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Masts of HMS Warrior 1860

Bryant family

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 Part 1: William Bryant (c1765 - 1838)


Working life and marriage to Sophia

William Bryant was described variously throughout his life as a grocer, shopkeeper and spirit merchant. He was born c1765 and lived in Bristol. [1] No record of his marriage to Sophia (surname unknown) has been found so far. Sophia was born c1759, place unknown. They had seven children: Sophia, William, Elizabeth, Benjamin, John, Edward and John.

After a long (and unspecified) illness, William died aged 73, 14 March 1838 at the College Street home of one his sons (likely Edward). Sophia died aged 88, 07 March 1847 at her home of 44 College Street (which was probably also the family shop).


 Children of William and Sophia

Sophia (c1790 - ?) was baptised 09 May 1790 in St James Parish, Bristol. It is likely she was born that same year. She married William Peters 09 February 1810 at Bedminster St John Parish. They had one known child, daughter Sophia, who was born c1816. Sophia Sr died sometime after 1847 when she was last recorded living with her widowed mother in College Street. William probably died before 1835 as the marriage announcement in the 'Bristol Mercury' of Sophia Jr did not mention her father: 'Mr Henry Smith, of the Hotwells, to Miss Sophia Peters, niece of Mr W. E. Bryant, College Street.' [2] Sophia Jr and Henry married 19 July 1835 at St George's Brandon Hill Church. Henry described himself variously as an accountant, clerk and customs agent. They had three children, Emily Sarah, Helen Elizabeth and Edward Bryant Henry. The family disappeared from all records after 1844.


William Jr (1792 - 1867) was born 26 July 1792 in Bristol and baptised 02 September of the same year in St James Parish. William was involved in the pottery industry for more than half his life. Bristol had a pottery industry, though not as well-known as those in other parts of the United Kingdom. William was said to have been a potter for 26 years so he may have served an apprenticeship for seven years from about the age of 14, then become a journeyman (not a master craftsman). At some point he moved to Swansea in nearby Wales and become an agent for Glamorgan Pottery in Swansea. He married though nothing is known of his  wife except that he was widowed before 1841. Glamorgan Pottery ceased business in 1838 and was bought by a William Chambers who set up South Wales Pottery the following year in Llanelly, north-west of Swansea. William was asked to become the manager of the new company and in June 1840, he arrived, bringing many of the Swansea workers with him, many of whom had come from Staffordshire. Their pottery was exported internationally, as well as in the United Kingdom.

It is quite likely William's work took him to the St Austell or Truro areas in Cornwall, where clay was quarried for ceramics. He met Maria Glenville Godbeer (c1820 - 1903, her middle name sometimes spelt as 'Glandfield') and they married 04 August 1842 in Kenwyn Parish, Truro. Maria was born in Fowey, Cornwall, c1820, the eldest of six. Within a decade, William had left Wales and the pottery industry and moved back to Bristol. William became a provisions merchant and most likely joined his brother Edward and Edward's nephew Richard Pugh to form Bryant Bros and Pugh, bonded warehousemen. William suffered from chronic hepatitis during his last year and died at his home in Queen Square where they had lived for nearly twenty years on 09 June 1867, aged 74. He and Maria appeared never to have had any children and after his death, Maria boarded at various addresses around Bristol and at one point was living with her niece Martha Middleton Tellefsen in Cardiff. She died in Clifton, Bristol, 01 August 1903, aged 84, after suffering heart failure. [3]


Elizabeth (c1794 - ?) was baptised 23 November 1794 in Temple Parish, Bristol. There is no confirmed record of her after this date. [4]


Benjamin (c1799 - ?) was baptised 23 June 1799 in Temple Parish, Bristol, along with his brother, John. Nothing else is known about him.


John (c1799 - ?) was baptised 23 June 1799 in Temple Parish, Bristol, along with his brother, Benjamin. Nothing else is known about him except that he probably died as an infant, as a younger sibling was also called John.


More information about Edward (c1800 - 1859) appears in Part 2.


John (c1802 - ?) was baptised 17 October 1802 at Temple Parish, Bristol, along with his brother Edward. Nothing else is known about him.


Next: Edward Bryant


[1] No baptism record for him has been found.

[2] Sophia was the grand-daughter, not niece, of W. Bryant of College Street.

[3] Bristol Pottery website (; Llanelly Pottery website (; Llanelli History website (; Wikipedia

[4] An Elizabeth Bryant (listed as born c1771) appeared in the 1841 England Census living in College Street, Bristol, with a Martha Middleton (very likely to be sister of Elizabeth Pearson who married Edward Bryant). The Bryants were known to live and have businesses in College Street.