Grandfather Ephraim's Brummie Aunt

During his early years, my Grandfather Ephraim lived with his 2 brothers and his Mom & Dad in Sedgely, near Dudley. Some resources have Dudley in Staffordshire and others in Worcestershire, today it is firmly in the West Midlands. And ever since the birth of the Industrial Revolution, it always was in the Black Country.

In 1899 the cosy family changed forever with the death of Ephraim's Mom, Jane. Following her death, Ephraim's Dad Josiah (senior) found he was unable to carry on his then trade of shopkeeper and look after 3 boys so he sought a solution often used by families in such circumstances, at that time. He sent the 2 younger sons, George & Josiah, to Newport in South Wales to live with Aunt's and arranged for Ephraim to stay in the Midlands.

My branch of the Hyde family folklore has always had it that Ephraim went to live with “Aunts” who ran a tobacconists shop on the Lichfield Road in Aston.

Finally from tracking down Ephraim in the 1911 Census, I can put some detail to this story and whilst there are still some holes in his life post his Mothers death, what I have learned does fill some considerable gaps.

1911 Census

In that 1911 Census Ephraim is shown to be a boarder with a family in Albert Road, Aston Manor.

The basic details as shown on the Census form are as follows:

Property: 340 Albert Road, Aston Manor – Aston was at that time not yet a suburb of Birmingham.

  1. Head of Family – Mrs Jane Forbes, 63, Widow & House Keeper, born in Wolverhampton.
  2. Daughter – Miss Jeannie Forbes, 23, Single, Dairy Shop Assistant, born in Walsall
  3. Son – Mr Peter Forbes, 31, Single, Tool Maker, born Walsall
  4. Son – Mr William Forbes, 29, Single, Tool Maker, born Wolverhampton
  5. Daughter – Miss Kate Forbes, 27, Single, Corn & Seed Shop Assistant, born Walsall
  6. Boarder – Mr Ephraim Hyde, 24, Single, Grocer Shop Assistant, born Wolverhampton


Albert Road, Aston

Intrigued by the Forbes family I did a bit more research and discovered that where 340 Albert Road used to stand is now a patch of grassland by the side of the Aston Expressway, however further research has indicated (although not yet proven) that 340 was bombed in WW2.

map albert rd aston

Albert Road ran from Park Road North (by the side of HP Sauce & Ansells Brewery to Mansfield Road (which at one end joins High St Aston and at the other meets Witton Road at its junction with Ettington Road).

albertrd 2

Albert Road was then predominately a residential road, with some shops on the corners of cross road and a pub, the Victoria Inn at 319 Albert Road (that is long gone too).

Albert Road crossed Witton Road before meeting Mansfield Street. On the corner of Albert Road & Witton was sited the old Aston Council offices (they would have been in use for the council of Aston Manor in 1911) which were later converted into Aston Library as part of the deal when Aston joined Birmingham.

albertrd sixwaysend

As an aside, because I am an Aston Villa FC fan I used to go to Villa park and sometimes park in the lower part of Albert Road, and I do think I could have been parking more or less where 340 Albert Road once stood.

I found the two black & white images of Albert Road (along with the name & address of the pub) on a great website: Aston-Brook through Aston-Manor.

The Forbes Family

Further research took me to a site created by the family HICKS who are in Canada and who are related somehow (not checked out yet) to the Forbes family. From that site I found almost all I was likely to find out about the Forbes family and it is shown below.

Forbes, John, Male, 1849 - 1908

b. 1849 Tomintoul, Scotland

d. Dec 1908 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

Father: Forbes, John

b. 1815, Tomintoul, Banffshire, Scotland

d. 25 Nov 1885, Tomintoul, Scotland

Mother: McDonald, Catherine

b. 4 Nov 1823, Tomintoul, Scotland

d. 2 Jul 1882, Tomintoul, Scotland

Married: 26 Apr 1846, Tomintoul, Scotland

On 1861 Census, John (Forbes) is living with his uncle John (?) 62, a merchant (groceries)

John Forbes Family: Beard, Jane, b. 14 Jan 1847, Wolverhampton, Stafford, England

Married: 28 Sep 1871, St. Mary's Chapel, Walsall, Stafford, England

[From Marriage Certificate]

John Forbes, 23, married Jane Beard, 24, Sept. 28 1871, St. Mary's Chapel, Walsall, Staffordshire.

Father: John Forbes, Farmer and James Beard, Carpenter and Joiner.

Witnesses: James Beard & David McDonald (John's uncle?)


  1. Forbes, Peter Francis, b. Mar 1879, Walsall, Stafford, England - d. 8 May 1965, Erdington, England
  2. Forbes, James E., b. Dec 1873, Walsall, Stafford, England
  3. Forbes, Jane E., b. Sep 1875, Walsall, Stafford, England
  4. Forbes, John M. D., b. 1877, Walsall, Stafford, England
  5. Forbes, William, b. 1881, Wolverhampton, Stafford, England
  6. Forbes, Catherine Margaret, b. Mar 1883, Walsall, Stafford, England
  7. Forbes, Vincent, b. 6 Nov 1885, Wolverhampton, Stafford, England, d. 1973, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

Household: 1881 Census:

  1. John FORBES, Head, Male, 32, Scotland, Commercial Traveller Cloth Trade
  2. Jane FORBES, Wife, Female, 33, Wolverhampton, Stafford, England
  3. James E. FORBES, Son, Male, 7, Walsall, Stafford, England, Scholar
  4. Jane FORBES , Daughter, Female, 5, Walsall, Stafford, England, Scholar
  5. John M. D. FORBES, Son, Male, 4, Walsall, Stafford, England, Scholar
  6. Peter F. FORBES, Son, Male, 2, Walsall, Stafford, England

Dwelling: 19 Lichfield Terrace, Newhampton Road, Wolverhampton, Stafford, England

Newhampton Road

(Lichfield Terrace no longer exists & I have no knowledge of where along Newhampton Road it was sited)

Household: 1891 Census:

  1. Forbes, John, abt 1849, Tomintoul, Banffshire, Scotland, Head, West Bromwich Staffordshire
  2. Forbes, Jane, abt 1847, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, Wife, West Bromwich Staffordshire
  3. Forbes, James, abt 1874, Walsall, Staffordshire, Son, West Bromwich Staffordshire
  4. Forbes, Jane, abt, 1876, Walsall, Staffordshire, Daughter, West Bromwich Staffordshire
  5. Forbes, John M, abt 1877, Walsall, Staffordshire, Son, West Bromwich Staffordshire
  6. Forbes, Peter, abt 1879, Walsall, Staffordshire, Son, West Bromwich Staffordshire
  7. Forbes, Kate, abt 1883, Walsall, Staffordshire, Daughter, West Bromwich Staffordshire
  8. Forbes, Vincent, abt 1886, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, Son, West Bromwich Staffordshire

Dwelling: 8 Dudley St. West Bromwich

Dudley St West Brom

site of 8 Dudley St West Brom

(No. 8 Dudley St no longer exists, its now a green space)

Household: 1901 Census:

John Forbes Gender: Male, Age: 52, Estimated Birth Year: abt 1849, Relation: Head, Where born: Scotland

Spouse's Name: Jane

Civil Parish: Aston Manor

Ecclesiastical parish: St Peter and St Paul

County/Island: Warwickshire Country: England

Registration district: Aston

Sub registration district: Aston Manor

Household Members:

  • John Forbes, 52
  • Jane Forbes, 54
  • James E Forbes, 27
  • Jane Forbes, 25
  • Peter Forbes, 22
  • William Forbes, 20
  • Kate Forbes, 18
  • Vincent Forbes, 15

Property: 340 Albert Road, Aston Manor


Ephraim's location has been pinned down for 1911 and because he was married in Aston in 1915 it is a fair assumption to make that he was still living with Mrs Forbes right up to his marriage.

I also know that he worked for Barrow Stores, Bull St, Birmingham (more of that in another article) from leaving school at 14 until 1922 when he moved to Harborne, Birmingham and leased the premises that became E.W. Hyde & Son Tobacconist.

What is not known is the relationship between the Forbes family and my Great Grandfather, Josiah Hyde Senior. Perhaps its as simple as Mr Forbes was a friend of Josiah. Or maybe the link is more subtle.

In Birmingham (up to perhaps the mid 1960's) the term a “Brummie Aunt” was a Widow or Spinster who took on the role of surrogate Mother to a child who needed that support, often following the death of the real Mother. In earlier times (pre 20th Century) the reason “Brummie Aunt's” were used often related to the Mother being in the Workhouse or Poor House (as they were often called around here).

I think Mrs Forbes became a “Brummie Aunt” to Ephraim and that is part of the folk-lore story that existed within my branch of the Hyde family.

Still more research to carry out but one of the great mysteries is I think now laid to rest.