John Broket of Swaffham Bulbeck Esq - The Broket Archive

John Broket of Swaffham Bulbeck Esq
c 1485-1526

John was born by June 1485 as shown by his mention in the Will of his grandfather John Pulter. He was the son and heir of John of Wheathampstead, the first Broket Sheriff of Hertfordshire, but died before his father. His childhood was spent at Brockett Hall near Wheathampstead and his education culminated in London at the Middle Temple, admitted 5 Feb 1509 by William Bensted. John’s heir was later to marry Margaret BENSTED, most likely William’s daughter.

Contents of this page:

1. Wife and children
2. Other records
3. Will

Wife and children

As heir to the Hertfordshire estates, John was married to a wealthy heiress: Dorothy d/o Nicolas HUGHSON Gentleman of Swaffham Bulbeck, a hamlet near Cambridge. The marriage of their heir or heiresses was probably the most important strategic and political decision of the pre-modern landowner.1 Heirs usually did not have too much say in the choice; it was not normally a decision based on romance. As lord of the expanding Brockett estates, John’s father would for years have been on the lookout for a suitable alliance for his eldest son and heir, the dynasty’s future head. In the lesser gentry circles of the early 1500s, his heir was one of the most eligible bachelors of Hertfordshire. The match, negotiated by John and perhaps Lucy, indeed brought property to the dynasty, from this neighbouring county of Cambridgeshire, where John and Dorothy lived with their family.

Nicolas was educated and knew academics in Cambridge. In his Will he called himself ‘gentylmane’ and bequeathed properties in Cambridgeshire to Dorothy and John.2 However the case brought by Nicolas Hughson’s heirs against his widow Jane a few years later shows that he held manors in Kent and Surrey, and other lands in Cambridgeshire too.3 Dorothy and her sisters’ 2 daughters were heiresses to substantial lands.
Down the years when living memory of Nicolas Hughson had past, some misspelt his name as Huston or Hixon. Perhaps because of these initial, minor variations, in some later pedigrees there is greater confusion. The Visitation of Essex gave him as ‘of Hulse & Mamond’4 and Spains Hall manuscripts had ‘H.Hammond of Hoo & Malmains’. If this was another attempt at improvement of ancestors, it was unnecessary because Nicolas was wealthy enough.

John and Dorothy’s surviving children (daughters’ order of birth uncertain):5

  1. John, later Sir John I, Will proved 1558.
  2. Nicholas of Mackery End Esq, Will proved 1585.
  3. Edward of Wingaledoe Gent, Will proved 1584.
  4. Robert of Bramfield Gent, Will proved 1582.
  5. Thomas, probably the youngest son, born before 1526 (death of father), died without issue (according to the contemporary Glover, who is the only source that lists him). It’s possible that it was this Thomas who made a plea in the Hilary term of 1548 at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster against John Trewelowe late of Lee, Essex, Husbandman, for a debt of 40s, which Thomas alleged he owed him. John did not come to defend himself and the court ordered the Essex sheriff to take him and bring him to court on 15 April 1548:6+Read more
    Lee was presumably Lee Chapel, c 1 m W of Basildon. Since Swaffham Bulbeck is nearer Essex than Letchworth is, this Thomas seems more likely to have been the plaintiff than the only other known contemporary Thomas Broket, son of Edward of Broadfield and Letchworth.

    The record of Thomas Brokett as a legatee in a Dunstable Will of 1554 was doubtless a misspelling.

  6. Jane, m William COPWOOD of Totteridge7
  7. Lucy, m Thomas HOO of the Hoo in Kimpton, or of Paul’s Walden8 issue 2 sons, 4 daughters
  8. Filise or Alice, m … ASHBY

It is interesting to compare the Wills of the 4 sons: John, Nicholas, Edward and Robert.

A Common Pleas action of 27 Jan 1528 shows that John’s widow Dorothy had married Thomas RUDSTON by then. Thomas Rudston and Dorothy his wife executrix of the testament of John Broket of Swaffham Bulbeke, and coexecutor John Brokett Esq of Wheathampstead, his father, were suing William Nevile late of London esquire and Elizabeth his wife for a debt of 200 marks:9+Read more

Thomas Rudston was a Cambridgeshire JP from 1530 till his death in 1556 and MP in 1542.10+Read more

Other records

1504-1515. A case brought by John Broket and Dorothy, his wife, and Dorothy and Jane Hildersham, daughters of Agnes Hildersham against Jane Hughson, late the wife of Nicholas Hughson, deceased, father of the said Dorothy Broket and Agnes.
Subject: Detention of deeds relating to the manors of Derbyes Court and Eversleys; two-thirds of the manor of Leatherhead: the manor of Burdons in the parishes of Borowe and Dullingham, and messuages and land in Swaffham Bulbeck, Bottisham, and elsewhere: Kent, Surrey, Cambridgeshire.14

In 1511 John purchased land with his father, younger brother and others in Bishops Hatfield, Willian and Diggeswell from Richard and Elizabeth Fyssher.15

1525 Hilary term. John Broket, Henry Barley, Thomas Grene, William Sulyard, George Hyde, John Bollys, William Pulter, Hugh Clerke and Humphrey Worthe recovered from Edward Broket (John’s brother) “6 messuages, 130 acres of (arable) land, 10 acres of meadow, 20 acres of pasture and 10s rent with appurtenances in Hytchyn, Dynnesley, Polettys and Offeley, as their right and inheritance”.16

1529-32: In a follow up Common Pleas action to that of 1528 above Thomas and Dorothy Rudston and John Brokett Esq of Wheathampstead were again suing for the debt of 200 marks:17   Read more

John’s Will

Written 16 Feb 1524, proved PCC 21 Jul 1526.19 John died 1526 in his early 40s, leaving his widow Dorothy to raise 8 or more children in Swaffham Bulbeck, the oldest of whom may only have been 13 or 14 at the time; she remarried within 2 years. John’s Will was brief, without the title ‘Esq’, and left legacies only to his wife, 2 servants, the Vicar, the Prior of Anglesey and the Nunnery or Monastery of Deyne. It could give the wrong first impression that he had no children or indeed lands.

His father John of Wheathampstead and wife Dorothy were co-executors. Witness Edward Brocket Gent was his younger brother. His servant Humfrey Bagshawe had been a witness to John’s father’s deed of feoffment of the manor of Thebridge in 1525.20

Page Last Updated: October 14, 2019


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


[1] L Stone 1977 p 70ff.

[2] Proved PCC 1512/3 PROB 11/17 p 2 l 47ff.

[3] TNA C 1/287/10.

[4] A corruption perhaps of 'Hamondes' the name of 2 of his properties listed in TNA C 1/287/10.

[5] Metcalfe 1886 p 30; Berry n d p 132-3; Clutterbuck 1815-27 vol 2, p 360.

[6] TNA CP 40/1135 (1 and 2 Edward VI). For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[7] Metcalfe 1886 p 6.

[8] Metcalfe 1886 pp 13, 65.

[9] 1528 27 Jan TNA CP 40/1057 d8035. For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[10] History of Parliament online at (accessed 3 Sep 2018).

[11] History of Parliament online (accessed 3 Sep 2018); LP Hen. VIII, xviii, xix.

[12] 41 p 100.

[13] Baker 2012 p 1337.

[14] TNA C 1/287/10.

[15] TNA CP25/2/16.

[16] TNA CP 40/1046 f226; also HALS DE 114.

[17] 1529 Hilary TNA CP 40/1060 f5421. For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[18] Communication from David Bethell 31 Jul 2015.

[19] PROB 11/22.

[20] HALS 26948.