Staffordshire, England

The Broughs of Staffordshire

- A Brief Pictorial History -

The "Brough" Name

The "Brough" family of Staffordshire, England, takes its name from the geographical area of Brough (medieval "Burgh," Latin "Bur gum"), a hamlet in the south of Ranton (alias Ronton) Parish in South Pirehill Hundred of the County of Staffordshire, England. The present Brough Hall stands on the site of the ancient manor house of Brough, close to the ancient boundary with Gnosall Parish.

The first surviving reference to "Brough" is in the Doomsday Book of 1086. The book states: "The land of Robert de Statford: Robert himself holds in Bu(r)ghale one virgate of land which pertains to Halstone.." "Bu(r)ghale" is taken to represent the Old English "burh halh," or "Brough hamlet." "Burh" or "Brough" itself is a common English placename meaning "camp, fortification, or manorhouse."

In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary of 1933 lists the following different meanings of the word "Brough": 1) a round tower; 2) the outer wall of a feudal castle; 3) a luminous ring or circle around a shining body, especially the moon; 4) a halo; and 5) several concentric circles, varying from one to fourteen feet in diameter, drawn around each tee (in the game of Quoit, which is somewhat like horseshoes, in which players throw rings at a peg-or tee-in an effort to encircle it).

Broughs of Staffordshire, England

The history of the Broughs of Staffordshire, England, begins with the Norman invasion of England. In the Fall of 1066 AD, William, Duke of Normandy (France) crossed the English Channel with about 600 ships and 12,000 men, and defeated King Harold of England and his Anglo-Saxon forces at the Battle of Hastings. On Christmas Day, 1066, William was crowned King of England. William--who was eventually known as William the Conqueror--rewarded his Norman supporters with large grands of land and important positions, including the granting of many estates to Baron Ralph de Limesi (Limesy).

In 1199 AD, Philip fitz Bishop, a great-grandson of Ralph de Limesi, adopted the surname "de Burgo" from the geographical area of "Burgh," a hamlet in Ronton--now Ranton--in southern Staffordshire in central England. (Ranton is located about five miles west of Stafford.) In the mid-1200's, the name "de Burgo" was eventually changed to "de Burgh."

In the 1400's, the de Burghs had established themselves in the areas of Ranton, Brewood and Gnosall, Staffordshire. By the early 1500's, several de Burgh families had moved northward and settled in the Leekfrith area of northern Staffordshire. In the late 1500's through the 1600's, the name "Burgh" gradually changed to "Brough."

In the early 1500's, several related Brough families established more than half a dozen principal "Brough Houses" on the Leekfrith--a large fertile green valley in the northern Staffordshire Moorlands that is bordered by hills and rocky outcroppings. (The Leekfrith is only a few miles from the town of Leek, Staffordshire.)

(The drawing below shows Leek from the south-west in the 1700's, and was produced by J. Aikin in about 1795. The drawing can be found in the book A History of the County of Stafford: Leek and the Moorlands, edited by M.W. Greenslade, published by Oxford University Press, 1996, volume 7, page 137; FHL book # British Q area, 942, H2vst, v.7.)

These "Brough Houses" generally contained significant buildings and land holdings, and were known by their geographical locations on the Leekfrith. Their names included: Brownsword, Chapel House, Lower Hulme, Middle Hulme, New Grange, Roche Grange, Upper Hulme, Waterhouse and Windygates. It is the Brough Houses of Middle Hulme, Waterhouse and Windygates from which many members of the Richard Brough Family Organization (RBFO) decend. (Footnote: Ann Brough Hind has written, "These 'Brough Houses'--or Medieval Hall-houses for lesser gentry and yeomen with significant land-holdings--included Brownsword, Middlehulme, Waterhouse and Windygates. Chapel House and the New and Roche Granges were bought from Dieulacres monastic manor after 1538.")

From the early 1500's to the present, the descendants of the Broughs of Leekfrith have continued to live in northern Staffordshire and nearby counties. Between 1500 and 1650, the Broughs of Leekfrith used the "Brough" Coat of Arms of "Argent (white), on a saltire (diagonal cross) of sable (or black), five swans of the first (five white swans)".

In the 1700's, several Brough families moved from the Leekfrith into the nearby areas and/or parishes of Biddulph, Burslam, Congleton, Horton, Ipstones, Longton, Rushton Spencer, Trentham and Wolstanton.

By the 1800's and early 1900's, a number of descendants from various Brough-related families in Staffordshire--including some of the descendants of Richard Brough and Mary Horleston--left England and emigrated to Utah in the United States, and to Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Genealogies of the Broughs of Staffordshire, England

The early ancestors of the Broughs of Leekfrith, Staffordshire have been extensively researched, and although there are still many unanswered questions about their ancestry it presently appears that their lineage may have been as follows:

Hugo de Limesi, b.abt.1015, of Pays de Caux, Normandy, France

Ralph de Limesi, b.abt.1040, of Alost, Limesy, Normandy, France

Robert de Limesi, b.abt.1063, of Chester, Cheshire, England

Robert de Limesi, b.abt.1110, of Brough Hall, Ranton, Staffordshire, England

Hamon de Burgo, b.abt.1145, of Ranton, Staffordshire, England

Hamon de Burgo b.abt.1172, of Ranton, Staffordshire, England

Hamon de Burgo, b.abt.1205, of Gnosall, Staffordshire, England

John de Burgo, b.abt.1239, of Ranton, Staffordshire, England; married Alice

Elias de Burgh, b.abt.1275, of Ranton, Staffordshire, England

William de Burgh, b.abt.1305, of Ranton, Staffordshire, England

Elias de Burgh, b.abt.1345, of Ranton, Staffordshire, England; married Alice

Elias de Burgh, b.abt.1380, of Brewood, Staffordshire, England; married Isabel

Reginald de Burgh, b.abt.1415, of Brewood, Staffordshire, England; married Joan

Richard de Burgh, b.abt.1450, of Brewood, Staffordshire, England; married Alice

Richard and Alice de Burgh had at least three sons: Thomas Burgh (b.abt.1480), Robert Burgh (b.abt.1488), and William Burgh (b.abt.1496). These three sons married, had children, and settled in the Leekfrith area of northern Staffordshire, England. The descendants of these three sons now number in the thousands and many of them resident in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.