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Section 3 : Tewkesbury

Chapter 12

Richard of Tewkesbury

Maybe the most interesting place to start the main story told in this book is with Richard BRUSH of Tewkesbury - or Richard BRUSSHE as the contemporary record has it - a century after the isolated appearance of Walter[G500] of Cheltenham. Richard heads the first clearly documented family group, for whom we have broader information about their circumstances than simply disconnected names and dates. This provides a useful point of stability which other, briefer, entries can reference. As we will also see, there seems to have been something of an explosion of family from this one individual.

I am also a little biased as my own line comes from one of the Gloucestershire families, as do many others(1). The only problem is we do not know which one!

There is a temptation, which I previously succumbed to, to believe that Tewkesbury represents the starting point for all the Gloucestershire BRUSH families. Because of the extent of the Tewkesbury records, in the first draft of this book this chapter was headed "Richard of Tewkesbury - the root of the tree". But I no longer believe this to be the case.

As I delved deeper into the material it began to appear that Richard probably represents an early offshoot and that Tewkesbury is at the outer limit of the area in which the BRUSH family had lived in the preceding half-century. If there is an original spring from which the various Gloucestershire BRUSH groups flow, I would be inclined to place it further south and east - possibly Cheltenham - and to regard Tewkesbury as one of the streams flowing from that source.

We know nothing of Richard of Tewkesbury's birth or ancestry, and can only speculate. We first encounter him in 1520 when a coroner's report(2) records the death of Richard Courte, drowned falling from the "stoke" boat of Richard Brusshe.

,1520_4,B/264,9/482/49,,Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury,1520-04-04, "Gooderigge, John",Courte,Richard,M,Tewkesbury,Waterman,,,, 1519-11-02,11,,15:00,,He was in the boat of Richard Brusshe called a 'stoke bote' worth 5s on the River Avon, "Seeing his 'Shaftehoke' worth 4d floating on the water, he intended to recover it. He extended his hands to reach the hook but swift current caused the boat to capsize", River Avon,,Fall into,,Drowned,,,Boat worth 5s and hook worth 4d,,,,

The next reference (which until 2019 was the first reference we had) is in 1542, at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries(3) by Henry VIII when he is recorded in a list of tenants of Tewkesbury Abbey as having a tenancy for 60 years of the wear house and fishery at the Overlode for a rent of 16 shillings. His tenancy is recorded again in 1553. These extracts come from the "Hockaday abstracts" (4) .

Although the reference is in a document from 1542 it recites the lease having been given in regnal year 30 Henry VIII which ran from 22 April 1538 to 21 April 1539.

The following text may have been taken directly (by my father) from the Hockaday abstracts or copied from They used to live in Tewkesbury, which is almost certainly where the above image of text is taken from.

"1553. Parcel in the possession of the late monastery of Tewkesbury in the aforesaid county. House called the Warehouse with the appurtenances in the aforesaid county of the said late monastery. Farm of a house called the Warehouse situate next the Overlode with a close of pasture called Warehouse Close, containing by estimation of a farrindell [a quarter of an acre] of land, demised amongst others to Richard Brusshe his executors and assigns by indenture for a term of 60 years, which is dated 16 Dec 30 Henry VIII paying yearly 12d sovages (5). Woods nil as appear by certificate. Pasture called Greenhey in the said county. Farm of a small close of pasture called Greenhey in the tenure of the aforesaid Richard Brusshe yearly …2s. Wood nil as appear by certificate"

In the years, indeed the centuries, before the dissolution of the monasteries, Tewkesbury Abbey had been a rich and powerful institution, which had owned parishes across Gloucstershire and Wiltshire.

Richard was a tenant of the Abbey - holding the property and fishing rights on lease rather than as a freeholder. In legal terms this made the Abbey the owner of a freehold reversion - meaning it had no right to immediate possession of the land but did have the rights to rent during the term of the lease and to recover possession of the property at the end of the lease term.

My father's notes say that "At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the ownership was given to William Wyatt but it would seem [from his will] that Richard had been able to hold on to his tenancy…" Which is what I, as a former lawyer, would expect. When the Abbey was dissolved and its assets seized and distributed by the Crown this should not have directly affected Richard's occupation and use of the land under his lease- it merely changed the identity of his landlord.

At 1548 there is a record(6) of court proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas:

London - debt - Brusshe, Richard, senior, of Tewkesbury, Gloucs [plaintiff] - Sheldon, Thomas, of Chyldes Wycam, Gloucs, gent [defendant]

Childswickam is a village about 12 miles northeast of Tewkesbury. (I stopped there for, a very nice, lunch on my 2019 cycle trip to Aberystwyth. Not that that has anything to do with this history!) Now in Worcestershire it was then in Gloucestershire. The reference in this record to Richard Brush senior may mean two things. Either Richard the tenant had a father also called Richard (who would have been born sometime around 1480 - which would make him 68 in 1548) or, perhaps more likely, Richard already had an adult son Richard by 1548. We know that his eldest son was called Richard.

In or around 1557 there is a court case(7) between a Richard BRISHE of Tewkesbury, Fisherman and Daniel PARTIE, gentleman(8). Who seems likely to be the same man. This will not be the last time that we will see references to BRISH as an alternative to BRUSH. If there were families called BRISH then we could not claim this as possible evidence but searches on genealogical sites show very few BRISH entries, even when compared to BRUSH.

The key piece of evidence about Richard is his will which he makes in 1558, the year Good Queen Bess takes the throne. In this we are highly fortunate as it is most informative. The following transcript of the will was taken directly and without amendment from a website called tewkesburyhistory.com. Unfortunatly this website no longer exists and I can no find no indication of who used to operate it. It was not the Tewkesbury Historical Society that operate a similar site called tewkesburyhistory.org. That site contains lots of interesting Tewkesbury information but not wills of the period we are interested in.

To make it a bit more readable I have separated it into paragraphs. The original is a continuous stream of handwritten text.

In dei nomine amen the last days of October in the year of our Lord God a thousand five hundred fifty and eight, I Richard Brushe of Tewkesbury in the diocese of Gloucester, sick in my body nevertheless of good and perfect remembrance, thanks be to God, do make and ordain this my testament herein containing my last will in manner and form following.

First and chiefly I bequeath my soul into the hands of Almighty God, my maker, saviour and redeemer and to all the holy company in heaven, my body to be buried in the churchyard of Tewkesbury foresaid.

Also I give and bequeath to Richard Brusshe, my eldest son, all that my right title estate and terms of years which I have and hold by indenture to me and my assigns, two little closes with the appurtenances which one of them is set, lying and being within the parish of Forthingford in the county of Gloucester called Wythybed, joining to the water of Severne and on the west side of the same water on and against the passage there called Wytteslode, and the other of the said closes hath in him a weare house and is set, lying and being within the parish of Tewkesbury and in the said county of Gloucester joining to the said water of Severne and near to the passage aforesaid over the east side, to have and to hold the said two little closes and weare house with all and singular their appurtenances to the said Richard my son and his assigns for all the years yet to come and specified and comprised in the said indenture, so that Henry and Lewes, my two sons, shall have and take during their lives yearly and the longest liver of them either of them, pasture in the said time in the said close called Wethybed for one cow always from the feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross to the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel of the said indenture do so long endure, yelding and paying therefore yearly to the said Richard, my son, and his assigns either of them. and always at the feasts of Saint Michael the Archangel during the said terms,

and also my will is that the said Richard, my son, shall yearly pay and deliver to my said two sons, Henry and Lewes, out of the said Wethybed either of them, four strikes of fruit if there be so many there grown during their lives and the longest liver of them if the said indenture do so long endure, and also I give and bequeath to the said Richard, my son, all my right, title, estate and terms of years which I have and by indenture hold, of the demise and grant of the late Abbot and Convent of the late disolved Monastary of the blessed Saint Mary the virgin of Tewkesbury foresaid, for fishing in Severn and Avon to have and to hold to the said Richard, my son, and his assigns for all the years yet to come specified and comprised in the said indenture, so that the foresaid Henry and Lewes, my two sons, shall have and hold the one half of all the said fishing in the Severn and Avon during their lives and the longer living of them, to hold out his own part if the said indenture do so long endure, paying therfore yearly to the said Richard, my son, and to his assigns, the one half of all the rent specified and comprised in the said indenture and due for the same during the said terms if the said indenture do so long endure,.

and also I give and bequeath to Lewes, my son, all my right and title, estate and terms of years which I have yet to come by indenture of the house with the appurtenances which I now dwell in, to have and to hold to him and his assigns for all the years yet to come specified and comprised in the said indenture, so that Jone, my wife, shall have and hold the said house during her natural life, paying the yearly rent due for the same if the said indenture do so long endure,

and also I give and bequeath to Henry, my son, my bed in my parlour, a forestick and all my other goods in the said parlour, but one fowlding table and that I give to Henry, my son, also I give and bequeath to Lewes, my son, my fowlding in my hal,

and also I give and bequeath to Thomas Virgo, my servant, twenty shillings and a bote, to be paid and delivered him at the end of three years next after my decease so that he will dwell with my wife for three years taking of her yearly meat, drink, lodging and honest reprell and five shillings for his wages, and if my wife happen to die before the end of the said three years, then my will is that my executors shall deliver and pay the said twenty shillings and one bote to the said Thomas Virgo, with all such wages that shall happen to be behind and he to seek his most advantage,

and all the residue of my goods, cattells and debts, moveable and unmoveable of what kind or name soever they be known or called neither ------ ------ my debts paid and my funeral expenses and other charges sustained in that behalf borne and paid, I further give and bequeath to Jone, my wife, and Henry and Lewes, my two sons, whom I make and ordain my executrix and her to perform this my testament herein containing my last will, provided also that if it hapen the said Jone, my wife, to live, my will is that she shall have and hold my goods, cattells and takings during her natural life, except the one half of the fishing to Richard, my son, and further my will is that the foresaid goods and cattells together given and bequeathed to my said executrix and ------ my debts and my funeral expenses and other charges sustained in that behalf paid and done shall be by ------ equally divided amongst them to either of them portion like, and then my will is that the said Jone, my wife, shall have the use of the said goods and cattells to be --------- known by ------- -------- -------- itself and at her decease the said Henry and Lewes, my two sons, to have their gift to their own purposes for ever, and I also will that if my wife happen to die before this my testament and last will be proved according to the law, then my will is that I give and bequeath all my wifes gifts and portion of goods and cattells and debts to Rychard my son, Elizabeth, Alys and Anna my three daughters, to be equally divided amongst them to either of them portion like at the light of my overseers, and if it happen any of my said four children to die before they have had and received their said gift and portion, then my will is that the said gift and portion or portions to be equally divided amongst the children of he or she so dying to their own proper use and uses for ever,

and I make and ordain my well beloved neighbours, William Coxe of Tewkesbury Park, and Steven Wellie of Tewkesbury, my overseers to see this, my testament and last will, performed and done, and I give to either of them for their pains to be taken in that behalf five shillings,

also I give and bequeath to Alice Kempidge, my daughter, one ----- coloured brown, Also I give and bequeath to Henry, my son, one -------- coloured sallow, also I give and bequeath Lewes, my son, one ------ coloured black --------. also I give and bequeath to Thomas Ditton, my son in law, my ----skin jerkin. Item to John Kempridge my --------- --------, also I give and bequeath to Richard, my son, my gown.

Bearing witness Wiiliam Coxe, Steven Hubbe George Frebancke, William Brettell and John Coxe.

Unfortunatly the transcript seems to contain some errors . In particular it refers to Henry Brush as one of Richard's sons. I believe this to be wrong and that the correct reading should be Humphry. But it is hard to tell. This is what one of the references looks like:

At the time of writing his will, Richard of Tewkesbury had a wife Joan, three sons Richard, Humphrey and Lewes and three daughters Elizabeth, Alice and Ann plus his servant and two sons-in-law. The will provides a settled framework to which later material can be linked.

By a happy coincidence the first surviving baptism and marriage records for Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, the registers of the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin are from 1559 - just one year after the will of Richard of Tewkesbury and the year in which the original wooden spire, on the top of the church's central stone tower, collapsed. Unfortunatly, as we will see later, the record is not complete and continuous; several years are missing and the burial record does not begin until 1596.

As soon as these parish records begin we have evidence of children being born during the period 1560 to 1578 to, apparently, the three brothers Richard, Lewes and Humphrey.

Richard of Tewkesbury, having had a tenancy by 1539 and having six adult sons and daughters some of whom were married when he wrote his will, was at least in his late 40s in 1558 and quite probably older. It is likely, though unknown, that he died within a short period after his will was made. Richard, like so many testators, begins with words describing himself as "Sicke in my body nev'theles of Good and pfect Rememberance" It is a common understanding(9), which I have not seen challenged, that wills were normally made by those who saw death as imminent. But some must surely have made them more prudently well in advance just in case they were struck down unexpectedly. There is an endorsement on the second page of the will - I am not able to read if it is simply a mark identifying the document or a note confirming the grant of probate.

The age at which individuals marry and have children clearly varies enormously, then as now, but if we assume(10) an age of between 24 and 29 for the birth of a first child and 18 months between each child then we are looking at a birth date for Richard somewhere between 1500 and 1507, during the later years of the reign of Henry VII. It is unlikely to be later but could certainly have been earlier, in the last years of the fifteenth century. At the time of Richard's birth, England was still a Catholic country under Henry VII and Scotland still had its own king. 1500 was 120 years before the Mayflower sailed to Plymouth, Massachusetts and only 7 years after Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Having introduced both Richard of Tewkesbury and his son Richard it becomes necessary to identify them in a more mechanical way. Without this we will become hopelessly lost in a jumble of multiple references to John, Richard, Thomas, Margaret, Anne and others.

As described in Chapter 1.D, Richard of Tewkesbury, the will maker, is from this point on referred to as Richard[T1] and his son as Richard[T2]. This letter & number is a unique numbering sequence identifying the individual. Occassionly they will be shown in the format Richard [T2](2). The extra number in round brackets refers to their generation, with Richard[T1] arbitrarily identifed as generation(1). Wives, who assume the name BRUSH on marriage, are identified by a letter added to their husband's reference so Joan, the wife of the first Richard, is Joan [T1a](1). If he had had a second wife (though there is no suggestion he did) her reference would be [T1b]. Similarly John Kembridge the husband of Alice Brush would be identified as [T5a](2).

Errors? More information? Comments? Please do get in touch: brushdw@gmail.com

NEXT: Section 2, Tewkesbury; Chapter 13, Richard's children

(1) back to text    There are certainly several lines within England stemming from the Gloucestershire roots. Many online trees of American families descending from Thomas and Richard of Long Island also assert that their root is Tewkesbury but I have not seen any convincing evidence of this, which I consider to be only speculative. See sections 11 & 12.

(2) back to text    http://reshare.ukdataservice.ac.uk/852155/3/Accident_inquests.csv A file of data gathered about 16th century inquests as part of Oxford University research.

(3) back to text    The dissolution which began in 1536 had political and religious significance but also represented a major upheaval in land ownership.

(4) back to text    As quoted in They used to Live in Tewkesbury by "Tewksburian" - the pen-name of Norah Day. The Hockaday abstracts are a summary by Frank Hockaday of Gloucester Diocesan records ….\??… The Hockaday abstracts are described at www.hidden-heritage.co.uk/services/sources/the-hockaday-collection : Frank Step Hockaday was a local historian who lived in Lydney during the early part of the last century and who spent many years examining the church records pertaining to Gloucestershire before his death in 1924. His collection [now in] the Gloucestershire Archives, consists of a number of large bound volumes, approximately 500 of them in all; they filled one wall at the library! Each book has hundreds of quite fragile pages containing his hand-written notes. At some stage, because many of the basic details of the records were largely repetitive, he used typewritten sheets and just filled in the information that varied. The Hockaday Collection is organised by parish and contains abstracts of ecclesiastical records relating to the Dioceses of Worcester and Gloucester from the year 1187…. The abstracts are filed in chronological order so if you are looking for something relating to, say, Badgeworth in the 16th century, it is fairly easy to go through the pages in the Badgeworth volume for that period. There are some indexes to the personal names in his work as well but these are spread over about thirty slim books. I don't think the indexes are complete for his whole collection but they do provide a means of finding some names.

(5) back to text    Sovage appears to be an alternative (or error?) for Socage - an old form of tenure of land, from feudal times, involving payment of rent or other non-military service to a superior.

(6) back to text    In an index of court proceedings in the court of Common Pleas at http://aalt.law.uh.edu/Indices/CP40Indices/CP40no1135/CP40no1135Def.pdf     I think the indexed document is available to view at that site but it is going to be in handwritten court latin! This site contains a mountain of historic material

(7) back to text    List of early Chancery Proceedings preserved in the Public Record Office: https://archive.org/stream/listofearlychanc1055newy/listofearlychanc1055newy_djvu.txt

(8) back to text    There is a 1565 will of a Daniel Perte who has lots of assets.

(9) back to text    Mary Abbott; Life Cycles in England 1560-1720; 1996 p35 "Wills, very frequently composed by those who believed they were dying…"

(n) back to text   The assumptions used here and elsewhere in this history are discussed in chapter 1.D

The BRUSH Families of the British Isles        © David Brush 2006 to 2020

The BRUSH Families
of the British Isles
© David Brush 2006 to 2020