Thomas Brook Knowles
Tom Brook also known as Tom Brooke, Tom Brook Knowles, Tom Knowles and T.B. Knowles was difficult to pin down until exhaustive research revealed it was one man. The reason why he had so many variants might be explained further down this page.
Tom was born in Gomersal, Yorkshire on the 27th November 1864. He married a Luton girl, Emily Smith on the 18th November 1877. In 1881 they were living in Cleckheaton, West Riding, Yorkshire. I have contacted a descendant but we do not know how they met. Tom is described on the 1881 census as a “Woollen Spinner (out of work) and Emily a milliner. They moved to Luton for work. His first football game in Luton was on Boxing Day 1881 for the Wanderers. They therefore must have moved to Luton between April and December 1881. They had a son, Stanley in the summer of 1883.
Tom features regularly in football matches in town in the 1880’s, mainly for Luton Wanderers. He served on the local Football Association committee (the East Midlands Counties Football Association) representing Luton Wanderers. He was a supporter of Herbert Spratley in early 1885 when Wanderers changed their name to Luton Town. He spoke at the 11th April 1885 meeting and said that there was already a Luton Town and there could not be two. He and Spratley were, of course, defeated. He was voted onto the new Luton Town committee but refused to co-operate at first. The committee could not cope with two members not playing their full part so asked Tom to make a decision. He at first threatened to resign but then came round and served for the full season. Tom was also re-elected to serve on the committee for the 1886/87 season so did a good job.
Tom played in the very first game against Higham Ferrers at half-back. He played occasionally for the first team that season but dropped down to the reserves. He played his last game in 1888.
Tom met Ann Hawes, who was from Flamstead, and by 1891 he was back in Yorkshire living with her. She was ten years younger and they had had a son in 1889, also named Tom. While Ann is described as his wife on the 1891 census there is no record of a divorce between Tom and Emily. His descendant said that Tom’s father disowned him so there were serious issues involved.
Emily stayed in Luton and lived with her mother and sister in 1891. Her son is named as Stanley Smith. In 1901 she lived with Stanley and her employment was “on own account” so she was fine for money. Emily continued to live with Stanley in 1911 after he married. As a hat sewer she would have had an invaluable source of earnings which probably kept her from the Workhouse.
Tom died in Leeds on the 20th October 1924.