John and Maria Brocket of Bedford - The Broket Archive

John and Maria DARLING of Bedford

Brocket and Brockett descendants now live in New Zealand and Australia, but no longer in the UK.

Contents of this page:

1. Background
2. Maria’s parentage
3. Children
4. Other contemporary Johns


Who John’s parents were wasn’t known for a long time. The clue was found in the 1851 census: he was b c 1798 in Colworth, Bedfordshire. Colworth, lying in the NE tip of Sharnbrook, was a tiny hamlet of a few houses, one of which was the home at that time of Andrew and Ann LAWSON.1 They would clearly have been John’s parents. John’s Bedford parish before he married—St Mary—was also where Andrew was later buried. There is also the fact that John and Maria named one of their sons Andrew, an unusual Broket name at the time. Further strong evidence that John was part of the wider Bedfordshire Grouping comes from DNA of descendants showing identity with others from the Grouping.

Colworth was an ‘extra parochial parish’ without its own church. Marriages had to be solemnised in a Parish Church, whereas baptisms at this time could be performed in chapels or privately at home. So either because Andrew and Ann lived ‘extra parochial’ or because they had nonconformist leanings—or both—their children’s early baptisms weren’t recorded and some were performed late. No record of John’s baptism has been found at all.

The first record found of John is his marriage on 15 Jan 1821 in Bedford St Peter by banns, as John Brocket of Bedford St Mary, Bachelor, to Maria DARLING of Bedford St Peter, Spinster; witnesses James CURTIS, and Elizabeth SHARMAN.2 John signed, Maria signed with her mark. Although married in a parish church, John and Maria appear to have maintained their non-conformist affiliations until from c 1828 when they baptised their children in Bedford St Cuthbert. They still llived in that parish till at least 1851.3

John’s occupation: In 1841 he was described as an Ostler—a stableman who looked after horses. But he was mostly described as a Labourer, e.g. in 1828, 1851, 53 and 56,4 and in 1857 at probable death.5

Census records for John and Maria and family:    Read more

John probably died 23 Aug 1857 of fever, 1 month, in the Fever Hospital, Bedford, aged 60, ie b c 1797, Labourer,6 but this record may possibly have been of John of Blunham. By about this time John and Maria’s surviving sons—John, Joseph and Caleb—were working as Shoemakers in Northampton, the centre of the trade, and Maria may well have moved there then too—she was there by 1871 at least.7 She died 1889 in Northampton aged 84, ie b c 1805.8 Several other Bedfordshire Brokets moved to Northampton in the 1850s, like sisters Mary Anne and Caroline, d/o Joseph and Anne WRENCH of Biddenham—and Abraham of Bromham and family moved there in the early 1870s. The parents of William of Richmond, Cordwainer, born in Northampton c 1802, were probably another.

Maria’s parentage

Maria was b c 1803-5—in 1851 she gave her age as 48 and in 1871 as 66.9 She consistently gave her birthplace as Bedford in censuses. Between 1800-10 the IGI lists baptisms of 5 Maria DARLINGs and 25 Marys—only 1 of the total 30 in Bedfordshire. The 5 Marias were baptised:

  1. 11 Apr 1803 All Saints, Wakefield, Yorkshire, daughter of John and Hannah
  2. 25 Dec 1803 St Mary, Reading, daughter of Thomas and Sarah
  3. Oct 1805 St Paul’s, Bedford, daughter of Richard and Mary, b 13 Oct 1804
  4. 1 Oct 1806, St Peter, Worcester, daughter of Benjamin and Elisabeth
  5. 16 Oct 1808, Sunningwell, Berkshire, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth, b 18 Sep.

The third—the daughter of Richard and Mary, b Bedford 13 Oct 1804—probably married John Brocket.

The name Joseph appears to have been important for John and Maria. They called their first son Joseph, then another after the first died. Was the first naming simply as a Biblical name, as with all their children’s names? Or did it have a family precedent? Was the second naming for one of these two reasons, or rather to revive a beloved son who had died aged 6? The IGI shows no connection between any Bedfordshire Richard DARLINGs and the 3 Bedfordshire Joseph DARLINGs of the previous generation, so Maria didn’t apparently have a grandfather Joseph. Nor did John. On the Broket side, the IGI recorded 8 Josephs in England between 1720-1820—none were recorded in Scottish BMD. Only 2 of the 8 were in Bedfordshire, and they were either contemporary to John or younger, but might one have been his brother?

  1. married Dorothy ATKINSON 13 Nov 1738 Auckland St Andrew, Co Durham
  2. s/o Robert and Hannah CUMMING bap 26 Nov 1764 Auckland St Andrew
  3. s/o Robert and Hannah CUMMING bap 7 Aug 1768 Auckland St Andrew; father of no. 6
  4. married Alice HILL c 1770 Kirkburton, West Yorkshire10
  5. s/o Dew and Harriot bap 21 Feb 1790 Hammersmith, London
  6. s/o Robert and Margaret ELAMORE bap 7 Jan 1798 Sunderland
  7. s/o James and Lucy BATES bap 25 Oct 1812 Bromham
  8. married Ann WRENCH 28 Mar 1815 Biddenham.

Might the last one, Joseph of Biddenham, who married Ann WRENCH have been a brother of John? No record of his baptism has been found and his apparent birth date is suitable. However, it is much more likely that he was the son of John and Mary KENDAL of Biddenham.


The couple were married in St Peter’s, Bedford but their first son was baptised in the Independent Old Meeting House, Mill Lane, Bedford. All their subsequent children were baptised in St Cuthbert’s C of E, Bedford. Sons John and Joseph married in Independent Chapels. Brockett descendants survive only from 2nd son Joseph.

  1. James, b 4 Mar 1821, bap 20 Apr 1828 Bedford St Cuthbert11—the same day as brothers John and Joseph. There is no record of his burial in Bedford in the NBI, as of his brothers Joseph and Thomas, but he wasn’t at home for the 1841 census, when he would have been c 20. Much later, the 1881 census recorded a James, Labourer aged 60 [ie b c 1821], b Bedford, as a Lodger in a household up in Lanchester, Durham. Then in 1896, in all probablility the same James, General Labourer, died in Fusehill Workhouse, Carlisle, aged 75 [ie b c 1821].12 This man was probably also the James recorded at 1a Adams Place, Finsbury, London, in the 1871 census, Bricklayer’s Labourer, married to Sarah, 40. His age was given as 45 [ie b c 1826] and birthplace as London, but both these census data are notoriously open to error, deliberate or accidental. In this case, the enumerator made mistakes with the ages of James, Sarah and the four following entries, which he crossed out and corrected as well as making a number of other omissions on that part of the page rendering it not fully reliable, and making the birthplace and age of James, as recorded, open to question. There is also the possibility that James may not have given his correct age anyway, seeing that Sarah was only 40. Considering also that there are no known James Brockets born 1815-35 other than:
    1. this s/o John and Maria;
    2. James s/o Joseph and Anne WRENCH, b 1822 Biddenham, who was recorded in Biddenham in 1871 and who had died before 1881;
    3. James, b c 1817, of Durham City, recorded there in 1861 and 81;

    the likelihood is strong that the three records in question—from 1871, 1881 and 1896—are all of this son of John and Maria. No death was recorded of Sarah in GRO after 1871.

  2. Joseph, b 2 Jun, bap 29 Aug 1823 in the Bunyan Congregational Meeting House, Bedford.13 He was later rebaptised—in the established church—20 Apr 1828, with 2 brothers in Bedford St Cuthbert,14 but he died the next year and was buried 25 Mar 1829 Bedford St Cuthbert, aged 615
  3. John, b 19 Jul 1827, bap 20 Apr 1828 Bedford St Cuthbert.16 He was probably the John Brocket apprenticed to Thomas Gostick, Boot and Shoe Maker of Carlton in 1840/1.17 To be distingished from John of Bedford, b c 1828, s/o James and Lucy BATES. On 12 May 1853 at Castle Hill Independent Chapel, Northampton, aged 25, Bachelor, Shoemaker, residing Bailiff Street, Northampton, he married Eliza BATES, 23, Spinster, residing the Green, witness Joseph Brocket.18 Eliza died 14 Feb 1861 of phthisis, in Bouverie St, Northampton, aged 33, wife of John Brockett, Shoemaker Journeyman, informant Mary Ann BRADLEY.19 No 2nd marriage is recorded for John after 1861. +Census records for John and family:    Read more
    John Brockett, Shoemaker, proved brother Caleb’s will in 1878, and was residing then at 14 Bearwood St, Northampton.20 In 1882 his occupation was given as Rough Stuff-Man.21 John died 1900 Northampton.22 Child:

    John Joseph, b Northampton 1858.23 He married Mary Sarah WATTS 29 May 1882 in All Saints Church, Northampton, he a Bachelor aged 24 residing Clan St, Northampton, occupation Clicker, she a Spinster aged 25 residing Bridge St, occupation Fitter.24 A Clicker was a foreman Shoemaker who cut out the leather. They lived in Queen Street, Northampton in 1890. During the next decade they moved to Lambeth and he adopted the name Alfred. Mary Sarah, at least, returned to Northampton, where she died 1904, aged 48, ie b c 1856.25 +Census records for John Joseph and family:    Read more


    Annie Edith, b 6 Feb 1883 19 Ethel St, Northampton.26 In 1901 she was living on her own in Northampton St Giles, occupation Milliner. She married 1905 Northampton District.27

    Soon after Mary’s death John Joseph appears to have married Emily … and by 1911 at least they were living in Lambeth. In later years he was called Alfred Arthur John Joseph, and under that name on 31 Oct 1939, aged 80, Widower, residing Leafmount St, Wheatley Rd, Rayleigh, Rochford District, Essex, retired Leather Merchant, s/o John, Bootmaker, he married Lizzie Emily KEYS, 42, Widow, of 2 Ivy Cottages, High Rd, Rayleigh in the Pilkington Memorial Baptist Chapel, High Rd, Rayleigh.28 Emily Louisa had died 28 Jan 1939 at Leaf Nest, Gt Wheatleys Rd, Rayleigh, Essex, aged 67, wife of Alfred Arthur John Joseph Brockett , her will was proved London 21 Jul, effects valued at £2254 4s 9d, to Alfred Arthur John Joseph Brockett, retired Leather Goods Dealer.29 Lizzie Emily d 1947 Rochford District, Essex, aged 51,30 and Alfred A J J died there a few months later in 1948, aged 89,31 effects valued at ?£6069 10s 4d.32

  4. Thomas, bap 31 Oct 1830 Bedford St Cuthbert;33 buried 2 Aug 1833 Bedford St Cuthbert, aged 2.34
  5. Joseph, bap 5 Mar 1833 Bedford St Cuthbert;35 d New Zealand 1881; married Emma COTTERILL 28 Oct 1856 in the Independent Chapel, Berkhamsted, Herts.36 Emma may have borne Joseph 12 sons and 1 daughter, all but 1 or 2 in Northampton, and then c 1876 they emigrated.
  6. Caleb, bap 26 Aug 1838 Bedford St Cuthbert;37 d 13 Sep 1878, Northampton.38 Recorded at brother John’s house, 10 Maple St, Northampton in the 1871 census aged 32, unm, Clicker (Shoe), b Bedford. The Probate Register recorded probate of his Will in 1878 in Northampton by John Brockett of 14 Bearwood St, Northampton, Shoemaker, estate valued at under £200. Caleb’s occupation was given as Shoe Manufacturer and his residence as 4 Victoria Rd, St Giles Parish, Northampton. The GRO recorded his birth and death but no marriage. Child:

    Annie Maria, b 1874 Northampton District.39 To be distinguished from Annie, also b 1874 Northampton, who went to Derbyshire.+Census records for Annie:    Read more

    Annie Maria married 7 Sep 1901 Northampton St Sepulchre William DILLEY, she a Spinster, he a Bachelor, Mechanic, both residing 12 St Andrew’s St, witness 1st cousin Arthur Caleb.40

  7. Sarah, bap 20 Jun 1841 Bedford St Cuthbert.41
  8. Andrew, b 1844 Bedford District;42 bap 7 Jul 1844 Bedford St Cuthbert;43 ?Died 1852 Bedford District.44

Other contemporary Bedfordshire John Brokets

Following are all the Johns known from Bedfordshire Parish Registers and the IGI 1760-1811 and none was the John who married Maria:

      1. b c 1771, married Elizabeth PAIN in Felmersham 1804.
      2. b c 1790, married Jane STOKES in Blunham 1811.
      3. bap 11 Oct 1801 Souldrop, s/o William and Hannah of Souldrop, bur 1801. See 5.
      4. bap 23 Dec 1803 Bromham,45 married Ann JAMES in Bromham 1824.
      5. bap 10 Apr 1808 Souldrop, a 2nd son John of William and Hannah of Souldrop,46 married Sarah BIRD in Souldrop 1837.
      6. married Elizabeth ESTHER in Blunham 12 Oct 1824 .47
Two others are to be discounted: 1. QMB suggested that Daniel and Mary of Houghton Conquest had a son John b c 1800—presumably meaning this John who married Maria—but without evidence. 2. An IGI patron submitted an entry of a John b c 1799, but it isn’t in the original Parish Register. They probably back-projected it from an 1820 marriage in Blunham,

Page Last Updated: April 5, 2020


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


[1] For Sharnbrook see (accessed 22 Nov 2018).

[2] Parish Register

[3] Census

[4] Bedford St Cuthbert Parish Register, census and marriage certificates of sons John and Joseph

[5] Death certificate

[6] Death certificate

[7] Census

[8] GRO qtr 3

[9] Censuses

[10] LDS patron submission

[11] Parish Register

[12] Death certificate

[13] Register p 17

[14] Parish Register

[15] NBI

[16] Parish Register

[17] BLARS X171/62/57

[18] Marriage certificate

[19] Death certificate

[20] London Probate Register 1878

[21] Marriage certificate of son

[22] GRO qtr 3 aged 73

[23] GRO qtr 3

[24] Marriage certificate

[25] GRO qtr 3

[26] Birth certificate

[27] GRO qtr 1

[28] Marriage certificate

[29] GRO qtr 1; LPR

[30] GRO qtr 4

[31] GRO qtr 2

[32] LPR

[33] Parish Register

[34] NBI

[35] Parish Register

[36] Marriage certificate

[37] Parish Register


[39] GRO qtr 3

[40] Marriage certificate

[41] Parish Register

[42] GRO qtr 3

[43] IGI

[44] GRO qtr 4

[45] Parish Register

[46] IGI

[47] IGI