DuntonWills - The Broket Archive

Dunton Broket Wills

By 1584, Edward, 2nd son of William Brokett II of Hitchin, had married Parnell TANNER and moved 6 m N up to Campton, a small village in Bedfordshire where 3 of their 4 children were baptised. Then c 1596 they moved 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. Five of their Wills survive:

  1. Edward Yeoman 1598
  2. Parnell Widow 1641
  3. Robert Yeoman 1652
  4. Edward snr Yeoman 1660-1
  5. Edward jnr 1660-1

1. Edward Brocket of Myllno in Dunton, Yeoman

Second son of William II of Hitchin. Will written 30 Apr 1598, proved Archd. Beds 13 Jul 1598:

1. In the name of god Amen. the Last daie of Apryll in the Fourtieth yeare
2. of the Raigne of our Soueraigne Ladie Elizabeth by the grace of god of
3. England Fraunce and Ireland / Quene defendor of the Faith &c. I
4. Edward Brocket of Myllno in the parishe of Dunton and countie of
5. Bedd’ yeoman / sycke in bodie/ neverthelesse of a good and perfect   Read more

Comments on the Will:

  1. 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 in 1598. 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 the Will.
  2. Having Laurance Manfylde [originally of Hitchin] as a witness and bequeathing 10 pounds to Laurance’s youngest daughter Johanna—the only legatee outside Edward’s immediate family—corroborates the fact that was Edward was the second son of William of Hitchin II. This is also shown by this Edward I of Dunton’s guardianship of Edward I of Walsworth, and afterwards that of his widow Parnell and her second husband William RUSH Gent:

2. Parnell RUSH of Millow in Dunton

Formerly Brocket, née TANNER, wife of Edward I of Dunton and II of Hitchin, d 1598, and secondly wife of Constable William RUSH. Will written 18 Oct 1639, proved Archd. Beds 21 Oct 1641:

1. In the name of god Amen Upon the 18th day of October
2. in the yeare of our Lord 1639 I Parnell Rush
3. of Millow in the parrish of Dunton in the Countie of Bedford
4. Widdow, though sicke of body yet of perfect sence & memory   Read more

Comments on the Will:

  1. Her Will was written two years before she died.
  2. She wishes to be buried next to her first husband Edward’s grave inside Dunton Church.
  3. The creditor Oliver RUSH was presumably a relative of her husband.
  4. Her granddaughter Mary HAGGIS would have been the daughter of her daughter Elizabeth, who had married Thomas HUGGINS in 1601. Mary could have been born c 1602, and if she was as young as Elizabeth had been at marriage—about 15—her own son Edward could have been born any time after 1617, and so have been over 21 at the time of Parnell’s Will. It isn’t clear why Mary’s son had the same surname; was he illegitimate?
  5. The second witness—Edward Brockett—was her eldest son. He could write well. Since the Will was written well before her death, her making her mark means Parnell probably couldn’t write.
  6. The first witness—Paul Chisshull—was the Vicar, as shown by his signature on a parchment terrier (inventory) of the glebe land in Dunton of 1638.1 Incidentally, the final paragraph mentions: “One half acker beyond the Brook, the Land of Mr Smith on the south Edward Brockett on the north abutting West Upon the Brook”. This would again be Edward, her eldest son.

3. Roberte Brockett of Millow Yeoman

Third son of Edward and Parnell. Robert was sole executor of the Will of his step-father Constable William Rush. Will written 18 Apr 1652, proved PCC 10 Jun 1652.2

1. I Roberte Brockett of Millow in the parish of
2. Dunton and County of Bedford yeoman. this eighteenth day of Aprill 1652. being
3. at this present weake and sicke in body but of perfect memory thanks be given   Read more

Comments on the Will:

  1. Robert died aged 55 years old, predeceasing his eldest brother Edward by 8 years. The Parish Register burial entry calls him “of Milloberry“. In 2002 Millowbury was a farmhouse in Millow owned by the Kendall family.
  2. His Will was written within 4 or 5 days of his death, with legacies of £300 over and above the rest of his estate.
  3. The Will was proved at the highest court in the land, probably for status. He was concerned for the education of his children and maintenance of their status.
  4. The transcription was made from the copy in the PCC.

4. Edward Brocket the elder of Dunton, Yeoman

First son of Edward and Parnell. Will written 25 Apr 1660, proved Archd. Beds 28 Jun 1661:

1. This is the last will, and testament of me Edward Brocket the elder of Dunton
2. in the County of Bedford yeoman. Inprimis I bequeath my soule into the handes
3. of Almighty god, and my body to the earth to be decently buried, trusting assuredly that   Read more

Comments on the Will:

  1. The signature ‘Edward Brockett’ at the end is in a shaky, old man’s hand.
  2. Edward owned or rented at least 2 houses—in Dunton and Newton—and 3 crops—in Dunton, Straton and Newton.
  3. His sole executor was his 4th son William. His 2nd son John was the only one of his 9 children baptised in Dunton not mentioned in the Will. Gray suggested he might have been the “Brocket, farmer” buried in Dunton in 1644.3
  4. He divided his 3 crops—in Straton, Dunton and Newton—between his 4th son William and 3rd son Robert.
  5. He gave his eldest son Edward 12d, as he did to his other sons, including Robert again. Edward was c 46 years old at the time and died very soon after Edward senior. You could speculate that Edward the son was already ill when his father made his Will and so didn’t leave him his crops or the residue of his estate. But that is speculation. Since Edward junior made bequests to his infant children of £100, he must have already been to a certain extent established.
  6. He left cash legacies totalling £20 and 7 shillings.
  7. He was a Widower.
  8. Jacob and Joseph Curchaine and Anne Curchaine the younger were most likely his grandchildren, the only ones mentioned.
  9. He left his wife’s linen to Anne Curchaine the younger.
  10. Lines 12 and 13 indicate that he had paid a portion for his daughter’s marriage on condition that if the husband predeceased her she would receive an annual jointure of £10 p a in house and lands.
  11. Witness William Barber was also a witness to Edward the younger’s Will in the same year.

5. Edward Brockett of Millo

Eldest son of Edward II of Dunton and Ann. See here for a proof statement that he was this Edward of Millo, whose Will was written 20 Sep 1660, and proved 20 Mar 1660/1 Archd. Beds:

20 Septemb 1660
1. In the name of god Amen I Edward Brockett of Millo in the
2. County of Bedfford Sicke in Body but whole in mynd and of
3. perfect memory praysed be god doe make and ordayne this my last will   Read more

Comments on the Will:

  1. Bedford Record Office have both a rough and ready, not neatly-written, local original on watermarked paper and a neater court transcript on parchment. The original gives an impression of haste. According to the transcript of the Dunton Parish register, “Edward Broket jnr” was buried 21 Sept 1660, so Edward either died the very day his Will was written, or else the next day and was buried the same day he died. Probate then took 6 months. Some spellings differ between the two copies; the original has been used as the base text.
  2. Edward may have predeceased Edward the elder. The transcript of the Dunton register recorded the burial of “Edward Broket snr” in 1660 before “Edward Broket jnr” but without a day and a month. “Anna wife of Edward Brocket snr was recorded buried in the Register that year—listed before her husband. Edward the elder’s Will was written 5 months before Edward of Millo’s and was not proved until 3 months after, on 28 June 1661.
  3. Unlike his father and grandfather, Edward did not style himself ‘Yeoman’. Large families and daughters’ dowries may have diminished the clan’s earlier wealth. Dunton, however, was a small enough settlement for him to be able to request burial in the church, or churchyard.
  4. Edward and Elin’s twins William and Frances were minors—only 2 years old in fact. The original Dunton Parish Register entry for 20 Sep 1658 reads:4Bapt. Gulielmus et Fransisca gemelli Eadvardi Brocket Jn”—in English: ‘William and Frances, twins of Edward Brocket jnr were baptised’. William later apparently moved down to Steeple and Guilden Morden.
  5. Witness William Barber was also a witness to Edward the elder’s Will earlier in the year.

Page Last Updated: April 5, 2020


For full bibliographical details please see the sections Publications or Glossary.



[2] PROB 11/222

[3] 1998a

[4] BLARS P51/1/6

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