William Brockett of Hitchin III - The Broket Archive

William Brockett of Hitchin III Yeoman
b c 1559-60 d 1623

Son of William II. A Yeoman Maltster like his grandfather before him.1

Contents of this page:
1. Contemporary namesakes
2. Birth date
3. Wife and children
4. Wider kin network
5. Other records
6. Last testament and Will
7. Eldest son Edward

1. Contemporary namesakes

William of Esyndon Gent, b 1521-6, d 1611. Clerk of the Peace for Hertfordshire 1570-1603.
William, eldest son of William of Esyndon Gent. ‘Gent aged 46 or more’ in 1610 in his father’s IPM, thus b c 1564. Died 1626.
William, b aft 1556; Citizen of London, d intestate 1607. He may have been the William Brockett was recorded carrying letters from the Privy Council to Sussex in 1601 to muster horsemen to fight the Spanish army which had landed in the South of Ireland.2 It seems unlikely that this William working in Westminster was William III of Hitchin.
William Brockett. Admitted Gray’s Inn 1612, “son and heir of John Brockett of Kimpton, Herts, Gent. What became of this William?
William, Governor of Kinsale 1642-5, probably b 1588 at the earliest.
William, Servant to the Earl of Sussex, imprisoned in London 1628 aged 25-7, therefore b c 1601.

2. Birth date

Although in 1538 each parish in England and Wales was ordered to keep a register of baptisms, marriages and burials, many didn’t start doing so till Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558.3 Hitchin registers began to be kept in 1562, and while his younger brother’s baptism was recorded on 28 Nov that year, William III’s baptism had been earlier so wasn’t recorded. In his Will written 4 Sept 1563 their father (William II) enjoined his wife “to set and keep my two sons at school”. So in late 1563 neither son was yet at school. Allowing for a couple of years at least between the two boys, this means that the elder, William III, was aged between 3 and 5 or 6 in Sep 1563, i.e. born between 1557-60. And when he married on 6 Feb 1593, William III would have been c 33-36. And when his last child was baptised 17 years later on 13 Jan 1610, he would have been c 50-53. It seems more likely that William III was nearer the younger end of these ages, and therefore born c 1559-60.

What happened between his father’s death in 1563 and the next records found of this William III in 1580? Where did the two boys go to school? Did their mother Alice remarry? No record of her burial in Hitchin has been found and no suitable record of an Alice Broket or Papworth (with variants) was found in the IGI. Did she stay in the large family house in Bancroft Street while her two sons grew up? Both houses were bequeathed to the two sons when they reached 20, and they remained in the family. William III would have reached 20 c 1579-80.

3. Wife and children

In 1593 as an established Yeoman in his early 30s with a large house and land worth at least 40s, but still unmarried, William Brockett was an eligible match for the eldest daughter of a Yeoman family from the nearby village of Holwell, c 3 m N of Hitchin. This was Katherine Hanscombe who had been baptised there 19 Jun 1570 daughter of Mathew and Alice.4 And in 1593 “februrye The 6 daie were maryed William Broket & Katherin Hanscombe“.5 They lived in the large house on Bancroft Street, shown by  the couple’s combined initials ‘WKB 1600’ carved into a fireplace.6 Katherine was a good 10 years younger than William and outlived him as his widow by a quarter of a century. She was probably the “Widow Brocket” buried 1649 in nearby Shillingon (2 m W of Holwell). Records have been found of her alive in 1623 and 1641, but deceased by 1658.

Children of William and Katherine, all baptised Hitchin:7

  1. Edward bap 28 Dec 1595 Hitchin. “The 28 daye was baptized Edward the sone of William Broket”.8 We call him ‘Edward Brockett III of Hitchin’. Married Johanna d/o John THAME of Leicestershire. Sole executor of father’s Will of 1620. See further details below.
  2. William bap 1597 Hitchin. Alive in 1620—bequeathed 10s in father’s Will of that year. Married ? … …. A still-born child of William and Alice Brockett was buried in Hitchin in 1638.
  3. Hanscombe bap 1 Jan 1598 Hitchin.9 Bequeathed 10s in father’s Will of 1620. Married 1622 St Martin Vintry, City of London, Anne, widow of Hugh BRUER.10 Child:
    1. Edward, bap 28 Nov 1625 St Martin Vintry.11 The church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and never rebuilt. No further record has been found either of Edward or of Hanscombe and Anne, and it would be unfounded speculation that they become Quakers and returned to Hitchin, and Edward could have been Edward Brockett of Hitchin, imprisoned for Quaker beliefs 1657.
  4. John bap 9 Nov 1600 Hitchin. “The 9 daie was baptized John the sonne of William Broket”.12 Bequeathed £20 on reaching 23 years in father’s Will of 1620. John Brockett, Grocer of Pirton, Herts, brought a case to Chancery against brother Edward in Feb 1652:13    Read more
    We have found no record of a marriage for John, but we could speculate that he was the father of “Samuell the sonne of John Brockett baptized the 24 of Februarie 1625″ [i.e. 1626] in Radwell.14 Radwell is c 5-6 m N of Hitchin and Pirton. It may well have been this Samuell who had emigrated to Virginia by 1657. No definite further record has been found of him in England, and no other possible emigrant Samuel is currently known.
  5. Alice bap 11 Jul 1602 Hitchin.15 Only known child not mentioned in father’s Will of 1620.
  6. Thomas bap 9 Oct 1604 Hitchin. “The 9 daie was baptized Thomas the sone of William Broket”.16 Alive in 1620—bequeathed £20 on reaching 23 years in father’s Will of that year.
  7. George bap 10 Aug 1606 Hitchin. “The 10 daie was baptized George the sonne of Will’m Broket”.17 Alive in 1620—bequeathed £20 on reaching 21 years in father’s Will of that year.
  8. Mathew bap 17 Apr 1608 Hitchin. “The 17 daie was baptized Mathew the sonne of Willyam Broket”.18 Alive in 1620—bequeathed £20 on reaching 21 years in father’s Will of that year.
  9. Agnis bap 13 Jan 1610/11 Hitchin. Bequeathed £20 on reaching 21 years in father’s Will of 1620. Bequeathed £40 in John Hammond of Pirton’s Will of 1641 as “Agnes Brockett daughter of Catherine Brockett, widow”, so was presumably unmarried then (aged c 30). 27 years later she was bequeathed £50 in James Hanscombe of Shillington’s Will of 1568 as “Agnes Burrow, widow, daughter of sister Katherine Brockett”. There was also a bequest in the same Will of £20 to Mary, daughter of Robert Burrow deceased now wife of William Burre”, who could have been a daughter of Agnis.

4. Wider kin network

The Hanscombes. This Yeoman family was dominant in Holwell (c 3 m N of Hitchin); in the 8 years between 24 Jan 1565 and 19 Mar 1573 the Parish Register recorded 38 baptisms, marriages and burials, 11 of them Hanscombes. Katherine’s family was the largest Hanscombe family there at the time and she was one of upwards of 10 surviving children. Her eldest brother Robert stayed in the large house (capital messuage) in the village but other siblings moved to neighbouring villages, like Pirton, Shillington and Meppershall. Her younger brother James Hanscombe of Shillington also operated in Hitchin—he paid 3s on goods worth 60s in Hitchin in the subsidy of 1588.19 The Wills of Yeomen Robert of 1571, proved 1573, of his son Matthew (Katherine’s father) of 1592, and of his son James of Shillington of 1658, reveal the wealth and names of the extended family. Katherine and/or two of her children were mentioned in the Wills of all three:

  1. Robert Hanscombe of Holwell, Yeoman, written 1 Nov 1571:20 Bequest to Katherine, daughter of Matthew Hanscombe, a red heifer, 2 years old.
  2. Mathew Hanscombe of Holwell, Yeoman, written 12 Aug 1592:21 Bequest to eldest daughter Katherine £100 and 5 pairs of sheets.
  3. James Hanscombe of Shillington, Yeoman, written 27 Nov 1568:22 Bequests to sister Joan Hamond £40; to Edward Brockett son of sister Katherine Brockett deceased £40; to Agnes Burrow, widow, daughter of sister Katherine Brockett £50; and to Mary, daughter of Robert Burrow deceased now wife of William Burre £20.

The Hammonds. William had a double connection by marriage to this wealthy Yeoman family of Pirton. William’s wife Katherine’s younger sister Joan Hanscombe, bap 22 Jul 1596 in Holwell23 married John Hammond, a wealthy Yeoman of Pirton. In his Will, written 25 Sep 1641,24 John made bequests of £100 to Joan Brockett, daughter of Edward Brockett when of age or married; and of £40 to Agnes Brockett daughter of Catherine Brockett, widow. He also left 20s to to his sister Cicelie Thame, widow 20s. His widow Joan Hammond of Pirton, in her Will written 28 Jan 1660,25 left bequests to grand-niece Joanna Vaus [formerly Brockett] and to “the 2 children of Katherine …” as follows: …….

5. Other records

1580: William was witness to a property transaction [to follow]

1581: William was witness to a property transaction [to follow]

1588: William was recorded as one of 79 Hitchin taxpayers in the subsidy of 1588, paying 2s 8d on land worth 40s:26

James Hanscombe paid 3s on goods worth 60s.

1591: A Rental of Hitchin that listed rents due for half a year recorded a freehold property for William Brockeyt with an additional one added after 1600:271591 Hitchin Rental SC12/31/12 p 4r William Bancroft St House

Transliteration:28+Read more

This Bancroft Street residence was the large family house originally purchased by his grandfather in 1538. Cumin seed was presumably used in cooking. The Rental next listed his great uncle Edward I‘s freehold. Some pages later it listed their copyhold dues. William was due 20d on 5 acres of arable land in Wratton (that his grandfather had left his father in 1556) and also 4d on “2 acres of arable land somtyme gravlies & late Drapers”:30TNA SC12/31/12 William's copyhold 1591

The Rental recorded a further payment in 1600 of 4d “for 2 acres of arable, somtyme thomas gravlies & late thomas Drapers”:31TNA SC12/31/12 William's copyhold 1600

1597: On 7 Apr William Brokett of Hitchin Yeoman purchased property from William UNDERWOOD of Weston Yeoman.32

1598: William Brockett was assessed in Hitchin at 10s 8d tax for £4 in goods.33 No Brokets were assessed in Pirton or Weston. In Ippollitts Richard Brockett was assessed at 4s for 20s in land.34 William’s stepfather George Underwood was assessed in Weston for £10 in goods.35

1600: On 1 Dec William Brockett of Hitchin Yeoman purchased 3 acres of meadow, arable land and pasture called Dolphins Slade in Welchmans Croft, Hitchin, and 8½ acres of other arable land in Welchmans Croft from Henry BOWIER of Hitchin Gent for £66 in fee simple:36+Read more

Its rent was added to the 1591 Rental of Hitchin Manor, see above.

1601: A William was recorded working in Westminster at this time. It is unlikely that he was William III of Hitchin.

1615-16: William was one of the Churchwardens of Hitchin Parish Church, with Richard Laundey and Simon Lucas, minister John Huddleston, and duly signed the register:38

Wm Brocket III of Hitchin's signature 1615-16

1622: On 8 Jul James Spurling of Weston Gent sued in Chancery against William, Maltster.39 James Spurling was the brother in law of George Underwood (1565-1617), the half brother of William Brockett.40

6. Last testament and Will

William’s Will dated 3 Sep 1620, proved 22 Feb 1623, was signed with a shaky hand:41

William Brockett's signature 1620

Apart from household effects, half of which he left to his wife Katherine, William made only monetary bequests. The residue he left to his eldest son and executor Edward. This would have included the large family residence in Bancroft Street and any other property he held in Hitchin. His cash legacies amounted to £101.

1. In the name of god amen the Thirde day of September in the yeare of our Lord god One Thowsande
2. Six hundred and Twentye and in the yeare of the raigne of our soueraigne Lord Kynge Iames by
3. the grace of god of Englande Fraunce and Irelande the Eightenthe and of Scotlande the Fowre and
4. Fiftithe defender of the faythe &c I Willyam Brockett of Hitchin in the Countye of Hertforde
5. yeoman beinge sicke in bodye yet of good and perfecte mynde and Memorye thankes be to god for it
6. Doe make ordayne this my laste Will and Testament in manner and forme followinge, Firste+Read more

Children: Sons William and Hanscombe were to be given their 10s straightaway, the other sons and daughter later: John and Thomas £20 each when they reached 23, George, Mathew and Agnis £20 each when they reached 21. The suit brought by John in 1652 suggests that Edward didn’t pay these later legacies.

7. William III’s eldest son: Edward Brockett III of Hitchin

Baptised in Hitchin 28 Dec 1595.42

We have called him ‘Edward III of Hitchin’, as even though he may not have lived in Hitchin most of his married life, since he owned property there till his early 40s. It also helps distinguish him from his cousins Edward I, II, III and IV of Walsworth.

Edward III married Johanna eldest daughter of John THAME of Leicestershire in St Martin, Ludgate by licence 18 May 1620. They were already married according to Camden’s Visitation of Leicestershire of 1619:43
According to the Visitation her father married Cisley d/o John Hamon of Burton, Herts. There is no Burton in Herts and this was probably Pirton, near Hitchin. Edward’s aunt Joan Hanscombe married John Hammond of Pirton, Yeoman. John THAME was the heir of Robert Thame of Chinnor, Oxfordshire, heir of John Thame of Chinnor, Oxfordshire Esq.44

Edward and Johanna’s children:

  1. William baptised and buried 11 Apr 1621 Hitchin. “The 11 day was baptized William the sonne of Edward Brocket. The same day was buried William the sonne of Edward Brocket”.45 Since it is definite from other records that Edward and Johanna baptised their daughter Joan in Hitchin in 1622, it is safe to assume that this William was also their child, baptised as he was 11 months after their marriage.
  2. Joane bap 10 Jul 1622 Hitchin.46 Mentioned in the Will of great uncle John Hammond 1641, proved 3 Aug 1642.47 Married 1650, St Thomas Southwark, Thomas VAUS. Issue. Mentioned in the Will of great aunt Joan Hammond 1660.48

Soon after the death of his father Edward began to sell the family property in Hitchin. On 26 Feb 1622/3 Edward Brockett of Hitchin, Yeoman, sold 3 half acres of arable land in Welchmans Croft, Hitchin, that his father had purchased in 1600, to Edward LUCAS of Ickleford, Miller, for £15:49 +Read more

Edward’s signature is on the deed:50
Edward Brockett's signature 1623
Dolphins Slade and other land in Welchmans Croft appears to have been acquired by Thomas Suerties of Hitchin, Yeoman, (see next) who on 10 Apr 1638 sold it to Thomas Hamond of Pirton, Hitchin, Yeoman.51 By 1676 the same property for a rent of 8d per annum, “once of a certain Thomas Sureties, afterwards of William Lucas, [Yeoman]” was held by William Lucas the elder, son of Anne Lucas who then held the Bancroft St residence, also sold by Edward Brockett, as follows.52

Edward and his wife also signed 3 deeds of covenant to levy fines, the first two on 10 Feb 1630 and the third on 10 Feb 1631:

  1. Between Edward Brockett Yeoman of Shenton, Leicestershire, and his wife Johane,53 and Andrew SEWERTYE of Hitchin, Gent: a capital messuage in Bancroft Street, Hitchin, and 41½ acres of land in Hitchin and St Ippollitts.54
  2. Between Edward Brockett Yeoman of Shenton, Leicestershire, and Joan his wife, and Thomas SEWERTYE of Hitchin, Maltster: property in Bancroft Street and elsewhere in Hitchin and Ippollitts.55
  3. Between Edward Brockett Yeoman of Shenton, Leicestershire, and Johane his wife, and Francis HUCKELL of Hitchin Yeoman, and Thomas HUCKELL of Hitchin Yeoman, his son and heir: a capital messuage in Bancroft Street in which Charles RAYNER did lately dwell and 41½ acres of land belonging to the said messuage which premises were sometime the land and tenements of William Brockett late of Hitchin yeoman deceased, father of the said Edward. And also a close of pasture called Silver Street Close containing 7 acres late the land of John Mattock Gent and 3 acres of arable land in Moremead Field now in the tenure of F and T Huckell to their use.56

Here is the translation of a final concord of 24 April 1631 between Andrew SEWERTYE and John DAYE plaintiffs and Edward Brockett and Johanna his wife deforciants of a messuage, a garden, an orchard, 44 acres of (arable) land, 5 acres of meadow and 10 acres of pasture with appurtenances in Hitchin alias Hutchin and Ippollitts: +Read more

In the sale of arable land in Welchmans Croft in 1623 Edward was “of Hitchin”, but he was not recorded in the list of taxpayers for Hitchin in 1628,58 and by the 1631-2 sale of the Bancroft Street property he and wife Joanna were “of Shenton, Leicestershire”. It isn’t known where they lived after selling the Bancroft Street property in 1631-2. It is unlikely that he was the Edward Brockett who married in 1635 in nearby Ippollits to Ann PAPWORTH and had a daughter there Ann bap 30 Mar 1637.59 In 1652 Edward’s brother John told a Chancery court that for 9 or 10 years after 1623 Edward’s whereabouts was unknown to him but then he settled somewhere in Wales, where he was then. Between 1608-63 TNA has no other tax lists for Herts with names of individuals. But he was still alive 27 Nov 1658 when James Hanscombe of Shillington left him £40 in his Will. However the Edward Brockett recorded with 4 hearths in Hitchin in the April and September 1663 hearth subsidy returns for the whole of Hitchin hundred, which included Pirton,60 would have been Edward II of Walsworth b by 1617 d 1687.

Page Last Updated: September 20, 2020


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


[1] As shown by the 1622 case brought by Spurling against William (TNA C3/378/60).

[2] Hine n d p 68.

[3] Hey 1998 p 341.

[4] Holwell Parish Register.

[5] Hitchin Parish Register

[6] Fleck and Poole 1999 p 31.

[7] Recorded in the parish registers.

[8] Hitchin Parish Register.

[9] IGI.

[10] The IGI has 2 marriages, both at St Martin Vintry: 8 Sep 1620 to ... BRUETT and 22 Sep 1623 to Anne BRICE.


[12] Hitchin Parish Register

[13] TNA C2 ChasI/B167/98 summarised.

[14] Radwell Parish Register, image accessed from FMP 26 Jan 2020.

[15] IGI.

[16] Hitchin Parish Register

[17] Hitchin Parish Register.

[18] Hitchin Parish Register.

[19] TNA E179/248/17.

[20] Proved Bedford 10 Apr 1573. A summary can be found on the Bedfordshire Archives Service Catalogue item ABP/W1573/133.

[21] Proved Bedford 12 Oct 1592. A summary can be found on the Bedfordshire Archives Service Catalogue item ABP/W1592/34.

[22] Proved Bedford 14 Feb 1661. A summary can be found on the Bedfordshire Archives Service Catalogue item ABP/W1592/34.

[23] IGI.

[24] Proved PCC 1641 3 Aug 1642. A summary can be found on the Bedfordshire Archives Service Catalogue item HE212.

[25] HALS 56HW46, proved 6 May 1662.

[26] TNA E179/248/17. Reproduced by kind permission of the National Archives licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

[27] TNA SC 12/31/12—thanks to Bridget Howlett for this reference. Reproduced by kind permission of the National Archives licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

[28] Thanks to David Bethell.

[29] Communication from David Bethell.

[30] TNA SC 12/31/12 p 10v. Reproduced by kind permission of the National Archives licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

[31] TNA SC 12/31/12. Reproduced by kind permission of the National Archives licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

[32] HALS 28563.

[33] TNA E/179/121/260 and E/179/121/269.

[34] TNA E/179/121/269 but not present in E/179/121/260.

[35] TNA E/179/121/260 and E/179/121/269.

[36] HALS DE/Pm/19100 lines 6-17.

[37] Sold by son Edward 1623 Edward to Edward LUCAS of Ickleford, Miller, for £15.

[38] Hitchin Parish Register, published by FindMyPast, courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies, accessed 12 Aug 2019.

[39] TNA C3/378/60.

[40] Information from James Lively 7 Apr 2019.

[41] HALS 9HW80. Line numbers added for reference. Restored signature reproduced by kind permission of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies. An online image of the Will is available from FamilySearch's database Probate records of the Hitchin Division of the Court of the Archdeaconry of Huntingdon, 1529-1857, in the section 'Original Wills 1600-27' initial B, image 192, film 1520112, DGS 8307348, (accessed 17 Jul 2019).

[42] IGI.

[43] Fetherston, p 130.

[44] Visitation of Leicestershire, p 130, Chinnor is c 4 m SE of Thame. .

[45] Hitchin Parish Register

[46] IGI.

[47] PROB 11/190/148. Thanks to Henry Gray for this reference.

[48] HALS 56HW46. Thanks to Henry Gray for this reference.

[49] HALS DE/Pm/19106. For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[50] Reproduced by kind permission of HALS.

[51] HALS DE/Pm/19114, 19115

[52] Howlett 2000 p 73.

[53] Signed Joane Brockett in a neat hand.

[54] HALS DE/Pm/19109. .

[55] HALS DE/Pm/19519.

[56] HALS DE 3204.

[57] HALS DE/Pm/19109.

[58] TNA E 179/121/337.

[59] IGI.

[60] TNA E179_248_23 and 24