Hertfordshire Brokets before the 16th C - The Broket Archive

Hertfordshire Brokets before the 16th C

Before the 16th C records of the following Hertfordshire Brokets have been found:

Johne Brokat of Sawbridgeworth 1294-1308
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 1505
John s/o Edward and Elizabeth b bef 1460 d 1532
Robert s/o Edward and Elizabeth d Wheathampstead 1505
Alice d/o Edward and Elizabeth
William s/o Edward and Elizabeth b 1460-65
Note: A span of years in this list—like 1294-1308—indicates several records of the same individual between those dates or an approximate range of birth or death—like b 1460-65. For transcriptions of the original Latin of translated records, please contact the Broket Archive.

See also Glover’s pedigree from 1570-77, on the separate page.

Johne Brokat  of Sawbridgeworth 1294-1308

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 1505

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 in 1505. It was previously thought she had died in 1507, see below. For more on 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 Broket died 1505

The second surviving son of Edward and Elizabeth nee Thwaites, Robert Broket was bequeathed Jewleas, a small manor near Appleton in Yorkshire Ainsty, but no further record of him in connection with Jewleas, nor in Yorkshire, has been found. Robert and his mother were co-executors of Edward’s Will, proved 3 Dec 1488 at Lam’hith—i.e. the PCC in Lambeth, London—by Edward’s son-in-law Thomas Leventhorp, and they were given adminstration of Edward’s estate.

Subsequently, Robert was recorded in 1498-1500 in the outcome of a plea at the court of Common Pleas in Westminster sent to the sheriff of Hertfordshire—where he was presumed to be. The plea had been made by Thomas Trusser and Thomas Bassyngbourn Esq and reported on in Hilary term in 13 Henry VII (1498), and again in Hilary term 15 Henry VII (1500), when the case was postponed for lack of jurors.8 The allegation was that Robert Broket had taken and kept grazing animals (avers) belonging to Thomas Trusser.

In 2023 manorial records were found that revealed that both Robert and his mother Elizabeth had held copyhold property in Wheathampstead and died in 1505. For Elizabeth see above, but regarding Robert, the following extract from the court roll held in Harpenden on the Friday before the feast of St Nicholas the bishop 21 Henry VII (4 Dec 1505), shows that he had died that year:

WAM 8950 Robert Broket 1505

Translation into English:
[marginal heading not included in the image] “Death
Heriot one horse worth 9s, to be rendered to the farmer
“And that Robert Broket, who held by court roll from the lord one messuage with a croft adjoining, late of Richard Worliche, has died since the last court seised thereof; and that John Broket is his brother and next heir thereof. And he gives the lord for heriot a horse worth (as in the [marginal] heading [9s]). And it is ordered to notify the said John to be here at the next court to do and receive whatever the court may decide touching the premises &c.”9

Before learning in Aug 2023 of this property of Robert’s in Wheathampstead, it had been assumed on this Broket Archive website that Robert had had family up in Appleton in Yorkshire, at least a namesake son who died in 1543—see the separate page—and whose descendants were recorded as lords of the main Broket estates up there, presumably as tenants on behalf of the eldest line down in Hertfordshire. However, that the court roll said that Robert’s next heir was his brother John would normally mean he had no surviving children of his own.

Robert Broket and his mother Elizabeth were buried in Wheathampstead Church in the same year. That Robert died in 1505 is evidenced by the court roll entry above—and indeed Elizabeth by another, see the separate page—however a much later abstract of the Wheathampstead Parish Registers says it was in 1507 (22 Henry VII):10

Robert and Elizabeth Broket bur Wheathampstead Church 1507 [sic]
“By an ancient Book of the Church-wardins Accounts, I find these following Persons, Bur. within this parish Church.
– Mr Robert Broket sepult. in Ecclesia. 22.H.7.1507.

– The Lady Elizabeth Brocket in the Church 22.H.7. 1507.” [with a small knight’s helmet drawn beside]

Comment: The Wheathampstead Parish Registers before 1690 were rumoured to have been lost in a fire in the 18th C but an abstract of records of “Principal Families” from them is preserved in a transcription written up Edward Steele before the fire, a small extract from which is in the image above.

At the end of his selected records of “Births, Burials and Marriages” from the Parish Registers themselves, Steele transcribed records of 22 burials in the Church between 1507-31 that he found from an “ancient Book of the Church-wardins Accounts”. The first 10 of the 22 are all from 1507, including a single entry for “John Landy, His Wife, & 3 Children” following one for a “Mrs Landy in le Church porch”. The remaining 12 are spread out between 1511-31. Presumably the error regarding Robert and Elizabeth occurred in the copying up at some stage, whether by parish clerk, Churchwardens or Steele. 1507-31 was of course before parish registers were first required to be kept in 1538.

For more on the Wheathampstead Parish Registers, see the separate page, and for other details about Robert in Yorkshire 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.11

William son of Edward and Elizabeth b 1460-65

Only the following Brokets have been found in Hertfordshire records from the mid to late 15th C:

John of Hatfield, recorded just the once early on in 1428, see above.
Thomas of Yorkshire and Wheathampstead d 1477, who married the heiress to the FitzSimon estates but died without issue, see above.
Thomas’ brother and heir Edward of Yorkshire and Wheathampsted, d 1488, see above.
Edward’s eldest son and heir John of Wheathampsted, d 1532, see above.
Edward’s second son Robert of Yorkshire and Wheathampsted, d 1505, see above.
A William in Ippollitts, near Hitchin, in 1512, presumed to be Edward’s third surviving son, William, bequeathed Herons near Wheathampstead in Edward’s Will of 1488.

The previous record so far found of a Hertfordshire Broket was 130 years before in a different part of the county and from different origins, see above.

Similarly, in the generation following Edward in the early 16th C only 3 Brokets have once again been found in Hertfordshire records – each with the name of one of the 3 sons mentioned in Edward’s Will: John, Robert and William. 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 other two sons Robert and William.

The second son Robert was left Jewleas, a small manor in Yorkshire. Prior to his father removing to Hertfordshire, Robert probably lived in Yorkshire—his previously-presumed descendants did so and were recorded as lords of the main Broket estates up there, presumably as tenants on behalf of the eldest line down in Hertfordshire—however that he had direct descendants is no longer certian. Robert himself was however recorded in Hertfordshire in the 1490s and indeed he died there in Wheathampstead in 1505.

William, the youngest 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 William never actually inherited it. The feoffment of it that Edward had willed to be drawn up in favour of William was probably never carried out, see the separate page. 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.

There is also a record of a 1512 William Brokett who 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 were “often met with in the perennial form of the younger brother’s lament”.13 Moreover, it is scarcely feasible that the defendant in this case could have been William Broket I of Hitchin, who according to calculations would only have been aged 13-19 in 1512, too young to have been a former Husbandman dealing in quarters of barley.

Records of Edward’s sons John and Robert show no sons or grandsons called called William.

In the 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.

William’s birth date

So when might this William, son of Edward d 1488, and most probably recorded in 1512, been born? We estimate 1460-65 for the following reasons:

  • His parents had married in 1450. Given the circumstances of childbirth at the time, William could well have been his mother’s 5th or 6th child at least, and perhaps even her 6th or 7th pregnancy. Allowing a gap of 24 months between each pregnancy he would not therefore have been born much earlier than 10-14 years after the marriage, i.e. 1460-64.
  • His father Edward’s Will, written 22 Jul 1485, bequeathed William the manor of Herons. He wouldn’t therefore have been a minor then, so would have been 20–22 at least, i.e. by Jul 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 “Margaret Broket Wydow” of Hitchin, who paid tax of 12d on 40s in goods in 1524, was his former wife.16

Margaret Broket 1524
And under u/v light:

Margaret Broket 1524 under u/v light
Possibly the same Margaret, Widow, was recorded in Hitchin some 22 years later, although her surname was spelt ‘Brickett’. Since no records of other Brikets have been found in Hitchin or its vicinity in that century, or indeed the ones before and after, we can fairly safely assume that her name was misspelt here and probably wrongly written up in and/or from field notes. The record was in a list of the property of the former Carmelite Friary in Hitchin, and comes in two documents, one dated 1546 and the other undated, but clearly from the same source.

  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 “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—this was William who died 1556. 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 in 1553, so the document was probably drawn up shortly after. It is probable that the 1546 Exchequer Survey was the source document from which the details—like Margaret Brickett’s name—were copied.

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 20, 2023


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] TNA CP40/943 and CP40/951, available online at AALT. For a translation contact the Broket Archive.

[9] WAM 8950, reproduced by kind permission of Westminster Abbey Archives.

[10] Bodleian Library Ms Gough’s Herts, no.4, image reproduced and edited with kind permission of the Western Manuscripts and Special Collections, Bodleian Library, Oxford.

[11] 1886 p 156.

[12] TNA CP 40/998; Hilary 3 Henry VIII.

[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. Reproduced by kind permission of the National Archives licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. Second image taken under a u/v lamp.

[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.

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