In D’Alton’s ‘History of Ireland’ there is a map of Anglo-Norman settlements of the thirteenth century. Brabazon is marked in Uriel County (Louth) approximately in the barony of Ardee, so this might be where Brabazons first settled in Ireland. Could this be the origin of the title, Baron of Ardee, which is held by the Earls of Meath?
The following are some records from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Most of the original records have been destroyed and only the basic details survive. The land deeds are held in the National Library of Ireland.
Records from the second half of the thirteenth century show Adam in Tipperary, Dublin and Limerick, Nicholas in Kilkenny and Louth, William in Kildare and Walter in Dublin, the majority being from the courts or county sheriff’s accounts. Money received by the exchequer was often owed for many years, so it is possible that some of the payments could have been received months or even years after the initial event.
There was no standard spelling for the name. For instance, Adam’s surname was written as Brabecun, de Brabebouns and Brabeston. About 1275 Adam paid a penalty of half a mark for not appearing at a court hearing in Tipperary. In 1288-89 he was being held as a hostage, but either escaped or was released. In 1299 the Bishop of Ossary complained that Adam unjustly occupied goods belonging to Theobald Casteillon, who had died without making a will.
Before the deed below was made, in about 1277, Nicholas Brabezun or Brabecun had land in Kilkenny, possibly two townlands. One of them was named Brabasuniston in 1314, Brabyston or Brabbeston in the sixteenth century. It was in the parish of Tulleroan. Today it is called Brabston. There is another townland named Brabston in Listerlin parish.
Henry Schenegord grants to Adam le Leye, burgess of Kilkenny, and his heirs in fee, eight acres in Corbali, two of which lie together in the moor between the land of William Casse and the land of Nicholas Brabezun ; and six acres lie in four places in the field that lies between the mansion that was Walter Cor's, and the land that was Nicholas Brabecun's ; paying yearly two shillings silver, saving to grantor and his heirs said rent and to Sir William Grasse and his heirs suit of their mill. Consideration five marks ten shillings sterling. Witnesses: Sir Geoffrey de Forestall, Sir Richard Ollard, Silvester de Netilton, David Archebold, John Archebold, Thomas Archebold.
Brabstons who went from Limerick to America in mid 1700s could possibly be descended from Nicholas or have come from one of those townlands.
Nicholas Brabeson (possibly a different person) seems to have been in business in County Louth, then known as Uriel County. About 1288 he was prosecuted and charged twenty shillings for trading in prohibited money, probably pollards and crocards, a type of currency prohibited by King Edward at this time. This Nicholas, or perhaps his son, was living in the village of Termonfeckin in 1321. His property was on the high street, close to St Fechin’s church and graveyard where co-incidentally many other Brabazons were buried in later centuries.
In Kildare in 1285 William Brabasun paid half a mark for ‘unjust detinue’. Detinue meant detention of goods or chattels that belonged to someone else, a similar offence to the one which Adam was later accused of. The owner of the goods could apply to the court for their return. The court could order the return of the property or payment of the value of the goods (especially necessary when goods were perishable). In 1292 Walter Brabazon paid the same amount for the same offence, in Dublin.
At the beginning of the fourteenth Century a family were living in Waterford County. In 1310 cattle thieves, led by Adam Crumpe stole eight cows from Thomas Brabazon. In 1311 Thomas was a juror on the trial of Eva Giffard, ‘mistress of Adam Crompe, a common robber of sheep, calves and hens, who stole the wool from twenty sheep’. She tore the wool from the sheep in the fold with her hands, without shears!
Richard, Thomas, Henry and Hugh Brabestoun or Brabystoun were jurors on Waterford trials in the following years. John Brabezoun was summoned to a jury at Drogheda in County Louth (but he didn’t come)
In 1362 several Brabazons were recorded in a land deed that unfortunately is damaged; William who granted land at Cookstown, County Louth; Robert who had at least two sons, one named John; Richard who had sons named Richard and William; Henry who also had a son named John; and another family member with a son called Archibald.
William Brabiston (one of the above) lived in the village of Drumconragh County Meath until at least 1388, as can be seen by the last deed.
The transcripts of the ancient land deeds, below, show that Brabazons held land in Louth and Meath in the fourteenth century at least, some in the barony of Ardee. Judging by the number who appear in church records, censuses, and other records, descendants of the men in these deeds probably continued living in these two counties, until modern times.
The first deed, dated 5 January 1321, describes where Nicholas (mentioned above) had his property in Termonfeckin township. A burgage tenement was a piece of property within a borough, normally with a house and land. It was typically a large plot, long and narrow with the narrow end facing the street, measuring about half an acre and held in leasehold.
John son of Robert grants to William Arnold and Emmota his wife a burgage in the vill of Tarmafechyn with its appurtenances lying by the land of Nicholas Brabeccun, W. and the graveyard of St Fecchyn, E., the land of Robert Broun, N. and the high street (regiam stratam), S.; to hold to them, their heirs or assigns from the chief lord of that fee by due and accustomed services………... Dated at Tarmafechyn, Monday after the feast of St.Thomas, 14 Edward son of King Edward.
Detail from Ordnance Survey Map, 1872, showing Termonfeckin village and surrounding area. St Fechin’s churchyard is marked Ch. The land that once belonged to Nicholas Brabazon is shown in red. Rath House, just north of the village, was built about 1700 by Captain William Brabazon, a descendant of Sir William Brabazon and it is his family who are buried in the churchyard. The Irish Sea is a short distance to the right.
The next deed, made in September 1362, is the grant by William (Babefton) to John Brabesoun of a messuage in Cokestoun. It describes which members of the family should inherit it. Cookstown is in Ardee barony, County Louth. Nobber is in County Meath. A messuage was a dwelling house with outbuildings, garden, orchards and the land immediately surrounding. Unfortunately this old document has deteriorated, so some information is missing.
William For…....grants to John, son of Robert Brabesoun, a messuage.......... Cokestoun by Serlestoun, a messuage........ which formerly were of Philip Cruys, four................. were of said Robert Brabesoun, and four.................. were William Cruys's; to hold...........heirs male of his body............. due and accustomed services. Remainders to................[son] of Robert Brabesoun, and his heirs male; Richard, son of Richard Brabesoun, and his heirs male; William, son of Richard Brabesoun, and his heirs male; Archibald.………..........; John son of Henry Brabesoun; and finally to the right heirs of the said Robert, to hold of the chief lords by due and accustomed services…………………Dated……day..…..feast of the Nativity B.V.M., 36 Edward III.
Endorsed Dromenragh Nobyr.
Detail from the 1872 Ordnance Survey Map showing part of the barony of Ardee Co Louth. Cookstown House is at top left. The town of Ardee is at lower right.
The following deed, dated 24 September 1388, is the grant by William Brabiston to Peter Mey of an acre of land in Kybalmane in the tenement of Drumconragh. A burgess was a freeman in a borough, probably quite well-to-do. The village of Drumconragh is midway between the town of Ardee, County Louth and Nobber, County Meath. It has also been called Drumcondra.
William Brabiston, burgess of Drumconragh, grants to Peter Mey, burgess of the same vill, an acre of arable land with appurtenances in the field of Kylbalnane by the well Kylbalname in the tenement of Drumconragh as it lies by metes and divides; to hold to the said Peter, his heirs and assigns, from grantor, his heirs or assigns freely etc. of the chief lords of that fee by due and accustomed services. Grantor warrants forever. Sealed. Dated at Drumconragh, Thursday after the feast of S. Matthew Ap[ostle]., 12 Richard II.
References consulted: D’Alton, Rev E A, History of Ireland; Campbell, Bruce M S & McVeigh, Ann M, Monks, Warlords and Peasants an Economic and Social History of Ireland 1014-1492; Calendar of Ormonde Deeds Vol I; Calendars of State Papers: Ireland; Appendices to the 37th & 38th Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records of Ireland; Fiants, Ed VI Vol 3 & Elizabeth; Calendars of Judiciary Rolls: Ireland, Ed I & Ed II; McNeill, Charles & Otway Ruthven, A J (Eds) Dowdall Deeds; National Library of Ireland, ms D.15,505, D.15,669 and D.15,750.