The Bryant Family History

Early Origins

  The earliest documented origins of the Bryant family date back to soon after the Norman Conquest. The following text is taken from a family tree probably constructed around 1850: "The name Bryan occurs in the 'Great Roll of Battel Abbey' - a record of the followers of William the Conqueror in 1066. The descendants of this individual divided into numerous branches and made settlements at different periods in nearly every part of England. At what date the family became connected with Sussex is uncertain though a proof of an early settlement in that county is furnished by the fact that in the 16th century, there were several branches between whom no immediate connexion (sic) is discoverable. These resided at principally East Grinstead, Wadhurst;  at West Hoathley; and at Brightling". The Arms of Bryan are shown  at the left.

  The first name on this family tree is one "Roger Bryan of Battyll" who was married to what appears on the tree document to be "Julyan". Roger,  "By his will dated 6 Apr and proved 17 July 1555, gave to Richard his Son, his gold sygnet and his lands in Battyll ".  In addition to Richard, Roger had two other  children -  Johane (1555) and Agnes  (also 1555). Richard is said to be Richard Briant of Brightling whose will was dated 20 December 1603 and proved on 24 May 1604. He married Margerye Peryman, at Brightling, on 6 August 1574. The family of Peryman possessed an estate in the parish of Brightling - this still retained their name around 1850. Richard married, secondly, Elizabeth (no further details).



   Julyan, the name of Roger Bryan's wife, was one that was popular throughout Europe, and was borne in the Middle Ages in honour of various early Christian saints, particularly St. Julian the Hospitaller, patron saint of travellers. It first came to England in the late 12th Century, and was borne in the same form by women, whence the modern girl's name Gillian. Johane, the name of one of Roger Bryan's sons, is very likely a variant of the name Johan which is of Hebrew origin.


The next 250 years

    For the next 250 years or so, the family lived largely at Brightling and Mayfield in Sussex, and then Hawkhurst in Kent. Click here to see a fan chart showing the family during this period. It is clear that, throughout this time, books of childrens names were non-existent as there is an overwhelming preponderance of the  names of Richard, Robert, Thomas, John and William for the sons of the family. Not much more imagination is shown in the girls's names although Damaris (8 March 1580) is an exception and has been intentionally given to a girl of the current youngest generation to maintain a link.



On 17 November 1789, a John Bryant was born in Hawkhust - the son of John Bryant (Senior 1761-1835) and Ann Bellingham.




John (Junior) seems to have been a very succesful man in many senses. In the first of the two photos below, he is shown as a man of 44 years of age - the lower photo is of him when he was clearly much older. Although described on the 1850-era family tree as "John Bryant, Gent", he seems to have started out in his working life as a grocer, then draper, valuer and appraiser (probably of land or property). His personal life was no less productive. On 11 November 1812, he married Susanna, the daughter of Charles Field, at Frant and subsequently had 10 children by her. A current member of the Charles Field family - Ron Field of Manitoba, Canada - provided invaluable information for this web site.

    Susanna died in 1847 and 4 years later, at the age of 61, John married the 29-year old Lydia Jane Nash. She had 2 children by him but, in 1855, the year her second child was born, she died - perhaps in childbirth. Keith Grindley, a descendant of the eldest child of John and Lydia (a boy called James), has uncovered much data about the Bryant family, some of which is included in this web site. 

    A year later, John, by now aged 66, then took a third wife, the19 year old Harriett Melbourne and had yet another child - a son called Frank. Frank is the direct ancestor of the Bryant family as documented in this web site - his story follows. John and Frank are marked in red and blue on the fan chart linked above.






Frank Bryant onwards


Frank Bryant was born on 21 April 1857 at Hawkhurst and, on 31 March 1887 at the Parish Church, Mortlake in Surrey, married Eleanor (known as Helena) Kate Martin. Following his father's example, John had10 children. Little has yet been discovered about Frank although in the 1901 Census he is listed as living at 155 Woodburn Green, Wycombe, with an occupation of Master Draper - Clerk. Frank died somewhere around 1925. Frank and Helena are shown in the two photos opposite.





















The diagram here shows the Frank Bryant family to near the present day (youngest generations have been omited for reasons of privacy and protection).

 An interesting story surrounds Frank's son Kenneth Raymond (born 1902). He was working as a bank clerk in Beckenham, Kent, and in 1932 was shot and seriously injured during a bank robbery. He went to Torquay to convalesce and, while there, met his wife and stayed on. He subsequently became the Mayor of Torquay in 1955, overseeing HM The Queen's visit to the town the next year. He was a collector of silver and, on the death of his wife, left his collection to the town of Torquay where it is on show at Tor Abbey.

The trend of keeping names in the family continued with Frank's sons Cyril Martin (Martin being his mother's maiden name) and Stanley Melbourne (Melbourne being his grandmother's maiden name). Stanley married Edith Constance, the daughter of Decimus Carmmock Hartwell Brampton, and Stanley's son and two great-grandsons continue the name of Hartwell.

Stanley and Edith had one child - a son called Kenneth Hartwell born on 19 August 1916. Edith died when Ken was 13 years old.

The Menu link "History Gallery" opposite shows the following certificates (click on the thumbnail to get a larger picture):


  • Death Notice for Susanna Bryant nee Field

  • Birth Certificate for Eleanor "Helena" Bryant nee Martin

  • Marriage Certificate for Frank and Eleanor

  • Edith's Birth Certificate

  • Stanley and Edith's Marriage Certificate


Ken's father, Stanley, was a publican for much of his life and, as a consequence, lived in a number of different places. One of these was Berkeley in Gloucestershire where he was the landlord of the Berkeley Arms. The photo below shows Ken, aged, 11, standing outside the premises. Edith died when Ken was about 13 years old.

















The information in the foregoing sections includes research undertaken by Ron Field and Keith Grindley - their contribution is greatly appreciated.