John Brokett of Ippollitts/Offley Yeoman
John was one of the four Broket heads of household in mid 16th C Hertfordshire. Offley was about 1 mile south of Hitchin, where his contemporaries William and Edward both held property. In 1545 he was farming in Ippollitts Parish, about 3 miles east of Offley (Subsidy Rolls). Paying only 3 pence tax in 1545 placed John further down the social scale than the others but his Will shows that he was part of their clan, in all likelihood William I of Hitchin’s brother. As such he would have been the grandson of Edward of Wheathampstead, the heir to the lands of Thomas, husband of Elizabeth Asshe. Thomas held land in Great Offley, but it’s unlikely it was he.
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In April 1544 John Broket esquire—who 2 years later was to become the first Sir John Brockett—made a plea against this John and his son John at the court of Common Pleas held at Westminster before John Baldewyn knight and his fellows, justices of the lord king de Banco, for Hilary term in the 35th year of the reign of Henry VIII. They were two of eight defendants against the allegation that they forcibly broke into a close of John Broket esquire’s at Graveley and Ipoletts and cut down and carried off his trees and underwood to the value of 100s and had not come to defend themselves. The court ordered the Hertfordshire sheriff to take John and the others and bring them to court on 27 April 1544:1 Read more
John Broket esquire appeared by his attorney for a fourth day against John Brokett late of Ipoletts in the county aforesaid senior yeoman, John Brokett late of Ipoletts in the county aforesaid junior yeoman, Thomas Cawell late of Langley in the county aforesaid laborer, Robert Kyng late of Ipoletts in the county aforesaid laborer, John Cawell late of Willion in the county aforesaid laborer, William Gardyner late of Willion in the county aforesaid laborer, William Cranwell late of Willion in the county aforesaid laborer and Thomas Sarles late of Ipoletts in the county aforesaid laborer, in a plea wherefore by force of arms they broke into a close of the said John Broket esquire at Graveley and Poletts and cut down and carried off his trees and underwood lately growing there, to the value of 100s, and [inflicted] other enormities [upon him] &c. to grave damage &c. and against the peace &c. And [the defendants] have not come; and it had been ordered the sheriff to attach them &c.; and the sheriff now reports that [the defendants] have nothing [in his bailiwick in lands or chattels whereby they might be attached] &c. Therefore let them be taken, to be here on the quindene of Easter &c.
Points to consider:
1. John was described as a ‘late’, ie former, Yeoman of Ippollitts. This was in April 1544 yet the following year John was recorded paying tax on property in Ippollitts. He must have sold property before 1544 and then purchased again before 1545.
2. John is termed ‘senior’ and since we know of no other Brokets in Ippollitts at the time, John junior would presumably have been his son. John junior is not mentioned in John senior’s Will, so possibly died between 1544-58.
3. Prior to ordering them to be ‘taken’, the Court had ordered them to be ‘attached’. For the original system of ‘attachment’:read more
All this system had largely become a fiction by Tudor times. When sheriffs say that someone has nothing in their bailiwick, it just means that the defendant was not gentry. When the sheriffs say that someone was not found, it means that the sheriffs have not looked for them. The mainpernors become fictitious, given names like John Doe and Richard Roe, or John Fenn and Richard Denn, &c. The whole process becomes a paper (or rather parchment) exercise, in which the defendants eventually make their peace with the plaintiffs outside the court, or go through a variety of ways of procrastinating the case (which can go on for years), or even actually come to trial. As is perhaps still the case today, there is a process of slow attrition, with attorneys’ expenses mounting up; but in Tudor times there was, over all, the real threat to the defendant of eventual outlawry, loss of all possessions and imprisonment.2
lviij The eight day of the monethe of September I John
brokett of Offleye in the countie of Hertford yeman being
of good and perfette memorye lawdede be god do make my
testamente and last will in manere and forme folowynge Read more
ffirst I and principallie I bequeithe my soull to allmyghtie
god oure lady synt Mary and to all the holie company
of heven And my body to be buryede in the church of Offley
Item I geue to the churche of lincoln iiijd Item I geue to
the highe aultere of Offleye for my tithes necligentlie
forgotten xijd Item I geue to the iiij poure children in
the town of Offleye vjs viijd Item I geue to the reparacons
of Offley churche iijs iiijd Item I geue to grace broket
my doughtere fourtie pounde with that the money that
goodman Symons hathe in keping of the same xl li’
Item I geue to Rose Brokett my doughtere xl li’ also And
that the seid Sumys to be paid at the days of maryag
And yf it fortune either of them to departe before the
day of maryage Then the other livynge to haue the
hole lxxx li’ Item I will that Robert Wellis shall haue
x li’ Item I geue to my ij doughters dwellinge at Stevyn
nage either of them ten sheipe Item I geue to grace and
Rose my doughters either of them ten sheipe Item I geue
to Richard brockett my sonne v sheipe Item I geue to my
doughtere Starken v sheipe Item I geue to Richard
boket and and [sic] to Thomas boket either of them v sheipe
Item I geue to Richard Leypare Alice Meyare and to
Katheryne Wellis and John Thresser euery one ij sheipe
Item I do ordeyn Mr Edwarde Broket esquyir my
ouereseare and he to haue for his good cownsell and
paynes aboute this my testament iiij li’ out of the Sumes
of money that – he doo owe me Item I do make Joone
my wiff my onlie executrixe of this my last will to whom
I do geue the reste of my goodis dettes and any thinge
that is due to me or that here after shalbe due my
dettes paid and legacies as is aforeseid Wittnesse herof
John Turnare clarke vicare of Offleye Rogere Henly
Thomas Felion Richarde Clark with other
His Will shows that:
- John was a yeoman of middling means. He had a flock of 70+ sheep and at least £84 8s in ready cash.
- John had the funds to lend money to a respected, senior kinsman, Edward of Letchworth Esq, whom he appointed his overseer. Edward was probably his first cousin.
- John’s daughter Grace was probably aged 10-15 in 1558. She had been left 20s in William I’s Will in 1556/7.
- The Bocketts of Hitchin are mentioned by Howlett.3
The Will of Richard Brockett Yeoman of Cosmer, Ippollitts written 18 Jan 1603,4 left bequests to his wife Johan, daughters Johan and Grace and the residue to his son and sole executor Nicholas. It wasn’t this Nicholas who had an interest in a ship which transported cargo to Virginia in the 1630s.
Page Last Updated: October 19, 2018