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Early Settlers

The first Brinsmead migration to the Americas occurred in the early 17th century. While a few Brinsmead spellings are recorded at the outset, particularly Brinsmeade, by about 1700 most names in America ended up being spelled Brinsmade.

The early records of Charleston and Dorchester Massachusetts disclose the presence of two Brinsmeads; John, who died in 1673 and William who lived from 1613-1648.

In which Ship did they Sail?

Mary and John

The most likely ship to have brought the Brinsmeads to the New World is the Mary and John.

The Mary and John was the lead ship in the Winthrop fleet and made several trips to America, including voyages in 1630 and 1634. 

The Mary and John Clearing House is an organization that dedicated itself to trying to replicate the passenger lists of these voyages, which did not survive.  In doing so they commissioned a great deal of original research by a former archivist from the Somerset Records Office.  In 1992 the organization published volume 18 of its series "Search for Passengers of the Mary and John 1630".  It contained some research from the Bishop's Hull parish registers. 

In 1996, in Volume 25, with the benefit of additional research from the Taunton Deane Manorial Records, they were able to add much more information.  The researcher concluded that there was sufficient evidence to prove that William Brinsmeade indeed came from Bishop's Hull, but insufficient evidence of that in the case of John Brinsmeade.

Our own research into the Brinsmeade family has taken us to the parish registers of several villages around Taunton, and to the Bishop's Hull Parish Chest.  With this added information we still have no positive proof that John came from the same area as William, but our strong inclination is to think that he did.

Mary and John cross section 

Why leave Bishops Hull?

The Brinsmeads in Bishops Hull were almost all gone by the end of the 1720's. We know a few went to America. Why would people leave Somerset and go to America? Did people in fact leave Bishops Hull? Of particular significance to me in answering these questions is an entry in the annals of the Somerset Quarter Sessions for 1626, which reads: 

13. "Uppon Informacon of the Courte att this Sessons that the pishioners of Hilbishopps and Staplegrove being lately infected with the plague haue Disbursed and laid forth the sume of fforty pounds att the least for and towards the releife of the poore people beinge infected and other poor people of the same pishes in regard they were not suffered to travel abroade to gett their livings as in form tyme." Sr. John Stawell, Knt, John Symes, Willm. ffraunceis Thomas Brereton and Robert Cuffe, Esqrs., or any two of them, etc. to rate and tax the inhabitants within five miles of the said parishes, etc.

This authorization to raise relief by taxes tells us that people indeed left before 1626 to earn a living and at the time this probably meant the Americas, although it may have included Ireland, where at least one member of the family died. It also tells us that the cause of their leaving was the poverty caused by the plague. I found this with some relief since the other possibility for a major decline in the family would have been hanging on the stone gallows just up the street from Bishops Hull at the hands of Judge Jeffries at the bloody assizes.  A record of those convicted in the rebellion includes no Brinsmeads.

The Family in America

The two Brinsmeads who came to America gave rise to a very large family of Brinsmade's.  There are many accounts of their early life in the colonies and several genealogies to draw on.  So far this American branch, while almost certainly coming from the same roots as the Brinsmeads from St. Giles in the Wood, remains unlinked, and beyond our scope.

One of the better accounts we have found of the earliest American family is in the Genealogical and Family History of the State of Connecticut, Vol I-IV.  We do not agree that the name is necessarily derived from a place name, and the suggestion that John was William's son or brother remains unsubstantiated. However, this partial tree does give much helpful information.

The surname Brinsmade is derived from a place name, and belongs to an old English family. The name was spelled Brinsmead, Brinsmeade, Brimsmead and Brimsmade in early English and American records. According to family historians the lineage is as follows:

(I) William Brinsmade, the immigrant, was born in England, and came to Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay , about 1628-30. His will was proved May 15, 1648, bequeathing to children William, Alexander, Ebbett and Mary. John was not mentioned, but was at that time in Stratford, Connecticut, and may have had his share, if a son, as believed by genealogists. Children: 1. John , mentioned below. 2. William , born in Dorchester; entered Harvard College in 1644; was first minister of Marlborough, Massachusetts, 1660-1701; died July 3, 1701. 3. Alexander, was in Charlestown as late as July 17, 1654; nothing known of him afterward. 4. Ebbett, married - Hart; administered estate of brother, Rev. William; died 1708. 5. Mary, married, July 16, 1667, Benjamin Leeds. 6. Jane, mentioned in his notes or diary, kept in Latin.

(II) John, son or brother of William Brinsmade, was born in England, in 1617, and settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts, as early as 1636. He joined the Charlestown church March 25, 1638, and was admitted a freeman May 2, 1638. His wife was admitted to the church October 24, 1639. He married Mary, daughter of Thomas and Hannah Carter, of Charlestown. About 1642-43 he removed to Stratford, Connecticut, which at that time comprised within its limits the present towns of Huntington and Trumbull, and it is interesting to note that he and his descendants have resided within the limits of old Stratford and owned land there to the present time, a period of nearly 270 years. His original homestead was lot 72. Children: Mary, born at Charlestown, July 24, 1640; John, March 2, 1642-43; Daniel; Zachary, drowned in 1667; Paul; Samuel; Elizabeth.

(III) Daniel, son of John Brinsmade, was born in 1645, at Stratford; married Sarah, daughter of Daniel Kellogg, of Norwalk, Connecticut. Children, born at Stratford: Mary, 1684; Daniel, mentioned below; Abigail, 1691; Samuel, 1694; Ruth, 1700.

(IV) Daniel (2), son of Daniel (1) Brinsmade, was born in Stratford, in 1687; married Mary (or Mercy) - , about 1715 , and died in 1731, aged thirty-five years. He married (second) Hannah - of New Haven, in 1732. He resided very early in the section now Trumbull. He died in 1757, aged seventy years. Children, born in Trumbull (Stratford): Mary, May 12, 1716; Daniel, July 31, 1718; Hannah, May 25, 1720; Abraham, mentioned below.

(V) Deacon Abraham, son of Daniel (2) Brinsmade, was born at Trumbull, in 1725 and died there November 17, 1801 (gravestone). He was commissioned captain during the revolution, and served at Danbury during Tryon's raid. He was deacon of the church. His home was at North Stratford, at Daniel's Farm, a district named for his father. He married, January 14, 1747-48, Mary Wheeler, of Stratford. Children, born at North Stratford: Abigail, November 13, 1748; Hannah, July 22, 1750; Daniel, mentioned below; Abraham, baptized September 22, 1754; Abraham, born April, 1766.

(VI) Daniel (3), son of Deacon Abraham Brinsmade, was born at Stratford or Trumbull, September 22, 1752. He married, at Stratford, May 4, 1777, Mary Beebe, born January 20, 1755, died January 13, 1811, daughter of Captain James Beebe born at Danbury 1718; graduate of Yale in 1745; 1621 chaplain in French and Indian war in 1759 , and private soldier during several enlistments; lieutenant and captain in Second Regiment, Connecticut Line, in the revolution; transferred as captain by General Washington to the corps of sappers and miners; was at Valley Forge and Yorktown; in 1783 joined the Order of the Cincinnati . Captain Beebe resigned from the service June 7, 1781. Children of Daniel and Mary (Beebe) Brinsmade. Abigail, born March 15, 1779; Abraham, mentioned below; Daniel, October 29, 1784, died April 9, 1801; James Beebe, baptized March 29, 1785.

(VII) Abraham (2), son of Daniel (3) Brinsmade, was born at Stratford, February 11, 1781. He enlisted for the war of 1812 as a private at Bridgeport , September 30, 1812. He married Betsey , daughter of Abel Beach. She was born in January, 1780. Abel Beach enlisted in Captain Goodwin 's company, Second Battalion, Wadsworth's Brigade, in June, 1776; was taken prisoner by the British, September 15, 1776, and confined in the prison ships in New York harbor, where he caught the yellow fever, and coming home infected with the disease, gave it to his children, three of whom died of it.

Children of Abraham Brinsmade: 1. Pauline, married Powell Hickox, of Washington, Connecticut. 2. Daniel Stiles, mentioned below. 3. Caroline, married Sidney Nichols, of Trumbull. 4. Sarah M., married Daniel Frisbie, of Washington, Connecticut. 5. Eliza J., married Myron Hine, of Warren, Connecticut. 6. Charles S., married Mary E. Frisbie of Roxbury, Connecticut. 7. Rebecca , married Stephen Stirling, of Trumbull, Connecticut .

(VIII) Captain Daniel Stiles Brinsmade, son of Abraham (2) Brinsmade, was born in Trumbull, February 22, 1808. He married Catherine, daughter of Robert Mallette, of Trumbull, a grandson of John Mullette, a Huguenot refugee who settled in this country. He was commissioned captain of the Fifth company, Fourth Regiment Connecticut Light Artillery, April 8, 1835. His wife died in 1849; he died in 1872. Children: 1. Frances A., married James R. Middlebrook, of Trumbull. 2. James Robert, born August 25, 1839; enlisted July 23, 1862, corporal in Company D, Seventeenth Connecticut Regiment; second lieutenant July 29, 1864; first lieutenant October 6, 1864; transferred to war department; resigned July 11, 1866; was accountant in office of Hon. Richard Parsons, internal revenue collector at Cleveland, Ohio; since 1894 president and treasurer of the Silver Plate Cutlery Company at Shelton, Connecticut; married, in 1876 , Martha A., daughter of Colonel Orville H. Beardsley, a direct descendant of William, a sketch of whom will be found elsewhere in this work; children: C. Alice and James B. 3. Daniel Seymour, mentioned below.

(IX) Daniel Seymour, son of Daniel Stiles Brinsmade, was born at Trumbull, Connecticut, February 17, 1845. He attended the public schools of his native town, and the Gunnery at Washington, Connecticut. In 1867 he entered the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, and graduated in 1870. He began his career as a civil engineer in the construction of the dam at Shelton, then Huntington, Connecticut, for the Ousatonic Water Company. This is the largest work of the kind in Connecticut. In the fall of 1870 he was made chief engineer of the company, and the subsequent development of the water power and its incidental engineering problems, including the planning and laying out of the village of Shelton with its water works and sewer system, has been in his charge. In 1891 the dam, built by the Ousatonic Water Company in 1870, was swept away by a freshet and ice jam, and upon Mr. Brinsmade devolved the responsibility of design and construction of a new dam capable of resisting all possible attacks of the elements. The intimate connection which the Ousatonic Water Power Company bears to the building up of both Shelton and Derby has naturally brought Mr. Brinsmade, as president and treasurer of the company, into close relations with the financial and manufacturing interests of the community.

At present Mr. Brinsmade is vice-president of the Home Trust Company, and a director of the Birmingham National Bank and of several manufacturing corporations. In politics he is a Republican, and he represented his town in the general assembly in 1882 . For thirty consecutive years he has been a member of the Board of Education of the town of Huntington, and much of the time has been president. He is president of the board of trustees of the Plumb Memorial Library. While in the legislature he was instrumental in securing the borough charter for Shelton, and he has been an officer of the borough most of the time since then. He is a member of the Congregational Church of Derby. He married. in 1870, Jeanette S. Pardee, daughter of Dr. John H. Pardee, of Trumbull. Children: 1. Frances L. 2. Daniel E., graduate of Sheffield Scientific School of Yale, class of 1896. 3. Caroline C. 4. Helen J. 5. Wallace S., graduate of Sheffield Scientific School. class of 1908. Major Matthew H. Barton was born at Middleton, South Australia, of ancient English stock. When he was four years old he went with the family to England. His father had been in business in Australia and at that time retired and settled at Portsmouth, England, but two years later came to the United States and located, in 1872, at Hartford, Connecticut. He began his schooling under a private tutor in England and continued it in the public schools of Hartford in the west district. After graduating from the Hartford grammar school he entered the Military School at Kingston, Canada, in the province of Ontario, for a four years' course and then graduated. While he was in school in Kingston his father lived there. Afterward the family returned to Hartford. It had been his intention to pursue the study of medicine at Kingston, but when his father returned to Hartford he went also, and entered the employ of the Brown-Thompson Company as salesman in the department store at Hartford. After about five years he took a position in the store of Horsfall & Rothschild, as assistant manager, and continued there for six years. After four years more as traveling salesman for a dry goods house, he engaged in business on his own account as a special agent for the American Credit Company of St. Louis for the district of New England. Two years later he became general agent for the Aetna Life Insurance Company. Five years later he resigned to become an insurance broker and he has since then conducted a general insurance business in Hartford. He has been prominent in military affairs. When he was in Kingston he belonged to the famous Black Hussars and held the commission of second lieutenant, Troop D. In Hartford he served seven years in Company F of the City Guards. In 1902 he joined the Governor's Horse Guards and was inspector of small arms practice until 1906, when he was elected captain. He was commissioned major, May 15, 1908, and holds that rank at the present time. In politics he is a Republican and he has always been keenly interested in public affairs. He is a member of the Veteran Organization of the City Guards, and of the Order of Free and Accepted Masons. He belongs to the Windsor Avenue Congregational Church. He married - and they have two children. 

The descendents of this Brinsmade migration are the only other known descendents of the Brinsmeade family of Somerset and Devon. Extensive records exist about them from about 1400 onwards.  What remains elusive so far is the connection between these two remaining branches. That requires finding the link between Thomas Brinsmead of St. Giles in the Wood in 1600 and the root family in Somerset from which the early American branch flowed.