John Brazenor (abt 1774 – 1816) and Sarah; or the Brockton Conundrum.

Brockton is a hamlet in the parish of Worthen, in Shropshire. It lies about one mile west of Worthen, the village which saw the birth of the Brazenor name in the early 17th Century. The Brazenor family disappeared from the parish in 1771, with the death of Elizabeth Brazenor. However the surname was to reappear briefly in about 1814 – 1816, with the arrival in the parish of John and Sarah Brazenor.

The date and place of their marriage is not known but John & Sarah baptised their daughter Marianne at St Mary’s Church, Shrewsbury on 27 December 1812. In the register entry John’s occupation is given as saddler and they were living at Castle Foregate, Shrewsbury. It is known that in 1793, Richard Brazenor, the father of five saddler sons, had a residence and saddlery business in Shrewsbury, at Carrier’s Inn, not much more than a ten minute walk from Castle Foregate. Assuming that I have the correct John, Richard and John’s father Robert, were first cousins so it is not too fanciful to think that John may have been one of Richard’s apprentices, in the years before his own sons were of appropriate age.

John had been baptised at Pontesbury in 1774, but the family later moved to adjacent Stapleton parish, just a few miles away. By 1815, John and Sarah were living at Brockton, when their son John was baptised at Worthen, on 12 February. The following year, on 15 November 1816, Richard was baptised at Worthen, his parents being named as John and Sarah Brazenor. However, John had died earlier that year, being buried at Stapleton on 8th March 1816, so Richard was born after his father’s demise. John’s father Robert had been buried at Stapleton in 1812, but his mother was living at the family home until she died in 1822.

The conundrum is that with the death of John Brazenor, nothing more is heard of Sarah or her children Marianne, John and Richard.  The most likely explanation for their disappearance is that Sarah remarried and that her young children were “rebranded” with the name of her new husband. If Sarah remarried where would it be likely to have been?  The first place to look would be Worthen parish, but there is no marriage there of a Sarah Brazenor or any Sarah of suitable  age and marital status. There are, however, two baptisms which are of interest. On 2nd July 1820, a Samuel Brazenor Williams was baptised at Worthen, his parents being John and Sarah Williams, John being a saddler. They baptised another son Henry Edward Williams, on 26 April 1826, at Worthen, when John’s occupation was that of innkeeper. The explanation would appear to be that Sarah Brazenor, the widow of John Brazenor, had remarried to a John Williams, probably using her maiden name. Where were they married? John Brazenor had probably met and married Sarah sometime before 1812, at Shrewsbury. After the death of John, Sarah and her children may have returned to Shrewsbury, to be near her relatives. Unfortunately, John Williams is not an uncommon name in Wales or the Welsh Border counties, like Shropshire.

So, the conundrum remains, but at least they are off the Brazenor list. As an afterthought, I have heard of people being left an inheritance on condition that they adopt the surname of their benefactor. Whatever the case it is appropriate that I pass the conundrum over to Williams family researchers.