According to tradition Jacques le Brabancon came to England from Normandy with William the Conqueror in 1066 and fought at the Battle of Hastings, possibly as the leader of a troop of mercenaries, and for this was rewarded with large tracts of land. However, although the Brabancon name appears in the Battle Abbey Roll there is no record of any Brabazon land-holding in England in the Domesday Book, 1086. So far the earliest record of the name found otherwise in England is Thomas le Brabazun who witnessed a document sometime between 1175 and 1188, in York.
Perhaps Jacques was given land in Normandy rather than England. Two Brabancons are recorded there in the Exchequer Rolls of 1198, paying money into the Treasury. Thomas Brabencon was in Falaise and Roger de Brabancon was in the Forest of Roumare, near Rouen in Caux (1). Thomas of Falaise could be the Thomas who witnessed a document in York between 1175 and 1188, and also a charter in Lincolnshire cir 1200.
In 1199 John succeeded Richard as King of England and Duke of Normandy. By 1204 he had lost Normandy to Philip of France. The nobles of Normandy had to submit to Phillip or go elsewhere. It could be at this stage that a Brabazon moved to England and settled there.
The earliest record of a Brabazon landholder found in England was John Brabesun who held sixteen acres in Norfolk in 1206, but he may well have had more. Perhaps it was his son Adam who had land in East Betchworth in Surrey. Traditionally Adam son of John le Brabazun follows Jacques in the lineages, but he is unlikely to have had any descendants. If a tenant died without heirs his land returned to his lord, in this case the Earl of Surrey, who sold Adam’s land.
About this time, the name in its various forms appeared in several English counties, perhaps indicating more than one original ancestor. Of those found, some witnessed documents where land was given to the church. Some were landowners and others were money lenders. One seems to have been murdered.
The following is a list of those found so far, up to 1268, the date when Roger le Brabazon was first recorded in Mowsley, Leicestershire. From that time on the Leicestershire families have been reasonably well recorded.
1175-1188. Thoma (Thomas) le Brabazun was a witness to the confirmation of a gift to the Hospital of St Peter York. Thomas Hay confirmed the gift of a mill in North Cave which had been given to the hospital by his father Roger Hay, also the profits from four carucates of land that he held ‘which owe suit and ought to grind at that mill and give multure’ (2). A carucate was the amount of land that could be ploughed by a team of eight oxen in a season, approximately 120 fiscal acres. Traditionally twenty sheaves of corn from every plough in the diocese of York were given to the hospital, which was built to house the poor folk of St Peter’s York (3).
cir 1200. Thoma le Brabacum witnessed a charter where Robert son of William son of Gerard of Spaldington confirmed a gift to Ormsby Priory, of several lands and waterways, in and around Spaldington, Lincolnshire (4).
1206. John Brabesun was a sub-tenant holding sixteen acres of land in Stanford Norfolk by homage and services, from William son of Peter (who was a tenant of Lord Richard). The services were sixteen pence and two plough-services when summoned and one man for three days in autumn for food for William, and two hens and half a carcase of mutton and a half-penny at Christmas (5). This seems to be just land that John cultivated. There’s no mention of a house, so he could have lived nearby.
1206. Walter Brabezun was in court in Hertfordshire. He seemed to be representing a client (6).
1207. Hugo Br͂tbacon (Bratbacon) paid half a mark fine in Southampton (7).
1215-1220, Kent. William Brabacum, Brabacun Brabazun or brabazin and his brother Radulfo (Ralph) witnessed documents in Canterbury, relating to the Priory of St Gregory and the Convent of Canterbury Cathedral Priory (8).
1216-1272. John le Brabancon held lands in Nottingham under Henry III (9).
1219-22. Reginald Brabacun owed money to Robert of Castle Carrock, Northumberland (10).
1219-25. William de Warrene, Earl of Surrey, granted a virgate of land (about 30 acres) in East Betchworth Surrey to Thomas son of Ralph Niger, by charter. The land was previously held by Adam son of John le Brabazun (11). William de Warenne was also overlord to many lands in Norfolk, including part of Stanford, Wimbotsham, Methwold and Aylmerton, below.
1225-6. Robertus Le Brabicun was one of the people named in a claim of a property at Wimbotsham, Norfolk (12). He could be the son of John Brabesun of Stanford..
1230, 9 May. Simon Brabacun, a bailiff or faithful citizen associated with Portsmouth (13).
1232. Matilda daughter of Reginald attorned Roberto Brabacun, regarding twenty acres of land and half a messuage in Melewud (Methwold) Norfolk (14). This seems to be the same Robert as above because others are named in both documents. Attorn means to agree to be tenant to a new owner or landlord. A messuage was a house, gardens, orchard etc and the land on which they were situated.
Date unknown but probably early to mid 13th century. Suffolk, Grant by Richard le Brab . . . . of . . . . ., to John son of Richard de Suber [i], of land in . . . . . . ., in the field called 'Cleylond.' Witnesses:—Warin the clerk of Suberi, and others (15). (The document is damaged). This could possibly be another of the Norfolk Brabazon family. A field called Cleylond was near Attleborough in Norfolk. Warin the clerk and Richard of Sudbury were associated with St Bartholemew's Priory, Sudbury, in the early part of the 13th century so this could be a gift of land to the priory.
1241. John Brebanzon or Brabecun and his wife Cecilia had a free-holding in Barton Oxfordshire. They accused others in court of causing them a nuisance by knocking down a fence and destroying a dike (16). Between 1247 and 1261 they were back in court several times (17). In 1278 Walter Brabesun, who was probably their son and heir, was a free tenant with a virgate of land in Little Barton (18).
1246, 22 January at Westminster. Brabacun Bonecuntre, citizen and merchant of Siena was given the ‘power to stay in the realm and carry on his merchandise as he did in times past’, ‘notwithstanding the king’s former mandate that transalpine merchants should leave the realm of England’. He and his associates lent 1,000l. to the king (19). Many later records mention James Brabazon and others, money lenders, described as merchants of the society of the sons of Bonsygnor of Siena, or similar.
1249-50. William Brabazun living in Aylmerton, Kent, was fined half a mark for not attending an inquest on the death by drowning, of a neighbour’s child. Neither the boy’s mother nor her neighbours came to the inquest. Aylmerton and other villages were fined for burying the boy without reporting his death to the coroner (20).
Mid 13th Century, Kent. Richard brabezun, brabacun, de brabansun etc. witnessed charters between landholders in Mongeham and the prior and convent of Canterbury Cathedral Priory (21).
1265, 14 November at Westminster. Richard Chase of Little Budun was pardoned for the death of Thomas Brabecun (22). This is probably Little Bowden, now in Leicestershire, but then in Northamptonshire.
1265, 22 November at Westminster. Richard Chace was pardoned for the death of Gilbert Mayn and of any consequent outlawry. ‘The like to Thomas Brabacun for the same death’ (23). Did Richard kill Thomas after he and Thomas had killed Gilbert? A Thomas Brabazon, who is said to have married an heiress of Mowsley, follows Adam in the traditional lineages. Could this be the same Thomas, or his son ?
1268, 21 November. An inquisition found that Roger Brabazon was holding a carucate of land in Mowsley, Leicestershire from Hugh Gobion by knight’s service - the service of one knight to the chief lord in time of war at his own expense for forty days (24). The inquisition was held to find out what properties were owned by Hugh Gobion. Roger could have held his land before this date. He could have held other lands in Mowsley belonging to other lords. He was the son of William and Amice Brabazon and later became Chief Justice of England.
Many thanks to John Lacey who discovered and passed on records.
For more information, see here
1. Stapleton, Thomas, Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae sub Regibus Angliae, Vol 2, p.406 & p. 445.
2. Farrar, William, Early Yorkshire Charters, Vol 2, p.419, Chartulary of St Leonard’s York, Rawl Ms B 455, f.213.
3. British History Online.
4. Stenton F M (ed) Transcripts of Charters Relating to the Gilbertine Houses of Sixle, Ormsby Catley, Bullington, and Alvingham by Sixles, Linc. Rec. Soc. Vol 18, 1922, p.64.
5. Pipe Roll Society Vol LXX, New Series Vol 1 XXXII, 1954, Feet of Fines, Case 154, file 25 No 322.
6. Curia Regis Roll 42, membrane 19.
7. Hardy, Sir Thomas Duffus, Rotuli de oblatis et finibus in Turri Londinensi asservati, tempore regis Johannes, p. 451, Pledges to Roger son of Adam, sheriff of Southampton.
8. Woodcock, Audrey M, Cartulary of the Priory of St Gregory,Canterbury; Canterbury Cathedral Archives, Grants, in pure and perpetual alms CCA-DCc-ChAnt/I/84 and CCA-DCc-ChAnt/L/357.
9. Brown, Cornelius, History of Newark-on-Trent; being the life story of an ancient town, p.180.
10. Fine Roll 3 Hen III and Fine Roll, 6 Hen III.
11. British History Online; Manning and Bray, History of Surrey, Vol 2, p.209, quoting from a deed in private hands.
12. Curia Regis Rolls Hen III, Vol 12, p. 137, No 680, Trinity term 9 Hen III..
13. Calendar of Patent Rolls, Hen III, Vol 2, p.370.
14. Calendar of Close Rolls, Hen III, 1231-1234, p.149.
15. A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, Vol 4, p.21, A.6295.
16. Fine Roll C 60/45, membrane 14, 32 Hen III.
17. Jobson, Adrian. The Oxfordshire Eyre Roll of 1261, PHD Thesis, Kings College London, 2005, E372/105 r.12d m.1r.11 m.2.
18. Rotuli Hundredorum, 7 Ed I, Vol 2, Com' Oxon' Hund' de Wooton' Parva Bartona, p.853.
19. Calendar of Patent Rolls, Hen III, Vol 3, p.470-1.
20. Rye, Walter, The Norfolk Antiquity Miscellany, Crown Plea Roll Norfolk, 34 Hen III, Mem.16 d, North Erpingham Hundred, PRO Mem 41/1.
21. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, Grants CCA-DCc-ChAnt/M/48,49,51,52,53,54,55,56,57,59, 60,62,63,64,66,67,68,69,70,72,
22. Calendar of Patent Rolls, Hen III, Vol 5, p.505. C66/84 membrane 44.
23. Calendar of Patent Rolls, Hen III, Vol 5, p.509. C66/84 membrane 42.
24. Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous, Vol 1, p.122.