Brandegee: Origins of a Name

The following are excerpts from a somewhat speculative account of the name Brandegee, its history and its possible origins, found in The Families of Ancient Wethersfield, by Stiles, available online here. Taken as a whole, the piece represents the finished version of Stiles’ research on the name, and at the end of the 19th century, he knew as much as anyone on the subject.

[A brief research note: I believe that at some point following publication of his work, Stiles must have forwarded his notes on to Edward Deshon Brandegee, for the notes that are currently held in the Brandegee Office, and which I had erroneously assumed to be the work of EDB, are in fact early versions of the essay you see excerpted below.–LSL]



BRANDEGEE, (Brundig, Brandig, Brandish, Brandiger, Brondiger, Brandigat, Brandisley, Brondish, Boundikee)  are various spellings of a name found in old records, and all of which seem to connected with and apply to one John Brundish who was at Weth. [Wethersfield, CT —LSL] probably as early as 1635-7, and of whom only one record exists, and that incidentally, in Weth. Land Recs. as being the owner of a home‑lot which bounded another man’s property.—See Chapt. VII, Vol. I. These various spellings of the name, as given above, together with the fact that some of the earlier generations resided in the neighborhood of New York City, (Westchester and Duchess Cos.), has given rise to the very natural opinion that the family was of Dutch origin. But this opinion is controverted by Mr. Marius Brandegee, of Elizabeth, N.J., who considers it to be of English stock, in which view we also concur. It will also be noted that the terminal of the name is spelled variously—dage, digge, dyge, by members of the same stock; and that all the spellings contain the same consonants, B. R. N. D., with the first vowel O., U., or A. rather broad, and the terminal S. H. or G. E., indicating that the G. should be pronounced soft and not hard, as the G. in geese.

As to the John Brundish, the acknowledged ancestor of this race, he had died before the 27 Oct., 1639, which is the date of the inventory of his estate, leaving a widow (Rachel) and five children. Judge Adams, in endeavoring to identify the Wethersfield men who were killed by the Indians in the Massacre of 1637, suggests, with some degree of probability that Brundish may have been one of the number; but owing to the loss of the Weth. records for these first early years, one may never know whether this conjecture is correct. [This idea has since been, if not disproven, at least significantly undermined.—LSL] Savage, in his Geneal. Dict. of New Engl., mentions (p. 284) John Brundish, and (p. 218) John Brandisley, [spelled Brandikey in the draft of this document —LSL] with an evident suspicion that the two were identical, as he gives exactly the same information concerning each of them. viz., that he prob. came to Weth. from Watertown, Mass., where he was made freeman in 1639, and that his widow, Rachel, m. (2) Anthony Wilson, of Fairfield, [or Stamford?] Ct.; also, that by B. she had 5 children, 4 daus. and a son. Weth. Rec. also shows that she sold the ho‑std. to Elder Clement Chaplin, before 1 May, 1641, and, with that, the name disappears from the town for a while.

We seem to pick up the interrupted trail of the family again, in John, (one of eleven settlers from Greenwich, Ct., 1660, of the town of Rye, in Winchester Co., N.Y.,), who signs his name, July 26, 1662, to a declaration of loyalty to Charles II, as Brondish, being one of three of the eleven who did not sign their names with a mark. In Jan., 1663, he signed his name Brondig. He was elected first Town Clerk of Rye, was deputy to the Gen. Ct in 1677 and 1681, and d. 1697, and in the accounts of those days was called “Stout Old John Brondig.” He was one in 1662 of the original pprs. of Manusing Island and Poringoe Neck in Westchester Co., and left four sons, John, Joseph, David, and Joshua [and possibly a Jonathan].


John Brondish (highlighted signature); declaration of loyalty to Charles II, July 26, 1662


The re‑instatement, in the town of original settlement (viz. Wethersfield), of the family of Brondish, (under the changed form of the name—Brandegee), seems to have been through the coming hither, abt. the middle of the 18th Century, of one Jacob Brandigat. Whether he was a son of the John, or of Jonathan, both sons of “Stout Old John,” [Ed. Note: some say not the sons of “Stout Old John,” but his son, who was “John Sr.” “of Rye” as of 1707] of Rye, N.Y., and both of whom sold out their rights at Rye, abt. 1726 and rem. prob. inland to Nine Partners, as many other Rye families did, is as yet an undetermined matter. We lean however to the idea that he was a son of John—consequently John 3rd. [This is also debatable. —LSL] But, a Jacob it was who, according to a firm family tradition, ran away from his father’s family, and curiously enough found his life-work in Stepney, a parish of the same old Conn. town where his first American ancestor was buried a hundred yrs. before. According to Andrews, (Hist. New Britain, Ct., 130), he came to New Britain from Nine Partners, (Dutchess Co.), N. Y., when 13 yrs. old. He is said to have been b. 1729; and his mother’s name was Brock. [If it was Buck, which is an old Weth. name, it may in some way account for his heading this way, in leaving his N.Y. home]; he was by trade, a weaver, and, at one time kept a store in Great Swamp Village, now Kensington. He m. at Newington, Ct., 11 Oct., 1763, Abigail Dunnum (Dunham)—Annals of Newington, 106, and from the same authority we learn that he owned the Covenant, at Kensington, 27 July, 1755, being then called Brandigee. He was in later life, engaged in the W.I. trade, sailing his vessels from Rocky Hill, and d. at sea on a return voyage from Guadeloupe, Mch., 26, 1763. His wid. m. (2) Rev. Edward Eells, of Upper Midd., ( Cromwell, Ct., ), she d. 25 Jan., 1825.

[Below, the genealogy as reconstructed by Stiles. Note I consider this a first attempt only, and not in any way definitive. Take it with a grain of salt. –LSL]


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