Village Centre


Centuries before the Bird family arrived on the scene the settlement of “Brigstock” was to be found in a Forest that originally stretched from Stamford to Northampton. Known by the name Rockingham Forest it was designated a royal hunting forest by William the Conqueror.  Brigstock mentioned as ‘Bricstoc’ in the Domesday Book-A.D.1087) may mean "the stockade of birch trees." The earliest definite traces of human habitation in the parish date from the Early Bronze Age. A skeleton found in a sand pit was dated c 1500 BC.  There are considerable traces of habitation during the Roman times. The present village dates from Saxon times and it was then a place of some importance in the Forest.   

In the late Middle Ages Brigstock became the largest village in the Rockingham Forest and it stood between the two vast royal parks of Geddington and Farming (Fermyn) Woods.  In 1466 Edward IV granted Brigstock a market on Saturdays and two fairs a year, on St Georges and St Martins Days.  King James I in 1604 granted a licence for Markets on Thursdays and for three fairs a year on St Marks, St Bartholomew’s and St Martins days.  In 1830 it is reported that the market had fallen into disuse but the fairs were still being held.   

Today Brigstock, is a large village and parish in Northampton-shire. The village stands on an affluent of the river Nen, near Rockingham Forest, 5½ miles NNW of Thrapston, 7½ NE of Kettering, and 5 ENE from Geddington station on the M.R. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Thrapston, and fairs on 25 April, 4 September, and 22 November, and was once a market-town. The parish comprises 6147 acres; population of the civil parish, 1035; of the ecclesiastical, with Stanion, 1347. Farming (Fermyn) Woods, the seat of Lord Lyveden, and Brigstock Manor House, the property of the Duke of Buccleuch, are chief residences. The church is partially Norman and good, and there are Congregational and Primitive Methodist chapels. Here are the kennels of the Woodland Pytchley foxhounds. 

Boxing Day Hunt at Brigstock

The population of Brigstock has been fairly steady for hundreds of years at about 1000.  It was expected to reach 2000 in the 1980s.  However, at the time of the 2001 census, the parish population was 1,329 people. There has always been a certain amount of enterprise in Brigstock; principally in the industries of a small market town. 

The first Bird ancestor captured in our time capsule is William who lived during the reign of Elizabeth I. The date of his marriage to Ellen in 1595 means that he was likely born before 1575 and this also means that as a teenager he lived through the threat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Just eight years into their marriage the old virgin queen died in 1603. This brought a massive change as Scotland’s Stewart king, James VI was installed as James I of England, Scotland and Ireland. The dissatisfaction that this introduced, brought about the departure of the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflower to the ‘New World’ in 1620, and triggered England’s civil war [1642-1651] between Parliamentarians (Roundheads) and Royalists (Cavaliers). The decisive battle of Naseby in this war was fought about 30 kilometres west ofBrigstock. To cap off an eventful life, William died in 1553, just 8 years after the execution of the unpopular Charles I, whose insistent belief in the divine right of kings did nothing to keep his head on his shoulders. 

Nearly 230 years and seven generations later we arrive at the family of Edward Bird born about 1781 who married Sarah Whitwell in 1809, lived in Brigstock, and went on to have nine children. After Sarah’s death in 1835, aged 45, from what was probably a complicated birth, the family rapidly fractured. Two of their sons and Edward himself became convicts, and as a direct result five of the seven surviving children ended up on the other side of the world in either Australia or New Zealand and a sixth in America. The only one to remain behind, married a local lad, but appears to have lived a gin-sodden and childless existence, whose cause of death at the age of 57 was cirrhosis of the liver.  

I suspect that this family was just typical of many across the country during this period of history, when Britain’s population was exploding far beyond the bounds of the grossly inadequate and struggling infrastructure, that was unable to support such growth. 

To follow in more detail the fortunes of this family, and in particular John Bird, the first son to receive the sentence, “transported beyond the seas” check these on-site articles:

Particular Places - Yankalilla, South Australia.


 And the PDF document - Far Side of the World-IV.



 Historical Family
1. Ancient Beginnings
2. English Family
3. Parliamentary
4. Coming to N.Z.
 Persons of Renown
Sir John & Sir William Chamberlayne
Sir Roger Chamberlayne
Sir Leonard Chamberlain
Sir Thomas Chamberlayne I
Sir Thomas Chamberlayne II
Major Thomas Chamberlain III
Edward Chamberlayne
Thomas Pardoe
John Chamberlain
Gen. Joshua Chamberlain
Col. Thomas Chamberlain IV
Henry Bowland
Joseph Chamberlain
Giles E. Chamberlain
Sir Austen Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Gertrude (Burford) Rawlings
Isaac Sykes
Owen Chamberlain
Robert E. (Bob) Chamberlain
 Particular Places
County Down
Preston Capes
Woodford Halse
 Supplements, Historic, Biblical
Mail Box
The Reason Why?
Destiny's Lodestone
The Feud For Zion
What A Difference A Name Makes
 No Simple Passage
 Preston Capes
 Wilton Family
 Genealogy Software
No Simple Passage
The Journey of the "London" and her passengers from England to New Zealand in 1842. Thomas & Susannah Chamberlain, together with their four children sailed aboard the London on this voyage to Port Nicholson. The author is Jenny Robin Jones a descendant of one of the passengers. The book was published in 2011 by Random House ISBN 978 1 86979 510 8
Wiltons Galore

The Pioneer Story of Robert Wilton and Elizabeth Denman from Montacute, Somerset, England and continued through their children and grand-children in New Zealand. Mary Wilton married Arthur Joseph Chamberlain, and this is the story & record of her family.
This book was compiled by descendant Jo Wilton and published in 2007 by Colin Watson & Colin Liddell
ISBN 978 0 473 11318 6

Petticoat Pioneers
Petticoat Pioneers 

Stories of New Zealand's North Island women of the colonial pioneering era compiled and recorded for us by author Miriam Macgregor. Two of the women featured in this book are Susannah Catherine (Bull) Chamberlain and her daughter -in-law (Catherine McKenzie) Kitty Chamberlain.
This book was published in 1973 by A.H.& A.W. Reed, Wellington, New Zealand.
ISBN 0 589 00771 8

Paddy the Wanderer
Paddy the Wanderer 

The true story of an Airedale dog who captured the heart of the city of Wellington during the dark days of depression. Also captured here is Paddy's association with Blue Taxicab manager, Merlin Chamberlain. The author is Dianne Haworth, a dog-lover and editor of Animal's Voice, who lives and works in Auckland.
The book was published in 2007 by HarperCollins NZ.
ISBN 978 1 86950 625 4

On the Trail of
Parker & Walker

Parker-Walker Families

This 2015 self-published family history has been put together by Marjorie Prictor on the trail of Parker and the Walker families who came to New Zealand in the 1860s. Marjorie is a descendant still living in the Northland district of Port Albert where each of these families settled.

Douglas Family Reunion

A family history of the Douglas Family in Australia, compiled in 1981 for a family reunion by sisters Grace Douglas & Rosalie Vanstan of Bendigo, Victoria.
Downloadable as file-093 from the Supplements Page.