Monday, 5 December 2011

The Origins of the Brew surname in Ghana ….(Descendant of Richard Brew, described as, ‘the infamous slave trader of the Gold Coast, now Ghana‘)…

"He's winking for Ghana......and is one of the most well-known and favourite black diplomats in Europe, the Ghanaian Ambassador in Bonn, O. H. Brew. He not only entertains his partners during diplomatic discussions through his humour; he is also known as a skilled an exceptionally well educated diplomat."

Paulina Opoku-Gyimah says: Ever wondered where some of our European surnames in Ghana come from??? The following extracts come from: and traces the surname Brew found mainly in the Fanti region to one Richard Brew, who is believed to have originated from Ireland -and is described as, ‘the infamous slave trader of the Gold Coast, now Ghana”… He is had many native Ghanaian wives and numerous children. You might be surprised by some of his descendants!!!!  I’m thinking….....wouldn’t it be lovely if brothers Peter Casely-Hayford (TV Producer) and Augustus Casely-Hayford (professor) -got together and did a televised piece about Richard Brew, their infamous ancestor??

*****Kind permission was obtained from Mr. James A. Brew (†), to publish the following information. It is a part of his own research into the history and origins of the Brew surname on the Isle of Man, and the movements of various families around the United Kingdom, and subsequently around the world. This database has been kindly transcribed by Marilyn Robinson.

Richard Brew, circa 1725-1776, arrived in Africa 1745 and was Registrar at the British H.Q. in Gold Coast [today Ghana] in 1750 at £63 per annum. He was Governor of Animabu 1750-60 and 1761-64 at £200 per annum plus £150 table allowance per annum. He provided a bond of £5000 and two sureties of £2,500. He returned to Dublin in 1760 after 15 years in West Africa to raise a new bond of £10,000 and returned to Africa. He was reprimanded in 1763 for selling slaves to the Dutch. His slaves were shipped to Jamaica while he was in private trade from 1763-76. He built large and impressive "Castle Brew" in 1763-64. It sheltered 300 souls, but is now a ruin. It has been partly restored by the Ghanaian Government as a museum and renamed "Blankson House". Richard Brew had financial problems in 1768, and was bankrupt by 1774. That same year Castle Brew was seized. Brew was very emaciated and ill before his death and his accounts were in confusion. He left an estate of £8,739 of which £4,145 was derived from the sale of the castle’s effects. The castle was richly furnished: There were two settees, 23 Windsor chairs, 4 mahogany tables, two bureaus, a bookcase and sideboard, four bedsteads, a glass chandelier in the hall, four looking glasses and 66 pictures, an organ, quantities of silverware, china, linen, etc., 15 waistcoats, 9 laced coats, 16 shirts, 9 collars and cravats, silk breeches, books: 100 volumes listed by title "Spectator", "Rambler", "Tom Jones", "Charles Grandson", 20 volumes of Pope, 11 of Swift, Addison, Dr. Johnson’s "Dictionary", Rollin's "Roman History", 6 volumes of "History of London", 9 volumes of Smollett’s "History of England", and Shakespeare and "Don Quixote". (Brew is mentioned in Smollett.). Richard Brew's children:

Richard Broow, who died in 1782, was educated in England. He was disowned by his father because of his wild behaviour. Later he was an accountant to the Council of Cape Coast Castle. He died in poverty and was not mentioned in his father's will.

Henry, who died in 1827, was also educated in England. He was a Linguist at Cape Coast Castle in 1792. He, too, was not mentioned in his father's will.

Eleanor, baptised in 1767
Amba, baptised in 1768

Eleanor and Amba’s mother was Effnah Anson, daughter of Eno Baisie Kurentsi, also known as "John Currantee", who died in 1764, by Ekua, daughter of Ansa Sasraku, King of Akramu, who died circa 1689. Their brother Prince William Ansa, moved in fashionable circles in London in the personal charge of Lord Halifax, and was introduced to King George III. He returned to West Africa in a British Warship in 1750. For the genealogical history of Akramu, see Burke's "Royal families of the World", volume ii, pages 73-75.

Henry Brew married Abba Kagbah of Quaque’s family. (Quque was ordained in England 1765, of a matrilineal family). Their children were:

Richard Brew, 1778-1849, who died a very rich man. A "half scholar" (i.e. he could read), Court interpreter of Cape Coast and a magistrate.

Samuel Kante Brew, who died 1823, a "scholar" (i.e. he could read and write)

Eyaapah Brew

Samuel Kante Brew was a great slave trader who occupied Fort Nassau under the Spanish flag. "He combined European dress with the grossest superstition, idolatry and fetish", wrote Sir Charles McCarthy to Lord Bathurst in 1823. (Sir Charles was killed in a battle with the Ashanti in 1824 and his skull used as a drinking cup by the King of Ashanti’s successors). Samuel's children were:

Henry (Harry) Brew, who died in 1890, partner of his brother Samuel Collins Brew. He had sons:

Hagar Brew

Richard Henry Brew, a Methodist who married a niece of the important Anamabu merchant Samuel Ferguson

Samuel Henry Brew, educated at a Wesleyan High School at Cape Coast. He had a notable career in government service. Samuel had children:

Henrietta Brew, 1856-1950

Harry Brew, 1860-1915
Samuel Henry Brew, 1865-1922, who married .....?..... Ferguson

Maria Brew, 1868-1898, remained unmarried

Richard Henry Brew, 1871-1899

Garnet Brew, 1874-?

Ebenezer Annan Brew, 1878-1932, civil servant, Freemason

Samuel Collins Brew, circa 1810-1881

Maria Brew

Hannah (Effua Abraba) Brew, a descendant of whom was Mrs. Maude Thompson

Samuel Collins Brew, JP and stipendiary magistrate from 1854-79, and a merchant who was insolvent in 1867, initially married Amba Opamwa, who was the daughter of the Chief of Abua Dunkwa, and later married Adjwe Esson, by whom he had ten children:

Samuel Collins Brew

James Hutton Brew, 1844-1915, educated in England. Attorney-at-law, lived in Brew House, built by his father in 1853 and valued at £1,500. Governor Pope-Hennessy commended him in 1872. Placed on the stool as Prince Brew of Dunkwah and Abercrampa in 1878, he also used this title in England, and founded a succession of newspapers after 1885. His wife’s brother, J. H. Mills, married a granddaughter of King Osei Yaw of Ashanti, who ruled 1800-1824, "A wicked man who killed several people". James Hutton had sons:

Edgar Brew

Effua Brew

Albert Cruikshank Brew, who had sons:

James Hutton Brew, 1875-?, a local preacher

William Ward Brew, 1878-1943, a local preacher and barrister in England

Frederick William Augustus Brew

Richard Collins Brew, who died circa 1880, and was a trader on the Ivory Coast, circa 1857-1879

Elizabeth Brew 1

Sarah Brew

Harriett Brew
Elizabeth Brew 2, who married Edward Bannerman

Mary Brew (Ewarapa), who died 1899

Mary (Ewarapa) Brew married Rev. Joseph de Graft Hayford, 1840-1919, descendant of Egyr Ansah, 6th King of Fanti (See below). Their son:

John Ephram Casely-Hayford, MBE, 1866-1930

John Ephram Casely-Hayford married Patience Johnson, his 9th and last wife. Their son:

Victor Casely-Hayford, 1925-1994

Victor Casely-Hayford, was a barrister and later accountant, Kwame N'Krumah's Attorney-General. Manx Resident at 6 Palm Court, Summerhill, Douglas, Isle of Man in the 1990s. He was fined £350 for not submitting his tax returns for 1986-1991 in respect of his company "Sangill Ltd.", which was an administrative company only and did not trade. He had four children:

Peter Casely-Hayford, TV Producer of "Panorama"

Augustus Casely-Hayford, MA (UCL), introduced to me by Professor Richard Rathbone of UCL.

Joseph (Joe) Casely-Hayford, Dress designer

Margaret Casely-Hayford

Egyr Ansah, 6th King of Fanti

Egyr Ansah died 1801. He was succeeded by:

Burupu, 7th King of Fanti, 1801-1851. He was incited by Sir Charles McCarthy to rise against the Ashanti in 1824 and was defeated. His son Essien, also known as Joe Aggrey, became the 11th King of Fanti, but was deported 1866

Kofi Amisa, a nephew to Burupu, became 8th King of Fanti, but he was dethroned 1836. His sister Ansei Koa had three children:

Kweku, 1816-1858, who became 9th King of Fanti

Kweku Ena, also known as John Crentsil, became 10th King of Fanti, 1858-?

Rev. James Hayford Kwamina Afua, 1817-1857. He married Elizabeth, sister of the Rev. William De Graft, missionary. Their son:

Rev. Joseph De Graft Hayford, 1840-1919, married Mary Ewarapa Brew

For further information, see the book "West African Trade and Coast Society", West African Graphic Co. Ltd., Oxford University Press, 1969.

Book to read: The Slave Trade. The History of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440 - 1870" by Hugh Thomas

It is not known for sure where Richard came from but records searched show Ireland. He was a very popular man in Africa and built a "Brew" Castle. One of my secretary's came from this area of Africa and has seen it. Richard had a few African wives of which were nobility or princesses of various tribes. About two years ago I heard of a Brew attending the University here in Windsor and made contact with her. She visited me at work and you should have seen the people take a double look when she introduced herself as a Brew, as she was from Africa and now was living in England. She told me that the Brew name was very well looked upon in Africa and that all Brew females after marriage kept their Brew surname and did not go by their husbands name at all." Tony Brew

West African family history is a much neglected subject, although in 1947 Professor Raymond Firth drew attention to its potentialities in an article in "Africa" and some years later Dr. Arthur Porter enlarged on the theme in his paper "Family Histories and West African Social Development". The present study aims at making a contribution to this field, focusing on the Brew family in the Fanti region of Ghana, and spanning more than one hundred and fifty years.

Many different personalities and facets of affairs are involved over this period of time, and it is hardly surprising that the data available should be somewhat uneven. Thus the life of the Irish trader, Richard Brew, can be depicted more fully than the lives of his African descendants, with the possible exception of James Hutton Brew and J. E. Casley Hayford. The lengthy research that was necessary to construct an account of the nineteenth-century Brews has precluded full concentration on these two active public figures. It must also be pointed out that the study seeks to relate the Brews to important themes in the history and development of Ghana; areas where current knowledge is inadequate, for example Fanti in the eighteenth century and the economic history of the coastal region in the nineteenth, are thereby thrown into prominence.




  1. The diffuse analysis that was all-important to assemble an annual of the nineteenth-century Brews has precluded abounding absorption on these two alive accessible figures. It have to as well be acicular out that the abstraction seeks to chronicle the Brews to important capacity in the history and development of Ghana.

    Business Accounting

  2. I am always looking for the works of my family and everyone of them. It is always great to read about them and their origins. No matter the wrongs Richard did as a slave trader, i wouldnt be here posting this. I do take pride in being a Brew, and being an Irish-African-American. I have found some Brews from both north and south America who are decendants of Richard, and interestingly they all take pride in their surname as i do.

    Kojo Brew

    1. Good to know. When the time comes for Internal Reparations, we'd know the local Africans to call upon to contribute.

  3. this is awesome.i am reading about the history of my surname