On 15th June 1686 Michael (Miall) Brooker of Framfield married Ann Turness of Isfield, in the Framfield Parish Church.
Their Great Great Grandson was to travel with his family to new colony of South Australia in 1839 to start a new life.
This web page sets out some of the detail relating to the Brooker family between these two periods
The English County of Sussex appears to have been a stronghold for Brooker Families from at least the seventeenth century.
The Brooker name has a special place in the history of the Church of St. Thomas A'Beckett, at Framfield. This Church which dates back to the thirteenth century, has a complete series of Registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials from 1538 - the earliest date when they were ordered to be kept. Members of the Brooker family occupied the position of Parish Clerk there continuously for 200 years from 1688.
The members of the family and their approximate terms of office are as follows -:
|Michael Brooker||1688 -1751|
|John Brooker||1751 - 1771|
|David Brooker||1771 - 1788|
|John Brooker||1788 - 1844|
|George Brooker||1844 - 1876|
|Charles Brooker||1876 - 1877|
|James Brooker||1877 - 1878|
Special thanks go to the late Pam Allsop of Eastbourne, Sussex who did most of this research into this Brooker Family from the Parish Registers, Wills and Manor Court Books etc.
We can trace our family tree back to 1688 to Michael Brooker who was the first of the family to be chosen Parish Clerk, at St. Thomas a'Becket and he held the position for 60 years. . Click here for family tree.
St. Thomas a'Becket was martyred in 1170 and he was canonised in 1190.
The main part of the present Church was built between 1200 and 1250.
The date of the founding of the Manor is uncertain. It has been assigned by Leland to Cadwella, King of the West Saxons who died in 688, but it was granted to the See of Canterbury by Baldred, one of the last Kings of the Saxon Heptarchy, between 823 and 836 and confirmed by King Egbert in 838.
The first historical mention of Framfield is contained in the Domesday survey of 1087 where it is entered under the name of Framelle. (The survey was to ascertain the amount paid by each Parish to King Edward the Confessor).
Notes by Herbert W. Keef. " A Descriptive Account of the Parish Church of Framfield, Sussex"
Parish Clerks could be appointed by either the Vicar or the Lord of the Manor.
In the 17th century when most people were illiterate, the Parish Clerk had to
be an educated man who could at least read and write.
The Parish Clerk had to perform various tasks such as leading the responses to the Priest at Church Services which the congregation would repeat after him. He also acted as sexton (digging graves), rang the church bell for services, kept the Church and its surroundings neat and tidy and in some Churches he would write up the registers.
This Michael Brooker who was born c1662, married on June 15th, 1686 in Framfield Church, Ann Turness, who was the daughter of Edward Turness and Leah Brooker of Isfield, and was born 7th June, 1663.
Edward Turness, the son of John Turness was baptised 26th February, 1626 at Framfield. Leah Brooker is believed to have been baptised c1630 at Framfield. Edward and Leah were married at Isfield on 2nd October, 1649.
The Parish of Isfield is quite close to Framfield.
The children born
to Edward Turness and Leah Brooker who were
married at Isfield 2nd October, 1649 as shown in
the Isfield Register were-:
are various spelling variants of the name Turness
viz -: Turnis, Turnes, Tornes etc.
The film of the register reads in one part -: Anne, ye daughter of Edward Turness was baptised ye 7th day of June 1663.
Brooker and Ann were to have 13 children -:
|Edward||10-06-1688||Elizabeth Newnham 10-4-1711|
|John||26-02-1692||Mary Underhill 14-2-1728 at Stanmer|
|Leah||19-10-1694||2-06-1765||Thomas Diggens 7-3-1720|
|Ann||26-11-1701||25-11-1771||George Martin 15-6-1736|
An entry in the Manor Court Books advises Michael Brooker was taking over a cottage in Framfield in 1726. This was perhaps what is now known as Brookhurst Farm and which was subsequently left to his grandson.
The Lord of the Manor of Framfield, from the 17th century onwards, was the De
La Warr family (from which Delaware in the United States gets its name because
that is how it is pronounced). They owned a great deal of land in Sussex but
never actually had a Manor House in Framfield. Instead they lived at Withyham on
the Buckhurst estate.
Prior to this Framfield was part of the Manor of South Malling, near Lewes, which originally belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury and then to King Henry V111, after he broke with Rome and dissolved all the monasteries, taking their lands and riches for himself.
Michael Brooker, who died in 1751, left a property at Blackboys Common, called Brookhurst Farm to his grandson, Michael Brooker, bapt 1716, who in turn left the property to his son William, bapt 1769, on the basis that if he died and did not leave a male heir that it was to go to his other son Richard, bapt 1763, which in fact happened. A condition of his will was that the property was never to go out of the name of Brooker, to be passed on the next male heir at law. Actually Richard's son (Richard Junior) did sell the property late in the 19th Century.
The original property was "copyhold" when it was transferred to the
Michael Brooker (the grandson) on the death of his grandfather. In fact it
remained "copyhold" for a very long time after that and was not given
"freehold" until the 20th century.
A copyholder purchased the right of tenure of land or property from the Lord of the Manor, by virtue of an entry in the Manorial Court Roll.
Freehold is where the the Copyholder pays money (called a Fine) to absolve himself of all obligations (yearly sums of money etc) to the Lord of the Manor. The Lord of the Manor then granted what was called an "Enfranchisement" and the property then passed to the freeholder. Some properties in Framfield went over to Freehold Status in early times, especially some of the big houses , but the smaller cottages etc. nearly all became freehold in the 20th century - usually from about 1900 to 1920.
Michael Brooker was buried at Framfield Churchyard on 19th May, 1751. He would have been approx. 89 years of age. Michael was not only Parish Clerk but was also a brickmaker.
We know from his Last Will and Testament that he left -:
A house and
freehold land plus any personal estate
or money to his son John Brooker,
b26-2-1692. This property was
leased to Edward Ede (Eade). He was also
left the house that Michael Brooker lived in at
the time of his death. John was also
executor of the will.
This house, which is no longer in existence, was very near to the Church in Framfield and very near to the Framfield Place Estate.
His house and lands
at Blackboys Common, which is about 2 miles
distant and is now called Brookhhurst Farm, he
left to his grandson Michael Brooker b16-4-1716, who was the son of
his eldest child Edward
. This property was left on the proviso
that Michael's mother Elizabeth Newnham,
who was a widow, could live in the house as long
as she lived.
Michael Brooker besides being Parish Clerk was also a brickmaker and there was a brick kiln very near to this cottage.
To his daughter Ann Martin b26-11-1701 the sum of 30 Pounds plus all the house goods as it stands except one bed .
To his daughter Leah Diggens b19-10-1694 the sum of 7 Pounds plus one bed.
To his grandsons Edward Brooker, David Brooker and Thomas Diggens, the sum of One Guinea.
To his grand- daughter Mary Martin the sum of 3 Pounds.
married Thomas Diggens at Newhaven, on 7th
March, 1720. and appear to have settled at
Uckfield and had at least five children.
Leah was buried at Uckfield on the 2nd June,1765. Her husband Thomas Diggens was buried also at Uckfield on 21st March, 1741.
Brooker married George Martin at
Framfield, on 15th June, 1736 and appear to had
at least four children.
Thomas married Mary Crowhurst at Framfield Church on 3rd August, 1768.
Ann was buried at Framfield Church on 25th November,1771. Her husband Geoge Martin was buried at Framfield on the 15th July,1771.
THE SON - EDWARD BROOKER b1688
Edward Brooker was baptised 10th June ,1688 and was the eldest son of Michael Brooker and Ann, nee Turner. Edward married Elizabeth Newnham on 10th April, 1711 at Framfield.
Edward and Elizabeth as far
as we can tell had six children -:
|David||18-11-1723||01-11-1796 at Mayfield||Mary Wood|
Not a great deal of
information is known about Edward and Elizabeth
However, it is thought that
Edward and his family were probably living at
Brookhurst Farm, Blackboys, and he died some time
between 1746 (the date of the Manor Court sitting
see below) and 1751 (the date of his
fathers Will when Brookhurst Farm is left
to Edwards son, Michael, on condition that
Edwards Widow should be allowed
to live there for the rest of her life.
There is no doubt that Edward is deceased by this time because Michael, in his Will, referred to Edwards wife as a Widow.
Edward, like his father,
seems to have been a brickmaker because he was
fined at the Manor Court in 1746 for Encroachment
(taking Common Land for his own). Three small
pieces of land were involved and the erection of
a (Brick) kiln.
A number of people were brought to the Manor Court on 14th October 1746 to be fined for similar misdeeds, but Edward seems to have been the only person to have erected a Brick Kiln. All the others were fined for encroaching land. It was looked on as being not too bad an offence, but the Lord of the Manor wanted money if these people wanted to extend their holdings by taking very small pieces of Common Land situated near to their properties.
Edward was fined the magnificent sum of nine pence!
Edward, however, is never mentioned as holding land of his own in Framfield and since Michael, his father, left Brookhurst Farm to his grandson Michael (who is the son of Edward) it can be safely assumed that this was Edwards family home.
Various taxes etc. on
property were paid for by Michael Senior, so
Edwards name does not come up in the
This is why it is rather surprising to find mention of Edwards name in connection with the Encroachments and the Brick Kiln above.
A burial for Edward himself
cannot be found in the Framfield registers,
however we can be certain that Edward died before
his wife because his father, Michael
Brooker, left a house at Blackboys Common, now
called Brookhurst Farm, to his
grandson Michael b1716 and left
instructions, in his Will, that Michael juniors
mother (Elizabeth, nee Newnham) was to be allowed
to live in the house for the rest of her natural
This probably brought Elizabeth back to Framfield.
From the Will we also know that Edwards sons Michael b1716, Edward b1720 and David b1723 had survived and were alive at the time of their Grandfather (Michaels) Will (1751) because they were mentioned in it.
Edward's son, John, however is not mentioned in the Will and since Michael is treated as the eldest grandchild, it is believed that John was not alive in 1751.
The daughters' Elizabeth and Sarah are not mentioned either and therefore may also not have been alive in1851.
The other grandchildren that are mentioned in the Will are a son of Edwards sister, Leah, and a daughter of his sister, Ann. This could mean, that Edwards daughters had not survived into adulthood, or merely that they were married women by that time.
The grand-daughter that was mentioned Mary, the daughter of Ann Martin, was unmarried.
THE GRANDSON - MICHAEL BROOKER b1716
Michael Brooker was baptised on the 16th April, 1716. He was the son Of Edward Brooker and Elizabeth ,nee Newnham. Michael married Mary ?.
Michael and Mary
had nine children and his Last Will and
Testament confirms this fact. There is a
complication in the Parish Registers as the
priest at the time appears to have been confused
when it came to the name of Michael's wife. This
has caused mistakes across the timespan of the
|Elizabeth||01-01-1746||? Clark||Michael & Mary|
|Sarah||10-05-1747||? Humphrey||Michael & Elizabeth|
|Michael||14-01-1750||Michael & Ann|
|Ann||08-10-1752||? Goodwin||No wife's name listed|
|John||07-09-1755||Michael & Mary|
|Barbara||27-02-1758||Wiilliam Newnham||Michael & Ann|
|Richard||27-02-1763||16-11-1843||Elizabeth Hartfield||Michael & Mary|
|Mary||03-11-1765||? Dadswell||Michael & Mary|
|William||12-02-1769||Michael & Elizabeth|
The Will appears to confirm this point as it mentions each of the children by name.
We know from his Last Will and Testament that he left -:
To Elizabeth Clark,
his daughter, the sum of One Pound.
To Sarah Humphrey, his daughter, the sum of One Pound
To Michael, his son, the sum the sum of Five Pounds
To Ann Goodwin, his daughter, the sum of One Pound
To John, his son, the sum of Five Pounds
To Barbara Newnham, his daughter, the sum of One Pound
To Richard, his son, the sum of Five Pounds
To Mary Dadswell, his daughter, the sum of One Pound
To William, his son, he left One Copyhold Messuage or Tenement together with one acre and a half of land holden to the Manor of Framfield. If William did not leave any lawful male heirs the property was to go to his son Richard, to him and his male heirs forever.
It was left on the basis that the said Messuage or Tenement was never to go out of the name Brooker.
William held the cottage, (now called Brookhurst Farm) ,for a number of years but since he never married, the cottage passed eventually to his brother, Richard, in accordance with the terms of the will. Unfortunately Richard's son, (Richard Junior), did sell the property in the late 19th Century, but he may not have known about the note in the Will of his Grandfather, saying that the property should never go out of the name Brooker.
A Messuage or Tenement is a term used in the Manor Court Books to indicate a property, in this case a Cottage at Blackboys in the Parish of Framfield.
Barbara Brooker, his daughter, was baptised at Framfield on the 24th September 1758 and married William Newnham (Widower) on the 5th January 1796, when she was 38 years of age.
William Newnham was a wealthy man, owning a good deal of real estate, including a windmill at Southwick, a watermill in Framfield, and an inn (The Blackboys Inn) a very famous hostelry, as well as other premises. The couple lived at the Water Mill (Uptons Mill) in Framfield, which is still in a very picturesque corner of the parish.
The couple had three children, Anna - baptised on 21st December 1796,
Thomas - baptised on 31st October1798 and Richard - baptised on 21st May 1800.
William Newnham already had at least nine children from his first wife, Elizabeth, nee Page when he married Barbara in 1796.
He was quite a pillar of the community in that he was a Churchwarden and an Overseer of the Poor.
According to a booklet written by his Gt. Gt. Grandson, there is an inscription on his tombstone in Framfield Churchyard, which reads :
A good companion in his life, A loving husband to his wife, A tender father to his children dear, And a Good neighbour lieth here.
William died in 1808 and was buried on the 22nd April, 1808.
In his will, which was proved on the 7th June,1808 he left Barbara an annuity of 30 Pounds per year for the rest of her life and all the furniture which was contained in his parlor and parlor chamber.
He left all his real estate and money to various children. Of
the children of the second marriage (to Barbara) Anna (aged 12) received
400 pounds in her fathers will and Richard (aged 8) received 600 pounds. No
mention is made of Thomas so he may have died in the interim period.
THE GREAT GRANDSON - RICHARD BROOKER b1763
Richard Brooker was baptised on the 27th February, 1763 at Framfield Church. He was the son of Michael and Mary Brooker.
Richard married Elizabeth Hartfield on 1st February, 1789
at Framfield Church.
Richard and Elizabeth had 12 children -:
Richard Brooker was buried in Framfield Churchyard on the 16th November, 1843. He was aged 80.
His wife Elizabeth was buried in Framfield Churchyard on the 18th April, 1819 aged 53.
On the 26th June, 1793 Richard is recorded in the Manor Court Book as being the new 'Copyhold' owner of a cottage at Blackwoods Common, (now called 'Rangers'). It is on an un-made road which is now called Terminus Road and was previously called Cackle Row.
Copyhold Tenure means that it was held of the Manor of Framfield. It goes back to feudal times when the Lord of the Manor granted all property in his manor. At the transfer, copy of the transaction was given to the new copyholder. Later on copyholders could pay a fee to become enfranchised and the property became 'freehold' but this never happened in the case of Richard.
In the Middle Ages, tenants had to perform a service for the Lord of the Manor, going off to fight in wars, tending the land etc. but later on tenants could pay a quit- rent annually instead of providing such services. All transfers of property, however, if not freehold, was still recorded in the Manor Court Books because it was held of the Lord of the Manor, right up to the 1920's.
The Manor Court Book records of the 4th May, 1804 advises that Richard sells
the property, which is now called Rangers to his brother -in- law William
Newnham and takes on another one, this time at the end of Terminus Road.
This cottage is no longer in existence. Both Richard and William are
described as 'Yeoman' in this transaction (someone who farms his own land).
In 1805, Richard's father , Michael b1716, dies and is buried in Framfield Churchyard on the 23rd September, 1805. His will and testament is 'proved' on the 19th June, 1806. He leaves small amounts of money to his children, five pounds to son Michael of the Parish of Hadlow in the County of Kent and the same amount to son John, of the Parish of Rotherfield in the County Of Sussex. The same amount to his son Richard.
To his five daughters, listing them all by their married
names, he gives the sum of one pound each - Mary Dadswell, Elizabeth Clark,
Sarah Humphrey, Ann Goodwin and Barbara Newnham.
Michael leaves his cottage in Framfield, now called Brookhurst Farm to his son William for his lifetime. If however, William does not marry and produce children, then after his decease the property is to go to his other son Richard.
This is exactly what happens and although we do not have a
burial date for William, we know that he died unmarried because Richard does
inherit the property.
The transfer is recorded in the Manor Court Book on the 26th June , 1840 and Richard immediately transfers ownership of the property to his own son Richard b1792, the one who remains unmarried. Richard junior, at that time was living in Lewes but he comes to live in Framfield.
It could be that Richard senior lived with Richard junior because he had sold the property in Terminus Road to his other son John, b1802 for a small amount of money. Whether Richard senior was having money problems at that time is uncertain but seeing his brother, William, was unmarried he would have known he was to inherit Brookhurst Farm eventually anyway.
Referring to the other members of the family-:
Lucy, in 1817 has a daughter whom she calls Hannah, and who is baptised on the 6th April, 1817.
William (aged 20) dies in 1819 and is buried in Framfield Churchyard on the 7th March, 1819.
Elizabeth, Richard's wife dies, aged 53, in the following month and is buried in Framfield Churchyard on the 18th April, 1819.
Thomas, aged 11 dies and is buried five days later on 23rd April, 1819. Cause of death was probably illness but nothing was indicated in the burial register.
Lucy in 1820 has a second child, a son, who she calls Zebulon, and is baptised on the 22nd October, 1820.
Martha on the 18th December, 1825 has a son baptised at Framfield, who she call Charles.
Martha, aged 22, dies and is buried in Framfield Churchyard on the 30th July, 1827.
Lucy, aged 30, dies six days later, and is buried in Framfield Churchyard on the 5th August, 1827.
Richard, dies aged 80, and is buried in Framfield Churchyard on the 16th November, 1843.
Richard, according to the "Payments Book of the Overseas to the Poor" was certainly receiving poor relief early in the 19th Century and that is probably why his son John, later bought the Terminus Road cottage from him, perhaps to ease the financial situation. John only paid a small amount of money for it though, so possibly it was to be part of his inheritance.
It should be remembered that Richard inherited the other cottage "Brookhurst Farm", from his brother William in accordence with their fathers will and immediately assigned it to his other son Richard (Junior).
Richard (Junior) dies aged 76 and is buried at Framfield on the 20th September, 1869. He never married. He left Brookhurst Farm to his sister Harriet, b1810 (daughter of Richard Brooker and Elizabeth Hartfield) who had married Henry Eade, shoemaker, but they did not own it for very long before they sold it to their son and his wife.
THE GREAT GREAT GRANDSON - MICHAEL BROOKER b 1795.
Michael Brooker was baptised 26th February, 1795 at Framfield Church.
He was the son of Richard Brooker and Elizabeth, nee Hartfield.
Michael married Hannah Curd, daughter of Benjamin Curd and Sarah, nee Smith. Hannah's family came from nearby "Little Horstead" where her grandfather Benjamin Curd married Violet Brown at Little Horstead Church on 30th December, 1750. They had at least five children -:
Her grandfather, Benjamin age 80 was buried at Framfield on 3rd May, 1805 and his wife, aged 76, was also buried at Framfield on 19th June, 1801.
The son Benjamin married Sarah Smith at Buxted on 23rd April , 1783 and had at least three children -:
Michael Brooker married Hannah Curd on 30th
January,1819 at St. Bartholomew Church, Maresfield, Sussex.
There is some confusion as to the father of the first child by reason of the fact he was baptised Michael Curd.
Michael Curd and Mary Brooker were baptised in Framfield Church on the
30th January, 1820.
Michael Curd would have probably been 3 years old by this time or approaching 3 years anyway.
According to the
International Genealogical Index, there is some confusion over dates
with regard to the baptisms of the two children, but the above detail
has been taken from the original registers so we can be certain that it
There is a chance, of course, That Michael, Junior was Michael Brookers son, especially since he was called 'Michael', but no mention is made of this in the Baptism Register if this was the case. The two children are definitely listed with different surnames.
Referring to the point that Michael Curd was already probably 3 years old by the time he was baptised, we know this because he actually died in 1829 and his age is given in the burial register as '11 years'. He was buried as Michael Curd in Framfield Churchyard on 16th August,1829. Cause of death is not given.
Michael and Hannah Brooker had eleven children, if we include Michael -:
|Michael Curd||30-01-1820||16-08-1829 Framfield|
2. Thomas Bond.
3. Thomas Cox.
No baptism entries for Elizabeth, Samuel, Eli, or Hannah could be found in the Framfield Church registers so it is suspected they were baptised elsewhere. About this time people were turning to non-conformist churches also (Baptist, Methodist etc.), so we may eventually find the remaining children were baptised in one of the nearby chapels. On the other hand they may been baptised in a Church in another parish nearby.
EMIGRATION TO AUSTRALIA
Michael Brooker and
family are noted in the Church Vestry Book along with five other families
(and three unmarried men) as desiring to emigrate as early as the 20th
March, 1829. (A few months before young Michael Curd died).
At a meeting held on the 12th March, 1829 it was made known that some paupers were requesting assisted passage to America.
The parish considered their request favorably because they saw it as a way of moving paupers off Parish Relief for good. There would of course be an initial outlay because assistance would have to be given for passage and for food and bedding etc. for the voyage.
It was in 1839 at a meeting of the Vestry that Michael Brooker's name is one of those listed under the following statement -:
'We the undersigned, hereby declare that it is our fixed determination to proceed with our families to South Australia agreeably to the resolution passed at the meeting held in the Vestry Room of this Parish on the 7th March, 1839.'
By this time, the proposed destinations for emigrants had changed from America, which was the original preferred destination , to Canada in 1834, and then Australia in 1839. Thus if Michael's application had been successful earlier, he and his family could have finished up in a different country altogether.
The Vestry Book definitely states that
Michael, Hannah and 'seven' children emigrated from Framfield.
Michael and Hannah were living as Paupers in a cottage belonging to the Parish.
The Parish decided to sell off all such cottages on 30th November, 1837 and by 27th June, 1838 ownership of Michael's cottage is being transferred, in the Manor Court Book, from the Overseers of the Poor to the new owner. All such transactions were listed but as the Court only met once a year, it is likely that the transfer had taken place even earlier.
It is not known where Michael and his family were living between the time of the cottage being sold and their emigration to South Australia. They may have been living with a family member or living in the Workhouse. The cottage where they lived is now called 'Bridleway Cottage' and it is situated in the Blackboys area of Framfield, where Michael's father, Richard, also lived.
Michael Brooker and his family traveled to South Australia on the "Cleveland" which arrived on the 18th December, 1839 after a voyage of almost 5 months.
Within four months of his arrival he had died, most probably from typhus.
Some of the other Framfield families listed as paupers arrived in South Australia on the "Somersetshire" on 25th August, 1839.
Most of this information on the Brooker family was
accumulated prior to the internet age.
A lot more information is now available on the following web site-:
The Weald Of Kent, Surrey & Sussex.
This site has an incredible amount of information on Framfield and the Brooker family
You need to delve into the site to find it.
Another excellent web site is-:
If you can add to, or correct, any of this information or to report broken links -:
Please email Ray Lane