not yet found any details of how or why Augustine was left at the hospital but the Thomas Coram Foundation has explained to me that the names of the babies were changed when they were put into their care. Initially some of the babies were given the name of prominent people who helped financially but this was changed when some of the babies became adults and tried to claim inheritance from these men.  Some babies were given the name of the street in which they were found, abandoned.

I discovered that Augustine Fitzgerald was firstly apprenticed in 1791 to Charles Cole who was a silk dyer. However, Charles Cole died and he was then apprenticed to Joseph Sandell, also a silk dyer, in 1798. Joseph Sandell was the master for apprentice dyer, William Brabazon.

I have not done a lot of research into William Brabazon but I did discover that he married Sarah Sarbett in 1806 in St Pancras – he had obviously waited until he had served his apprenticeship – and they had two children around this time. I believe that he finished his life as a dyer in Oxford and may have died there in 1844.

I have been unable to find a marriage for Augustin(e)/Augustus Fitzgerald and Sarah. Sarah has been identified as the mother of two of their three children, Sarah Ann & Charles, when they were baptised in 1823.

So why do I have the apprenticeship indenture for William Brabazon when my ancestor was Augustine Fitzgerald? One can only presume that as they were baptised the same day, apprenticed to the same man, possibly they may have slept in the same dormitory and were probably great friends.  Maybe they were handed their certificates and have picked up the wrong ones as they left to begin their lives. We will never know but I remain very proud of both William Brabazon & Augustine Fitzgerald and think of both men when I see that certificate hanging on my wall.

The attached sketch is presumed to be that of Augustine Fitzgerald - origin unknown.

About the author: Yelsel2 Admin Icon
I was born in Melbourne, Australia and have been actively researching since the mid 1970s.

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Interesting story! Thanks for sharing.
1 year ago