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Robert & Arthur Bignell of Hambrook.


Robert & Arthur were two of the children of Robert Bignell and Emma Bracey, nee Witchell.

Robert Snr was born in 1821 at Shipton Moyne, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire. By 1851 he was a Police Constable lodging with Police Sergeant Henry Browning and his wife Harriet in Hambrook. In 1860/61 he is known to have been a Turnkey at Lawford's Gate Prison, Bristol.

1871 finds him in Hambrook again with a wife, Emma Bracey, nee Witchell (born c1832), and five children...

Fanny, born Bristol c1860.

Ellen, born Bristol c1861, enrolled Frenchay National School 1872, left for service in 1875 and noted as 'Clean & respectable'.

Walter William, born Bristol 1865, enrolled Frenchay 1872, left for Whiteshill School 1877 and noted as 'Up to mischief'.

Robert, born Hambrook 1886, enrolled Frenchay 1873, left for Whiteshill School 1877, re-admitted Frenchay 1880, left for work 1881, noted as 'Un-intelligent'.

Frank, born Hambrook 1869, enrolled Frenchay 1874, left for Whiteshill 1877, re-admitted Frenchay 1880, left for work 1882, noted as 'Not very bright'.

And by 1881, Robert Snr is a Postman, or Letter Carrier, and the family are living in a Public House in Hambrook. (Perhaps Mrs Bignell is the Licensee?) By now there are two more children...

Arthur, born Hambrook 1872, enrolled Frenchay 1882, left for work 1887, 'Dull - backward'.

Frederick, born Hambrook 1877, enrolled Frenchay 1885.

Robert Jnr emigrated to America in 1886 and by 1891, only Arthur, apprenticed to a Blacksmith, and Fred, are still at home in the pub at Hambrook. Robert Snr is now described as a publican, and it is known that he was the Licensee of 'The Crown'.

Soon, Arthur joined his brother in America and despite their headmaster's scathing condemnations, they would appear in the photograph above to have done very well for themselves!

In the 1910 Census for Allentown, USA, Arthur is shown to be married to Cora and they have a family.

However, Arthur married a second time in Marchland, PA, in 1932 at the age of 61.

[Information corrected in January 2008 by Penny Bignell, based on information from Laura Roditch, to the effect that it had been thought that this marriage took place in Indianapolis.

Thank you, ladies.


His new wife was Mabel Elizabeth Coleman, aged 18. They are seen together in this picture.

Arthur died in 1944 and it is from Laura Roditch, his daughter by this marriage, that this photograph was obtained.

Robert Jnr did not marry and eventually worked on the railways in Washington as a Pointsman.

Pictures and names kindly supplied by

Penny Bignell, who is researching her late husband's family.