Glover - The Broket Archive

Glover (Harley ms 807)

Elizabethan pedigrees played specific roles in their day and while Glover’s Broket pedigree deviates in places from known facts, it has value.

Contents of this page:

  1. Introduction
  2. The pedigree
  3. Date and sources
  4. The painting
  5. Function
  6. Centre of the pedigree
  7. Lower part
  8. Upper part

1. Introduction

The British Library’s Harley manuscript 807 is a 120-folio note book of pedigrees ‘in the hand writynge of Robert Glover Esq., Somerset Herald‘, according to a 17th C inscription on the front page. The book measures c 35×22 cm. For his reference and record Glover sketched numerous coats of arms in trick—with tinctures denoted by initial letters, like g for ‘gules’ red and az for ‘azure’ blue. He then passed these notes to College of Arms artists to produce illuminated paintings on parchment for clients to display.

On folios 44 and 45 Glover sketched a Broket pedigree—from now on referred to as ‘Harley 807’—spanning 3 pages and 12 generations, the last 6 of which feature the eldest Wheathampstead line. The pedigreee has no dates, but 30-year-generation gaps would provide a birth date of c 1220 for Edward Broket of Steton at the top.

Its value:

  1. It is a good example of Elizabethan genealogy.
  2. It shows how the head of the Wheathampstead Brockett dynasty portrayed his ancestry and heraldry.
  3. Behind its contemporary context and creativity there is sound genealogical information.
  4. It was reproduced literally in the 1860 Gateshead pedigree, which in turn was republished in New Jersey 1905. From there it has become widely available in various forms on the internet.

2. The pedigree

See the separate page.

3. Date and sources

Harley 807 was a note book—professional but undated. The Catalogue of the Harleian MSS gave no date.1 Glover was Somerset Herald from 1570 till his death in 1588. Although he would have worked at the College of Arms before 1570, a book like this came from his time as Somerset Herald. Generation 12 on the pedigree, where John is not yet ‘Sir’, dates it pre 1577 when he was knighted.

  • Glover would have visited John and been entertained at Brockett Hall as he gathered his information. They probably let him read or copy documents. In small, faint writing bottom left of f44 a note says ‘out of an old parchemin Rolle’, implying that data on the earlier Broket generations came from an older written source.
  • Additional and explanatory information would have been oral.
  • The Herts Brokets had only sold their estate in Yorkshire a decade previously, so their knowledge about the place of their ancestors would have been informed by visits to the area. Glover’s own Visitation to Yorkshire, which included Bolton Percy, was not till 1585.
  • The alabaster tomb of Sir John I with its heraldry was in Wheathampstead parish church for Glover to consult.

4. The painting

In Elizabeth I’s time it became the fashion amongst the nobility and gentry to construct family trees and display them as works of art. Elizabeth had an elaborate pedigree, illuminated in gold and bright colours, tracing her ancestry all the way back to Adam. It now hangs in the Long Gallery at Hatfield House, a short horse ride from Brocket Hall.2

Although Harley 807 itself is a black ink sketch with arms in trick, one should think of an illuminated copy hanging in a prominent place in the late 16th C Hall for all to see.

Three elements of the painting would strike the viewer, in order of impact on the eye:

  1. shields
  2. lines
  3. names.

4.1. Shields are colourful and catch the eye. They made a visual and readily understandable statement about members of a dynasty and if people couldn’t read the names they either recognised arms they already knew or could have them readily explained.

With Harley 807 specifically:

  • Every Broket generation has a shield immediately below the heir’s marriage. They are halved, the Broket arms to the left—often implied from the previous generation, so left blank in the sketch—and the wife’s to the right. If she was an heiress it is made explicit in writing.
  • The FitzSimons’ line only has arms in two places: at the top and where it joins the Brokets’. Wives were probably armigerous, but the aim was to build up the achievement of the Broket siderather than the FitzSimon’s.
  • The progress of the shields down the pedigree culminates in the achievements of the two living Brokets at the base: John and Edward. These are at least twice the size of earlier shields, with John’s the central and larger of the two. John’s—halved with a Lytton heiress’—is simply Broket and Bensted, i.e. his father and mother’s arms. That of Edward—unmarried at the time—reflects 10 earlier arms and has a crescent in the middle to indicate the second son.

4.2. Lines. After the shields the lines of descent would next strike the Elizabethan viewer. Harley 807’s diagrammatic symmetry tells a clear story:

  • The centre—generation 7—is the crux. Above it the design is bilineal, below it monolineal.
  • Above the centre 2 lines reach upwards symmetrically through 6 generations.
  • Below the centre, despite 5 or more children in each generation, only one line descends. Collaterals come to nothing highlighting the main line.
  • The exception of the Musley side line to the right of the centre makes a particular legal point—it was a line of inheritance that failed.

4.3. Names. Impressed by the heraldry and the linear genealogy the names then took the viewer into oral history itself. Each name was a peg for hanging tales of the past.

5. Function

Harley 807 is not a family tree in our sense today—a comprehensive chart of the individual members of this Broket clan. As well as pride, it had 3 main functions:

  1. Property
  2. Primogeniture
  3. Prestige

5.1. Property

The primary function was to defend and legitimise the right to land.+

“In earlier centuries the establishment of a pedigree was often of practical value in an unscrupulous world, when a challenge at a court of law might deprive a family of its inheritance.3
“Members of the propertied classes took care during this period [1450-1700] to maintain a fairly broad knowledge of their kindred … In an epoch when the land law was complex and uncertain titles and ingenious claimants abounded, it made sense to know who one’s ancestors and collateral kindred were.”4

But knowing one’s kin was not the same as detailing them on a pedigree. Only those who had a right to the estate were followed up on the pedigree. In a Percy pedigree, for instance, younger sons were only included if they played a role in the growth of the estates.5 Glover’s Herts Brockett clients undoubtedly knew their Yorkshire kin well; they were their local landlords there till the 1560s, a mere decade earlier. But they are absent from Harley 807. Yeoman kin nearby in Hertfordshire likewise. Omitting cadet lines guarded against any potential claims to inheritance.

Shields on pedigrees were also claims to land. In feudal times bearing arms had been inseparable from holding land, and although by the 16th C the feudal system was a fossil, having a heraldic pedigree was still a clear visual statement of one’s ownership of property. Representing the main Wheathampstead estate,the FitzSimon arms—gules three escutcheons argent—carry through to Edward’s achievement in generation 12, clearly placed on the right of the top row balancing the Broket arms top left.

Pedigrees are thus found in land rental books. BL ms Add 29438 (from 1580-3) for example, has a list of the descent of Brokett heirs in amongst the financial accounts of Simonside, Durrantes Hyde, Thebridge, Hide and other nearby manors in 16-18th C Herts.

The property rights claimed by Harley 807 were principally:

  1. the FitzSimon Wheathampstead estates—with a dismissal of any Musley claims
  2. Broket Hall in Yorkshire
  3. Broket Hall in Hertfordshire.

From the point of view of property, the FitzSimons were actually more important than generations 1-5 of the Brokets, who were there more for family pride.

5.2. Primogeniture

The heir in each generation was highlighted by the addition of the surname Broket. The right of the heir to inherit the land to the exclusion of others—primogeniture—is clear from Harley 807’s narrow, vertical format. It displays the descent of Broket property through the heir in each generation and excludes all collateral lines. Children other than the heir are listed in each generation, for sure, but rather to dismiss any potential claim. Glover usually wrote that they died ‘sine prole’—without children—or ‘sans issu’; giving them no descendants emphasised the eldest line.

So long as the main male line did not fail, there was no need to trace cadet lines. For the purpose in hand, it was in fact better not to—they would divert the focus from the eldest line. For example:

  • Edward of generation 10 had been Sheriff, MP and the second senior member of the dynasty at its peak. He had 4 sons with property, but Harley 807 mentions none.
  • The son of Nicholas of generation 11, owner of Mackery End, Wheathampstead and later to becomeSir John III, is not mentioned. Harley 807’s focus is on the line of Sir John I and Margaret Bensted.

Harley 807’s frequent ‘sine prole is genealogically unreliable for the same reasons. The Will of Edward of generation 8, for instance, mentioned 3 surviving sons of full age in 1485:

  1. John: the heir who inherited all the Wheathampstead lands, as well as Broket Hall in Appleton
  2. Robert: co-executor of the will, legatee of Jewleas Manor in Bolton Percy and whose descendants were local Lords in Appleton until the 1560s, little more than a decade before Glover drew up the pedigree
  3. William: legatee of Herons Manor near Wheathampstead, probable father of William I of Hitchin.

Harley 807, however, labels both Robert and William sine prole. What this actually meant was that their descendants did not figure in the Wheathampstead line’s inheritance concerns of 3 generations later. Both without doubt would have been at least 40 years of age in 1485 and heads of families:+

“No single man would usually take charge of the land. The master of a family was expected to be a householder. In the city of Coventry in the 16th C if he was not a householder he was outside civil society. Marriage was the entry to full membership to the society of our ancestors.”6

5.3. Prestige

Marriage to arms-bearing heiresses in Harley 807’s earlier generations of the Yorkshire Brokets served to heighten prestige and authority. Heiresses to a defunct line, like Fauconberg, were especially useful tools in an Elizabethan herald’s genealogical kit. The Fauconberg arms carried right through to Edward’s escutcheon at the bottom of Harley 807.

In an age of widespread illiteracy and of the use of parchment for only important purposes, the effect of painting a pedigree on parchment was almost ‘to write it in stone’. There are also examples of creative heraldry literally being written in stone, like the tombs of the Sir Johns I and II in Wheathampstead and Hatfield.

Although late medieval lords and gentry were essentially one social group,7 the gentry—particularly knightly families—aspired to rise within it. Marrying heiresses of peers was to be on the threshold of the peerage, as with the knightly families of Conyers and Strangways marrying Darcy and Fauconberg.8

6. Centre of the pedigree: Generations 6-8

These 3 generations form the crux of the pedigree—the establishment of the dynasty c 1373-1507, its location in Hertfordshire and the convergence of 2 ancestral lines. Harley 807 was compiled up to 70 years later, sufficient interval to allow for improvement by means of 2 crucial reconstructions:

  1. Edward, husband of Elizabeth Thwaites, rather than the brother of Thomas and Elizabeth Ash, became their son. Without this reconstruction the FitzSimon line would be lost.
  2. Dionice, rather than a Sampson, became a far more prestigious Fauconberg. With this reconstruction the succession of heiresses marrying in to the 6 first generations on the Broket side reached a Yorkshire climax.

6.1. Edward ‘son’ of Thomas

Thomas the founder of the Hertfordshire Broket dynasty and his brother Edward the 2nd head of the dynasty preceded its rise to knighthood by only 3 generations. Both would have been prominent in descendants’ memories, yet Harley 807 records Thomas and Edward as father and son.

To be able to include the FitzSimon arms in theirs—and make their title to their estates more secure—the Brokets needed to claim direct FitzSimon descent. One of the main points in Sir John I’s defence against a challenge in court to one manor in 1547, was that “he hathe all the said manour of Thebrydge by dyscent lynyally from his auncestours”.

6.2. Dionice ‘Fauconberg’

Thomas married ‘Dionice one of the daughters and heires to L[ord] Fauconbrege’. 18th C Spains Hall descendants made this more specific according to the 1860 Gateshead pedigree. But while Dionice did not descend from that Lord Fauconberg, she did indeed descend from a younger Fauconberg line whose heiress had married a Sampson, 4 generations before Dionice.

Thomas appears to have assumed arms himself by modifying his wife’s. Harley 807, while removing such an obvious source, perhaps retains an echo in the arms of Maude Gouer, the first heiress to marry a Broket. The Sampson name was too recent to be removed entirely and was relegated to a brother 3 generations earlier—although anonymously and without arms—’John maried one of the d of Samson’.

  • Both Sampsons and Fauconbergs had died out in the male line, so Glover could be a creative genealogist.
  • The Sampsons had been county and city gentry, the Fauconbergs nobility.
  • To gild the lily, Dionice was not just given the arms of 1 noble family—Fauconberg—but also of Neville, who were moreover related to royalty.

6.3. Other significant elements of this centre part of the pedigree

1. It claims that the Musley line had failed with Richard son of John son of John and Christine. John—presumably husband of Christine FitzSimon—was recorded 1428 and their son John Moseley Esq referred to in 1477. But heirs Robert and Elizabeth Mosely—absent from Harley 807—are recorded in Broket documents 1477-88.

2. ‘Sir’ Thomas Broket ‘built Broket Hall’. The title ‘Sir’ at first sight may look like fabrication and aggrandizement of ancestors by Glover for his clients, but Thomas certainly bore arms. Bearing arms originally meant being a knight and was related to how much land you owned.

Considering that he had the resources to endow the building of the Lady Chapel in Bolton Percy Church, Thomas would undoubtedly have added to Southwood, run down perhaps from the Sampsons’ decline in prosperity. That it was thereafter called Brockethall suggests that he did not just extend, but rebuilt it.

3. Thomas and Elizabeth Asche are also given a daughter: ‘Elizabeth maried vnto Haselrig’. The Haselrigs were nobility. Elizabeth was probably in fact a sister rather than the daughter of Thomas. Thomas and Elizabeth died without heirs.

4. This section is where the location in Hertfordshire was established, so Clutterbuck and Berry, while apparently dependent on Harley 807, understandably did not trace the line back before its appearance in Herts.

7. Lower part of the pedigree: Generations 9-12

John’s heraldic achievement on marrying Helen Lytton is a conclusion to the pedigree. But their marriage was in the 1560s, so the pedigree was not produced for the marriage, nor even in the first years after it. The couple had daughters, but no sons. Hence younger brother Edward’s achievement is there too, as the heir and a secondary conclusion:+

Quarterly of 10 with a crescent in the middle, signifying the second son.
1. Or a cross flory sable—Broket
2. Gules on a saltire argent a fleur de lys for difference—Neville. Ascribed to Dyonise in generation 6.
3. Gules on a fretty, or, a canton? Not in Harley 807 above.
4. Or a lion rampant azure—Fauconberg. Ascribed to Dyonise in generation 6.
5. Gules three escutcheons—FitzSimon
6. Or on a pile azure a griffin passant of the field—Broket? Ascribed to Dyonise in generation 2.
7. Gules a fess truncetted between two lions passant or—Harwood. Ascribed to Lucy in generation 4.
8. Arms ascribed to Dorothe Huson in generation 10.
9. Arms ascribed to Dorothe Huson in generation 10.
10. Gules three bars gemelles—Bensted.
These arms correspond to parts of the arms quarterly of 18 in the College of Arms of Edward’s grandson Edward.9 The Neville arms were described there as gules a saltire argent an annulet for difference—signifying the fifth son.

Note: In generation 10 for Elizabeth vnto Sr Nicholas Harington—read Barrington.

8. Upper part of the pedigree: Generations 1-5

Above William and Elizabeth Asche the FitzSimon side as a whole represented the descent of the Wheathampstead property and created the impression of an inheritance time out of mind—challenge it if you dare!

Above Thomas and Dionice the Broket side was largely beyond verification by records and primarily concerned prestige. It lent antiquity to the line. Yorkshire ancestors were irrelevant to property inheritance in Herts and too distant to affect primogeniture. Five features emerge:

  1. Wives and heiresses’ arms
  2. Steton
  3. Number of generations
  4. FitzSimons
  5. Male first names.

8.1. Wives and heiresses’ arms

Each and every wife marrying a Broket was given arms. While this may have been correct from the time of Dionice onwards, earlier wives’ names echoed prestigious Yorkshire families, enhancing prestige and improving credentials. Several may have been embellished recollections of ancient Percy loyalties: the 3rd Earl of Northumberland held the wardship of William Plumpton in the 1420s and Sir William Ritherwas a Percy retainer in 1453.10

Generation 1: The arms of Maude Gouer—while not corresponding to any Gower arms in the Complete Peerage or in Burke’s General Armory—hint at the adoption of a wife’s arms as the origin of the Broket cross flory.

Generation 2: The arms of Dyonise—or, on a pile, azure, a griffin passant of the field—were given in Burke’s General Armory as the earliest Broket arms.

Generation 4: Harwood: gules, a fess truncetted between two lions passant, or. These arms were used on Broket seals preserved in the British Library—Harl Charter 112, Addit Charters 705, 35512-3 dating to 1577, 1578 and 1609.11

8.2. Steton

One of the main statements of this top part of the pedigree was that Steton was the ancestral home.

The 5 generations before Thomas and Dionice—married by 1393—take the line back to c 1220. This is about right for the Yorkshire Ainsty where John of Newton Kyme was recorded in 1260. The earliest surviving Steeton Broket record dates from 1303-15 although none may have been there in 1269.12

If Thomas, husband of Dionice, was born in Bolton Percy c 1370, then his father would probably have been a poll-tax payer there in 1379. Harley 807 gives Thomas’ parents as Thomas and Elizabeth Rider, but the 1379 poll tax list had no Thomas Broket for Bolton Percy nor indeed for the Ainsty. In 1379 there were 2 Broket households in the parish of Bolton Percy but neither Nicholas nor Cecilia figure on Harley 807. In Harley 807, however, this Thomas is not ‘of Steton’, like his ancestors, which could perhaps explain. Thomas husband of Elizabeth Rider could therefore be taken as Thomas the mainperner from elsewhere in Yorkshire, although this has been shown as unlikely. No other contemporary evidence of such a Thomas Broket has been found. And although according to Harley 807 he married a wife from the Ainsty family of the Riders or Rythers, no other record of such a marriage to a Rider has been found. Nonetheless, Harley 807’s Thomas of the previous generation—husband of Lucy Harewood—certainly corresponds with theThomas of Steton recorded 1303-35.

8.3. Number of generations

The number of Broket generations matches that of the FitzSimons. This will not have been fortuitous—the Brokets were to be seen as deep rooted and as long established as the FitzSimons. The symmetry of the number of generations would have been made particularly visible on the final work of art. The 1860 Gateshead pedigree missed out generation 4—the 3 children of Lyonell and Margery Darcy—but it was not obvious as the symmetry of the manuscript had not been reflected in print.

8.4. FitzSimons

Harley 807’s FitzSimon descent varies from other records, and not only in the generations above Nicholas of generation 5. His even more recent son Edward and wife Cecilia daughter of John and Ida Cockayne—parents of Elizabeth wife of William Asche—are omitted. This may well have been deliberate as a first line of defence against possible inheritance claims.

Betwen 1480-1500 Richard Battaille had challenged Broket ownership of Symondes Hyde, the heart of their territory. In generation 4 Glover acknowledged that a FitzSimon and Battell had had issue, but relegated them to marriage to a daughter of a brother.

8.5. Male first names

The preponderance of Edwards among the Brokets of this upper part of the pedigree could be seen as back projection to reinforce the importance of Edward Broket husband of Elizabeth Thwaytes in the family’s later memory, the main line of which was by then named John.

Page Last Updated: September 11, 2020


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


[1] vol 1 p 455

[2] Hey 1993 pp 2-3

[3] Hey 1993 p 2

[4] Houlbrooke 1984 p 39

[5] Bean 1958 p 4

[6] Laslett 1983 p 12, slightly amended

[7] Pollard 1990 pp 86-9, 129

[8] Pollard 1990 p 90

[9] ms D24/ii/50

[10] Pollard 1990 pp 98, 248

[11] The Complete Peerage 1926 vol 5 p 286b

[12] Parker 1932 pp 166-7