Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Thomas, The Victoria & The Kilpack Connection

A summer holiday to Guernsey let us look closer at the life of Thomas Brooks, son of John Brooks and brother to Vincent.

Thomas was born in 1818 in Oxford Street, London. By the 1841 census he is a publisher living near Regents Park. In 1844 he marries Letitia Kilpack of 41/42 King Street, Covent Garden. Seven years later his brother Vincent Brooks would move his lithography business next door to number 40.

Letitia was daughter of Thomas, a tobacconist, and half-sister to Sarah Louise Kilpack -more of her later.

The census of 1851 records Thomas and Letitia living at 6 Gloucester Gardens, St.Pancras. This time Thomas, like his father, is a stationer. By 1861 they are in Jersey. By 1871 they are running the Victoria Hotel, St.Peter Port, Guernsey. Thomas, as well as Hotelier, is listed as a merchant.

From looking through the local almanacks at the Priaulx Library we found Thomas and Letitia at the hotel from 1867 to 1880. 1867 was the year of Thomas's father's death, which may have funded the purchase of the hotel. Thomas died in February 1881. Two months later, in the 1881 census, Letitia is back boarding in St.Helier, Jersey and ends up back in Hackney, London until her death in 1907.

Many biographies quote Letitia's artistic sister Sarah Louise Kilpack as visiting her friend Letitia Brooks in the channel islands. As we have now seen, this was actually her half-sister.
Thomas's father, John Brooks, had started visiting Jersey in the 1830's and from the early forties settled as a wholesale stationer and paper merchant. His eldest son Vincent stayed in London, Thomas followed sometime after, whilst youngest daughter Harriet although London born is recorded in a diary as christened in St. Aubins Church May 13th, 1841.

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