Web site logo c. 123-mcc.com

 Angus and Rosemary's Miscellany

  of Malvern - Other Resources

Other resources > Roots >

Family history - John Brown, baker and minister

Genealogy of the Brown, Howell and Dunlop families of Glasgow and Greenock, in Scotland

John Brown, baker and lay preacher circa 1910Great grandfather John Brown was a Victorian baker and it appears a minister of the Open Brethren, born in Glasgow, Scotland about 1846 (ref 1).

He was the son of baker, Archibald Brown and Margaret McLay then of Argyle Street (ref 2).

John, and his brothers, and their children, ran bakery shops, in Greenock, Renfrewshire, and Ayr between about 1866 and 1905.

The first family bakery business in Greenock was registered to Archibald's eldest son William Brown, but soon after ownership was passed to John.

One family business 'Archibald Brown and Son' is thought to have continued in West Blackhall Street, Greenock until about 1955.

John's daughter, Janet, recalled John had been a 'preacher or some such', but until recently no documentary evidence of that had been found, apart from the photograph opposite.

Note: at the bottom of the photograph is an indistinct signature which appears to read W Robertson & Co. In the Scottish census and Post Office Directories, we found a William Robertson, photographer, born Glasgow about 1856, living at 16 Royal Street, Gourock, with his business at Station Road, which might be him. He was the son of William Morris Robertson, photographer, who died at Criterion Buildings, Gourock, 10th October 1881 aged only 52 years. In 1861 William Morris senior had been a lithographic printer. He was possibly one of the earliest photographers in Gourock. William junior took photographs of various scenes in Gourock, Greenock and in West Renfrewshire between the 1880s and 1930s, including vessels built by Lithgows.

It now appears John's preaching encompassed a lot of his life. Originally in the Free Church of Scotland, in 1870 John Brown had helped found the first branch of the Open Brethren in Greenock. In 1886 he gave nine addresses in Open Brethren Halls in London and in 1888 he was one of five editors of the publication Needed Truth (ref 3)

It seems he had left the day to day running of his business to members of his family, which was a mistake, as about 1905 his bakery business went bust and John Brown was declared bankrupt.

John's wife Margaret died in London in 1905, where their eldest son, John Sloan Brown, had found new employment as manager of a baking factory.

John senior then took up residence in Edinburgh where he became a commercial traveller acting as an agent for flour and bakers' sundries. In 1910 he married, second, Ann Helen Munro.

He died at 27 Merchiston Crescent, Edinburgh on 24th December 1938 aged 92 years.

Family Tree

Here is a list of some of the members of John's family mainly compiled from census returns and the Scottish index of births, marriages and deaths.

To this has been added information about the Howell family from a relative in Canada, the story of the family of John's son, hotel manager William Brown from his grand-daughter, information about John's elder brother another William Brown, and information about the children of Alfred Howell Brown from his wife's sister's family - thank you to Jackie, Heather, Catherine and Dawn.

Please do get in touch if you spot any errors or can add to the family tree.

Generation 1

This is as far back as we have been able to go. Numerous DNA connections, mostly in Australia and New Zealand, and some in Canada suggest there were other (currently unknown) members of roughly this generation who emigrated from Scotland.

John Brown snr

occupation: baker

married: 22 March 1801, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Ann Hope Oats

sources: death certificate of Archibald Brown and IGI

Generation 2

Mary Brown

Occupation: grocer (source: 1841 census)

b 12 Sep 1801, Falkirk Stirlingshire

married 1828, Glasgow

William Niblock


Ann, Susan, Mary and William

Helen Brown

b. 1806

No information

John Brown

b. 1808

No information

William Brown

Occupation: tailor (source: 1851 and 1861 census)

b 9 Jan 1811 Falkirk, Stirlingshire

(no marriage found)

Archibald Brown

occupation: baker (source: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, and 1891 census)

b abt 1818, Glasgow Scotland

d 24 Dec 1891, 16 Kelly Street, Greenock

married: 25 May 1840 at St George's Tron Free Church,  Buchanan Street, Glasgow

Margaret McLay, daughter of James McLay, flesher, and Mary Peacock

(Margaret was born on16 Apr 1819, Glasgow and died in childbirth on 25 Jul 1865, at 17 West Blackhall St, Greenock)

Note: in the gap between the birth of William and Archibald Brown there may have been other children who went unrecorded.

Generation 3

Children of Archibald Brown and Margaret McLay

William Brown

b 1841, Glasgow

d unknown

Mary Brown

b 1843, Glasgow

d 1878, Glasgow

Elizabeth McLay Brown

b 1845, Glasgow

d 21 Jun 1907, Annfield, Kilmacolm

(normal address 43 Maxwell Drive, Pollockshields, Glasgow)

John Brown

b abt 1846, Glasgow

d 24th December 1938, Glasgow

Archibald Brown

b 1851, Glasgow

d. unknown

James Brown

b1854, Glasgow

d unknown

Niven Brown

b1856, Blythswood, Glasgow

d 1944

Margaret Brown

b 1861, Ayr, Ayrshire

d unknown

After her mother died in 1865 Margaret lived with her elder sister Elizabeth (see 1871 Scotland census).

Generation 4

William Brown

occupation: baker, born about 1841

married 25 Apr 1864, at Liverpool

Mary Gerrette Graham


Archibald b 1866, Llandudno, Wales

William jnr b 1869, Manchester

James b 1870, Liverpool

During the Great War, William jnr  enlisted as private 24770, 22nd Battalion, the Manchester Regiment, and died 20 Jul 1916, Rouen, France, leaving descendants. His brother James died from tuberculosis in 1901. We don't know what happened to eldest brother Archibald.

William Brown snr is not recorded after the 1871 England census (but his wife Mary was).

Mary Brown

b 1843, d 1878

married 1863 Ayr, Ayrshire

Andrew Tyrie (born 7 Oct 1841, Ayr, Ayrshire, died 1897 Glasgow)

Andrew was a shopkeeper in Lesmahagow and later a tea and coffee dealer, and wholesaler in Glasgow.


Margaret Tyrie b1864, Ayr, Ayrshire

Elizabeth Brown Tyrie b 7 Nov 1861, Lesmahagow, d 1951, Perthshire, Scotland

Archibald Tyrie b 1871, d 1875

Elizabeth McLay Brown

occupation: seamstress, wife of tobacconist, born 1845, Greenock, d 1907, Kilmacolm

married 7 Dec 1869, at 17 Blackhall St, Greenock Renfrewshire

Alfred HowellAlfred Howell (born 1843, Belfast Ireland died 1927, Glasgow); in his time, a well known photographer and tobacconist, son of Captain Edward Howell, seaman, merchant service, deceased. Alfred had a shop at 195 Argyle Street. 

The photo opposite was sent to us by a member of his family.

Note: in the preceding century Glasgow had become a major centre for the import of tobacco from the American colonies


Edward Howell b1871, Glasgow, d 1925, Montrose

Clara Elizabeth Howell b 1873, Glasgow, d1944, Glasgow, married 1910, John Milwain b 1878 of 105 St Vincent St and 10 Bute Mansions, d 30 Oct 1915.

Julia Evelen Howell b1879, Glasgow, d 1957, Glasgow, married 1913, Alexander Mather.

Ralph Vincent Howell b 1880, Glasgow, Bachelor of Medicine, 1905. University of Glasgow, d 1951 Christchurch, Hampshire; married 1908, London,  Annie Lillian Clara Mitchell (1885 - 1982) daughter of Edward John Mitchell and Annie Elizabeth Ambler.

Sidney Howell, twin, b 1880, Glasgow (died an infant)

Lydia Howell b 1881, d 1966, Glasgow, married in 1912, at 43 Maxwell Drive, Pollockshields, Glasgow, George Turnbull Anderson (MRCVS), a veterinary surgeon. He was the son of Charles Anderson a Master Plumber, and Christian Drummond of Crieff, in Perthshire. The Scotland Valuation Rolls of 1915 and 1920 record him as a Veterinary Surgeon in Crieff, with his house at 88 Commissioner Street and Stables and a Smithy next door at number 90. He is not listed in 1925, but another family historian, Thomas Armstrong, told us that he had been stationed in Norfolk, during WWI, with the Army Vetinerary Corps. We think this was a unit stationed at the Old Mill House at Aylsham. Later, Kelly's trade directory of 1922 records: George T. E. Anderson, veterinary surgeon, Old Mill House, Cawston Road. Tel. No. 30. George and Lydia stayed in Norfolk - very likely because the climate was warmer. The National Probate Calendar records that George Turnbull Ewing Anderson, of Burgh Road, Aylsham, Norfolk, died on 11th January 1961.

Emily Howell b 1882, Glasgow, married 1914 Robert French Mather

Ellen Belinda Howell b 1883 Ayr, d 1979, Glasgow

Maud Amelia Howell b1884, Ayr

Lilly Howell b 1885, Ayr, married 1919, William Hamilton Martin

John Brown

John Brown, baker, born 1848The person this page is chiefly about!

occupation: baker, born about 1846, died 1938.

married first 29 Oct 1869, Ayr, Scotland

Helen Cowan Bryce Sloane (born 27 Apr 1844, at 71b High Street, Ayr, Ayrshire, died 2 Mar 1905, at 136 Calabria Road, Highbury, Islington, London)

Helen was the daughter of house painter, John Sloan (also transcribed as Sloane) and Janet Guthrie. John Sloan was the son of joiner, Gilbert Sloan and Agnes McClymont (also transcribed as McLement). Janet Guthrie was the daughter of cabinet maker, James Guthrie and Jean Tennant.

(Helen's sister Elizabeth Sloan b1839, Ayr, d 1909, Ayr also married a baker, Alexander Buchanan Dickson, a widower and they had two children Alexander Dickson b 1875 and John Sloan Dickson b 1877).

Children of John and Helen,

Janet Guthrie Brown in 19461) John Sloane Brown (born 6 Sep 1872, Greenock, d1950, Newcastle, upon Tyne, Northumberland))

2) William Brown (born 3 Apr 1874, Greenock, d1923, Forres, Morayshire, Scotland)

3) Janet Guthrie Brown, see photo opposite (born 11 May 1876, Greenock, died 1959, Surrey)

4) Margaret McLay Stewart Brown otherwise known as Margaret Stuart, spinster, (born 16 May 1881, Greenock, d 27 Sep 1943, 51 Passmore Street, Sloane Square, London)

Source: Greenock Telegraph

Following his first wife's death John married second Ann Helen Munro at Edinburgh on 17th March 1910.

More about John Brown's family

The 1901 Scotland census records John Brown, baker and purveyor, living at 33 Margaret Street, Greenock and his son William next door at number 35, whilst his eldest son, John Sloane Brown, is a baker in Prestwick, Ayrshire.

About 1905 John Brown's business empire foundered and he was made bankrupt. He then may briefly have retired to London, where his eldest son found employment. John looked after his wife who had been disabled by a stroke in 1895 and became further unwell in 1902. Helen died at 136 Calabria Road, Islington in 1905 with her husband John present. John Brown then moved to Edinburgh where he married Ann Helen Munro in 1910; the 1911 census records them in Edinburgh.

The 1911 England census records that all John and Helen's children had moved from Greenock in Scotland to England almost certainly due to failure of the family bakery business in 1905.

By 1911 John Sloane Brown had become manager of a baking factory, and he and his family were boarding in Trinder Road, Crouch Hill, Islington. William Brown was manager of the Victoria Hotel at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire, while Janet Guthrie Brown and her husband Harry were managers of the old Marquess of Granby Hotel at Bamford in the Peak District (near Sheffield) working for the 'Sheffield and District Public House Trust Company Ltd. There is a modern hotel there now.

Margaret McLay (single) was recorded as a 'Lady Help' living in Islington near her brother John. and she seems to have added the forename Stewart to distinguish herself from her cousins.

The London electoral rolls more recently published on Ancestry, indicate John Sloan Brown and his family lived in Islington until about 1932.

Soon after 1911, John Sloan's sister Janet and her family also moved  to London, where they lived in Fulham, before moving to Essex about 1932.

Janet's brother, William Brown, died of cerebral tuberculosis in 1923 aged only 49. The Scottish register of births, marriages and deaths records he was the late manager of the Hydropathic Hotel at Cluny Hill, Forres, Morayshire in Scotland, and had been a Captain in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. The hotel later became the Cluny Hill College.

After William died, his wife Jane continued to run the Cluny Hill Hydro until about 1934 when she retired; then Jane lived with her daughters Winnie and Moyra and their families.

William died at the Leanchoil cottage hospital. The registration of his death records his father as John Brown (retired baker).

Archibald Brown

occupation: baker, b 1851

married 15 Feb 1872

Agnes Herbert (born 1849 Girvan, Ayrshire) daughter of joiner Robert Herbert


Agnes Herbert Brown b,1873, Greenock

Margaret McLay Brown b 1875, Greenock

Herbert Brown, b1877, Greenock

Helen Cowan Brown b 1878, Greenock

Archibald Brown b 1882, Greenock

Alfred Howell Brown b 1885 Greenock

James Brown

occupation: baker, b 1854

No marriage found

Niven Brown

occupation: baker, b 1856, d abt 1944

married 22 Sep 1885, Greenock

Sarah Ann Blake, (born about 1861, Portaferry, Ireland, died about 1937 Ayrshire), daughter of Customs Officer Edward Blake and Elizabeth Gauntlett.

The 1911 Scottish census lists their children as,

1) Archibald Edward Blake Brown b 1886, Greenock

occupation: baker

married: 1918, Ayr, Mary Geddes Elliott

2) John Brown (son of Niven) b 1889, Greenock, baker

3) Caroline Blake Brown b 1890, Greenock, bakery shop assistant

4) Elizabeth (Bessie) McLay Brown b 1891 Greenock

5) Niven Brown jnr b 1894 Greenock, baker

At the time of the 1911 Scotland census the family was living at 43 Prestwick Road, Ayr. Earlier Niven b 1856 had been a baker in Greenock.

The family firm of Niven Brown Family Baker and Purveyor was continued by Niven's sons at 35 Burns Statue Square, Ayr until 1937.The shop later became A1 Motor Spares.

Niven senior's brother-in-law William Henry Blake (b Ireland 1845 - d Ontario, Canada 1927) also lived in Greenock for many years. He married first Mary Anne Tyre of Wemyss Bay and when she died he married, second, widow Mary Cowan Lyons. In the 1881 census he was recorded as a 'ship carpenter'. In 1906 he arrived in Canada with his second wife Mary and nine children where he continued to live until his death. Descendants of this Blake family may be reached by contacting Ann Blake at eann(dot)blake@gmail(dot)com.

Margaret Brown

b 1861

No marriage found

Generation 5

John Sloane Brown

occupation: baker and later manager of baking factory, born 1872, son of John

married 1897, St Quivox, Ayrshire

Jessie Isabel Russell (born 1878 St Quivox, Ayrshire, d 3rd April 1958, 11 Grove Avenue, Gosford, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland), daughter of Land Steward John Russell of Graigie farm.


Jessie Helen Brown b 19th March 1899, Prestwick, Ayrshire, d 14th January 1986, Westminster, London.

Honor Maureen Brown b1903, Prestwick, Ayrshire, d 1984, Newcastle upon Tyne.

William Brown

William Brown about 1917occupation: baker and later hotel manager, born 1874, younger son of John

married 29 Apr 1898, Woodside, Ayr, Ayrshire

Jane Kirkland Mills Meikle (born 1878, Wallacetown, Ayr, Ayrshire, died 1961, Aberdeen, Scotland),  daughter of builder and Dean of Guilds, James Meikle and Jane Mills.

(Jane Mills was the youngest daughter of William Mills, carpet maker manager, and Jane Kirkland of Ayr).

During WWI William became a recruitment officer with the Royal Scots Fusiliers.



1) Janie Mills Meikle Brown b 1899, Ayr, d 1948, Inverness, Scotland

married in 1929 at Leeds in England, James Lindsay Duffus Brakenridge who was born at Calcutta, India in 1900, and died at Devon in 1986. We think Jimmy Brakenridge was the son of Scottish lawyer David Hamilton Brakenridge. As a young boy he was educated at Edinburgh Academy. Jimmy and Janie had two daughters born in 1933 and 1936.

2) Wilhelmina Prideaux Brown b 4th Feb 1902, Greenock, died 1980, Abroath, Angus.

Winifred Brown, Scotland, circa 1946 In later life Wilhemina adopted the name Winifred and was known to her family and friends as Winnie or Win. Another branch of the family knew her as Billie, possibly a name used when they were children.

Winnie worked for her mother at the Cluny Hill Hydro until about 1934 when she became manager of the Bay Hotel in Nairn and then she went to a hotel in Stonehaven. At the beginning of WWII she became the manager of the Seaforth Hotel in Arbroath, where she stayed until she got married. She also drove a NAAFI van  as a volunteer during the war in her spare time. Winifred married in 1947 Howard Baxter Graham, son of James Graham, farmer, and Louise Will of Mains in Forfar

3) Moyra Noelle Brown b 1911, Lincolnshire, d 1979 Anglesey

married in 1933, radio engineer Alexander Forbes, son of Alexander Forbes tea planter (Ceylon) and Henrietta Jackson Hardie, late of Aberdeen.

They had two children born in 1934 and 1944.

Heather Forbes born Aberdeen in 1934, suffered from polio as a youngster. She married Michael Chadwick and they adopted two children.

Follow this bookmark to read more about Heather's grandfather William Brown and his father John Brown

Herbert Brown

occupation: baker, b 1877, Greenock, eldest son of Archibald Brown

married: 1897, Cathcart, Renfrew, Margaret Lambert


Andrew Tyrie Brown b 1897, Greenock, d 1975, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Archibald Brown b 1898, Greenock

Agnes Herbert Brown b 1904, Greenock

At the time of the 1911 census the family was living at 28 Paris Street, Grangemouth, Stirlingshire.

Alfred Howell Brown

occupation: baker (1885 - 1967) son of Archibald Brown

married: 15 Sep 1909 at George Square Congregational Church, Greenock.

Agnes and Eliza McGlashanAgnes Crawford McGlashan (1887 - 1965) elder daughter of Jane Crawford Brock McGlashan nee Brock of 5 Robertson St, Greenock and John McGlashan bootmaker and retailer (died 1908). See photo opposite of Agnes and her sister Eliza.

The couple lived at various houses on the Esplanade at Greenock including Woodthorpe, and had three children,

Jean Phyllis Brown born 14th Sep 1911, died 1963.

Alfreda Howell Brown b 1921, d 2013 of Yerton Pottery, West Kilbride.

Archibald Brown (Archie) 1924 - 2002 who was a teacher and became Head of English at Ardrossan Academy until his retiral.

Archie had been particularly interested in drama, and after his death, in his memory, Alfreda founded the 'Archibald Balfour Brown Foundation' for Adrossan Academy to use to promote English literature and drama. Also an annual award is made to a suitable pupil. We wondered if he had added the name 'Balfour' to distinguish himself from other Archibald's in the family.

Phyllis married William Edgar Erskine at Glasgow in 1942. Their daughter Joan C Erskine born in 1944, latterly of Oak Bluffs MA, died at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital in 2010.

Alfred Howell Brown continued to run the family bakery business Archibald Brown and Son in Greenock until his retirement in 1949. The Edinburgh Gazette of February 8th 1949 announced the firm had been sold to John Miller, Noel Miller and Alexander Blair Neely of Gourock who would continue the business under the same name; there were then shops at 24 West Blackhall Street and 31c Brisbane Street, Greenock.

 Alfred Howell Brown died at Ayr Hospice in 1967.

Edward Howell

occupation: tobacconist, born 1871, son of Elizabeth McLay Brown

married 1901, Glasgow

Annie Brown Allan Duncan (b1871, d 1914, Glasgow) daughter of John Duncan (1841 - 1908), managing director of tramways and Annie Allan. John Duncan was the son of James Duncan and May Finlay.


May Finlay Howell

Elizabeth Brown Tyrie

occupation: farmer's wife, daughter of Mary Brown

married: 1894, Glasgow

James George Bryden, b 1865, Caputh Perthshire, d abt 1943, son of John Bryden, farmer. The 1905 Scotland Valuation Rolls record the family residing at 'Tennant Farm and House', Newmain and Broomhills, Scone Palace Estate, Perthshire.


Mary Elizabeth Bryden, b 1895, Scone, Perthshire

John Bryden b 1899, Scone, Perthshire

William James Bryden b Scone, Perthshire, d 1986

The latter son became Sir William James Bryden CBE Advocate, appointed Sheriff substitute of Lanarkshire at Hamilton, after war service in 1946, and later at Glasgow. He was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1933 and to the Scottish Bar in 1935.

Generation 6

Jessie Helen Brown born Ayrshire 1899, daughter of John Sloane Brown

married Kensington, London 1922, Albert William Crips b Bedford 1900, d London 1988, son of Frederick Crips, a straw plait dealer. We don't know much about Albert except that he became a stockbroker and did well.

A daughter was born in 1928 and there appear to be living descendants.

The London Gazette recorded Albert's promotion to 2nd Lt Royal Artillery in September 1939. His elder brother Frederick Robert Crips, Private 20962 Royal West Kent Regiment had enlisted in the British Army on 19th April 1917 and sadly died of tuberculosis in 1919.

May Finlay Dunlop nee HowellMay Finlay Howell b 1902, Glasgow, d 1980, Glasgow

married 5th January 1927, Glasgow

Ross Munn Dunlop, chartered accountant,  b 1886, d 1947, Glasgow, son of Peter Dunlop, master baker


Norman 'Gordon' Edward Dunlop, chartered accountant, b. 1928 Glasgow, d. 1995 Winchester

married 1952, Jean Taylor of Renfrewshire.

Gordon worked as a chartered accountant for a number of companies including British Airways (BA). He was awarded the CBE by Margaret Thatcher's government, and his obituary appeared in the (London) Times.

Click to read more about Gordon Dunlop

Residences and baker's shops


The 1841 census records Archibald snr and Margaret Brown, with eldest son William, living in Argyle Street, Glasgow. The 1851 census records the family at 327 Argyle Street, together with Margaret's mother Mary Peacock and sister Elizabeth McLay.

The 1861 census records Archibald Brown and his family living in Newton-on-Ayr,  Ayrshire all except daughter Elizabeth, who has stayed in Glasgow with her cousin Ann Niblett, daughter of Archibald's sister Mary.

Archibald's wife Margaret (nee McLay) died in 1865, following which the family moved to Greenock.

The 1871 census records widower Archibald living with his youngest son Niven at 25 Sugar House Lane, Greenock. The refining of sugar from the West Indies had become a major industry in Greenock and some refiners were located at the foot of Sugar House Lane, from which the lane probably got its name.

John Brown married Helen Cowan Bryce Sloane in 1869 and in 1871 they were living at 17 West Blackhall Street. James was staying with his married sister Mary Tyrie in Lesmahagow, and youngest daughter Margaret was staying with her married sister Elizabeth Howell in Glasgow.

The 1881 census records Archibald senior living at 26 Sugar House lane, with his sons James and Niven. Archibald Brown jnr and his wife are living at 29 Ardgowan Street, while John Brown has moved to 57 Brisbane Street, Greenock, and is said to be employing 12 men, 4 women and 16 boys.,

The 1891 census records Archibald senior living with his son James at 16 Kelly Street, where he would die on Christmas Eve, attended by his son Archie. John Brown is recorded still at 55 Brisbane Street next door to Archie at 57. Niven who married in 1885 is recorded at 25 Newton Street.

The 1895 Scotland Valuation Rolls record that John Brown then had his house, garden and greenhouse at 33 Margaret Street, a bake-house at 24 Union Street, a house and shop at 16 Kelly Street, a shop at 11 Union Street, a shop store and bake-house at 5 Rue End, stores at 26 Sugarhouse Lane, and a bake-house, shop and head office at 45 Hamilton Street. Apart from his house the premises seem to have been rented.

The 1901 census records John Brown still at 33 Margaret Street next door to his son William at number 35. Archie is now at 55 Brisbane Street, and Niven at 4 Finnart Road. John's eldest son John Sloane Brown is a baker in the Monkton and Prestwick district of Ayrshire.

Baker's shop in Kilmacolm

John Brown's  shop in Kilmacolm circa 1900The 1901 Scotland census also shows John Brown had a further bakery shop in Kilmacolm, managed by his daughter Janet and son-in-law Harry (see photo opposite from a family album).

The shop later became a branch of the Co-op and has since been converted to residential accommodation.

The 1911 Scottish census recorded Niven Brown and his family at 43 Prestwick Road, Ayr.

Following John Brown's bankruptcy, the firm of Archibald Brown and Son appears to be the only remaining family bakery business in Greenock.

Trade directories

Trade directories held by the Watt Library in Greenock give further information about the family.

Another family historian has relayed the following information from Greenock resident David Sutherland.

The Brown family bakery operations in Greenock appear to have commenced in the year 1865/66. 

Brown William, family baker, cook and confectioner, 45 Hamilton Street. House at Havelock Buildings, 17 West Blackhall Street, Greenock.

Hamilton Street is now a shopping mall, so the shop, which became John Brown's main branch, no longer exists.

From 1870/71 the details change to, Brown John, family baker, soiree purveyor and confectioner, with the business and house at the same address.

From 1872/73 an additional business is opened at 11 Union Street, Greenock. 

From 1876/77 John's house is then given as, Meadowbank, 55 Brisbane Street. 

In the 1881/82 directory, the occupier of 29 Ardgowan Street is given as Archibald Brown, baker.  In 1884/85 he moved downstairs to number 27. His place of business was given as 26 Sugar House Lane. 

In 1886/87 Archibald Brown moved to 57 Brisbane Street, John Brown still being shown as living at 55 Brisbane Street. 

Archibald's business moved to 16 Kelly Street. From 1897/98 John Brown has an additional business at 5 Rue End Street, and has moved house to 'Helensdene', 35 Margaret Street, Greenock.

Archibald junior has his businesses at 8 West Blackhall Street and 13 Finnart Street.

From 1905/06 Archibald still has the business at West Blackhall Street, but his other business is at 31 Brisbane Street. His home is given as 28/29 Eldon Street. 

The only baker with the name of Brown that dates onwards is Archibald Brown & Son (Bakers) Ltd of 18-24 West Blackhall Street. The firm continued in business, according to the directories up to 1955.

Niven Brown appears in the directories as a baker as follows:-

From 1886/87 at 26 South Street, From 1888/89 at 25 Newton Street. From 1897/98 at 22 Robertson Street.  The 1901 Post Office Directory lists his home at 4 Finnart Road, in business with John Brown. Thereafter his business moved to Ayr, probably following his brother John's bankruptcy and retirement to London.

Baker's shop at Ayr

Niven's sons, Niven jnr and Archibald Edward Blake Brown continued the firm of Niven Brown Family Baker and Purveyor at 35 Burns Statue Square, Ayr until 1937 when Archibald Edward Blake Brown retired from the business and on 28th November 1937 Niven sold the firm to George Malar, pastry baker. (Source: Edinburgh Gazette 22nd June and 30th November 1937).

It is not known why Archibald's eldest son William left Scotland after starting the family bakery firm in Greenock, but we gather he married Mary Gerrette Graham in Liverpool in 1864, and lived in Llandudno, Liverpool and Manchester, before disappearing. Whether he died or deserted his young family we don't know - please do get in touch if you have a clue.

It seems that the reason for John Brown's early retirement from business was poor management of costs, caring for his wife who suffered a stroke resulting in paralysis on one side, and being distracted by his activities as a preacher.

Edinburgh Gazette

On February 27th 1903 the Edinburgh Gazette reported the transfer of businesses in Ayr and Prestwick to Niven Brown.


The business of Baker and Purveyor carried out under the name of JOHN BROWN in Ayr and Prestwick, of which the subscribers John Brown and John Sloane Brown were Sole Partners, has of this date been transferred to the Subscriber Niven Brown, who will carry on the same under his own name.

John Brown

John Sloane brown

Isabella Smith, Baker's Manageress

9 Gordon Terrace, Ayr

Flora McQuarrie, Shop Assistant

Salisbury Place, Prestwick

Witnesses to Signatures of the said John Brown and John Sloane Brown.

RB Shearer, Solicitor, 1 Bank Street. Greenock

George Paterson, Law-Clerk, 1 Bank Street, Greenock

Witnesses to the Signature of the said Niven Brown.

Semple and boyd, Agents

Ayr, 31st January 1903.

Perhaps John Brown's business was already failing by this time; his son John Sloane Brown moved to London, where he seems to have set up his own bakery business which soon failed.

The Edinburgh Gazette reported on November 29th 1904:


From the London Gazette

John Sloane Brown, residing at 10 Highbury Hill, and carrying on business at 77 Newington Green Road, both in the county of London, baker and confectioner.

The 1911 census records that he then became Manager of a Baking Factory; it was probably safer working for others!

Modern times

John Brown's shop window, pictured about 1901, bears the advertising:


As supplied to


This was a wheat germ enriched recipe invented about 1886; the trade name Hovis was selected from candidates put forward in a national competition in 1890.

In 2017 Hovis bread can still be purchased from supermarket shelves. Typically the wheatgerm enriched bread is sold as a 400g small sliced loaf. It has a slightly sweet taste and is nice toasted with marmalade, but you may, like us, prefer white bread for making ham sandwiches.

Wholemeal is another option for those wanting to increase fibre in their diets.

Hovis bread

We used to make home-made bread enriched with Jordan's wheatgerm, but in 2017 Jordan's wheatgerm disappeared from supermarket shelves. Apparently the company discontinued manufacture due to difficulty obtaining a high quality product and the reluctance of supermarkets to sell low volume items.

It's possible wheatgerm can be obtained either from the Bran Tub, on the Worcester Road in Great Malvern, or from Shipton Mill in Gloucestershire.


This family tree was largely built through searching records on the scotlandspeople.gov.uk website. However we also have to thank those who got in touch with further information and photographs. Particularly, Heather Chadwick, great grand-daughter of John Brown; Catherine Woodcock, great grand-daughter of John Brown's brother William; Ann Blake in Ontario whose husband is related to Sarah Ann Blake who married John Brown's brother Niven; Jackie Riceman in Canada whose husband is descended from John Brown's sister Elizabeth and Glasgow tobacconist Alfred Howell; and Dawn who contacted us through the Ancestry website with information about John Brown's nephew Alfred Howell Brown who married Agnes Crawford McGlashen.

Also thanks to Jennifer Healey, whose grandmother remembered William Brown and his family at Woodhall Spa; D Ian Bannister, executor of the estate of Alfreda Howell Brown; and family historian Thomas Armstrong who came across the death of vet George Turnbull Ewing Anderson in Norfolk in 1961 - who was the husband of John Brown's niece Lydia Howell.

Finally, grateful thanks to Chris Sutton, Archivist of the 'Church of God' for information about John Brown's preaching activities, religious publications and later life.

References and other sources

  1. Communication from Chris Sutton, February 2022

  2. Scotlands People website

  3. Park JJ, The Churches of God, their origin and development in the 20th century. Click for quote about John Brown

  4. Ancestry website

  5. General Records Office

  6. Scottish BMD

  7. England and Wales BMD

  8. Scottish census

  9. England and Wales census

  10. National Probate Calendar

  11. Greenock Telegraph, including report of John Brown's death, 29th December 1938

Back to top