Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tanner 22 & 23: Samuel Bryant & Sarai Stapley Bryant

22 Samuel Charles Bryant
b. 8 August 1799 Rolvenden, Kent, England
c. 15 September 1799 Rolvenden, Kent, England
m. 20 October 1822 Rolvenden, Kent, England
d. 15 September 1863 San Bernardino, San Bernardino, California
Wife: Sarai Stapley
Father: John Bryant Jr.; Mother: Jane (Jenny) Watson

23 Sarai Stapley
b. 1 October 1803 Rolvenden, Kent, England

c. 3 November 1803 Rolvenden, Kent, England
d. 15 November 1857 San Bernardino, San Bernardino, California or Beaver, Beaver, Utah
Husband: Samuel Bryant
Father: Henry Stapley; Mother: Elizabeth Tarbutt

The Bryant family lived in the County of Kent as far back as can be traced. When historical records began, the Bryants were located in the parish of Tenterden. In the mid 18th century they moved to the parish of Rolvenden where three generations of Bryants were born and christened. The Bryants remained in Rolvenden until they emigrated to Australia in the late 1830s.

The county of Kent is in southeast England. The Bryants came from an area called the “Weald” in south-central Kent. The Weald was a great forest region covered with wild oak. When the Romans occupied Britain, they avoided the region. After the Romans left, the British did not move onto the land until pastoral people began to move into the Weald.

The family name of Bryant was written as Briant in the records u
ntil the late 1700s and early 1800s.

First Generation

The first Bryants recorded were Thomas and Elizabeth Bryant of Tenterden. Almost nothing is known of this couple, except that records exist for the christening of three of their children in Tenterden: Elizabeth in 1727, John in 1730, and Rebecca in 1734.

Second Generation

John Bryant, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth, was married in the pale sandstone Church of St. George in Benenden in 1756 by Vicar John Williams. Benenden is a small town in the Hundred of Rolvenden about two and a half miles from the town of Rolvenden. John married Sarah Pankhurst, the daughter of William and Sarah Pankhurst whose records begin and end in Benenden. Desc
riptions of Benenden consistently include the one interesting event in its history:
On December 30, 1672, a bolt of lightning set fire to the steeple of St. George’s. The blaze melted the church’s five large bells, razed five houses adjoining the churchyard and left the interior of the church in ruins. Fortunately, many of the best 15th-century features were saved, particularly the north porch with its gargoyles and stone-vaulted ceiling.
As a note of interest, when John and Sarah were married, over 3000 Frenchmen were being held prisoner from the Seven Years War just a few mi
les away at Sissinghurst Castle.

John and Sarah continued living in Rolvenden hundred. They had three children. Richard, the oldest, was christened in 1757 but died less than two years later. John was born 25 May 1760 and christened the next month at the Church of St. Mary in Rolvenden by Daniel Chadsley, Vicar.

The father of the family, John Bryant, died at the age of 31. His burial record reads, “1762. January 3. John Briant, Labourer. [Burial service
by] Daniel Chadsley, Vicar.” Five months later a third child of this family was christened, a daughter Sarah. The Widow Bryant died four years later. It is not known who took care of the two orphans: six year old John and four year old Sarah (assuming Sarah lived past infancy and childhood—no records have been found to the contrary).

Third Generation

The orphan John (now a 22 year old farm laborer) married Jenny Watson in 1783. Jenny was one of twelve children of Stephen Watson and Ann Kadwell (the Kadwells were an old respectable landowning family in Rolvenden). One of Jenny’s sisters was born in 1777 and given the name Philadelphia. There were at least five other girls born in the parish at this time named Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin had spent time in the next parish over (had gone to church two and a half miles away in Tenterden) three years before.

John and Jenny had seven children between the years of 1783 and 1802.

Fourth Generation

The two youngest children of John and Jenny Bryant married into the Henry and Elizabeth Stapley family: our ancestor Samuel married Sarai Stapley (1821) and Sarah married Charles Stapley (1822).

There was such a large exodus of people from Rolvenden in the 1820s and the 1830s that it was mentioned in the British census records. In the parish register, “America” was penciled next to every second or third marriage entry.

Our ancestors left Rolvenden to find a better life as farmers in Australia. In 1839 Samuel Bryant and Sarai Stapley Bryant had a son, James, born 14 December 1839 in Rolvenden. On 5 July 1842 another son was born, George, in Wi
tham, New South Wales, Australia.

Diane Parkinson wrote a history of the Parkinson family and included some notes about the Bryants which I quote here:
About 1837, the families of Charles Stapley, Sr. and Samuel Bryant of Rolvenden, Kent, England, began an adventure that would ultimately culminate in the colonizing and taming of a desert waste.

Like the Parkinsons who came later, the route that the Stapleys and Bryants took to America was somewhat circuitous.

Many opportunities for farmers, tradesmen and skilled workers were being offered in the far off land of Australia. The crown was eager to assist those who wished to start a new life and contribute to the upbuilding of the colony that had received its infamous start as a notorious dumping ground for England’s felons.

Each of these families was skilled in the art of farming; Australia was in dire need of farmers to produce the crops that would feed her swelling population.

Charles Stapley, Sr. had married Sarah Bryant, the sister of Samuel Bryant, and this same Samuel Bryant had married Sarai Stapley, the sister of Charles Stapley, Sr....

The Bryant’s daughter, Mary Ann would marry Thomas Parkinson, and the Stapley’s son, Charles Stapley, Jr. would marry Thomas’s sister, Sarah…

They had lived in close proximity in the small farming community of Rolvenden. Each couple had seven children between 1823 and 1836. Only a few months separate the births of double cousins, and although we do not have evidence that they went to Australia on the same vessel, it would only be natural that they would undertake this adventure as a family team.…

Birth records of the subsequent children born into these families indicate that they immigrated to the fertile Hunter River district in New South Wales where work as tenant farmers was easily obtained. Each couple added five more children to their already large families.

They pursued agriculture in this area for sixteen years when a dramatic change then entered their lives.

In 1853, missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened a new mission in the Hunter River District. It was a fruitful place to preach. The Stapley and Bryant families were numbered among some seventy souls to align themselves with the Church that year.
Elder William Hyde mentioned the Bryant family a number of times in his missionary journal.
April 22nd [1853]. I preached at the house of Brother Samuel Bryant and the Lord blessed me with great liberty in speaking.

[May 8] I preached at Brother Bryant's at 11 a.m. and at 3 p.m. and administered the Sacrament. Had a comfortable day.

The 18th [May]. Preached at Brother Bryant's. Had a good time.

The 12th [June]. Preached at Brother Bryant's. After meeting went to Brother Stapley's. Rained very hard.

Sunday 26th [June]. Preached at Brother Bryants. At 11 a.m. the weather was rainy and disagreeable.

Tuesday 28th...After baptism of [Hannah Stapley Rawlings] returned to Brother Bryants and met with the saints agreeable to appointment...

Tuesday [also 28th]...I returned to Brother Bryants.

Thursday [4 August] I attended a fast meeting which I had previously appointed at the house of Brother Bryant. I spoke to some length, giving such instructions as were dictated to me by the holy spirit, after which the brethren spoke round, and we had a very interesting time.

Sunday, the 7th [August]. Preached at Brother Bryant's. Had a full house and the Lord gave me great liberty in speaking.

Sunday, the 4th [September]. I preached twice at the house of Brother Bryant, on Williams River.
There are several more such entries.

A history of the Stapley family gives the following information:
Presumably Samuel and Sari or Sarah (Stapley) Bryant sailed on the Julia Ann for California, for Toquerville's John Steele, before leaving on a mission to England, noted some of the Stapley English relatives. He wrote that "Samuel Bryant and wife died in San Barnerdino [sic]."

Fifth Generation

The third child and second daughter of Samuel and Sarai Bryant was Mary Ann Bryant, born in Rolvenden in 1826.

In Australia she married John Porter and had three children. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and separated from or divorced her husband. Mary Ann went to America on the Julia Ann along with other members of her family. Also on the boat was Thomas Parkinson formerly of England and Australia. By the time Mary Ann and Thomas reached America they had decided to get married. The records are unclear on whether they were married on the boat or right after disembarking. Family tradition holds that they were married while on the boat.

Mary Ann’s daughter Eliza Ellen Parkinson Tanner wrote a short history of her mother:
Mrs. Mary Ann Bryant Parkinson, wife of Thomas Parkinson of Beaver City, passed over the dark river after a lingering illness on Wednesday, September 6, 1905. Sister Parkinson was born in 1826 in Kent, England. Went to Australia in 1838 where she received the gospel. In 1853 emigrated to America and was married the same year in San Bernardino, California. She and her husband remained in San Bernardino until 1857 when they moved to Beaver where they resided until 1890 when they moved to Toquerville on account of their health, coming back some time ago. Deceased is the mother of eleven children, seven boys and four girls, sixty-two grandchildren and forty-nine great-grandchildren.

The picture of Kent is mine, 2006. The picture of the San Bernardino mountains is from
http://www.flickr.com/photos/respres/2609983817/. If you would like footnotes and sources and tables and appendixes and the section describing the area of Kent where the Bryants lived, please contact me.


  1. Thanks for the nice post and interesting stories. :)

  2. Thanks for posting this information about the Bryants and the Stapleys. I am a relative of both.

  3. Thanks for your comment. I always like comments! :) I will get back to researching and posting more information on the Stapley and Bryant families in 2012, and I am always happy to see and post more information about these families including information on children that are not in my direct line.

  4. Thank you for the information. I am the 4th Great Grandson of Sarai Stapley. I do have the book "Samuel Charles Bryant of Rolvenden" in my possession, but I do not recall some of the information you posted. Thank you and any additional information would be fantastic.

    Kenneth Smith

  5. Hello Amy, I am related to the Bryant family through Richard, Sarah and Samuel's older brother. There is evidence of the Stapley and Bryant family emigrating together on the ship "Westminster" as Assisted Immigrants to New South Wales in 1838. It is at Ancestry Immigration Records, "New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896". The passengers are listed in family groups in alphabetical order. The record is the full Surgeons Journal and gives lots of details about the voyage, ship events and the death of William Bryant aged 9 at sea. I hope this helps with your research. From Jackie, Melbourne, Australia