Thomas Brandreth (1723 – 1791)


   1. His childhood

Thomas was born in 1723. He was the son of Thomas Brandreth sr. (1686 – 18 February 1730) of Lees, Lancashire (now within Greater Manchester), England.1-4

Thomas sr. had an older brother, Obadiah (1678 – 1750) who never married. They were the only surviving children of Edward Brandreth (1645 – 1702), the second eldest son of John Brandreth of Weeford, Staffordshire and Lees, Lancashire. It is uncertain whether John Brandreth lived at both Weeford and Lees, possibly having properties in both towns and commuting between the two towns which were 90 km apart, or whether he first lived in one town and then later moved to the other. The Brandreths did not have their own authentic coat-of-arms, but in the event of marriage, the Brandreths retained their surname while assuming the arms of the family into which they married.1-3

   2. His wife.

His wife was Mary Robinson, the daughter of Thomas Robinson and Elizabeth Baldwin. Mary became heiress in 1791 to Burscoughtown House in Burscough, a village with Viking roots in West Lancashire, England.1,2

   3. His career

Thomas Brandreth sr. lived at Lees and later at Ormskirk, where some of his children were born.1-3,5 What he did for a living is uncertain, but he was a wealthy man. The family lived in a large house called Brandreth House in Burscough Street in Ormskirk.6 Two of his sons that we know of, continued with further studies at university. The Brandreths had a high social standing in the community that allowed them to marry into families of high regard that carried their own coat-of-arms.

   4. His death

Thomas Brandreth was of lees, but later moved to Ormskirk where he died in 1791 at the age of 68 years.1-3

   5. His children

Thomas and Mary Brandreth had several sons and daughters of whom four have been identified.

5.1 Thomas jr.

Thomas jr. was born at Ormskirk and married Alice Lamb. He was a qualified medical doctor. The family initially lived at Ormskirk, Lancashire and later in Liverpool, Lancashire (now Merseyside). They had several sons and daughters. There was Elizabeth and her brothers Thomas, Joseph, James (≈5 April 1772 – 1803), a solicitor who resided in Liverpool and was married Margaret Tomlinson, and William, who became a merchant in Liverpool and married Elizabeth Chappell.1,2,5.7

NOTE: Two references, Wikipedia (7) and author J.K. Rowlans (8), designate the above image to JOSEPH Brandreth.8,9 However, the portrait with frame displayed above is currently in possession of Rob Jamison, the great-great-great-grandnephew of both Joseph and Thomas Brandreth. On the back of the frame is inscribed the names of the artists as well as the name ‘Dr THOMAS Brandreth of Liverpool’, the elder brother of Joseph Brandreth.7 The conflicting data still needs to be clarified!

5.2 Joseph

He was born in October 1745 at Ormskirk. He graduated in 1770 as a medical doctor from Edinburgh University at Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland where his thesis, De Febribus Intermittentibus (The intermittent fevers) was published. After the completion of his studies, Joseph Brandreth returned to Ormskirk and practiced there as medical doctor until 1780, when thereafter he moved to Liverpool to succeed to the practice of the retiring Dr Matthew Dobson. In 1778 he established a small dispensary in a shop in Lydiate Street in Ormskirk in order to make medicine and medical advice available to the poor. His offered his services free of charge. Two years later in 1780, he was appointed to the staff of the Liverpool Infirmary where he served for the next 30 years. In the same year of his appointment, he married Catherine Pilkington (28 November 1751 – 22 April 1827) of Anderton, daughter of John Pilkington and Catherine Shaw.1-3,8-10 The Brandreth family lived at Broad Green Hall in the village of Broadgreen, between Liverpool and St Helens. Nowadays it is a suburb of Liverpool along the Liverpool & Manchester railway line, lying 7 km north-east of Liverpool city centre.11-13Joseph was an outstanding, successful, caring and popular medical practitioner. And among his patients were both the poor and the wealthy. In an obituary after his death the following was also stated: “He was a man of wide and various reading, and possessed a most accurate and tenacious memory, which he attributed to his habit of depending on it without referring to notes.”10 The discovery of the remedy to apply cold water or cloth in fever treatment is attributed to Joseph Brandreth. He described the application of this treatment in a paper On the advantages arising from the topical application of cold water and vinegar in typhus, and on the use of large doses of opium in certain cases. (Med. Commentaries, xvi. p. 382, 1791). Joseph Brandreth died at the age of 70 years on 10 April 1815 at Liverpool, Lancashire.1-3,8-10,14 From his estate money was donated towards the construction and development of the Ormskirk Dispensary which was completed in 1832.6

The children of Joseph and Catherine Brandreth were:

  • Joseph Pilkington (8 September 1781 – 18 August 1858), a medical doctor like his father, married Alice Harper on 28 June 1810. His wife was the daughter and co-heir of William Harper of Davenham Hall, Davenham, Cheshire. Their marriage produced seven children. The Brandreth family resided at Broad Green Hall, but later moved to 45 Rodney Street in the centre of Liverpool where he lived for 20 years. For many years his younger brother Thomas Shaw was his neighbour, who resided at 43 Rodney Street. This street is a road of three-bay, terraced Georgian houses built during 1783 to 1784.1-3,11,15-17
  • Thomas Shaw (24 July 1788 – 1873) married Harriet Byrom on 4 February 1822. She was the daughter of Ashton Byrom of Fairview, Toxteth.1-3,11,15,16,18  Thomas qualified as a barrister, but also diverted to produce successful inventions that required advanced mathematical thought, later became an engineer and company director of Liverpool & Manchester Railroads Ltd, and in his latter years also a renowned classicist. In 1829, Thomas made history (and was most likely also the joke of the day) when he participated in the first ever locomotive trials during 6-14 October 1829 at Rainhill by pitting his Cycloped, a horse-powered locomotive against four steam locomotives, Novelty, Perseverance, Rocket and Sans Pareil. Wrigley’s one-horse powered engine did not get far, when the horse fell through the wooden treadmill at the start of the race. The Rocket, designed and built by Robert Stephenson (1803 – 1859), went on to outperform the others and proved that locomotive propulsion was practical and viable. Robert’s father, George Stephenson (1781 – 1848), a renowned inventor, was a close friend of Thomas Shaw Wrigley.15,18,19
  • Mary (? – 28 November 1845) married Benjamin Gaskell (28 February 1781 – 21 June 1856) of Thornes House, Wakefield on 17 June 1807 at Liverpool.1,2,11,16,20
  • Catherine married Rev Edward Rowe Lyall, Archdeacon of Colchester in 1817, who previously was Dean of Canterbury. This couple had no children.1,2,11,16

5.3 William

He was born in ca 1750, possibly in Ormskirk. As an adult, he lived at Burscough, in the house his mother inherited in 1791. William had several children. Two of his daughters, Anne and Jane remained unmarried.2,55.4 John

John was born in 1770 at Ormskirk, twenty years after his brother, William. John married Anne Grundy.1,2 They lived at Lees but later moved to Knutsford, Cheshire.5 They were my husband’s great-great-great-great-great-grandparents. READ MORE on John Brandreth.


  1. A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe. The Peerage.
  2. Family tree notes by Jean Jamison, made available by Katie Taylor form Germany, October 2017
  3. Burke, J. A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland. Vol IV.
  4. Lees, Greater Manchester.,_Greater_Manchester
  5. Old Maps. Lancashire County Council.
  6. The Dispensary.
  7. Rob Jamison: Family portraits 2016.
  8. Joseph Brandreth.
  9. Rowlans, J.K. 2006 Dr Joseph Brandreth of Ormskirk and Liverpool and his family.
  10. Sutton, C.W. Brandreth, Joseph. Monthly Repository, 1815, p. 254; Gent. Mag. lxxxv. pt. i. 472 (taken from Liverpool Mercury, 14 April 1815); Picton’s Memorials of Liverpool, 2nd ed. 1875, pp. 133, 147, 355; Evans’s Cat. of Portraits, ii. 49; Watt’s Bibl. Brit.,_Joseph_(DNB00)
  11. Brandreth. Burke’s Peerage, 107th Ed.
  12. Scriptor, S. 20 April 2008. Rocky Lane.
  13. Horton, S. 19 June 2013. Liverpool’s oldest station. Liverpool hidden history.
  14. Elizabeth Smith-Stanley, Countess of Derby.,_Countess_of_Derby
  15. Information made available in April 2019 by Vernon Handley of Liverpool, England
  16. Brandreth (BZmisc15).
  17. Rodney Street, Liverpool.,_Liverpool
  18. Thomas Shaw Brandreth.
  19. The Rainhill trials on the Liverpool and Manchester railway. American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). 14 September 2016.
  20. Gaskell, Benjamin (1781 – 1856), of Thornes House, Wakefield, Yorkshire and Clifton House, Manchester, Lancashire.