Sunday, May 08, 2005


The Abbot

John de Brinkele was the Abbot of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds from 16 November 1361 until 31 December 1379. He had the 'Brinkley Luck' in that he survived the Black Death of 1347 and he missed the Peasants' revolt of 1381!

The Monk

Richard Brinkley was the head of the Franciscan Order of Monks in England from 1518 to 1526. His official title was Provincial Minister.

The Bishop

John Brinkley was baptised in Woodbridge Suffolk in 1767. He became the first Astronomer Royal for Ireland. He took Holy Orders and became Bishop of Cloyne in Cork, Ireland. He held this post from 1826 until his death in 1835. He was the only Brinkley to be granted a Coat of Arms, granted in 1827.

The Japanese Expert

Francis Brinkley (known as Captain Frank Brinkley) was the grandson of the above Bishop. He served in the Royal Artillery and went out to Japan as Military Attache. He was born in 1841 in Ireland and he died in 1912 in Japan. He married a Japanese lady, became an expert on the Japanese Language and wrote one of the first English&emdash;Japanese dictionaries. He also wrote some scholarly works on Japanese history and culture. At one time he was the Times correspondent for Japan. His descendants are the only present day Brinkleys who are entitled to use the Brinkley Coat of Arms.

The Poisoner

Richard Brinkley was born in the town of Eye near Peterborough in 1855. On 31/8/1907 he was hanged in Wandsworth prison for poisoning. His case was reported at length in the Times. He was one of the first people to be convicted of murder by means of forensic evidence. Richard Brinkley was a carpenter who met a lady called Maria Blume in 1907 and formed a plan to acquire her property. He drew up a will leaving himself all her money and secured her signtauure by telling her he was collecting names for a trip to the seaside. He obtained the signature of two witnesses in the same way. Then he slipped cyanide into her drink. A doctor certified that her death was from natural causes. But the relatives became suspicious on seeing the will and when it became obvious that the witnesses would be questioned, Richard B decided that they would have to die as well! He went to call on the first witness, a man called Parker, on the pretext of buying a dog and presented him with a bottle of poisoned stout. Parker left it on the kitchen table while they went to inspect the dog. While they were away, Parker's landlord, a man named Beck, came in with his wife and saw the bottle on the table. He poured himself and his wife a drink after which they both collapsed and diedwithin minutes.

The Pirate

James Brinkley was hanged for Piracy on 19 July 1723 at Newport, Rhode Island in America. He gave his age as 28 and said that he was born in Suffolk. We have not yet found the exact date of his baptism.

Oxford English Dictionary Connection

Stephen Brinckley is quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary. In his will of 1546 he leaves his 'tossle gentle' to the local vicar. This is the only spelling that they could find of tercel-gentle which is a male peregrine falcon. Stephen lived in Calais but came from Boston in Lincolnshire. This is not the same Stephen Brinkley who was tortured in the Tower of London in 1581 for distributing Catholic Literature. We think that he also came from Lincolnshire.

The Missionary

Sterling Gardner Brinkley was born in Georgia, USA in 1884. He was both and Educationalist and a Missionary. He taught at Soochow University in China for nine years and he often preached in Chinese.

The One Armed Boatman

Charlie Brinkley was the ferryman across the River Deben in Suffolk until his death in 1963. His grandchildren still live in Felixstowe and his grand-daugheter Anne is married to the current boatman, John White. Everyone in this part of Suffolk knew Charlie because he had only one arm and used a hook to hold the second oar. Nearby is the RAF base at Bawdsey which was an important radar base during The Second World War. A crucial piece of equipment used there at that time was named the Brinkley Hook, in honour of Charlie.

The Goat Gland Doctor

John R Brinkley (b 1885 d 1942) achieved notoriety in the States in the 1920s and 1930s. He is best remembered for his goat gland operation which he performed on men with low libido: he transplanted goat testicles into no less than 16000 men's scrotums. He was also a pioneer of radio advertising. There is a web page dedicated to his extraordinary career. In fact there are lots of items about him on the web. Type John R Brinkley into a good search engine such as and it will come up with a lot of relevant hits.

The Model

Christie Brinkley is undoubtedly the best known Brinkley of the modern era. Born in 1953, she is famous as a super model and was once married to the singer Billy Joel who wrote the song Uptown Girl about her. She lives on Long Island near New York and there are many web pages devoted to her. In fact if you search anywhere on the web with the name Brinkley, it is usually Christie Brinkley web pages which will turn up on top of the pile. Christie was in fact not born a Brinkley. Brinkley is the name of her step father which she took when her mother remarried when she was still a young girl.


Susanlee said...

Very interesting...where'd you find this stuff?

ClaireyB777 said...


Well done on such a succinct blog.
I have my family tree which is the Eye Brinkley family. My grandad's grandad was the poisoner. Eek!

Nice to hear of a Brinkley from across the pond.

Claire Brinkley :-)

Guy Brinkley said...

Hi this is good stuuf, my great grandfather was the one armed boatman, was foolowed by my grandfather then my father and now my uncle John, i believe that the pirate is back in our family tree also.