The Bramall family
Main photo: the Smithy at Midhope where several generations of the Bramall family worked.
In 2021 I published a short memoir by Brenda Hawkin nee Bramall, who was born in February 1934. She writes wonderfully about her memories of growing up in Stocksbridge. Her family origins are in the small hamlet of Midhope. There are lots of Bramall families in the area, seemingly not related to each other, and I have done some research and gathered a few stories about the Midhope branch. The memoir can be read here: Brenda's Story.
THOMAS BRAMALL: 1730-1813, VLLAGE BLACKSMITH
The earliest Bramall I have found in Midhope so far is Thomas, who married Ann Wordsworth at Bradfield church in 1756 (marriages were not legally allowed at Bolsterstone or Midhope at this point in time). Unusually, the marriage entry in the parish register recorded the fact that Thomas was a blacksmith. No ages were listed on these older marriage entries, but from his burial record we can work out that he was born in about 1730. As yet, I do not know his parents’ names or where he came from. Thomas died in 1813 and was buried at Midhope on the 2nd March. He was 83 years old.
Thomas and Ann had four children baptised in the little chapel of St. James the Less at Midhope, and the eldest, John (1759), followed in his father’s footsteps and worked in the smithy.
The Smithy has a date of 1778 and the initials GB etched on its north-east corner. Writing in 1916, local historian Joseph Kenworthy called it an “ancient building.” He wrote that the initials refer to one George Bramall, and the date refers to the year in which he was apprenticed to John Bramall. This would be Thomas's son John who was born in 1759. Thomas would have been about 48 years old and his son John would have been around 19. Both men were probably working in the forge at the time. Kenworthy also noted that John was the grandfather of William Bramall, who was in occupation in 1916 when he was writing about the shop. The 1911 census confirms that William was the blacksmith.
George Bramall was no relation to the Midhope Bramall family.
The little chapel of St. James the Less which was used by the Bramalls for baptisms and funerals
GEORGE BRAMALL, THE APPRENTICE
In 1928 the local newspaper printed an article about George. The previous week they had run a piece about what they described as “a peculiar custom in the Penistone district” in the “olden days” in which people Declared before a magistrate their Settlement. If a person moved into a district from elsewhere, they had to declare where they had come from, in case they should ever become chargeable to the parish (dependent on handouts) – in which case the parish officials could send them back to where they came from. However, people could gain a legal right to a new settlement through various means. It wasn’t just a Penistone custom but a nationwide practice. The article features William Bramall of Penistone, who had made a Declaration over a hundred years previously. He was the son of the George Bramall who had been apprenticed to John at Midhope. Some of William’s memories of Penistone were also published.
William declared that he had been born at Penistone in one of three old cottages which stood on ground then occupied by some shops that had been built by the late Mr. John Firth Moorhouse, which at the time of writing belonged to Mrs. Calvert and others. William also declared that he had been born on the 19th November 1823 and that his father’s name was George Bramall, a blacksmith. The blacksmith’s shop adjoined their house in Penistone. George came from Emley. After his first wife, Elizabeth Taylor, died, he married again to a widow called Ann Hammerton and had more children, including William. Ann's father was Robert Bramall of Trunce, Green Moor, but apparently there was no relationship at all between these three families.
JOHN BRAMALL: 1759-1831, VILLAGE BLACKSMITH
John Bramall married Mary Woodcock at Penistone church in 1787 and they had six children. Two of the boys, John (1790) and David (1798) became blacksmiths. A middle son, William (1795) did not - he was the ancestor of Brenda, mentioned above.
A pen and ink drawing of Midhope Smithy by local artist and teacher Bill Dearnley (thanks to Judy Nichols for sharing this)
BROTHERS JOHN & DAVID BRAMALL, VILLAGE BLACKSMITHS
Joseph Kenworthy told an amusing tale about these two brothers, who worked the smithy together for many years without, it was said, any unkind word or any desire to take advantage of each other or anyone else. “It is said they went to work in tall hats, “donning” paper-caps and leather aprons on their arrival at the smithy, and that they always went to Penistone market together, and came away together; their visits to the village ale-house being after the same manner. It was noticed that they had one pot between them, from which they drank alternately, and the story goes that, on one occasion, David was observed to take a deeper draught than usual at the first “sup,” which was painfully apparent when John took up the pot. He, however, made no fuss about the matter, but quietly remarked “I think tha wur rather dry David, wurn’t ta?” and the answer came just as quietly “Aye John I wur dry.”
Kenworthy added that: “Those were the days of hard drinking and practical joking, and “Mischief Neet” was more than duly observed by farm hands and pit-lads. The bellows were taken out of Midhope Smithy on one such lawless night, and placed amidst the branches of a lofty tree in Hill House Lane, and at another time John and David Bramall were astounded to find on arrival at the smithy that a new plough, which had been brought to them to be “ironed” a few days before, had been taken out of the shop and stuck in the chimney, and as the two brothers did their best to get it out again and down the roof, in safely, they were heard to say, “It’ll be them young uns aat o’Yewden, my! aren’t they strong?” 
 Joseph Kenworthy, The Early History of Stocksbridge & District Handbook 18a, Old Registers and Old Scholars, published by the author, 1916. pp36-37
Simplified tree of the Bramalls of Midhope
Simplified tree of John Bramall, blacksmith, 1790-1980
JOHN BRAMALL: 1790-1860, Blacksmith
John married Anne Firth and they had nine children. Some died young or in early adulthood, but second son John (1824) went into the family trade as did youngest son Joseph (1837-1872). John junior did not live and work at Midhope though; he moved to Penistone, to the hamlet of Lanes, Millhouse. Joseph did stay in Midhope. He married a local lass, Dinah Gillott. Joseph died in 1872 aged 36.
John and Anne’s youngest child, Elizabeth, never married. She had five illegitimate children, and it seems likely that their father was Thomas Winterbottom, who, in 1881 and 1891, was living with Elizabeth and the children as a lodger. One of Elizabeth's daughters Alice married Walter Peace (he was her cousin) and they lived at Hunshelf. Thomas was with them when the 1901 census was taken, (he was recorded as Walter’s father-in-law, which seems to confirm that he was Alice's father). Elizabeth was still living at Mortimer Road, Midhope. She died in 1904.
PHOEBE GRAYSON and the Coaching Days
Thomas Winterbottom had a brother called John, who had married Phoebe Grayson in 1854. Their son Thomas married one of Elizabeth Bramall’s daughters, Sarah Ann. Phoebe is mentioned by Joseph Kenworthy in relation to the old coaching days when the stagecoaches would pass through Midhope. Phoebe lived at the Pot Houses on Mortimer Road, just across the road from the Rose and Crown. She died in 1902 aged 80. “Some of the coaches changed horses at the “Rose and Crown” Inn, at Midhope, and several people were living until quite recently, who vividly remembered the discomforts endured in travelling over the high moors during the storms of winter. Old Phoebe Winterbottom, of Midhope, could well remember how interested young and old were in watching the coaches come and go. To see the passengers alight to partake of refreshments whilst the horses were changed and hear the cracking of whips and the merry sounds of tooting horns and prancing hoofs, was a picture of the good times, not soon forgotten.” 
 Joseph Kenworthy, writing in the Stocksbridge Almanac 1908. More information on the coaching days in my book A Drink with our Ancestors, 2020.
Simplified tree of David Bramall, blacksmith, 1798-1876
DAVID BRAMALL: 1798-1876, Blacksmith
David worked the smithy with his brother John for many years. He married Elizabeth Barrow and they had nine children. The eldest, John, did not go into the family trade, but two other sons William and Charles did.
JOHN BRAMALL: 1835, son of David; his link to the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864
David’s son John (1835-1920) married Emma Crapper from Dungworth in 1857. Emma was the daughter of Joseph Crapper, a shoemaker and there is a link here to the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864. Emma had a brother called Joseph Crapper, who was, like his father, a shoemaker. He and his wife Elizabeth (nee Staniforth), and their 14-year-old son Joseph, were all drowned when the flood swept through their house at Malin Bridge. “On the left hand site of the river, facing downwards, stood a row of twelve cottages and two shops, the whole of which were washed away so completely that no one would have imagined the site had ever been occupied by human dwellings. Among the families drowned here were Joseph Crapper, shoemaker, his wife, and a child; Mrs. Etchell, a widow, who kept a school; Joseph Goddard, his wife, and two or three children; William Sellars and wife; Henry Jevisson, his wife, and son; George Barrett, shoemaker, his wife, child, and a lodger named Ann Pearson.” Joseph’s body was never identified. Elizabeth and their son were found, and they were buried together at Bradfield. John and Emma lived at Stannington and he worked at a variety of jobs, mostly labouring. For an account of the flood at Malin Bridge, see HERE.
 Harrison, Samuel: The Great Sheffield Flood: It’s History Re-told, reprint of the original edition, with original wood engravings, the one shilling edition, published by Sheffield: Independent Press, Limited", in 1898. Page 23.
WILLIAM BRAMALL: 1844, Blacksmith, son of David
William did not originally, according to the census returns of 1861 and 1871, work as a blacksmith but as a farm labourer and steel works labourer, but by the time the 1881 census was taken he was working as a blacksmith at Midhope. He married Martha Cooper sometime between 1871 and 1875 but I have been unable to find their marriage. In 1891 they were living at Ivy House. Martha died in 1894 aged 43. The 1901 census records him at Mortimer Road, occupier of a house and smithy. His near neighbours were Edward and Emma Workman. Emma is perhaps better known locally as “Old Mother Workman;” she and Edward later lived in Bramall House on Bramall Lane, just off Underbank. Her story is told HERE. William was still the blacksmith in 1911. He died in 1923 at the age of 79.
Emma and Edward Workman. Edward died in 1926.
DAVID BRAMALL 1884-1952
One of William and Martha’s sons was called David, and he married Gertrude Marsden in 1908. David worked as a navvy and later in Fox’s. In 1937 he was at work as a chargehand at Fox’s when he was hospitalised in the Sheffield Royal Infirmary after suffering injuries to his chest and back as a result of being crushed by a 3½ ton magnet. He’d have been about 53 years old. He died at a hospital in Skegness in July 1952 and had been living at Milner Lane, Midhope. Adminstration of his effects was granted to Leslie Bramall, his son. An auction notice from 1913 states that he rented one of three cottages known as Milner Row. The other two tenants were Henry Crawshaw and Willis Brearley. He also had two closes of land and, on the other side of Milner Lane, he also rented a close of land and some farm buildings. Milner Lane is a single track road off Mortimer Road, opposite the pub. It used to lead down to the stepping stones and Dike Side Farm (now submerged by Underbank Reservoir). These days it’s known as Miller Lane. Milner Row and the two closes of land, along with the land on the other side of the lane and two cottages (occupied by Mrs. Edwards and Mr. Rowland Hill) were bought by Mr. R. J. Ellis of Oughtibridge for £400. Bidding had started at £250.
EDITH ANNIE 1909: husband’s fatal accident.
One of David and Martha's daughters, Edith Annie, married Harold Hobson in 1930. In 1932, Harold’s father George took over the license of the Rising Sun Inn on Hunshelf Bank from John Bisby. George and his wife Lucy ran the pub until at least the 1940s. Sadly, Harold and Edith Annie had only been married for four years when Harold was killed in an accident, in November 1934. He was 26 years old. He had been riding his bicycle along Haywood Lane in Deepcar when he collided with a lorry which was coming in the opposite direction. James Marratt, of the Steelhouses, Deepcar, had been standing on the back of the lorry when he saw Hobson, who had just come down Quarry Hill, on the wrong side of the road going very fast, the front wheel of his bike wobbling. Errors of judgement meant that he hit the lorry, with fatal consequences. A verdict of accidental death was recorded at the inquest.
CHARLES BRAMALL 1847-1890, Blacksmith, son of David, a sad suicide
Charles was the son of David and Elizabeth and trained as a blacksmith like his father and his brother William. According to the 1881 census he had been born at Bramall Lane, Midhope, but I don’t think the family ever lived at the Bramall Lane which runs from Underbank Lane towards Stocksbridge. Perhaps where they lived was known as that, with all the Bramalls that lived and worked in the smithy. He never married and lived with his widowed mother Elizabeth. His cousins Joseph and John were also blacksmiths, but John had moved to a smithy at Thurlstone and Joseph had died in 1872.
Charles committed suicide in 1890. He was 44 years old and had reportedly been in ill health and low spirits since about Easter that year. The inquest was held at the local pub, as was normal at that time, the Club Inn. On a Tuesday afternoon, the 1st July, Charles had gone with his mother to visit a neighbour. At around 9.30pm, Charles said he would go home first and light the fire. His mother followed him after about fifteen to thirty minutes. When she got back, she was surprised to find that the fire was not lit, and when she went into her son’s bedroom, she found him hanging by a clothesline attached to a beam in the corner. She raised the alarm and her son William, who lived nearby, came to cut his brother down along with a man called Joseph Shaw. The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity.” He was buried at the day after the inquest. It wasn’t until 1882 that suicides could be buried in a churchyard at any hour and with the usual religious rites. Suicide had previously been regarded as a crime, and suicides were buried between the hours of nine and midnight, without the Christian rights of burial and with no entry in the parish burial register.
JAMES BRAMALL 1850-1885, son of David, assault and early death
David’s son James never married and lived with his mother Elizabeth at Midhope. He worked as a wiredrawer and furnaceman at Samuel Fox’s, and later in a ganister quarry (owned, coincidentally, by the Bramall family from the hamlet of Gate, Oughtibridge, but no relation). In 1876 James was assaulted by Frederick Greaves, a labourer, also of Midhope. The two men had a difference about some handicap money at the Rose and Crown Inn at Midhope, and Greaves struck Bramall “a terrific blow in the face,” inflicting injuries that required medical treatment. Greaves was fined 50 shillings plus costs. James died young; he was only 36 when he was found dead by his brother William at the side of the road about 300 yards from Langsett. He died on Friday 13th March 1885 and an inquest was held at the Wagon and Horses Inn at Langsett three days later. William Bramall told the inquest that his brother had been in good health, although he had had sciatica in his neck, and was an outpatient of the Sheffield Infirmary. He last saw his brother the day before his death, about 3.30pm, at work in Mr. Bramall’s ganister works. James told him that “times were bad,” and William remarked that he hoped that they would soon mend. The following morning, William left home around 6.15am to go to Mr. Bramall’s works, which were at Hoodlands / Fulshaw . He had gone less than 100 yards when, he said, “I saw some clogs and a man’s leg on the left hand side of the road and on going toward the place I found deceased lying with his head in the dry ditch and holding his breakfast can in his left hand. He was face downward and his feet were on the road and pointing toward Midhope. There was not any sign of struggling. Deceased’s hat was just off his head. I helped to bring his body to this house. Wm. Winterburn searched his pockets but found only a knife and tobacco box. His life had been insured for many years.” Several people gave evidence. A Langsett farmer, Benjamin Bradley, didn’t know James, but that morning he heard an alarm, on, on going to investigate, he found William with his brother’s body, and helped him carry it to the pub, where he helped to wash and lay out the body. He told the inquest that the body was in good condition and “in such a state as some would expect a person to be who had been at work.” George Bradley, a fellow worker at the ganister quarry, said that he had known James for several years, and that he (James) had begun to work for Mr. Bramall at Bradshaw about six months ago. He was a barer – someone who removed the surface soil to bare the rock. James had complained of a pain in his head that morning. The two men had left the quarry around 5.30pm and called at the Wagon and Horses, where they had 6 pints of beer between them. They both left the pub at 10pm and James stopped to “make water” whilst his friend went off down the road. He called back to him, and heard James say “I’m coming,” but he did not see him after that. He thought his friend was sober and fully capable of taking care of himself, and he saw no one else on the road. Another witness, William Machin, an engineman at the ganister works, told the inquest that he had seen both men leave the pub, and that all had seemed well. The verdict was simply that James was “Found Dead.”
 Bradshaw was in the occupation of Joel Bramall, one of the Bramall family from Birtin House, Gate (Oughtibridge). Joel was born in 1836 and was the son of Joseph Bramall, the founder of the highly successful ganister mine operations at Oughtibridge, Worral and the surrounding area.
This photograph of Midhope Smithy was printed in Kenworthy's Handbook 18a
Midhope Smithy in 1974 (photo: source unknown)
Simplified tree of William, middle brother of blacksmiths John and David, 1795-1873
WILLIAM BRAMALL: 1795-1873, agricultural labourer
William, the middle brother of blacksmiths John and David, and son of blacksmith John, did not follow in the family trade but worked as an agricultural labourer. He married Charlotte Walker at Penistone on New Year’s Eve, 1838 and they had at least six children: Charlotte or Mary, Annis, Charles, Caroline, Frank and Friendly. They lived at Midhope, where William worked as an agricultural labourer. The census returns for 1851 and 1861 tell us that they lived at “Cottage” and “Old Cottage” respectively; this could mean that they lived on the lane known as Old Cottages, between the main Manchester Road and the pub on Mortimer Road. The previous households on both the census returns were at Miller’s Row, opposite the pub.
CHARLES BRAMALL: 1845-1915, son of William and Charlotte
Charles married Elizabeth Ann Robinson in 1871. He moved away from Midhope and lived at Hunshelf. He worked at Fox’s and was apprenticed to Thomas Herbert. He was a “capable honest workman, serving the company well to the time of his death. He made many friends but no enemies.” Charles was foreman for many years in the Engineering Department, and his son Friendly followed in his footsteps. [Joseph Sheldon, The Founders & Builders of Stocksbridge Works, 1922, p72]. Charles and Elizabeth had one son, Friendly, born in 1872
When he died in 1915, the local paper reported his passing with the headline, “Death of a Stocksbridge Worthy.” My great x 2 grandfather Brook Donkersley was listed one of the mourners. He had been born in 1851 and worked as an engineer in Fox’s as well as running a butcher’s shop on Victoria Road.
“Public sympathy has again been stirred throughout the district by the death of Mr. Charles Bramall, who passed away at the Royal Infirmary, Sheffield, on Friday last. Deceased was 69 years of age, and was one of the most respectable inhabitants. Of an amiable disposition, never seeking publicity, he was held in high esteem by a large circle of friends. To him live [life] has been one of work. For close upon 60 years he had been employed in the works of Messrs. Samuel Fox and Co., and was one of their oldest, most reliable and valued servants. His parents were natives of Midhope, and at the age of nine he walked morning and night from Midhope to Stocksbridge. Later, he was apprenticed in the engineering department, where, several years ago, he was appointed foreman, a position he held up to his death. Mr. Bramall had resided nearly all his life in the village, where he was widely known and respected. A hearty and jovial fellow well met, in company, he was one of the best – always jovial and ready with a song; and in charity he was ever ready to give a helping hand. At the works, the loss will be felt most keenly. The high regard in which he was held was abundantly evidenced on Monday at Bolsterstone Church by the large number of workmen and friends who paid their last tribute of respect. The service at the Church was conducted by the Rev. W. C. Edgington.”
FRIENDLY BRAMALL: 1872-1957, son of Charles
Friendly was baptised at Midhope, and he married Gertrude Kay in 1896. They had four children: Harold (1897), Mabel (1901-1903), Gertie (1903) and Eric (1911-1987). A photo of Friendly and Gertrude appeared in the Fox Magazine of 1956:
“Mr. & Mrs. Friendly Bramall, of Rundell Road, Stocksbridge, who celebrated their Diamond Wedding on 5th February. Mr. Friendly Bramall, now 84, had given a total of nearly 60 years’ service in Top Yard Fitters up to his retirement. His father, “Old Charlie Bramall” who was foreman fitter, also gave 60 years’ service, starting at 3d. per day when he was nine years of age and walking to work from Midhope and back each day. In his youth Mr. Friendly Bramall was an all-round athlete and in 1905 he was the first man to see water enter the Company’s Hilltop Tank, high on Hunshelf Bank. At the start of his life’s work, Mr. Bramall was under the late Mr. Samuel Fox himself and he has worked successively under every Manager and Engineer to the time of Mr. S. R. Howes and Mr. O. Inman. Mrs. Bramall is 83 and still young in outlook and worked in the Umbrella Dept. for a number of years in her youth. It is believed that Mr. And Mrs. Bramall are at present the oldest married couple in Stocksbridge. They have a daughter, Mrs. W. Senior, and two sons, Mr. E. Bramall with 30 years’ service to date in the Machine Shop and a member of the Works Council, and Mr. H. Bramall with 47 years’ service to date in Top Yard Fitters.”
Published in the Fox Magazine, Spring 1956, Volume 4, Number 5, Page 36
This colourised photograph shows Friendly Bramall and his wife Gertie with their two children Harold (born 1897) and Gertie (born in 1903); this was taken before their second son Eric was born (in 1911). The location is on the road from the smithy which is where they lived. Photo credit: Carmen Frank, Eric’s granddaughter.
Eric Bramall with his wife Dorothy and daughter Yvonne, aged 9, watching “Teleclub,” one of their favourites.
Fox Magazine Summer 1954 p.14. Yvonne's brother was Keith Bramall (1940-2008), no relation to my partner Keith Bramall. They each called the other “t’other Keith.”
There was another Bramall at Midhope, but he was not related. He even lived next door to the Bramalls who lived at Miller / Milner Lane. His name was Billy Bramall (John William, to give him his Sunday name) and he ran the village Post Office, but not the one which had stood at the crossroads of the main Manchester Road and Mortimer Road.
Billy, full name John William, was born in Sheffield in 1908 and was the son of Ernest Bramall and Mary Ann Green (known as Pollie). Pollie was the daughter of a police constable, William Green. In 1911 the Bramall family were living at Castor Road, Brightside. They eventually moved to Stocksbridge and lived on Oaks Avenue. In 1930 Billy married a Midhope lass, Olive Howe, and for a time they (along with several other families) lived at Midhope Hall. Olive’s parents Roland and May Howe ran the post office, but not the one which stood at the crossroads. The post office was in the middle room of Cornmill Cottage. When the 1939 Register was taken, Roland was recorded as a retired waterworks labourer, and May was the “post mistress, sub-post office,” assisted by one of her daughters, Hannah. An Ordnance Survey map of this time shows the post office at Corn Mill Cottage. In this year Billy and Olive were living at Midhope Hall, and he was working as a boiler foreman in Fox’s, as well as being a member of their A.R.P. service (Air Raid Precautions). Roland and May had seven children, but only one grandchild, Ruth (who also had seven children). Two of Roland and May's sons were killed in WW2. Roland died in 1955 and their daughter Olive, Billy’s wife, took the post office on in about 1956.
Billy and Olive had gone to live at Miller Lane, in one of the three cottages there known as Milner Row (Miller Lane was also known as Milner Lane). Their neighbours were the unrelated Midhope Bramalls (David Bramall 1882-1952 and his son Leslie). The post office was created in their front room, and they also sold groceries, sweets and newspapers. They gave up the business when Billy became ill with pneumonia in the mid-1960s. He died in 1973.
Midhope post office when the postmaster was John William Rodgers (he was there when the 1901 and 1911 census returns were taken). The building was later a house. It has now been demolished, but it stood at the crossroads with the main road to Manchester. This photo was taken looking up towards the Club Inn from the main road. May Howe ran a post office at Corn Mill Cottage (just visible to the immediate left of the post office, in the distance) in later years.
Midhope post office in around 1904; the postmaster was John William Rodgers.
Looking at the old post office on the corner and up towards the Club Inn. Milner/Miller Lane is on the left, hidden by the big tree.
The post office at Corn Mill Cottage is shown on this England & Wales 6" OS map of Midhope (revised 1938, pub. 1948)
Billy Bramall and Olive Howe
Billy Bramall's parents; Ernest Bramall and Pollie Green
Fox Magazines, published by Samuel Fox & Co. A magazine published for the workers of Fox’s and their families, published quarterly from 1946 until 1966. Its policy was that it was “for employees, about employees, the Company and its achievements, and as far as possible, by employees.” Copies are available in Stocksbridge library and can be downloaded from the website of the Stocksbridge History Society:
Harrison, Samuel: The Great Sheffield Flood: It’s History Re-told, reprint of the original edition, with original wood engravings, the one shilling edition, published by Sheffield: Independent Press, Limited, 1898.
Kenworthy, Joseph: The Early History of Stocksbridge & District Handbook 18a, Old Registers and Old Scholars, published by the author, 1916.
Kenworthy, Joseph: writing in the local papers and the Stocksbridge Almanac (1908). I have a copy of the latter which consists of three bound Almanacs 1908/09/10, inherited from my grandad.
Pearson, Claire: A Drink with our Ancestors, Amazon, 2021
Sheldon, Joseph: The Founders & Builders of Stocksbridge Works, 1922, p72]. Charles
Ordnance Survey maps at https://maps.nls.uk/os/
Postcards and photos from my own collection
With thanks to V.C. for her help with the Post Office at Midhope