Thomas Brazener (1790 – 1858) and Mary Lea (1798 – 1866)

Thomas Brazener, son of William Brazenor and Mary, nee Dean, was baptised 11 April 1790, at the ancient Church of the Holy Trinity, Wistanstow, Shropshire, featured below. Also shown is the village hall which although in the Tudor style was actually built in the 1920’s. Thomas’ parents had married in 1789, at nearby Eaton under Heywood. William came from Hyssington, Montgomeryshire, which lies about 12 miles northwest of Mary Dean’s home, at Eaton. Thomas’ only sibling Kitty (diminutive of Catherine), was baptised at Wistanstow on 21 September 1794. In 1798, their grandmother Catherine Brazenor, paid Land Tax on land she farmed at Hyssington , which straddled the Welsh/English border. The land was owned not by Catherine but by the Lord of the Manor of Shelve, Robert More Esq. of Linley. (The impressive Long Drive, at Linley Hall, was featured in the 1985, British television series “Blott on the Landscape”, starring David Suchet, as Blott)

The Church of the Holy Trinity Wistanstow

Wistanstow,  the village hall

Thomas and Mary had married at Ludlow, in July 1816, and their first child Thomas was baptised at Ludlow, on 9 October 1816. Mary’s birthplace was Bromfield, near Ludlow, but this is known only from census records. John, their next child was born in about 1820, at Stanton Lacy, a parish located a few miles north of Ludlow, but again this is only from census records. Sometime between1820 – 1824, Thomas and Mary, together with their two sons, migrated from Shropshire to Astley, in Worcestershire. They were not alone in doing so, as other Brazenor families had migrated to the English Midlands, in particular to Birmingham. The reason for the move was no doubt employment or lack thereof and Thomas was to find work as a carpenter. The air, at Astley, was obviously to their liking as they were to have seven more children there, as listed below.

Name of Child, Date of Baptism, Name of Spouse, Date of Marriage
Thomas, 9 October 1816, Ann Thrupp, About September 1848
John About 1820 Mary Eaton 10 January 1856
William April 1824 Harriet Rebecca Keene 3 September 1851
Martha 13 August 1826 John Barnard 3 February 1864
Henry 10 August 1828 Possibly did not marry
Edwin 27 April 1830 Eliza Mary Ann Coats Possibly 1869
Frederick 16 September 1832 Priscilla Reed About September 1861
George 12 October 1834 Martha Allen About 1860
James 9 February 1840 Did not marry

In 1828, Catherine Brazenor, Thomas’ grandmother, passed away at Hyssington, reputedly aged 99, and was buried at More, Shropshire. Thomas’ mother Mary Brazenor, nee Dean, passed away probably at Wistanstow , her death being registered at Church Stretton, Shropshire, in the June quarter of 1840.

The 1841 Census of England & Wales has Thomas and Mary Brazner together with their nine children living at Tanners Cottage, in the village of Astley, Worcestershire. Thomas Snr was a carpenter, while his son William was employed as a labourer. Thomas, Mary, Thomas Jnr and John were all born “Out of County”. Back in Shropshire, Thomas’ father, William Brazener, an agricultural labourer, aged 80, was living at Leighton, with his daughter Catherine who had married a John Barker. William passed away in the December quarter of 1846, probably at Wistanstow, his death being recorded at Church Stretton.

In the September quarter of 1848, Thomas and Mary’s eldest child Thomas married Ann Thrupp, the event being recorded at Martley, Worcestershire. Thomas and Mary’s first grandchild George, son of Thomas and Ann, was baptised at St Mary’s Church, Shrawley, on 14 October 1849. That same year Thomas Jnr’s name was included in a list of Worcestershire carpenters and wheelrights.

In the Census of 1851, Thomas & Mary were at home at Pinner’s Cottage, Astley, Worcestershire. Living with them were their sons William, Edwin, George and James. Thomas Snr was a carpenter as were William and Edwin. George was an agricultural labourer, while James was still at school. Thomas gave his birthplace as Wistanstow, Shropshire while Mary’s was Bromfield, Shropshire. Their sons had been born at Astley. Their daughter Martha was visiting her elder brother John Brazener, who was in lodgings at Astley Common. John was a carpenter and his birthplace was Stanton Lacy, Shropshire. Thomas Jnr and his family were at Martley, Worcestershire and lodging with them was his younger brother Frederick. Thomas was a carpenter and Frederick an agricultural labourer. This leaves only Henry unaccounted for in this 1851 snapshot.

It was reported in the Worcestershire Chronicle that on 3 September 1851, William Brazenor of Astley married Miss Harriet Keene of Glasshampton, at Longdon, Worcestershire. In the index of registered marriages William’s name is Brazener. His elder brother John Brazener of Astley, married Mary Eaton at the parish church Shrawley, on 10 January 1856. Almost exactly one year later on 9 January 1857, their first child Rosa Emily was baptised at Shrawley. Her father John was a carpenter.
Thomas Snr passed away in the September quarter of 1858, his death being registered at Martley. His son John was again listed as a carpenter in an 1860 trade directory, his address being given as “near the Church at Shrawley”. This was convenient for him as he was also a churchwarden and was a witness to the signing of quite a few marriage entries at the church.

During the 1861 census, Mary, Thomas’ widow was living with her eldest son Thomas and his family at Astley. Her son Henry was now a groom and was in lodgings at the Manor House, Astley. Henry has not been found in 1871 or 1881, but he probably died at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in about June 1885. Her son John and his family were living at Church Cottage, Shrawley. Mary’s only daughter Martha was still single and working as a domestic cook at Stourport, Worcestershire. Mary’s son William and his wife Harriet were at Aston, in Birmingham, with their family, which now included Alice, Harriet, Constantine Robert and Rosa. Mary’s youngest child James was also still single and he was now a plumber working and lodging at Edgbaston, Birmingham. Missing this time are Edwin and George. It is likely that George was in lodgings at Westminster, St Margaret, where he was working as a gardener. He was aged 24, married and gave his birthplace as Worcestershire.

In about 1860, Mary’s son George had married Martha Allen. In the September quarter of 1863, a son William Allen Brazener was born to them at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
Mary, widow of Thomas Brazener, of Astley, and mother of their nine children, passed away in the September quarter of 1866, her death being registered at Martley, Worcestershire

(In that same quarter of 1866, a Henry Brasner had married, at Hackney, to Mary Ann Louisa Stokes. However he was probably a Henry Brazier born in 1842, at Shoreditch, London)

James, Thomas and Mary’s youngest son, passed away in 1869, aged 29, his death being recorded at Martley. It is possible that, in 1869, his brother Edwin was the Edwin Brazener who married at Dublin South, Ireland. On 17 April 1880, an Edwin Thomas Brazener was baptised at Woolwich, Kent, his parents being Edwin Brazener and Eliza Mary Ann, nee Coats. They were all still together there in the 1881 Census, when Edwin was a carpenter and Eliza a laundress. It is possible that Eliza was Edwin’s second wife.

Thomas and Mary Brazener, nee Lea, apparently led unremarkable lives involving neither fame nor fortune, neither scandal nor crime, neither bankruptcy nor any event warranting a newspaper article or notice. However, they successfully nurtured nine children through to adulthood, no mean feat in the first half of the 19th Century. Some of their grandchildren took the Brazener/Brazner name to North America, while others spread the Brazenor/Brazener name to a number of other English counties. Some of their descendants now form the largest concentration of the Brazener name in the United Kingdom.