A Tale of Two Families.

Each family has a history. Whether individuals know the history of their families is another thing. Most individuals may know they may be of German, English or Irish descent. If asked what town from that country their ancestors came from, many will not be able to tell you. Recently, after many weeks of research and the help of some terrific cousins, some quite distant, I have traced the ancestors of my paternal Delbridges to Devonshire and Somersetshire England. This is where my direct ancestor who migrated to America, Thomas Delbridge, was born. There are records of Delbridges throughout most of southwestern Britain dating back centuries, including the famous merchant and shipper, John Delbridge of Barnstaple, Devonshire, England who supplied James Towne, Va and the Bahamas during the 1620's and 1630's. He is mentioned in "His Majesty's List" for his deeds for the Virginia Company and bringing back to England much valued tabacco.

I have traced my maternal Branscum ancestors as well. They are from Devonshire England, living within fifty miles of the Delbridges. The Branscombes (early traditional spelling) have been in southwestern Britain since before the Battle of Hastings, which marked the beginning of the transition of the Norman Conquest in 1066. They both came to America within about the same generation, 1735 to 1765. Whereas the Delbridges lived mainly in North Devon, mainly along the Bristol Channel, the Branscombes are noted from the southern coast of Devon, along the English Channel, not far from where Lord Nelson would later defeat the French Navy and the Spanish Armada. It is speculated that this family acquired its name from the town of Branscombe, which means branches of valleys (combs). It was common during ancient times to adopt a surname from the town one lives or of a nearby landmark. There is record of this surname dating back to the 9th century AD. Both the Delbridges and Branscombes came to this new world before this land governed itself as a new country.

The County of Devonshire (Devon)

The County of Devonshire is darkened in this map. To the west (left) of Devon is Cornwall County. To the East is Somersetshire (Somerset) and Dorset (upper to lower, respectively). Delbridges have been noted in Dunster, Somerset, as well as Devonshire. Branscombes have been noted in Devonshire and Cornwall.

In this map you can see the town of Branscombe. Also you can see where Dunster is in the county next to Devon, Somerset. There are many links to Delbridges from there, as well as Barnstaple and the county of Cornwall as well.

The Flag of Devon England

Thomas Delbridge (1756-1844) came to America to settle. The prospects of free land and a new life awaited. He most likely came indentured to someone as a teenager for a period of perhaps seven years or so. Perhaps in the mid 1770's, around the time of the Revolutionary War, he acquired a land patent in Brunswick County, Virginia. This is where he started his family. In 1780 he married and had his first child.

Richard Branscomb came to this exciting new land most likely as an indentured servant as well. The year was 1735 or 1736. He most likely arrived in Baltimore, for there is a record of him in Maryland. He applied for a land patent and eventually acquired over 800 acres in a county in Virginia with the name of Brunswick, the same county in which the Delbridges settled. The Delbridges, for the most part, continued to remain in Brunswick County, farming its fertile land. Greensville County was formed in the years 1781- 1787 From Brunswick. Therefore there have been Delbridges in both counties for over two hundred years, up to this present time.

The Branscombs stayed in Brunswick until about the year 1810. Their parcels were split, due to the formation of Greensville County, between the two counties. The families moved west to Patrick County. Then they moved to Tennessee, Kentucky, then to Arkansas. At the turn of the 20th century, my grandfather's, Theodore Andrew Branscum, family was in Oklahoma, near Tulsa, where he was born in 1904.

The above map was taken from the modern day county map of Greensville County Va, since Greensville County was formed from Brunswick since the 1700's. The encircled area show the modern roads that marked the approximate boundaries of Richard Branscum's land from the 1700's.

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Updated July 22, 2008


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