Brighton, Sussex Family History Guide

Parishes in Brighton

  • Brighton St Nicholas, Sussex
  • Brighton All Souls, Sussex
  • Brighton St John the Evangelist, Sussex

Table of Contents

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

BRIGHTON, a town, a parish, and a district on the coast of Sussex. The town stands on swell, slope, and cliff, under the South Downs, 18 miles W by N of Beachy-Head, 27 E by N of Selsea Bill, 8 SW by W of Lewis, 28¾ E of Chichester, and 50½ S of London. The sea before it forms a great slender bay, bounded by Beachy-Head and Selsea Bill, and gives an open view, past the latter, to the Isle of Wight. One railway goes direct to London; another goes to Lowes, and thence to Kent; and a third goes to Chichester and Portsmouth, and thence to the west.

Name and History.— The name popularly is always Brighton; but anciently was Brighthelmstone; and continues so in all legal and parochial documents; and was derived from some person of the name of Brighthelm, supposed probably to have been an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Selsea. The place is thought to have been a scene of Druidical worship; and, from the discovery at it of Roman coins and other Roman relics, is concluded to have been occupied by a Roman station. The manor belonged, in the time of Edward the Confessor, to Earl Godwin; descended to his son Harold, who fell in the battle of Hastings; was given, by the Conqueror, to William de Warrene; and transferred, soon afterwards, to the priory of Lewes. A town on it was so considerable at the end of the 13th century, as to become then the seat of a market; and consisted of two parts,-one on the beach, inhabited by fishermen,-the other on the cliffs, inhabited by landsmen. The Flemings, the French, and the Spaniards made attacks on the town, or descents in its neighbourhood, through a period of three centuries; and continually checked its prosperity. A blockhouse for arms and ammunition, and encompassing strong walls, with four gates, were erected for its defence, in the times of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth; but were gradually destroyed by the sea. Even the lower part of the town itself underwent assaults from the billows, and eventually disappeared. Charles II. fled hither from his overthrow at Worcester; spent a night in a small inn, still existing, in West-street; and embarked in the neighbourhood for Fécamp in Normandy. The town declined till about 1750; and had then only about 800 inhabitants, chiefly poor fishermen. Dr. Russell, a distinguished physician, drew attention to it, at that time, as a desirable bathing-place; and some persons of influence and fashion soon began to visit it from London. Dr. Johnson, with Mrs. Thrale and Fanny Burney, was here in 1770; and the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV, first came in 1782, and then founded a permanent summer residence in 1784. Brighton suddenly underwent a change of fortune; and it has gone on increasing, steadily and rapidly, from that time till the present, so as to be now the greatest watering-place in the world.

Streets and Places.—The town extends three miles, from Hove on the W to Kemp-Town on the E; and presents such an imposing frontage to the sea as cannot be rivalled by any other town. All of it, with small exception, is modern; and much is handsome, elegant, or grand. Some parts stand on slopes, descending from the skirts of the South Downs; some on low flat grounds, at the bottom; and some on cliffs, immediately over hanging the sea. The central portion includes the Steyne, named from the "stane" or rock on which the fishermen of the old times used to dry their nets; and contains some houses of the last century, the pavilion or palace built by George IV., and two large enclosures thickly planted with shrubs. The western portion includes the early fashionable extensions; exhibits a prevailing character of comparative stiffness or uniformity: and contains the fine localities of Regency-square, Brunswick-sq., Brunswick-terrace, and Adelaide-crescent. The eastern portion includes the later extensions; displays a richer style; and contains streets, squares, crescents, and terraces, edificed with as splendid houses as almost any in the kingdom. Kemp-Town here surmounts a cliff nearly 200 feet high; was commenced in 1831, on the estate of Thomas Read Kemp, Esq.; and includes a crescent 800 feet across, with wings 350 feet each. The streets, for the most part, are spacious, and intersect one another at right angles; the higher places have reliefs of garden or shrubbery, and command fine views; and the prevailing aspect of at once residences, shops, and thoroughfare, is similar to that of the best parts of London.

Public Buildings.—A sea-wall, for resisting farther encroachment by the sea, extends nearly a mile westward from Kemp-Town; was built at a cost of about £100,000; and diminishes upwards from a thickness of fully fourteen feet to a thickness of about two feet. A chain-pier, situated at the west end of the sea-wall, extends 1,014 feet into the sea; was constructed in 1823, by Captain Brown, at a cost of £30,000; suffered much injury from storms, in 1824 and 1833, but has since been repaired and strengthened; is divided, by iron towers, into four spans, of 225 feet each; measures 13 feet in width along the roadway; expands at the head into a platform 80 feet square; and is used as a public promenade. A west pier, on iron supports, was opened in 1866; is 1,115 feet long; and has promenading space for fully 2,000 persons. The Pavilion or palace of George IV. underwent additions and changes till 1817: assumed a fantastic character, with domes, minarets, cupolas, and spires, alleged to resemble the Kremlin at Moscow; was occasionally visited by William IV. and Victoria; was sold, in 1850, to the local authorities of Brighton, for £53,000; and is now used on all sorts of occasions for public entertainment. The entrance-hall is magnificent; the banqueting-room measures 60 feet by 42; the music-room is of similar size; the rotunda is 55 feet in diameter; and the Chinese gallery is 162 feet long. The stables connected with the pavilion are in the Moorish style, with a vast glazed dome lighting a circle of about 250 feet; and was formed, in 1867, into a concert hall and rooms. The house in which Mrs. Fitzherbert resided is adjacent. A bronze statue of George IV., by Chantry, erected in 1828 at a cost of £3,000, and a fountain, called the Victoria, are in the Steyne. The town hall is a handsome modern erection, 144 feet long and 113 feet broad, with three double porticoes, raised at a cost of £30,000; and contains a principal apartment 85 feet by 35, and various committee, magistrates, and assistants rooms. The market house stands on the site of the old town hall, was built in 1830; and is in the form of a T. Countycourt offices, in Gothic style, were built in 1869. The assembly rooms are at the Old Ship hotel. The theatre was enlarged and remodelled in 1866, and now accommodates an audience of about 1,900. The railway terminus is an elegant and commodious structure; and has a Roman portico, surmounted by an illuminated clock. The water works are supplied from wells in the chalk, pumped by powerful engines, sending the water to reservoirs at levels which command the highest houses; they are managed on a capital of £250,000; and considerable additions to them were in progress in 1865. A great hotel was erected in 1864, nine storeys high, at a cost of £150,000. The cavalry barracks can accommodate 625 men; the infantry barracks, about 400. The sewage of the town was carried further out to sea in 1867; and was decided, in 1869, to be diverted landward.

Churches.—The places of worship within the parliamentary borough, in 1865, were 24 of the Church of England, and 35 of other denominations; and of the latter, 6 belonged to Independents, 5 to Baptists, 1 to Quakers, 1 to Presbyterians, 2 to Wesleyan Methodists, 1 to Primitive Methodists, 1 to United Free Methodists, 1 to Bible Christians, 1 to Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, 2 to French Protestants, 1 to German Protestants, 1 to the Catholic Apostolic Church, 2 to Roman Catholics, 1 to Jews, 2 to mission congregations, and 7 of somewhat isolated character; but several of the 35 were only rooms or halls. St. Nicholas' church, on an eminence, in the NW of the town, dates from the time of Edward III.; has always served as a landmark for fishermen; was rebuilt, in 1854, as a memorial of the Duke of Wellington, who habitually attended it while a pupil of the vicar; is in the perpendicular English style, with picturesque appearance; retains the original perpendicular screen, and an ancient, circular Norman font; and has, in the chantry, a richly decorated cross, about 18 feet high, dedicated to the Duke of Wellington, and inscribed round the shaft with the names of his chief victories. The churchyard contains monumental stones of Captain Tettersell, the preserver of Charles II.; Phœbe Hessell, who fought at Fontenoy; and Mrs. Crouch, the actress. St. Peter's church, at the end of the Steyne, was built in 1830, after a design by Sir Charles Barry, at a cost of £20,000; is in the best pointed style, with windows of ramified tracery; comprises nave, aisles, and semi-octagonal transepts; and has a neat tower, ornamented with pinnacles. St. Paul's church, in West-street, on the edge of the Downs, near the shore, is a very beautiful structure, built in 1847, by Mr. Carpenter; has a porch with medallion bas-reliefs from the life of St. Paul; and is often called the "Puseyite Church." St. James' church, in Cambridge road, was built in 1860, after a design by H. E. Kendall, at a cost of £5,900; is in the Continental Gothic style; and consists of aisled-nave, east and west chapels, and a large aisled-chancel, with western square tower, surmounted by an octagonal lanthern. The Chapel-Royal was originally attached to the pavilion. St. Michael's church was built in 1863; is in the decorated English style; and has a peculiar but rich interior. St. Mary Magdalene's was built in 1862, and is a mission church. St. Anne's was built in 1863; is in the geometric style; and cost £6,670. Emmanuel's was built also in 1863; is in the early decorated style; and cost £3,550. Other Established churches are All Souls, Christ Church, St. John's, St. Stephen's, St. Mary's, St. George's, All Saints, Trinity, St. Margaret's, St. Martin's, and St. Mark's. Some of the dissenting places of worship are spacious and handsome. The Roman Catholic church, in Upper North-street, was built in 1862; consists of nave, aisles, chancel, Lady chapel, and side chapels; and has a tower and spire 144 feet high.

Schools and Institutions.—There were within the borough, in 1851, 32 public day schools, with 5,094 scholars; 210 private day schools, with 4,346 s.; and 25 Sunday schools, with 3,932 s. Brighton college, in the east, was founded in 1848, and forms a quadrangle, with chapel and cloisters. The proprietary grammar school was erected in 1868. The military school is largely attended. Grimmet's blue-coat school has £78 from endowment; and Downer's girls' school has £303. The county hospital, in Kemp-Town, was founded in 1826; has since acquired two wings, called the Adelaide and the Victoria; and contains accommodation for 150 patients. The asylum for the blind, close by the county hospital, was built in 1861; is in the Venetian Gothic style; and forms nearly a square edifice, in red and black brick. The town museum was opened in November, 1861; occupies a spacious suite of rooms in the N wing of the Pavilion; and contains collections of antiquities, natural history, geology, and miscellaneous curiosities. There are a Dissenters' proprietary college; a training school for female teachers; a literary and scientific institution; a natural history society; an art society; a young men's literary union; numerous reading rooms and libraries; and a variety of benevolent and miscellaneous institutions. Two new cemeteries lie to the N of the town; the one opened in 1851, and belonging to a private company; the other opened in 1859, on ground given to the town by the Marquis of Bristol, and called the parochial cemetery.

Means of Health and Recreations.—The climate differs, as to warmth, in the higher and lower parts, and in the E and W; but, on the whole, is of comparatively brisk dry character, excellent for children and healthy adults, and suitable for invalids of well-toned constitution. One season, for sea bathing, runs from July to October; and another, for repose, from October till April. The bathing beach is partly shingly and steep, partly smooth hard sand; and is plentifully provided with machines, divided into groups for respectively ladies and gentlemen. Bathing establishments, with every variety of baths, and also a large public swimming bath, are in the town. A charming park, with what is called the German Spa, furnishing artificial mineral waters similar to those of the most celebrated continental spas, is in a narrow valley running up the hill from the East cliff. A long public promenade lies along the cliffs; a lower promenade, for the inhabitants of Kemp-Town, is reached by a tunnel through the rock; pleasure-boats are in constant waiting for hire; regattas, concerts, lectures, and all other sorts of entertainments are frequent; the theatre is maintained in brisk service; harrier hunts and fox hunts are made almost daily over the neighbouring downs; races are run in August; and excursions can be made, in various directions, to many objects and places of interest.

Trade.—A herring fishery is carried on from October till Christmas; a mackarel fishery, from May till July; and a general fishery, for the supply of the local market, by about an hundred boats, every day. Manufactures and commerce are little more than nominal. The retail trade is extensive. A weekly market is held on Thursday; and fairs on Holy Thursday and 4 Sept. There are a head post office,‡ in Ship-street; receiving-offices in Hove,‡ Bedford-street,‡ Victoria-road,‡ Kemp-Town,‡ and Western-road;‡ telegraphic offices, on the Old Skene and at the railway station; four banking offices; and many hotels, inns, and lodging-houses, said to be capable of accommodating 40,000 visitors. A bi-weekly register of fashion used to be published on Wednesday and Saturday; and six weekly newspapers are issued on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Omnibuses run from the railway station to Hove and Kemp-Town; and an omnibus runs to Shoreham.

The Borough.—The town is governed, under a charter of 1854, by a mayor, a recorder, 12 aldermen, and 36 councillors; and, under the act of 1832, sends two members to parliament. The municipal borough is conterminate with the parish of Brighton. The parliamentary borough consists of the parishes of Brighton and Hove; and comprises 3,192 acres. A police force is maintained, consisting of 101 men, and costing annually about £7,255. The number of crimes committed, in 1864, was 311; of persons apprehended, 1, 043; of known depredators and suspected persons at large, 1,043; of houses of bad character, 263. Direct taxes in 1857, £74,297. Real property in 1860, £552,877. Borough income in 1861, £59,494. Electors in 1868, 6,352. Pop. in 1831, 41,994; in 1861, 87,317. Houses, 13,983. Bishop Kidder was a native.

The Parish.—The parish comprises 1,980 acres of land and 340 of water. Real property, £464,217. Pop., 77,693. Houses, 12,727. The property is much subdivided. Fully one-half of the land is rural, chiefly down-pasture. The living is a vicarage, united with the rectory of West Blatchington, in the diocese of Chichester. Value, not reported.* Patron, the Bishop of Chichester. The parish church is St. Nicholas; and the other nineteen churches are all separate charges. Value of St. John's, £90; of the Chapel-Royal, £95; of All Souls and St. Mary's, £100; of St. James', £180; of All Saints, £200; of Christ Church, £420; of St. Stephen's, £425; of the others, not reported. Patron of St. Peter's, All Souls', Christ Church, St. John's, St. Paul's, St. Stephen's, All Saints', St. Michael's, St. Mary Magdalene's, and the Chapel-Royal, the Vicar; of St. James', the Trustees of the late N. Kemp, Esq.; of St. Mary's, the Rev. H. V. Elliott; of St. George's, L Peel, Esq.; of Trinity, the Trustees of the late Rev. R. Anderson; of St. Margaret's, Mrs. W. M. Du Pré; of St. Mark's, the Trustees of St. Mary's Hall.

The District.—The district is conterminate with the parish; forms a poor-law union under a local act; and is divided into the Palace, St. Peter, and Kemp-Town. Poor-rates in 1866, £37,050. Marriages in 1866, 902; births, 2,754,-of which 174 were illegitimate; deaths, 1,886,-of which 650 were at ages under 5 years, and 43 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 6,481; births, 22,438; deaths, 15,757. Of the places of worship and the schools returned in 1851 as in the borough, all the places of worship, 29 public day schools, 189 private day schools, and 23 Sunday schools, were in the district.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Brighton, or Brighthelmstone, 52m. S. London. Mrkt. Thurs. P. 46,661

Source: Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850.


Brighton - Commercial Directory of the Jews of Gt Britain 1894


Below is a list of people that were declared bankrupt between 1820 and 1843 extracted from The Bankrupt Directory; George Elwick; London; Simpkin, Marshall and Co.; 1843.

Adams John Thomas Philip, Rottingdean and Brighthelmstone, Sussex, wine merchant and schoolmaster, Aug. 19, 1828.

Adnam George, Brighton, commission agent, April 22, 1834.

Andre Edward, Brighton, cabinet maker, Dec. 1, 1835.

Andrew Perry Pleyer, Brighton, Sussex, grocer, Aug. 26, 1823.

Attree John, London road, Brighton, Sussex, grocer, April 2, 1833.

Attree Robert, Castle square, Brighton, hosier, May 24, 1842.

Attree William, Brighton, coachmaker, May 4, 1822.

Austen John, Brighton, builder, Feb. 28, 1826.


Baldey Frederick, Brighton, bookseller, Feb. 16, 1838.

Ballard John, Brighton, tobacconist, Oct. 8, 1830.

Barns Charles Frederick Collis, Brighton, stable keeper, March 21, 1826.

Bastick Samuel, St, James's street, Brighton, hatter, Dec. 6, 1842.

Beaumont Wm.; and Henry Greaves; Brighton, linen drapers, May 21, 1841.

Benham William, Richmond buildings, Brighton, builder, May 2, 1826.

Bennett Benjamin, Brighton, Sussex, builder, March 18, 1826.

Berncastle Solomon Nathan; and Samuel Solomon; Brighton, and Lewes, Sussex, jewellers and watchmakers, June 29, 1830.

Bewsher William Noble, Brighton, brewer, Aug. 17, 1832.

Bird Henry, Brighton, Sussex, linen draper, Oct. 6, 1829.

Blaber Henry, Brighton, merchant and ship owner, March 11, 1826.

Bloom Joseph Moritz, Brighton, dealer in fancy goods, Jan. 19, 1838.

Bodle William, Brighton, draper, Feb. 23, 1838.

Booty John, Brighton, Sussex, printseller, Oct. 5, 1832.

Boxall Jonathan, Brighton, hotel keeper, July 6, 1832.

Bray William. Henry, Brighton, Sussex, draper and mercer, May 5, 1827.

Brewer Samuel Kilhinton, Brighton, bookseller, Jan. 9, 1838.

Bushy Charles Augustin, Brighton, builder, Feb. 12, 1833.

Bush William, Brighton, Sussex, dealer and chapman, Feb. 27, 1827.


Edlin Henry, Gloucester hotel, Brighton, hotel & tavern keeper, April 12, 1842.

Edwards John, jun., Brighton, Sussex, grocer, March 10, 1837.

Edwards John, Brighton, Sussex, boot and shoe maker, April 8, 1826.

Edwards Thomas, Mark lane, and Brighton, merchant, Jan. 22, 1822.

Eldridge Charles, Brighton, Sussex, builder, Nov. 11, 1836.

Elliott Christopher, Brighton, Sussex, grocer, July 27, 1827.

Ellis Richard, Brighton, Sussex, haberdasher, Jan. 11, 1828.

Erredge John Ackerson, West street, Brighton, bookseller, Feb. 9, 1841.


Inman Richard, Brighton, grocer and provision merchant, July 25, 1837.

Insoll Robert, Brighton, Sussex, coach maker, June 17, 1842.


Kelley John; and James Boniface; Brighton, builders, Feb. 18, 1826.

Kennedy Henry, Brighton, Sussex, carpenter and joiner, April 24, 1824.

Kinnear John, Brighton, Sussex, banker, Feb. 10, 1824.

Kirchner John, Brighton, Sussex, music seller and stationer, Dec. 4, 1835.

Knowles George, Brighton, Sussex, stable keeper, Aug. 30, 1823.


Yeates John, Brighton, Sussex, brewer, Jan. 12, 1838.

Young John, Brighton, Sussex, silk mercer and draper, April 10, 1838.