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Previous Chapter :   12.1   Brush Families in the USA

Section 12
The Great American Mystery
1610-1700

Chapter 12.D
The relationship of Thomas and Richard

The two founding fathers of many of the Brush family lines in the USA were Thomas and Richard BRUSH of Huntington in Long Island.

Despite the references to the two founding fathers, Thomas and Richard BRUSH, as a pair of names we must look at them separately. Richard of Huntington in this chapter and Thomas, of Southold and Huntington, in the previous chapter. There is, perhaps surprisingly, no evidence of what family link there was between them. They are sometimes mentioned (assumed) as being brothers but, on the evidence we have, this is unlikely.

As far as I am aware the only indications of this are two passages, from Refugees of 1776 by Mather at page 283 (1) and Huntington New York by Platt(2) , referring to John Brush as father of both. I have little confidence in Mather's comments (as discussed in the previous chapter about Thomas) and Platt [ is derivative ].

As far as I am aware the only indications of this are two passages, from Refugees of 1776 by Mather (1) and Huntington New York by Platt(2) , referring to John Brush as father of both. I have little confidence in Mather's comments (as discussed a little later on) and Platt [ is derivative ]. I can offer no evidence for the proposition but I believe, based on their dates, that the most likely scenario is that Thomas was Richard's uncle. Or they may have been first or second cousins. With a name as uncommon as Brush the chance of them not being related seems miniscule. If we rule out a father-son relationship (which I do in the next chapter about Richard) and don't think they were brothers then uncle or cousin is what we are left with.

Platt page 38bjohn brush

One other, old, version of early Brush history by Maria Annette Brush of Brooklyn, N. Y.,is contained in 'Genealogy Brush Bowers' (3)published in 1904. In that text she suggests, without elaboration, that Richard was a son of Thomas. I do not believe this for three reasons. First the will of Thomas (as discussed in the previous chapter)in which Thomas(4) is identifed as the eldest son of Thomas(2) and secondly the wide deviation between the suggested birth dates for Thomas(2) and Richard(3). Thirdly, it is said (in Mann and Descendants) that Richard's daughter Esther(9) married Thomas's son Edward(7). Marriage to her father's brother (her uncle)would have been a prohibited incestous relationship.(4)

I can offer no evidence for the proposition but I believe, based on their dates and the rarity of the Brush name, that the most likely scenario is that Thomas was Richard's uncle. Or they may have been first or second cousins. With a name as uncommon as Brush the chance of them not being related seems miniscule. If we rule out a father-son relationship (which I do) and don't think they were brothers then uncle or cousin is what we are left with.

In the last but one paragraph I referred to Richard of Huntington as Richard(3). This numbering sequence, which I use throughout Section 12 of the BFBI, follows the numbering used in Stuart and Russell Brush's monumental source book 'Descendants of Thomas and Richard Brush...' ("Descendants") which is never far from hand as I write this. Descendants does maintain that Thomas(2)and Richard(3) were brothers.

The most comprehensive, and to date the most definitive, work on Thomas and Richard, is still a July 1935 article Thomas and Richard Brush of Huntington Long Island by Conklin Mann at Vol. LXVI No. 3 page 201 of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Record and a continuation of that article in 1936 in Vol LXVII ("Mann"). The numbering system he uses is very similar but not identical to that used 47 years later in Descendants.

Mann says "no hint of the relationship existing between [Thomas and Richard] has been found". Even with the limited number of references that do exist to them this does seem slightly surprising, but 'surprising' does not amount even to circumstantial evidence. The lack of genealogical information within the records printed as the Huntington Town Record ("the HTR")(4) is not peculiar to the Brush entries - even though the small community was closely interlinked by marriages. Maybe the fact of close family relationships was so integral to the community, so universal, that it didn't warrant comment in 'official' documents other than wills.

Thomas and Richard certainly had some lands adjoining each other; see for example the 1681 description of Thomas's lands in the HTR. In one of these descriptions there is perhaps the only direct hint that they were linked. Mention is made of "a small parsell of medow given as amendment to Thos. brush & Richard".

Richard Brush

There are just 6 early, pre 1670, references to a Richard Brush in New England.

The earliest, and most informative, is in the Court Records of Essex Co. Massachusetts for the Ipswich Quarterley Court, Vol 2,of a hearing on 23 July 1658. (5)

"Richard Brush, aged eighteen years, servant of the plaintiff [Mr. Joseph Cooke of Cambridge, Massachusets] testified that his master and Jno. Browne brought the colt from Redding." (6)

It is unclear from the printed court records whether the testimoney of Richard was given in person to the court at Ipswich or by a written deposition.

The Huntington Town Records show that on 1 June 1657 and 17 August 1658 a Richard BRUSH and Ambrose SUTTON are witnesses to two documents by which representatives of Huntington acquire land from the Mantocket tribe.

The Huntington Town Records show a grant of land to Richard BRUSH in 1668.

Richard in Massachusetts in 1658, age 18, is identified as the servant of Joseph Cooke. For the record I am not persuaded by Mann's dismissal of the description as servant.

Despite the general quality of the article I fear that the desire for Richard to be of 'good stock' clouded his judgement and find his analogy to the records of the Defence not wholly convincing. However it does seem clear from English material that, within the middle classes, most young men and women would begin their adulthood as a servant -even if they worked for a relative. Servant in this context appears simply to mean employee as in the phrase "master and servant". It is not many decades ago that employment law was known generally in England (and in the US?) as the law of master and servant.

For some time I have been suspicious of the assertions by Conklin Mann about this rapid change of location for Cooke's servant and in previous drafts of this chapter suggested that maybe RB in Mass and RB in Long Island were not the same man. Not only do the two Huntingdon entries sit either side of the Cambridge court case but it would mean that Richard would be witnessing important legal documents while only 17, 18 or 19 years old - below the legal age of majority of 21.

The answer to this conundrum lies in a previously unnoticed 6th reference to Richard in the minutes of the Executive Council of the Province of New York . During the 1660's Huntington Town's title to land at Nesaquake was disputed by a Richard Smith. The case documents in the NY Executive Council records include copies of an Indenture dated 31st July 1656, the document of 1st June 1657 and the acknowledgment of 17th August 1658.

There is a copy of the 1656 Indenture in the Huntington Town Records but it does not bear the names and marks of Richard BRUSH and Ambrose SUTTON. However, the copy in the NY minutes does. By way of a heading before the transcription of the three documents is the text "Recorded for the Towne of Huntington these following Indian Deeds, the second day of November 1667". At the end of the 1656 document it is marked "A true copy of ye Deed. Wittnesse The A mark of Ambrose Sutton. The Marke O of Richd Bush" A footnote corrects the name to Richard Brush. The next document, from 1657, recorded at the same time has a slightly shorter form of wording "as witnesse The Marke A of Ambrose Sutton. The O Marke of Richd Brush" and the third, from 1658, Witnesse Richd Brush O his marke. The Marke A of Ambrose Sutton".

I am wholly convinced by this that Richard BRUSH and Ambrose Sutton were not present or involved in the transactions of 1656-1658 as has previously been suggested but that they were simply involved in delivering for Huntington copies of documents on 2 November 1667, certifying them as true copies. Richard of Massachusets would have been around 27 at this time, which makes much more sense than him being a teenager. It is possible that the certification might be by those receiving the documents for the Court office, but the next entry, below, from the Huntingdon records strongly indicates that Richard was from Huntington.

Quite how two men who could not sign their names could effectivly confirm the accuracy of handwritten copy documents is another matter. It was clearly something of a formality - maybe relying on the assurance of a more literate clerk. Whether the certifying of copies (a familiar task for any lawyer even today) took place in Huntingdon a few days earlier before they were sent off to NY or whether the witnessing took place before a court officer is not apparent from the documents. The checking and lodging of documents at court is a low level legal task - when I was a trainee solicitor I spent many hours reading across succesive typewritten versions of documents with a secretary and the delivery of papers to court was done by an "outdoor clerk".

Given these conclusions I would dismiss entirely the following paragraph from Mann playing up the significance of Richard's role. For Thomas to go and seek the cooperation of the local sachem seems entirely reasonable; he was much the senior of the two men.

At a Huntington town meeting on 1 January 1668 there was another allocation of land . Among other allocations it was "agreed and ordered" that "Richard Brush shall take up 5 or 6 acars of Land by the side and at the Reare of his Lot it being not prejudicall towards his second Devision". There is no record of when he had acquired his first allocation. If he was indeed the Richard born in 1640 maybe this came to him on his majority - around 1661.

If Richard's master in 1658 was the same Joseph Cooke who came in the Defence in 1635, then Richard must have been engaged by Cooke in Massachusetts - which means that he came over from England as a minor, presumably, with his own family. Or that he was born in America.

Mann says "There are indications also that from August 1658 until his marriage about 1668 RB followed the sea" - by which he presumably means was a professional sailor? He asserts that Sutton, of Hempstead, was known to be "in the coastal trade" and asserts that "presumably RB was his mate".I am afraid I cannot see where this comes from. Other than his co-witnessing of documents with Ambrose Sutton in 1657 (which I now submit no longer supports this idea) are there any other indications of this?

A fascinating possibility raised by the misrecording of Richard as Bush on one of the documents in 1667(an error which I am certainly personaly familiar with) is that the Christopher BUSH who witnessed the signature of Wyandanse sometime after 1657 is also related. In the HTR index the entry is referenced as Christopher BRUSH but I can find no other reference in the HTR either to Christopher BRUSH or to any of the BUSH family.

We do however need to keep reminding ourselves that apart from the name being the same we have nothing else to connect Richard Brush of Cambridge Massachusets 1658 with Richard Brush of Huntington 1668. We are simply relying on the fact that there is no further trace after 1658 of Richard Brush in Massachusets. Sometime between 1659 and 1665 Joseph Cooke returned to England so it is possible that his servant went there too.

If we accept that Richard Brush of Cambridge Massachusets 1658 age 18 and Richard Brush of Huntington 1668 are the same man then Richard(3) was born in 1639 or 1640. Which, to me, makes it seem unlikely that he was the brother of Thomas (2) who we believe was born around 1610. Even being a half brother or a step brother is a bit of a stretch, though not impossible.

Being brothers however would not have prevented the marriage of their childen. First cousins did not at that time fall into the list of forbidden marriage partners (4). So Esther's marriage to Edward does not rule out them being brothers.

This is however the relationship which Mann settles on. And which is listed in Descendants, which cites F.G.Mather as authority (n).

The full Mather text for the first four generations of the BRUSH family in Long Island reads:

BRUSH JOHN I of Southold, was the father of Thomas 2, and Richard 2 who removed to Huntington, L. I., where there are numerous descendants to-day.
Thomas 2 had: Thomas 3, Richard 3, John 3, and Rebecca 3. (Moore's " Index," p. 9. Also Hon. Henry C. Platt) The will of Thomas 2, of Huntington, Apr. 5, 1698, mentions wife Sarah, brother John Brush and John Wickes, executor; names sons, Thomas, Jacob and Timithy Brush; and daus., Rebecca, Sarah, Susannah, Elizabeth, Mary, Martha. Proved April 26, 1699. (Lester Will Book) Thomas i, b. in England in 1610, according to Huntington Town Rec. He came to America before 1653; as he owned land in Southold, in that year. Having sold his home at Southold, he came to Huntington, about 1656, and was the ancestor of the Huntington branch. He m. Rebecca, dau. of John and Mary Conklin; d. in 1675. His children were: Richard 2, below; Thomas 2, John 2; and Rebecca 2. Richard 2, b. about 1635- 6; m. Johanna, or Hannah, dau. of John Corey; d. about 1711 without a will, giving his property to his sons by deed. His son, Robert 3, b. June 30, 1685; name of wife unknown. There are several points to note in this. The sons of John 1 of Southold are identified as Thomas 2 and Richard 2. Thomas, born 1610, of Southold and Huntington is referred to Thomas 1 - ie the same generation as John 1 - this is not what Street's HTR footnote says. The father of Thomas, Richard, John and Rebecca is said in consecutive paragraphs to be Thomas 1 and Thomas 2. Thomas 2 is also credited with another set of children. Thomas 2 is said to have made a will in 1698 Thomas 1 is said to have died in 1675. This seems inconsistent with the HTR evidence pointing to 1670/1. Two Richard 2s are referred to and one Richard 3- one the son of John 1, the second the son of Thomas 1 and the third the son of Thomas 2. Richard is said to be born 1635 died 1711 and is identified as is 2 In short, Mather seems hopelessly muddled and I am therefore reluctant to give any great credibility to either the identification of John as of Southold or the asseertion that John was the father of both Thomas and Richard.


Next:     Chapter 12.E     The children of Thomas and Richard


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(1) back to text    The Refugees of 1776 from Long Island to Connecticut, Frederic C Mather, 1913. Available online at archive.org

https://archive.org/details/refugeesof1776fr00mathuoft/page/282/mode/2up/search/brush


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(2) back to text    ?????


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(3) back to text    This book is also available at archive.org in .txt form enabling text to be extracted. She also references 'a small pamphlet, entitled "The Brush Family in America," by Dr. George Rawson Brush, published at Sayville, Suffolk County, New York, in 1891' as stating that 'Thomas Brush, born about 1610, who died about 1670, left four children, Thomas, John, Richard and Rebecca.


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(4) back to text    It seems that prior to 1695 there was no specific legislation in New England but that the matter was regulated by a table issued byf English Archbishop Parker in the previous century. See Forbidden Relatives by Martin Oppenheimer available in Google Books.


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(5) back to text   




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


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