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The 'Beginning' - 1630-1700

Charles I becomes king in 1625; English Civil War 1642-49; Charles beheaded in 1649; Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector; Oliver Cromwell died in 1658 succeeded by his son Richard, to make way for Charles II on 1661; Charles II died in 1685 succeeded by his brother James II whose abdication in 1689 saw his replacement by William III and Mary II.


Covent Garden Market opened; First inland postal service; English settle at Madras; Income and property tax; Great Plague of London follow by Great Fire of London; Hudson's Bay Company to trade in Northern America; First minute hand on watches; Influenza epidemic in England; Penny Post established on London; Dodo extinct; First Cheques; England population ~5 million.



It's not the 'Beginning' - it's the first time the records catch up with us!


The 'Brands' begin at Elmdon at 1630 - a quite village in the north-west part of Essex. We say stay there for the best part of 300 years, until we leave in 1927. But we jointly as well move to Chrishall - another 1 1/2 miles down the road, where we live from 1680 until 1990. Two brother set off on a new place in Australia to start a whole colony in 1850. At the start of the two Wars, we move to Cambridge, where we still live, mostly, there today. At the back end of the 2000 century we moved to many places. This is our story...


We start at Charles I beheaded; The Great Fire of London; the Dodo was extinct...



Extracts from pages 168-169 and 172-179 from Jean Robin, Elmdon: Continuity and Change in a North-West Essex Village, 1861-1964
© Cambridge University Press 1980, reproduced with permission


The Brands of Elmdon first appear in the records in 1556, when Richard Brand made his will, and they may well have been established in the village for many before years before that; Elmdon's parish registers do not go back farther that 1618, and it is only after that date that it is possible to trace the history of the family in any detail. To find out more about Elmdon, see the next chapter "Elmdon". Although the Brands were exceptional in that no other family of farmers and craftsmen maintained themselves in Elmdon for such a long period, their case history may be use used to show some of the ways in which different branches of the same family could rise and fall in the social scale.


The family begins with John Brand whose will was proved in 1683. He was a blacksmith and shopkeeper, and signed his will with a mark instead of a signature, it would seem that he was a man who had acquired a respectable amount of property without the benefit of much formal education. He left to his wife Hannah 'two houses in Elmdon, with two shops and all other outhouses'. After her death, his own house was to go to his elder son John and his heirs, while the younger, Robert, was to receive the second house, together with the neighbouring shop and smithy and adjoining copyhold land, provided that both sons paid their sister, Susannah Godfrey, the sum of £20 0s 0d within a year of the death of their mother. Susannah herself was left her parents' feather bed and bedding. So here is the first appearance of the Brands as blacksmiths, shopkeepers and small farmers.


It is likely that the elder son, John, had already established himself in Chrishall, a mile-and-a-half from Elmdon, by the time of his father's death, which may account for the younger son, Robert, being left the Elmdon smithy. At all events, John and his wife Mary had at least four children, three of whom were baptised in Chrishall and one of whom was buried there, although Ellen, who died when she was only 24, was buried in Elmdon. John himself died in Chrishall in 1721 and is described in the burial register of that parish as 'Old John Brand'. Unfortunately there is no record either in the Elmdon or the Chrishall baptismal registers of the John Brand (b.1673 d.1757) who is shown in the tree as probably being John and Mary's son. Nevertheless, we know that he lived for part of his adult life in Elmdon, filling the office of the churchwarden, and as there no record of his likely uncle Robert either marrying or having children, it could be that he ended by inheriting property both from Old John Brand in Chrishall and from Robert in Elmdon.


Edited extracts from "Elmdon - Continuity and change in a north-west Essex village - 1861-1964- Jean Robin"


There is no mention about "Oliver Cromwell" and the Great Fire of London - I suppose being less than 40 miles away, London still means a far cry from 'just around the corner' when is it 400 years ago!