Chapter XXI.

The Brandreth Family

This interesting family which seems more closely connected with the town than any other is first mentioned in the Subsidy Roll of a.d. 1543, when John Brandreth's name appears amongst the Assessments, and again in 1546, 37 Henry VIII, when his Assessment was the largest in the parish save one. In 1571 his son Christopher's name appears, and again in the Roll of 1606, and his burial is noted in the Sutton Church Registers 8 August, 1613. In V. Charles I (1630) Roger Brandreth's name appears, probably the son of Christopher, and he married Margery Benett 25 November, 1589, their son Christopher born 1593 being still on the Rolls in 1641. A Matthew Brandreth married Elizabeth Thornton 21 May, 1635. Whom Christopher married is not certain, but the marriage of Christopher Brandreth of Sutton to Sara Grammar took place at Blidworth 22 April, 1623. In 1649 John Brandreth married Anne Sheppard at Sutton on 16 April, in 1652, John married 14 May, Katherin Barkar, and in 1659, John married Jane Wells 18 February. In 1653 the Will of John Brandreth was proved at Mansfield 11 October by Ellen his wife, from which it seems clear that John was unfortunate in his matrimonial experiences. A John Brandreth appears as a Witness but whether a son or not does not appear.

In 1658, 25 May, the Will of Thomas Brandreth was proved in which is mentioned a Close Cutting upon High Moore by Hucknall Hedge—and on 15 June the same year the Will of Matthew Brandreth was proved in which he names his children Richard, Christopher and Sarah.

On 15 January, 1660, the Will of Ann Brandreth, a Widow, was proved, but of whom is not stated. Her children were John, Sarah and Mary, and Ann Barke is also mentioned, probably another daughter.

In 1662 Roger Branderith is on the Roll but he pays only half the amount of 1641, and in the Sutton Church Registers under date 1671 is written " Scrystum by me Johnanein Brandreth." During this period when many thousands of the Clergy had been ejected by the Board of Triers and the Committee for Scandalous Ministers appointed by the Puritans in 1649, and Marriages were ordered to be celebrated before Magistrates, and, oftener than not, never registered, Parliament at last realised that something must be done to remedy this. Accordingly men were appointed as Registrars, and in all probability John Brandreth was so appointed for Sutton, but the small number registered during the time of the Commonwealth (1647-60) in every parish, as well as in Sutton, is universal.

In 1681, the Will of Christopher Brandreth was proved on the 31st (sic) of November leaving a wife, Mary, and two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. In 1682 John Brandreth died Intestate, his sons Joshua and Jonathan the elder son administering the estate. Jonathan married Mary Burton at Teversal 16 November, 1684, and Joshua married Isabel Ward at Mansfield 28 January, 1685. Jonathan did not live long for his Will, made 26 September, 1687 left his property to his wife and " unborn child to inherit when 21."

Richard Brandreth's Will made 8 January, 1694 mentions his wife, and his children, John, Matthew, Richard, Elizabeth and Mary.

Richard Brandreth described as of Blidworth married Frances Bramhall at Kirkby 22 June, 1694, and in 1698 the Will of Matthew Brandreth was proved by his children Samuel and Elizabeth, and his brother John, and in the same year Richard B. married Ann Fletcher at Sutton, 8 July.

The Will of Joshua B. was proved 10 July, 1704 in which he is described as husbandman, and in which he leaves " to my eldest son John my whole farm with the reversion of that my sister Mary Ward enjoys." He also mentions his children Ann and John. Judging from the Inventory he was a wealthy man. In 1706 Christopher B. married Mary Butler at St. Nicholas, Nottingham, on 3 December, and in 1721 John B. married Hannah Clarke, at Selston, 6 February.

On 9 November, 1725, the Will of Christopher B. was proved in which he is described as Framework knitter, but he leaves his farm and many acres of land to his son Christopher, then to grandson of the same name, and failing him to his son John. Jonathan probably " the unborn child " of 1690 married Elizabeth Boot at Sutton 22 December, 1726, and Matthew B. married Ann Brittin, 11 April, 1732.

In 1756 the Will of John Brandreth, Yeoman, made 28 July (the son of Joshua, of 1704) was proved by his wife Hannah, and Samuel Unwin, Hosier, of Sutton, in which he left his property to nephews and nieces, and his death seems to have put a period to the prominent position which this family had so long occupied. In 1763 Jonathan B. married Eliz. Daubney at Sutton 20 September, and in 1781 John married Elizabeth Chapman 17 September. In 1797 Benjamin B. married Ruth Gregory 30 September and finally Jeremiah Brandreth married Ann Bridget at Sutton 29 September, 1811.

This remarkable family which for nearly three centuries was most closely connected with the town had many incidents of a romantic as well as of a prosaic nature in its course. One of its members having accepted the teaching of George Fox was in 1670 fined £5 15s. Od. for unlawfully assembling (i.e. attending a meeting of the Friends) and in 1676 Elizabeth Brandreth was before the Mansfield Justices for the same reason. But the last prominent member of this fine family, Jeremiah Brandreth, was a truly remarkable man.

The introduction of machinery for the making of Hosiery naturally threw many out of employment, and much poverty and discontent ensued. As a consequence a number of unemployed who met secretly at Pentridge near Alfreton formed themselves into bands and went about breaking Hosiery Frames at Sutton, Bulwell and other places under the leadership of a man called Ned Ludd, or the Nottingham Captain. Emboldened by temporary success, and led on by an Informer named Oliver they determined to arm and march upon Nottingham and on Monday, 9 June, 1815. they started, and in attempting to seize arms at a farm at Wingfield Park a man named Robert Walters, who resisted them, was shot dead. The rioters were finally dispersed at Hill Top, near Eastwood by the Yeomanry under Colonel Rolleston, and Jeremiah Brandreth the leader (the Nottingham Captain) after hiding for some time was finally betrayed and arrested, and after a trial at Derby was executed for high treason, 7 November, 1817.

A contemporary account of the Trial says " The Leader of this outbreak though himself grievously misled, was unquestionably a man of no ordinary stamp. Never perhaps did the personal appearance of an individual in a court of justice arrest the attention of all persons of all ranks who witnessed his behaviour more than that of Jeremiah Brandreth." Mr. Denman, K.C. said " the Captain indeed was a most extraordinary character. There was a wild daring in his look, a desperate decision in his manner and a furious energy in his conduct which bespoke the man capable of a commanding influence over common minds."

He was perfectly composed and died without any visible emotion. It is a remarkable commentary on the action of Brandreth and his followers that today (1932) we are experiencing the result of the over-production by machinery of manufactured goods with the vast number of unemployed, a result which Brandreth with extraordinary prescience foresaw, and society is as much puzzled today in trying to solve the problem as was this intelligent and thoughtful man in 1817.