BRAMAN, John (1627-1703), of Chichester, Suss.
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Family and Education
bap. 27 Mar. 1627, 1st s. of Thomas Braman, mercer, of Alton, Hants. m. (1) Sarah (d.1657), s.p.; (2) c.1665, Elizabeth, da. of Edward Osborne of Hartlip, Kent, wid. of William Marlott of Itchingfield, Suss., s.p.; (3) lic. 22 Sept. 1696, Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Meeres of Glynleigh House, Westham, Suss., wid. of Thomas Mathew of High Street, Lewes, Suss., s.p. suc. fa. 1661.1
Tpr. (parliamentary) by 1647, lt. by 1654-5, capt. June 1659, maj. Sept. 1659-Feb. 1660.2
Commr. fox assessment, Suss. 1679-80, inquiry into recusants fines 1687, j.p. Apr. 1688-d.; maj. vol. horse, London 1689; receiver of customs, Plymouth 1700-d.3
Braman was the eldest of the large family of a small-town shopkeeper, from whom he inherited a copyhold messuage let at £7 p.a. He first appears as an ‘agitator’ in the New Model regiment of Nathaniel Rich†, under whom he was later commissioned. He was cashiered as a republican plotter during the Protectorate, but re-employed and promoted by the restored Rump, though not without opposition. He assisted the overthrow of the military regime in December 1659, but took part with his colonel in the attempt to resist by force the return of the secluded Members. He stood for Stockbridge at the general election of 1660, and wrote from prison to George Monck to demand release in order to attend Parliament, though he was not in fact returned. He remained in prison until 1665 when he settled in Chichester, where one of his brothers became an alderman. About this time married the widow of a Sussex gentleman of ancient though undistinguished family, and presumably lived on her jointure. There appears to have been some doubt about the validity of the marriage, which may have been performed by a nonconformist. In 1678 he was offered a commission in the newly-raised forces through Richard Norton, but declined.4
Braman represented Chichester in the Exclusion Parliaments. ‘Reputed to be a great fanatic’, and stigmatized as such by the Presbyterian Morrice, he defeated the Church candidate at the first general election of 1679, and was marked ‘honest’ on Shaftesbury’s list. He was described as one of Oates’s private cabal. A moderately active Member, he was appointed to five committees, and voted for the exclusion bill. He was among those ordered to inspect the entries in the Journals about the proceedings against Danby and the five Popish lords. The bishop suggested that he should be excommunicated before the next election for living with a woman who was not his wife, but this was difficult because their house stood in a ‘peculiar’ not subject to his jurisdiction. An active Member of the second Exclusion Parliament, he was added to the committee of inquiry into the proclamation against tumultuous petitioning, and appointed to eight others, including those to examine the proceedings of the judges in Westminster Hall and to make arrangements for the trial of Lord Stafford. He acted as teller for the wider franchise at Amersham, despite the contentions of the republican Algernon Sidney. He was re-elected to the 1681 Parliament, together with his step-daughter’s husband Richard Farrington, but he left no trace on its records. He was re-adopted as the dissenters candidate for Chichester in the autumn.5
Braman and Farrington organized the welcome for the Duke of Monmouth on his visit to Chichester in February 1683. Shortly afterwards he was denounced as a plotter together with several former officers of the Cromwellian army, though when Lord Grey of Warke asked him to prepare plans for the seizure of Portsmouth he replied that it could not be done. On Grey’s escape after the Rye House Plot Braman’s house was searched for arms, his papers seized and he himself imprisoned in the Tower. Nothing incriminating was found, and he was released in October. He was again arrested on the eve of Monmouth’s invasion in 1685, but became a Whig collaborator later in James II’s reign. It was reported that he was to become a Privy Councillor. The King’s electoral agents expected him to be elected for Chichester in 1688, and he sought to persuade Norton to stand for Petersfield in the court interest. Though he went over to William of Orange soon after the Dutch landing, he never regained his seat. He became an occasional conformist, but he was defeated at Chichester in 1690 and 1695. On his last marriage he removed to Lewes. Grey, now Earl of Tankerville, obtained for him a post in the customs in Devonshire, to the disgust of the bishop of Exeter who referred to him as ‘that rebel’. He died on 25 Aug. 1703 and was buried at All Saints, Lewes. He ordered his property to be sold to provide £450 for his widow, the residue to be divided among his nephew and nieces. One of them was in Anglican orders, but the further history of the family is obscure.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Basil Duke Henning
- 1. Suss. N. and Q. xv. 32; J. Comber, Suss. Genealogies Horsham, 194, 220; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xiii) 15.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1658-9, p. 387.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1695; xvi. 141; SP44/165/385; Luttrell, i. 400.
- 4. PCC 2 Dyer, 162 Degg; HMC Popham, 166, 178; CSP Dom. 1659-60, p. 573; 1664-5, p. 524; 1677-8, p. 681; A. Hay, Hist. Chichester, 590.
- 5. HMC 13th Rep. VI, 13; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, pp. 20, 28, 29, 42; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 232; Bodl. Tanner 149, f. 139; CJ, ix. 677.
- 6. Ford Grey, Secret Hist. 68; CSP Dom. Jan.-June 1683, pp. 58, 70, 375; 1685, p. 157; Ellis Corresp. ii. 32; Luttrell, i. 269, 286; Add. 34510, f. 118; D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 384-5, Cal. Treas. Pprs. ii. 3; Suss. Arch. Colls. xli. 115; PCC 162 Degg.