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:
Second son of William II of Hitchin. Will written 30 Apr 1598, proved Archd. Beds 13 Jul 1598:
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
6. Remembrance thankes be gyven to allmightye god. Doe ordeyne and
7. make this my last will and Teastament in manner and Forme following
8. vz. First and pryncipallie I gyve and bequeath my soule into the
9. handes of Allmightie god my creator and
10. to be saved by the death and passion of Jesus Christ my onlie
11. Saviour & redemer / thorough a trve and a lyvelie Faith. And my
12. Bodie to be buryed in the earth at the discretion of my executor
13. and ouerseers /
14. Item I gyve and bequeathe vnto John Brockett my sonne / one hundred
15. Powndes of good and Lawfull money of England to be paid vnto
16. hym when he shall com to the age of xxjtie years.
17. Item I gyve vnto Robet Brockett my Sonn one Hundred powndes
18. of lyke Lawfull money of Englande / to be paid vnto him when
19. he shall com to the age of xxjtie years
20. Item I gyve vnto Elizabeth Brockett my Daughter Fourescore
21. powndes of lawfull money of England to be paid vnto her when
22. she shall com to the age of xviij years / or the daie of hir mar[iage]
23. which shall Fyrst happen.
24. Item I gyve vnto the said Elizabeth my Daughter twentie powndes
25. of lyke lawfull money which was the guyfte of Ellen Tanner grand
26. mother of the said Elizabeth to be paid vnto her at the age afo[re]
27. said / or daie of maryage which shall fyrst happen.
28. Item I gyve vnto Johanna Manfylde my cosen tenn powndes of
29. good & Lawfull Englishe money to be paid vnto her when she
30. shall com to the age of xxiiijtie years / or the daie of her mariage
31. which shall first happen.
32. Item my will Further is that yf any of my Fore said children
33. doe dye before the [sic] come to their seuerall ages or daies of mary[age]
34. aforesaid / that the guifte or bequeath of hym or her so dying
35. shalbe equallie devided amongst the rest / of my children / that
36. then shalbe lyvinge
37. All the rest of my goodes & chattels vnbequeathed I gyve vnto Per[nyll]
38. my Lovinge Wiefe whom I make my sole executrix of this my la[st]
39. will and Teastament to see my legaces performed my Funera[ll]
40. expences discharged & my Bodie decentlie brought to the ea[rth]
41. And I make supervisors hereof of my Lovinge Brother Richard Pr[yor]
42. & my trustie & lovinge Frynd Robet Hynde / And I gyve ‘to’ either of the[m]
43. xls a peece towardes their pains & travell to be taken herin /
44. And lykewise my mynde and Will is that yf Pernyll my said
45. Wiefe shall Fortune to marrry againe / that he whosoeuer shall marry
46. with her shall enter into sufficyent bonde with sufficyent securytie
47. to my said Ouerseers to the vse of my said children / to paye them their
48. Legaces at the daies & ages aforesaide In wittnesse hereof
49. I haue put my hand & seale / the daie and yeare abouesaid
50. & Wittnes herof & in the presence of Robert Hynd William Abbott
51. Laurance Manfyeld & Richard Pryor /per me Robertus Hynde.
William Abbot /
Per me Laurance manfylde
Signum Ricardi Prior
Comments on the Will:
- 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.
- 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:
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:
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
5. blessed bee God doe make this my last will & testament
6. in manner & forme following first I bequeath my soule
7. unto my Redeemer Christ Blessed for euer, and my body to bee
8. buried in the Church of Dunton nerer unto my husband Brockets
9. graue, and I giue all my goods moueables & chattells
10. & all moneys that are due unto mee from Oliuer Rush
11. or any other
12. childe Mary Haggis & her sonne Edward Haggis
13. whom I doe make the onely executors of this my last
14. will & testament In witnes whereof I haue set to
15. my hand
the marke of Parnell Rush
Witnesses to this will
Edward Brockett [signatures]
Comments on the Will:
- Her Will was written two years before she died.
- She wishes to be buried next to her first husband Edward’s grave inside Dunton Church.
- The creditor Oliver RUSH was presumably a relative of her husband.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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
4. to the eternall god my Creator Doe in his name and by his permission and providence
5. revokeing and renounceing all former wills and testaments whatsoever by me heretofore
6. made or caused to be made, make this my last will and testament by these presents in
7. manner and forme following. First I render my soule to god craveing pardon and
8. remission of all my sinns not for any merritts of my owne being altogether sinfull but
9. for the only merritts of my lord and Saviour Jesus Christ his sonne and my body I committ
10. to the earth there to be buried according to the discretion of my executor and executrix
11. hereafter named. And for my worldly estate which god hath lent me in this transitory
12. life as followeth. First I give and bequeath vnto Robert Brockett my sonne the sume of
13. Fifty pounds currant mony of England to be paid vnto him at his age of one and twenty
14. yeares. Item I give and bequeath vnto Isabell Brockett my daughter the like summe of fifty
15. pounds currant mony of England to be paid vnto her at her age of one and twenty years
16. Item I give and bequeath vnto my daughter Dorothy Brockett, the like summe of fifty
17. pounds currant mony of England to be paid vnto her at her age of one and twenty
18. yeares. Item I give and bequeath vnto Mary Brockett my daughter the like summe of fifty
19. pounds currant mony of England to be paid vnto her at her age of one and twenty
20. yeares. Item I give and bequeath vnto Frances Brockett my daughter the like sume of
21. fifty pounds to be paid vnto her at her age of one and twenty yeares. Item I give and
22. bequeath vnto Elizabeth Brockett my daughter the ‘like’ summe of Fifty pounds currant
23. mony of England to be paid vnto her at her age of one and twenty yeares. And if
24. it shall happen any of my aforesaid Children to dye or depart this life before hee shee
25. or they shall attaine to their severall and respective ages as aforesaid That then the
26. legacie or Legacies to him or them soe dyeing shalbe equally devided and paid vnto
27. and amongst the rest of my said Children as shalbe then liveing as the said liveing
28. Children shall attaine to their severall and respective ages of one and twenty yeares
29. And I doe further charge and require by these presents that my executor and executrix
30. hereafter named shall educate and maintaine my aforesaid children vntill they shall
31. attaine to their severall and respective ages of one and twenty yeares with learneing
32. meate drinke and clotheing together with all other things necessary and decent for
33. people of such degree to have and which shalbe without iust cause of exception Item
34. all the rest of my goods and chatells whatsoever not herein before bequeathed my debts
35. legacies and bequests together with my funerall charges expended to be paid I give
36. and bequeath the same to my loveing wife Frances Brockett and my sonne Edward
37. Brockett whom I make my executrix and executor of this my last will and testament Soe
38. beseeching god to stren’g’then my memory and finish my course that at the last I may enioy
39. his presents where is fullnes of ioy for ever more I rest In wittnes whereof I have
40. to this my last will and [Testament] sett my hand and seale the day and yeare first before written the
41. marke of Robert Brockett. Sealed published and declared in the presence of of [sic] John
42. Waller Edward Brockett the elder. Edward Brockett the younger.
Comments on the Will:
- 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.
- His Will was written within 4 or 5 days of his death, with legacies of £300 over and above the rest of his estate.
- 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.
- The transcription was made from the copy in the PCC.
First son of Edward and Parnell. Will written 25 Apr 1660, proved Archd. Beds 28 Jun 1661:
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
4. by and through the meritts & passion of Jesus Christ my onely saviour & redeemer to
5. haue pardon & remission of all my sines, & that my soule and body shall be reunited &
6. participate of eternal glory: And next of all,
7. his mercy hath lent me, I thus dispose of. ~
8. Inprimis I giue to my son william halfe the crop
9. of this house I now dwell in, & halfe that belongs to the house at Newton, paying
10. halfe the rent. I also giue unto Anne Curchaine the summe of seuen pound
11. for the use of Jacob Curchaine, & Joseph Curchaine.
12. I giue also unto
13. upon condicion that he joynters Susan his wife in ten pound per annum in house & lands.
14. I giue also unto my sonne Robert the other halfe of the crop in Straton, & the other
15. halfe of that crop that belongs to the house I now dwell in, & halfe of the crop that belongs
16. to the house at Newton.
17. I giue also unto Anne Curchaine the younger all the small linning
18. apparell of her grandmothers, & foure lambs at Lammas next after
19. I giue unto my sonne Edward Brocket twelue pence.
20. I giue also unto my sonne Robert Brocket a shilling.
21. I giue unto Anne Curchaine my daughter a shilling.
22. I giue unto my sonne Samuel Brocket a shilling.
23. I giue unto my daughter Elizabeth the wife of George Negose a shilling.
24. I giue unto my sonne Isaac Brocket a shilling.
25. I giue also unto my daughter Susan the wife of William Reed a shilling.
26. All the rest of my goods & chattels I giue unto my sonne William Brocket whom I appoint &
27. ordaine sole executor,
28. of this my last will, & testament. In witnesse whereof I set my hand & Seale, on the 25th day
29. of Aprill in the year of our lord 16.60./Sealed in the presence of ./.
Robart Searle? Edward Brockett [seal]
Comments on the Will:
- The signature ‘Edward Brockett’ at the end is in a shaky, old man’s hand.
- Edward owned or rented at least 2 houses—in Dunton and Newton—and 3 crops—in Dunton, Straton and Newton.
- 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
- He divided his 3 crops—in Straton, Dunton and Newton—between his 4th son William and 3rd son Robert.
- 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.
- He left cash legacies totalling £20 and 7 shillings.
- He was a Widower.
- Jacob and Joseph Curchaine and Anne Curchaine the younger were most likely his grandchildren, the only ones mentioned.
- He left his wife’s linen to Anne Curchaine the younger.
- 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.
- Witness William Barber was also a witness to Edward the younger’s Will in the same year.
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
4. and Teastement in manor and forme folloinge first I giue
5. and bequeath my Soul into the hand of god my Creator hoping
6. to be Saued by Jesus Christ my Redemer and by no other means
7. and my body to be Buried in the Church or Church yeard in Dunton
8. accordinge to the Disscresion of myne executrix the Rest of my goods
9. as ffolloweth
10. Imprimus I giue and bequeath vnto William Brockett my sone
11. fifty pounds of good and lawfull mony of England to be payd to
12. him when he shall Come to the age of twenty and one yeare
13. Item I giue vnto Frances Brockett ‘my Daughter’ Fifty pounds of good and
14. lawfull mony of England to be payd to hir when she shall
15. accomplish and Com to the agge of twenty and one yeare
16. The Rest of my goods and Chattells whatsoeuer vngiuen and
17. Vnbequeath I giue vnto Elin Brockett my loueinge wife
18. whome I make and ordayne the full and Sole executrix of this
19. my will paying and receiuinge my Debts and Discharge my
20. funerall and Doe witnesse the same with my hand and
21. Seale the Day and Yeare first aboue written
Edwarde Brockets mark
Sealed and signd
in the presence of
Comments on the Will:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:4 “Bapt. 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.
- Witness William Barber was also a witness to Edward the elder’s Will earlier in the year.
Page Last Updated: April 5, 2020