The Rise and Fall of the Surname Brazenor at Worthen, in Shropshire, England.

In the beginning

In 2007, I discovered that one of my wife’s great,great,great,great grandfathers had married a Catherine Brazenor in 1810, at Hyssington, which straddles the border between Shropshire, England and Montgomeryshire, Wales. It became apparent that the surname was unknown in the area, not surprisingly since I was to find that the last male to bear the name in Shropshire, had died in 1885. I was intrigued by this rare name and resolved to discover its origin and the reason for its disappearance from Shropshire. The names of many of the families that the Brazenors had married into during the 18th and 19th Centuries, such as Chidlow, Corfield, Dean, Downes, Everall, Marston, Oakley, Preece,  Redge, Rowson and Wardman, were still known, so why not the name Brazenor. When my son informed me that there was a Brazenor Street, in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, I decided to research the name, joining the Guild of One- Name Studies, and registering the Brazenor study in 2008.

It was reasonably straightforward to trace Catherine’s family back to her great grandparents Randolph Brasner and Margareta Niccolls, who married at Worthen, Shropshire, in 1659. I then commenced reconstruction of the Brazenor tree, from the top down. My method was to put all information for the name Brazenor and its variants into an Excel spreadsheet, tailored originally to hold parish register entries, civil birth, marriage and death registrations and census records. I eventually realised that I could use the same spreadsheet for any information from any source and whichever country I chose.  I ended up with what I call my Brazenor CHERT, which stands for Chronological History of Events and Relationships Table.  This method has proved excellent for dealing globally with a rare name.

The making of a name at Worthen – Brasnell to Brasnor to Brazenor

It would appear that the parish of Worthen had been the centre of the Brasner/Brazenor universe from about at least 1558 to the 1730’s. The first definite record of what is now the name BRAZENOR/ BRAZENER, in Shropshire, was the baptism at Worthen, of Barnabe BRASNOR in 1621. It is believed that the surname originated within the parish of Worthen, Shropshire as a variation of the name BRASNELL. The Worthen registers go back to 1558, and one of the earliest entries is the death of Joanna Brasnell, wife of Randolph, in 1560. Randolph Brasnell remarried in 1561, to Elizabeth Erne, but when ‘Elizabeth wife of Randulphi’ was buried in 1588, her name is definitely not Brasnell, but could be Brasner.  When Barnabe, son of Richard, was baptised in 1621, the surname was clearly Brasnor. However, when Richard was mentioned in a Will in 1636, his surname was again Brasner.

Worthen from Bromlow Hill
Fig 1 The village of Worthen, Shropshire, viewed from Bromlow Hill

It is unfortunate that, as with most parishes, there is a large gap in the Worthen registers from 1643 to 1659, the period of the English Civil War and the ensuing Commonwealth and Protectorate administrations, during which time persons named Brasnell may have died, moved away from Worthen, or in the case of females, changed their name by marriage. When registration resumed at Worthen, in 1659, one of the first entries was the marriage of Randolph Brasner to Margaret Niccolls, but there were no further Brasnell entries, the last indisputable one having been in 1582. The Brasnell name continued to be recorded in the eastern part of Shropshire, adjacent to Staffordshire. There is a connection with this area because when Thomas Brasnell of Chetwynd, near Newport, Shropshire, made his Will in 1577, he directed that he be buried at Worthen, his wish being fulfilled in 1580.

At Worthen, the variations Brasnor, Brasner, Brasnar and Brassnor were seen between 1659 and 1672. In 1678, Brasener was seen for the first time at Worthen, followed by Brazenor, in 1684. Brazener appeared at nearby Pontesbury in, 1690, and by the early 1700’s Brazenor and Brazener were established, eventually becoming the most common forms of the name. However, name spelling in the 17th century might best be described as freestyle. It would appear that if you were literate you spelled a name as you thought fit and the majority of the population would be none the wiser, whatever the spelling. In 1675, along with others, Randell Brassenoll, otherwise known as Randle Brassnor and Randolph Brasner, witnessed a property deed at Worthen, making his mark with a cross. Although he was a relatively wealthy person of some standing in the community, he was illiterate. In 1766, almost a century on, ANNE BRASENOR’s death is recorded in the Worthen register but on her churchyard headstone, probably the world’s oldest known Brazenor memorial, is

All Saints Worthen
Fig 2  All Saints Church, Worthen.

clearly inscribed the name ANN BRAZNOR. This lady was probably Ann the daughter of Thomas and Ann Brasenor, nee Jacks, who married at Church Pulverbatch, Shropshire in 1715. When Ann jnr was baptised there in 1723, her name was recorded as Ann BRACENOR.

The meaning of the name Brazenor/Brazener

Considering the origin of the name as a variation of the name Brasnell, it is perhaps pointless to try to assign a meaning to the name. Brasnell might itself have evolved from another name and the one that comes first to mind is Brasier.

The name Brasier/Brazier is a more common name with a wider geographical distribution than either Brasnell or Brazenor, possibly befitting a trade related origin. A suggestion for the meaning of the name Brasier/Brazier is that a brazier was someone who made items from joined or seamed metal sheets which were soldered or braised together. Another suggestion is that if a glazier worked with glass, a brazier might have worked with brass.

The earliest Brasnell/ Brasner/Brasnor families at Worthen

Barnabe Brasnor/Brasner, son of Richard, was baptised at Worthen in 1621. His father Richard was probably the Ricus BRASNELL baptised at Worthen in 1576. Ricus was the son of Randell Brasnell and probably Elizabeth Erne who married in 1561, though Elizabeth’s name does not appear in any of their children’s baptismal entries. Barnabe may have married during the period in which the registers were either not kept, or were lost or destroyed, and he may have named a son Richard after his father. This speculative son Richard, may have been the Richard who fathered Elizabeth Brasner, who was to later marry Robert Brasner, her probable cousin.

The comments above about various early Brasnell/Brasner relationships are speculative and because of this the Brasner/Brazenor/Brazener  tree starts with the marriage of Randolph Brasner to Margaret Niccolls, at Worthen, in 1659. This narrative will cover only people in direct line of descent to groups of present day holders of the name Brazenor/Brazener/Brazner, with an emphasis on the migrants.

Randolph Brasner (abt 1628 – 1704) and Margareta Niccolls (1630 -1703)

Randolph, otherwise referred to as Randle, Randel and Randall is the earliest Brazenor for whom it is possible to construct a profile. His birth is unknown but he was probably born at Worthen, and his father may have been named Rowland. These earliest Brazenors were farmers. In 1659, Randolph Brasner of Lee, in Worthen Parish married Margareta Niccolls, at Worthen. Between 1660 and 1675, the couple produced at least eight children, including a Randle and a Robert. Randle junior could be called the father of the Brazeners and his brother Robert the father of the Brazenors, although there are quite a few exceptions to the rule on both sides.

In 1672, Randle Brassnor is recorded as having paid twelve shilling as Hearth Tax, levied on his home at Bromlow, in the parish of Worthen. He had a substantial home on which he paid the third highest levy in the parish. At nearby Lee, Rowland Brassnor paid a tax of six shillings.

A few years later in 1675, Randell Brassenoll witnessed an agreement between two landholders at Bromlow. It is likely that Randell moved back into the home at Lee, possibly after the demise of Rowland, because later Randolph and Margaret are again referred to as being “of Lee”. The present building at Lee (now Leigh) is a farmhouse, which was built in the 1660’s. It replaced a fortified house known as Lee Hall, built sometime in the 14-15th centuries by the Corbett family. During the Civil War it was owned by Sir Richard Lee, and was garrisoned by Royalist forces in 1644, but lay destroyed and abandoned by March 1645.

In 1690, an Elizabeth Brazener of Pontesbury, Shropshire, wife of Randle Brazener, petitioned the Court of Quarter Sessions for maintenance for her children, her husband being a soldier away on service. The following July, the court ordered Randle Brazener of Lee, in the parish of Worthen, to pay twelve pence weekly towards the maintenance of his grandchildren. Likewise Francis Ash of Harlscott, Shropshire, Elizabeth’s father, was ordered to pay six pence weekly towards his grandchildren’s upkeep. A Randle Brazener had married Elizabeth Ash in 1684, at Meole Brace, near Shrewsbury, and the court orders reveal that Elizabeth’s Randle was the son of Randle Brazener, of Lee.

Margaret Brasenor, of Lee, was buried at All Saints, Worthen, in 1703, to be followed by her husband Randolph in 1704. Their Brazenor, Brazener and Brazner descendants are to be found today in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia.

The BRAZENER/BRAZNER Lines

Randle Brasner (abt 1662 – 1735) and Elizabeth Ash (1657 – 1741 ?)

Randle was the soldier son of Randle and Magareta Brasner, of Lee. He married Elizabeth Ash at Meole Brace, in 1684. They had at least six children and are responsible for about a quarter of the total present day holders of the name Brazenor/Brazener/Brazner. Their line was continued down through their son John, baptised in 1696; grandson Robert, baptised at Pontesbury in 1733; great grandson William, baptised at Hyssington in 1762, and great, great grandson Thomas Brazenor, baptised at Wistanstow, in 1790. During the century  between the birth of John and the birth of Thomas these families followed rural pursuits in Shropshire. Their UK and USA descendants are today predominantly named Brazener and Brazner.

Thomas Brazenor (1790 – abt 1858) and Mary Lea (abt 1798 – abt 1866)

Thomas was baptised at the church of The Holy Trinity, Wistanstow, Shropshire, the son of William Brasner and Mary, nee Dean. He was a descendant of Randle and Elizabeth Brasner of Pontesbury. Thomas Braziner (sic) married Mary Lea of Bromfield, at Ludlow, Shropshire, in July 1816, and their first son Thomas was baptised at Ludlow, in October 1816. John, their next son was born in about 1820, at Stanton Lacy, near Ludlow. Sometime between 1820 and 1824, the family migrated from Shropshire, to Astley, in Worcestershire. They were not alone in so doing, as rural dwellers moved in their thousands to the industrializing areas of the English Midlands, in particular to Birmingham. The reason for the move was no doubt to seek employment and better opportunities for advancement.  At Astley, Thomas and Mary produced seven more children including William, Martha, Henry, Edwin, Frederick, George and lastly James. Thomas jnr, William, John, Henry and Edwin all became carpenters, like their father. Frederick and George were agricultural labourers, while James became a plumber.

The Brazener/Brazner lines were continued by sons William, Frederick and George.

William Brazener (1824 – 1894) and Harriet R Keene (1827 –  abt 1901)

William, born in 1824, at Astley, was the son of Thomas and Mary Brazenor, nee Lea. In about September 1851, he married Harriet Rebecca Keene at Worcester. In 1851 the family name was Brazener. By 1861, they had moved to Birmingham and were still Brazener, in 1871 Brasenor, and in 1881 Brazenor.  However, by 1891, the family name was recorded as Brazner, with the exception of one of their sons Constantine Robert, who remained a Brazenor.

Of their six children three, possibly four, migrated to the United States. The first to leave was their eldest child Alice, who married James Withington at Boston, Massachusetts, in 1879. In 1885, daughter Harriet arrived at Boston on the “Samaria”, but nothing more is known of her. In 1893, William (Keene) Brazner left Liverpool on the “Catalonia”, for Boston, Massachusetts. He married Ida M Ohle in about 1897, in Boston, where they were to have three children William K Jnr, Hazel and Howard.

DSCN5934     DSCN5932       DSCN5931
Fig 3   Left – Seated – Three Generations of Wm K Brazner in Los Angeles 1946.
Fig 4  Centre – W K jnr & Clara Brazner in Los Angeles in 1939, at the premiere of Pinocchio.
Fig 5   Right – William Keene Brazner (1870 – 1961), Los Angeles, in 1936.

Constantine Robert Brazenor married Annie Duffield in about 1883, at Aston, Warwickshire. In 1891, he was a bolt maker living with his wife Annie and daughter Ann, at Harborne, Birmingham. In March of 1911, all three arrived at Boston, Massachusetts, on the ship “Winifriedian”. They probably travelled on to Los Angeles, California, shortly afterwards, because in 1912, Annie jnr married a Mr James Banks, at Los Angeles. In 1920, Robert and Annie were operating a janitorial business in Los Angeles. They made a visit home to England, in 1924, arriving at Liverpool, on the ship “New Toronto”. It is not known when and where Robert died but Annie passed away at Los Angeles, in 1933.

 Frederick Brazenor (1832 – abt 1883) and Priscilla Read (1829 -1893)

Frederick, the son of Thomas and Mary Brazenor, nee Lea, married Priscilla Read (Reed) at Kings Norton, Warwickshire, in 1861. They had four children Harry, Frederick, Emma Jane and George. Frederick was a grocer and provisions dealer while son George Brazener became a gunsmith. George’s son William Frederick Brazener became first the General Manager and later a Director of the Birmingham Mint.  Their present day descendants are to be found in the United States.

George Brazener (1834 – 1907) – Martha Allen (abt 1836 – abt 1891)

George, the son of Thomas and Mary Brazenor, nee Lea, probably married Martha Allen in Worcestershire, in about 1860. Their first son William Allen Brazener was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in 1863. George was a gardener and William was to become head gardener at the Player (cigarette manufacturers) Family estate. William’s present day descendants are to be found in England, predominantly in Nottinghamshire and Gloucestershire.

 The BRAZENOR Lines

Robert Brasner (1670 – ) and Elizabeth Brasner (1681 – 1762)

Robert and Elizabeth are responsible for about three quarters of the total present day bearers of the name Brazenor/Brazener. They married in April 1703, at Llanllwchaiarn, Montgomeryshire, Wales, though they were both of the parish of Worthen, Shropshire. Their surnames were recorded as BRASENER. Robert was the son of Randle and Margareta Brasner of Lee, and Elisabeth was the daughter of Ricus (Richard) and Miriall (Muriel) Brasner, nee Olivers, who had married at Meole Brace, in 1678.  Why then did Robert and Elizabeth go to Wales to get married? Perhaps their families were not too happy with their relationship, as Robert and Elizabeth were almost certainly cousins and Elizabeth was expecting their first child Elizabeth, whom they baptised at Worthen, in August 1703. Their first son Ricus, was baptised at Worthen, in July 1704, and they went on to have another twelve children, all at Worthen. Even so, most present day holders of the name Brazenor owe their name to just one son, Thomas, who was baptised at Worthen, in 1719.

Thomas Brasener (1719 – 1805) and Elizabeth Rutter (1726 – 1783)

Thomas married Elizabeth Rutter at Meole Brace, in 1749, he being of Dyther,
a corruption of Deu ddwr – Two waters, in the parish of Llansantffraid  ym  Mechain, Montgomeryshire,  and Elizabeth being of the parish of Alberbury, Shropshire, though she was probably born at Worthen. They had seven children, all at Llansantffraid, the eldest being Thomas, baptised in 1752, though the line to present day holders of the name is through Richard, baptised in 1755.

 Richard Brazenor (1755 – 1840) and Mary Cooper (1753 – 1852)

Richard, son of Thomas and Elizabeth of Llansantffraid, was indentured as an apprentice saddler to Thomas Dale of Oswestry, Shropshire, duties being paid in April 1770. In 1781, he was to become a member of the Saddlers Company and a freeman in the county town of Shrewsbury. He was admitted as a “foreigner”, which conveyed the fact that he was not a native of the town and had served his apprenticeship elsewhere. He married Mary Cooper at Old St Chad’s Church Shrewsbury, Mary being of that parish and Richard being of the parish of Pontesbury. They baptised nine children at Pontesbury and all five sons were to become saddlers. Richard maintained a dwelling and saddlery business in Shrewsbury, because his name appears in the list of inhabitants in the Shrewsbury Visitors Pocket Companion, published in 1793, by T. Minshull. Richard’s place of business was in a short street known then as Carriers Inn, now part of Shoplatch.

Richards’s baptism entry has not been found but in  July 1805, the Universal Magazine of London, in its section Provincial Occurrences, was to record in its report for Shropshire  “Died at Pontesbury, at an advanced age, Mr Brazenor, father of Mr Brazenor, saddler”. It so happened that Thomas Brazenor, farmer of Bulthey, Shropshire, had been buried at Alberbury, on 30 June 1805, and there had been no other recent male Brazenor deaths in Shropshire.

Richard took his five sons William, Thomas, Richard, Samuel and Robert, and also his youngest brother Randal, into the saddlery trade. William, once he had learnt his trade, left Pontesbury and set up shop in Birmingham. He was later to spend some time in Australia, of his own volition, before returning to Birmingham. Thomas went into business consecutively in Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Birmingham. Richard did likewise at Wem, Shropshire and in Birmingham, whilst Samuel took over his father’s business at Pontesbury. Robert after learning his trade at Pontesbury, went to work for his brother William, in Birmingham, before migrating to Marylebone, London, where he worked as a saddler. Randal, Richard senior’s youngest brother, set up in business at Prees, in Shropshire.

Richard senior died at Pontesbury, and was buried 3 April 1840.  Mary passed away in 1852, and was buried at St Georges, Pontesbury. The Brazenor name and saddlery skills were passed on through their sons Thomas, Richard and Robert.

Thomas Brazenor (1792 – abt 1874) and Ann Maria Wilding (abt 1797 –  1883)

Thomas, the son of Richard and Mary, nee Cooper was baptised at Pontesbury.
In 1817, he married Ann Maria Wilding at St Alkmunds, Shrewsbury, and by 1819, they had produced two children, Robert and Mary. Thomas was a saddler, initially in business with a partner in Shrewsbury, but this failed and by 1823, Thomas had moved to Oswestry, where he again set up a saddlery business, later being helped by his son Robert. They were to have six more children at Oswestry, the last being George, in 1839.  Sometime between 1841 and 1851, the family moved to Birmingham, where Thomas again had a saddlery business, and by 1861, his youngest son George had joined him in the firm. Thomas received a windfall inheritance in 1864, when his brother Samuel died childless, leaving him significant property at Pontesbury. Unfortunately, Thomas mortgaged the property to provide funds for his son George, in a business venture which was to fail. George defaulted and the Pontesbury property was sold to recover the loan. In 1871, Thomas and Ann, as well as George and his family, were living with their daughter Mary Beckett, at Kempsey, Worcestershire. Thomas died at Clifton, Gloucestershire in 1874, aged 81. His wife Ann and daughter Mary were in Birmingham, in 1881, where Ann was to pass away in 1883. This Brazenor line continued through Thomas and Ann’s sons Robert Wilding and George.

Richard Brazenor (1795 –  1870) and Mary Lewis (abt 1807 – 1870)

Richard was the third son of Richard and Mary Brazenor, nee Cooper, of Pontesbury. Richard’s baptismal record has not been found but an affidavit which he made in 1865, and which is preserved in Shropshire Archives, confirms his identity beyond doubt. In 1829, he married Mary Lewis, at the church of St Beuno, Berriew, Montgomeryshire. They set up home at Wem, Shropshire where they were to have six children, including Mary, William, Richard, Annie, Edward and Sarah. Sometime between 1842 and 1846 they moved to Birmingham, as the 1851 Census has Sarah born at Wem, in 1842, and Henry at Birmingham, in 1846. In 1851, Mary their eldest child, was looking after her grandfather Edward Lewis, at Trwstywelin, Montgomeryshire.  It is probable that Mary was their only child not to migrate overseas. Instead, she went up to London and married well, in 1886, to David Dolby, a wealthy tallow chandler.
St Beuno's Church Berriew     Meole Brace 2
Fig 6   Left  –  Church of St Bueno, Berriew, where Richard and Mary Lewis married.
Fig 7   Right  – Holy Trinity,  Meole Brace, where Thomas & Elizabeth Rutter married.

William migrated to Australia in 1857, probably influenced by his uncle who was also named William Brazenor, and who had spent some time in Victoria. All known present day holders of the Brazenor name in Australia, derive their name from William Brazenor, son of Richard and Mary Brazenor, nee Lewis.

Edward Lewis Brazenor migrated to the USA, arriving possibly before 1860, as an Edward Braznor is recorded that year at Kings, New York, but he had moved on to Bourbon County, Kentucky, by 1861. He was a horse collar maker at Hamilton, Ontario, in 1868, but was back in the Paris ward of Bourbon County, by 1870, where he was joined by his brother Richard. The brothers were lodging with the family of William Dickey, who was a saddler and probably their employer. Edward married Jane Lily Beeby in 1874, probably at Hamilton, Ontario, where their son Robert was born in that same year. Their daughter Grace was born there in 1881, and later they moved to Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island, in Lake Huron, where they ran saddlery and hardware businesses. Edward passed away in Chicago, Illinois, in 1904. Nothing further is known of their son Robert.  Grace had a son whom she named Edward Lewis Brazenor and this name was also given to her grandson. Jane and her descendants are buried at Norfolk, Virginia.

Richard Brazenor arrived in Bourbon County, Kentucky and was lodging in the Paris ward with his brother Edward in 1870. He became a US citizen there in 1873. He probably married Sussanah Gibson in Kentucky, but by 1880, they were in Indiana. In 1885, the family was in Kansas City, where Richard had a saddlery business. They had a daughter Margaret Alice, who was born in Kansas, in 1883. Richard passed away in Wyandotte County in 1898, and was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery.

Sarah Brazenor was with her parents in Birmingham in 1851. She had a son Frederick Lewis Brazenor, born in 1867, at Kings Norton, Warwickshire. In 1871, Sarah and Frederick were in a Birmingham workhouse, her parents having died in 1870. Her four brothers had emigrated and both her sisters were at Newbury, in Berkshire. In 1881, Sarah is nowhere to be found but Frederick was living with his uncle Henry, in Birmingham.  It is likely that Sarah was in the USA.  A Sarah Brazenor gave birth to a daughter Lizzie, in 1876, in Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, her father possibly a William Jones. In 1878, a child Jas Otell (O’Dell ?) was born at Jersey City, to a father Jas Otell and a mother whose maiden name was Braznor.

In 1885, Fred L Brazenor arrived at Quebec on the SS “Parisian”, from Liverpool. Was he intending to find his Uncle Edward, or his mother Sarah? Nothing more is known of him.

Harry (Henry) Brazenor, a 24 year old salesman, born in England, was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1870. This was almost certainly Richard and Mary’s youngest son. He returned home to Birmingham and was with his sister Annie in 1881. Annie and Harry were to eventually migrate to Australia, to be with their eldest brother William, at Ballarat, Victoria.

Robert Brazenor (1806 – 1873) and Lucy Liddelow (1812 – 1896)

Robert, the youngest of the saddler sons of Richard and Mary Brazenor, nee Cooper, was born at Pontesbury.  After learning his trade he went to Birmingham to work for his eldest brother William. He was still with William in 1838, when they were the victims of a crime of theft. However, by the 1841 Census, Robert Braznore (sic) was at Marylebone, Middlesex, working with, or for a William Crowther, saddler.

In about 1842, Robert met and married Lucy Liddelow, presumably at Marylebone, where they were to have three children, Samuel in 1843, Mary Liddelow in 1845 and Robert Liddelow in 1848. Samuel died an infant in December 1843. In 1851, Robert, Lucy, Mary and Robert were recorded at Marylebone, but the entry is very poor and difficult to read.  In January 1852, Mary and Robert were baptised together their address then being 17 George Street, Marylebone. In 1871, they were at the same address and Lucy’s birthplace is given as Ringland, Norfolk. Lucy’s baptism has not been found but the surname Liddelow (Littlelow), was in use in Norfolk in the 1800’s.

Robert died in 1873, aged 67. The National Probate Calendar records he was late of 17 George Street, Portland Place. Probate was proved by Lucy Liddelow Brazenor, widow, relict and sole executrix, of the same address. Lucy passed away at Marylebone in 1895, aged 84.

Robert Wilding Brazenor (1818 – 1901)

Robert, born at Shrewsbury, was the eldest son of Thomas and Ann Maria Brazenor, nee Wilding. He was brought up at Oswestry, where he assisted his father in his saddlery business. However, in 1842, he was advertising his services as a bird preserver in Pigot’s directory. In 1843, he married Sarah Pearce of Penrhos, Montgomeryshire, at Oswestry, where they had their first child Mary, in 1844. Their son John Pearce Brazenor was born in 1847, at Gloucester. John was to become a saddler, eventually setting up in business in the Camberwell Road, London

Robert Wilding         Brazenor           1818 - 1901

Fig 8 Robert Wilding Brazenor, circa 1885

Things turned sour for Robert in August 1848, when he was taken into custody for theft. In October, of the same year, he was convicted, at Warwick, of Larceny by Servant and sentenced to six months imprisonment. The situation became tragic with the death of his wife Sarah, at Oswestry, and his daughter Mary, at Birmingham, both deaths occurring in late 1848. It may be surmised that Sarah passed away while visiting or staying with her parents during Robert’s incarceration. Mary had probably died in Birmingham, while she and her brother John were being cared for by Robert’s relatives.

Robert Wilding Brazenor’s second marriage was to Rhoda Ferris at Aston, Warwickshire in July 1850. Rhoda had been born at Biddestone, Wiltshire, in about 1826 (from the 1861 Census). They were to have at least six children including Charles, born at Brecon, Wales in 1853; their daughter Sarah Ann at Reading, Berkshire in 1855; Rhoda Clara at Stefford, Bedfordshire in 1858; Frederick at Worcester in 1861; Harry at Kensington in 1863; and finally Alfred at Brighton, Sussex in 1868.

John Brazenor

Fig 9  John Pearce Brazenor (1847 – 1896) with son Albert Edward, circa 1890.

The reason for Robert & Rhoda’s frequent relocation is uncertain.  In 1871, Robert gave his occupation as a naturalist and artist, though in reality he was a taxidermist. That same year he became involved in a notorious poisoning case, appearing as a prosecution witness. He described himself in court as a bird, reptile and fish stuffer, of Lewes Road, Brighton. He had worked on the carcass of the poison victim’s pet dog and had recognised from the condition of the carcass that the dog had also been poisoned. The case was widely reported around the English speaking world.

By 1878, Robert had reverted to being a saddler as he is listed as such in the Post Office directory for Sussex. The following year he advertised for sale a collection of circus costumes and also items of saddlery in “as new or better condition”. Had they been working with a travelling circus during their period of frequent relocation?  Robert & Rhoda were to remain at Brighton until their deaths in 1901 and 1909, respectively. All their children, except Frederick, became involved in the taxidermy and fur trades, Harry setting up in business in Manchester. The Brazenor name was continued by their sons John, Charles, Frederick, Harry and Albert. Charles married Evelyn Pratt, in 1896, and one of their sons, naturalist Charles Walter Brazenor, emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1923, where he eventually became Director of the National Museum of Victoria, in 1957.

William Brazenor (1833 -1916)

William Brazenor, eldest son of Richard and Mary Brazenor, nee Lewis, was born at Wem, Shropshire, where he was still to be found with his family in the 1841 Census. They moved to Birmingham between 1842- 1846 and were still there in 1851, when William was an 18 year old surveyor’s assistant. In April 1857, William arrived at Melbourne, Victoria, on the ship “Lightning”, out from Liverpool, and in the following year he married a Scottish migrant Ellen Harmer Innes, at St Kilda, Melbourne. A keen sportsman, William was an early member of Melbourne Football Club (Australian Rules Football), playing in the 1859 and 1860 seasons, at the Melbourne Cricket Club ground. This was before the establishment of the Victorian Football League.

William worked on several public works projects in Melbourne, including Flemington Livestock Yards and Racecourse, before moving to Ballarat, Victoria, in about 1861.  At Ballarat, he won a tender for the construction of some railway earthworks and went on to design and layout the site of the Ballarat stockyards. An adjacent street is named after him and close by he built his own hotel, the Cattle Yards Inn, receiving his publican’s licence on 23 January 1864. He entertained Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the Cattle Yards Inn, during the latter’s tour of Australia, in 1867. That same year William and Ellen had a daughter Mary Isabelle, who unfortunately died in 1868. William founded an architectural practice in Ballarat, and designed houses, hotels and sporting venues in the town.

In April 1883, William’s wife Ellen Harmer Brazenor, nee Innes, died in a buggy accident, near Ballarat, aged 47. She had arrived in Australia in 1856, and had married William when she was 21. Tragic though this sad event was for William, it was to have huge implications for the Brazenor name. The chances of William and Ellen having further children had surely passed and it was likely therefore that the Brazenor name, in Australia, would have died with them but for Ellen’s untimely death. Following this tragedy, William’s younger sister Annie, joined him at Ballarat in September 1883, presumably to keep house for him.  IMG     Lt. Col. William  Brazenor  WW1 1914-18   Major J A Brazenor  & Captain A C Rudrum,  5th Aust Div Train, Egypt WW1                      Fig 10   Left – William Brazenor (1833-1916), in Melbourne, Victoria, 1886
Fig 11  Centre – William Brazenor (1888-1945), during WW1, later Lt.Colonel Brazenor.
Fig 12   Right – Capt John Alexander Smyth Brazenor (1877-abt 1953), seated.

Harry their youngest sibling arrived in late 1884. There were then three of Richard and Mary’s children in Ballarat, probably three in North America, leaving only Mary Dolby in England.

On 7 February 1888, the birth was registered at Ballarat, of a boy named William Brazenor Coogan, born at Sturt Street, Ballarat, the informant being a Susan O’Reilly, as authorised agent. The mother was Ellen Coogan, aged 23, who had been born at Carngham, Victoria. There were no details given of the father, whatsoever. It had been a common practice, at least in England, that illegitimate children be baptised or registered with the father’s surname as a forename. That way, parish administrators had some idea of whom they could call on for maintenance should the need arise.

On 18 June 1888, William married a Maria Smyth, nee Nutt, at Ballarat. He was a widower aged 55, an architect living at Alfredton, Ballarat, whilst she was a widow aged 31, a ladies draper living at Clifton Hill, North Fitzroy, Melbourne.  Maria had three children, the offspring of Thomas Smyth, including John Alexander, Mary and Isabella. All were to take the Brazenor name when their mother married and today approximately half the present holders of the Brazenor name, in Australia, are descended from John and his wife Florence.

In 1890, Ellen Coogan, mother of William Brazenor Coogan, died at Horsham, Victoria. The circumstances of her death are not known. It is also not known when exactly William became a member of the Brazenor family household. In 1909, William, Maria, John and his wife Florence, Mary, Isabella and William junior were on the electoral roll and living together at Latrobe Street, Ballarat. William, John and William jnr all gave their occupation as architect.

When William jnr married Annie Mabel Cunningham, on 22 November 1911, at Ballarat, he gave his parents names as William Brazenor and Ellen Coogan. William and Annie are the ancestors of the remaining half of the present day holders of the Brazenor name, in Australia.

In December 1913, William Brazenor senior, made a Will in which he left everything to his wife Maria Brazenor. However, should she happen to predecease him his assets were to be divided equally between his children John Alexander Smyth Brazenor, Mary Smyth Brazenor, Isabella Smyth Brazenor and his adopted son William Brazenor, clerk of the Ballarat Water Supply Office.

William Brazenor snr, one time  surveyor, draftsman, architect, hotel owner, foundation Aussie Rules footballer, horse breeder, huntsman and friend of the poet Adam Lindsay Gordon, died at his residence “Severn”, Carlton Street, Ballarat West, aged 83, on 21 September 1916.

 Robert Liddelow Brazenor (1848 – 1918) and Elizabeth Sophie Brodie (abt 1851 – 1933)

Robert, the son of Robert and Lucy Brazenor was born at Marylebone, London in March 1848, and married Elizabeth Sophie Brodie at Holy Trinity, Marylebone in October 1876. Robert did not follow his father into the saddlery trade instead becoming a carpenter and joiner. They had five children including Robert Goode, born at Holborn, London in 1877; William Herbert, born at St Pancras, London in 1879; Albert Ernest, born at St Pancras in 1881; Lucy May, born at Marylebone in 1883; and lastly Walter Liddelow, born at Marylebone in 1885. In 1911, Robert and Elizabeth were living in Marylebone and with them were their sons Walter and Albert, together with Albert’s wife and family.

William , Helen, Agnes & Helen Brazenor Jnr
Fig 13 Helen, Wm James, baby Helen and Agnes M Brazenor in 1929

Robert Goode Brazenor married Agnes May Bannon in about December 1899, at Westminster, London. Their first two children Agnes May and William James were born in London, before the family emigrated to the USA, in about 1903. Robert’s younger brother

William Brazenor - HillclimberFig 14  William James Brazenor in Indian shirt, circa  1921

William Herbert was already in the States, having married Sarah Gannon, in Massachusetts, in 1902. William and Sarah later moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where the Brazenor name is still known today. Albert and his family remained in the UK, as did Lucy May. Robert and Elizabeth’s youngest son Walter, died in France, in September 1918, just a few weeks before WW1 concluded. His father Robert Liddelow Brazenor passed away in the September quarter of that same year. Albert and his wife Louisa Florence Reading had six children two of whom, Walter and Reginald, and their families, were to  migrate to Australia, in the 1950’s.

In conclusion

Firstly, the surname Brazenor/Brazener originated in the late 16th to early 17th centuries, at Worthen, Shropshire, as a variation of the surname Brasnell.

Secondly, the disappearance of the surname Brazenor from Shropshire and adjacent Montgomeryshire, can primarily be sheeted home to the migration of Brazenor males, with or without their families, to the English Midlands, in particular to the counties of Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire. The males who remained in Shropshire, and who married, seem to have either produced no children or a preponderance of daughters, who whilst they may have brought forth a multitude of children, the great majority of these, of course, were not named Brazenor. The final nail in the coffin, so to speak, was the case of Thomas, who in 1885, became the last male Brazenor to live and die in Shropshire. Thomas produced eight offspring with two wives, including six daughters and two sons. His sons migrated to the Midlands, where they both married, and where they stayed for the remainder of their lives.

Thirdly, some among the Brazenor/Brazener/Brazner exodus from Shropshire were not content with the Midlands or even London, they kept going, taking their name and skills to Australia, Canada and the United States.

Aubrey Cox
Sydney, Australia

21 August 2016

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