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The Brayne Crest in Littledean

The name Brain is believed to have been derived from the Danish name of Brandt, meaning fire brand or torch. As Viking invaders settled in Normandy the name altered to Brayn or Brayne.Indeed two towns still remain in Normandy which still bear this name. We know that one Brayne in particular was later to cross the English Channel and do battle alongside William at the Battle ofHastings, where King Harold was so famously killed by an arrow in the eye.

The loyalty of Brayne was rewarded with a title and family crest. This crest, having been removed from the Grange in Littledean, Gloucestershire, can now be found above the fireplace in the Littledean Hotel. It clearly depicts 3 hunting horns and, what I later discovered to be a hemp hackle, a device which was used for combing flax. Interesting fact is that the Grange was once part of Flaxley Abbey.(Hemp=Flax?)

The Brain family have been living in the Forest of Dean from at least 1066! My own research has thus far only been able to take my family back with any degree of certainty to around1653c.

Newspaper reports on the death of my GGGrandfather Jesse Brain

Dean Forest Mercury Friday December 17, 1897

A married man, with a large family, named Jesse Brain, of Littledean Hill, whilst working at Foxes bridge colliery, was seriously injured on Saturday morning last, by a fall of dirt. He was taken home in the colliery trap, on a stretcher, and was attended by Dr. Macartney, who on examination found he had suffered from a severe injury to the lower part of the spine, causing paralysis of both legs, and other symptoms. He remains in a critical condition, and little hope is entertained for his ultimate recovery.

Dean Forest Mercury Friday December 24, 1897

Fatal Result of a Colliery Accident

The serious injuries received by Jesse Brain, collier of Littledean Hill, at foxes Bridge Colliery on the 11th (as reported in our last) terminated fatally on Tuesday last. An inquest was held by M.F. Carter Esq, Coroner, at the Royal Forrester Hotel, Littledean Hill, this day (Thursday) at noon. Mr Martin the mines inspector, having examined the place where the accident occurred, did not think it necessary to be present at the inquest.

Simeon Brain, son of the deceased, disposed his father was 48 years of age. They commenced working in the 20 in. seam on the 11th at 7am. It was examined before they commenced. He saw little in the place just as they started work; did not hear him say it was not quite safe. There was a prop near where they were working; did not hear anything about re-setting the prop. About 7am, whilst engaged hoing, suddenly about five cwt, of dirt and stone fell from the roof, and partly buried the deceased. The place had been inspected and the proper mark left.

Edward Little, of Bilson Green, deposed he went to the deceaseds place about 6.30 to borrow a tool, and they had a conversation to the effect that they thought the place hardly safe, as the lid had the dirt only on one end. Deceased said he did knot know whether it was better or not to set another prop. Witness left before the accident happened. The intention of deceased, he thought, was not to leave it as they saw it. George Terret deposed that he had great many years experience as a collier, and he was now an inspector, and had been for four years. He carefully examined the place a few minutes after four am on the 11th. The place was properly timbered when the witness saw it: some movement must have taken place after he left, for he saw no appearance of a joint.

In many instances joints cannot possibly be detected. Witness saw the place for the first time last Monday since the accident. Mr McMuririe, the manager, deposed that he knew the deceased as a careful and experienced,
but not one of the most skilful colliers. He was the man in charge of the place, of which of which witness had since made a plan (produced) showing the workings, the prop stone etc. which were explained in detail by witness to the jury. At the time of the inspection he considered it to be properly timbered. The accident was in consequence of a joint which deceased could not see; there were two joints, one of which he knew, and the other not. Had he known of the second joint another prop should have been set, and he thought the deceased would have shown sounder judgement if he had set another prop when he talked with Little. Had he done so, probably the accident might not have happened, but probably also many other colliers possessing the same knowledge would have done the same as the deceased did.

Dr Macartney sent a letter describing the nature of injuries revealed by post mortem examination, which confirmed the opinion both himself and Dr Scott had formed whilst the deceased was alive.
The cause of death was the result of spinal injuries received by the falling of a stone and dirt, crushing him, and a verdict was returned accordingly.

Mr H Gardiner, districts superintendent of the Pearl assurance Company, attended the inquest, and stated that he was instructed to pay full amount of claim at once, 9 6s 0p, although the deceased had only paid the company 3/3 in premiums. The Coroner remarked that it was very handsome on the part of the Company to do so, and the jury agreed.

My Best Genealogy Friend

A couple of years ago whilst researching my Brain family ancestors I was surprised to find a particular photograph on the Sun Green website. The site hosts a collection of old photos and pictures of places and people of the Forest of Dean. The photo in question was a small black and white image taken around the early 1950's and was of an old man, a young woman and some puppies, but what was strange about this particular photo was that it was mine, (or so I thought)!

I had been given the photograph, along with some others, by an elderly Aunt who was only able to tell me that the gentleman in the photo was her uncle Elam. I had been busily researching 'Uncle Elam' for a while when the same photo appeared on the website and although I had begun to establish where he fitted into my family tree, what I really wanted to know was more information about his wife Catherine or Kate, who is part of my direct family line.

I posted a response to the photo online and was almost immediately contacted by Yvonne, who had originally posted the photograph. She knew both Elam and Kate very well and had spent many hours in their company when she had been a young woman working for the Forest of Dean Forestry Commission.

Yvonne is blessed with both a fantastic memory and the most beautiful gift for writing and it was not long before we were exchanging emails on a regular basis. Oh, the stories she has recounted about this lovely old couple! I'm sure that they will stay with me forever, as they really have brought the past to life and helped fill in so many other gaps in my tree.

Yvonne and I met up last year and spent a lovely afternoon together. She had been almost a surrogate grandaughter to Kate and Elam and it was lovely to meet her and forge a lasting friendship which I'm sure both Kate and Elam would be really pleased about. In fact I often think that those two old Foresters somehow orchestrated our meeting
and brought my long gone family back to meet me!

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