James Walter Brown was London-born, and worked as an insurance salesman. He married in 1903 and had five children, arriving in Chelmsford around 1905. He joined the army in October 1916 and died from heatstroke in India in May 1918. His home was in Park Avenue.
BROWN, JAMES WALTER,
Private, 2/6th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
James enlisted at Grove Park in October 1916 and went on to serve as Private 22317 in the 2/6th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment.
The regiment was sent to India an d it was there James died, from heatstroke on 31st May 1918. He was aged 39.
He was born in Brompton, Middlesex in 1878, the son of Norfolk-born publican Robert Brown (1839-1898) and Somerset native Louisa Strickland (born 1843). The couple had married at St. Marylebone, London on 23rd January 1875.
James was baptised on 28th July 1878 at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton. At the time his father was a publican, living at 11 Middle Street in Brompton. His siblings included Robert Brown (born c1874 in Peckham, Surrey), Emma L. Brown (boen c1875 in South Kensington, London), and Beatrice Brown (born c1880 in Kensington, London).
In 1881 the census found two year-old James living with his parents and two siblings at the Prince of Wales Arms, at 11 Middle Street. A decade later 13 year-old James was recorded by the next census living with his parents and two sisters at Bowtledge Farm in Ascot, Berkshire.
James married Bessie Bleach in the Parish of Immanuel, Streatham
Common on 30th April 1903. At the time he was aged 25, employed as an insurance agent and lived at 75 Burlington Road in Thornton Heath, Surrey. His bride was two years older, employed as a lady’s maid and lived at 17 Edgingtion Road in Streatham, the district where she had been born in 1875.
The couple had five children by 1911 including Dorothy Brown (born in 1903 in Croydon, Surrey), Constance Enid Brown (born in 1906 in Chelmsford, died in 2000), Richard Stewart Brown (born in 1908 in Chelmsford, died in 1984) and Leonard Walter Brown (born in 1910 in Chelmsford). The fifth died in infancy, and a sixth was Eric G. Brown, born in Chelmsford in 1916. The places of birth of his children suggest that James and his young family arrived in Chelmsford around 1907. Certainly they were in the town on 12th November 1908 when children Constance and Richard were baptised at St. Mary’s Church (today’s Cathedral). The baptism records show him as an insurance agent living at 21 Park Avenue.
News of his death was reported in the Essex Weekly News on 14th June 1918:
“Pte. J. W. Brown, Royal Sussex Regt,, of 24, Park-av., Chelmsford, who is reported to have died from heatstroke in India, was an agent for the Prudential Assurance Company before he joined up in October, 1916. He was a member of the Conservative Club and a keen sportsman. Deceased leaves a widow and five children.”
On 21st June 1918 the Essex County Chronicle reported:
“Pt. J. W. Brown, Royal Sussex Regt., of 24 Park Avenue, Chelmsford, died from heat-stroke in India. He was an agent for the Prudential Assurance Co. before he joined up in October 1916. He leaves a widow and five children.”
James is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and on the Karachi 1914-1918 War
Memorial. He was entitled to the British War medal.
The 1918 register of electors listed James and his wife at 24 Park Avenue (today’s number 37, though the original house was destroyed during a Second World War air raid). His widow died in 1961, aged 86.
The 1911 census found 32 year-old James, his wife and four surviving children living at 21 Park Avenue in Chelmsford (later given the numbers 24, them 38 and is today’s 37). He was employed as a life insurance agent, probably for the Prudential Assurance Company.