Brace family of Droitwich and Doverdale
(too old to reply)
2018-04-09 01:19:21 UTC
For the last couple of years, I have worked off and on trying to fill in details of the genealogy of the early Brace family of Droitwich and Doverdale in Worcestershire, using the gold mine of records now available at the AALT site. I now have written up 70+ pages of material on this family which are in various stages of disorganization, and I have still probably only scratched the surface of what is available. Although I do not have clear proof for many of the relationships in this family, this posting will still do little more than scratch the surface of what I have written up. Having seen too many cases in this newsgroup where a brief comment by me or someone else has been converted into an allegedly definitive result by somebody posting their (misinterpretation of somebody else's) research to the Internet, I have been reluctant to post material which is of too preliminary a nature. Still, since so much is now available that it will probably take years just to scratch a little bit more of the surface, some preliminary information needs to be posted eventually to avoid too much duplication of effort. The recent postings by Brad Dubbs on the More family of Haddon and Northmoor in Oxfordshire make this a good time to post something on the Brace family too. (Fortunately, there has not been too much duplication of effort here, because even though we are both interested in the same More-Brace intermarriage, I have been working mainly on the Braces, and Brad has evidently been working mainly on the Mores.)

(My apologies for shouting, but at least now nobody can rightfully accuse me of never tilting at windmills.)

As already noted recently in the More of Haddon thread, the Brace who is of principal interest to those of us researching the Brace-More-Wythe connection is William Brace, whose daughter Rose was married in or before 1457 to John More, whose granddaughter Isabell married John Wythe (ancestors of George Maris, the Quaker immigrant to Pennsylvania). The Brace arms quartered by the Wythes in the 1569 visitation were the arms of Brace of Doverdale with a mark of difference usually reserved for a fifth son, suggesting that either William Brace or one of his immediate ancestors was a younger son of one of the Braces of Doverdale. Narrowing down the possibilities requires learning as much as possible about the genealogy and chronology of the "main" Brace line.

The official 1569 visitation of Worcestershire has no Brace pedigree. The Brace pedigree printed in the published "1569 visitation" appears to have actually been compiled four years later, in 1573, by Richard Lee, a junior officer at the College of Arms. This spelling "Bracey" used in the 1573 pedigree is not encountered elsewhere for this family, so far as I know, except for some modern genealogists who confuse the names Brace and Bracy. All other early records that I have seen regularly distinguish the Brace family from the Bracy family of Worcestershire, and despite the confusion sometimes seen in modern accounts, I see no good reason to regard them as related, nor is there any reason to believe that either of these two families was related to the similar sounding well known Anglo-Norman family of Braose. Alternate spellings of the Brace surname include Braas, Bras, Brase, and Braz, among others. The first known appearance of the Brace surname in Worcestershire is in 1275, and individuals with the Brace surname, while not numerous, appear often enough in the neighborhood of Droitwich on a regular enough basis to suggest that they were all members of the same family, even if their exact relationship is often undetermined.

The best starting point for the genealogy of the Brace family is the earlier Braase pedigree from the visitation of Worcestershire in 1531 (College of Arms Ms. H.20/69) [provided to me courtesy of Col. Charles Hansen, FASG, one of the editors of The Genealogist, and another Maris descendant]:

John Braase of Doverdall, co. Worcester married Margery daughter and one of the heirs of _____ Power by whom he had a son John, who married Isabel daughter of Humpfrey Stafford Kt. and had issue Robert, George and a daughter Elizabeth. Robert married Isabel 2nd daughter and one of the heirs of John Stormy of Knighton, co. Worcester by whom he had a son William. George (younger son of John and Isabel) married the [unnamed] daughter of _____Barnsley and had issue Margaret. George's nephew William married Joan daughter of William Whytton of Whytton, co. Salop by whom he had issue William, John, Lews, Philip, Isabel, Letys, Elizabeth, Margaret, Joyce, Anne and Mary. Isabel married John Trymnel of Orley, co. Worcester and had issue John, Richard, Wyllyam and Joane.
Arms: Sable a Bend between two dexter Arms in mail Argent.

William Braase/Brace, husband of Joan Whitton, was still living when this visitation was made, and as it only goes back to William's great-grandfather, and fits well with the other evidence, there is good reason to regard the information in this pedigree as reliable. Thus, it makes a good starting point. In particular, it shows us that William's eldest daughter Isabel had four children in 1531, allowing us to get a very rough estimate of his date of marriage.

The 1573 pedigree, in addition to contradicting the 1531 visitation on a couple of points, goes back an additional two generations, making the John Braase ("Bracey") who heads the 1531 pedigree a son of another John Bracey by Margery, daughter and heir of Thomas Froxmere, Esq., and this older John Bracey a son of a Richard Bracey A[nn]o 8 H[enry] IV. The John Bracey heading the 1531 pedigree is said by the 1573 pedigree to have married twice, first to Elizabeth, daughter and sole heir of Thomas Dragonne le Coneux, by whom he had a son Richard Bracey, and second to Elizabeth [sic, contradicting the name Margery of the 1531 pedigree], daughter and heir of _____ Power. The son Richard by Elizabeth Dragonne is given an unnamed son who maried Margaret, dau. and & of Sir William Devereux by Elizabeth, dau. & heir of _____ Clodsall by the dau. & coheir of Lacey, and this unnamed son _____ Bracey is made the father of two daughters, Elizabeth m. John Unett, and Margaret m. Robert Bromwich. The other significant contradiction with the 1531 pedigree is that the wife of Robert Bracey is given as _____, dau. of _____ Whorwood of Compton by _____, dau. & heir of _____ Stormy. The printed 1569 visitation of Worcestershire also has a serious error with regard to the alleged Brace(y)-Froxmere connection. The Thomas Froxmere who is shown there as the father of Margery (Froxmere) Brace(y) was a century or so too late to be such an early ancestor of the Braces.

Some information in the 1573 pedigree can be disproven, which makes it difficult to know how much of the additional information can be trusted. One additional problem is that it is not immediately obvious which John Brace in the pedigree should be identified with the John Brace who was a member of Parliament [MP] in the early 1400's. The Victoria County History account of the parish of Doverdale has some serious errors and misinterpretations which confuse the issue further. The most serious errors are with respect to the history of the manor before the Braces acquired a moiety with the advowson, but the account also makes a serious error in identifying the MP with the John Brace who is married to Margery Froxmere in the 1573 pedigree, which is almost certainly false.

The best chronological indicators are for John Brace, MP, who has a known date of death, and a known approximate date of birth. On 28 August 1397, John Bras, one of the king's esquires, and Geoffrey Mugge, one of the yeomen of the earl of Kent, received a grant, for their lives, of lands and tenements in Worcester, Salwerp, Wychebaude, and Hendelep, with the salt-house and bullaries of four plumbs of saltwater in Wyche (Droitwich), which had been given without license to a perpetual chantry in Salwerp church by William Salwerp, clerk, and Thomas Robyns, and forfeited to the king [CPR Ric. II, 6: 190]. Years later, an Inquisition indented taken on Michaelmas 22 Henry VI [27 September 1443] taken before Michael Lyttleton, escheator of Worcestershire, by virtue of an exchecquer writ concerning the same tenements, salt-house, and bullaries, determined that John Braas had died on 4 August 10 Henry VI [1432], but whether Geoffrey Mugge, named in the same writ, was dead or living was completely unknown [C. S. Knighton, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery) Preserved in the Public Record Office, 8 (1422-1485): 109 (#184)]. This not only gives a date of death, but shows that he was the same man as the king's esquire in 1397 (i.e., the MP). A writ for the proof of age of Richard, son and heir of Thomas, late earl of Warwick, taken at Worcester on 5 February 1403, includes the testimony of John Braas, aged 44 [CIPM, 9: #854]. Thus, John Brace, MP, was born about 1358, and died 4 August 1432. [I use 1358 because it is highly probably that he had not yet had his 1403 birthday in February.]

The Bromwich and Unett/Ewnet is made clearer by a number of records, most notably two records in the Early Chancery Proceedings, concerning William Bromwich and Roland Ewnet vs. Isabell Brase, Philip Havard, and William Brase [Early Chan. Pro., C1/120/54, C1/287/18-19]. The first of these C1/120/54, is blurred and unreadable in the AALT version, but I have a copy ordered from the P.R.O. in the early 2000's. There is a big X through the entire document, and it may just be a preliminary copy of the more detailed C1/287/18. The right-hand part is gone from decay, but the remainder is easy to read, and helps to fill in readings of the more severely damaged C1/287/18. According to volume 4 of the index of the Early Chancery Proceedings [Lists and Indexes, 29: 146], the case C1/287/18 has William Bromwich and Rowland Ewnet, great-grandsons of Thomas Dragon, as plaintiffs, and Isabel Brase, widow, Philip Havard, and William Brase, as defendants, concerning the detention of deeds relating to half of the manor of Doverdale and the advowson there, and a fourth part of the manor of Redmarley Adam. It is tempting to think that this description was written when the document was less damaged, but William Bromwich and Rowland Ewnet were not in the same generation, being great-grandson and grandson respectively of Richard Brace, father of the two daughters Margaret and Elizabeth. The (barely) readable part of this record also states that Richard was a son of John Brace, who had been given the lands in dispute by a certain Thomas Dragon. If there is somewhere in the unreadable part of the record describing how Thomas Dragon was connected, it is not clear where that would be, and I believe that the statement in the index that Thomas Dragon was a great-grandfather of the plaintiffs was just a guess. (Thomas Dragon and John Brace are not mentioned in the record in C1/120/54.) Other records prove that this Richard Brace was married to his wife Margaret by 27 October 1410 [Worcestershire Feet of Fines, P.R.O. CP 25/1/260/26, no. 23; Common Pleas CP40/972, m. 397, AALT image 0805].

Even making this Richard Brace (married by 1410) a grandson of John Brace MP (b. ca. 1358) would result in an extremely tight (and not very believable) chronology, and the great-grandson relation implied if both the 1573 pedigree and VCH are correct is completely out of the question. It seems reasonably certain that the unnamed generation in the 1573 pedigree should be removed, and that Richard Brace, married before 1410 to Margaret Devereux (a marriage also supported by other evidence not given here) was a son of John Brace MP, almost certainly the John Brace who married Margery Power. The first marriage given in the visitation to Elizabeth Dragon seems plausible enough (although not directly proven), and she would then be the mother of Richard, not his grandmother.

This is further confirmed by records from the Common Pleas which I disovered after making the above conclusion. In 1440, Margery, widow of John Brace of Worcester, was accused by Walter Power of Bristol of breaking into his home in Bristol and destroying a deed involving a certain Norman Washbourne [CP40/716 m. 224; CP 40/717 m. 163], whose mother is known from other records to have been a member of the Power family.

Also of interest is a Common Pleas record from 1468, in which a William Bras was plaintiff regarding debts owed by John Walker of Droitwich, John Mylys of Ynmey, and Richard Bache of Norton in the parish of Bredon [CP40/826 m. 351]. It is interesting (but perhaps not relevant) that the very next suit involved the same Norman Washbourne. What is more interesting is that, in addition to the Droitwich connection, Norton in Bredon is a place where the Power family held land.

So, my working theory, which fits the known evidence and chronology well, but still lacks proof, is that this was "our" William Brace, father of Rose (Brace) More, and that he was a younger son of John Brace MP by his (second) wife Margery Power. It would be even nicer if "our" William were one more generation down, a son of the Brace-Stafford marriage, because that would apparently give a royal descent through the Staffords. However, the chronology needed for such a scenario to be true looks doubtful.

It is hard to know what to make of the first two generations in the 1573 pedigree. The "A[nn]o 8 H[enry] IV" attached to the first Richard Brace is obviously wrong, and could have been intended for the younger Richard Brace discussed above, for whom that date would be quite appropriate. The 13th and 14th century Braces are sometimes difficult to adequately identify, making it frequently hard to tell whether or not individuals of the same name appearing in different records were the same individual. The following is a VERY preliminary outline, in some cases giving working hypotheses which could turn out to be incorrect after further research.

The earliest Brace of Droitwich found so far is a certain John Brace, who appears in the 1275 Lay Subsidy of Worcestershire [called the Lay Subsidy ca. 1280 at the time of publication]. It seems likely that he was the John Braz Sr. who was a defendant on 25 July 1310 in an assize of novel disseisin brought against him by John Braz son of John Braz [JUST 1/1350 m. 17]. In Stirling in Scotland in 1304, king Edward I issued a proclamation pardoning Richard Brace for the death of Robert, son of William Malverne, at Droitwich, in recognition of service in Scotland by the said Richard [CPR Edw. I, 4 (1301-7): 250, which does not name Richard's residence or parentage; JUST 1/1031 m. 1d, 3, which call him a son of John Bras Jr. of Droitwich]. This Richard Brace is probably the Richard Brace [Bras/Braas/Braz, etc.] Sr. (or the elder) of Droitwich who appears in records from 1327 to 1343. Richard Brace Jr. appears only once with the label "Jr." (in the 1327 Lay Subsidy), but was presumably still alive in 1343 (the last year that the other Richard Brace of Droitwich is called "the elder"). I have found Richard Brace Jr. (or a third man of that name) in a few records up to 4 April 1370, when John Rycheyse was instituted as parson of Doverdale, at the presentation of Richard Braas of Wych (Droitwich). Richard Sr. and Jr. would fit well as father and son, but I have not confirmed this.

In a fine at York dated 3 February 1335, Richard Braz and his wife Margaret, querents, were granted a moiety of the manor of Doverdale, a fourth part of the manor of Rudmarley Adam, and the advowson of the church of Doverdale, by Richard de Clent, deforciant [Worc. Feet of Fines, CP 25/1/260/20/15]. The problem is that I have no clear evidence whether this was Richard Sr. or Richard Jr. Since the previous owner of Doverdale, William de Doverdale, died between 1 April 1334 and 20 September 1335, and the above fine entailed the remainder to the heirs of Margaret in absence of heirs of the body of Richard and Margaret, it seems natural to assume that Margaret was William's heir. If that assumption is correct (and it may or may not be), then since William de Doverdale had at least three sons (William, John, Thomas) by his wife Eustache de Sodington who were living after that date, Margaret could only have been William's (co)heiress if she were a daughter of a previously deceased elder son. As it happens, a candidate for Margaret's father is readily available, for William de Doverdale also had a son Ralph de Doverdale, who was living in 1328, but does not appear in several records from the 1330's which name numerous members of the family. IF this scenario is correct, then Margaret's husband would probably be Richard Jr., because William de Doverdale was still under age in 1275, so any granddaughter would be much closer in age to Richard Jr. than Richard Sr. A detailed assize from the Worcestershire Eyre of 1275 gives four generations of ancestry for William de Doverdale (son of Ralph, son of William, son of Ralph, son of Aliva, apparent coheiress of an earlier family), but there is very little additional information, and the VCH account of the family is very misleading. The evidence for the above outline comes from numerous entries in the Assize Rolls [series JUST 1] and the Plea Rolls [series CP40], found mostly by page-to-page searches except for the 1275 Eyre record (cited by VCH) and a couple of Plea Rolls items in the partial indices at AALT.

Richard Jr. would have been about the right age to be the grandfather of John Brace MP. The (perhaps not trustworthy) visitation would suggest another John Brace as the intermediate generation. To my knowledge, the earliest mention of a John Brace who can definitively be identified with John Brace MP was in 1397. It is hard to determine whether a few appearances of a John Brace in the 1380's and early 1390's are John Brace MP or an earlier man of the name, but one 1371 appearance of a John Braas of Droitwich is too early to attribute to the MP [Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, 6: 51 (C4177)]. So, ...

II F the above scenario is correct (a really big if), it is very tempting to put all of this together into a conjectural line back to circa 1200. What could go wrong?? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Even though a reasonably consistent picture can be made for the records found so far, the information is still scattered, and it is likely that important additional details are still lurking in unsearched record, in particular the Plea Rolls, a vast storehouse of potential additional information which is still largely untapped, and which could provide evidence either confirming the above scenario or causing it to come crashing down. (Still, it probably won't be long before some nincompoop ignores the warnings here and posts an allegedly "proven" line from these preliminary working hypotheses.)

Stewart Baldwin
2019-10-12 21:28:21 UTC
Peter – I don’t know if you have seen this 1333 CP but it might be of interest as the Plaintiff is William the son of Ralph de Doverdale and Margaret who was the wife of Robert de Doverdale also makes a key appearance. 4th entry on page – Wygorn:

2019-10-17 16:57:45 UTC
Post by AJB
Thanks for pointing this one out. I have found other items from the CP40 series pertaining to this case, and this one helps to fill in the picture a little more. I just wish that there was a better way to find these than page-by-page searches.

Stewart Baldwin
2019-10-19 03:35:29 UTC
If I find more I will share them as well.
2019-10-31 23:32:03 UTC
And so the case continues! Doverdales et al: 3rd and 4th on the page, Wygorn, 1333, Michaelmas.


And another one entirely but a couple of the same litigious fellows there as well.