Cambridgeshire Brokets - The Broket Archive

The Brokets of Cambridgeshire

The first Cambridgeshire Brokets were 2 incomers from the Wheathampstead dynasty in the 16th C who left no descendants that stayed in the county. Thereafter Cambridgeshire Brokets belonged almost exclusively to the Mordens clan that flourished in the adjacent parishes of Guilden Morden and Steeple Morden on the county’s SW boundary with Bedfordshire, below Dunton. This clan emerged in the late 17th C and proliferated to become one of the two largest clans in the UK. Cambridge town itself was home to 14 Broket students 1526-1761, all originating outside the County, the last becoming a Professor of Modern History there.

Contents of this section:

++++++Earliest records
++++++The Mordens clan (separate page)
++++++Isolated 17th C records
++++++Cambridgeshire Parish Registers (draft)
++++++Map of part of Cambridgeshire (separate page)

Earliest records

The earliest records of Brocketts in Cambridgeshire are of two who came to live from Hertfordshire, both named John:

1. John of Swaffham Bulbeck Esq c 1485-1526

The heir to the Hertfordshire estates and while his father managed them he came to live on the estate he acquired though his marriage to Dorothy HUSON, a Swaffham Bulbeck heiress. See the separate entry.

2. John Brockett of Stowe & Impington Gent b c 1539 d 1607

John was the youngest son of Edward of Broadfield and Letchworth, and the nephew of John of Swaffham Bulbeck, above.

This was John’s formal signature at the end of his deposition in a 1586 case about his eldest brother seizing their father’s Will. His deposition began “John Brocket of Stow Longa in the county of Huntingdon gent of the age of 47 years or thereabouts”, i.e. b c 1539:1

John Brokett signature 1586

There can be little doubt that this John was the John Brockett, Gent, who was sued by Clement’s Inn as a member in 1561 (or a year or few before2), since the proclamation was sent to the sheriff in Letchworth, Herts, as John’s home county.3 Although aged about 19 when his father wrote his Will in 1558, he was bequeathed all his property in the parishes of Kympton, Kings Walden, Baldock, Graveley, Sheveffelde and Hinxworth. So it is likely that he was also the ‘John Brockett of Kimpton, Herts, Gent’ referred to in the admission of William Brockett, his “son and heir” to Gray’s Inn in 1612. This was of course after John’s death, and apart from this reference it’s unknown if he was styled “of Kimpton” at other times. In records of his later life he was usually called ‘of Stowe’ and/or ‘Impington’. But because his father’s Will wasn’t proved till 1584, it’s unknown if he inherited the lands in Kimpton. Some time after his father’s death in 1559 and when John’s eldest brother had been outlawed in the late 1560s, John was involved in dealing with his eldest brother Edward‘s estate, and at that time John was called ‘of Stow Longa’. As for the Gray’s Inn record referring to William as his ‘son and heir’, since in his Will John mentioned no children of his own, and all his bequests were to his wife, her children from her first marriage and to his sister’s daughter, it had been wrongly assumed that John had no surviving children of his own. For William, see the separate page.

In 1591-2 John Brockett and William Beck were served with a writ concerning rents in the hamlets of Overstowe, Wormdiche, and Newtown, lately belonging to the late priory of Stonley (Hunts), and since belonging to Thomas and Maria Wingfield and others.4 Interrogatories of witnesses are preserved.5

In his Will of 1607 he called himself “John Brockett of ympington in the Countie of Cambridge, and late of Stowe in the Countie of Huntingdon gent”.6 His bequests were to his wife Katherine, her children from her first marriage and to his sister’s daughter, wife of Mr John Poynton minister—his sole executor—and their children.

Isolated 17th C records

Apart from the two 16th C Johns, the Mordens clan, and the University students, the only other records found are:

  1. A marriage of a John BROCKIT to Margaret WILIS on 21 Jun 1647 at St Peter Cambridge.7
  2. 2 Brocketts taxed in the Cambridgeshire Hearth Tax of 1674:
    • Vincent Brockett on 1 hearth in Witchford Hundred in the north of the county. No other record of Vincent has been found.
    • Mr Brockett on 4 hearths in Haslingfield & Wetherley Hundred, a few miles S of Cambridge. This was Job, matriculated Queen’s College 1662.

    None were taxed in 1666.

  3. A family was recorded in the Bassingbourn Parish Registers 1697-1727, probably a cadet Dunton branch.

Cambridge University

The details below for Cambridge Brokets up to 1751 are from Venn and Venn,8 whose sources were various: matriculations and degrees from University sources; parentage, previous education, county of origin, often from college sources; subsequent career, death, etc from external sources. They found 14:

1526-7: Brockett—B.A. [The only possible student was the future Sir John I b 1511-4 and brought up in nearby Swaffham Bulbeck.]
1554: John Brocket—Matriculated pensioner from TRINITY, Michs. 1554. [Either the future Sir John II, as Hasler said, or John of Appleton and York.]
1576: Edward Brocket—Matriculated pensioner from PEMBROKE, Michaelmas 1576. (Note: It’s not known who this Edward was.)
1577-8: Nicholas Brocket—Matriculated pensioner from St. John’s. Lent 1577-8. One of these names son of Edward of Willingale Essex, succeeded his father.
1581: Edmund Brocket—Matriculated pensioner from PETERHOUSE, Michaelmas 1581 B.A. 1585-6. Ord. deacon (Lincoln) Oct. 7, priest Oct. 8, 1593. Vicar of Luton, Beds., 1595-1617. Rector of Graveley with Chesfield, Herts., 1613-45. Father of John (1617-8).
1617: John Brocket—Of PETERHOUSE, in 1617. Buried at Little St. Mary’s Cambridge Aug 19, 1617, presumably a Fellow-Commoner. [The ‘presumably’ was because of his parentage and because he was not entered as a pensioner.] Perhaps son of Sir John, of Brockett Hall, Herts, knt. (Note: It’s not known who this John was.)
1617-8: John Brocket—Admitted pensioner at PETERHOUSE, Mar. 18, 1617-8. Migrated to Sydney Oct. 25, age 15. Son of Edmund (1581). Born at Luton, Beds, School, Luton. B.A. 1621-2. M.A. 1625 Ord. deacon (Peterborough) Sept. 25, priest Sept. 26, 1625. Rector of Hertingfordbury, Herts 1629-30. died 1630.
1634: John Brocket—Admitted Fellow-Commoner (age 21) at CHRIST’S, Apr. 23 1634. s. of John of Wheathampstead, Herts., Born there. School Watford. Matric. 1634. One of these names Rector of Graveley with Chesfield, Herts, 1643-7: one, Rector of Hertingfordbury 1646.
1641: William Brockett—Matriculated sizar from TRINITY, 1638. Scholar 1641. One of these names Rector of Little Cornard, Suffolk 1662.
1658: Francis Brocket—Matriculated sizar from QUEEN’S, Easter 1658. Of Surrey. B.A. 1661-2, M.A. 1665. Incorporated at Oxford 1666. Signs for priest’s orders (London) Mar. 5, 1663-4. Master of Dulwich College 1664-80. Died 1680.
1662: Job Brocket—Admitted sizar at QUEEN’S, Nov. 8 1662. Of Surrey. Matriculated 1662. B.A. 1666-7, M.A. 1670. Ord. priest (Ely) June 6, 1669. [Schoolmaster at Haslingfield, Cambridgeshire from before 1671 to after 1674. Curate of Barley, Herts 1674-1700.] Vicar of Royston, Herts 1688-92. [Master of Dulwich College 1701-5. Died 2 Jan 1705/6, buried Dulwich College Chapel].
1692-3: John Brockett—Admitted sizar at KING’S, 1692-3. Colleger who failed to secure election as scholar [at Eton]. Born in London, left Eton 1691. (Note: It’s not known who this John was.)
(1737: William Brocket (mistake for Brockel)—Admitted pensioner (age 17) at PEMBROKE, Apr. 11 1737. Son of WILLIAM of London. Matriculated 1737. [ADD: Will dated 25 September 1752, proved at York, 11 June 1757. Buried, 4 May 1756 at Barnard Castle, Durham].)
1743: Lawrence Brockett—Admitted pensioner (age 17) at TRINITY June 3 1743. son of LAWRENCE, of Headlam, Durham. Born Aug. 13 1724. Bapt. at Staindrop. School, Scorton, Yorks. Matriculated 1743. Scholar 1744. B.A. 1746-7. M.A. 1750. B.D. 1761. Fellow 1749. Prof. of Mod. History 1762-8. Killed by a fall from his horse, July 24 1768. Buried at Gainford, Durham Aug. 6, 1768.

Apart from Francis above, who incorporated at Oxford 1666, the only Broket up till 1932 at Oxford University, according to Foster, was:

1584: John Brockett—Of Buckinghamshire, son of a gentleman—Edward Brockett of Wheathampstead—matriculated from Magdalen College 30 Oct 1584, aged 13. Student at Gray’s Inn 1588. [No record of commoners were kept at Magdalen before 1850.]

Explanation of terms

Colleger: A fee-payer at Eton, where if he had been elected a scholar he would have been entitled to a scholarship at King’s and, in due course, a Fellowship there. re: John 1692-3.
Fellow-Commoners: Aristocratic and/or wealthy. They wore smart gowns and caps and, hence their title, ate at the Fellows’ table.
Incorporated: Degrees could be officially recognised in almost any university. re: Francis 1658.
Matriculated: Signed the register as a student.
Pensioners: Ordinary fee-paying students, who paid for their board and lodging in College, unlike scholars and sizars.
Sizars: Earned their keep at Colleges by performing more or, as time went by, less menial tasks, like waiting at table, sweeping up snow, helping in the library.

Page Last Updated: October 10, 2020


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


[1] TNA C24/189, Brokett v Bardolfe: Town Depositions Trin 28 Eliz (Jul-Dec 1586). Reproduced by kind permission of the National Archives licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

[2] Baker 2012 p 55.

[3] Baker 2012 p 170.

[4] TNA E 134/34Eliz/Hil/13.

[5] TNA E 133/7/1010.

[6] Written 24 Dec 1607 proved PCC 23 Apr 1608 PROB 11/111.

[7] IGI.

[8] 1922 p 222.