William BRUCKER (1831–1888)
His wife Mrs Frances Sarah BRUCKER, née Ludlow (1829–1879)
Their sons Arthur BRUCKER (born and died 1864)
and Harry Edward BRUCKER (1868–1871)
St Paul section: Row 13, Grave B23½ [St Paul ref T10]

William & Frances Brucker


In Loving
Memory of














William Brucker was born in Oxford on 18 October 1831 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 13 November. He was the youngest child of the carpenter Thomas Brucker and Ann Kent, who were both born in Northmoor and were married there on 5 August 1822. They came to live in St Giles’ parish, Oxford after their wedding, and their address there was given as Town’s End when their daughter Ann was baptised in 1824; as “near the church” when Sarah and Elizabeth were baptised in 1825 and 1828; and as Price’s Corner or Court when Emma and finally William himself were baptised in 1828 and 1831. At the time of the 1841 census William (9) was living in St Giles’s parish with his parents and four older sisters. By the time of the 1851 census William (19) was an apprentice carpenter living in Adelaide Street with his parents Thomas (50) and Ann (53), and all his sisters had left home.

Frances Sarah Ludlow was born in Hockmore Street on the Cowley/Iffley border in 1829 and baptised at St James’s Church, Cowley on 15 February. Her parents were the agricultural labourer James Ludlow and Mary Ann Bleay, who were married at Iffley Church on 10 April 1823, shortly before the birth of their first child Marianne, who was baptised at Cowley on 13 July that year; Frances’s brother Charles Henry was baptised there in 1825. At the time of the 1841 census Frances, listed as Fanny was 11 years old and living at Hockmore Street, Iffley with her parents and her siblings Charles (15), Ann (10), and Mary (7).

Convent Thoughts

At the time of the 1851 censuses Frances (22) was the housemaid of Thomas Combe, Printer to the University, who lived at North House at Oxford University Press in Walton Street.

Frances was spotted by the Pre-Raphaelite painter Charles Allston Collins when he was staying at Thomas Combe’s house, and he used her as his model for the head of the nun in his “Convent Thoughts” (right), painted in 1850/1 in Combe’s garden at the Press. In a letter on 15 January 1851 Millais wrote: “I saw Carlo last night, who has been very lucky in persuading a very beautiful young lady to sit for the head of the nun. She was at his house when I called, and I also endeavoured to obtain a seating, but was unfortunate as she leaves London next Saturday.”

The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1851. Combe himself bought the painting, and Frances must have seen it every day when she did the housework. He bequeathed it to the Ashmolean Museum.

Film showing Thomas Combe’s collection of paintings
at the Ashmolean Museum, including “Convent Thoughts”

On 27 November 1856 at St Paul’s Church, William Brucker, described as a carpenter of Adelaide Street, married Frances Sarah Ludlow, whose address was given as Oxford University Press, so she was still working as Thomas Combe’s housemaid. They had the following children:

  • Fanny Brucker (born at Adelaide Street in 1858/9 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on 16 January 1859)
  • William Thomas Brucker (born at Adelaide Street in 1859/60 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on Easter Day, 8 April, 1861)
  • Frank Brucker (born at Adelaide Street in 1862, reg. second quarter, but not baptised at St Paul's Church until 25 February 1866)
  • Arthur Brucker (born at Adelaide Street in about April 1864 and baptised at St Paul's Church on 13 July);
    died five days later, aged three months
  • Harry Edward Brucker (born at Adelaide Street in 1868 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on Christmas Day);
    died in 1871, aged 2½
  • Helen Brucker (born at Adelaide Street in 1870 but not baptised at St Paul’s Church until 3 September 1871).

At the time of the 1861 census William (29), a joiner, was living at 3 Adelaide Street with his wife Fanny (30) and their first two children Fanny (2) and William Thomas (1). William Brucker’s older sister Elizabeth (30), a servant, was living with them: she died at Little Clarendon Street at the age of 35 in 1862 and was buried on 7 December elsewhere in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery (grave unidentifiable, but it was given the reference B9 by St Paul’s Church).

Their son Frank was born in 1862, and their son Arthur in about April 1864. Arthur only lived three months:

† Arthur Brucker died at 3 Adelaide Street at the age of three months on 18 July 1864 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 21 July (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul’s Church as Plot T.18).

Their son Harry was born in 1868, and their daughter Helen in 1870. Harry died in early in 1871:

† Harry Edward Brucker died at 3 Adelaide Street at the age of 2 years 6 months on 16 January 1871 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 19 January (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul’s Church as Plot T.10).

At the time of the 1871 census William (39) was a carpenter employing two men and two boys. He was still living at 3 Adelaide Street with his wife Frances (40) and their surviving children Fanny (12), William (11), Frank (8), and Helen (four months).

Soon after this William Brucker moved from carpentry to building, and in 1877 he built 69 and 70 Kingston Road, and in 1878 Nos. 71 and 72 next door.

Mrs Brucker died in 1879:

† Mrs Frances Sarah Brucker née Ludlow died at 43 Observatory Street at the age of 49 on 6 July 1879 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 10 July (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul’s Church as Plot A.10)

The death announcement in Jackson’s Oxford Journal read simply: “July 6, at 43, Observatory-street, Oxford, Frances Sarah, wife of Mr. William Brucker, aged 49.”

In that same year William Brucker built Ss Philip & James’s Boys’ School in Leckford Road, as reported in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 11 October:

A new boys’ school has been built in Leckford-road for the district of St. Philip and St. James by Mr. Brucker, from designs prepared by Mr. Drinkwater. It is 36 feet by 20 feet, and there are also a class-room 18 feet by 15 feet, lavatories, &c. It is constructed of red brick, and the roof is covered with Broseley tiles.

Also in 1879 Brucker built 10, 11, and 12 Warnborough Road, followed by No. 8 in 1880.

At the time of the 1881 census William Brucker was a builder employing 30 men. He was living at 43 Observatory Street with his four surviving children: Fanny (22), who had doubtless kept house since her mother’s death; William (21), who was a builder’s clerk; Frank (19), who was a builder’s foreman; and Helen (10), who was at school. In that year he built 24 and 25 Norham Road, designed by Wilkinson.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal reported on 14 October 1882 on the houses he built that year on the Woodstock Road (Nos. 74, 76, and 78):

Several first-class residences have been built on the Woodstock Road by Mr. Brucker for Mr. Walter Gray during the past year. Each house is varied in its accommodation and design to meet, as far as possible, the requirements of different householders. The designs were furnished by Messrs. Wilkinson and Moore, architects. The houses are built of red brick, with stone dressings and tile roofs, producing an harmonious effect, the variety in design guarding against any feeling of monotony.

Brucker built 80 Woodstock Road in 1884, 1 St Margaret’s Road in 1884, 72 Banbury Road in 1885, and 84 Woodstock Road in 1886, all also designed by Wilkinson & Moore.

By 1886 William Brucker and his children moved to 8 St Bernard’s Road (then called St John’s Road). His second son was married that year:

  • On 26 April 1886 at Ss Philip & James’s Church, Frank Brucker (24) married Mary Ann Whitlock (28), the daughter of the deceased gardener Frederick Whitlock.

William Brucker died in 1888:

† William Brucker died at 8 St Bernard’s Road at the age of 57 on 2 June 1888 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 5 June (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul’s Church as Plot A.12)

His personal estate came to £704 2s. 3d., and his son William Thomas Brucker, who still lived with his father and continued to run his building firm with his brother Frank, was his executor.

Brucker Brothers 1899

Brucker Brothers

William Brucker’s sons William Thomas Brucker and Frank Brucker continued to run their father’s firm under the name Brucker Brothers in the yard beside 8 St Bernard’s Road.


Right: Advertisement from Kelly’s Directory of 1899 for Brucker Brother, Builders, decorators, undertakers, and monumental masons.


Brucker Builders built 2 Frenchay Road in 1900,
and 233 and 235 Warnborough Road in 1907.

By 1915 they were trading from both 8 and 78 St Bernard’s Road.

Frank Brucker’s son Frank Brucker junior continued to work as a builder & decorator in the business.

The last listing for the Brucker Brothers building firm at 8a St Bernard’s Road (which was still called St John’s Road until 1961) was in 1956.

Surviving children of William and Frances Sarah Brucker
  • Fanny Brucker (born 1858/9) never married. At the time of the 1891 census she was aged 32 and living in her old home at 8 St Bernard’s Road with her brother William. In 1911 she was living in Islip with her married sister Helen. She died in Oxford near the beginning of 1944.
  • William Thomas Brucker (born 1859/60) remained next to the family business at 8 St Bernard’s Road for the rest of his life. The 1891 census shows William (31) living there with his two sisters. On 7 July 1894 at Ss Philip & James’s Church at the age of 34 he married Eliza Barrington Carter (32), the daughter of the deceased solicitor’s clerk Thomas Carter, and they had two daughters: Dorothy May Brucker (1896) and Marion Lee Brucker (1899). They were can be see at 8 St Bernard’s Road in 1901 with their daughters Dorothy (4) and Marion (2), plus a servant. The situation was much the same in 1911, when Eliza’s mother and blind sister Maria were also living with them. William Thomas Brucker died at 8 St Bernard’s Road at the age of 54 on 26 March 1914, and his effects came to £1,292 5s. 10d., and his wife Eliza was his executrix. Eliza died at 55 Chalfont Road at the age of 64 on 6 March 1927, and her effects came to £1,374 10s. 2d.
  • Frank Brucker (born 1862) and his wife Mary Ann had five children: Frederick Brucker (1887), Albert Henry Brucker (1888), Winifred Frances Brucker (1890), Frank Brucker (1892), and Gladys Hilda Brucker (1894). In 1891 Frank and his wife were living at 4 Observatory Street with their first three children. By 1899 they had moved to 44 Plantation Road, and can be seen there in the 1901 census with their five children. In 1911 four of their children were still at home: Albert (22) and Winifred (20) were elementary school teachers, Frank (18) was assisting his father in his building business, and Gladys (17) was a student. Frank’s wife died in 1940, and he himself died at 44 Plantation Road at the age of 81 on 28 March 1944. His effects came to £1,282 3s. 3d., and his executors were his sons Frederick (now an architect) and Frank junior (builder & decorator).
  • Helen Brucker, Mrs Belcher (born 1870) was aged 20 in 1891 and living in her old home at 8 St Bernard’s Road with her brother William. In the second quarter of 1892 at St Pancras in London, Helen married Arthur Charles Belcher, but they had no children. In 1911 Helen (40) and her husband Arthur (4) were living at High Street, Islip. Mrs Helen Belcher died in Islip at the age of 56 in 1927 and was buried there on 29 September.



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