Thursday, October 18, 2007

Carey Bracewell - Eunice Young Articles on Early Bracewell Families

The following article appeared in Braswell Branches, Vol. 9, No. 1, Winter 1999, 2000

Review of Eunice Young’s 1999 Paper on Rev. Robert Bracewell’s Family

By Carey Bracewell of, Austin, TX

Mrs. Eunice H. Young’s paper on Rev. Robert BRACEWELL’s family first appeared in The Virginia Genealogist. Vol. 43, Number 2 (April-June 1999) on pp. 134-142 under the title, “Notes on the Ancestry of the Rev. Robert Braswell of Isle of Wight County, Virginia.” It is essentially a summary of her conclusions about our family’s English origins, the fruit of years of research. Whatever we may say of her effort, we will always be indebted to our cousin from Sandy, Utah for her important contribution to our family history.

Rather than the definitive statement of our English origins, Young’s paper should be received as a working paper, a point of departure for future research. Why? If for no other reason, to flesh out her story with the full details of significant documents that are only mentioned in passing, e.g. the Grantham parish records. More importantly, additional research is needed to prove or disprove several speculations which are presented as truth but for which no convincing proof is offered, e.g. that Rev. Robert’s mother’s name was “Jane____”. In her defense, Eunice did preface a number of her conjectures with “possibly”, as when she suggests that Richard’s second wife (assuming he had one) was the widow Margaret BEDDAM, but other unproved surmises--e.g. the identity of Richard’s children, including Jone, alleged wife of John STILES of Isle of Wight County--are presented as established facts.

Narrowing the focus of this critique to specific problems, I offer the following observations:

(1) Vocabulary. Eunice’s present immersion in medieval records clearly shines through in her use of such arcane--and unfortunately undefined terms--as “soccage”, ”verger”, “co-Burgess”, “Deforciant”, “Frankpledge”, “Lay Subsidies”, “Soke”, and “residuary legatee”.

(2) Robert BRACEWELL, son of Edmund, was actually born c. 1553, not “by 1550”, if we accept the evidence of his “inquisition post mortem” which gives Robert’s age as 30 as of May 14, 1583.

(3) Edmund BRACEWELL, son of Robert, is listed as having “died young” when in fact Conrad Swan’s research shows that Edmund moved to Nottinghamshire where he lived out a long life, not writing his will until Oct. 2, 1669 (probated May 11, 1674). Swan was the York Herald of Arms at the College of Arms, London, England’s official genealogical research office. The late James G.W. MacLamroc of Greenville, N.C. (who discovered our connection to President JOHNSON and who also placed that brass plaque honoring Rev. Robert at St. Luke’s Church) commissioned Swan’s Braswell research. Swan’s 1969 report is the basis of Young’s and all other subsequent inquiries into our English roots.

(4) While it is possible--perhaps even probable--that Jone BRACEWELL, baptized at St. Bride’s, London, on December 4, 1605, was our Rev. Robert’s sister, proof is still lacking. Notwithstanding she was listed daughter of Richard BRACEWELL of St. Bride’s, this is still insufficient evidence that she was daughter of “our” Richard BRACEWELL (d.1641), let alone future wife to John STILES of Virginia. The same criticism must be applied to Young’s assertion that Thomas BRACEWELL, baptized July 8, 1610 at St. Andrew’s., Holborn, was Rev. Robert’s brother (although this, too, was likely).

(5) Eunice made a couple of relatively minor mistakes in describing Rev. Robert’s own American family which I’m sure she would have corrected herself were so not so busy with her other professional genealogist duties. Of these the least minor is making Richard BRACEWELL (c.1652-1725) older than his brother when in fact we know that Robert, Jr. was the oldest: their brother-in-law, James BAGNALL, in his escheat action of August 9, 1681 {IW DB1-457}, in referring to Rev. Robert’s original title, refers to Robert, Jr., as “his eldest son”. Eunice--or was it the typesetter?--erroneously reports Richard’s will date as “28 Jan. 1724/5” when in reality it was July 28, 1725. I would also challenge the birth order and estimated birth years for Rev. Robert’s children. In the case of the sons, 1674 must peg the year when they both came of legal age since that year they sold off their patrimony and left for the new lands then opened in Nansemond County.

(6) At the risk of appearing to nitpick, I will close by pointing out that Rev. Robert was in Virginia by April 29, 1650 (Bennett to Webb, DB1-426), which of course was “before 1651” as Eunice states. Also no doubt dear to the editor of this periodical is the fact that George GWILLIM (WILLIAMS), not “GUILLEN”, was appointed guardian to the BRASWELL children in 1668.

Eunice Young's response was published in Braswell Branches, Vol. 9, No. 2, Spring 2000

From Mrs. Eunice Young of Sandy, UT

This letter is in response to Carey's comments on my article on the BRASWELL family in England. I had not had time to go over it since it was published, but have a little break between projects and decided I had better take some time to look at it. Before beginning, may I say that I spent several years working on this in England and have much material on hand. 20 years ago, I spent days looking at all books on the shelves at the Archives in Salt Lake in the General section, Middlesex County, and London, checking for any variant of BRASWELL, to try to establish a line of movement across England for them. I had hoped to have an unbroken chain back to William the Conqueror's time. I searched the old pipe and close rolls and anything early. I found the name to be as scarce as the proverbial "hen's teeth". I tried to continue Conrad Swann's research for us. From the legal records found, I went to the Parish Registers, but found very little there, since we were into the 1500’s already. I located a few crumbs, and so worked up a time line with my findings, and am sending my latest, revised edition of
that, for you to publish [to be posted to this blog]

I studied intensely, Smith & Gardner's, Research in England & Wales, vols. 1‑3 as to how to proceed in my quest. I pursued almost every angle that I could think up, concentrating in Lincolnshire & London. The London records are so voluminous, that a lifetime of study there would hardly be enough, so there is still much that could be done. This week, I printed off 20 pages from the Salt Lake Catalog (fiche) for London, as we have no deeds or land records there for our people. I learned that our key parishes ‑ St. Andrew Holborn, St. Bartholomew the Great, St. Bartholomew the Less, St. Bride, Fleet Street, St. Dunstan in the West and St. Sepulchre (without Newgate) and Temple Church are all grouped in Guildhall Library, London, under the heading, FARINGDON‑WITHOUT WARD, just as Palmyra Spencer mentioned years ago.

An analysis needs to be made of the microfilmed records available at the Archives in Salt Lake for our key areas, and further research begun. Some of the younger researchers will need to pick up on this. I have been unable to get into the Archives this past year because of all of the road construction and lack of parking, but hope that improves soon. I spend several days a week at our Stake Center extracting records in the 1500's and 1600' s, and am in England at this time researching.

As I went over this article, I could see why Carey was agitated. The editor of The Virginia Genealogist asked my permission to cut my article down (it went from 10 pages to 4), and between that and the many typos, it leaves much to be desired. [A revised version was published in the Braswell Branches newsletter.]

Now to Carey:
(1) Vocabulary. Smith & Gardner say concerning Terminology ‑ "One of the obstacles in the path of the user of (probate) records is the terminology used in such documents, which varies from court to court". They suggested using "A Handlist of Medieval Ecclesiastical Terms", published in London in their Local History Series No. 9. It is traditional to state the terms as given in the document.

(2) Birth date of Robert BRACEWELL, son of Edmund, 1550 or 1553. Date is not known, as the I. P. M. of Edmund says Robert was 30 & upwards. The British quite often round off ages to 5 years (i.e. e. 1841 census, etc. I read an article on that at one time. As I worked with my time line and family groups sheet, noticed that Robert, in order to be at least 21 in 1571 when he was on the Manorial Court Records, unless there is yet another Robert there.

(3) Edmund BRACEWELL, son of Robert, died young. If Carey will look further, he will see that the Edmund (or Edward) who survived is one of the younger children in the family (see # 13). 1 added an Edmund with a question as it was so traditional to name the eldest son for his father's father. Many times, the child died young and another one was named in his honor, and even a third.

(4) 1 feel 99% certain that Jone was the sister of (Rev.) Robert. Our Richard was the only BRACEWELL, etc., in the area having children. As stated above, the parishes that Richard BRACEWELL had events happening in are all grouped together in Faringdon‑Without (the walls), London. As Palmyra said, it's like they all had the same zip code, today in America. I will stick with what. I have said, that Joan is Robert's sister. Their father named her two children in his will, and their father John STYLES, forgiving John his debts to him. I combed all of the key parishes a few months ago, especially to find burials. John was moving around, so I didn't find Joan's burial, but it can be found, and she did have two daughters christened.

The IGI for all of England doesn't divulge more being born to them. John went to Isle of Wight Co., Virginia, soon after the death of his father‑in‑law. His mother‑in‑law was already deceased. I believe it was Thomas who was buried 13 July 1611, as no further record is found. There were many plagues there and in Lincolnshire and England The given name of Thomas shows up somewhat in the early records where our line is found. Another child to Richard was likely born abt. 1608.

(5) 1 was playing around with the order of the kids because of the naming system, and hadn't looked at the paper calling Robert his eldest. The date of Richard's will is given both as July 28, 1725 and 28 January 1724/5, so I chose the latter, because only January 1‑ March 25 is used in double‑dating. Even the Virginia Wills Index gives this as 1724/5.

(6) My papers were typed 8 years ago, before we learned an earlier date for Rev. Robert's being in America. Because of the pressure to get this [finished], some things were missed. In one part of my article, it does say 1650. I think John [editor of The Virginia Genealogist] did not print that part. The GWILLIM or GUILLEN was taken off of whatever record I was copying it from (or whose).

In summary: probably all genealogies are "working papers and a point of departure for future research", as there is almost always another record that can be found on any person. We all present our findings so we can get onto other things and other lines, so that others won't have to look in the same places that we have looked. Anyone can re‑check documents once they have been found and give their opinions on same. I love finding the record, and I am sure there are others among you who do, also. There is still plenty to be done on this line in this new century, both in England and in America. Let's go for it!