Thomas Brown WHEELER (1868–1889)
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Thomas Brown Wheeler was born in Oxford in 1868 and baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 9 August. He was the eldest son of Thomas Wheeler (born at Eagle & Child Yard, Oxford in 1843 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 1 October) and Mary Ann Brown (born in Oxford in 1842 and baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 18 December). His parents were both living in St Thomas’s High Street when they were married at St Thomas’s Church on 23 October 1864, and they had the following children:

  • Elizabeth Brown Wheeler (born in Oxford in late 1864 and baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 29 January 1865; died age 11 months and buried on 2 November 1865, probably in Osney Cemetery)
  • Thomas Brown Wheeler (born in Oxford on 12 June 1868 and baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 9 August)
  • Sydney Frank Wheeler (born at St Thomas’s Oxford in 1872/3, reg. first quarter of 1873)
  • Harold Ernest Wheeler, known as Harry (born in Oxford in 1877, reg. fourth quarter).

At the time of the 1871 census Thomas’s father, a 27-year-old printer machinist, was boarding at 7 St Dunstan’s Court, Farringdon, London with a printer compositor, while two-year-old Thomas and his mother Mary were staying at St Thomas’s High Street, Oxford with Mary’s father Thomas Brown, who was a widower of 62, .

At some point between 1877 and 1881 the family went to live in Aylesbury. At the time of the 1881 census Thomas Brown senior (37), who was then a printer’s machine minder, was living at 46 Bicester Road, Aylesbury with his wife and their three surviving children. Thomas junior (12) was already employed at Aylesbury Station as a book-stall boy (sheet seller), and Sydney (8) and Harold (3) were at school.

By 1889 the family had returned to Oxford and were living at 28 Jericho Street, and Thomas’s father was employed as a machinist at the Clarendon Press.

In June 1889 Thomas was run over by a train while crossing the track at the Montpelier Station, Clifton, Bristol, where he was selling books, and died instantly:

† Thomas Brown Wheeler died at Clifton, Bristol at the age of 21 on Saturday 15 June 1889 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 20 June (burial recorded in the parish register of St Barnabas’s Church).

Because he died in north Bristol, his death was recorded in the Barton Regis registration district.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal had the following report on the death and funeral:

AN OXFORD MAN KILLED ON THE RAILWAY.— On Saturday evening last a fatal accident happened to a young man, named Thomas Brown Wheeler, 21 years of age, eldest son of Mr. Thomas Wheeler, a machinist at the Clarendon Press, of 28, Jericho-street, in this city, who was run over by a train at the Montpelier Station, Clifton, Bristol, and was so terribly mutilated that death was instantaneous. It appears that the deceased had had charge of Messrs. Smith and Son’s book stall at the station for about five weeks, and on Saturday evening a few minutes after seven o’clock he crossed from the up-platform – the book stall side – to go to the booking office to change some money, and as he left he was busily occupied in counting what he had in his hand. The train from the north being late a special train was run from Mangotsfield to Clifton Down, and it came into the station as he was stepping from the platform on to the line to re-cross. A Great Western train was standing on the up-platform, and probably the noise of the steam as the train was about to depart prevented his hearing the special approach, and as he was occupied in counting the money he could not have seen it. The consequence was that directly he stepped on the line the engine of the special knocked him down, and his head was almost completely severed from his body, and there were other frightful injuries. It is said that Mr. Wheeler might possibly have escaped with his life if he had laid still, but that he endeavoured to save himself from death at least by catching hold of the buffer, the result being fatal. The accident was witnessed by several persons, and the body was promptly removed to the waiting room, and subsequently to the mortuary in Meadow-street, and at the inquest held on Monday morning a verdict of accidental death was returned. The deceased only attained his majority on Wednesday, the 12th inst. It is a somewhat remarkable coincidence that he had his photograph taken and had sent it to his parents at Oxford, and seemed particularly anxious that they should receive it on Saturday morning. They received the portrait by early post, and about twelve hours later the accident occurred. Mr. Wheeler was a persevering young man, and had the full confidence of his employers. The stall at Montpelier Station was the first of which he had the entire charge. He had previously been connected with the book stalls at the Aylesbury, Maidenhead, and Chippenham Stations, whence he proceeded to Bristol.

His body was brought home on Tuesday evening, and the interment took place on in [sic] St Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street, on Thursday afternoon. The greatest sympathy is felt for the bereaved parents. The father of the deceased was present at the inquest. He has received a kind letter of condolence from the representative of Messrs. Smith and Son’s establishment at Bristol (Mr. J. C. Jones), who attended the funeral.

Parents of Thomas Brown Wheeler

At the time of the 1891 census Thomas and Mary Ann Wheeler were living at 56 Cardigan Street with their surviving sons Sydney (18) and Ernest (13), who were both printers like their father.

Thomas's mother Mary Ann Wheeler died at 56 Cardigan Street in 1893, aged about 52, and was buried on 21 December. As her burial is recorded in the St Barnabas parish register, she was probably buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery, possibly in this grave with her son Thomas.

In the 1901 census Thomas's father and his brother Ernest (23) were boarding with the Winterbourne family at 36 Union Street. By 1911 Thomas Wheeler (68), who was still working as a printer, was boarding with Mrs Thomas and her family at 8 Victor Street, Jericho. He died in Oxford at the age of 76 in 1919.

Brothers of Thomas Brown Wheeler
  • Sydney Frank Wheeler (born 1872/3) married Hannah Welford in the Oxford registration district in the first quarter of 1896. At the time of the 1911 census Sydney (38) was working as a pianoforte porter and living at 2 Mount Street in St Thomas’s parish with his wife and his eight children: Albert Edward (17). who was an apprentice carpenter, and Winifred Minnie (13), Gladys Mary (11), Leonard Frank (8), Doris Florence (6), Hannah May (3), Mary Welford (2), and Christine (5 months). He is probably the Sydney F. Wheeler who died in Oxford at the age of 80 near the beginning of 1953.
  • Harry Wheeler (born in 1877) married Eliza Hill at St Thomas’s Church in Oxford on 16 May 1904: he was then a store keeper in a brewery and living at 11 Russell Street, and she was living at 19 Christ Church New Buildings. At the time of the 1911 census Harry was working as a general labourer and living at 2 New Christ Church Buildings with his wife and their children Doris Ida Wheeler (born 1905) and Ernest Percival G. Wheeler (born 1908/9). He is probably the Harry Wheeler who died in Oxford at the age of 74 in 1950.



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