Started by Richard Brown on Saturday, January 1, 2011


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1/1/2011 at 7:56 PM

The first Brashears in America were Robert and Benois Brasseur, French Huguenots whose family name was anglicized as Brashear. The relationship between these two men has not been positively documented. It is known that Robert was considerably older than Benois, perhaps as much as 22-24 years, for he starts appearing in land records in 1635, whereas Benois does not show up in land records until 1653. It is known that Benois (also called Benjamin) had a father, a brother, and a son named Robert. But it is not entirely clear whether this first Robert Brasseur/Brashear in America was Benois' father or brother. On the basis of circumstantial evidence to be presented in the book, I believe that this Robert Brasseur or Brashear was Benois' father.
Robert Brasseur (pronounced with an accent on the last syllable: BrasSEUR; also spelled Brassieur, Brashieur, Brashier, Brashear, Brashears, Brasheur, Brassure, Breshear, Brushier, and about 35 other ways) was born in France, some time before 1600, and migrated to England probably in 1629 and to Virginia in the early 1630's with at least seven children. Benois/Benjamin Brasseur/Brashear was also born in France, probably about 1620. They were Huguenots, that is, Puritan-Protestant dissenters, followers of the teachings of John Calvin, in the midst of a very old, very militantly Catholic country.
Apparently to escape religious persecutions and seeing an opportunity, Robert Brasseur left his home in France, possibly in the Loire region just north of La Rochelle, possibly in the Rhone Valley downstream from Geneva, Switzerland, possibly in Bouche du Rhone ("Mouth of the Rhone," about 20 miles from the Mediterranean Sea) some time during the 1620's, possibly in 1629. Several early family historians say he made his way to the Isle of Thanet, Kent County, England, where he was known as Robert Brashear, but we have no clear documentation.
Some time before 1636, Robert Brasseur Sr immigrated to Virginia. The first record of him in Virginia is his renewal of a note in Warrisquicke Co, Va, on June 1, 1636 (Nugent, Cavaliers and Pioneers, v.1, p.41). Robert had probably been in Virginia a few years by 1636--at least long enough to have borrowed some money or bought some land and have the note come due.
On November 24, 1637, Robert Partin leased 40 acres in Elizabeth City County (later Nansemond Co), the land "bounded ... West on land of Robert Brasheare." (Va. Land Patents, Book 1, p. 503)
On February 24, 1638, Robert Brassure and Peter Rey received by assignment (that is, they bought) a 600 acre patent in Nansemond County, on "Warrisquicke Creeke ... and butting upon Nanzemund river". This is the earliest known deed to a Brashear:

To all to whom these present shall come: I, Sr John Harvey, Kt [knight], Governor, &c, send &c. whereas, &c. Now know yee that I, the said Sr John Harvey, Kt. doe with the consent of the Councell of State accordingly give and grannt unto Robert Brassure and Peter Rey six hundred acres of land seituate, lying and being in the upper Countie of New Norfolke lying north east and south west along the south side of a Creeke upon the head of the said Creeke and butting upon Nansemund river, alias Matrebers River. The said six hundred acres of land being due unto them, the said Robert Brassure and Peter Rey, by assignment from Peter Johnson to have and to hold, &c. dated the 24th of February 1638. (Va. Land Patents, Book 1, p.622. NOTE: this land now in Nansemond County, Virginia)

In early Virginia, any person who paid the cost of transporting himself or another into the Colony was entitled to receive fifty acres of free land for each passage paid. The persons transported were known as "headrights," and their names were generally listed in the patent records. It was not necessary to claim your headrights immediately, and they could be bought and sold, like any other real property; some held onto theirs for years.
For example, on 6 Oct 1640, Robert Brasseur was issued a patent for "100 acres in Upper Norfolk Co, on the western branch of Nansemond River, opposite a 400 acres tract of Lawrence Peters, for the transportation of Peeter Bersairdier and Reene Bersairdier." (VA Land Patents, Book 1, p.736; see also Edward Pleasants Valentine Papers, v.1, p.213.) Peeter and Reene have not been identified, though they were probably at least acquaintances from France.
On 12 April 1653, almost 20 years after he was known to have been in Virginia, Robert Brasseur received a grant of 1200 acres in Nansemond County. The description in the patent reads:

"at the head of the southerne branch of Nanzemond Riv., 600 acres lying on the S. side of the branch & the other 600 on the N. side. Beg. on the No. side etc. Joining land of Adrian Buny. On the S. side being an Indian Towne, beg. at a marked pine standing on a bancke by the branch side joining land of Wm. Haines, etc. Transporting 24 persons: Marg. Stockwell, Geo. Ivory, Robt. Brasseur, Florence, his wife, Mary Brasseur, Persid Brasseur, Kathe. Brasseur, Bennet Brasseur, Wm. Wotton, Tho. Parker, Jno. Sutton, Jno. Stephens, Step. Dordon, Jon. Loyd, Jon. Bott, Symon Iron, Jon Barefield, Eliz. Pateman, Geo. Doldye, Wm. Ball, Nicho. Moroise, Tho. Pursell, Ra. Ellis, Jon. Abby." (Va. Land Patents, Book 3, p.33; underlining added for emphasis.)

It looks to me like Robert, Mary, Persid, Katherine, and Bennet are all siblings; they certainly match and identify the family of Robert Brashear/Brasseur, though it is still a mystery why Robert didn't claim his sons, John and Thomas. Perhaps Robert had sold some headrights for ready cash: John's headright was claimed by Peter Reyault in Gloucester Co in 1654; so far, we have not found Thomas's. Children born in Virginia-- Martha, Margaret, a second Mary--would not be eligible for headrights.
Robert Brasseur/Brashear was dead by early 1667, for his son John inherited his land in Nansemond Co, VA:

John Brasseur, Patent, 400 acres in Nansemond Co. adjoining Mr. Francis Spight, 300 acres part thereof was formerly granted unto Robert Brasseur & Peter Rey, Feb 24, 1638. The moity [one half of an estate] is due the said John* Brasseur, son and heir of the said Robert Brasseur. April 17, 1667. (Va Land Patents, Book 6, p.72)

(*NOTE: The Edward Pleasants Valentine Papers, v.1, p.214, erroneously lists Benjamin Brasseur as the son and heir, but Shirley McCoy's examination of the original in Richmond, VA [Va Land Patents, Book 6, p.72], shows John to be the surviving eldest son in 1667. However, one might note that the researcher of the Valentine papers knew Benjamin to be the eldest son of the elder Robert. Had Benjamin been alive, he would have inherited the moity.)

Children of Robert Brasseur/Brashear:
21. *Benois Brasseur, (Back 1), also called Bennet, Benoit, Benoist, Benojs, Benjamin Brashear, etc. Born in France, according to his naturalization papers; born before 1629 says the Virkus Compendium. Since his first son was born in 1646, he must have been born c1620; he d. Dec 1662; m. Mary ?Richford. See the chapters on him and his children.
22. Mary Brasseur, b. c?1622, (IGI #8104402:3); I'm putting her early, because she was listed first in the land grant of 1653; she must have died soon after arrival in Virginia, for the name was re-used.
23. *John Brasseur, b. c?1624, (IGI #8104402:4); became a Quaker, served many years in the Virginia House of Burgesses, and lived a long life; m.1. Mary Cocke, m.2. Mary Pitt, see the chapter, "John Brasseur, of Nansemond."
24. *Thomas Brasseur, (documentation lacking) figures in Isle of Wight Co, Virginia, records in 1649 as Thomas Brasee; if 21 at the time, he was b. 1628 or before. Since he was not the eldest son in 1667 (John was), he was probably born c1626. See separate chapter, "Thomas Brasher, of Cecil Co, MD."
25. *Perside Brasseur, or Persie Brashear, b. c?1628, (IGI #8104402:3) ("Perside" is a French, feminine name.) ??Possibly m. John Cobreath, See below.
26. *Robert Brasseur Jr, b. c?1630, (IGI #8104402:3), d. 5 Dec 1665 and left a will in which he styled himself "Robert Brasheur, the Elder" to distinguish himself from Robert, s/o Benois; possibly m. Florence ?Rey. See separate chapter, "Robert Brasseur, II."
27. *Katherine Brasseur, (sometimes referred to by the French name "Cabell"), b. c1632, though b. c?1622, says the suspect IGI #8104402:4; ??possibly m. Mark Clare, See below.
The records (see below) force us to add three others, who were born in Virginia:
28. *Martha Brassieur or Brasseur, b. c?1636, Isle of Wight Co, VA; m.1. prior to 21 Jan 1659, Capt William Moseley, of old Rappahannock Co, VA; m.2. Capt George Taylor, See below.
29. *Margaret Brasseur, b. Sep (7mo) 1642 in Va, d. 7 Dec (12mo) 1706 in Va. Margaret became a Quaker in 1658 in Virginia, and married Thomas Fleming Jordan Jr, (1634--1699), son of Thomas Jordan. See below.
210. *Mary Brassieur, b. 3 Jan 1645/6, VA; d. 1713, VA; m.1. James Biddlecombe, (see The Biddlecombe Family); m.2. c1688, Col. Samuel Peachey, See below.

1/2/2011 at 1:23 AM

Hi Richard,

I think your Robert Brasseur needs to be connected up with other Brasseurs / Brasheurs on Geni. Have you done a search under alternative spellings? Would you be interested in a Project for the Brasheur / Brasseur / etc. Family to make sure we have everyone properly documented?

I have connections by marriage later in time (the Brasheurs of Kentucky, I believe Benois Brasseur descendants ...)

1/2/2011 at 1:25 AM

Compare yours with this Profile for example:

Robert Brasseur, of Calvert County

1/2/2011 at 7:23 AM

Hi Erica,

I did look at several Geni profiles and found a few which matched. However, they linked the French noble family of Brassier/deBrassier/DeJocas Brassier to Robert Brasseur. They assert that Robert Brasseur (b. 1584) is the son of Alleman Brassier de Jocas (b. 1575) but due to the birth years, I don't think it is possible. Also, Charles Brashear has a nice writeup debunking this link here: Another profile I found matched Robert's date of birth and death but the descendants didn't seem correct based on the information I have. There are so many variations of the Brassieur/Brasseur name that it will take some time to sort it out. I'll send you a collaboration request and we can work on it together. I've found a lot of information already but have not put it into Geni yet.

There is a series of books by Charles Brashear that follows the Brasseur/Brassieur/Brasheurs/Brashear/etc. family line starting with Robert Brasseur Sr. (I put the link and info at the bottom). Charles had posted the info above for Robert Brasseur and Benois here: I think you might be interested in the 7th volume of the series which links the Brashears, Broshears, Beshear, etc of KY to Robert Brassuer. If you have any ties to Benjamin Benois Brasseur I think you will find it there.

There is a good outline of the descendants of Robert Brasseur and more information on him here: and a tree here: After more digging, I can't make much of a connection past Robert but found a tree listing his as Benois. Considering that it was tradition to give your first born son your grandfathers name it is very possible.


The First 200 Years of BRASHEAR(S) in America
by Charles Brashear and Shirley Brasher McCoy

Vol. 7: Brashear, Boshear, Beshears Families of SC, TN, MO, IL, KY

1/2/2011 at 7:26 AM

WoW! That is a lot of information and you're right -- we need to sort out the various branches. It also sounds like we have a long standing myth to debunk (we at Geni actually really *enjoy* that sort of thing).

So I am going to start a Project and invite all descendants of the various Brashears to join us in getting this important Huguenot family tree(s) more "plumb" and less fictional.

1/2/2011 at 7:29 AM

My first question is - are there Brasseurs / etc. associated with the Jamestown Colony?

I ask because I'm doing a series of "Ancient Planters" by plantation / family line. It sounds like they were a tad later than the very first ones ... are they associated with the Manikin Colony of Huguenots?

Private User
1/2/2011 at 7:53 AM

Richard, I remember the big merged Brasseur/Brashears tree and went back to take a look and it is a real mess. Richard, it would be terrific if you could take on fixing it. Sounds like you have the research to get it done right. I'd be happy to do any disconnects for you.

1/2/2011 at 8:32 AM

Meg, your help most welcome!

I think I will start with the current Boshears of KY and work backwards, as I'm clearest that way.

1/2/2011 at 2:35 PM

Erica, there is no association with this line of Brasseurs with the Jamestown Colony. Robert Brasseur and Benois Brasseur came over before 1636 though the exact date is not known. They migrated from France to England where they stayed for a few years before moving to VA. When they were in VA, they were closer to Newport News than Richmond where the Manikin Colony of Huguenots was located. Considering Robert was born circa 1690, I would estimate he came over at least after 1615 or 1620.

The fun part is trying to figure out the relationship with Benois and Robert Sr. There are three Roberts in that generation of the family making the relationships hard to peg. Most agree that Benois is Robert Sr. son, but others feel that they were brothers. From what I initially posted, "It is known that Benois (also called Benjamin) had a father, a brother, and a son named Robert." Some of the mess I saw in the other trees stem I think stem from this confusion. Plus, some of the other trees link Brasseur to Brassier making it a further mess.

Here is another site with more information on the family:

and a web forum:

Other sites I found but not fully read yet:


1/2/2011 at 2:38 PM

Correction, concerning Jamestown, there is a connection:

"Our particular Robert Brasseur came to the new world very early in the development of the Virginia Colony. Jamestown was first established in 1608 and Robert Brassieur is assumed to be here already by 1636. The first known record of Robert Brasseur is the renewal of his promissary note in Warrisquicke Co., VA, on June 1, 1636 [Nugent, Cavaliers and pioneers, v. 1, p.41] At this date the total population of Virginia was only a few thousand. According to Troy Back, "George Washington's great-grandfather, was only four years old and the Declaration of Independence would not be signed for another one hundred and thirty-nine years. " [Back p. 6] This implies that Robert had been here long enough to borrow money, buy land and have the note come due. [Brashears/McCoy p. 4]"


1/2/2011 at 6:40 PM

I checked and the Boshears / however you spell it are listed as Manikin founders:

So the "immigrants" should be part of the Project here:

As well as the Basse family I've done a little work on. Apparently the Basse's became Indian later on. ?

Private User
1/31/2011 at 9:12 PM

Erica thanks for adding Martha and sorting out the children of Richard.
I have seen several references to Richard transporting people to the colony and obtaining a patent of land, but are their any records concerning the name of the ship?
Makes me wonder if the Basse and Brasseur family had connections in France. If Richard did come from the Loire region, then it is possible as I think Humphrey Basse's wife Mary Buschier came from the Loire region as well.
You just have to wonder.....

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