Subject Name: Ellen Brown (b1837 – d1909) 

Researchers:  Barbara Hester, Mike Brock, Carol Thompson

Ellen Brown was born on 20 December 1837 in Ripley, a village situated midway between Woking and Guildford (1).  She was the seventh child of eight for George and Dinah Brown and was baptised at St Mary’s Parish Church, Send, as Dinah Eleanor Brown on 13 February 1838 (2).  Sadly for Ellen, it became apparent that she had been born mentally impaired and would need to be cared for throughout her life.

Ellen’s father George was the licensed victualler of the Jovial Sailor Inn on the Portsmouth Road in Ripley (3).  His father, also named George, had been the previous tenant since 1799 (4).  As well as being a licensed victualler, George senior was a farmer, with property and land on Homewood Farm just over a mile away from the Jovial Sailor (5).  When he died in 1826, he left everything to his son (6).

The 1841 Census showed the family, now increased to ten with the birth of George and Dinah’s eighth child Jane earlier that year, were still at the Jovial Sailor with George in charge (7).  No mention is made of Ellen’s mental condition as this type of information about individuals was not recorded on the Census until 1871.


The family’s time at the Jovial Sailor came to an end sometime after the death of George, age 52, on 6 May 1849 (8).  Despite the inn having been run by the family for half a century, there was no one either in a position or willing to continue with its management, so the family moved out.

After George’s death, a number of the family moved to London, with the 1851 Census showing George’s widow Dinah, age 53, and three of her children – Mary (23), Ellen (13) and Jane (10) – living at 11 Paterson Street, Mile End, in east London (9).  This road no longer exists, but was situated just north of Commercial Road, about 1.5 miles north-west of London’s main dock area, Canary Wharf.

Ellen’s oldest brother, 22-year-old George and his wife Ann were living nearby, at 4 Jamaica Street, a road that had a junction with Paterson Street (10).  George had become a member of the Metropolitan Police force in July 1850.  His record shows that he was recommended for the position by the Earl of Lovelace whose family owned the land on which the Browns’ old Homewood Farm and the Jovial Sailor were situated (11).

Unfortunately, Ellen’s mother Dinah was seriously ill.  She passed away age 52 on 27 July 1852, having suffered from breast cancer for fifteen years, and dropsy, now known as oedema or water retention, for three months (12).

The next known reference to Ellen is in the 1861 publication of England and Wales’ long-term workhouse inmates which showed that she had been in the Guildford Union Workhouse from about 1856.  It also noted that she had a “weak mind”, which clearly meant she was not able to look after herself (13).

What happened to Ellen in the three to four years between her mother’s death in 1852 and entering the workhouse in 1856 is unclear.  She had been living with her sisters Mary and Jane in 1851 (9), but Mary was now in a relationship with Edward Allen, and had moved a few miles across the River Thames, giving birth to Maud in Newington in 1853 (14) and Martha in Southwark in 1855 (15) with other children soon following on (16).  Mary and Edward eventually married in 1882 (17).  Jane, who was only 11 in 1852, appears to have stayed either with or near Mary.  The sad proof of this was that Mary was noted as being present at Jane’s death in 1860, age just 18, in Guy’s Hospital (18).

It’s possible that Ellen had remained with her sisters for a while, but this is only one of a number of scenarios that could have occurred.  What is sure is that at some time around 1856, arrangements were made for Ellen to be moved to the workhouse that served Ripley, the village of her birth – the Guildford Union Workhouse.  Unfortunately, there are few records for the workhouse at that time, but the Guildford Poor Law accounts book for 1864-71 showed that Ellen was receiving “indoor” relief care, meaning she had remained in the Workhouse (19).

The 1871 Census indicated that Ellen, now 34, was still living in the Guildford Union Workhouse and stated bluntly that she was “an imbecile from birth”, with no occupation (20).  The next Census ten years later showed that her situation hadn’t changed (21), but five years after that, the Workhouse Minute Book revealed on 27 March 1886 that there was an application to spend £8 10 shillings (£8.50) to send Ellen Brown to Canada to “join her brother there who is willing to take charge of her and maintain her” (22).

This was her brother George, the former police constable, who had emigrated to Canada in July 1871 with his wife Ann, children Charles Frederick and Lily Elizabeth, along with Martha Millidge, a widowed sister of George and Ellen (23, 24).  When the application was made in 1886, George and Ann were living in Kingston City, Quebec, 175 miles south-west of Montreal (25).  Their daughter Lily had by then moved to the United States (26), while son Charles was due to be married a few months later (27).  So it appears that George and Ann would now have the room to be able to look after Ellen.  Martha had remarried in 1872 and settled in Lindsay, some 150 miles west of Kingston City, with a family of her own (28).

Ellen of course would’ve been unable to travel to Canada alone, so George almost certainly made the trip to England to bring her to Canada.  Details shown on passenger records at that time are very sketchy, but a Mr G. Brown accompanied by a Miss E. Brown arrived in Montreal on the steamship “Sarnia” of the Dominion Line on 10 September 1889 (28).  Ellen would have been age 51 with George 60.

The first record of Ellen in Canada is the 1891 Census living at the Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Longue Pointe Asylum in Montreal, where she is listed as Helen Dinah Brown (30).  Although there is no evidence to confirm that George took Ellen back to Kingston City, it would seem more than likely that she would have gone there with him first.  Once she had moved to the Asylum, George would have been able to visit Ellen fairly easily as Kingston City is on the main railway line between Montreal and Toronto.

Longue Pointe was the largest asylum in the Quebec province, housing up to 5000 patients. It had  been rebuilt following a devastating fire in May 1890 in which 86 of the 1297 inmates lost their lives (31).  It is not known if Ellen was there or living with her brother at the time of the tragedy.   

There are no other records that have been made public to give more information about her time in the Asylum, except the 1901 Census which confirmed that she was still there (32).  It did note her profession as “servant”, something that had not been recorded about her anywhere before.  It may well be that she performed some duties in the Asylum, or perhaps it was just something her brother George had said about her when she was admitted.

The final record for Ellen is her burial dated 5 April 1909 in the Basilique Notre-Dame Cemetery, Montreal (33).  The record indicates that she died on 3 March 1909 age 68 in the Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Asylum, and also appears to confirm that she had been a servant.  The reason for the month’s gap between her death and internment may have been that her body was taken to one of the university medical schools in Montreal.  Her burial record was written and signed by Tancrede Lamoreux, the Joint Inspector of Anatomy for the District of Montreal, also witnessed by a priest.  These schools were permitted to take unclaimed bodies from institutions subsidised by the government, such as the Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Asylum, for teaching purposes (34).  It may be that Ellen came into this category, as her brother George had passed away some four years earlier (35), and his wife Ann had moved to New York to live with her daughter (36).

Ellen seems to have been part of a close-knit and caring family, growing up with her seven siblings in Ripley.  All of them reached at least 18 years of age, a rare achievement in the mid 19th century.  Although the family spread far and wide – another sister Susannah emigrated to Australia in the 1850s (37) – it looks like her family and especially George did the best they could for her.  Despite this, she ended up spending some fifty years of her life in institutions both sides of the Atlantic.


February 2021



(1)   Diniah (sic) Elenor Brown Birth March Quarter 1838, Guildford Vol 4 Page 181. 

England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk 
Full birth certificate available from GRO.gov.uk.

(2)   Mary Ann Brown Baptism 25 March 1828, Birth 15 February 1828.  Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Parish Baptisms, St Mary Send (formerly Send with Ripley) 1813-1861, Reference: SEN/4/1, page 23.  Available
at Ancestry.co.uk. 
George Brown
Baptism 2 May 1829, Birth 16 February 1829.  Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Parish Baptisms, St Mary Send (formerly Send with Ripley) 1813-1861, Reference: SEN/4/1, page 26.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk. 

Harriet Brown Baptism 17 July 1830, Birth 25 June 1830.  Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Parish Baptisms, St Mary Send (formerly Send with Ripley) 1813-1861, Reference: SEN/4/1, page 28. Available at Ancestry.co.uk. 

Susannah Brown Baptism 1 June 1832, Birth 9 November 1831.  Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Parish Baptisms, St Mary Send (formerly Send with Ripley) 1813-1861, Reference: SEN/4/1, page 33.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk. 

Charles Paul Brown Baptism 17 August 1834, Birth 9 June 1833. Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Parish Baptisms, St Mary Send (formerly Send with Ripley) 1813-1861, Reference: SEN/4/1, page 38.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk. 

Martha Brown Baptism 8 February 1835, Birth 28 November 1834. Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Parish Baptisms, St Mary Send (formerly Send with Ripley) 1813-1861, Reference: SEN/4/1, page 40.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk. 

Dinah Eleanor Brown Baptism 13 February 1838, Birth 20 December 1837.  Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Parish Baptisms, St Mary Send (formerly Send with Ripley) 1813-1861, Reference: SEN/4/1, page 45.  Available
at Ancestry.co.uk 
Jane Brown Birth March Quarter 1841, Guildford Vol 4 Page 172, England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk 

(3)   The Jovial Sailor Baronspubs.com/jovialsailor/about 

Ripley and Send – An Historical Pub Crawl in Words and Pictures, revised by
Cameron Brown (2017).  Available at Send and Ripley Museum, Ripley, Surrey Sendandripleyhistorysociety.co.uk 

(4)   George Brown.  Licensed Victualler, 1799, 1801, 1802, 1806, 1809, 1824. Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey, England, Licensed Victuallers, Woking Hundreds, Send/Send and Ripley, 1785-1903.  Reference QS5/10/2a, 3, 4-5, 22-23. Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(5)   George Brown occupier Homewood Farm, part of;  Lawrence Porter proprietor. Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey, England, Land Tax Records, Send and Ripley, 1796-1831, residence year 1800, 1801, 1802.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk 

George Brown occupier;  Rt Honble Lord King proprietor, Homewood Farm (part of).  Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey, England, Land Tax Records, Send and Ripley, 1796-1831.  Residence years 1805, 1806, 1817, 1818, 1821, 1825, 1827, 1828. Available at Ancestry.co.uk.

Note :  Lord King became the Earl of Lovelace in 1838 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_of_Lovelace

(6)   George Brown Last Will and Testament  Died 19 December 1826, probate 16 August
1827, London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London, England. London, England, Wills and Probate, 1507-1858. Reference: DW/PA/5/1827;  Will Number: 1.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(7)   George, Dinah, Mary, George, Harriett, Susan, Charles, Martha, Dinah, Jane Brown
1841 England Census, “Jovial Sailor”, Send, Surrey.  Reference HO107; Piece: 1080; Book: 15; Folio: 27; Page 8.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(8)   George Brown Burial 9 May 1849. Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Parish Burials, St Mary Ripley, 1813-1893, Reference: RIP/5/1, page 70. Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(9)   Dinah, Mary, Ellen, Jane Brown  1851 England Census, Mile End Old Town Upper, Stepney,
Middlesex.  Reference HO107; Piece: 1552; Folio: 602; Page: 11.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(10)George, Ann Brown 1851 England Census, Mile End Old Town Upper, Stepney, Middlesex. 
Reference HO107; Piece: 1552; Folio: 585; Page: 21.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(11)George Brown appointed to the Metropolitan Police, 22 July 1850, No 27790

The National Archives (TNA), Kew, Records of the Metropolitan Police Office, Alphabetical Registers of Joiners, MEPO 4/334, No. 3 Warrant Nos:. 19889 – 35804, page 44.  Available at NationalArchives.gov.uk 

(12)Dinah Brown Death September Quarter 1852, Stepney Vol 1c Page 335, England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk. Full death certificate available from GRO.gov.uk

(13)Ellen Brown Longterm Workhouse Inmates, 1861 (Paupers in Workhouses, Ordered by The House of Commons, 30 July 1861), Guildford Union Workhouse, Page 178. Original source Peter Higginbotham, workhouses.org.uk.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(14)Maud Marian Allen Birth March Quarter 1854, Newington, London Vol 1d Page 166, England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(15)Martha Mildred Allen Birth September Quarter 1855, St George Southwark, London Vol 1d Page 105, England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(16)Edward, Marian (sic), Maud, Martha, Charles, Edward Allen 1861 England Census, Kent
Road, Southwark St George The Martyr. Reference Class: RG9; Piece: 328; Folio: 108; Page: 28.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

Edward, Maria (sic), Maud, Martha, Charles, Edward, William, Frederick, Emily Allen 1871 England Census, Kent Road, Southwark St George The Martyr.  Reference Class: RG10;  Piece: 600; Folio: 65; Page: 16.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

Edward, Marian (sic), Edward, William, Frederick, Emily, Ada Allen 1881 England Census, Southwark St George The Martyr. Reference Class: RG11; Piece: 523; Folio: 76; Page: 4.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(17)Mary Ann Brown, Edward Allen Marriage 18 September 1882.  London Metropolitan
Archives; London, England; Lodon, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932. Holy Trinity Newington 1879-1895. Reference: p92/tri/037, page 166. 
Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(18)Jane Brown Death December Quarter 1860, St Olave Southwark, London Vol 1d Page 280, England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk. Full death certificate available from GRO.gov.uk.

(19)Ellen Brown. Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Guildford Poor Law Half Yearly
Accounts 1864-1871, BG6/33/1.  Half Year Ended Lady Day 1864 page 12 and every half year through to Half Year Ended Michaelmas 1871 page 12.  

(20)Ellen Brown  1871 England Census, Guildford Union Workhouse.  Reference Class: RG10;  Piece: 813; Folio: 81; Page: 7.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk 

(21)Ellen Brown  1881 England Census, Guildford Union Workhouse.  Reference Class: RG11;  Piece: 778; Folio: 93; Page: 7.  Available at Ancestry.co.uk

(22)Ellen Brown  Surrey History Centre, Woking, Surrey, England; Guildford Poor Law Union Minute Book BG6/11/21, 27 March 1886, page 402. 

(23)George, Ann, Frederick, Lilley Brown, Martha Millidge  Arrival Quebec 15 July 1871. Library and Aechives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Canada, Arriving Passenger Lists, 1865-1935; Series RG 76-C. Available at Ancestry.co.uk
Charles Frederick Brown Birth December Quarter 1859, Greenwich Vol 1D Page 632. Available at Ancestry.com
Lily Elizabeth Brown Birth June Quarter 1862, Greenwich Vol 1D Page 631. Available at Ancestry.com 

(24)Martha Brown, William Millidge. Marriage 11 May 1865.  London Metropolitan Archives;
London, England; London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932. St John Hackney 1863-1870. Reference: p79/jn1/078, page 20. 
Available at Ancestry.co.uk
William Millidge Death 25 Aug 1866. Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England, London, England. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. Wills 1896, page 196. Available at Ancestry.co.uk 

(25)George Brown.  45 Pine Street, Kingston.  Kingston City Directory, 1889/90, Kingston, Ontario. Canada, City and Area Directories, 1819-1906. Available at Ancestry.com

George, Ann Brown. 1891 Census of Canada,  Kingston City, Frontenac Ward, Ontario. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Reference Series RG31-C-1; Roll: T_6346; Family No: 195Available at Ancestry.com

(26)Walter, Lillie, Pearl Howell. 1900 United States Federal Census, Manhattan, New York, New York. United States of America, Bureau of the Census, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Reference Page: 14; Enumeration District: 0966. FHL microfilm: 124112 4. Available at Ancestry.com

(27)Charles Frederick Brown, Margaret Jane Simpson  Marriage 3 Feb 1877. Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Registrations of Marriages, 1869-1928; Reel: 56. Available at Ancestry.com 

(28)Martha Millidge, David Brown Marriage 17 Feb 1872. Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Registrations of Marriages, 1869-1928; Reel:7. Available at Ancestry.com 
David, Martha, Lottie, Beatrice, Gertrude Brown 1881 Census of Canada, Lindsay, Victoria South, Ontario.  Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Reference Roll: C_13242; Page 56; Family No: 257. Available at Ancestry.com

(29)Mr G Brown, Miss E Brown.  10 September 1889. Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Canada Arriving Passenger Lists, 1865-1935; Series: RG 76-C; Roll: C-4537Available at Ancestry.com 

(30)Helen Dinah Brown. 1891 Census of Canada, Longue Pointe, Hochelaga, Quebec.  Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Roll: T-6396; Family No: 178.  Available at Ancestry.com 

(31)Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal  Wikipedia

“The 1890 Fire at the Longue Pointe Asylum”, Montreal Gazette 21 April 2012. 
Available at 

(32)Helen Brown 1901 Census of Canada, Longue Pointe, Laval, Quebec.  Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Series RG31-C-1; Roll: T-6396; Family No: 178; Page: 30.  Available at Ancestry.com

(33)Helen Dinah Brown Death 3 March 1909. Burial 5 April 1909  Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968. Institut Généalogique Drouin; Montreal,
Quebec, Canada; Drouin Collection; Author: Gabriel Drouin, comp.  Basilique Notre Dame, 1909, Page 517. 
Available at Ancestry.com 

(34)Province of Quebec; Session of 1909; Session of 1909 Sessional Papers;  Vol III;  Report of Secretary and Registrar from 1st July 1907 to 30th June 1908 containing also the Fourteenth annual report of the Board of Health for 1908;  Sessional Paper No 6 – Report of the Provincial Secretary and Registrar for the year 1907-08;  Reports of the Inspectors of Anatomy;  Pages 121 & 122.  Digitised by Google.  Available at archive.org/details/sessionalpapers61unkngoog/page/n350/mode/2up?q=Tancrede

(35)George Brown  Death 17 Feb 1872. Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Canada; Registrations of Deaths and Deaths Overseas 1869-1948; Reel: 119; Page: 685/6. Available at Ancestry.com 

(36)Walter & Lillie Howell, William & Pearl Burgess, Ann Brown. 1905 United States State Population Censuses. New York State Archives, Albany, New York. Election District A.D. 35 E.D. 29; City: Bronx; County: New York; Page: 3. Available at Ancestry.com 

(37)Susannah Brown, William Chapman. Marriage 9 November 1859.  Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney; Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Baptism, Burial, Confirmation, Marriage and composite registers in the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney Archives. Sydney, Australia, Anglican Parish Registers, 1814-2011. Reference: Centennial Park Paddington St Matthias, marriage, 24 March 1856 to 23 September 1874, page 185. Available at Ancestry.com