John Brokett of Offley - The Broket Archive

John Brokett of Ippollitts/Offley Yeoman
alive 1545

In 1545 John Broket of Ippollitts was one of the four Broket heads of household recorded in mid 16th C Hertfordshire.1 In 1558 John Brokett of Offley wrote his Will. Taken alongside other records listed below there can be little doubt that the 1545 John was the same man as the 1558 one. Both parishes bordered Hitchin, where his contemporaries William and Edward Broket both held property. The parish of Offley was about 1 mile south of Hitchin, and the parish of Ippollitts was about 3 miles east of Offley. While Hitchin town was a relatively large settlement, estimated to contain 245 families in 1563,2 neighbouring Ippollitts and Offley were parishes of scattered small hamlets of a few families, each with one slightly larger hamlet around the parish church. The hamlet of Gosmore or Gosmer, for instance, was nearer Ippollitts church than the hamlet of Charlton which was actually nearer to Hitchin town centre than to Ippollitts church. The parish records of Ippollitts and Offley have not been preserved so well as Hitchin’s.

Paying only 3 pence tax in 1545 placed John further down the social scale than William and Edward, 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. In 1450 Thomas held land in Great Offley.

Contents of this page:

  1. Plea 1544
  2. Testament and Will 1558
  3. Wife Johan’s Will 1570
  4. Son Richard and grandson Nicholas

Plea 1544

In April 1544 John Broket esquire—who 2 years later was to become the first Sir John Brockett—made a plea against our “John Brokett late of Ipoletts” and his son John at the court of Common Pleas held at Westminster in the 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 1544:3   Read more

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. The ‘late’ may have been a court inaccuracy, or less likely John may have sold property in Ippollitts 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

John’s Testament and Will 1558

Written 8 Sep 1558, proved 4 Jan 1558/9.5

In dei nomine Amen The yere of oure lord god millesimo CCCCC 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

His Will shows that:

  • John’s wife was Joone, i.e. Joan—in all likelihood, the Johan Brokett whose Will was proved in 1570.
  • John’s bequests to Alice Meyare and to Katheryne Wellis support the assumption that Johan his wife was the Johan Brokett whose Will was proved 1570. Johan appears to have been married to a Wells previously and her sister married a Meyger. Since Johan didn’t mention John’s children in her Will it looks as though they were from another marriage and that John as well as Johan had been married previously.
  • John gave bequests to the following children: Grace, Rose, 2 daughters living in Stevenage, Richard, and a daughter married to Starken. A John Sterk…  was assessed at 4d in Ippollitts in the 1545 subsidy.6 John’s daughter Grace was probably aged 10-15 in 1558. She had been left 20s in William I’s Will in 1556.
  • 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 possibly his first cousin, at any rate the doyen of the family.
  • That John left bequests to Richard and Thomas Boket was either a curious coincidence or a court copyist’s error. The surviving copy is a registered Will rather than an original. Since John had already mentioned an identical bequest—5 sheep—to “Richard Brockett my sonne”, another one to “Richard Boket” is unlikely to have been an error for his son, although there is also an ‘and-and’ dittography—“to Richard boket and and to Thomas boket”. It’s possible that the two may have been brothers of John—or just Thomas if Richard was a repeat—but no record of a Thomas, or other Richard, Broket have been found from the contemporary area. There were Bokets recorded in Colney and Kimpton and Hitchin in 17th and 18th C manor court books,7 but whether there were any in Offley earlier isn’t known.

Johan Brokett’s Will 1570

In the name of god amen I Iohan brokett of kookerhow in the parishe of offley in the countie of hartforde wyddowe+Read more

The assumption is that Johan—i.e. Joan—was John’s wife. Support for the assumption:

  1. John’s wife was called Johan.
  2. The likelihood of there having been two widows called Johan Brokett in the tiny settlement of Offley within 12 years is next to nil. Only one contemporary Offley Brockett family is known—John’s.
  3. John left bequests to Robert Wells, Katheryne Wellis and to Alice Meyare. Johan left bequests to Robert Wells, other Wellses and Meygers.

Some points about Joan’s Will:

  • Kookerhow is most likely modern-day Cockernhoe, a village 2½ miles SW of Great Offley, and in Johan’s time a hamlet of the parish.
  • She didn’t say the date when she wrote the Will. It was proved 10 May 1570 in Baldock (Arch Hunts).
  • Between her husband’s Will and hers their religion had changed.
  • John willed to be buried in the church, Joan in the churchyard.
  • The bequest to William Brokett of “one brasse pott with a hole in” is curious. It appears to be an expression of criticism or dislike. The William of nearby Hitchin at the time was not much more than 10 years old. The only other known William who had dealings in the area was William of Esyndon Gent, b 1521-6, d 1611, who was Clerk of the Peace for Hertfordshire 1570-1603. Perhaps there had been some altercation between Johan and him.

John’s son Richard and grandson Nicholas

Richard d 1604

1598: Richard Brockett and Edward Papworthe were both assessed at 4s for 20s in land in Ippollitts.9 William Brockett was assessed in Hitchin at 10s 8d tax for £4 in goods.10 No Brokets were assessed in Pirton or Weston.

The Will of Richard Brockett Yeoman of Cosmer, Ippollitts written 18 Jan 1603/4, proved Hitchin 7 Aug 1604.11+

Read more

His Will shows that:

  • His wife was Johan, i.e. Joan. He left her his best milch cow, his best hog, his best ewe, and half of his household stuff.
  • They had two daughters living, both married: Johan Auncell and Elizabeth Braye. It seems less likely that they had two daughters named Elizabeth than that she had married twice, once to Field, and currently to Braye.
  • Elizabeth his daughter had two daughters alive of her own: Grace and Johan Field.
  • John apparently had one son living—Nicholas, who was his sole Executor, therefore born before 1583. The residue went to him.

An inventory of his goods and chattels was also made, dated 7 Aug 1604 Hitchin:

+Read more

The inventory gives an insight into a Yeoman family’s way of life:

  • His house had two bedrooms above the main downstairs area, the hall. There was also a kitchen.
  • There was a stable and a barn.
  • There were 4 Horses and various cattle, pigs and sheep.
  • Wheat and barley were growing in about 10 acres of land, and oats and lentils in another 7½ acres.
  • Thomas Bybsworthe of Ipollyttes, one of the appraisers was probably the son of John Bybsworth, one of the two executors of whose Will in 1549 had been Johne Brokette, probably Richard’s father.12
  • The other appraiser was Robert Draper of Hytchyn, who was probably one of the witnesses to Richard’s Will.

Nicholas d 1645

Four records have so far been found:

1603/4: As executor of his father’s Will.

1636-7: Two passing mentions to Nicholas’ land in Maydencroft manor have been found in the Maydencroft manorial records, from 1636 and 37:13

“includes 7½ acres lying between land of John Wallen alias Poulter on the south and the land of Simon Lucas on the north, one head abutting on the land of William Giver gent on the east and on the land of Nich Brockett to the west.”14

Robert Papworth gentleman admitted in fee to 7 acres of land in Ridge Field lying next Maydencroft Lane the land of Nicholas Brockett on the south and west parts thereof surrendered by Francis and Anne Rogers. Rent 4s 1¾d. Fine £7.15

Maydencroft manor was in the Parish of St Ippolyts.

1645: Nicholas’ burial 24 Jul: “Nicolaus Brocket Sepultus erat 24o die Julij”.16

No details of any family are known. Since no further Brokets were recorded in the Ippollitts registers it looks as though the family died our, or perhaps moved elsewhere. It wouldn’t have been this Nicholas who had an interest in a ship which transported cargo to Virginia in the 1630s.

Page Last Updated: June 18, 2019


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


[1] TNA E179/121/165; Brigg 1895 vol 1 p 331.

[2] Falvey 2019 p 23.

[3] Hilary 1544 TNA CP 40/1120. For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[4] I am grateful to David Bethell for this explanation (June 2015).

[5] Archdeaconry Court of Huntingdon, f 73.

[6] TNA E179/121/165; Brigg 1895 vol 1 p 331.

[7] TNA LR3/26; Gerish Ch110; Howlett 2000 p 66.

[8] 'A three-footed iron stand for a cooking pot, kettle, etc. placed over a fire' (NSOED).

[9] TNA E/179/121/269 but not present in E/179/121/260.

[10] TNA E/179/121/260 and E/179/121/269.

[11] Lincolnshire Archives 1604/i/99.

[12] Wills and Administrations Archdeaconry Court of Huntingdon 1545-1550, vol 8 f166r.

[13] Many thanks to Bridget Howlett for these references May-June 2019.

[14] 1636.

[15] Maydencroft Manor Court Rolls Extracts 1603-1702 (HALS 87786) p 47 re 24 Apr 13 Charles I (1637).

[16] An image was accessed from FMP's database 30 Apr 2019.