BRAYEN, Thomas (1799-1864), of The High Street, Leominster, Herefs.
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Family and Educationbap. 1 Jan. 1800, o.s. of Thomas Brayen, grocer, of Leominster and w. Susannah (née Coates) of Leominster.1 educ. Leominster g.s. unm. d. 28 Jan. 1864.
Mayor, Leominster 1845-6.
The Brayen family were of Irish origin and settled briefly in Shropshire before moving to Leominster in the early eighteenth century. There, they traded successfully as grocers, cheesemongers and chandlers, acquired land and property and intermarried with the Coates, Deykes and Seward families, who were also engaged in agricultural trades in the town and its hinterland. They were not of the corporation until 1835, but Brayen’s father and uncle Isaac Brayen occasionally chaired vestry meetings.2 Apart from his attendance at the endowed grammar school when the Rev. Jonathan Williams was headmaster, and his involvement in the family grocery and chandling businesses, little is known of Brayen’s life before his election to Parliament for Leominster in 1831, as a reformer. He was nominated by the local anti-corporation party he had supported since 1826, in preference to the radical William Davies of Cabalfa.3
Brayen is not known to have spoken in debate or presented petitions but, true to his election promise, he voted for the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July 1831, against adjournment, 12 July, and with the exception of a wayward vote for Lord Chandos’s amendment enfranchising £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug., he divided unstintingly for its details. He voted for its third reading, 19 Sept., and passage, 21 Sept. On 27 Sept., ostensibly ‘on account of severe illness in his family’, he was granted a month’s leave from which he did not return. His parliamentary conduct was commended at the Herefordshire reform meeting, 5 Nov.4 He resigned, 9 Dec. 1831, after an arrangement had been made to bring in the wealthy reformer William Fraser in his place, but the plan was foiled by the late intervention of Lord Hotham, whom he had unseated in May. During the bitter by-election contest, Brayen, who was said to have found public life ‘ill suited to his health and habits’, was accused by both sides of acting duplicitously, taking bad advice and overestimating his influence.5
He continued to reside in Leominster, where he was recorded in the 1841 census as a chandler in the High Street, living with his aunt Rebecca Deykes and their servant (housekeeper) Sarah Lloyd.6 To avoid death duties, his parents, who had built a large house in South Street, Leominster, conveyed it to him, with an 83-acre farm and £4,976 in indentures and bonds, shortly before his father died, 18 Oct. 1842.7 He succeeded his father as a member of the town council in November 1842 and retained his seat unopposed for life, becoming an active magistrate serving as mayor and deputy mayor. He was a leading committee member of Leominster Agricultural Society.8 He never married, and died in South Street in January 1864, ‘the last of the Brayens’. He was buried at Stoke Prior.9 He left his property there and in Yazor and a £300 life annuity to ‘Sarah Lloyd now living with me’, provided she remained unmarried. Otherwise, she was to have his house in Church Street and £52 a year. William Vale, a farmer ‘also living with me’, received ‘all estates, farms, lands, messuages and cottages elsewhere’, except his South Street property, which Lloyd’s illegitimate daughter Sarah Ann (baptized 7 Apr. 1852) was to inherit at the age of 21, provided she was unmarried.10
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
- 1. Probably Susan, da. of Thomas and Mary Coates, who was bap. 21 May 1775; Herefs. RO, Leominster par. reg. AK3/7, 19.
- 2. W.R. Williams, Parl. Hist. Herefs. 149-50; Leominster par. reg. AK3/7, 11, 18, 19; Herefs. RO, Leominster vestry bk. 1796-1846, AK3/72 passim.
- 3. N.C. Reeves, The Town in the Marches, 146; Pigot, Herefs. Directory (1830), 100-104; Leominster Pollbook (1826); Globe, 3 May; Hereford Jnl. 4 May; Worcester Jnl. 5 May; Worcester Herald, 7 May 1831.
- 4. Hereford Jnl. 2, 9 Nov. 1831.
- 5. TNA E197/1, p. 360; Worcester Herald, 17, 24, 31 Dec.; Hereford Jnl. 21, 28 Dec. 1831, 4 Jan. 1832; Worcester Jnl. 22, 29 Dec.; Cambrian, 24 Dec.; The Times, 28 Dec. 1831, 9 Aug. 1832.
- 6. TNA HO107/430.
- 7. Herefs. RO BA22/2.
- 8. Hereford Jnl. 26 Oct., 23 Nov. 1842, 30 Apr. 1845; Herefs. RO, Leominster town council minutes, 1843-79, AF51/1, pp. 40, 55, 314, 374 and passim.; Reeves, 264; TNA HO107/1981.
- 9. Hereford Jnl. 30 Jan., 6 Feb.; Hereford Times, 6 Feb. 1864; Herefs. RO AG48/6.
- 10. Leominster par. reg. AK3/9; TNA RG9/1861.