John Brokett of Wheathampstead Esq
b by 1460 d 1532
The first Broket Sheriff of Herts—in 1506-8 and 1530-1. Born by 1460,1 2nd son and heir of Edward and Elizabeth Thwaites, John would have gone down from Yorkshire to Hertfordshire early, at least for his marriage by the early 1480s to Lucy, the only daughter of John PULTER of Hitchin, wealthy merchant and Sheriff of Bedfordshire 1453. Uncle Thomas Broket of Wheathampstead and his wife Elizabeth, nee ASSHE, having no children, John would have been seen as the dynasty’s heir.
Contents of this page:
- Wife and children
- Sheriff of Essex and Herts 1506-8 and 1530-1
- Other records
- Death and burial
- Inquisitions on his death
John’s adult life was during the reigns of Henry VII and VIII.
Records of his time as Sheriff and before and after are plentiful. Only a few examples are cited below.
John had married Lucy PULTER by Easter 1484 at the latest—they are mentioned as man and wife in a Common Pleas suit of that date, see TNA CP40/888 below. There can be little doubt that Lucy was John PULTER’s only surviving daughter. John Pulter’s Will of 1485 mentioned his wife Alice, three sons William, John and Nicholas, and Lucy.2 Presumably having already given Lucy her dowry, he gave her a single bequest:
Note: knop: NSOED “…a small rounded (esp. ornamental) protuberance…”’, to pounce: NSOED ‘…emboss (plate or other metalwork) by raising the surface with blows struck on the underside…”
It was followed up in the 1486 “Inuentary of all’ the goodes and Catalles of John’ Pulter’ of Hicchynne gentilman” where his bequests, which were mostly to local churches, ended with 4 to his close family:3 No other daughters were mentioned here either.
It’m to Luce Brokett a stondyng Cup’ with a couer’
pounced the knop’ made as it were white perle”.
It’m to yong John’ brockett her’ son’ to fynde hym to scole – iijli’ vjs viijd
It’m to in Alice Pulter’ his Wif in plate – l.li’
It’m to William Pulter’ his son’ in plate – l li’
And here is a snip from another Tudor drop-line pedigree showing the couple and their 5 children:5
Neither drop-line Brockett pedigree in the published Hertfordshire Visitations included John and Lucy or their family, but started with their 2 sons John and Edward. However the Brockett pedigree in the Visitation of Essex of 1558 in a 1878 edition did, as follows:6
19th C pedigrees, like Clutterbuck’s,7 reproduce much of the above information.
The order of the children left to right in each of the above 3 Tudor drop-line pedigrees differed according to the designer’s need for balance on the page, but all 3 agreed that John and Lucy had 5 surviving children—2 sons and 3 daughters:
- John was centred in all the drop-line pedigrees above, and they continued downwards with his descendants only. The message was clearly that he was the heir of the dynasty, and therefore the elder of the two sons. This is supported by evidence from various primary sources that the other son, Edward, was born 1490-91, and that John must have been born by 18 Jun 1485, when his maternal grandfather John PULTER wrote in his Will: “I bequeith’ to yong John’ Brocatt ther’ sonne v marke to fynde hym to scole with”. John must indeed have been young then and “to fynde hym to scole” would have meant primary education (although in other contexts the expression could also mean to provide for higher education). The 5 marks were itemised as £3 6s 8d in the 1486 inventory of John Pulter’s goods, above. Later, John married Cambridgeshire heiress Dorothy Hughson of Swaffham Bulbeck, and moved there to raise their family. However, John died in his 40s in 1526—before his father—and his widow Dorothy remarried.
- Elizabeth. Born by 1492. In the days before parish registers dating the order of the births of daughters involves piecing together what other clues can be found. The order sons were named in their father’s Will often points to their order of birth, but the daughters were often not named, especially if they had already married and therefore received their portion. And so it is the case with the Will of Elizabeth’s father John (d 1532); his daughters were not mentioned. For reasons of their own, the 3 three 16th C compilers of drop-line pedigrees above each placed Elizabeth differently in the left-to-right order on the page. A more reliable indication of birth order might be the status of the husbands found by the family, and given the high social rank of Elizabeth’s future first husband it is possible that she was the eldest of the 3 daughters. Or perhaps at least she was second after Lucy, who by all accounts never married and had no issue. The other daughter Alice married George HYDE, a well-off country Squire. He held two manors—of Throcking and of Danyells in Sandon—and various other properties in Sandon and elsewhere, but was not on the social level of Sir Nicholas Barrington.
We know that Elizabeth married twice:
- Nicholas BARRINGTON of Barrington Hall, Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex, b 1485/6, knighted 1513, d 22 Jul 1515.8 Glover mistakenly gave his surname as ‘HARINGTON’:
Sir Nicholas bequeathed the manors of Letchworth and Weston for 17 years to his brother in law Edward Brocket, Gent, later of Letchworth Esq, and others in 1515. Their son and heir John BARRINGTON was “6 years of age and more” at his father’s death on 22 Jul 1515—see Sir Nicholas’ Essex IPM—so by that reckoning he was born by mid 1509. John was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn 1529 sponsored by Edward Brokett [of Letchworth, his uncle];9 or 13 Apr 1530 according to the published register (although this was on the cusp of the regnal year 21 Hen VIII).10 The normal age for admission was 21, so by that reckoning John was born by 1508 or 9. These two records would date John’s birth 1508-9, and we can reasonably assume that Elizabeth would not have been younger than 16 for his birth. This means that Elizabeth was born by 1492, and quite possibly some years earlier.
In 1530 John Barrington Esq, with his 1st cousin John Broket junior [son of John and Dorothy Hughson, later Sir John I], Thomas Baryngton senior, and 2 others were recipients of a grant of a tenement with garden in Takeley, Essex.11 Takeley is only 3 m N of Hatfield Broad Oak.
- William BOUGHTON Esq of Caston.12 William was Esquire of the Body to Henry VIII and Sheriff of the counties of Warwick and Leicester in 1536, dying soon after. Deeds dated before 1542 referred to ‘Dame Elizabeth Barrington, widow of Sir William Boughton’.13 Susan Brocket, Elizabeth’s great niece and daughter of Sir John Brockett I, married Elizabeth and William’s grandson Edward BOUGHTON Esq of Causton, Co Warwick. “Elizabeth Ladye Ba’ington was buried the xxvjth of february” 1557/8 in Causton’s parish church in Dunchurch.14
Since Nicholas was a ‘Sir’ Elizabeth became a “Lady”. He died not long after but perhaps to retain her title and property, she kept her Barrington name for the rest of her life, even though she subsequently married William Boughton Esq.
We know that this Elizabeth was sister of Edward Brockett of Letchworth Esq, because he mentioned “my Lady Barrington my sister” regarding a lease in Letchworth in his Will, and similarly “Elizabethe Barington widdowe Ladie Barington” mentioned “Edwarde Brockett my brother” regarding land in Letchworth in her Will.15 She made “Thomas Boughton my sone my Sole executor”.
It isn’t known if Ralph BROUGHTON—spelt with an ‘r’—who was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn 1532 to the chamber of Edward Brockett of Letchworth, was related to the Boughtons of Causton;16 he doesn’t appear on any of the Visitation pedigrees of the wider family.
- Nicholas BARRINGTON of Barrington Hall, Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex, b 1485/6, knighted 1513, d 22 Jul 1515.8 Glover mistakenly gave his surname as ‘HARINGTON’:
- Edward, born 1490-1, later of Letchworth, Member of Parliament and twice Sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire, see the separate page.
- Alice married George HYDE of Throcking, Herts, Esq, d 1553. We know this from two 16th C sources:
- George’s Will, written 1 Dec 1549, proved 9 Jun 1553, in which he said, “And I ordeyne and make my brother Edward Brokett Esquyre Supervisor and ouerseer”.17 This was Edward of Letchworth, who also held Bradfield manor, adjacent to Throcking manor.
- Glover, writing in the 1570s, recorded Alice as married to “Hyde of Throkinge”.18
Add to that:
- Alice’s elder brother John and George Hyde were involved in a property deal with Edward Broket—Alice’s other brother—in 1525, presuming he was the same George, and no other likely candidate is known.
- George’s son Leonard was admitted at Lincolns Inn 14 Feb 1535 (1535/6?) sponsored (and pardoned for 5 vacations) by Edward Brokett of Letchworth Esq.19
- In 1559 William Hide of Wimbish called Edward Brokett son of Edward Brokett of Letchworth ‘cousin’. He was probably the grandson of George.
- William Hyde served on County Commissions with John Brockett, later Sir John II, for instance on three 1564-5. He would either have been William of Sandon Esq, son of George, or William the grandson of George.
Does any of this help us estimate when Alice was born? Like John Barrington, sister Elizabeth’s first son, Alice and George’s son Leonard Hyde was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn 1536, which would point to a birth c 1515 and a latest birth for Alice of 1499.
Note: You can see above that the Brockett pedigree in the 1878 edition of the Visitation of Essex showed Alice as the wife of Hill, as opposed to Hyde of Throcking in the two Tudor pedigrees. This was copied by Clutterbuck, writing in the 19th C,20 but this can be disregarded as a copying error for Hyde or Hide somewhere along the line, made evident from George Hyde’s Will. The Essex Visitation also garbled the name of Alice’s sister-in-law Dorothy’s father “Hulse & Mamond”, discussed elsewhere.
Like his son Edward of Letchworth Esq and great grandson Sir John II of Brockett Hall after him, John had two terms as Sheriff. As the representative of Henry VII and VIII his court was a hub of county enactments, influence and information. It came with both benefits of enrichment and contacts but also with expense and difficult duty like assessing and collecting taxes. “The potential expense to the incumbent of becoming High Sheriff was one of the reasons the role was for a single year only.”22 John’s 1st term was unusual in stretching to two years. The Sheriffs’ financial returns were recorded annually at Michaelmas in the Pipe Rolls, and John was recorded as the current Sheriff in the returns for Michaelmas–Michaelmas for both 1507-8 and 1508-9, 22-24 Henry VIII.23
1st term of office 1506-8
John’s first appointment (or commencement of account) began 27 Nov 1506; his predecessor was Roger DARCY Esq, and his successor Humphry TORELL or TYRELL Esq (of Heron in Essex) took over 15 Dec 1508.24 From Nov 1495-6 John’s eldest brother-in-law, William PULTER (of Hitchin), had been Sheriff, and from Nov 1497-8 his uncle Thomas PERYENT Esq (of Digenswell) had.25
He appears to have cleared his account, as there is no reference to him owing anything in the returns for the following two years.27
2nd term of office 1530-1
John’s appointment (or commencement of account) began 11 Nov 1530; his predecessor was John BOLLYS Esq (of Wallington), and his successor John SMYTH Esq took over 9 Nov 1531.28
Strangely, long after his death in 1549 an old debt of £7 9s 1¾d from John’s 1530-1 account was recorded in the Pipe Rolls for the year Michaelmas 1548–Michaelmas 1549.30 Read more
It was repeated almost verbatim for the year Michaelmas 1549–Michaelmas 1550.32 Read more
And it was still running in 1553-4.33
“A Sheriff was expected to come up with some cash at the first ‘proffer’ at the Exchequer, and would be fined if he failed to attend, but otherwise a Sheriff (and an Escheator) could hang on to some or all of the money for years, even decades. And, importantly, no interest was charged on the arrears. The Broketts seem (so far as we have seen) to have been strictly correct with their finances as Sheriffs. We have seen no fine for failing to deliver at the proffer.” 34
“When a debt carried on year after year so as to appear desperate, it was transferred to another set of records called the Exannual Rolls. I assume that these were the records of a separate part of the Exchequer acting as a ‘bad bank’, removing dead wood from the accounting system.”35
1484: At the court of Common Pleas at Westminster in the Easter term of the 1st year of the reign of Richard III, Edward Broket esquire and Elizabeth his wife, “John Broket and Lucy his wife” and Alesia Twaytes widow transferred what looks like at least their half of Steton in Yorkshire to William Fairfax, see Edward Broket of Wheathampstead re TNA CP40/888 (a separate page). The membrane is creased through the beginning of the surname but here is a snip of the image showing [without doubt] “Johe’ [Br]oket & lucia vx’e eius”:36
1491-1508: The Manor of Temple Dinsley court roll between these years mentioned John a dozen times.37 The first mention was when he succeeded to his father’s holding of a meadow, an orchard and a close of an acre there. The record—in his absence—gave his age as 24 years and more, i.e. born by 1467, but other records cited on this page make it likely that his age of 28 years and more given in his father’s IPM, i.e. born by 1460, was nearer his correct date of birth.
In 1494 was admitted to a messuage and 52 acres of copyhold land in Temple Dinsley on the surrender of John Judd. The messuage and 20 acres of the land were situated in Preston, near Hitchin. It may later have passed to his son Edward. John Brokett was also fined for not cleaning out his ditch as ordered by the previous court.
1497: York City deed. Owner of a tenement in York.
1503: John Brockett Esq was presented—i.e. his offence was reported to the manor court by the homage or jury of tenants—for grazing his sheep on the field of the Ippollitts vill and was fined 3d.38 This was probably this John, rather than his son John.
1506-8: Sheriff of Essex and Herts.
1508: In Hilary term (23 Henry VII) John Broket esquire sheriff of Essex made a plea at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster against his bailiffs in the hundreds of Barstaple, Chafford, Benge and Thurstaple, Dunmowe, and Uttillesforde and Fresshewell to provide him their accounts. They did not come to defend themselves and the court ordered the sheriff in Essex (himself!) to pursue them and take them and bring them to court on 7 May 1508:39 Read more
1508: On 20 Jan (23 Henry VII) John Brokett esquire sheriff of Hertfordshire made a plea at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster against his bailiffs in the hundreds of Bradwath, Odsey and Edwynstre, Hertford, and Hitchyn to provide him their accounts. They did not come to defend themselves and the court ordered the sheriff in Hertfordshire (himself again!) to pursue them and take them and bring them to court on 1 Jul 1508:40 Read more
1509: John appears as one of a huge list of people pardoned on 9 July 1509 following the coronation of Henry VIII: ‘John Brokett or Brokkette, esq., of Walyngton, Ammesho, Symondhyde, and Whethamsted, Herts, and Appulton, Yorks’.41
1510: In Hilary term (1 Henry VIII) John Broket made a plea at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster against John Akent of Southwelld in Essex Yoman for a debt of £8 and damages of 20 marks. This appears to have been a fictitious case, for a translation and explanation, see the separate page.
1510: Also in Hilary term (1 Henry VIII) John Broket made a plea at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster against a Gentleman, an Esquire and 3 Yeomen, for debts of £8 13s 4d, 100s, 4 marks, 40s and 40s respectively, which he alleged they owed him. They did not come to defend themselves and the court ordered the sheriff in Hertfordshire to take them and bring them to court on 21 Apr 1510:42 Read more
1510: Again in Hilary term (1 Henry VIII) John Broket made a plea at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster against 4 Yeomen, for debts of 100s, £4, 40s and 40s respectively, which he alleged they owed him. They did not come to defend themselves and the court ordered the sheriff in Essex to take them and bring them to court on 21 Apr 1510:43 Read more
1511: Richard FYSSHER and Elizabeth his wife sold 300 acres of land, 20 acres of meadow, 200 acres of pasture and 200 acres of wood with appurtenances in Bishops Hatfield, Willian and Diggeswell to John Broket senior esquire, John Broket junior, Richard Druell, Edward Broket, Alfred FitzJames and John Maurice for £100, warranting them against John the Abbot of Westminster and his successors for ever.44 This may have been connected to a case brought between 1480-1500 by by Richard Battaille, cousin of Dame Elizabeth Brockett widow against Richard Fyssher Esquire.
1512: In Easter term (3 Henry VIII) John Boket, alias Broket, esquire sheriff [sic] of Hertfordshire made a plea at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster against 3 Yeomen and a Husbandman, for a debt of £40, which he alleged they owed him. They did not come to defend themselves and the court ordered the sheriff in Hertfordshire to take them and bring them to court on 20 Jun 1512:45 Read more
1512: Again in Easter term (3 Henry VIII) John Broket esquire late sheriff of Hertfordshire made a plea at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster against a Widow, a Yeomen and a Labourer, and a Yeoman for debts of 100s, 40s and 60s respectively which he alleged they owed him. They did not come to defend themselves and the court ordered the sheriff in Hertfordshire to take them and bring them to court on 20 Jun 1512:47 Read more
1522-3: A complaint by the Abbott of Westminster, preserved in the Wheathampstead Manor Court Rolls, held in Westminster Abbey, alleged that John was poaching and diverting watercourses,48 i.e. challenging the Abbey’s authority over common rights. Up until Feb 2024 it was thought that this was the first record found of the name ‘Brocket Hall’ since Munby, commenting on this complaint, referred to John as ‘of Brocket Hall’. However an inspection of the manuscript revealed that he was actually referred to as ‘Joh’n broket of Whethamsted’ and calling him ‘of Brocket Hall’ was an inaccurate comment by Munby. The earliest actual record I have found so far—as of Feb 2024—of the name ‘brokett hall’ in Hertfordshire is from 1563. Of course it may well have been called that beforehand – Brokets certainly owned the manor (Waterships) from the 1430s and presumably its manor house with it, but it was still called Waterships until at least 1532. And although at some stage and stages the family would have renovated it and probably enlarged it, it isn’t clear when they started calling it after themselves. Maybe it had both names for a period? Be that as it may, any mention of ‘Brocket Hall’ prior to 1563 may well be anachronistic and inaccurate. A problem is that many writers and published histories back-project its name earlier without actual evidence. See also the separate page.
1524: John was a co-executor of the Will of his elder son [and then heir] John Brockett of Swaffham Bulbeck.
1525/6 Jan 13: Feoffment to uses. “Know present and future that we, John Broket senior esquire son and heir of Edward Broket, and John Draper kinsman and heir of Robert Calton vicar of St Ippolits, have given, granted and by this our present charter confirmed, to Thomas Peryent senior, George Hyde, John Bowes, esquires, Edward Broket senior, William Pulter, Thomas Peryent junior, John Heyworth, gentilmen, and Thomas Horley clerk, our manor of Thebryge with appurtenances, as well as all other manors, lands and tenements, rents, reversions and services, of ours or of any of us, in the parishes of Sandruge, Whethamsted and Harpden in county Hertford: to have and to hold the aforesaid manor with its appurtenances, as well as all the other aforesaid manors, lands and tenements, rents, reversions and services, with all their appurtenances, to the aforesaid Thomas Peryent senior, George Hyde, John Bowes, Edward Broket, William Pulter, Thomas Peryent junior, John Heyworth and Thomas Horley, their heirs and assigns, for ever, to the use of me the aforesaid John Broket and of my heirs, and for the fulfilment of the last will of me the said John Broket, from the chief lords of that fee by the services thence due and of right accustomed. And I indeed, the aforesaid John Broket, and my heirs, shall warrant and for ever defend by these presents, to the aforesaid Thomas Peryent senior, George Hyde, John Bowes, Edward Broket, William Pulter, Thomas Peryent junior, John Heyworth and Thomas Horley, their heirs and assigns, to the use aforesaid, against all peoples. In witness of which we have affixed our seals to this our present charter, given the 13th day of January in the 16th year of the reign of king Henry VIII.”49 On the back is an endorsement in Latin in the same hand and contemporary with the deed and two lines added later in English: “Seisin of the manors, lands and tenements within-written was delivered at the manor of Herons, by name of all the manors, lands and tenements in the townships and parishes within-contained, to the within-named Edward Broket and John Heyworth, in the presence of Humphrey Bagshawe, John Grundwyn, Thomas Feyrefylde, John Lorkyn, John Gaddesby and others.
Deed of feofment by Mr. Brockett of Thebridge al’ Waterend &c to Thos. Perient & al’ in fee &c
Notes: Henry VIII acceded 22 April 1509, therefore 13 January year 16 was 1525/6. The later scribe apparently mistakenly took ‘sextodecimus’ at the end of the deed to mean 1516 rather than the sixteenth year of Henry’s reign.
This charter is quoted in John’s Hertfordshire IPM (below).
Robert Calton became vicar of St Ippollitts 5 Aug 1477. Next was Richard Lacy from 2 Jun 1521.
1526 Early this year John’s eldest son John Esq of Swaffham Bulbeck died.
1527: In Trinity term (19 Henry VIII) John Broket Esq made a plea at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster against John Abbot of the monastery of St Peter of Westminster [Westminster Abbey] that the Abbot had taken 10 cows of his from a place called Robbes and 12 bullocks of his from a place called Barnardes, both in Hendon, and claimed damages of £20. This was John Brocket senior d 1532, not his son John who had died in 1526, nor his grandson John (later Sir John I) who would only have been c 15 in 1527. Hendon, although historically a parish in the county of Middlesex, is currently in the Borough of Barnet, bordering Hertfordshire to the north, and on the way from London to Wheathampstead.
The Abbot acknowledged taking the animals because John Broket held 8½ acres of land in Robbes and 9 acres in Barnardes from the Abbot as of his manor of Hendon by fealty and annual rents of 8s and 10 bushels of oat malt worth 3s from one and 6s and 10 bushels of oat malt worth 3s from the other, but John Broket was 6 years in arrears for both, amounting to a debt of 48s and 60 bushels of oat malt from one and 36s and 60 bushels of oat malt from the other. John Broket could not deny these debts so the court awarded him nothing from his claim abainst the Abbot, and indeed ordered him to be fined for his false claim:50 Read more
The Brokets were the main rivals of the Abbots of Westminster in Wheathampstead from the mid 15th C.51 The Abbey were wealthy landowners, ‘the clear value of the property in 1535 amounted to the enormous sum of £3,470 0s 2¼d’. 52
1529: In Hilary term (20 Henry VIII) a writ of formedon in descendere re three messuages, 300 acres of arable land, 20 acres of meadow, 40 acres of pasture, 50 acres of wood and 40s rent with appurtenances in Codicote and Welwyn was sent to the deputy sheriff in Hertfordshire from the court of Common Pleas at Westminster concerning … 6 men, including John Brokett senior esquire, Thomas Perient esquire, and William Poulter:53 Read more
1530-1: Sheriff of Essex and Herts.
John Brokett of Wheathampstead Esq was well into his 70s when he died in 1532, and according to the Hertfordshire inquisition on his death, his wife Lucy died 6 years before him in Wheathampstead on 1 May 1524. She—and presumably John later—was buried in Wheathampstead church: “Mrs Luce Brokett in the Church 17.H.8. 1525”, i.e. 17 Henry VIII (22 Apr 1525 – 21 Apr 1526). This record was preserved in Richard Gough’s transcription of the Wheathampstead Parish Records among some earlier burial records he found in “an ancient Book of the Church-wardins Accounts”.54 This wasn’t the burial of their daughter Lucy, which was in 1560 in St Pauls Walden, see above.
Lucy brought properties in and around Hitchin to the marriage from her jointure and dowry and they passed to John and his heirs on her death. The Hertfordshire inquisition on John’s death mentioned “premises with their appurtenances in Graveley, Poletts, Offeleche, Hechen, Mynlesden and Ikelsford “to the use of the said John Brokett senior and of Lucy his wife and of the heirs of the said John Brokett senior in the name of the whole juncture and dowry that should belong to the aforesaid Lucy after the death of the said John her husband”, see below.
John’s Will was the last pre-Reformation Broket will.55 Daughters would all have previously been provided for; mention is made only of grandson John, son Edward and the other children of son John. With the latter, primogeniture came into play in that if any of them should die, half their portion was to go to John the eldest and half divided amongst the rest (ll 34-7): Read more
For tithes and offerings forgotten and negligently paid he bequeathed the following sums to the high altar of:
- the church of Wheathampstead 6s 8d
- the church of Sandridge 3s 4d
- the church of Saint Ippollitts 3s 4d.
John held land in chief in Hertfordshire and Yorkshire, so two Inquisitions Post Mortem were held. Compare the Hertfordshire 1488 IPM of father Edward. Not mentioned in the IPM, John’s Yorkshire lands included the main Appleton manor descended down the eldest line till sold by Sir John II in 1565. Meanwhile descendants of his uncle Robert occupied it as local lords in Appleton.
Page Last Updated: February 7, 2024