The deBrassier Nonsense

from the book
The First 200 Years of BRASHEAR(S) in America 
and some Descendants in Western Maryland
Charles Brashear and Shirley Brasher McCoy

The following is extracted from pages x-xiv of the Preface of the book The First 200 Years of BRASHEAR(S) in America.  Click on the preceding to get more information on the book.  It is placed here (by permission of the Author) in an attempt to publicize the mythology associated with the origins of the BRASSEUR/BRASHEAR/BRASHEARS/etc. family.

     To Peter Cominges Brashear II, we owe the nonsense about the deBrassier family of Carpentras, France, the Counts deJocas, etc.  Peter, a frontier boy born in good circumstances at the Falls of Sinking Creek in the wilds of Kentucky, was a man of many talents and considerable achievement, as anyone can see from his biographical data.  Yet, he seems to have had a terrible craving to be connected to nobility, as if to validate his claim to superiority and lodge him firmly in the Upper Class.
     He claims, without ever giving good evidence (and twisting what he gives), that Elizabeth Cummings (Mrs. Joseph Brashears, Peter's grandmother) came from the "House of Cominges."  He quotes from the Nobiliaire Universel: "Cominges, an old section of country situated at the foot of the Pyrenees which had since the 9th century, its hereditary counts and sovereigns."  He ignores that Cummings (the spellings we actually find on documents) is an old, old English name.
     On 4 Oct. 1926, he wrote to Henry Sinclair Brashear: "From childhood, I have heard the family legend that our American ancestors came from the south of France, on the River Rhone, and were Huguenots.  My own research shows that Benjamin and Robert Brassier landed in Virginia about 1653 [documents show that Robert was here as early as 1636], and later moved into Maryland [it was 1658].  The genealogy shows clearly that they were the founders of the Brashear or Breashears families in this country.  It also shows where the spelling changed from the original Brassier."
    His last sentence is just a flat lie.  All of us who have dredged our way through the old documents again and again do not find "Brassier" as a spelling in Robert's and Benois/Benjamin's histories, though it does sometimes appear in the family of John Brasseur of Nansemond Co., VA.  There are many spellings, as we have already noted, but never Brassier (which would be pronounced BRA-see-ay, which is about as far a cry as you can get from Bras-SEUR or Bra-SHEAR).  I have to conclude that Peter deliberately falsified the records to make a connection to French nobility plausible.
     Further, the deBrassier family he visited in Carpentras were/are/have been for centuries wholly Catholic.  They furnish Abbots, Canons, and nuns in practically every generation.  It's hardly likely that Robert the Huguenot could have come from them.  Further still, there are no families of deBrassier unaccounted for, who could have furnished a renegade, Huguenot Brasseur.
     M. Bernard deBrassier, Knight, lord of LaPlane, commissioned a M. Pellot to do a genealogy of his family in 1667, on the occasion of his installation as Knight in the order and militia of Saint Esprit de Montpellier.  This genealogy is the one printed in the Noblaire Universel Racueil General des Genealogies Historiques et Veridiques des Maison Nobles de L'Europe, published by M. Le Vicomte de Magny; this is the listing which Peter C. Brashears used in his speculation.  Keep in mind that, for Robert Brasseur to arrive in Virginia in 1635-6 with at least 7 children, he had to be born no later than c 1598-1600.  The family, as printed in the book by Henry Sinclair Brashear (HSB), up to a point where the dates make it impossible for any of this family to be involved with our Robert and Benois Brasseur:
a1. Jean de Brassier, b. c?1415 (fl. 1444-77), a gentleman originally of the city of Reims, who followed Geffroy le Maingre-Boucicaut, brother of Merechal de Boucicaut when he besieged the anti pope Benedict at Avignon, and who in the beginning of the XVth century settled in the province (departement of Vaucluse), where his descendants perpetuated themselves.  About 1440, he move to the city of Pernes, where his name is on documents 14 Feb 1446, 15 Feb. 1449, 8 Jan 1456.  On 11 Jun 1449, Humbert de Rota, notary of Avignon, in a document executed in the Castle of Boulbon in Provence, remitted revenues which he had exacted for Jean de Brassier.  Jean de Brassier m.1. Antoinette de Maulsang, through whom he inherited land, but had no children; m.2. Huguette de Grignan, of the city of Carpentras, who also died with children from only her first marriage, her will dated Jan 1463; m.3. 24 Mar 1465, Isabelle de Rics, d/o Baudet de Rics of the city of Apt.  Jean de Brassier made his will 9 Mar 1477, in which he named five children, who, should his widow remarry, were to be under the care of Etienne and Pierre de Riccis, his brother-in-law.  Jean's descendants established four different branches of the house: 1) the Lords and Marquises of Jocas, residing at Carpentras; 2) the branch of Brassier de La Plane, direct issue in the second degree, who settled at Rouergue and became extinct with Bernard Brassier, the knight of the Order of the Holy Ghost of Montpellier, in 1696 (i.e. the one who commissioned the genealogy); 3) the first branch of Brassier de Saint-Simon, descendants in the fourth degree, who settled in Germany; and 4) the second branch of Brassier de Saint-Simon, descendants in the seventh degree of the previous one, who "actually domiciled in the ancient Provence of Le Rouergue."
b1. Raymond Brassier; m. Sezanne de Laugier, believed d/o Baudoin Laugier of the city of Apt. Raymond's will dated 29 Jun 1494, at Pernes names two children:
c1. Dauphine de Brassier, d. unmarried
c2. Andre de Brassier; m. Alienor Boutin, d/o Bernard Boutin and Antoinette des Astouds.  Ailenor de Brassier, died 1546 without male heirs, and disposed of her property in favor of her brother.  Andre made a will 8 Oct 1562, devising his property to a cousin, Claude de Sainte-Marie. One natural daughter:
d1. Marie de Brassier
b2. Jean de Brassier, second of the name, m. 12 Feb 1495, at Carpentras, Catherine de Bellesmanierres, On 2 Jan 1521, Jean divided with his brothers and sister and his nephew, Andre, the property accruing from the succesion of his father and mother.  He made his will 28 Jun 1557, and made his oldest sons, Anotoine and Barthelemy, unversal legatees.
c1. Antoine de Brassier, an ecclesiastic, who was legatee of his father.  In addition, Antoine received a patrimony, 28 Jan 1524.
c2. Barthelemy (de Jocas) de Brassier, b. c1515, Pernes, France; d. c1556; m. Esprit Chocelat, d/o Thomas Choicelat and Jeanne de Avignon. On 22 Dec 1556, Barthelemy made a will naming an only son, Esprit, whose guardianship was refused by the widow and by cousin, Andre (on grounds of very old age)
d1. Esprit (de Jocas) de Brassier, b. c1550, Pernes, France; d. c1592, Pernes (will 28 Feb 1592, at Carpentras); m. 25 Nov 1574, Francoise de Jarente, b. c1553, Pernes
e1. *Allemand Brassier, often cited as being our progenitor, whose line follows, below.
e2. Francois Brassier de Jocas, m. 14 Oct 1602, Ann d'Ambrun, d/o Jean d'Ambrun and Gabrielle Joaniss, of Caromb, diocese of Carpentras, by whom he had only one dau.
f1. Catherine Brassier, m. Guillaume de Belgiers
e3. Gaspard Brassier de Jocas, Canon of the metropolis of Avignon, who made a will 10 Apr 1638, naming a nephew, Pierre Brassier de Jocas, his heir.
e4. Thomas Brassier de Jocas, d. without prosperity.
e5. Marquerite Brassier de Jocas, m. 10 Jun 1601, Theodore de Sainte-Marie.
b3. Maurice de Brassier, who formed the branch of the lords of laPlane of Saint-Simon; living in 1520; m. Marie Judith de Hautvillar, of Languedoc, who proved her nobility in 1669.  Two sons formed "noble" lines:
c1. Maurice Brassier; m. Jun 1554, Anne de Caucavanne, and had two sons
d1. Henri Brassier, Knight of LaPlane, m. 10 Jan 1558, at Montauban, Ann de Maniban, and had one son
e1. Jacob Brassier, Knight of LaPlane; m. 24 Mar 1584 at Toulouse, Phillippe de Pere (or Peres), and had one son:
f1. Jean Brassier, Knight of LaPlane, m. 8 Sep 1604, at Toulouse, Marie Ann d'Espinas de Montblain, and had 1 son:
g1. Charles Brassier, m. 15 Feb 1625 at Rabasten, Charlotte de Montron, and had one son, Antoine, who had a son, Bernard, b. 20 Jan 1654, too late to be part of ours.  Founder of 2nd branch of Saint-Simon.
d2. Jacques de Brassier, founder of the first branch of Saint-Simon, m. 12 Feb 1580, Marguerite d'Orty, and had children, including
e1. Maurice de Brassier, Knight of Vallade, m.1. Marie de Cledes; m.2. 18 Nov 1608,  Catherine de Barboatan.  In his second marriage contract, he named his first wife and their two sons, Sigismond and Bernard; he had two sons by his second marriage:
f1. Sigismond Brassier, living at Gabarrat in 1667
f2. Bernard de Brassier, living in 1654
f3. Louis de Brassier, who continued the descendency.
f4. Guillaume de Brassier, living in 1681
b4. Jean Brassier, (?another of the same name as his brother), died without posterity.
b5. Catherine de Brassier, m. 14 Oct 1485, Jean de Sainte Marie, of the city of Pernes.
c1. Claude de Sainte-Marie, heir of Andre de Brassier.

e1. Alleman Brassier de Jocas, b. c1575, Pernes, d. Pernes (will, 18 Sep 1625, names five children); m. 18 Jun 1594, at Pernes, Madeline de Cheilus, b. Pernes, d/o Jean de Cheilus and Louisa Alleman de Chateauneir, of Pernes, France.  In some charts, Alleman is listed as parent of Benois Brasseur, but we can now document that Benois' father was named Robert Brasseur.  With a brother who was Canon of Avignon, two daughter who were nuns, and a son who died in a religious war, one could be sure that Alleman would not recognize any Huguenot (i.e. Protestant) children.
f1. Francois Brassier de Jocas, killed Sep 1621, at siege of Montauban, where he fought as a volunteer in the company of Marquis de Thor.
f2. *Pierre Brassier de Jocas, who continued the posterity, see below
f3. Catherine Brassier de Jocas, m. 1621 Gaspard du Pont du Bourg de Thor, in Venaissin
f4. Catherine-Marie Brassier de Jocas, nun in the monastery of Saint George, in Avignon.
f5. Marguerite Brassier de Jocas, nun in Order of Bernardines, Abbey of La Madeline at Carpentas, in 1633

f2. Pierre Brassier de Jocas, will at Pernes 14 may 1652, names four children; m. 17 Nov 1749, at Avignon, Marguerite Teste, d/o Gabriel Teste and Marguerite Silvestre de Marignagne.
g1. Gabriel Brassier de Jocas, will at Pernes, 7 Jan 1716, made his oldest son his heir; m. 20 Oct 1687, at Pernes, Francoise-Therese de Buissy, only daughter and heiress of Charles de Buissy and Dauphine de Rapallis, of city of L'Isle, in Venaissin.  Their children:
h1. Joseph Brassier de Jocas;
h2. Jean-Baptiste Brassier de Jocas, Lt. in Wallen Regiment of Bourgogne, in service of King of Spain, and died at Gironee, 27 Feb 1723;
h3. Gabriel Brassier de Jocas, who entered religious Orders;
h4. Pierre-Ignace Brassier de Jocas, offier of regiment of Anjou;
h5. Catherine Brassier de Jocas, m. 1717, Gabriel d'Astouad;
h6. Anne Brassier de Jocas;
h7. Gabrielle Brassier de Jocas, sister in Franciscan Order at L'Isle in Venaissin;
h8. Louise Brassier de Jocas, Ursuline nun at Pernes.
g2. Louise Brassier de Jocas; m. 28 Jan 1678, Louis Francois des Henriques, of an old family of Venaissin.
g3. Catherine Brassier de Jocas, m. 1621, Barthelemy de Gardane.
g4. Marguerite Brassier de Jocas, an Ursuline nun at Pernes.

    We'd like as much as anyone to connect the Brashear / Brasseur family to their roots in France, but we want documentation.  Failing documentation, we want circumstances so compelling and probable that they leave little doubt.  For example, if our family used some or many of the same given names, I might consider the connection a possibility.  But the names that run in our Brasseur families simply do not appear in the deBrassier family.  A fantastic wish / need and a superficial likeness of a surname are not enough.

    We wish we had more family legends like the one that says the Brasseur family came from the Rhone Valley.  They are great leads for research.  But what we have is family after family where the children on the frontier did not know their grandparents in Maryland, may have never even seen them, may not even have known their names, certainly did not pass the names down to us.
     Records before the Revolution (though many are missing) are generally good.  Most men of that time could read and write their own names, and they may have had the British colonial compulsion to keep records of everything.  But with the population explosions of the mid-1700s, Brashear families started squirting through all the mountain passes and along the navigable rivers, anxious to grab as much good land as they could, before their neighbors beat them to it.  Many of their children were illiterate, were living in frontier conditions where paper and pencils may not have been available, and maybe they didn't care whether records were kept or not.  After the establishment of county governments in the new territories, records get better again, though war, fire, and just plain negligence have taken their toll.  After the mid-1800s, education and literacy became desirable again, and our task as family researchers get a bit easier.  Many of us have good lines back to the early 1800s and (we think) good lines in the Colonial period, but are missing a link or two when our ancestors crossed the mountains to invade their paradise of dreams.

All of the above is from the book The First 200 Years of BRASHEAR(S) in America with the permission of the Author.  Get a copy of the book from Charles Brashear (click on the above reference for details).

Charles Brashear
5025 Old Cliffs Road
San Diego, CA 92120-1151
619/265-7674; 582-5513

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Since 18 February 1999


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