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 jurors present that John Everard senior has entered into the fee of the lord in 5 acres of arable land lying diversely in the fields of Byfootte for a rent of 6d p a. The bailiff is therefore ordered to distrain the same John to be at the next Court and to pay and make quit both for Edward Broket and for himself and [to do] all other charges and services he is thereafter due as anyone doing suit to that manor &c
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
1. Edward of Wingaledoe Gent b c 1518 Will proved 1584.
2. Edward of Wheathampstead Place Esq, b c 1538-40, d 1599.
3. Edward of Broadfield Gent, b c 1519-26, d 1583, son of Edward of Letchworth Esq.
4. Edward I of Hitchin, younger son of William I, b after 1536 and referred to as Edward Brockeyt senior in 1591 and husband of Barbara in 1593. Although Edward of Campton/Dunton had a son called Edward by 1589, his wife then and through to his death in 1598 was Parnell. So Edward I of Hitchin couldn’t have been this Edward of Campton and Dunton.
5. Edward I of Walsworth, son of Edward I of Hitchin, alive in 1591. He couldn’t be this Edward of Campton and Dunton because his father was Edward not William.
6. Edward, alive 1569, young nephew of Lucie Broket, probably b c 1555. No further record found.
7. Edward III of Hitchin, Yeoman, eldest son of William III of Hitchin, baptised 1595 Hitchin. From the 1630s onwards lived in Wales.
No other contemporary Edward Broket Yeoman is known.
- 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
- Elizabeth bap 17 July 1586 Campton; married Thomas HUGGINS, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire 22 Oct 1601.15 If Elizabeth was baptised soon after birth, she would have not much more than 15½ at marriage. Elizabeth’s children were all mentioned in Parnell’s Will.
- Edward II of Dunton. “Edward Brockette the sonne of Edwarde Brocket of Campton christened Octob.9. ”.16
- John bap 1593 Campton
- Robert bap 1596 Dunton.
On 24 Dec 1591 Edward Broket of Campton, Yeoman, signed the lease of a messuage and land in Ree End in the parish of Tempsford17 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:18
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?”19 “He starts writing the ‘e’ at the bottom of the top curve and the upstroke falters and then continues up, around and down.”20
There were 13 payers of the 1597 subsidy in Dunton:21 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: June 1, 2019