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Monday, 3 February 2020

Eleven John Brynings - A Same Name Challenge: 52 Ancestors Wk. 6

How many of us have torn  our hair out at the confusion that comes from researching the same name occurring  down the generations?  Such as: 

  • In my husband's family of direct ancestors  - there were three Robert Donaldson's, followed by three John Robert Donaldson's, spanning over 200 years.
  • On his mother's side, there was Matthew White, followed by three direct descendants named Matthew Iley White. 
  • My G.G.G. G. Grandfather's sister Jennet Danson,  married  in 1786  a John Bryning of Carleton, Poulton-le-Fylde,  Lancashire.  
But when I came to research this branch of the family, I discovered there were eleven John Bryning/Brining descendants living in the Fylde area at the turn of the 18th to 19th centuries - all descendant of John Bryning (1703-1779) through his sons, John and Richard, with their sons, grandsons and great grandsons taking the name of the family patriach. 

The traditional naming pattern (certainly  prevalent in Scotland & the north of England) of naming sons after their grandfather or  father can often be helpful in research,  but with the Brynings, you need a clear head to distinguish them all. 

Jennet Danson's  father-in-law John Bryning died in  1820 and in his will, he notes:  "My pew in the north gallery to my son John".  This boxed pew is still in place at St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde. My photograph is not very good, but you can make out the name and the date 1778

St.Chad's Church with the Bryning pew at the front of the gallery on the left. 
My parents were married here and I was baptised in the same church, as were Dansons back to 1736.  

John Brynings (and also Dansons)  are named on the list of churchwardens displayed  in the church  - with the dates 1770, 1816, 1833, 1848, and 1864.

One John Bryning stands out amongst the eleven - Rev. John Bryning (1770-1855), grandson of the first John Bryning.  

My first knowledge of him came many years ago through  a response to  a query on an Ancestry Message Board.    My contact, a descendant of the Rev. Bryning, was able to supply me with a fund of documentary evidence, plus several obituaries.  He certainly had led an eventful life. 

He was bound to an apprentice  to a mercantile firm in Liverpool, rising to the position of foreman  and in this capacity travelled widely.  He was in Brussels when the Battle of Waterloo was fought in 1815 and wrote about "the booming of the terrific engines of death."

Sometime in his 40's he left the merchant  life  behind for quite a different calling - that of the ministry.  In 1820 he travelled to Quebec and became a preacher at New Brunswick on the Long Point Settlement on Lake Eerie. He was ordained as a pastor of the  Presbyterian Church of Canada, and established a church at Mount Pleasant, Simcoe.   He became a colourful  and influential leader, a familiar sight in  in the  Long Point Settlement.  An obituary noted that
 "In pioneer times he for nightly travelled the considerable  distance  between churches by horse and buggy on dirt roads, which turned to mire in rain.....  He was esteemed throughout the area as a tireless man of the cloth."
Presbyterian church historian James Dey described the Rev. Bryning thus:
"Mr Bryning was, in more senses than one, a great man.  Physically he was great, well proportioned and muscular, he was of astonishing weight of 412 pounds.  He had three wives and fiftenn vigorous children..... He laboured incessantly to preach the glad tiding of the everlasting gospel to the few and scattered inhabitants, gifted with a vigorous constitution and as vigorous a mind, undaunted by difficulties, ready and ever working for the case of Christ against bigotry and superstition......He has left a memorable example for succeeding ministries."

The Reverend John Bryning died 15th September 1853 aged 83 - his eldest son his namesake.  

With thanks to Yvonne for her contribution to this family history profile.   


I have come across four public trees on Ancestry that  have the Rev. John Bryning as the son of John Bryning and Jennet Danson (my ancestor) - wrong, wrong, wrong!  

I have from Lancashire Record Office  a copy  of the marriage bond of John and Jennet dated 1786, when the Reverend was already  16 years old.

Signatures on the Marriage Bond of 1786.  The document was a promise between two people, normally the groom and a friend or relative (in this case John's future   brother-in-law Henry Danson) that,  if the marriage proved invalid in the eye of the law,  they would pay a penalty to the church of a substantial sum of money - in this case £200.

Marriage licences could be obtained in this way, as an alternative to having the banns read.  They enabled marriages to take place at any time and were useful  if the marriage had to take place quickly or be kept quiet for some reason.   John's  marriage bond was dated the day before the actual wedding.  Why the hasty ceremony remains a mystery, as their first child was not born  until July 1787  - perhaps Jennet  had been pregnant but lost the baby?

John and Jennet’s son named John was born 1801 - the youngest in the family.  He  lived all his life in the Fylde region of Lancashire.  He remained unmarried, making his home with his two unmarried sisters Margaret and Betty. He died in 1874 aged 72; his life, verified by parish records, statutory BMD records, census returns and transcribed monumental inscriptions

Adapted from an earlier post on the  Bryning Family 


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  1. Fantastic story, 11! wow... And I really like the church photos, too.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Barb. The church was where my Danson ancestors were baptized, married and buried, back to 1736. I was christened there so it has close family memories.

  2. How very interesting that one of your John Brynings - The Reverend - ended up in Canada. Vivid description of him. And that he had 3 wives and fifteen children! I wonder what all their names were :-)

  3. Thank you, Diane. To answer your question- the Rev. Children were named, John, Peter; Thomas, Esther, Alonzo, Lorenzo, James, Joshua, William, Eliza, Samuel, Anna, Amelia, Joseph and Hannah.


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