Bitton Families



by Lee Paltridge

The first FRANKHAM found so far in Bitton is the baptism in 1643 of Mary, daughter of John ffrankham. The mother is not named and it is not known where they came from. There were Frankhams (variously spelt) in Dyrham 5 miles to the north-west, and further north in Hawkesbury who are possible sources. This John FRANKHAM had 6 children baptised in Bitton in the period 1643 to 1658. There were other Frankham marriages and baptisms recorded around 1700, possibly also relating to offspring of John, and whose baptisms may have occurred during periods when there are gaps in the Bitton registers. These include Thomas, Elizabeth and John and another Sarah, but any or all of these may have come from elsewhere.

The Keynsham branch of the family is descended from John's grandson Walter FRANKHAM born in Bitton in 1694 and married in Keynsham in 1715, where he had probably gone to take up work in the new brass works. There is no proof that he was a brass-worker, but at least two of his sons were, and men of that name continued in the industry until it closed in 1927. There are still Frankhams in Keynsham today.

The spelling of the name as FRANKHAM was remarkably consistent throughout the parish registers in both Bitton and Keynsham, though other documents have FRANCOM, FRANKCOMBE, FRANCOMB, and FRANCUM and many more. The name is said by some to have come from the French franc homme - free man.

History books describing the Keynsham brass works tell of a group of Dutch or German workers who were brought across to England just after 1700 because of their special skills. There is no contemporary listing of the names of these foreign craftsmen. By 'tradition' the name FRANKHAM is always included in this group, but the 1768 Settlement Examinations from this family clearly show that they were from across the Avon in Bitton, not from across the Channel in Holland. If the spelling had remained as Francombe, probably no-one would have suggested they were Dutch at all.

In the Keynsham baptism register in the 1720s and 1730s, the words 'no parishioner' were added above or beside the names of all those who did not have legal settlement, including the Dutch workers, for fear that they would have a claim on the parish if they fell on hard times. It seems that if the name had a 'K' in it, someone has concluded that they  might be, or were, Dutch! (As well as Frankham, surnames with that 'no parishioner' marking include: Jones, Wist, Howard, Perfect, Couts, Cox, Carter, Palmer and Hemmings. None of the historians has included these names on their Dutch workers lists!

The photograph of the Brass Works staff on the Keynham Brassworks page has two FRANKHAM men in it.
There are also census details of a FRANKHAM brass worker and family living in Brass Mill Lane on the Kelston Brass Mill page.


Click on the names of researchers to see their additional interests and contact information on the Researcher page.

John FRANKHAM in Bitton from the 1640s was Lee's 8x great grandfather, and she is descended from the FRANKHAM line in Keynsham, through the marriage of John's grandson Walter FRANKHAM (b Bitton 1693/4) to Mary FOWLER in Keynsham on 23 October 1715.

They had 7 children in Keynsham.
Their first two sons were Walter in 1720, Joseph in 1722. Both became brassworkers. Walter later moved to Bitton, and Joseph moved to Siston.

(Be sure to check the two Settlement Examinations to see this 1720 Walter FRANKHAM's family, and also the family lineage clearly set out in the examination of Moses FRANKHAM b 1746, the son of Joseph.)

Walter and Mary's third son, John FRANKHAM, b 1724, married Mary SHALLARD in Bath Abbey in 1748. Their daughter:

Elizabeth FRANKHAM born 1751 married Thomas DERRICK in Keynsham in 1775.
Thomas and Elizabeth had four children, the last of these, Hannah DERRICK, was born about 1784. Elizabeth (FRANKHAM) DERRICK died in 1786 and

Thomas DERRICK then married Elizabeth's youngest sister, Ann FRANKHAM, born 1760 in Keynsham, at St Augustine the Less, Bristol in 1788.

Thomas and Ann had three children.

This family, from about 1780 onwards, was closely involved in the Keynsham Baptist Church, of which Thomas DERRICK was a Deacon. Both his wives, the sisters Elizabeth (d 1786) and Ann FRANKHAM (d 1797) were buried in the Baptist Burial Ground in Bristol, each simply referred to as "Thos DERRICK's wife".

Hannah DERRICK married John CLARK in Keynsham in 1807 and these were Lee's 3x great grandparents.

See Lindsay's entry on the main Researcher's page.






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