Benoit Brassier / Benjamin Brashears
French Freedom of Faith
Benoit (later Benjamin) Brassier was born in France, a Catholic country where Protestant practices of faith were not just frowned on but caused the Catholics to riot against them. We don’t know just what, if any, persecution Benjamin and his family suffered there but as a child, his family fled to England. As a teenager, he left England for the New World and a place to settle where he could find peace with his God.
Benoit Brassier was born about 1626 in France to Robert Brassier
He married Mary Richford
Their children were:
1. Robert Brashears 1642-1712 married Alice Springs
2. Benjamin Brashears born 1647 and died 1674/5
3. John Brashears born 1649 and died 1696. He married Ann Sterling
4. Mary Brashears born 1651 and died 1701/2
5. Ann Brashears born about 1653 and married William Dalrymple
6. Susanna Brashears born 1655 and died 1692. She married Mareen Duvall and they were the ancestors of President Obama
7. Elizabeth Brachears born 1660 and died 17289. She married John Sellman
Born in France with the name Benoit Brassier, he Anglicized the name. Brashears may have been the way the English speaking American’s phonetically spelt the name Brassier. Records record that he was age 64 in 1666 and 73 in 1734/5, so he was born sometime in the 1620. We know he was born in France because in his citizenship papers, he declares that he is “a subject of the Crowne of France.” He must have left France early in his teens as we know that one of his sisters was born about 1636 at Isle of Thanet, England. He must have been a young man when his parents and siblings left England for the New World.
Because Benois who later went by Benjamin, paid for the passage of a Mary Richford, who is believed to have become his wife. This may be possible but at this point it is impossible to prove this speculation as no further records with Benjamin’s wife’s name have been found. Mary was and is a common name, but as there was a daughter named Mary, it is quit possible she was named for her mother.
It is unknown if Benjamin and his brother Robert arrived in Jamestown with their parents in 1636. We do know the brothers settled in the Upper Norfolk Co. by 1638. Soon after this, the area became Nansemond County, Virginia. On 14 April 1653 "Benjamin Brafseure" was issued a patent in this county 300 acres “ being at the head of a Creeke called indian Creeke being a branch of the western branch of nancemond river...joining the land of M. John Ganat.". The patent was issued “for the cost of transporting six persons into the colony.'" We do not know who the “six persons” were but it is high probable that Benjamin’s brother, Robert, was one of them. Robert Jr. already had land given to him in his father’s patent. On March 26, 1656, Benjamin renewed his patent.
Benjamin’s wondering feet lead him to the colony of Maryland by 1660. In that year, Benjamin was issued a call to jury duty under the name of Benjami Brasheers. He was living at “The Clifts” just south of present day Chesapeake Beach. The next year he was selected as the Justice of Peace of that area. On 4 December 1661 by the Council of Maryland Benojs [Benois] Brasseuir, and his family, of French origin and late of Virginia, were granted citizenship. “Whereas Benjamin Brashearss, late of Virginia, has sought to leave to inhabit as a. I do hereby declare that said Benois Brasseur, his wife and children, to be full denizens of this our Province, and that he be held, treated, reputed and esteemed as one of the faythful people.” Benjamin’s citizenship papers also recorded "...Whereas Benjs Brafseuir late of Virginia and subject of the Crowne of France haveing transported himsefe his wife and Children into this Crownes hereto inhabite thath besought us to grant him the said Benojs Brafseuir leave here to inhabite and as a free Dennizen freedome and to hime and his hiers to purchase Known ye that wee willing to give due encourgement to other subjects of that Crowne doe hereby declare them the said Benois Brafseuir his wife & children as well those allready borne as state hereafter to bee borne to bee free Dennizens of this our Province of Mayland..." signed Charles Calvert, December 4, 1662”
Benjamin didn’t get to enjoy his new citizenship for long. He died 25 May 1663 in Maryland leaving eight young children and a widow who had to finish the purchasing of the family farm.
Despite a shaky beginning, Maryland became a refuge for many Christian sects looking for freedom to worship God in their own way. The Huguenots were just one such sect that successfully settled and raised families in the New World.
1. "The Brassier page" htp://www.talweb.com/redlimey/gene/brassier.htm
2. http://www.next1000.com/family/EC/brassieur.robt.html by Cheryl Grubbs
4. http//www.bellucc1.com/melonbel/brashears.html "My Brasseur/Brashear(s)
5. http://www.next1000.com/family/GRUBB/brashearBB.html by Cheryl Grubbs
1. "Outrages and Corrections" by Charles Brashear, Gen Forum Brashears Family
2. Early Families of Southern Maryland, Vol 4, Brashear
3. Virginia Land Patents, book 3, p. 33
4.Virginia Land Patents, Book 3, p. 33Hall of Records of Maryland, Council Proceedings, Liber HH, ff. 157, 158]