I have now found that Harry Bristow's birth was registered at Liskeard, Cornwall in 1873. The registration district of Liskeard covers the town of Looe and so I am fairly confident this is the correct person.
I have now uploaded the family information I have found for Harry's parents etc and this should be appearing on his biography page in a few days time.
There are a number of incorrect stories in circulation regarding Harry Bristow's family. I am descended from his elder sister Ellen (my great grandmother)and am presently trying (with much frustration and little success!) to discover our common ancestors before his parents.
Harry was born on 26 April 1873, the son of John Bristow and Mary Ann (nee Blight). No marriage has yet been traced, though the couple appear in the 1861 census for Liskeard as husband and wife, John being 40 and Mary Ann 17. This ties in with the family traditions as they were passed on to me. However, John gives his place of birth in the 1861 and 1881 censuses simply as "Sussex" and in the 1871 census as "Maidstone, Kent". His age is consistent, suggesting he was born in 1820 or 1821. He died in June 1882. Mary Ann is much more confused about her age, the censuses from 1861 to 1901 giving 17, 25, 39, 45 and 57 respectively. Her age at death in 1913 is given as 69. Consistently giving her place of birth as Saltash, there are problems in finding her birth entry as there are 3 possible Mary Ann Blights in the indexes covering the possible years!
What is certain is that Harry's parents were not the John and Mary Ann (nee Barnes) married in Worcester - they are on the 1861 census in Worcester - and certainly not the John Moses Bristow and wife given elsewhere. John Moses Bristow was born in Bromley, Kent - hence the possible confusion - but married in Dyrham, near Bath, in 1852, whence he moved to Newport, South Wales, and appears on the census there in 1881.
I would welcome any assistance in sorting this out - and will post any new information which comes my way.
Harry Bristow was my grandfather, I have full details of his life and family tree. I would be very interested to learn of any details concerning his sister Ellen Ann Bristow.
Harry was born in Shutta East Looe on the 26 April 1873, he married Ethel Elliott and had two children Vivian John Henry, and Phillip Harry (my father). I have a direct family tree of Harrys ancestors back to Moses Bristow born in 1773. However, I have no trace of Ellen Ann b.1870, and would be very happy to exchange family details.
Ellen Bristow (no Ann, though his other sister was Harriett Ann) was my
great grandmother, whom I knew well, since she died in 1964 when I was 15.
I have unfortunately some information which might upset you somewhat! The
connection to Moses Bristow, although published elsewhere on the web, is not
in fact correct and seems to arise from picking up the baptism of a John
Moses Bristow in 1821 at Bromley in Kent. In fact, our John Bristow was born
at Wivelsfield in Sussex in 1820. I live in Newport, South Wales, and some
12 years ago, wrote the history of the town east of the River Usk, using
every Census then available. The cat was let well and truly out of the bag
when John Moses Bristow surfaced on censuses in Newport in 1871 and 1881 as
a shoemaker and gardener, when our John was living in Liskeard (1871) and
Looe (1881)! Anyway, the real story is far more complex - and, in fact, far
more interesting as it ties in some of the Blight family as well. I was
fortunate in being able to learn a number of details from my great aunt,
Ellen's elder daughter with whom she lived from 1957 to 1964, and further
details again from Minnie, Harriett Ann's daughter who actually only died
about five years ago. What does get interesting about it is that one line of
the family descends from a landed Sussex family - though it must be said,
the poorer end! - and much of the early history of this line is printed in a
fairly slim volume which I picked up on eBay!!!
Do you live anywhere close to South Wales? If so, it might be well worth our
while meeting so that I can show you everything which I have. Alternatively,
I am quite willing to copy the various trees and post them to you. Even
though we are as close as second cousins once removed, I think that the
death of the two Bristow boys so close together probably created an
unintentional rift in the family, and although my great aunt knew sketchy
details of their families she could not put names to any children or say
where they were living. I did, however, contact another relative when I
bought a book from him a year or so ago over the internet - I think he has a
shop in Downton in Hampshire. Ironically I had passed through the town not
long before when the Male Voice Choir which I accompany (Caldicot) spent a
weekend on tour in Bournemouth.
I look forward to hearing from you and exchanging information on the many
gaps which we must both have on the tree!
Unfortunately a number of the family details given for Harry are incorrect. He was my great great uncle and I have researched the family extensively.
The corrected information reads as follows:
Harry Bristow was the elder son of John Bristow and Mary Ann (nee Blight). He was born on 26 April 1873 at the south Cornwall coastal town of East Looe in that part of the town known as Shutta.
His father, John Bristow, worked for the Cornish Railway. He was born at Wivelsfield in Sussex in 1820 (of a family that has been traced back to the late 1500s in Surrey) and was one of the early railway “navvies”. In 1841 he was working at Godstone, building part of the first railway to run from London to Dover. In 1851 he was at Grantham, building what has now become the east coast main line railway, running from London to Scotland via York. By the late 1850s he was working in Devonport, building the Cornwall Railway. It was here that he lodged in a house in Queen Street, where he met the young orphan, Mary Ann Blight, who was 23 years his junior. She was Cornish and had been born at Saltash in 1843.
The lodging house was run by Mary Ann’s aunt, who used her and her sister as unpaid help in running the establishment. Because of the tensions within the household John and Mary Ann eloped to Bristol to get married (by licence) at Holy Cross or Temple Church, on 23 January 1861. Following the marriage they moved into Cornwall and settled in the town of Liskeard. It was here that their first two children, both daughters, were born. Harriet in 1865 followed by Ellen in 1869. They were still in Liskeard at the April 1871 census date but had moved to East Looe by April 1873 at which time Harry Bristow was born. John had now obtained regular work as a track inspector on the local railway Their fourth and last child, Fred was born at East Looe in 1876.
All the family are at Looe at the 1881 census date but 10 years later only Harry (now aged 17 and working as a groom) and his widowed mother, remain at home. Fred was on the training ship HMS Ganges, moored in Falmouth Harbour. Harriett was by now married to Richard Solt and both were visiting a family in West Ham. Ellen was in service in Ilfracombe.
At this point it is not apparent what Harry does next as he is not traceable on the 1901 census but in the summer of 1910 he marries Ethel Elliott (born 26/9/1887 at Bedminster, Bristol). Their first child is Vivian John Henry Bristow, born in Bath, Somerset on 13 August 1910, but it seems as though the family fell on hard times in the months that followed. The 1911 census shows that Harry was working in East Hoathly, Sussex, as a butler; Ethel was in service in Redland, Bristol; and their seven month old son was being fostered by a couple at Corsham in Wiltshire.
In 1912 the family are reunited and are living in Shortlands, Bromley, Kent. This is the address Harry gave when signing on for Titanic on 6 April 1912. Their parting in April 1912 must have been particularly difficult as Ethel was close to bearing their second child, Philip Harry Bristow. He was born on 3 May 1912, three weeks after his father’s death.
Thank you for filling in this gap in family history. Ethel Bristow was one of my grandmother's older sisters; I had heard that Aunt Ethel's husband had gone down in the Titanic, but never knew any details. Jim Gibson (grandson of Newton and Mary (nee Elliott) Gibson).
Hi - I am related directly to Mary Blight via my mother - I think there is confusion between two families with similar spellings in the area. My grandfather died in a railway accident before my mother was born.
Hi Jim, I am married to James Grignon. His great grandfather was Harry Bristow. Harry left behind two children Viv and Philip. My mother in law is Judith Bristow Grignon, the daughter of Viv. My mother in law is from Bristol England, and her sister Wendy is still alive as well and lives in England. It is nice to read a post from another relative
Hi I’m Sachie (Sacheverelll),
I am the son of Viv’s son David. My children are fascinated by the story of the Titanic and their great great grandpa Harry Bristow. I look forward to when they can tell their kids about it in the future.