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Black Torrington, Devon

The earliest Devon references to Braunds are in the parish of Black Torrington, a north Devon parish about ten miles from the coast and a similar distance from the Cornish border. In 1524, the branch 1 Braunds were living at Kenneland Farm in the parish.  Later in the sixteenth century, the Braunds also owned Moor Close and Middlecote Noor. In 1569, Richard Braund and his son, Humphrey, took over the lease of Brendisworthy (Braundsworthy) Farm from Sir John St Leger. The farm remained in the family for 300 years. Brendisworthy is said to mean 'farm built on burned land'. The similarity between the name of the farm and the name of the family could be coincidence but it seems more likely that one took their name from the other. It appears that the Braunds were tenants at Brendisworthy before 1569, so the farm may have been named for its occupants and literally be Braund's Farm. Nearby Brandis Corner, also in Black Torrington, could well have family connections.

Apart from branch 1, headed by William of Kenneland, who died in 1525, three other branches of the family have their roots in Black Torrington. Another William Braund, almost certainly the grandson of William of Kenneland but their are insufficient records to confirm this, married Joanne Burdon at Black Torrington in 1572. Their descendants moved to nearby Northlew and ultimately, to London and Upminster, Essex, forming branch 19.

Branch 4 also originates in Black Torrington, as John Braund and Zenobia Colwill married there in 1683, before moving to neighbouring Bradford. Finally, branch 20, headed by John Braund and his wife Rebecca Hopkins, who married in Black Torrington in 1678. This is the only one of the four Black Torrington branches that we cannot trace down to the present day.

Only the branch 1 Braunds remained for any length of time in Black Torrington and by 1881, there were only two Braunds living in the parish. They were Maria Braund née Strout ages eighty five, widow of Philip Braund. Nearly all of Philip and Maria's children, like many nineteenth century Braunds, had emigrated.

It seems likely that all Braunds have their ancestral roots in Black Torrington but the chances of finding the documentation that would substantiate this is slim; certainly, DNA supports the theory that all Braund branches have a common genetic origin.


Braundsworthy Farm

painted by the late Elaine Found

Braunds in Black Torrington from

Tax Lists and Muster Rolls

Lay Subsidy 1524-1527

William Braund paid £9

William Braund paid £2

Muster Roll 1569

Robert Braund

Richard Braund

Each one to provide one bow, one sheaf of arrows, one steel cap and one bill.

Devon Protestation Roll 1641

John Braund senior

John Braund

Hugh Braund

Thomas Braund

Hearth Tax 1674

Hugh Braund 

John Braund

Parish Registers

The original parish registers for St. Mary’s, Black Torrington are held at Devon Heritage Centre
Baptisms 1547-1936

Marriages 1547-1978

Burials 1668-1968 1548-1879.
Bishops’ Transcripts dating from 1598 also are held at the Heritage Centre as part of the Westcountry Studies Library collections.

The parish registers have been digitised and indexed on the subscription website FindmyPast.

Records of baptisms that took place in the Chilla Bible Christian/United Methodist Chapel are also at the Heritage Centre.


Memorial Inscriptions

Only two Braund memorials still stand in Black Torrington Churchyard.

Mr Greorge Braund of Braundsworthy in this parish died 5th August 1849 aged 97 and Mary his wife died 27th August 1808 aged 58

Susanna Frances Braund wife of George Braund of Braundsworthy in this parish died 12th March 1860 aged 33

St. Mary's Church

Although a church has stood on the same site in Black Torrington since Norman times, the majority of the present church is about 600 years old. The font is of a similar age, so all known Braunds baptised in Black Torrington would have used this font, In the bell tower is a notice giving details of the bells. One bell, dated 1772, is inscribed Humphrey Braund, churchwarden. Unfortunately, we cannot be absolutely certain which Humphrey this is.

These books are available from the Braund Society. See our shop for further details.

Before Braundsworthy: the Braund family 1000-1550 – Janet Few

The Roots of the Tree - the Braunds of Black Torrington and their descendants (branch 1) – Janet Few

Black Torrington Church

St. Mary's, Black Torrington

Billings' Directory 1857

Black Torrington is a large village and parish about 5½ miles W by N of Hatherleigh and 9 miles E of Holsworthy, containing 7200 acres of land and a population in 1851 of 1115 souls. The number of voters in 1857 was 18; the polling district Hatherleigh.

The parish gives its name to the Hundred, which is one of the largest in the county. A considerable quantity of moorland has recently been enclosed and brought into a state of cultivation. A great number of the female population are employed in the making of gloves. 

 A Court Leet and a Court Baron are held here. Llewellyn Llewellyn Esq. is lord of the manor but the Braunds, Cohams and Risdons are large landed proprietors. The hamlet of Middlecott is about 3½ miles W of the village and Totley about 3 miles E.

Three Braunds are listed in this directory:

William Hockin Braund - Braundsworthy Cottage

George Braund, farmer - Braundsworthy

John Braund, schoolmaster

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