Blunham - The Broket Archive

The 19th C Blunham Broket clan

In every post-16th C Bedfordshire parish where Brokets were recorded, they first appeared long after the Parish Registers started, coming in from elsewhere. Blunham is only different in that here this happened twice—first in the 17th C and again in the 19th. Four 19th C incomers have been identified:

Contents of this page:

1. Background
2. James m 1800, b c 1777 d 1845
3. John m 1811, b c 1790 d 1847
4. John m 1824, b by 1806
5. Thomas 1835, b ?1796

1. Background

The 17th C records spanned the 11 years 1655-66 and were of Andrew and his family, including his father Richard, formerly of Sandy:

The Blunham Parish Register—which began 1571—recorded a Brockett family for 11 years mid 17th C:

1655/6 Elizabeth d/o Andrew Brockett baptised 7 Jan
1659 Richard s/o Andrew Brockett baptised 27 Nov
1662 Elizabeth d/o Andrew Brockett buried 9 Apr
1662 Katherined/o Andrew Brockett buried 5 May
1666 Richard Brockett buried 24 Dec, an old man

Andrew, son of Richard, had been baptised there in 1631, but under a different surname. He appears to have lived in Blunham until around 1663, leaving Richard in Blunham. More details here.

Apart from the baptism of their daughter in January, the marriage of James and Margaret HILLS in May 1800 was the first Broket record in Blunham since 1666. Then between 1801-60 there were some 18 Broket births/baptisms there. These 19th C incomers were descendants of the 17th C ones.

James was one of 4 Broket Labourers who settled in Blunham in the early 19th C; there must have been work for them in this rural, mainly arable parish, c 6 m E of Bedford. At least one of the families lived about ½ m S of Blunham village in “the outlying district of Chalton, consisting of a farm and a few houses”.1 All 4 were probably related to each other—why else at that time would unrelated Brokets all migrate to such a small rural settlement? In 1831 Blunham had only 945 inhabitants.2 Apart from the Hitchin line, the Hertfordshire dynasty had long since died out or moved to London, the Dunton clan had also dissolved, and the Cambridgeshire Mordens clan was well documented and had no unaccounted-for Johns or Thomases.

2. James m 1800, b c 1777 d 1845

James and Margaret HILLS were married in Blunham 23 May 1800. Apart from Scotland, James up to this time was almost exclusively a name used by the Bedfordshire clans. There was only 1 known Bedfordshire James of an age to marry in 1800—bap Bromham 1777 eldest child of William and Elizabeth WILCOX. The other 2 baptised before 1800—in 1789 and 1791—both married others. The death in Blunham 14 Oct 1845 of James, Labourer, aged 68—of disease of the heart—confirms that he was the son of William and Elizabeth WILCOX.3 So James came to Blunham from Bromham, c 8 m W. Margaret’s baptism wasn’t recorded in Blunham. Child:

  1. Elizabeth, bap 7 Jan 1800, d 23 Sep 1804.

James’ wife Margaret died 6 Oct 1803 and 15 months later on 3 Jan 1805 he married 2ndly Elizabeth HILLS—perhaps a sister of Margaret—in Blunham. Elizabeth’s baptism wan’t recorded in Blunham either. Did Elizabeth die 1839 Biggleswade District?4 In 1841 James was recorded in Blunham on his own, aged 60, Agricultural Labourer, next door to son William.5 The 1851 census recorded another, unknown, James as Head in Chalton, Blunham, Widower, Pauper, aged 64 [ie b c 1797] Gransden, Cambridgeshire. Great Gransden is c 8 m NE of Blunham. Other than him there were 3 other Jameses in Bedfordshire in the 1851 census:

  1. James of Cardington, bap 12 Apr 1789 Stagsden, h/o Frances CURTIS. In Cople, aged 68, b Stagsden [ie c 1793]
  2. s/o Joseph and Anne WRENCH of Biddenham.
  3. s/o William and Rebecca WRIGHT of Blunham here, ie his 10 year old grandson.

Who then was this James? Living with him was lodger Mary GRAY, Widow, aged 84, Pauper. Were the ages of the two mixed up and in fact Mary was 64 and James 84. If so, who then was the James who died in Blunham 1845? The male line appears to have died out. Child:

  1. William, b 2 Apr 1807 Blunham, bap 17 Apr.6 Married Rebecca WRIGHT. Occupation Labourer 1838,7 1840-438 and 1858,9 Market Gardener 1860,10 Farmer 1866, 67.11 It’s possible that he was the William Brockett, Shepherd for Mr Frank Powers, farmer of Blunham who was a deponent in April 1875 in a case against some “suspicious characters lodging at The Cock lodging house, Allhallows Lane, Bedford” accused of stealing kohl rabi tops from Mr Powers’ field at Blunham12 although it was probably William s/o John and Jane STOKES. +Census records for William and Rebecca:    Read more
    Did Rebecca die 1882 Biggleswade District, aged 77, ie b c 180513 and William in 1884 Biggleswade District, aged 77, ie b c 1807.14 Children:

    1. Mary, bap 13 Apr 1830 Blunham.15 Not at home 1851—most probably the Mary, unm, aged 21, b Beds, Housemaid, working in the Castle at Kimbolton for the Duke of Manchester.16 Married Frederick UNDERWOOD, 19 Aug 1860 Blunham, of full age, Spinster. Witnesses: sister Lucy and father William.17
    2. John, b c 1832-3; no IGI baptism record. Married 13 Apr 1858 Ellen Maria CORBY Clapham, Beds, his occupation Game Keeper, he aged 25—b c 1833—she 24; witnesses: her father Joseph, Gardener and Eliza Jane CORBY.18 +Census records for John and Ellen:    Read more
      Ellen died 1892 Ampthill, Beds.19 John died 1905 Ampthill.20 Children:

      1. Frederick Samuel b 1858 Ampthill;21 d 1864 Ampthill.22
      2. Frederick John b 1866 Ampthill.23 Married 5 Aug 1895 Elizabeth Ann WOODCOCK Bedford St Paul, he aged 27, Bachelor, Clerk, of 23 Howard St, Bedford, she aged 22, Spinster, of 31 Dane St, Bedford.24 +Census records for John and Elizabeth:    Read more
        She died 8 Dec 1929 at 10 Brooks Court, St Marys St, Stamford, Lincs, of a cerebral haemorrhage, aged 56, ie b c 1873, husband Frederick John, a General Labourer, was present.25 He died 1954 Stamford, aged 87.26 No apparent issue in the GRO.
      3. ?Charlotte Annie b 1870 Ampthill,27, died 1878 Ampthill.28
    3. Sarah, bap 26 Jan 1834 Blunham.29 House Servant in 1851, Unmarried, aged 17, b Blunham, in the home of William HINDE, Knight of the Bench and Plumber, High St, Bedford St Paul.30 Married George TILLYARD 10 Feb 1858 Blunham.31
    4. Anne, bap 25 Dec 1835 Blunham,32 aged 24.33 Not found in the 1851 census as Anne or Annie, aged 14—in service elsewhere? Married—as Annie—10 Oct 1859 Samuel BALLS in Christchurch District Church, Lambeth, he a Bachelor, Groom and Gardener, she a Spinster, both of full age, residing Holland St.34 Her father’s name was mistakenly given as James, Farmer, on her MC—presumably by dittography with Samuel’s father James on the line directly above. There was no James, Farmer, at that time, only William. Annie and father-in-law James were witnesses to sister Lucy’s marriage in 1866. For the 1861 census Annie and Samuel were at 90 Sydenham Mews, St Mary Lambeth, Norwood, he aged 26, Coachman, b Bungay, Suffolk, she, 24, b Blunham, with 2 daughters: Lucy, 1, Eliza, 2 months, both b Norwood.
    5. Lucy, b 11 Aug 1838 Blunham, mother signed with an X.35 Bap 9 Sep 1838 Blunham.36 Witness to sister Mary’s marriage 1860, and brother James’ 1867. For the 1861 census she was in St Peters Green, Bedford, aged 22, unm, b Blunham, Nurse in the house of medical doctor Charles Edward PRIOR, 40. She married 4 Feb 1866 Thomas HAWKINS, St Giles Parish Church Camberwell, Surrey, he a Bachelor, Railway Clerk, she a Spinster, both of full age residing Dulwich, witnesses sister Annie BALLS and her father-in-law James BALLS.37
    6. James, b 7 Dec 1840 Blunham,38 bap 23 May 1841 Blunham.39 His birth was registered 21 Dec 1840 unnamed. The other contemporary namesakes in Bedfordshire were James of Biddenham, 1822-77, married Anne WRENCH 1857 and James of Bromham and Portsmouth, 1838-90, married Elizabeth LONGFORD 1861. James married 16 Sep 1867 Hannah ALFORD in Blunham Parish Church, he aged 25, Bachelor, Farmer, she 23, Spinster, Servant, both residing Blunham, one witness [sister] Lucy HAWKINS.40 James’ occupation 1868 Railway Porter.41 Did James die 1896 Islington London, aged 54, ie b c 1842?42 Did Hannah M die 1916 Islington London, aged 72, ie b c 1844?43 +Census records for James and Hannah:    Read more

      Edith, b 28 Jul 1868 at 51 Harwood St, Kentish Town, St Pancras, Middx, mother residing 2 Castle St, Finsbury.44 Probably died 1870 Shoreditch, aged 1.45
    7. Thomas, b 5 May 1843 Blunham.46 His birth was registered 29 May 1843 unnamed. Died 27 Dec 1847 Blunham of pneumonia, aged 4.47
    8. Eliza, bap 10 May 1846 Blunham.48 Her birth will have been the unnamed female registered 1846 Biggleswade.49 Not found in the 1861 census, aged 15—in service elsewhere? Married 5 Nov 1866 Thomas Henry Edward MAY in St Marylebone Parish Church, he a Bachelor, Sailor, son of a Gentleman, she a Spinster, both of full age, residing St Marylebone, father William a witness.50 For the 1871 census the couple, with 4 year-old daughter Miriam, were at the house of Antony W IRWIN, Solicitor at Fragnal … Cottage, Hampstead St John. Thomas, 36, was a Solicitor’s General Clerk, Eliza, 24, was Housekeeper. Mother Rebecca, 64, was there too.

3. John m 1811, b c 1790 d 1847

John married Jane STOKES 26 Nov 1811 in Blunham and as a family they lived in Chalton. John died 21 June 1847 at Chalton of disease of the heart one year, aged 57, Labourer, informant Martha BLANN.51 This suggests a birth c 1790, but no suitable baptism has been found. No record of him and family has been found in the 1841 census. Although 2 others of the 4 incomers to Blunham at this time were sons of William and Elizabeth WILCOX, it’s unlikely that John was another son of theirs. The only other contemporary John recorded in Bedfordshire Parish Registers and the IGI 1760-1800 married Elizabeth PAIN in Felmersham 1804, and elsewhere the only known John was bap Hitchin 1779. So his origins are unknown.

In 1818 John and other labourers from Blunham gave evidence against a man from Biggleswade for stealing 80 pigeons from a dove-house at Chalton.52

The will of John Brocket of Chalton, Labourer, written 9 Mar 1847, was proved 4 Sep 1847 Bedford, executors son Thomas and William Bennet USHER.53 Legacies:

  • son William £5
  • daughter Mary, wife of Thomas WILLIAMSON, £5
  • daughter Ann, wife of Samuel FIELD, £5
  • wife Jane £5 and all household furniture and personal estate
  • residue to son Thomas.

Jane probably died 9 Jan 1878, aged 89 [ie b c 1789], of old age, Widow of John Brocket, Farm Labourer, residing Eynsford, Dartford, Kent, informant daughter Sarah LAWSON.54 The 1861 census had recorded her in Chalton, as a Widow, head of a household on her own, aged 72, Saw Maker. The baptisms of their 2 sons weren’t recorded. Children:

  1. Mary, bap 29 Mar 1812 Blunham;55 married Thomas WILLIAMSON 22 Dec 1831.56
  2. Elizabeth, bap 1 Aug 1813 Blunham.57 Died by 1847? Not mentioned in father’s will.
  3. Ann, bap 3 Mar 1816 Blunham;58 married Samuel FIELD 8 Jun 1835.59
  4. Sarah, bap 21 Dec 1817 Blunham.60 Not mentioned in father’s will, so died by 1847? Or married … LAWSON, and informant at mother’s death in 1878.
  5. William of Blunham, Labourer, married 1 Jun 1846 Eliza EMERY of Moggerhanger, Lacemaker, Spinster of full age, in Blunham; he a Bachelor of full age—therefore b by 1825, but no IGI Blunham record.61 The various age dates he supplied in the censuses suggest he was b netween 1817 and 1823. Neither William nor Eliza could write. Labourer in 1872.62 It’s probable that he was the William Brockett, Shepherd for Mr Frank Powers, farmer of Blunham who was a deponent in April 1875 in a case against some ‘suspicious characters lodging at The Cock lodging house, Allhallows Lane, Bedford’ accused of stealing kohl rabi tops from Mr Powers’ field at Blunham63 although it could have been William s/o James and Margaret HILLS. +Census records for William and Eliza:    Read more
    Did they both die in Biggleswade District 1899?64 Children:

    1. Jane, bap 13 Jul 1851 Blunham.65 No record in the 1871 census. Most probably died 27 Dec 1865 General Infirmary, Bedford, aged 14, Domestic Servant, Cancer of thigh and lung, informant Elizabeth PAYNE.66
    2. Sarah Ann, bap 4 Jun 1854 Blunham;67 m 17 Jun 1872 Isaac BATTLE, aged 20, Bachelor, Labourer, she 19, Spinster, Servant, both residing Blunham, after Banns in Blunham Parish Church.68 Not to be confused with her namesakes from Bromham and ?Souldrop.
    3. Emma, b 1860 Biggleswade District.69 An IGI patron entry recorded an Elizabeth Emma, bap 12 Jan 1860 Blunham, no parents listed. An Elizabeth Emma married 1882 Biggleswade District,70 to George ODELL?
  6. Thomas of Chalton, Labourer, married 18 May 1849 Mary BUCKLE of Chalton, minor, Servant, in Blunham; he a Bachelor of full age—therefore b by 1828, but no IGI Blunham record—; neither could write.71 William CLARKE was a marriage witness for both Thomas and brother William. No apparent IGI baptism record for Mary has been found. To be an executor of his father’s will in 1847, Thomas would have been born by 1826. The 1871 census record in which he was ‘unmarried’ suggests he was separated from Mary. This may have happened before 1861, when Mary was Head of household. He died 2 Mar 1878 in the Workhouse Infirmary, Princes Rd, Lambeth, Surrey, aged 52 [ie b c 1826], Laborer, phthysis, informant Workhouse Steward.72 Occupation given as Game Keeper in MC of dau 1936. No obvious further record of Mary in the GRO. +Census records for Thomas and Mary:    Read more

    1. William Buckle b 6 Jul 1852 Chalton, Blunham, father Thomas, mother Mary, formerly BUCKLE.73 No obvious further record in censuses or the GRO. Did he use the surname BUCKLE or BROWN? Or did he die 1873 Biggleswade District, aged 21?74 If not, it is possible that he died 10 Mar 1913 in the Workhouse Infirmary, Barnet, aged 59, ie b c 1854, a Bricklayer,75 but that William was most likely s/o Edward, Bricklayer, and Margaret NOTARI of London, b 1857.
    2. Simeon/Simon b 10 Aug 1857 Chalton, Blunham, name of father left blank.76 In the 1861 census his surname was given as BROWN. Was the father Simon BROWN, see sister Alice and 1851 census, or Linton BROWN, see 1861 census? No obvious further record in censuses. The Simeon BUCKLEY, aged 35, living in Cheshire in 1891 wasn’t him.77 Simeon BROCKETT died 1935 Biggleswade District.78
    3. Charles b 13 Aug 1864 Chalton, Blunham, name of father left blank.79 +Census records for Charles:    Read more
      He probably died 1942 Biggleswade District.80
    4. Alice, b 23 May 1871 Beeston, Sandy, d/o Mary Brockett, formerly BUCKLE, a Domestic, making her mark, father’s name—Simeon BROWN—crossed out.81 Alice married 30 May 1936 Frederick George TAPSTER, otherwise WALKER, at the Register Office, Essex South Western, she aged 65, Spinster, Domestic Servant, d/o Thomas Brocket, Game Keeper, deceased, he 71, Widower, Builder’s Labourer retired, both of 201 Francis Road, Leyton.82 No obvious further record in the 1891, 1901 or 1911 censuses.

4. John m 1824, b by 1806

John married Elizabeth ESTHER in Blunham 12 Oct 1824.83 The patron-submitted IGI estimate ‘b c 1799’ was probably of this John, but his parents aren’t known. To marry by 1824, he would have been born no later than 1806, probably a good deal earlier, but the only other surviving John recorded baptised in Bedfordshire Parish Registers and the IGI 1760-1807 was bap 1803 in Bromham, and he married Ann JAMES in 1824. The John, b c 1808 Souldrop, married as ‘Bachelor’ in 1837 to Sarah BIRD probably wasn’t him, unless he pretended he hadn’t been married before.84

So like several others at the end of the 18th C, e.g. Thomas b 1770-80, the other John of Blunham c 1790-1847, and John b Colworth c 1798, this John escaped baptismal record. His death also wasn’t certified—it’s possible he died 23 Aug 1857 of fever, 1 month, in the Fever Hospital, Bedford, aged 60, ie b c 1797, Labourer,85 but this was much more likely John of Bedford, b Colworth.

Note: The IGI also recorded a John “b c 1799 Blunham, no parents given”. This was a record submitted by a patron to the IGI after 1991, ie by a member of the LDS Church, the ‘b c’ indicating that it was not a transcription from the original register, but a back-projection from a later record. This was probably the marriage of John in Blunham in 1824 or John in Bedford in 1821.

The only other record found was the administration of Elizabeth Brockett of Blunham 12 Mar 1831 to husband John Brockett of Blunham, Labourer, signed with his mark, value under £200.86 The couple apparently had no issue. John may perhaps have emigrated after this, although this is speculation based simply on lack of further records.

5. Thomas, b ?1796

Thomas, Labourer, and Mary had a daughter Emma bap 19 Apr 1835 in Blunham.87 Emma may have married Thomas BARRICH 10 Sep1871 Bedford St John,88 unless this was the Emma, b 1847 Bedford District, d/o John and Eliza LARKINS.

Thomas was probably the s/o William and and Elizabeth WILCOX of Bromham, baptised there 1796, and moving to Blunham where his older brother James was—perhaps John too. No other known suitable Thomas was recorded in Bedfordshire or elsewhere.

Page Last Updated: April 5, 2020


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


[1] VCH Beds 1912, vol 3 p 228

[2] Lewis 1831

[3] Death certificate

[4] GRO qtr 2

[5] Census

[6] Parish Register

[7] Birth certificate of daughter Lucy

[8] Birth certificate of sons

[9] Marriage certificate of son John

[10] Marriage certificate of daughter Mary

[11] Marriage certificates of daughter Eliza and son James

[12] BARS HF147/3/639

[13] GRO qtr 4

[14] GRO qtr 3

[15] IGI

[16] Census

[17] Marriage certificate

[18] Marriage certificate

[19] GRO qtr 4, aged 56, ie b c 1836

[20] GRO qtr 1, aged 73

[21] GRO qtr 3

[22] GRO qtr 3

[23] GRO qtr 4

[24] Marriage certificate

[25] Death certificate

[26] GRO qtr 1

[27] GRO qtr 2

[28] GRO qtr 4

[29] IGI

[30] Census

[31] IGI patron entry; GRO qtr 1

[32] IGI

[33] 1861 census

[34] Marriage certificate

[35] Birth certificate

[36] IGI

[37] Marriage certificate

[38] Birth certificate

[39] IGI

[40] Marriage certificate

[41] Birth certificate of daughter

[42] GRO qtr 2

[43] GRO qtr 2

[44] Birth certificate

[45] GRO qtr 1

[46] Birth certificate

[47] Death certificate

[48] IGI

[49] GRO qtr 2

[50] Marriage certificate

[51] Death certificate

[52] BARS QSR/23/1818/191

[53] BARS ABP/W1847/45

[54] Death certificate

[55] Parish Register

[56] IGI

[57] IGI

[58] IGI

[59] IGI

[60] IGI

[61] Marriage certificate

[62] Marriage certificate of daughter

[63] BARS HF147/3/639

[64] GRO qtr 4, he aged 84 and she 82, ie b c 1815 and 1817

[65] IGI; GRO qtr 2

[66] Death certificate

[67] IGI; GRO qtr 1

[68] Marriage certificate

[69] GRO qtr 1

[70] GRO qtr 4

[71] Marriage certificate

[72] Death certificate

[73] Birth certificate

[74] GRO qtr 2

[75] Death certificate

[76] Birth certificate

[77] Census

[78] GRO qtr 4, aged 78, ie b c 1857

[79] Birth certificate

[80] GRO qtr 2, aged 81, ie b c 1861

[81] Birth certificate

[82] Marriage certificate

[83] IGI

[84] Marriage certificate

[85] Death certificate

[86] BARS ABP/A1831/1

[87] Parish Register

[88] GRO qtr 3; IGI