The BRUSH Families of the British Isles
1438 - 1921

David Wallis Brush
(Based on research by Fred Wallis Brush and Edith Marilyn Brush,nee John)
© 2006 to 2020

section 1 : Introduction
Chapter 1


'The BRUSH Families of the British Isles' tries to be a complete one-name study of the name BRUSH within the United Kingdom plus some Irish material and a few sections on emigrants to the US and elsewhere. This ambitious work may never be completed!

The selected start date for the study is 1438, which is the first known reference to John of Gippco. But the vast majority concerns the three and a half centuries from the mid 16th century, when parish registers began to be kept, to the beginning of the 20th century.

During the 15th and 16th century the BRUSH name is scattered along a 300 mile crescent running from Cornwall in the South West to the east coast of Suffolk. Although this is a long line, we do not have references to the name across the whole of this area; just localised pockets. Outside this region there are just a handful of isolated entries.

There are five areas where early Brush entries appear:

By the mid 17th century there are established family groups in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Herefordshire,Yorkshire, London, Berkshire, Devon, Cornwall, Ireland and in North America. The American material is outside the scope of this book but the possible origins of the families who went to America are discussed in section x.

Inevitably, as the centuries pass, the families spread out but the early locations remain the heartland for the wider distribution.

Chapter 2

My own direct line of descent

I have, inevitably, a bias towards an interest in my own direct line of descent. The clearly evidenced line begins with 'William of Dufton' who was born sometime around 1630, as discussed in Section 3 Chapter x. Before that is less clear but there seems little doubt that he came from the pool of Gloucstershire BRUSH entries we have for the period from 1520 to the start of the seventeenth century.

From William my ancestry moves into Wiltshire and then to London:

William BRUSH 'of Dufton', born around 1630 married Elizabeth 1656, died 1667 (F6, ch 9 )

Thomas BRUSH, baptised 1664 Tetbury , married Jane (F25 , ch 9)

Thomas BRUSH bap 1694 Sherston, Wilts married Sarah BROWN 1718 F40, died 1748

Isaac BRUSH, bap 1724 Westonbirt, Gloucs m Mary COVE 1745, died 1753 D47, ch

William BRUSH bap 1746(7) Brinkworth, Wilts m Mary MOULDER 1772 died 1801 D58(7?)

Thomas BRUSH bap 1779 Inglesham, Wilts married Sarah TAYLOR 1808 and three times more, died 1848

Samuel BRUSH born 1809 Little Stanmore, Middlesex married Sarah Carter by 1831, died 1872

John Thomas BRUSH born 1831 Pimlico, Middlesex married Mary Ann WALLIS 1853, died 1864

Arthur Wallis BRUSH born 1855 Pimlico, Middlesex married Emily PLEMMING 1882, died 1922

Arthur Wesley BRUSH born 1884 Islington. Middlesex married Laura Nellie WEBB 1922, died 1946

Fred Wallis BRUSH born 1925 , Palmers Green, Middlesex m. Edith Marilyn JOHN 1952, died 2010

David Wallis BRUSH (Me) born 1954, Bury St Edmunds Suffolk married 3 times, not dead yet

I have two daughters - Nicola Anne born 1990 and Elizabeth Charlotte born 1992. The likelihood is that their children will carry their fathers' surnames and my BRUSH line will come to an end.

Chapter 3


In the early 1970s I began to explore, with my parents, my own family history. The great advantage of an uncommon name like BRUSH(1) is that there are sufficiently few recorded instances that the researcher can uncritically gather together anything and everything bearing the name, take it away, analyse it and hopefully fit it into a pattern.

This random gathering of anything and everything bearing the name has led to this work(2) being not simply about my own family history. It tries to be a complete one-name study of the name BRUSH within the British Isles - United Kingdom plus all of Ireland (which was not a separate country for almost all the period covered by this book).

In an unpublished study of our direct line of descent, first produced in 1994 and last revised by him in 1999, my father identified that that there had been less than 1000 people born in England with the surname BRUSH since the start of 1837 when civil registration began and that there were only about 400 BRUSH individuals then alive. The second number is unlikely to be much different today and the first will only have risen by around 100.

A website called 'forebears' asserts that, at October 2018, there are 302 incidences of the name in England, 16 in Scotland, 13 in Wales, 180 in Northern Ireland and just 1 in the Republic of Ireland. Contrast this with a reported 9,373 in the USA. Northern Ireland is said to have the highest density in the population, but the incidence is still just 1 in 10,249.

When I left home, at the end of the 1970s, the limited work I had done on the Civil Registration records was left with my parents Fred and Marilyn BRUSH. They spent some 25 years working on the study. Sadly my mother died in 2004 and my father in 2010, for they would both have loved to see the fruits of their researches in print. My father was able to work with me to a limited extent in the early preparation of this book. Most of the credit for the material in the appendices now presented in the story must go to them. It was they who spent hundreds of hours poring over registers (in a pre-internet world) and mastering the art of transcribing hard to read wills, and this work is dedicated to them. Without their efforts and enthusiasm this book would never have been written - and I would not be here to write it.

This book is concerned with the Brush families of the British Isles but there are some references to emigrants to the US, Australia and Canada and a handful to other countries including Bolivia, Jamaica and Mauritius. For a fuller exploration of the BRUSH name within the United States, where it first appears in the mid 1600s, there is no better place to start than the 3 volume set of books produced by Rev Stuart BRUSH and Russell BRUSH The Descendants of Thomas and Richard BRUSH of Long Island (2) . There were BRUSH emigrants to the USA other the Thomas and Richard of Long Island but these are outside the scope of Stuart's work. The unsolved mystery of the origins of Thomas and Richard is discussed in section 10 of this book.

Although I have used the 1438 date for John of Gippco in the title the reality is that the scope of this work covers only the three and a half centuries from the mid 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century. The few references before then do not add up to a coherent story. With just a couple of exceptions I plan to finish with an arbitrary cut-off date of 1921 to allow the inclusion of the 1921 census once it is released.

It will then include a few instances of information about the birth of those still living (those 100 plus) but going beyond that is difficult without obtaining all the necessary consents in this era of Data Protection and Human Rights to privacy. I do hold a private volume recording the more immediate family information from 1921 to date but do not anticipate publishing this.

If you are aware of any information, however small, that I have missed about individuals called BRUSH, or any of its variants, (or if you should disagree with any of my conclusions) please do get in touch and let me know.

David Wallis BRUSH


NEXT: Section 1 chapter 4, The earliest BRUSH entries

(1) To test the relative incidence I did a surname search within the Genes Reunited website. BRUSH produced 629 hits, BUSH 12,984 (21x), WRIGHT 219 times as many, JONES 496 times and SMITH a whopping 539,047 - 857 times as many as for BRUSH. back to text

(2) back to text    All my earlier drafts (and this has been worked on for some 14 years!)referred to this 'book' rather than 'work' as I hoped that is wat it would turn into. I'm sure some references remain. This text differs in a few tiny points from the original 'Word' text but the substance remains identical. There are fewer footnotes, many of which have been replaced with hyperlinks to sources.

(2) The Descendants of Thomas and Richard Brush of Huntington, Long Island. A Source Book. Compiled by Stuart C. Brush with the collaboration of Russell B. Brush. Gateway Press 1982. There are now 4 supplements to the original work in two volumes. back to text