Siberetta, the wife of Charles Brinkley, had been named after her grandmother. Formerly a Welch, she was born in Suffolk in 1852, and registered as a Celeretta Welch, in the June quarter of that year, in the district of Risbridge. Siberetta was the daughter of James Welch, tinker, and his wife Bidance Smith (probably, given the frequent pronunciation by Gypsies of a ‘V’ as a ‘B,’ actually Vidence, short for Providence).

James’ mother, Siberetty Fletcher, had married Richard Welch, a travelling tinker, who claimed birth in Haddenham, Cambridgeshire in 1798, in Denton, Northamptonshire on 26th June 1820. They were to baptise 11 children: George in Olney, Buckinghamshire on 7th April 1822; Charles, in the same year, in Bedford St Mary, Bedfordshire, on 13th November 1822; Alice in Loddington, Northamptonshire on 2nd January 1825; Samuel at Nassington, in the same county, on 14th January 1827; James at Bozeat, Northamptonshire on 4th January 1829; Ann in Colley Weston, also in Northamptonshire, on 19th December 1830; Maria, at Ryhall, Rutland, on 19th November 1832; William at Buckminster, Leicestershire on 1st February 1835; Susan, on 20th February 1839, at Cranfield, Bedfordshire; Richard, also at Cranfield, Bedfordshire, on 29th March 1840; Charlotte at Furneux Pelham, in Hertfordshire on 2nd June 1844.

Two of James’ siblings, Samuel and Ann, also used their mother’s name for their daughters. Samuel and his wife, Sophia, baptised a Sibaretta Welch at Roade, Northamptonshire on 24th December 1848, sadly burying her a few weeks later at Potten, Bedfordshire, on 20th January 1849, at just 10 weeks of age. Anne, daughter of Richard Welch, tinman, married an Alfred Pee at St. Marylebone, Middlesex on 29th August 1853, their daughter, Siberetta, being baptised at Standon, Hertfordshire on 18th September 1868.

By the 1881 census little Sibretta Pea (sic) can be found, with her parents, Alfred and Ann, and siblings Florence, baptised at Standon, Hertfordshire on 10th August 1873 and young Alfred, baptised in the same location on 14th October 1877; they are living in the village of Standon, in Hertfordshire, where Siberetta’s father is working as a postman, and her occupation, aged 12, is that of a general domestic servant. Surely it is this Siberetta who can be traced in the next two census returns, working as a servant in Kensington, before marrying, as Sibrette Pere, a Henry William Sicklen in the June quarter of 1905, in the registration district of Croydon? The death of Sibretta (sic) Sicklen, in the March quarter of 1940, in the district of Stepney, aged 74, seems to confirm this – given that Siberetta Pee was baptised in 1868, this would make her about the right age. Siberetta Brinkley was to be far less fortunate.

In the 1881 census Charles, a wire worker and hawker, is with his wife, Siberetta, and their growing family: Aquilla, born around 1871; Alice, born about 1872; Sally, born about 1875; Jonathan, born around 1876; Fanny, just one year old. But this Siberetta was not to appear on subsequent census returns, dying early of blood-poisoning. Charles and his wife seem to

have drifted into North London, and, at the Royal Free Hospital, on 9th May 1887, the death of Zeberetta (sic) Brinkley, the wife of a hawker called Brinkley, occurred. It was registered ten days’ later; cause of death, septicaemia. Siberetta was just 35 years old, and left a young family, Fanny, the youngest, being no more than seven.

By 1888 Charles is back in Hertfordshire. Charles Brinkley, “who had been convicted . . . a great many times,” (including a charge of “uttering counterfeit coins” in October 1878, for which he received three months’ hard labour), was accused of obstructing the highway at North Mimms, on 26th and 27th March 1888. The Hertfordshire Mercury of 5th May records:

On the days in question Police-constable Milton saw an engine belonging to a steam roundabout, the horses to draw it, and the property in connection with the contrivances, standing on a grass plot by the side of the roadway.

The defendant, who did not attend, was fined £1 and 14/- costs. However, in the same newspaper Charles Brinkley’s appearance at the Watford Petty Sessions was reported:

Charles Brinkley, a gipsy, described as of Redbourn, was summoned for cruelty to a horse, on 29th April, by causing it to be worked whilst in an unfit state. – Police- constable Draper stopped the horse in Watford, where it was drawing a caravan laden with roundabouts. There was a large sore on the horse’s thigh, and the chain trace cut into it. He afterwards saw the defendant, who said there was nothing the matter with the horse, and he should not appear. Mr Flint, veterinary surgeon, spoke as to the wound, and said that the horse had calloused joints and was altogether too old to be worked.

Since there were previous convictions against the defendant, the Bench fined him £2 and £1.8/- costs, or, in default, one month’s imprisonment.

In spite of sightings of Charles in Hertfordshire, London seems to have continued to have exerted its pull on the Brinkley family; certainly two of Charles’ and Siberetta’s daughters were to live and marry there. Alice/Annis married as Annie Brinkley, on 2nd November 1891, in the registration district of Tottenham, North London. She is recorded as the daughter of Charles, a traveller, and her husband, James Mills, was a hawker, son of James Mills, deceased. Witnesses at this wedding were Henry Mills, James’ younger brother, and Lydia Franklin (formerly Mills), James’ mother. And both James and Alice/Annis were to witness Fanny Brinkley’s union, in the same location, on 4th February 1901. Fanny, daughter of Charles Brinkley, a general dealer, living in a travelling van, married hawker Fred Gunn, son of Fred Gunn, also a hawker. Alice/Annis is recorded as Alice on this certificate.

James and Alice/Annis can be found on the 1901 census with sons Abraham, born about 1891, John, born around 1894, Sibble (registered as Sibby in the registration district of Edmonton, in the March quarter of 1897), and clearly named after Alice’s mother, Siberetta, and Charles, just 9 months old at the time of the census. James is here described as a

hawker of flowers. By 1911 the couple are living at 53 Lorenco Road, East Tottenham, and have added James, born about 1902 and Lydi, named for her other grandmother, of course, born about 1907. Next door to them, at number 51, Lorenco Road, are Fred Gunn, hawker, and his wife, Fanny, so clearly these two sisters remained very close, perhaps owing to their mother’s early death. Fanny’s children are Ann, born about 1905, Ben born around 1909 and Helen, born in the year of the census.

Eleven years after Siberetta’s death Charles was to remarry, on 19th September 1898, in the parish of Winchmore Hill, to a Mary Ann O’Donnell, with whom he appears to have already had a son, Charles. He is recorded as a widower, a general dealer, and the son of Jonathan Brinkley, a wire-worker. Mary Ann has also been widowed, formerly having been married to a James O’Donnell; she is the daughter of Thomas Stimpson, a market poulterer.

By 1911 Charles is back on home territory, in a caravan in a field near Woodlands Farm, Arkley Lane, Barnet, Hertfordshire, and he is still claiming birth, as he had in 1881, in Wormley, Hertfordshire. With him is his wife, Mary Ann, their son of 16 years, Charles, and a grand-daughter, Alice Johnson, aged 13, both of whom claim birth in Tottenham, North London. Charles probably remained in the area, for the death of a Charles Brinkley in the registration district of Barnet, in the March quarter of 1928, aged 77, is almost certain to be his; he had long outlived his first wife, Siberetta, but her name, at least, was to live on in that of their granddaughter, Sibby.