Welcome to the Brabazon Blog! We are trying to get a forum going that would be more instantaneous and universal than either the family website (brabazonarchive.com) or separate emailing. We have commenced with a handful of topics - taken from the website - to kick-start conversations. Your suggestions for additional areas of interest and emails of a personal nature can be sent to Michael Brabazon at mbbrabazon@yahoo.co.uk

As we are probably all now aware, the Brabazon Clan is not homogenous but rather a mosaic of smaller genetic groupings, sometimes explicable by descent via a Brabazon female line, sometimes due to the adoption of the Brabazon name for various known or unknown reasons. By casting the discussion network as wide as possible perhaps we can begin to shed more light on each of the sub-lineages of the Clan - worldwide brainstorming, so to speak!

The Earl and Countess of Meath remain the standard bearers of the Brabazon name, and I think we would all agree that we have an excellent family at the very heart of the Brabazon Clan. Across the spectrum of our Family we are a good microcosm of Irishness in all its cultural forms and our cohesiveness in diversity is perhaps the best testimony to the greatness of our ancestors. So start blogging and let's see where it goes!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Leicestershire Brabazons by Jan Barnes

In the traditional lineages the Brabazon family moved from Surrey to Leicestershire when Thomas le Brabazon of Betchworth married Amicia daughter of John de Mowsley, their marriage taking place in 1236 or before. Their son and heir Roger was knighted in 1268.
Research has revealed that a Thomas le Brabazon sold his town property in Haverberg (Market Harborough) in 1236. The town, situated close to the border with Northamptonshire, originated probably in the mid-eleventh century as a market in Great Bowden parish, and from this a market town gradually evolved.  Traders had shops fronting onto the road or the market place and used the rear of their long narrow sections for their business activity. Perhaps Thomas had a business in the town and was able to move to the country after marrying an heiress. Unfortunately, his wife was not mentioned.

About thirty years later, in 1265, Richard Chase of Little Bowden (near Market Harborough) was pardoned for the death of Thomas Brabazon. Thomas and Richard were both pardoned for killing another man. So far, the relationship of this Thomas Brabazon to the earlier Thomas, or to the Mowsley family is not known.

 Mowsley is a small village about seven miles west of Market Harborough in the southern part of Leicestershire, within the civil parish of the same name. The de Mowsley family, who were tenants of one of the manors there, took their name from the village. Court records show that John de Mowsley had a daughter and sole heir named Avice, who claimed her inheritance in court in 1199. To claim her land she had to be at least fourteen at the time, so would have been born 1185 or before. The records also show that Avice married Amfrid de Medburn before 1203. Perhaps she married Thomas Brabazon later on.

Many years later, in 1268, an inquisition found that Roger Brabazon was a landholder in Mowsley. Records also show that his mother had some land there, and was named Amice, but the lands that they held were not in the manor tenanted by the de Mowsley family. Recently it has been established that Roger’s father was named William, not Thomas. It seems that Amice has been confused with Avice de Mowsley, that heiress of an earlier generation, with a similar name.

The Brabazon family based in Mowsley are reasonably well recorded, mainly because of Sir Roger Brabazon’s high profile as a judge and also because of his landholdings, but in putting together the traditional lineages the genealogists of the time had different opinions about the relationship between Sir Roger Brabazon and Roger Brabazon ‘the younger’ and between either of them and Sir William Brabazon of Sproxton and Garthorpe. Eventually a lineage was traced through every prominent person.

Roger Brabazon ‘the younger’ was presumed to be Sir Roger Brabazon’s son but was actually his nephew. They both worked for the same firm – the Duchy of Lancaster. The younger Roger was so named to distinguish him from his uncle. It was Roger the younger who founded the Eastwell branch of the family, not his famous uncle. Roger the younger’s wife was named Elizabeth.

William Brabazon of Sproxton and Garthorpe co Leicester was also Sir Roger Brabazon’s nephew. This was stated in court in 1330 but his parents were not named. If he was Matthew’s son, as usually said, he would have inherited the family properties. His direct line ended with an heiress named Joan.

Sir Roger Brabazon and his brother and heir Matthew both died without issue. Inheritance of the family land passed to their three sisters Joan, Anabil and Emma, in equal shares, as was the custom of the time, when there was no male heir.

For more information on Mowsley, including a modern photograph of the village and a larger plan see http://www.leicestershirevillages.com/mowsley/ .

The Brabazon manor house in Mowsley was north of the village. The position of the house and fishponds are marked on this section of the 1885 Ordinance Survey Map of the village.

Below is my interpretation of the lineage. It contains corrections and additions to the articles previously published on the Brabazon Archive website in 2003. It is mostly compiled from records that have been translated from the original Latin or French into English, and published in books. Many other unpublished records exist in libraries, archives and county record offices.

Spelling of family and place names varied considerably in the records depending on who was writing.  In the Domesday Book (1086) the village is named ‘Muselai’. Roger Brabazon the judge was usually surnamed le Brabanzon or le Brabanzoun. His nephew Roger seems to have omitted the ‘le’ and his name was often written as Brabazun. For convenience modern spelling is mostly used.

Brabazon family of Mowsley

In the middle years of the thirteenth century William le Brabanzon married Amice.  Nothing has come to light so far regarding William’s ancestry or career, whether he held any land in Mowsley, or even if he lived there. In 1277 Amice had a small property there, a homestead with about thirty acres of land, presumed to be a gift from her brother, Roger de Sadington, son of Adam (or Thomas) de Welleham. An undated deed of gift, witnessed by many local landowners, is printed in Nichols’, ‘Leicestershire’, but with no reference and nothing to show for certain that it is the same piece of land or the same Amice.

Many surnames of this time were ‘toponymic’ and were inclined to change depending on where a person lived. Thomas de Welleham (of Welham) was living in nearby Saddington, from as early as 1204. Probably the same Thomas had a son and heir known as Roger de Sadington who died about 1277 and it is probably this Roger who was Amice’s brother. Generally women had no property of their own so the locational type of surname didn’t apply to them. In the records they were usually described as someone’s daughter or wife, but there were exceptions. Amice was not recorded as ‘wife of William Brabazon’. She was Roger de Sadington’s sister, Roger Brabazon’s mother or Amice Brabazon. Perhaps this was because she was a landholder in her own right.

William and Amice Brabazon’s children included Roger, Matthew, Joan, Anabil and Emma. William also had sons named John and Thomas but it isn’t clear whether Amice was their mother. They are documented as Roger’s brothers.

Roger was born before 1247. In 1268 he was holding a carucate of land by knight’s service; therefore he would have been at least twenty-one. (A carucate was the amount of land able to be tilled by a team of eight oxen in a ploughing season; approximately 120 fiscal acres). This land was in the manor of Knaptoft, part of which was included in Mowsley Parish. In 1300 he was granted free warren (hunting rights) in his desmesne lands in Mowsley, so possibly by then had obtained the other three carucates, which he was holding from the Earl of Warwick in 1315.  In the survey of 1316 he was the only manorial lord named in Mowsley. He also bought properties in Gumley and Garthorpe in Leicestershire, manors in Sibertoft, Northamptonshire, and Great Rollright, Oxfordshire, and a house and land in Hampstead, London.

Other lands were held for life in right of his wife Beatrice, an heiress whom he married between 1281 and 1284. Beatrice was the widow of William de Kileby and was daughter of Warin de Bassingbourn and Albreda de Sproxton. Through her mother, Beatrice was co-heir to her uncle, John de Sproxton. She also inherited land from her ancestors, the de Biset family and from her brother John de Bassingbourn. Apparently Beatrice was born before 1230, so was past childbearing age when she married Roger. They had no children. She died about 1302 and was buried in Christ Church, London.

Roger had a long and distinguished career as a lawyer and judge. In 1295 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Kings Bench and was a member of the King’s Council. He retired in 1316 but remained on the council. At his death on 14 June 1317 his full title was Sir Roger le Brabazon of Museleye knight. His seal states that he was Sir Roger son of William le Brabanzon.


Before his death Roger gave most of his manors and other lands to nephews. Thomas le Curzon, his sister Emma’s son, was given the manor of Sibertoft and land in Pickwell, Leesthorpe and Burrough on the Hill as well as the Advowson of the Church of Pickwell. He gave the manor of Great Rollright to Master John le Brabazon, who gave it to his brother William. It is possible that Roger helped Master John in his career by paying for papal dispensations. Probably a different William was given land in Sproxton and Garthorpe. Lands in Mowsley and Gumley passed by inheritance to his brother Matthew, ‘aged forty and more’, who was probably his youngest brother.

John could have been living in Oxfordshire as early as 1270, possibly a student at university. (That year a John Brabazun killed a man named John Billand, but was pardoned because it was done in self defence). In 1280 Roger Brabazon acquired a manor in Great Rollright, which he later gave to his brother John for his lifetime for the annual rent of thirteen pounds of silver. John had to fulfil all the usual services and dues. He then qualified for knighthood and in 1297 was summoned to fight in France. Perhaps he died there, perhaps not, but by 1302 he was dead, survived by his wife Mabilla and sons Master John and William.

After John’s death, Master John divided his father’s corpse and buried it ‘in divers places’ for which he was excommunicated, but after a substantial payment to the Pope he was given absolution and dispensation. He proceeded from Oxford University in 1315 with the equivalent of a Doctorate of Divinity (Sanctae Theologiae Professor). Master John was illegitimate and William probably was as well, so seemingly neither qualified to be Roger’s heir.  William had a son, or grandson, named John Brabazon who was alive and attempting to claim Great Rollright in 1377, and possibly a descendant named Richard Brabazon who was Mayor of Higham Ferrers, 1377-1399.
Thomas was vicar of Little Addington and Bruntingthorpe and parson of the church of Hungerton. Roger supported him in his career with gifts to the church. In 1292 Roger and Beatrice granted him thirty librates of land in Sproxton, Saxeby and Pykwell (lands worth £30 a year) He was living in 1297.

Matthew, the heir to Mowsley and Gumley died 1320 or 1321. His wife Sarra continued to have use of the properties until her death in 1325. Because Matthew and Sara had no children the inheritance passed to the three sisters, Joan, Anabil and Emma, in equal shares. Members of their families, Thomas le Brabazon, Roger de Outheby and William le Curzon did fealty and divided the premises.

Joan was probably the oldest of the three sisters, possibly the eldest child, and probably married to a cousin who lived in Saddington. Her son and heir, known as Roger Brabazon ‘the younger’ held land there which he may have inherited from his father.  Roger the younger and his wife Elizabeth bought the manor of Eastwell in 1293. They were the founders of the Eastwell line of Brabazons, from which family the Earls of Meath descend. Roger the younger predeceased his uncle Roger.

Joan’s grandson, Thomas Brabazon (son and heir of Roger Brabazon the younger), inherited Joan’s portion of Mowsley and Gumley, but seems to have lived on the family land in Saddington, before taking up residence at Eastwell, where his mother had lived during her widowhood. The Eastwell Brabazons held their share of Mowsley until shortly after the Battle of Bosworth when it passed to the Sherrard and Hastings families by marriage with heiresses. About 1538 William Brabazon regained this share, and other properties by agreements with those families and it passed down by inheritance to the Earls of Meath.

Anabil was married to Robert de Outheby (Oadby). Her son Roger inherited her portion of Mowsley and Gumley. He died without issue and his brother Theobald inherited. Theobald had sons Thomas, his heir, and John. In 1345 Roger Brabazon son of William Brabazon of Mowsley made a deed granting his lordship in Mowsley with rents and the homage and services of freemen, to John Oudeby of Stoke Dry Co. Rutland, who is probably this John, but the identity of Roger son of William is a bit of a mystery. He could be another son of Sir William of Sproxton and Garthorpe.  

Seal of Roger Brabazon of Mowsley attached to the
1345 grant to John Oudeby of Stoke Dry.

John Nichols, History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, Vol IV pt 1.

Emma was married to William le Curzon of Croxall in Derbyshire, who was Roger Brabazon’s ward during his minority. Members of the Curzon family lived in Mowsley until at least 1332 and the family continued to hold an interest there until at least 1428, although their main place of residence was Croxall.

William of Sproxton and Garthorpe who appears in the traditional lineages as son of Matthew, was a nephew of Sir Roger Brabazon but no-one really knows the name of his father. If he was Matthew’s son he must have been illegitimate, otherwise he would have inherited Mowsley and Gumley. He was sometimes named ‘of Saddington’, therefore he could be a younger son of Joan. He could be John’s son William, or the son of another unknown member of the family.

William was knighted with 266 others at Whitsuntide, 34 Ed I (1306) on the occasion of the knighting of Edward Prince of Wales. He was made a Knight of the Bath. He married Joan, daughter of William Trussel of Marston Trussel, Northamptonshire and of Cubleston, Staffordshire. Their eldest son, John Brabazon of Garthorpe was at the battle of Crécy in 1346, a knight serving in the King’s Division in the retinue of another William Trussel. John married three times. His daughter and sole heir, Joan, married William de Woodford and the ownership of those manors and lands passed to the Woodford family. In the traditional lineages William’s second son Thomas has been confused with Thomas Brabazon of Saddington and Eastwell. William’s son Thomas probably lived in Uttoxeter in Staffordshire.

Several other Brabazons are recorded living nearby, but so far there is no way to tell how these Brabazons are related to the Mowsley family. Anselm and Gregory each held a virgate of land in Mowsley 1279-80, a similar sized property to the one which was held by Amice Brabazon but probably without a house. Gregory lived in Saddington, close by. His son John was alive in 1336. Robert Brabazon and his wife Alice were in Saddington, 1277-78. Adam Brabazon was living there in 1310 and 1327. He died before 1337 leaving a widow named Agnes.

Another Roger Brabazon, said to be a nephew of Sir Roger Brabazon, was prior of Tynemouth in 1340.

A knight bearing the Brabazon arms died at the Siege of Calais, following the Battle of Crécy. This may have been William ‘Brabazoune’ who was in the retinue of Laurence de Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, and was last heard of on 15 June 1347.

In the following century Brabazons were living in Oadby. The only member of this family found so far was Roger Brabazon of Oadby, a doctor of Canon law who became a residentiary of St Paul's Cathedral and when he died on 3 August 1498 was buried there.

Main Sources:- John Lodge, A Peerage of Ireland, Revised by Mervyn Archdall; Burke’s Peerage & Baronetage; H. Sharpe, Genealogical History of the Family of Brabazon; Public Record Office Calendars and original rolls; George Farnham, Leicestershire Medieval Village Notes; John Nichols,  History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, British History on-line: Mowsley; Reginald Jeffery, The Manors and Advowson of Great Rollright; Maj. Gen. George Wrottesley, Crecy and Calais; Paul Brand, Dictionary of National Biography, and letters; Richard Borthwick, Biset ancestry. Thanks to John Lacey of Mowsley who gave assistance in the research, provided a second opinion, and proof read the essay.

(click for high-res version)

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