Holy Trinity church, Brinsley.

Brinsley is also written Brunnesley, Brimslie, and Brynnesley, &c. In the Villare Anglicum, Brimsly, and in Domesday, Brunesleia. We know not how to derive the name. In Welsh Bryn is a brow or ridge of a hill. In the Anglo-Saxon a Burn, which germanised is Brunen, is applied to a stream or well, neither of which appear applicable; but Mr. Flavel Edmonds, in his traces of history in the names of places takes “Brins” as probably derived from “brea,” a prince. The “ley” as before pointed out, means an opening in the wood or forest. It is certain however that the Brun who lived at Brinsley in the Confessor’s reign is also called Brown. He is the only pre-conquest proprietor in Brinsley mentioned in Domsday, and stands there doubtlessly for so much as the Conqueror was pleased to leave him, which was a manor which paid for 4 bovats to the geld, the land being half a carucate. After the conquest Ailric held in this place from Peverel, whose fee it was, 1 carucate, and 1 villain having 1 carucate and 2 acres of meadow, and pasture wood of 6 quarantens in length and 3½ in width. This was later on held by a family (probably descending from Ailric) who assumed the name of the place.

The first of the de Brunesley’s whom Thoroton mentions was Roger, occurring in the Pipe Rolls of the I2thyear of Henry III. He left a son named Gilbert, who was at that time under age and in the custody or guardianship of Ranulf Brito of Annesley. When Gilbert became of age we meet him in the 26th year of Henry III., not only as holding the Manor of Brinsley, but also part of Trowell which was acquired in his father’s lifetime.

The principal manor of Trowell before the Norman invasion had been Verebrands and became the fee of William Ostiarius, but there were three manors besides, which were of the Taynes, each of which answered for half a carucate to the tax. One of these was Ulchel’s, another Aluric’s, and the third Uluric’s. All these became after the conquest escheated to the crown, and became the properties of the following:

Ulchel’s was given to the nuns of Sempringham.
Uluric’s came to the family of Strelley, and Aluric’s became the property of the Brunnesleys.

There was a fine levied as early as in the 20th of Henry III. between Robert the Brunnesley and William Stanley, concerning 2 bovats of land in Trowell with the appurtenances, the right of which was Robert de Brunnesley’s, and which he held at that time, paying yearly a pair of white gloves, and doing foreign service. It is this which descended to Gilbert, the son of Roger or Robert de Brunnesley, whose Brinsley inheritance from his father was of the serjeantry of Peverell, by which he had to find a horse of the value of five shillings, with sack and brock, and a halter of an half penny for forty days at his own cost in the army of Wales. Gilbert de Brunnesley died about the 7th year of Edward I., and left a son and heir named Roger, then 30 years old, who about the 3rd of Edward III left a son and heir called Galfrey, then about 50 years of age, who succeeded him at the same tenure as that at which his progenitors had been the holders. Galfrey had a son named Robert, who in the 21st year of Edward III made a fine (of succession) of fifty shillings for the estate, whose son, John de Brunnesley, did the same in the 16th of Richard II.

But we must hearken back to Brun or Brown of Brinsley. Whether or not his land had been diminished by the conqueror at Brinsley, it is certain that he was unfortunate enough to lose a manor which before the Norman invasion belonged to him at Strelley, which was rated for 3 bovats to the geld, and which was by Peverel given to one Ambrose. The Bruns or Browns had therefore to submit to the fate which had befallen so many others; but more favourable prospects were now at hand for them. A descendant of the Browns married Joan, the daughter and heiress of John de Brunnesley, above mentioned, a lineal descendant from Gilbert, son of Roger or Robert de Brunnesley, first mentioned in Brinsley, and it appears that (what was not unusual in those days), the Browns and their descendants from that time forward assumed the name of de Brunnesley from Joan, whose dower the estate was. Of this Robert Brown, husband of Joan, we find that in the 8th year of Henry VI. he levied a fine on the manor of Trowell, and on one mill and 30 acres of land in Brunnesley and Trowell, together with his moiety of the advowson of the Church of Trowel1, to John Cockfield, Esq., John Curson, Esq., Thomas Mackworth, Esq., John son of Bothe, Esq., and Robert Oelage of Brunnesley. The properties remained in the Brunnesley (Brown’s family) until it descended to Francis de Brunnesley, after whose death (as said in Trowell), from an office taken at Nottingham on the 15th March of the 39th of Elizabeth, it came to Gervas, the son of the last named Francis de Brunnesley, who sold the Trowell property to John Hacker, gentleman. But as regards the Brinsley estate we must hark back again to take up the lines from an earlier date. There was one Robert, son of Robert de Brunnesley (probably a younger son) who was outlawed the County in the 1st year of Henry IV., and so fell out from the Brinsley history; but about John, whose daughter Joan was married to Robert Brown, we have yet to learn some particulars, which we feel will not be very satisfactory to thoughtful readers. He died in about the third year of Henry V. and was succeeded by his son and heir William, and so far all is right. But then comes in a discrepancy between the Brinsley and Trowell accounts which we are unable to reconcile. We read, to our surprise, that John (father of the heiress Joan) or some other John (whose link of descent we cannot find) in about the 13th year of Edward IV., had a son also named John, then under 25 years of age, and heir of the manor. The only way in which we believe the discrepancy may be cleared up is, that possibly the Trowell account of the family is wanting a link, which the Brinsley account supplies; and then the family history stops abruptly, until we come to Francis de Brunnesley and Beatrix his wife, daughter of George N evil of Ragnel on Grove, whose son Gervas was in 1569 but some 2 years old.