Frederick Joseph Brand 1857-
Frederick Joseph Brand was born in Barking on 14th January 1857, the younger son of Richard Brand and Emma (née Knowles) who had married on 23rd January 1856 at St. George’s in the East. His grandfather, Richard Brand had opened a grocery business in Barking in 1808. His father, who had been born in the City of London, was a widower aged 42 and a Barking grocer of North Street; while his mother was a 37 year old spinster whose father, Edward Knowles was a ships’ chandler. Her family were a well-
F.J. Brand was educated at Mr. Woodward’s “Academy for Young Gentleman” situated in North Street, Barking. In the 1871 census he is recorded as a 14 year old scholar. He then joined his father’s grocery business and he is listed in the 1881 census as a grocer living with his widowed mother. His heart however was in music and he gave up the grocery trade when he was appointed organist and choirmaster at St. John’s Church Loughton. He held this post for 33 years. Brand trained choir boys in musical comedy and they presented under his direction the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, including H.M.S Pinafore. In 1890 he produced at Loughton an opera entitled “Dolly Dearest”. He then served there as vicar’s warden for another decade. Brand never forgot his choirboys and left a bequest of £100 to provide gifts each Christmas for Loughton choir boys. He also left £100 for St. John’s to buy an ornament or decoration for the church.
Fred Brand was in the fortunate position of being of independent private means and was accordingly largely able to follow his artistic bent. He was closely associated with his cousin Edward Davidson Knowles (1851-
Fred never married and always lived with his mother who died in 1913, aged 93. When he died in 1939 he was the owner of 7 freehold properties including five dwelling houses at 5,6,7,8 and 9 Alma Place Barking; a cottage at 13 Kings Road, Barking and his house 26 Oakfield Road. Some idea of his lifestyle may be glimpsed from his will in which he specifically mentions several items such as his mother’s portrait in oils,” a small water colour portrait of his mother when a child and also a portrait of her mother”, a mahogany bookcase, a piano, a clock by Latham, a sampler by Rebecca Brockett, two china ornaments known as “the Chess Players”, “Two China Cottages” and his diamond ring.
Brand lived in Barking in the earlier part of his life and then Ilford from 1885, apart from seven years in Loughton during his church wardenship. In 1871 he was living with his parents in North Street. He was still at North Street in 1881. By 1891 he was living with his mother at Wycliffe House, Pleasant Row. In 1891 he was at Wycliffe House, Pleasant Row, Ilford, while in 1901 and 1911 he was living at Holmesdale 26 Oakfield Road and listed as ”living on private income also organist of Loughton Parish Church”.
Brand was a bibliophile and amassed a remarkable collection of books, manuscripts and engravings relating to Essex, including items of great rarity. He would often loan a precious manuscript to those interested. Brand often advised others on the repair of old books and manuscripts. Brand spent 15 years compiling a reference index to the numerous scattered articles relating to Essex parishes. He completed this huge undertaking in 1925. He duplicated many copies on an ordinary duplicator. Brand stencilled 1,388 pages and did the binding of the four folio volumes. He presented copies to the British Museum, the Guildhall Library, the Bodleian, Manchester, Harvard and Yale, and the Essex Archaeological Society and several public libraries in Essex. He also produced “570 Essex Extracts from Public Records” with an index. This consisted of transcripts of forty-
Fred Brand was an ardent antiquary and was interested in the past as a living thing and had little time for research that just involved a patient accumulation of facts. He was a founder of Barking and District Archaeological Society. He served successively as Vice-
In later life Brand took up study of the French language at the age of sixty. He also had a workshop built and equipped in his garden where he started bookbinding. At 70 he taught himself printing and issued from his private “amateur press” a series of booklets entitled “Items of Essex Interest”. He bound and in some cases illustrated them himself. Brand was doing light bookbinding on the day before he died.
Brand was a devout churchman. His serene and winning personality, his outstanding qualities of heart and mind were due to the fact that he “found no answer to the puzzle of life but in truth and courage and beauty and belief in God”.
In character Brand was a simple, loveable man, with a keen sense of humour. He was however tenacious when he thought he was right. He had a marked personality, modest, of a retiring disposition and was at his best in the company of a small circle of intimate friends as on Essex Archaeological Society excursions. Brand was the kindest of men who delighted in helping fellow antiquaries, giving his time and energy. Little children were instinctively drawn to him and they adored his “Brer Rabbit” stories. An obituarist wrote “His generosity did not run in narrow grooves, and there are numerous small pensioners now mourning the loss of their benefactor” (Benton 1940 p. 194). Fortunately he had vigour of mind until the very end. In his will he left £200 to his housekeeper Mrs A. King. Oxley writing in 1955 recollected Brand’s keen enthusiasm, deep scholarship, wisdom and wise criticism (Oxley 1955 p. viii).
He died, aged 82, at Holmsdale, 26, Oakfield Road, Ilford on 29th December 1939. The funeral service was held at St. John’s church Loughton on 3rd January 1940 at the special request of the rector. The internment followed at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Ilford. Brand was buried in the same grave as his mother. His estate was valued at £10,956.21. In his will dated 23rd May 1938 he left £100 stock for the deserving poor of St. Margaret’s parish and £100 in trust for distribution each Christmas among the choirboys of St. John’s Loughton. The Barking charity was amalgamated as recently as 25th October 2008 [Charity Commission Files 227, 65829].
Frederick Joseph Brand 1857-
Detail of Fred Brand's Gravestone Inscription
Gravestone of Fred and Emma Brand
Buckingham Road Cemetery
Frederick Joseph Brand (1857-
A Founder of the Barking & District Historical Society