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Masts of HMS Warrior 1860

Bryant family

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 Part 2: Edward Bryant (c1800 - 1859)


Working life as a merchant

Edward Bryant was born in Bristol, England c1800, the son of William Bryant and Sophia. He was baptised, along with his brother John, 17 October 1802 at Temple Parish, Bristol. He became a merchant with his business mainly based at 43 College Street Bristol [1]. Throughout his life, Edward was variously described as a ‘grocer’, ‘bonded stores merchant’ and, until the 1840s, as a ‘ship chandler’ providing equipment for ships. Bristol was a very important British port and Edward’s businesses were located in the heart of the Bristol city docks area and the Avonmouth docks. It is highly likely that all his daughters met their future spouses through his business, especially as three of those spouses were involved in the shipping industry!

He was a generous man and gave donations to the Bristol Royal Infirmary and places for the poor and homeless, as did many other wealthy merchants and gentlemen. He also owned several properties for which he received rent, usually around £16 per house per annum (about £930 in today’s money).

His reputation in merchant circles was important to him. In 1846, a report of a town council meeting cited Edward Bryant as the master of the ship Anna Watson, refusing to pay pilot dues and threatening to throw the pilot overboard. Edward was moved the following week to write an ‘epistle’ of some length to the editor of the Bristol Mercury newspaper to ‘beg to state that what is therein set forth [was] not exactly the facts of the case’. He declared he was one of the owners, rather than the master and that there were two ‘respectable witnesses’ who would prove that the pilot swore he would tell people Edward made threats. As for trying to evade pilotage dues, he declared: ‘I am the last man that would infringe on established laws and customs’ and set out to explain why he was not breaking any laws and how the ‘system’ negatively affects the smaller merchants (like himself). 

Although he was a merchant and made a lot of money, by many accounts he seemed to be a kind and fair employer. In late 1843, he was obliged to prosecute one of his employees, George Ball Stokes, who had apparently stolen some Spanish dollars from Edward’s warehouse in Marsh Street (near the Avonmouth docks) and sold them to a silversmith, Mr Dell. The trial in the Bristol Quarter Sessions occurred less than a month later. As was a common occurrence, the complainant himself prosecuted with a barrister representing the defence. Even though he was the prosecutor, Edward himself gave such a good character reference for George (even stating he would re-employ him if he was acquitted), and cast enough doubt over the origin of Mr Dell’s newly-acquired dollars, that he almost certainly was responsible for ensuring his employee was acquitted!


Marriage to Elizabeth Pearson and family life

Edward was part of Bryant Bros and Pugh (likely consisting of his older brother William and Edward's son-in-law - and nephew by marriage - Richard Pugh. They had a bonded warehouse which was where goods that needed duty paid on them could be stored, repackaged or altered without having to pay duty. Customs would be involved and Edward must have travelled to nearby Wales and London as part of his business dealings. It was while he was in London that he met Elizabeth Pearson (c1800 - 1889). Elizabeth's brothers-in-law were grocers and her father was a custom excise officer. Edward and Elizabeth married 19 August 1827 at Poplar All Saint's Church, London. Two of Elizabeth’s sister Sarah's children, John and Sarah Pearson, came to live with the Bryants by 1841. John was an apprentice grocer, most probably apprenticed to his uncle Edward.

It is possible Edward and Elizabeth had a loving marriage and he referred to her as his 'dear wife' in his will (although sometimes that was used as a standard phrase, regardless of the level of affection the couple actually had for each other!). Edward and Elizabeth had five daughters and two sons: Agnes, Emily, Sarah, Elizabeth, an unnamed son, Edward and Martha. Both boys died before they were three months old. The family lived ‘above shop’ for years but Edward did well enough to set the family up, with servants, in Avon House in the fashionable village of Shirehampton, about seven miles from the Bristol docks, where other rich merchants and ship owners had settled. Edward died 15 June 1859, aged 59, of gastritis. He he left behind property, shares, stock and effects worth about £56,000 (worth about £2.5 million in today’s money). After his death, Elizabeth lived with two of her daughters and died in Cardiff in 1889.


 Children of Edward and Elizabeth

Agnes (1828 - 1850) was baptised 30 November 1828 at St Augustine the Less Parish Church. When she was in her early teens, she attended a boarding school in nearby Frenchay village run by a Sarah Carpenter, along with a dozen or so girls, including her sister Emily. Only a few doors away from the family home lived the Trickey family and Agnes married builder William Trickey (c1827 - ?) 07 September 1848 at St Stephen's Parish Church. She was living in Queen Square at the time of her marriage but she and William moved to 35 College Street, which had formerly been his parents' house. Their only child, Agnes Elizabeth (Aggie), was born 19 February 1850 but sadly mother Agnes died a fortnight later, 06 March 1850, having suffered apoplexy. She was only 21. It is not known what happened to William and Agnes Elisabeth was brought up by her Bryant grandparents.


Emily Sophia (1831 - 1909) married her cousin Richard Pugh (1824 - 1870), a dealer in wine and provisions, 28 August 1851 at Shirehampton. They never had any children and after the death of her father, she and Richard moved in with her mother at Hampton Park, and later moved with her to Cardiff. After Richard died in 1870, aged 45, she and her mother lodged in Windsor Place, only two streets away from where her sister Martha lived at Park Place. At 3 Dumfries Place, only one street away in the other direction, lived George Prince Lipscomb (1828 - 1907), a commercial clerk who was widowed in 1872 and raising five children. Emily married George 15 July 1873 at the Congregational Chapel, Cardiff, and they continued living at Dumfries Place for many years. George died 06 January 1907, aged 78, and Emily died 30 June 1909.


Sarah Louisa (c1833 - 1905) was baptised 10 February 1833 at St Augustine the Less Parish Church. She married Charles Fry (c1832 - 1905), a ship owner and master mariner, 04 October 1860, at St Paul's Church, Bedminster Parish, Bristol. They never had any children but she was involved in the upbringing of her niece, Agnes Trickey. Sarah accompanied Charles on many voyages, as was a captain's wife's privilege at the time. In 1881, the couple were actually in England to be counted in the census (having missed the previous two), living at Hampton Terrace, Westbury on Trym Parish, Bristol. In the 1880s and 1890s, they lived in the Liverpool area where Charles was a Marine Superintendent. In 1899 he finally retired and they moved back to Bristol. Sarah died of heart disease and heart failure 20 April 1905, aged 72. Charles missed her terribly and died exactly three months later, 20 July 1905, aged 73.


More information about Elizabeth (1834 - 1868) appears in Part 3.


An unnamed son was born and died quite soon after on 06 May 1836.


Edward William (1837 - 1837) was born 15 August but died 26 October aged nine weeks. The cause of death was convulsions (one possible illness associated with convulsions was tetanus).


Martha Middleton (1839 - 1927) was born 05 August 1839. It is likely she attended a private girls' school like her sisters when she was a teenager. She married August Bernard Tellefsen (c1820 - 1892), a Norwegian shipowner, 12 January 1858 at Shirehampton Parish Church. She was 18 at the time and he was a 38-year-old widower. One of the witnesses was Lucy Anne Fry, her sister Sarah's future sister-in-law. Martha and August had five children: Emily Louisa, Maria Elizabeth, John Edward August, Theodore Charles and Ernest Bernard (more information about them appears in the Tellefsen Descendants section).. Martha was probably quite close to her older sister Elizabeth and even travelled to Norway in 1864 to be godmother to her nephew Johan August. She was known as 'Aunt Pattie' to her sisters' families and was especially close to her niece, Agnes Elizabeth Cayzer (née Trickey), whom she called 'Aggie'. After her husband's death in 1892, Martha paid long visits to her children and extended family in Norway, France and Switzerland, returning to the United Kingdom between times. She was a firm favourite, especially with her niece Aggie's family. She died 13 April 1927 in Bristol, aged 87.


Martha Middleton Tellefsen née Bryant


'Aunt Pattie' Tellefsen 



With the death of Edward, the Bryant name ended in that family, though it was adopted as a middle name: Agnes’ grandson Arthur Edward Bryant Cayzer, Lily’s grandson George Bryant Schwartz, and three of George’s four children.[2]


Next: Elizabeth Bryant


[1] In the England Census 1841, the family is listed as being in Duck Street, Portishead, though there is no other evidence to suggest they lived there at the time, and there is more evidence to show them at 43 College Street in 1839 and 1842. It is most likely the family were visiting Portishead the night of the census.

[2] Pigot’s 1830 Directory, Pigot’s 1842-44 Directory, Sankey Family Tree, England and Wales Census 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, BMD ( and;  the Whitby Family Website; Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition; ‘A Short History of Shirehampton’ by Ethel Thomas; General Registry Office (GRO) certificates; IGI; Norwegian digitised parish records (Norwegian National Archives); The Times Online archive; Last Will and Testament of Edward Bryant; Death Duty Register 1859; Bristol Mercury newspaper archive (; Bagge family history; 'A Victorian Shipowner: A Portrait of Sir Charles Cayzer, Baronet of Gartmore' (1978) Augustus Muir and Mair Davies, published by Cayzer, Irvine and Company Limited; Cayzer Family Archive (Registered Charity Number: 1122921)