The Brooksby Family
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The earliest date of this family is 1574, when Edward Brooksby (d. 1627) married at Earl Shilton Alice Overton or Orton, and settled at Stoke Golding, on what was clearly a gentleman's property, either from his family or, more likely, hers.
In one way this is the most distinguished of the modern BROOKSBY branches, since it runs through to the beginning of the nineteenth century without an illegitimate break. However, as will become apparent, there is a break at 1789, and it is to be hoped that some modern member of the family will not be content until the gap is bridged.
There is a second and minor break right at the beginning of the line. We can be certain that Edward sprang from the main stock, but who exactly was his father remains as yet a mystery. In an earlier chapter (see page 12) grounds are given for presuming him to be part of the family of Bartholomew of Melton Mowbray. He cannot be a son, he might be a grandson.
Presumably he is the Edward registered as a student at Oxford in 1562 and therefore born about 1546. His marriage in 1574 would fit in very well with that assumption.
A good deal of work has already been done in trying to find a clue to Edward's birth, so far without success, but the family historian never gives up hope. Somewhere there may lie undiscovered a vital clue. In the meanwhile the Stoke Golding family is very well documented after 1574.
For several generations it was distinguished by those all-too-common features -- families of seven, eight, twelve, thirteen children born, and very few of them surviving to leave issue into the next generation. They became wealthy, and since there were few surviving members, one would have expected the money to funnel towards one or the other person, ensuring some considerable cumulative fortunes. But it all seems to have vanished without trace, leaving only the faintest echo of past glory. One of the modern Brooksby's of this line wrote "I always understood that he (my grandfather) came of good family and my mother used to reckon (I hope this does not sound snobbish) that my grandfather married beneath him".
The grandfather concerned did indeed come of good family but the days of its prosperity were not nearly as recent as the writer felt. The rumour had been passed along from the eighteenth century and was as tenacious as such family rumours often are.
Francis (1581-1631), son of Edward of Stoke Golding, had two brothers, One, another Edward of Stoke Golding, left one daughter. The other, George, went to London to seek his fortune in trade in the manner of so many younger brothers, and died there, unmarried.
Francis (1581-1631) married Elizabeth Wright of Nuneaton, and they had no fewer than nine children. They also turned to one of the Puritan forms of religion which flourished at the time, since, abandoning the Brooksby family names, he called his children Ruth, Nehemiah, Abel, Ruth, Obadiah, Nathaniel, Gamaliel, Elizabeth, and Abigail. They all did well. Nichols' History gives their family tree and quotes a number of references to what was clearly one of the chief families of the parish.
Visit the beautiful church of Stoke Golding, near Hinckley, take a torch, and do some mountaineering over the organ case in the south aisle. The top half of a seventeenth century brass monument is visible, the rest being hidden by the organ. Luckily Nichols quotes the whole of the elegant Latin inscription which gives the names of all these children, living and dead. The brass also carries the Brooksby arms with the pierced mullet and the boars head crest -- proof positive, if any were needed, that Edward belonged legitimately to the main family.
Of the children of Francis (1581-1631), Nehemiah was a freeman mercer of Leicester. He left no sons. His will, quoted by the Victoria County History, gave an inventory of the deceased owner's stock in trade: "silks, silken lace, silk and cotton ribbons, buttons, taffety, tabby, calico, canvas, dimity, buckram, tobacco, flax, oil, soap, leather, coloured skins".
Abel (d. 1676) was an apothecary and alderman of Coventory. He appears to have died without issue.
Nathaniel (d. 1687) was educated at Balliol College Oxford, was a schoolmaster of Solihull, married twice, but also left no children. According to Nichols his name can be seen carved on a beam in Stoke Golding church: "D. Nath. Brokesby prius..."
The only son to leave issue was Obadiah (1614-1696). He settled on the family estate at Stoke Golding. "In 1703," according to Nichols, "Francis Brokesby owned and lived on his estate at Stoke, of a capital messuage and 100 acres of land ... In 1730 conveyed it to Andrew Noel of Burbage esq. for £1786". (This Francis was Obadiah's son.)
A pleasant and profitable holding for those days. It might well be possible to find out which was the "capital messuage" on which Mr. BROOKSBY paid £44 in local tax in 1665, the same house on which he paid Hearth Tax for five chimneys in 1664.
In 1678 a Free School was founded in Stoke Golding by a Mrs. Hester Hodges of London, and Obadiah Brooksby was one of the trustees along with other respected townsmen.
His three sons, Francis (1637-1714), John (1639-1723), and Obadiah (1645-1685) received the kind of education and start in life which might be expected. The eldest and youngest both went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and then into the church.
Francis (1637-1714) became quite famous first as a pious scholar, and then because he could not agree to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary after James II abdicated in 1688. He was ejected from his parish of Rowley in East Yorkshire, and came south to London and Oxford, finally retiring to Hinckley, although he was buried with the rest of the family at Stoke Golding.
He is the only member of the Brooksby family who has attained the pages of the Dictionary of National Biography. He had six children, but no Brooksby grandchildren. His son Richard died at the age of thirty in Virginia, America. His last surviving unmarried daughter, Anne, died in 1759, "a notorious and furious Jacobite".
The younger brother, Obadiah (1645-1685) went to a living at Bekesbourne, Kent, near Canterbury. He seems to have had no children -- none were christened in his parish nor mentioned in his will.
The middle brother, John (1639-1723) was the one who carried on the name, and his descendants survive today. He continued the family tradition in trade. There were seven major guilds in Leicester, but almost all the early Brooksbys seem to have been mercers. John left Stoke Golding for the big town of Leicester, where he became a freeman in 1662 after serving an apprenticeship with his uncle Nehemiah was taxed on two hearths in a house in the High Street in 1664, became an Alderman in 1666, and in 1692 served as Mayor.
He married in 1663 as soon as he was able to set up in business for himself, one Mary Cook, and they had twelve children. of whom only one appears to have given him Brooksby grandchildren. Most of them died in childhood. One son,Obadiah, followed his father's trade but died unmarried before he was thirty.
Only Abel (1675-1735) survived whatever circumstances or disease decimated the rest of the family. He followed his two uncles to Trinity College, Cambridge, and into the church, settling down as Rector of Swithland, a charming but small and rather isolated village in Charnwood Forest, some six miles out of Leicester. As the last remaining son he followed another honourable tradition and became a freeman of Leicester in 1721, presumably by patrimony since he had not been apprenticed to a trade.
He married Alice Palmer of Leicester (1672-1742). They had seven children and lived very peacefully, as far as one can judge, in their country village. Nichols quotes their memorial stone in the chancel of the church, which has now disappeared, "Here lieth the body of Abel Brokesby, AM., who was rector of this parish 34 years..."
After Abel, the Brooksby family went into something of a decline. Since Abel was the only surviving son of a Mayor of Leicester, one would have expected a good deal of family money to come his way, and living in a retired country parish for thirty-five years he can hardly have spent his fortune on riotous living. There are, of course, other ways to lose money.
The reverend Abel married his daughters well, and left his son William (d. London 1781) a small estate in Solihull, the last remnant of the property of great-great-uncle Nathaniel, schoolmaster. His second son Abel also went to London and died young, without children. (If mortality was high in the country, it was appallingly higher in the crowded and insanitary conditions of the metropolis).
And yet the eldest son of the rector, John (b.1702) was merely a carpenter in the neighbouring village of Newtown Linford, and at least one of his grandsons could not sign the marriage register. From then on, although the family kept up their right of freemanship for several more generations, they were nothing grander than tailors and framework knitters, the days of their prosperity past.
John the carpenter (b. 1702) had a son William (1744-1813), who migrated to Leicester, became a tailor, and with his twin brother Abel took up his freemanship in 1767. He married Isabella Simpson, and by her had six (or was it seven?) children. There is here a slight hiccup in the family line.
Between 1770 and 1781 six children were born to William and Isabella in Northgate Street, Leicester. The youngest of the six, Richard (1781-1848), a framework knitter, lived all his life in Northgate Street, and although his trade was a lowly one, took his freemanship in 1807.
In 1789 three events occurred. Rebecca (b. 1771), William's eldest daughter, died at the age of eighteen. His wife, Isabella, died, and was buried on the same day as her daughter. And another William Brooksby, also a tailor, also in his adult life living in that part of Leicester, was born. (We know he was born in 1789 because his age at death was given, but he does not seem to have been baptised, unlike the other six children of William, all of whom were duly christened in the parish church). The important question is, was this William Brooksby (1789-1827) an after-thought legitimate son of William and Isabella, or was he an illegitimate son of Rebecca? There is a third possibility, that he was nothing to do with the family at all, and came from elsewhere, but it does not seem at all likely. Somewhere there may be more evidence to clear this point, and William's descendants may at some time turn their attention to it. If he could be proved legitimate, the line would be unbroken from Edward of Stoke Golding, and presumably they would have the right to assume the Brooksby coat of arms, and perhaps also to claim freemanship of the City of Leicester, so it is worth exploring.
William (1789-1827) is the last common ancestor of the two modern families which derive from his two sons, Thomas (1814-1865) and George (1816-1861).
Thomas Brooksby (1814-1865) lived in Navigation Street, Leicester, and married Sarah Mayes from Olney in Buckinghamshire. They travelled, presumably in search of work. Three of his seven children were born in Leicester, two in Nottingham, two in Loughborough. The whole family then moved to Birmingham. A son, John Thomas (1850-1910) moved to London, and the present family would regard itself as a London family. [This is an error, he was just "Thomas Brooksby". RB 2003-07-03]
While Thomas Brooksby (1814-1865) left Leicester, George Brooksby (1816-1861) remained, and followed his trade of tailoring, some time in Kenyon Street, then in Albion Street. Both his sons George (1850-1921) and Henry (1852-1940) worked for a tobacco firm. In the 1871 census both are set down as "cigar maker". George had descendants, Henry seems to have died unmarried.
John Thomas (1850-1910) [Actually just "Thomas". RB 2003-07-03]
m. (i) 1875 Sarah Williams (1851-1886) and had issue:
m. (ii) 1976 Rita Brooksby
m. (2) 1893 Elizabeth Whalley (1871-1912) and had issue:
George (1850-1921) m. 1870 Sarah Ann (d. 1927) and had issue:
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Last updated $Date: 2005/02/10 $ by Richard Brooksby.