Friday, June 27, 2014

The Well Traveled Clergyman

I approached this photo with trepidation because I only had a surname and a Canadian location.  I had not done any research in Canadian records and wasn't sure when I began just what is online to work with.  I was relieved to discover there were plenty of records available to help me locate the correct gentleman.

I began by looking for information about the photographer, Wm. Craig, operating out of St. Catherines, Ontario.  I was able to pinpoint Mr. Craig's activity in St. Catharines to 1871.  Estimating that the gentleman pictured was about 40 years old, I began to search for a Rev. Brookman born about 1830.

The 1871 Canadian census listed a William Brookman, clergyman for the Church of England, residing in Ontario, age 42.  I felt like this was probably my man and further research made me even more confident.  In the Rev. Brookman's household was his wife Elizabeth, age 45, and five children.  Rev. Brookman and his wife were both born in England, as was their oldest daughter Ada, age 17.  The next two children, Catherine, age 15, and William, age 13, were born in India.  The youngest two, Helen, age 11, and Edith, age 9, were both in Canada.

I moved back to the 1861 census and found the family living in Dorchester in Southwestern Ontario.  I also found three members of the family listed again in Malahide Township.  I'm not sure of the rules for Canadian censuses, so I have no explanation for this odd occurrence.  The full family listing in the first instance adds the information that daughter Catherine was born in "Madrid" (which should have been Madras, India), son William, born in some completely illegible scrawl, and daughter Helen born in West Canada.  The second census entry gives only the father and daughters Ada and Catherine, with the notation that they normally reside in Dorchester.  I can only guess that the three were visiting or traveling and got caught by a census taker a second time.

At this point I went back to Ancestry and started looking for submitted family trees and found several.  The more I looked at these family trees, the more I was convinced that I had the right man.

William Brookman was born on May 20, 1829, in Hampshire, England, to parents William Sr. and Eliza Martha (Tate) Brookman.  William Jr. would marry three times.  His first marriage on October 20, 1853, occurred at St. Mary's in Lambeth, Surrey, England, to Elizabeth Jane Harvey.  It is the marriage to Elizabeth that produces all but one of his children.  Elizabeth was born November 21, 1824, in Dorset, England, gave birth to all the children listed above in the 1871 census, and died on June 25, 1872.  She is buried in the Trinity Anglican Cemetery in Morpeth, Ontario.

A few years later William married Julia Henrietta Ball on April 21, 1875, at St. Mark's in Niagara, Ontario.  Julia was 31 to William's 46 and was soon expecting Herbert.  Unfortunately both the baby and Julia died just days after his birth.  The baby, born on March 22, 1876, lived two days.  His mother died five days later on March 29th, a month before she would have celebrated her first wedding anniversary.

William married a third time on February 25, 1879, to Anna Cornwall at St. Andrew's in Grimsby, Ontario.  No one provided a death date for Anna but supposedly she is buried in St. Andrews Anglican Cemetery in Lincoln, Ontario.

Rev. Brookman's four daughters by Elizabeth all married, the two oldest at the Christ Church at St. Catherine's during his tenure there as rector.  Son William died in 1877 at the age of 18 or 19.  I was not able to find any information regarding his early death.

A short bio I found for Rev. Brookman states that he immigrated to Toronto in the late 1840s after a number of years in the East Indies.  He was an ordained minister in the Church of England, but left the Church to establish his own Church of the Baptized Believers.  Apparently he requested that his church be dissolved upon his death and his request was honored.

It appears that Rev. Brookman was a minister who was willing to lead his congregation in the building of new church buildings.  When he was rector of the St. John's Anglican Church (1858-1863), the construction of their building began in 1861 under his direction.  While Rev. Brookman was rector of the Christ Church at St. Catherines, a post he assumed in 1876 and left in 1880, the congregation began a new building which became the St. Thomas Church.

One of the earliest mentions I find for Rev. Brookman is in a history of a Canadian oil town named Petrolia.  During its early days, The Church of England first held services in Fletcher & Boswell's barroom.  The bar would be curtained off and the congregation would be seated facing away from it.  Rev. Brookman "the sailor preacher" would lead the services.

A Brooklyn, New York, newspaper mentions Rev. Brookman in a small article in September 1890, noting that he would be delivering a sermon on "The Resurrection Needful for Future Life" to a meeting of the Association For the Promotion of Christian Knowledge.  This would have been after he formed his own church, for the article also mentions that "Rev. William Brookman, pastor of an independent church at Toronto, Ontario, and for many years a Church of England clergyman" had stepped in as a substitute speaker, making an extemporaneous address to the group.

Rev. Brookman wrote at least two publications, one book sized and one booklet sized.  "The Destiny of Mankind" was published in 1899 and "The Future of the Non-Elect Dead, the Vast Majority of Mankind in All Ages" was published in 1906.

Rev. William Brookman died on April 5, 1907, in Toronto and is buried there in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery.  His tombstone includes a large carving of an anchor to symbolize his long tenure as Chaplain to the Navy Veterans.


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