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Alfred Taylor – coal dealer and silversmith

My 3x great grandmother’s sister, Sarah Mills married Alfred Taylor on 4 November 1847.

Alfred Taylor was of full age, widower, coal dealer, residence New John Street West, father William Taylor, grocer.

I had been able to follow Sarah on the census records from 1861 to 1901 (refer my previous post about Sarah), and had found a possible entry on the 1851 census:

Alfred & Sarah Taylor 1851 census
1851 census of England, Aston Manor, Aston, Warwickshire, folio 147, page 7, household of Alfred Taylor, age 36; digital images,, ( : accessed 14 Jun 2019); citing PRO HO 107/2062.

This census listed Alfred as a silversmith, rather than a coal dealer.

My next step was to check the directories for Birmingham.

Page 261 of 1855 White’s Directory of Birmingham has in the Birmingham Alphabetical List one entry:

Taylor Alfred, silversmith, 9 Howard st; h 245, Hagley rd

There was an entry for Alfred Taylor in the England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858 collection. The Probate date was 6 October 1855, and his residence was Birmingham.  This will was for Alfred Taylor of Birmingham, Silversmith.  The will mentions his wife Sarah Taylor. It also mentions his brother, William Taylor, of Birmingham, coal dealer, and a son, William Alfred Taylor.  Alfred appointed his brother William executor.

In the 1849 Post Office Directory of Birmingham, page 159, there is only one Alfred Taylor – coal merchant, Old Wharf

White’s Directory and Gazetteer of Birmingham for 1849 (page 262 – Birmingham Alphabetical List) also has just one entry – Taylor Alfred, coal merchant, Old Wharf; h. Frederick place, Villa Street

I was also only able to find Alfred Taylor, coal merchant at Old Wharf in the 1850 directories.

It was in the 1852 directories that there was a mention of both. 1852 Slater’s Directory of Birmingham, page 362 has:

Taylor, Alfred, manufacturer of gold spectacles, 9 Howard Street

Taylor, Alfred, coal merchant, Old Wharf; house Well Street

What made things even more confusing is that there are entries in the 1858 directories for Alf Taylor, silversmith, at 9 Howard Street.

Were there two Alfred Taylor’s, or were these entries for the same Alfred Taylor, and did he have two businesses?

In searching for a marriage in the Birmingham, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1937 collection for an Alfred Taylor who married in 1840 +- 10 years there was only one other entry: an Alfred Taylor married Caroline Skelding on 22 September 1836 at Handsworth, St Mary.  Unfortunately, this was just before the certificates started to show occupations, residences and father’s name and occupation, so I was unsure if it was the same Alfred.

I used the GRO indexes to find the birth entry for Alfred Taylor’s son, William Alfred Taylor, who was born about 1839, and his mother’s maiden name was Skelding. This showed me that the family on the 1851 census was for the Alfred Taylor who had been married to Caroline Skelding, and was now married to a Sarah.

The question I now asked was whether it was possible that there were two Alfred Taylors in Birmingham who were widowers, and who married a woman named Sarah between 1839 and 1851.  To test this I used FreeBMD to search for:

Surname Taylor, First name(s) Alfred, Counties Staffordshire and Warwickshire, date range Mar 1839 to Dec 1851

There were only two entries in the Birmingham registration district; one of these was in December 1851, so it was after the 1851 census.  The other was the marriage of Alfred Taylor and Sarah Mills.

It therefore seems that there was one Alfred Taylor, and the directory entries relate to the same man.

I then decided to do (redo) some research on Sarah’s father Nathaniel Mills, and found the website This included the section about Sarah’s brother, also named Nathaniel Mills  “Mills then decided to go into the sewer pipe business. In 1853, the workshop moved to 9 Howard Street”.

This was further evidence that these entries in the directories were for Sarah’s husband, Alfred Taylor.  He had been a coal merchant, and then had joined the Mills family as a silversmith.

In making a further search of the directories, this time for Nathaniel Mills, I found a directory that listed Nathaniel and William Mills at 11 ½ Howard street, and Alfred Taylor at 9 Howard Street

1855 Post Office directory of Birmingham, “UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories, 1770-1941,” database and images, ( : accessed 14 Jun 2019); entry for Nathaniel Mills, 1855 Post Office Directory of Birmingham; Original data: Midlands Historical Data collection of Trade Directories. Tony Abrahams. Midlands Trade Directories 1770–1941. Midlands Historical Data, Solihull, West Midlands.