George Downing was the youngest son of John Downing of Blakeley Hall Farm in Harborne, Staffordshire. He was born on 14 Sep 1789 and baptized on 29 Sep 1789 at Oldbury by Halesowen Presbyterian Church. His mother's name was Sarah, probably with the maiden name Sarah Smith.

We know a little bit about the Downing family because of John Downing's will of 1810 that identifies all his surviving siblings and indicates that between him and his four brothers they owned a fair amount of farming land around the Harborne and Oldbury area. George's oldest brother was called John Downing. We have been in touch with some of his descendants that have provided and corroborated some of this information.

George married Elizabeth Shaw on 15 Dec 1818 and they had six children. In the 1841 census he is described as a farmer and maltster. The full time trade of maltster was to be taken up by his eldest surviving son William and enabled his descendants to accumulate substantial wealth in and around Smethwick.

His sister Nancy Thompson was also a significant figure in the life of the young family - referred to as Aunt Thompson in the one letter we have dated 1845.

It would also appear from the censuses that by the 1850's the Downing family owned a number of property and houses - presumably on former farm land now at the edge of burgeoning West Midland conurbations.

He died in 1848 at the age of 58. His will was proved 7 October 1848.

Monumental Inscription at Holy Trinity Church, Smethwick (Courtesy Paul Thomas and Ros Ditchfield, Holly Lodge School)


Family of George DOWNING and Elizabeth SHAW

See also

George DOWNING's parents: John DOWNING (1745-1810) and Sarah SMITH (1750?-1830)

George DOWNING's siblings: Nancy DOWNING (1773-1858), John DOWNING (1775-1835), William DOWNING (1778- ), Thomas DOWNING (1781-aft1851), Samuel DOWNING (1784- ) and Sarah DOWNING (1787- )

Elizabeth SHAW's parents: Joseph SHAW ( - ) and Elizabeth GEAST ( - )

Husband: George DOWNING (1789-1848)
Wife: Elizabeth SHAW (1795?-1858)
Children: John DOWNING (1820-1840)
William DOWNING (1821-1901)
George DOWNING (1823- )
Thomas DOWNING (1825- )
Sarah DOWNING (1828-1892)
Eliza DOWNING (1831- )
Marriage 15 Dec 1818 St Thomas, Dudley

Husband: George DOWNING

Name: George DOWNING
Sex: Male
Father: John DOWNING (1745-1810)
Mother: Sarah SMITH (1750?-1830)
Birth 14 Sep 1789 Harborne, Staffordshire
Baptism 29 Dec 1789 (age 0) Oldbury by Halesowen, Presbyterian
Occupation "1841-1848" Farmer and Maltster
Death 20 Jun 1848 (age 58) Harborne, Staffordshire
Will 7 Oct 1848 (age 59) Smethwick (Proved)

Wife: Elizabeth SHAW

Name: Elizabeth SHAW
Sex: Female
Father: Joseph SHAW ( - )
Mother: Elizabeth GEAST ( - )
Birth 1795 (app) Dudley, Worcestershire
Baptism 6 Sep 1795 (age 0) St Thomas, Dudley
Death 1858 (age 62-63) Kings Norton, Staffordshire
Occupation 1851 (age 55-56) Proprietor of Houses

Child 1: John DOWNING

Name: John DOWNING
Sex: Male
Birth 1820
Baptism 4 Jun 1820 (age 0) All Saints, West Bromwich
Death 20 Jun 1840 (age 19-20)

Child 2: William DOWNING

Name: William DOWNING 1
Sex: Male
Spouse 1: Emma CLIFTON (1824-1851)
Spouse 2: Susan LEE (1827-1920)
Birth 1821 Smethwick, Staffordshire
Baptism 8 Jul 1821 (age 0) All Saints, West Bromwich
Occupation 1871 (age 49-50) Maltster and Landowner (Employing 22 Men)
Residence (1) 1881 (age 59-60) 150 Holly Lane, Smethwick
Residence (2) 1891 (age 69-70) Hay, Herefordshire
Death 10 Jan 1901 (age 79-80) Holly Lodge, Smethwick
Burial 16 Jan 1901 (age 79-80) Holy Trinity, Smethwick

Child 3: George DOWNING

Name: George DOWNING
Sex: Male
Spouse: Ann Maria COLLINS (1832- )
Birth 1823 Smethwick, Staffordshire
Baptism 27 Jul 1823 (age 0) All Saints, West Bromwich

Child 4: Thomas DOWNING

Name: Thomas DOWNING
Sex: Male
Spouse: Mary HODGETTS (1829- )
Birth 1825 Smethwick, Staffordshire
Baptism 20 Mar 1825 (age 0) All Saints, West Bromwich
Occupation 1861 (age 35-36) Farmer of 80 Acres
Residence 1861 (age 35-36) Galton Cottages off Holly Lane

Child 5: Sarah DOWNING

Name: Sarah DOWNING
Sex: Female
Spouse: William LAISTER (1832-1892)
Birth 1828 Smethwick, Staffordshire
Baptism 19 Oct 1828 (age 0) All Saints, West Bromwich
Death 1892 (age 63-64)

Child 6: Eliza DOWNING

Name: Eliza DOWNING
Sex: Female
Birth 1831 Smethwick, Staffordshire
Baptism 10 Apr 1831 (age 0) All Saints, West Bromwich


1 "Website".
Text From Source: In 1816 Crockett's property was sold under a Chancery decree. The northern part of the farm, 30 a. surrounding the farmhouse at the corner of Oldbury Road and Holly Lane, was bought by Thomas Downing and his brother George; the remainder, 34 a. near the Halesowen boundary, was bought by William Spurrier, a Birmingham lawyer. (fn. 17) In 1848 Thomas Downing sold his share to his brother George, who died later the same year. George's widow and their son William continued to live at the farmhouse. The widow died in 1858, about the time that William was building Holly Lodge to the south-west of the farmhouse. In 1859 William sold the farmhouse, then known as Holly House, and moved into Holly Lodge. He continued to live there until his death in 1901. The house then seems to have been occupied by his widow and his son W. E. Downing and is said to have stood empty for a few years after the son's move to Hagley (Worcs.).

From: 'Smethwick: Other estates', A History of the County of Staffordshire: Volume 17: Offlow hundred (part) (1976), pp. 99-107. URL: