Thursday, 12 April 2018

Help solve the mysteries

Who was Rachel? Was the young soldier Angus or Augustus? Is there a paper trail to link William and Elizabeth to their alleged descendants? You can get the details on these puzzles and others or submit your own Brinston mysteries to a new website. 

The Brinston one-name study now has a website hosted by the Guild of One-Name Studies. The site is intended to be a gathering place for information on Brinston families anywhere in the world. It has been started with information on some of the many Brinston families in Newfoundland and Labrador and will be expanded as new information comes my way. 

One feature of the site I am enthused about is the mapping. Each person included in the database has a page of details, including photos if available, and a Google map with all the usual features of street view, zooming, etc., to show where events in that person’s life occurred.

Please check out the site and send information and photos for the Brinstons in your family tree. Information on living or recently deceased individuals will not be shown on the site but the information will be saved privately. The Brinston mysteries can be found under the heading "Most Wanted". 

If you have Brinston ancestry and have done a DNA test, either a Y-DNA test that males can do to look at the male line of descent or autosomal testing which anyone can do to find matches with previously unknown relatives, please get in touch. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

What happened to Police Sergeant Brinston?

The British Newspaper Archive is searchable online and has yielded a number of references to Brinston both as a surname and a place name.

Police Sergeant Brinston is mentioned in a number of stories from Hampshire in the south of England, the first in June 1860 when he is described as locating the nephew of a woman who died suddenly while passing through the town of Odiham. Two years later he and three constables attempted to save assets from a farm fire at Crundall. In December 1865 Sergeant Brinston was mentioned in a court case involving the concealing and destruction of a will. In July 1867 he was cited regarding boot tracks at the scene of a robbery. In November of that year Police-Sergt. Brinstone (sic) testified in a case in which a man was convicted of stealing a bushel of wheat and sentenced to six weeks' hard labour. In an 1862 case involving theft from the premises of a watchmaker there was reference to Police-constable Brinston. This could be someone else but more likely an error was made in recording the officer’s rank.

In August 1891 a case was reported in which it was stated: “Superintendent Brinston, stationed at Aldershot for the past six years, said he heard screams in the police passage on tbe night of June 15.” It seemed the sergeant had been promoted but what evidence exists to help decide if both were the same man? [1]

The 1871 census for Lymington, Hampshire includes the household of Robert Augustus BRINSTON, aged 37, a police sergeant who was born in Christchurch, Hampshire. In the household at Gosport Street Police Station are Robert’s wife and 4 children plus two single police constables. I could not find Robert Brinston in later census records. However, in the 1891 census, I found Robert A. BRINSON, Superintendent of Police, resident at the Police Station in Aldershot in the County of Surrey. He was 57 and his birthplace was Christchurch, Hampshire. In the household were Robert’s wife, 3 children, 8 constables and one prisoner. [2]

In the 1911 census Robert Augustus BRINSON, 77, police pensioner, shows up in Melcombe Regis, Weymouth, Dorset  with his wife of 53 years and two of their unmarried adult children. For this enumeration we can see the actual census schedule that someone in the family completed and the name is clearly BRINSON. I wondered about other records and found some. Robert Augustus BRINSON was baptized on 12 April 1835 in Christchurch, Hampshire and his birthdate given as 6 Aug 1833.[3]

Indicative of how confusing names and handwriting can be, Robert’s marriage is indexed both as Robert Augustus BRINSON and Robert Augustus BRIMSON – apparently the transcriber could not decide between those possibilities. Robert married Mary FELTHAM in the quarter ending Dec 1857. Their son Robert Augustus BRINSON was born on the Isle of Wight and his birth registered in the quarter ending June 1858, all consistent with census data. [4]

Yes, the sargeant got a promotion but the newspapers had been spelling his name wrong during all those years. He was always a BRINSON not a BRINSTON.

[1] The British Newspaper Archive ( : accessed 03 Aug 2014), as follows. Odiham: Fatal Accident. Reading Mercury, Berkshire, England, Saturday 09 June 1860, page 4. Fire at Crundall. Aldershot Military Gazette, Hampshire, England, Saturday 14 June 1862, page 3. Hampshire Winter Assizes: Crown Court Saturday, Concealing a Will. Alnwick Mercury, Northumberland, England, Saturday 16 December 1865, page 3. Hants Summer Assizes: New Forest Burglaries. Hampshire Advertiser, Hampshire, England, Saturday 20 July 1867, page 11. Stealing Wheat at Eversley. Aldershot Military Gazette, Hampshire, England, Saturday 30 November 1867, page 3. Hants Winter Assize: Larceny. Hampshire Advertiser, Hampshire, England, Saturday 13 December 1862, page 3. Hampshire Summer Assizes: Crown Court—Tuesday. The Aldershot Perjury Case. Hampshire Advertiser, Hampshire, England, Wednesday 05 August 1891, pages 2, 3 & 4.
[2] 1871 England, Wales & Scotland Census, Hampshire, Town of Lymington, Parish of Lymington, Enumeration district 3d, Piece 1173, Folio 43, page 15, lines  11-18 , Gosport Street Police Station, Robert Augustus Brinston household; digital image, Find My Past, ( : accessed August 4, 2014); citing RG10, Piece 1173, Folio 43, page 15.
1891 England, Wales & Scotland Census, Surrey, Town of Aldershot, Parish of Aldershot, Enumeration district 5, Piece 564, Folio 18, Page 30, lines 17-30, The Police Station, High Street, Robert A. Brinson; digital image, Find My Past, ( : accessed August 4, 2014); citing RG12, Piece 564, Folio 18, Page 30.
[3] 1911 Census for England & Wales, Dorset, Melcombe Regis, 19 Avenue Road Weymouth, Robert Augustus Brinson household,, ( : accessed August 5, 2014), RG14PN12341 RG78PN702 RD263 SD2 ED2 SN233.
Hampshire baptism transcriptions, Find My Past, ( : accessed August 5, 2014), Robert Augustus Brinson, 12 April 1835; citing Christchurch, Hampshire, England.
[4] Free BMD. ( : accessed 05 Aug 2014).

Monday, 4 August 2014

Brinstons who served in the First World War

This year being the centenary of the outbreak of WWI, there is a great flurry of activity to identify and recognize ancestors who participated in this conflict. 

Thus far I have identified 5 men of the Brinston name who served in the military during WWI, 4 of them from Newfoundland, of whom 3 died in the war with the 4th surviving only a couple of years after the war.

Private Augustus Perry, died 16 August 1917, aged 19, and is remembered on the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel Memorial Park in France. He was the son of Nelson and Hannah Brinston of Bay Bulls Arm, Trinity Bay.

Private George Brinston, died 19 October 1917 at the age of 17, and is remembered on the Beaumont-Hamel (Newfoundland) Monument. He was the son of Robert William and Amelia Jane Brinston of North Harbour, Placentia Bay.

Seaman Leslie Brinston of the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve died 25 January, 1917 at the age of 32 in the sinking of the armed merchant cruiser Laurentic that struck two mines in the north of Ireland. He is remembered on the Beaumont-Hamel (Newfoundland) Monument. Leslie was the son of Robert William and Amelia Brinston and husband of Susie Brinston, of North Harbour, Placentia Bay.

Seaman Alison Brinston of the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve was the son of Robert Brinston of North Harbour, Placentia Bay. He died 01 July 1921 of phthisis and is buried in North Harbour (old) United Church Cemetery in Placentia West. He is also remembered at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in St. John’s.

Harold William Brinston, born in 5 July 1888 in Brinston, Ontario, was the son of Albert Brinston and lived in Transcona Manitoba at the time of enlistment. He returned from the war and in 1922 married Mabel Dunham in Winnipeg. Harold William Brinston died in 1959 and is buried in Garry Memorial Park, Winnipeg.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission,
Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency,
Newfoundland’s Grand Banks,

Saturday, 22 March 2014

When did the Brinstons leave Sound Island?

Sound Island is no longer inhabited. The Newfoundland’s Grand Banks site shows Communities Evacuated under 'Centralization Program' as listed in 1965 Report of Department of Public Welfare. Sound Island is included with 12 families evacuated.

The Maritime History Archives at Memorial University of Newfoundland has a number of photographs taken during the resettlement of isolated Newfoundland communities. There are several taken in 1951 of Alex and Annie Stacey’s house launched at Sound Island, Placentia Bay, and moved by sea to Garden Cove, Placentia Bay.

Wikipedia states (without citing a source) that the residents of Sound Island were evacuated in 1953 and moved into Garden Cove.,_Newfoundland_and_Labrador

Do you know when the last Brinstons left Sound Island? When did your Brinston ancestors leave and where did they settle?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Early Brinstons on Sound Island, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland

William Brinston and his wife Elizabeth Beazley had 9 children on Sound Island between 1808 and 1831. Seven of their children being male created the potential for many descendants carrying the name Brinston in succeeding generations. 

Children of William Brinston and Elizabeth Beazley:

Henry 1808
Charles 1810
John 1814
William 1816
Thomas 1821
Robert 1823
James 1830

Louise 1817
Jane 1831.

Other Brinston researchers have told me they believe William was the first Brinston on Sound Island, that he was likely born in Burin or Hants Harbour and that there were Brinstons in Burin in the 1760s.  

Lovell’s 1871 Directory which can be found on the Newfoundland’s Grand Banks Site described Sound Island: “An island at the head of Placentia Bay on west side, district of Placentia and St. Mary's. The population are engaged in both the cod and salmon fishery. Distant from Harbour Buffett 11 miles by boat, from Little Placentia by packet boat, fortnightly, 20 miles. Mail fortnightly. Population 227” 

Some Sound Island residents in 1871, all fisherman unless otherwise noted:
Brenston Robert, planter
Brenston, Thomas
Brinston Henry
Brinston James
Brinston  John

The above could be 5 of the 7 sons of William Brinston and Elizabeth Beazley; alternatively, some or all could be from succeeding generations.

Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland[1] cites Josiah Brinston, of Sound Island (Placentia B.), 1858 as an early example of the name and states that the name Brinston is found at Swift Current, Arnold's Cove and Garden Cove, all Placentia Bay communities.

[1] Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary (Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1976). Corrected edition by William J. Kirwin. (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1998).

Friday, 28 February 2014

Brinston Y-DNA project

The Y chromosome is passed in the male line with little change over many generations and so are surnames in most present day Western cultures. This means that possible family relationships can be explored by asking men with the same or similar surnames to provide a DNA sample. 

A Y-DNA test can indicate if two males share a common ancestor and give an indication of how many generations ago that ancestor may have lived. It cannot tell exactly how the people taking the test are related. This means the Y-DNA test cannot replace the usual genealogical research methods but can serve as additional source of information.

A Y-DNA project has been established at Family Tree DNA for the surname Brinston. Several similar surnames have been listed as possible variations in the Brinston project – Brinsden, Brinsdon, Brinson, and Brinstone. Particularly since Brinston is a rare surname, it may be a variation of some other name, such as Brinsdon or Brinson, both included in other one name studies.

So far the Brinston Y-DNA project has 3 participants. One is a Brinston who is the 4th great grandson of William Brinston (1787 – 1868) who lived on Sound Island, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. The other man is a Brinsden whose earliest known ancestor in the Brinsden line was born in London, England in 1912. The 3rd participant has a completely different surname but received a match in another DNA study (there have been a number of companies offering DNA testing for genealogical purposes) with someone named Brinson. The 3 participants in the Brinston project have different Y-DNA results suggesting they are not related to each other. 

We need many more participants of the various similar names and variations to be able to look for relationships.

Some of the questions we hope to answer with the project:

Are Brinstons from Canada, the USA, Australia and other locations related to each other?

Are Brinstons from Sound Island related to other Brinstons in Newfoundland and Labrador?

Are Brinstons from Newfoundland and Labrador related to Brinstons who can trace their ancestry back to a specific part of England?

Are Brinstons related to people with similar sounding surnames?

Are Brinsdons and Brinsdens related to each other?

For more information about the Brinston Y-DNA project see: