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.
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.
• 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 induced 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.
• 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 are born within ten years in the Liverpool “villages” of Huyton or Childwall. Without censuses, it is impossible to tell which Thomas is ours, so going back on 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 most 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.