John Brokett of Offley - The Broket Archive

John Brokett of Ippollitts/Offley Yeoman
d 1558/9

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.

Contents of this page:

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

1. Plea 1544

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

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

2. John’s Testament and Will 1558

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. 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.
  • It’s a coincidence that he left bequests to Richard and Thomas Boket. Since John had already mentioned his own son Richard, Boket could not have been an error for Broket. No Thomas, or other Richard, Broket are known from the contemporary area. There were Bokets in Hitchin, however, and they are found in manor court books, and are mentioned by Howlett.3

3. 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.

4. 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.5 William Brockett was assessed in Hitchin at 10s 8d tax for £4 in goods.6 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 1604.7+

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.8
  • The other appraiser was Robert Draper of Hytchyn, who was probably one of the witnesses to Richard’s Will.

Nicholas d 1645

Three records have so far been found:

1. Executor of his father’s Will in 1603/4.

2. A passing mention of Nicholas was found in the Maydencroft manorial records, from 1636:9 Maydencroft manor was in the Parish of St Ippolyts.

“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.”

3. Nicholas died 24 Jul 1645: “Nicolaus Brocket Sepultus erat 24o die Julij”.10

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: May 19, 2019


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


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

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

[3] 2000 p 66.

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

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

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

[7] Lincolnshire Archives 1604/i/99.

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

[9] Many thanks to Bridget Howlett for this reference May 2019.

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