Bedfordshire Brokets 16th C
You might have expected a sizeable Broket presence in Bedfordshire during the 15-17th C. This was the great period of Broket landownership in the neighbouring county of Hertfordshire. However, no records of Brokets in Bedfordshire have so far been found from the 15th C1 and 16th C ones number only 6. Five of these were doubtless from the Hertfordshire Grouping, and the other was most likely a Briket:
- 1544 Thomas—most likely a Briket
- 1546 Edward: Limbury Manor Court
- 1564 Mr Brocket
- 1575-98 Sir John
- 1586 Edward I of Campton and Dunton, II of Hitchin
- 1593- Rev Edmund of Luton
The Dunton clan only emerged in the late 16th C with Edward, the younger son of the Hertfordshire Hitchin line. 16th C birth/baptism records of Bedfordshire Brokets in the IGI2 are all from this Hitchin branch: 3 in Campton 1586-9 and 1 in Dunton 1596.
Four out of the five records so far found of Thomas show that he was actually a Briket, and this 1544 Brokett spelling was doubtless an error. Thomas was left a small bequest in the Will of John Geffray of Dunstable, written 2 Jun 1544:3 “To Thomas Brokett a featherbed.”
The only known Thomas Broketts alive at this time were not from Bedfordshire, but from the Hertfordshire clan, younger sons of:
That either of them was ever of Dunstable would be an unlikely coincidence.
The Lord was George Acworth Esq. John Everard had become a freeholder in the manor of 5 acres of arable land in open field. He was perhaps a tenant of Edward Broket, or purchasor from him. The rent was 6d a year, and the bailiff was ordered to ensure that John come to the next court to come quit.
Quit-rents were fees on freeholders (or copyholders) on payment of which they would go ‘free’; otherwise they would (or could) be distrained (ie have their goods seized). In this case, Edward Broket, as sublessee or transferor, could also be liable if John didn’t pay. Edward being a surety could not have been a bondsman. ‘Edward Broket’ here has no title, but only 3 Edward Brokets of age in 1547 are known:
- Edward of Broadfield and Letchworth Esq, aged c 56;
- His son Edward of Letchworth Gent, aged c 29-31;
- Edward of Willingale/Sawbridgeworth Gent, aged c 28.
Letchworth’s proximity to Luton suggests the first or second Edward, indeed Edward senior’s principal taxable lands in 1541-5, at least, were in Preston, c 6 m NE of Luton. The bequest in the Will of John Evered of Luton, yeoman, made 18 Nov, proved 30 Dec 1549 “to son Thomas Evered the younger and his heirs the tenements and lands in Stoppysley in Luton which testator late purchased of Edward Brockett gentleman”5 could point to either Edward, but more likely again to the father; “late purchased” means formerly and could have been long before 1549.
Was he related to Elizabeth recorded in nearby Shillington 63 years later?
On 24 Mar 1564 George Johnson, Clerk, was presented as Vicar of All Saints Houghton Regis on petition of Mr Brocket. The patron of the living was Elizabeth I and its annual income was £11 3s 4d.6
“Brocket was acting as the sponsor of Johnson. Any gentleman could act as sponsor. The income stated would be the small tithes, offerings, and the value of the glebe (either as farmed by the vicar or rented out).”7
Houghton Regis is c 5 m W of Luton. Who other than Edward of Letchworth Gent might Mr Brocket have been?
1594: Sir John Brockett of Wheathampstead, an absentee landholder from Hertfordshire paid £4 for £40 in land in Tyllesworth in Manshedd hundred in 1594 (c 7 m W of Luton), but had sold it by 1597.9
1598: In his Will10 he mentioned property in neighbouring Stanbridge c 8 m W of Luton: “I geve and bequeath vnto Nicholas Cooke my Servaunte his heires and assignes for ever All my messuages landes Tenements and hereditamentes lyinge and beinge in Stanbridge within the Countie of Bedforde”.
Younger son of William II of Hitchin, as mentioned in his father’s Will, written 4 Sep 1563, when Edward was an infant of 14 months. The Hitchin registers began in June 1562 and Edward’s christening in November that year was one of the first entries: “the 28 daye was the sonne of Willm Broket named Edward Broket.”
By July 1586 Edward and his wife Parnell TANNER were living in Campton, a small village in Bedfordshire, c 6 m N of Hitchin, where 3 of their 4 children were baptised. In the Campton registers Edward was recorded as ‘Edward Brocket/Brockette of Campton’. They had married by 1584: Parnell’s father was a Yeoman of Wilshamstead (Wilstead) and his Will, written 25 Nov 1584, referred to ‘Parnell Brockett the wiffe of Edward Brockett my daughter’. But where they married isn’t known. No record has been found in the Campton parish register which recorded marriages from 1572. Those of Wilshamstead (c 7 m NW of Campton) were only recorded from 1593, so perhaps it was there.
Then c 1596 they moved a further 7 m NE over to Dunton cum Millow, another small village on the borders of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, where their descendants lived for the next 77 years or more, their wealth decreasing in inverse proportion to their numbers.
Consider the following evidence that Edward of Campton and Dunton, Yeoman, was the son of William Brockett II of Hitchin, Yeoman:
- Campton is only 6 m N of Hitchin on the main north road. Dunton is 7 m NE of Campton.
- Other known contemporary Edward Brokets—none of whom could have been Edward Brockett of Campton/Dunton—were:Read more
- Richard Prior, ‘lovinge brother’ of this Edward of Dunton and witness and co-supervisor of his Will11 would have been the man who married Grace Brokett in 1573 and lived in Barton-le-Clay—c 6 m SW of Campton—until at least the 1590s. Grace was mentioned in the Will of William I of Hitchin in 1556, and was the daughter of John Brokett of Offley. Grace was therefore a cousin of our Edward here, and calling Richard ‘brother’ was a term of affection and in-law kin as opposed to a literal sibling. Co-supervisor Robert Hynde he called “my trustie & loveinge Frynd”. While too much can be read into single comments, no kin relationship between Robert and Edward has been found, and the term ‘friend’ here rather than ‘brother’ may reflect this.12
- Lawrence Manfield, probable brother-in-law of William II of Hitchin, and overseer of his Will of 1563, was also a witness to this Edward of Dunton’s Will of 1598.13 Laurance died soon after in 1602.
- William Rushe, who married Edward’s Widow Parnell soon after he died in 1598, was guardian together with Parnell of Edward I of Walsworth during his minority and of his property in Walsworth in Hitchin.14
Sources: The Campton parish registers survive from 1568, and the first Broket entry is from 1586, followed by two others in 1589 and 1593, after which the family relocated to Dunton. A fourth, isolated, record of a marriage was recorded in 1757, apparently unconnected with the 16-17th C clan. As of 11 May 2021 images of the actual registers are not available online, and FreeReg hasn’t yet transcribed them. In 1973 FamilySearch—the old IGI—made a microfilm of a copy of a transcript and index of the registers made by Col F Wall, CMG, which they had obtained from the Society of Genealogists, and this is available on FamilySearch as part of their Film #007940701. FamilySearch has transcribed the entries, referencing their film #908373, and Ancestry.com and FMP have reproduced their transcriptions. We reference them below by Col Wall’s page number, FamilySearch Film #007940701’s frame number. Col Wall noted on the opening page that a page had been cut out from Book 1 which would have contained records between 26 Jun 1592 and 6 Aug 1593. If Edward and Parnell had had a child baptised in that period it would have not have survived, as it is absent from subsequent records from Dunton.
- Elizabeth daughter of Edward Brocket christened 17 July 1586 Campton.15 Married Thomas HUGGINS, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire 22 Oct 1601.16 If Elizabeth was baptised soon after birth, she would have not been much more than 15½ at marriage. Elizabeth and Thomas’ children were both mentioned in Parnell’s Will—Mary and Edward Haggis—see the separate page.
- “Edward Brockette the sonne of Edwarde Brocket of Campton christened Octob.9” 1589.17 We call him Edward II of Dunton, see the separate page.
- John son of Edward Brocket christened 30 Sep 1593 Campton,18 see the separate page.
- Robert bap 1596 Dunton, see the separate page.
On 24 Dec 1591 Edward Broket of Campton, Yeoman, signed the lease of a messuage and land in Ree End in the parish of Tempsford19 from Richard Colbeck of Sutton, Yeoman, and Alys his wife, for 10 years at a rent of £5 10s a year “At the feastes of thanvnciation of our Ladye & St Michaell tharchangle by even porcions” … “Nevertheles yt ys fully agreed betweene the said parties that the said Edward Brokett shall suffer the said William Gydden [the current tenant] to occupye & enioye the premisses tyll the feast of St Michaell tharchangle next comynge./ Savinge that the said Edward & his assignes shall enter vppon the fallowe at Thanvnciation of our Ladye next comynge accordinge to the custome of the contrye”. Edward was to work the land from 25 March but allow the current tenant to stay in the house till 29 September. Edward’s signature on the turned-up bottom of the first membrane:20
In the original the first ‘e’ has a number of short hair lines radiating out from it:
One side of parchment was often treated and smoothed more than the other and “this signature is written where the parchment has been folded over. Perhaps the ink has run into the coarser fibres?”21 “He starts writing the ‘e’ at the bottom of the top curve and the upstroke falters and then continues up, around and down.”22
There were 13 payers of the 1597 subsidy in Dunton:23 1 was styled a Gentleman, 1 a Yeoman, 9 Husbandmen, 1 a Fuller and 1 a Weaver. Edward was one of the Husbandmen, paying 16d on 20s of goods. Perhaps he preferred not to have his usual Yeoman status for tax purposes. His son was styled gentleman for tax in 1641.
Despite losing his father at the age of 1 and his grandfather’s loss of inheritance, Edward was a relatively wealthy yeoman at his death a year later in 1598—the first Broket burial in Dunton. Although only 36 years old, he left legacies of £300 and 80 shillings over and above any property which he would have dealt with separately, for example in favour of his eldest son Edward, who was only 9 at the time and not mentioned in his Will.
Edward was buried in Dunton Church 2 Jun 1598. Parnell married again and was buried Dunton 2 Nov 1639.
Page Last Updated: May 11, 2021