Copyright Brooking Society 2021

19 July 2024

Update on :

Over the years there has been considerable discussion as to the origin of the various Branches of the Brooking family.  However, I make no excuse in returning to this subject as our recent genetic testing programme and the gradual improvement in our charts have continued to add considerably to our knowledge.  In this article I will be giving details of the various Brooking families that lived in Devon and Cornwall in about 1750 and show how they fit in with our present Branch structure.

The Parish Registers …..

Almost all the information for the period comes from the Parish Registers for the villages and towns in the South Hams area of Devon and Eastern Cornwall; and it is fortunate that most of the registers for these areas have survived and are so complete.  Indeed, it would appear that most people have at least one entry, and for many people there are the full details of their birth, marriage and death.

Overall, the registers show that the number of Brooking families about 1750 was very low indeed.  The name Brooking was clearly quite uncommon and there was no large group of families in any particular area.  This is not to say that there had not been larger groups before this period as there had been well established groups of families from about 1550 in Plymouth, Plympton St Mary, Ermington, Ugborough, Totnes and Exeter - but most of these families did not continue to 1750.

Most of the families present in about 1750 are well known to us and have given rise to the different Branches that exist to the present day.  This system of splitting the whole Brooking family into different Branches was devised by Don Steel and Helen Allen and has been used by the Society for the last 20 years.  

Some families, such as those in Marlborough, are not attached to a Branch as these families do not have any known Brooking descendants.


From the evidence of the families living in the period about 1750, I suggest that it is likely that most of the Branches come from families living between 'Plympton St Mary and Ugborough' in the early 1500s.

Unfortunately, it would seem these early families had a very hard time, and between 1500 & 1700 few men survived to adulthood and had families.  This is perhaps because most men were agricultural workers, and there was also the English Civil War in the middle of the 17th. Century.  However, even Branches B and H which appear to be more wealthy did not do well.

Overall, our genetic testing programmes and our charts show that it is reasonable to say that most present day 'Brooking' families are related to each other as they are in Branches associated with the 'Plympton St Mary and Ugborough' area.  However, it remains uncertain how the Branches from other areas, including those in America, have arisen.

Maps giving location details of the origins of each Brooking family branch with further detailed information on each branch is available to subscribing members of the Society.  

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