The Bramhill family of Liverpool


Will’s dad (x) on the training ship Indefatigable in the Mersey in 1926. The training ship Conway is in the background

The connection

This is Will's family name. He is the fourth consecutive William, though not all have been the eldest son. Will’s parents left Liverpool for Harwich in 1946. Of their five sons, Frank 1939-2016, Leslie 1944, and Eric 1948 were born in Liverpool, and two, Dave 1950 and Will 1960, in Essex.

The name

Bramhill is almost certainly a place name, with the obvious candidate being Bramhall near Stockport, Manchester. Some Bramhills may be named after the hamlet in Hampshire or belong to a cluster who hail from Devon. Variants include Bramhall, Brammall, Brimhall and Bremil.


A silk memento of the Bibby’s oil mill disaster in Liverpool in 1911. Will’s grandfather William John Bramhill worked for Bibby's. For the full story, see the "Incidents” file.


Will thought a coat of arms was a joke given the poverty of his family in the 1800s. Then he visited the College of Arms in London. There is a family motto too: By Thy Blood, O Christ. For the full story, see the Bramhill file.


Will and his brothers. From left, David, Eric, Bill, Les and Frank (d 2016), pictured on Ha’penny pier, Harwich, in 2015.

Odds and ends

• Will’s dad, William Frank 1913-97, had an adventurous life. He went to sea at 13, seeing a world that was still largely unspoilt. He was sunk on the Ponzano in 1939, sailed in the wartime Atlantic convoys, rescued passengers from the sinking bow of Duke of York in 1953 and effected a roll on Avalon to make Spurs fans seasick after they rioted in Rotterdam in 1974.

• Grandad William John 1883-1922 suffered lung damage as he rescued a workmate in a factory accident — either at Bibby’s in 1911 or at a gun-cotton factory in the Rossendale valley during the First World War.

• Great grandad William James was a survivor of the Liverpool lifeboat disaster of 1892. His father John was also a lifeboatman for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.


• The farthest we can get back with certainty is to a Thomas Bramhill of Liverpool who was probably born in the 1770s or 1780s. The records show that two or three Thomases were born within ten years in the Liverpool “villages” of Huyton or Childwall. Without censuses, it is impossible to tell which Thomas is ours, so our Bramhill tree comes to a full stop.

• Thomas might have been a publican. His son John, of Gibraltar Street, north of the Pier Head, was a boatman and carter; grandson William James was a boatman; great great grandson William Frank (Will’s father), was a ship’s captain and three of Will’s brothers went to sea. Saltwater runs in our veins.

• We have a DNA connection with the Bramhills of the Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire. Their tree, however, goes back to 1648 and it is still on the River Humber. It is likely that both families have their roots in Bramall Hall in Bramhall, near Stockport. There is also a DNA link with the Carrington family – and they took their name from the manor of Carrington, 15 miles from Bramhall.


Will’s dad, Captain William Frank Bramhill 1913-97, pictured before the Second World War  


Bramall Hall, near Stockport, is probably where the family name comes from. Courtesy of David Dixon


Liverpool lifeboat No 1. William James Bramhill 1855-1919 was on a similar vessel which capsized in 1892


William John Bramhill 1883-1922 and Marie nee Prossor 1890-1953 – this is quite possibly a wedding photo in 1911

Quick reference: Bramhill

BramhillUnwinProssorWilliamsMulveyRoberts, BakerLloyd

Quick reference: Hudson