Hertfordshire Brokets before the 16th C - The Broket Archive

Hertfordshire Brokets before the 16th C

Before the 16th C the following Hertfordshire Brokets were recorded:+

Johne Brokat of Sawbridgeworth 1294
John Brokett of Hatfield 1428
Thomas of Yorkshire and Wheathampstead d 1477
+++Elizabeth (Asshe) of Wheathampstead d 1482
Edward of Yorkshire and Wheathampstead b bef 1417 d 1488
+++Elizabeth (Thwaites) of Yorkshire and Wheathampstead d 1507
John s/o Edward and Elizabeth b bef 1460 d 1532
Robert s/o Edward and Elizabeth d Wheathampstead 1507
Alice d/o Edward and Elizabeth
William s/o Edward and Elizabeth b 1460-65

See also Glover’s pedigree from 1570-77.

Johne Brokat  of Sawbridgeworth 1294

Assessed for 2s and a farthing and 8d halfpenny in 10th and 6th tax lists for Sawbridgeworth 12941 and 1307,2 Johne Brokat was an isolated bearer of the name who established no line in Hertfordshire. Herts subsidies show no Brokets between Johne of Sawbridgworth in 1307 and John of Hatfield in 1428. Living well over a century before the 15th C immigrants from Yorkshire, it is farfetched to think of him as their early forerunner. Johne was no doubt of different stock, perhaps a Broket by byname only rather than by surname.

The 15-18th C Brokets of Hertfordshire originated from Yorkshire. Natives of Herts would have developed a number of clans in parishes spread around the local country, as the Brokets of Yorkshire themselves did by the 14th century. Thus the 1545 subsidy lists only 4 Brokets in Herts—1 in Hatfield, 3 in and around the market town of Hitchin—and all 16-18th C records of Herts Brokets can be linked to one or other of these 4.

John Brokett of Hatfield 1428

“The [commissioners] say that John Brokett holds half a fee in Hatfield formerly held by Hugh FitzSimon” says the 1428 Feudal Aid.3 Like the 1402 one, it was a one-off subsidy on parishes and knight’s fees. All tenants of land freely held were to pay a tax of 6s 8d per knight’s fee, the threshold of liability being a quarter of a knight’s fee.4

  • John’s entry is one in a list of all lands in England held direct from the king.
  • John would have been born by 1407.
  • It shows that a Broket other than Thomas who married Elizabeth Asshe (iii and iv below) was holding former FitzSimon lands and that the FitzSimon estates did not come to the Brokets solely through Elizabeth.
  • Sir Hugh FitzSimon had died 70-80 years earlier; his name was eponymous.
  • One of the commissioners overseeing the Herts subsidies 1402 and 1428 was Elizabeth’s father, William Asshe, who is not recorded as a tenant, however.5
  • The list also records that John Muslee held the other former Hugh FitzSimon lands listed—half a fee in Almeshoo, Gravele, Radewell and Berlee, and a quarter fee in Ykelford. This was presumably by right of his wife Christine, coheiress with sister Elizabeth who married William Asshe of the FitzSimon estate.
  • These Feudal Aids show that the only Brokett tenant-in-chief in England from 1431 back to 1284 was John. How he came to hold this half fee in Hatfield is not known. But since it was part of the FitzSimon estates, which within 4 years at the most had come to Thomas Broket , presumably through the influence of his father Thomas senior, Remembrancer, John would have been related—possibly another son of Thomas senior.

Thomas of Wheathampstead b before 1396 d 1477

Son of Thomas Broket, Remembrancer, and Dionisia Sampson. It was this man and his marriage to Elizabeth ASSHE, heiress to the FitzSimon estates, that firmly established Broket influence in Hertfordshire. By 1435 Thomas came to Parliament as Knight of the Shire. From Thomas on through to the end of the 16th C the Brokets were the main rivals in Wheathampstead of the Abbots of Westminster.6 It isn’t possible to think of Thomas other than as a close relative of John of Hatfield above—brothers perhaps. For details about Thomas see this separate page.

Elizabeth ASSHE of Wheathampstead d 1482

The FitzSimon estates had apparently descended through marriage to William Asshe and Elizabeth was his sole heiress. The first record of Elizabeth is from 1432 as wife of Thomas.7 Married women’s estate passed to their husbands during his life, so Elizabeth’s land transactions till Thomas’ death in 1477 are listed with his. As a widow—although no will survives—there was an IPM. For details about Elizabeth see this separate page.

Edward of Yorkshire and Wheathampstead b before 1417 d 1488

A younger son of Thomas Broket, Remembrancer, and Dionisia Sampson. The progenitor of the Hertfordshire Brockett dynasty, Edward inherited the estates in 1477 late in life from elder brother Thomas. For the 50 years since his parents died and while Thomas was in Hertfordshire, Edward had most likely managed the Yorkshire Appleton estate. For details about Edward see this separate page.

Elizabeth THWAITES of Yorkshire and Wheathampstead d 1507

Wife of Edward. On Edward’s death she held half of 2 of his manors for life, so was ‘Lady Elizabeth Brocket’ in her own right from 1488 till her death at an old age in Wheathampstead 1507. For details about Elizabeth see this separate page.

John Esq of Wheathampstead b before 1460 d 1532

Eldest surviving son and heir of Edward and Elizabeth nee Thwaites. Uncle Thomas having no children, John would have been seen as the clan heir. The first Broket Sheriff of Herts 1507-8 and 1531-2. Married by 1484 Lucy, the only daughter of John PULTER of Hitchin, Sheriff of Bedfordshire 1453. For details about John see this separate page.

Robert died 1507

The second surviving son of Edward and Elizabeth nee Thwaites, Robert was left Jewleas, a small manor in Yorkshire, but no further record of Jewleas has been found. Robert may have stayed most of his life in Yorkshire—his descendants did at least and were recorded as lords of the main Broket estates up there, presumably as tenants on behalf of the eldest line down in Hertfordshire. Robert himself was recorded in Hertfordshire in the 1490s and indeed he died there in Wheathampstead in 1507. For details about Robert see this separate page.

Alice daughter of Edward and Elizabeth

Alice’s marriage to Thomas Perient Esq was an alliance between similar families, and the first major marriage of a Hertfordshire Broket daughter. Several Perients were Hertfordshire esquires in the 15-16th C and in the 17th one was a knight. Metcalfe wrongly named her Mary.8

William son of Edward and Elizabeth b 1460-65

3rd and youngest surviving son of Edward and Elizabeth nee Thwaites. In 1488 William was bequeathed the small manor of Herons in the north of Wheathampstead parish, after the life interest of his mother, who died 1507. But it seems that he never inherited it.

According to the VCH of Hertfordshire, ‘the manor of Herons consisted of a messuage and carucate of land in Wheathampstead, near to Gustardwood’.9 A carucate ‘varied according to the quality of the land but was about 120 acres’.10

Apparently all the Broket lands—both in Hertfordshire in Yorkshire—devolved to the eldest son John, who became the first Broket Sheriff of Essex and Herts in 1506; the family followed the system of primogeniture common among landowners at the time. Edward seems to have tried to mitigate this by leaving his two younger sons a small manor each, sufficient perhaps as a livelihood for their [future] family, however there is no evidence they actually inherited them:

In this generation following Edward (1500-32) records have been found for only three Brokets in Hertfordshire – each with the name of one of Edward’s three sons. Records are explicit that John was Edward’s first son, and since it is clear that this family from Yorkshire was the only Broket family in Hertfordshire at that time, the other two were with little doubt Edward’s second son Robert and third son William.
  1. The second son Robert was left Jewleas, a small manor in Yorkshire, but no further record of Jewleas has been found.
  2. Similarly, the third son, William, was left the small manor of Herons in North Wheathampstead down in Hertfordshire but no records of him owning it have been found. By 1532 Herons was a possession of his eldest brother John,11 and probably was so soon after Edward’s death in 1488. The feoffment of it Edward had willed to be drawn up in favour of William was probably never carried out. There is a record of William from 1512 which shows that he farmed in Ippollitts. Ippollitts was about 7 m N of Wheathampstead and a couple of miles S of Hitchin. The record was a Common Pleas suit, according to which William and two others owed Thomas Daldurn varying quantities of malt and barley. William Brokett allegedly owed 16 quarters of barley worth 60s. The three had not come to defend themselves, so the court ordered the sheriff in Hertfordshire to take them and bring them to court on 2 May 1512:12+Read More
    There was no fixed dividing line between Yeoman and Husbandman and under the system of primogeniture—which these Brokets appeared to follow—it was entirely possible for the younger son of an Esquire to work as a Husbandman. Downward social mobility of younger sons was rapid and complaints about it are ‘often met with in the perennial form of the younger brother’s lament’.13 Moreover, it is not feasible that the defendant in this case might have been William’s son, William I of Hitchin. In 1512 William I would only have been aged 13-19, too young to have been a former Husbandman dealing in quarters of barley.

In the next generation following, Hertfordshire records show 4 Broket heads of households: 1 Knight, 1 Esquire and 2 Yeomen.14 So the only known possible fathers of the 2 Yeomen were Robert and William. Robert had a son Robert who lived in Yorkshire, so it seems likely—if only from the name—that William was the father of William I of Hitchin. Moreover William had farmed in Ippollitts, close to Hitchin and where William I’s probable brother John had farmed. Alternatively but less likely, William I and John may have been younger sons of Robert, who perhaps came to Hertfordshire with their father, leaving their eldest brother in Yorkshire. Robert however was recorded in Wheathampstead.

William’s birth date

So when might William, their likely father, recorded in 1512, been born? It is estimated at 1460-65 for the following reasons:

  • His parents had married in 1450. Given the circumstances of childbirth at the time, William would probably have been his mother’s 5th or 6th child at least, and perhaps her 6th or 7th pregnancy. Allowing a gap of 24 months between each pregnancy he would not therefore have been born earlier than 10-14 years after the marriage, 1460-64.
  • His father Edward’s Will written 22 Jul 1485, bequeathed William the manor of Herons. He couldn’t therefore have been a minor, so would have been 20 or 21, or more. He would therefore have been born by 1465 at the latest.

William’s Wife

William son of Edward could have married by 1481-86, i.e. aged 21, but this would have been young, particularly for a youngest son. He probably didn’t marry much before 1487-95, i.e. aged 27-30. Laslett calculated the average age at first marriage in the 2nd half of the 16th C for males at about 26½ and for females about 23½.15 These were averages of course and individuals varied either side of the average.

When William died isn’t known, but it was before 1524, if—as is likely—the “Margeret Broket Widow” of Hitchin, who paid tax of 12d on 40s in goods in 1524, was his former wife.16

There are two other possible references to Margaret his wife, or rather widow:

  1. In the Exchequer Survey of the possessions of the former Carmelite Friary in Hitchin of 7 Apr 1546 Margaret Brickett widow is recorded “holding at will one tenement with a garden in Bull Street paying 8s a year”.17 Records of no other Bricketts have been found in Hitchin or its vicinity in that century, or indeed the ones before and after. “It is difficult to be certain that she was a Brockett rather than a Brickett, but given the variations in spelling at the time and lack of other Bricketts in Hitchin it seems likely… I think it is probable that it is the same name. 8 shillings seems similar or slightly less than the average rent charged for the other houses owned by the Priory in Bridge Street which were rented for 13s 4d, 16s, 13s 4d, 8s, and 6s.” The same survey mentioned William Brockett’s tenement in Bridge Street. The grant of the same property 3 months later spelt her name Margaret Bryket, widow.
  2. Amongst the Delme-Radcliffe papers is an undated Particulars of the Houses etc. that did belong to the Priory of White Carmelites at Hitchin, and were sold with it to Mr Ralph Radcliffe, there is a reference to “a messuage in Bull Street in the occupation of Margaret Brickett”.18 “Ralph Radcliffe bought Hitchin Priory after the Dissolution [of the Monasteries, i.e. between 1536 and 1541] but died in 1559”.19

As noted above, in the generation following Edward of Wheathampstead (1500-30s) records have been found for only three Broket men in Hertfordshire – each with little doubt one of Edward’s three sons. The wife of the eldest, Lucy PULTER, was from Hitchin. Margaret Broket or Bryket us the only other wife or widow recorded in Hertfordshire from that period, so she was probably the wife of the youngest son William, the former farmer of Ippollets. Robert the second son died in Wheathampstead. And if she had been William’s wife and the mother of William I of Hitchin, it would seem natural for her to live near her son after her husband died.

Page Last Updated: September 5, 2018


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


[1] TNA E179/120/3 m 9: Johne Brokat ijs qu.

[2] TNA E179/120/8 m 8 col.2: Johne Brokat viijd ob. See Brooker & Flood 1998. Johne is not evident in the Sawbridgeworth section of TNA E179/120/7 (rot 2 m 4) of 1306/7, but it is partially illegible, even with UV light.

[3] TNA E179/120/73 m 4 penult. 'Item dicunt quod Iohannes Brokett tenet dimidium feodo in Hatfeld quod Hugo filius Simonis quondam tenuit'.

[4] Jurkowski et al 1998 p 85.

[5] Feudal Aids 1284-1431 vol 2 p 442ff.

[6] Munby 1974 p 50.

[7] Chauncy 1826 vol 2 p 125.

[8] 1886 p 156.

[9] vol 2, p 302.

[10] Hey 1998, p 68.

[11] Herts IPM of John.

[12] TNA CP 40/998; Hilary 3 Henry VIII. For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[13] Laslett 1983 p 241.

[14] The 1545 subsidy: TNA E179/121/165; Brigg 1895 pp 225-30, 324-32

[15] 1983 p 83

[16] TNA E179/120/110

[17] TNA SC12/8/29—thanks to Bridget Howlett for this reference and for the following communication in inverted commas. Holding a tenement at will meant that her tenure could be terminated by the lord or her rent raised at any time.

[18] HALS DE 3092. Thanks to Bridget Howlett for this reference.

[19] Howlett 2012 p 42.