The Brokets of Essex
The earliest records found of Brokets in Essex are from 1356, 1382 and 1424. Next in 1438 the young Yorkshire Broket Edward, son of Thomas and Dionisia, acquired land there. But none of his descendants—including 3 Sheriffs of the County—resided in Essex until Edward, a younger son of John of Swaffham Bulbeck, married an Essex heiress a century later and settled in Willingale, near Chelmsford. Two separate but related Broket clans thrived there, with a 50 year break, through to the early 20th C. Records show only a few other Essex Brockets. 7 were there in 1881 and 6 in 1901. Of course parts of SW Essex have been subsumed into Greater London, and Hertfordshire borders it to the west and Cambridgeshire to the NW.
Contents of this section:
1. 14th & 15th C
2. 16th C
1st Willingale clan 1543-1634 (separate page)
3. 17th C
2nd Willingale clan 1688-1906 (separate page)
4. 18th C
5. 19th C
6. 20th C
7. Map of part of Essex
Two traders are recorded: Philip of Hedyngham in 1356 and John of Tendryng in 1382. They would probably not have come from an established line—no Brokets were taxpayers in Essex in 1327 for example1—nor apparently did they leave one. Although in 1424 John Broket was recorded as a former owner of a messuage in Wethersfield, near Braintree.2 It isn’t known how much earlier John had been the owner of the messuage, but Wethersfield is c 5 m W of Sible Hedingham and c 34 m W of Tendring, so if this John was related to either of the two earlier recorded traders, it may have been to Philip. But this is just speculation. Equally, he may have been the John Brokett recorded in Hatfield in 1428, about 45 m to the west of Wethersfield.
The next Essex records found are of land transactions made by brothers Edward and Thomas from Yorkshire and Hertfordshire, who also established no Essex line—no Brokets were taxpayers in Essex in 1524/5.3 There was an IPM into Thomas’ Essex lands held in chief, but despite being Thomas’ heir, there was no inquisition on Edward’s death, nor any mention of land in Essex in his will. Many of their properties were within 10-15 miles of Willingale, near Chelmsford:
- 1438 Hooks and Pinnacle. Edward with 2 others acquired the manor of Hooks and half the manor of Pinnacle.4
- 1477 and 1480 Brondsych. Thomas and Elizabeth had an interest in the Manor of Brondsych—unidentified—and land in Fobbyng and Fang.
- 1477 The IPM into Thomas’ Essex lands held in chief listed East and West Tilbury, Fenge (i.e. Vang), Fobbing, Corringham and Stanford le Hope.5 Again, these places are only some 15 miles SSE of Willingale.6
- 1483-5 Haghams. Thomas and Elizabeth had jointly held the Manor of Haghams and lands in Lamborne, Chigewell, Theydon Boyes, Rothyng St Botall and Stapelford Abbot.7
Brokets may not have held substantial land in Essex from the 1480s until 1543—the VCH has no references—but they were nonetheless influential in the County throughout this period. The 16th C, especially its middle decades, were the peak of the dynasty’s fortunes in neighbouring Hertfordshire. Three became MPs for Herts, 3 became knights, and 3 held the influential office of Sheriff of Essex and Herts:
- John of Wheathampstead Esq in 1507-8 (for 2 years) and 1531-2.
- Edward of Letchworth Esq in 1547-8 and 1554-5
- John of Hatfield Esq in 1566-7, later Sir John II.
John of Wheathampstead’s son John of Swaffham Bulbeck held land about 40 miles north of Willingale in Cambridgeshire through his wife. Their 1st son, later Sir John I, was Escheator for Essex in 1539, aged about 26. Their 3rd son Edward conveyed land near Willingale in 1543 and later resided and died in Sawbridgeworth, just over the Essex border into Hertfordshire.
1575 8 Nov: Ellen Brockett married Thomas FRENCH, Clerk, in Great Parndon.8 Great Parndon is just SW of Harlow, and c 7 m SW of Sawbridgeworth, and c 15 m W of Willingale. Was Ellen an otherwise unrecorded member of the Willingale clan?
Families of a few generations are recorded to the east of Colchester, in Waltham Abbey on the western edge of Essex and one in Southminster on the Dengie peninsula.
1760s: The Essex historian Morant recorded a house called Brocketts in Tendring.
The parish of Waltham Abbey (formerly Waltham Holy Cross) is on the western edge of Essex, c 16 m N of Westminster and c 9 m S of Ware. A Broket family was recorded here 1717-66. Coincidentally—or perhaps not—there was also a Braket family recorded 1754-1801.
1716 19 Sep: “Edward Brockett of Waltham Abbey Essex Husbandman [married] Anne Dew. Ditto B:[achelor] W[idow]” clandestinely in the Fleet in London:9
It was probably this couple who baptised the following children in Waltham Abbey/Holy Cross:
Edward, 13 Oct 1717, son of Edward and Anne Brockett.10
Nicholas William, 13 Oct 1717, son of Edward and Anne Brockett.11 Nicholas William Edward, relative [i.e. son] of Edward and Anne Brockett, was buried 18 Oct 1717.12
Edward, 8 Apr 1720, son of Edward and Anne Brockett.13
Mary, 8 Apr 1720, son of Edward and Anne Brockett.14
1711 20 Feb: Sara Brocket married Edward MARTIN in Sheering.15 Sheering village is situated c 3 miles NE of Harlow, 4½ miles S of Bishop’s Stortford, c 11 m NE of Waltham Abbey and c 27 miles NE of Westminster. Was she “Sarah Brockett the daughter of John and Sarah” baptised 17 Jun 1673 in Westminster, London?16 Or, more likely—because of her age—was she the eldest daughter of William and Sarah, baptised 1687 in Guilden Morden, c 35 m N in Cambridgeshire?
1769: Will of Edward Brockett Wheelwright of Southminster.17
1773: Will of Mary Brockett Spinster Southminster.18
The 1881 census recorded 3 Households:
- One in West Ham: Alfred aged 33, Tailor, born Royston, wife Elizabeth aged 25, 2 daus Sarah Elizabeth aged 6 and Mabel Elizabeth aged 1.
- One in Hornchurch: Henry aged 77, Agricultural Labourer, born Hornchurch, son James aged 26, Agricultural Labourer, born Hornchurch.
- Spinster Elizabeth aged 56, Landowner at Willingale Spain, born Rye Sussex.
The 1901 census
Page Last Updated: April 5, 2020