William Brockett of Hitchin III Yeoman
b c 1559-60 d 1623
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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
Orator John Brockett of Pirton, Herts, Grocer. Whereas William Brockett of Hitchin, Yeoman, deceased, late father of the Orator was seised in his demesne as of fee in a capital messuage and divers lands and tenemenents in Hitchin to the yearly value of £400 and upwards and goods and chattels worth £600 and upwards, sufficient to pay all his debts with a great overplus. William made his will 3 Sep 1620 for the benefit of his children, bequeathing to John, Orator, one of his younger sons £20 when he reached 23 years and made Edward his then sonne and heire apparant his sole executor. William died in Hitchin Feb 1623 and Edward proved the will, but subsequently unthriftily wasted and consumed the estate. 9 or 10 years later Edward absented himself to places unknown and in the end settled in Wales—where he is now. Your Orator reached 23 about 24 years since, but Edward refuses to pay the £20 and witnesses are long since dead. Your Orator is a poore man and havinge nothinge to maintayne himselfe withal, therefore requests a subpoena to make Edward come to Chancery.
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.
- Alice bap 11 Jul 1602 Hitchin.15 Only known child not mentioned in father’s Will of 1620.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- Robert Hanscombe of Holwell, Yeoman, written 1 Nov 1571:20 Bequest to Katherine, daughter of Matthew Hanscombe, a red heifer, 2 years old.
- Mathew Hanscombe of Holwell, Yeoman, written 12 Aug 1592:21 Bequest to eldest daughter Katherine £100 and 5 pairs of sheets.
- 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: …….
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 1600:27
It’ for xj +di’+ acres of arable land wth Dovin slad somtyme mr Francies; & lat Sargeant bayers — iiijd’ iiijd’ vj d’
& on quarter of a pownd of Coumynseed — ij d’
Which means: “Item for a burgage and a half in Bancroft Street next to Thomas Whittomar’s house 11½d. Item for 11½ acres of arable land with Dovin slad that belonged once to Mr Francis and lately to Sargeant Dayers 4d and one quarter of a pound of cummin seed 2d. Total rent 6d”.
As detailed in the 1600 purchase the 11½ acres comprised separate plots in Welchman’s Croft, including one larger one of about 3 acres called Dolphins slade.”Cumin seed was one of those mediaeval customary rents, like a pound of pepper, a red rose at Midsummer, a pair of white gloves, or a sore sparrowhawk, that are paid off, if at all, with a penny or two in later times”.29 The 11½ acres appear to have had two elements to their rent, each with its subtotal, the land itself either 4d and the other 2d (being the notional value of a pound of cummin seed). Then when added together the total in the margin came to 6d.
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”:30
The Rental recorded a further payment in 1600 of 4d “for 2 acres of arable, somtyme thomas gravlies & late thomas Drapers”:31
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:36Read more
estimacion three acres be yt more or lesse lyinge & beinge in the paryshe of Hitchin aforesaide in a certein feilde called Welchmans crofte, one hedd thereof abutteth on a Close of pasture
called Conynger toward the southe and thother hedd thereof abutteth on a close of pasture called Burford rey close late Edward Pulters Esquier towardes the northe, & lyeth a longe by the
Waie leadinge from Hitchin to Sheford / And eight acres & a haulf of arrable lande be they more or lesse lyinge in the saide feild called Welchmans crofte in diuerse peeces, whereof one
peece of two acres and a haulfe lyeth betwene the meadowe of the saide Henry Bowier called Lewyns on the northe & the lande of John knott on the southe one hedd thereof abutteth on
the said Close called Burford rey Close towardes the west, & one haulf acre lyinge in the same shott late in the tenure of John Tristram one acre of John knottes lyinge betwene the same & the said
peece of two acres & a haulf & one pece of three haulf acres lyinge in the same shott theste ende thereof beinge hedlande to a hedland pece of arrable lande conteyning two acres nowe John Tristrams
late the saide Henryes, thone hedd thereof abutteth on the saide Close called Burford Rey close, & one pece of three haulf acres37 late Edward Pulters Esquier lyinge in the same shott, betwene the
lande of John knott on the northe & the lande late Mr Fraunces on the southe, on hedd thereof abutteth on the saide Close called Burford rey Close towardes the west and thother hedd thereof abutteth on
the saide hedlande of the saide John Tristram towardes the este, & one pece of two acres & a haulf late Richard Fraunces Esquier next adioyninge to the saide three haulf acres last recited on
the northe & the lande of John Lawe on the southe, on hedd thereof abutteth on the saide meadowe called Dolphins slade / All which bargained premises nowe are or late were in the tenure or occupacion
of Marye Monke widowe & John Tristram or their assignes / …
Henry Bowier’s signature. Seal
Witnesses: Thomas Butteler?
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
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
William’s Will dated 3 Sep 1620, proved 22 Feb 1623, was signed with a shaky hand:41
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, FirsteRead more
7. I comend my Soule into the handes of allmightye god my heavenlye Father trustyng moste
8. assuredly to be saved by the Merrittes and deathe of Christe Iesus my onlye saviour & redemer
9. and my bodye to be buryed in Christian buryall. Item as Concerninge all my Worldlye goodes, I give
10. and bequeathe in manner following, Firste I give and bequeathe vnto Katherine my loving
11. Wife the One halfe of all my housholde stuffe whatsoever. Item I give and bequeathe vnto William
12. Brockett my sonn Tenn Shillynges. Item I give and bequeathe vnto Hanscombe Brockett my sonn
13. Tenn Shillynges. Item I give and bequeathe vnto John Brockett my sonn Twentye poundes of
14. Currante Englishe money to be payde vnto hym at his full age of Three and Twentye yeares.
15. Item I give and bequeathe vnto Thomas Brockett my sonn Twentye poundes of Currante
16. Englishe money to be payde vnto hym at his full age of Three and Twentye yeares. Item I
17. give and bequeathe vnto George Brockett my sonn Twentye poundes of Currante englishe money
18. to be payde vnto hym at his full age of One and Twentye yeares. Item I give and bequeathe
19. vnto Mathew Brockett my sonn Twentye poundes of Currante englishe money to be payde
20. vnto hym at his full age of One and Twentye yeares. Item I give and bequeathe vnto
21. Agnis Brockett my daughter Twentye poundes of Currante englishe money to be payde
22. vnto her at her full age of One and Twentye yeares. Item I give and bequeathe towarde
23. the reparacions of the parishe Churche of Hitchin Six Shillinges and Eighte pence. Item I
24. give and bequeathe vnto the poore people of Hitchin Six Shillinges and Eighte pence
25. to be distributed amongeste them at the time of my buryall. Item allthe residue of my goodes
26. debtes and Chattelles vnbequeathed my debtes beinge payde my funeral discharged and
27. the Legacies and bequeathes mencioned and Contayned in this my laste Will and
28. Testamente beinge performed and fulfilled I give and bequeathe vnto Edward Brockett
29. my sonn whome I make Constitute and appointe to be my sole Executor of this my
30. laste Will and Testament. In Witnes wherof I have herevnto sett my hande and
31. Seale the day and yeare firste aboue written. In the presence of James Turner senior
32. James Turner junior and John Turner
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.
Baptised in Hitchin 28 Dec 1595.42
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:
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Latin of the actual deal: Intr Andream Sewertye & Joh’em Daye quer’ et Edwardum Brockett & Johannam vxrem eius deforc’ de vno Mesuagio vno gardino vno pomario quadraginta & quatuor acris trre quinq’ acris Prati & decem acris Pasture cum ptin’ in Hitchin’ alias Hutchin’ & Ippollitts.57
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: March 29, 2020