Sir John Brockett II of Brockett Hall
b by 1532, d 1598
Son of the first Sir John Brockett of Brockett Hall in Hertfordshire, John spent most of his life there. He succeeded to the estate 1558, the year Queen Elizabeth stayed there. His distinctive signature can be found on many official Hertfordshire documents from the second half of the 16th C. Here is one of him signing off the subsidy assessment for Broadwater hundred and Hitchin half hundred in 1572:1
The subsidy was granted by Parliament 15 May 1571 and the estimated date of this assessment is Sep/Oct 1572. The 5 Commissioners mentioned in the Certificate were Sir John Butler and John Brokett, George Horsey, William Tooke and Rowlande Litton Esquires, with John Shipman of Weston Gent, appointed by the Commissioners to collect the payment. Here are all their signatures together, except Rowland Litton’s:
John was assessed in Hatfield that year at £40 in land, due 40s.2 His mother Lady Margaret, widow, was assessed there at £6 in land—“Dna Margareta Brokett vid’ in terr’ vjli”. William Tooke Esq was assessed at £30 in land and fee. 3
Contents of this page:
- Newhall’s biography
- Marriages and children
- Sheriff of Essex and Herts 1566-7 and of Herts 1581-2
- Other records
- Will and IPM
John was married to Helen Lytton by April 1552 at the latest, when Helen may have been almost 18, not older. John therefore was unlikely to have been under 18 himself then. So the statement in the Inquisition taken on 18 Oct 1558 after the death of his father Sir John I: “John Brokett of Almesho in the county aforesaid esquire is son and next heir of the aforesaid John Brokett knight, and of age 26 years and more …”4 is probably accurate and John would have been born by 1532.
John served twice as Sheriff, once as MP and on various royal commissions. Under Sir John’s lead, the dynasty maintained an influential position in Hertfordshire throughout his life. But as the 2nd half of the century progressed he steadily sold off parts of the estate, latterly mainly to finance his daughters’ dowries.
With no son on Sir John’s death on 2 Oct 1598 the Hertfordshire family seat of Brockett Hall passed with daughter Mary to the Reade family and the rest of his estate was divided between his other 6 daughters or their heirs. Although descendants of his brother Edward lived in Wheathampstead for another 78 years, and although his cousin John was knighted the following year in 1599, the death of Sir John II marked the end of Broket influence at the ruling level of the County. A large memorial to him still stands against the wall of the Brocket Chapel in St Etheldreda’s Hatfield, now in need of renovation. High above hangs his helmet.
2. Newhall’s biography in the History of Parliament5
A handy overview. However, Newhall’s estimated 1540 birth date for John is a good deal too late. It was perhaps based on a presumed matriculation at Cambridge in 1554, which may well not have been of this John, but even if it was, it need not have been at the age of 14. However it is unlikely that John went to Cambridge when already married (?) so this matriculation may have been of another John. Newhall wasn’t apparently aware of Sir Robert Lytton’s IPM.
BROCKET, John (c.1540-98), of Brocket Hall, Herts. HERTFORDSHIRE 1572
b.c.I540, 1st s. of (Sir) John Brocket of Brocket Hall by his w. Margaret Bensted. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. matric. pens. 1554. m. (1) Helen, da. of Sir Robert Lytton of Knebworth, 5da.; (2) Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Roger Moore, wid. of Gabriel Fowler, 1da. suc. fa. 1558. Kntd. 1577.6 Read more
Brocket belonged to a leading Hertfordshire family established in the county since the reign of Henry VII. He inherited extensive property near Wheathampstead and a number of manors, including Water End and Robinstowe. His first marriage brought him further land, mostly in the vicinity of Hitchin. He continued to add to his Hertfordshire estates until his death, but in 1568 he disposed of valuable property in the Charterhouse district of London. Among his neighbours, Francis Walsingham proved a firm friend. Brocket’s daughters brought him further connexions through their marriages with Sir John Cutts, Sir Alexander Cave, Richard Spencer, George Carleton, Sir Thomas Read and Dudley, Lord North.8 He sat in only one Parliament, serving on one committee in 1576 on tanned leather (18 Feb.), and three in the last session on supply (25 Jan. 1581), seditious practices (1 Feb.) and the bill against the Family of Love (16 Feb.). Though he is not known to have stood again, he was involved, as a leading Hertfordshire country gentleman, in the contested county elections of 1584 and 1593, in both of which he supported the losing candidate Denny against Sir Henry Cocke. He was also at loggerheads with Cocke and his fellow deputy lieutenant Sir Philip Butler, over a favour shown to one of the Coningsby family. He devoted himself to public affairs within the county, being active on commissions to inquire into the number of recusants and to provide for corn supplies. Above all, he concerned himself with the militia and trained bands. In 1588 he was given command of a group of Hertfordshire men ordered to protect the Queen’s person. He also served on a commission to inquire into disturbances at St. Albans in 1578, and, by request of the Privy Council, investigated slanders uttered there against the Earl of Leicester in 1580. He was a trustee of the free school at Stevenage and governor of Chipping Barnet school.9 He died on 2 Oct. 1598. In his Will, made 7 Aug. and proved 12 Oct., he asked to be buried near his first wife and directed that the funeral should cost not more than £200, Most of his lands and goods were left to the daughter of his second marriage, Frances. He provided legacies ranging from £100 to £600 for his other daughters and grandchildren, and made bequests of plate to his brothers and sons-in-law. Thomas Walkeden received £10, and £20 was left towards setting the poor of Bishop Hatfield to work.10
Brocket belonged to a leading Hertfordshire family established in the county since the reign of Henry VII. He inherited extensive property near Wheathampstead and a number of manors, including Water End and Robinstowe. His first marriage brought him further land, mostly in the vicinity of Hitchin. He continued to add to his Hertfordshire estates until his death, but in 1568 he disposed of valuable property in the Charterhouse district of London. Among his neighbours, Francis Walsingham proved a firm friend. Brocket’s daughters brought him further connexions through their marriages with Sir John Cutts, Sir Alexander Cave, Richard Spencer, George Carleton, Sir Thomas Read and Dudley, Lord North.8
He sat in only one Parliament, serving on one committee in 1576 on tanned leather (18 Feb.), and three in the last session on supply (25 Jan. 1581), seditious practices (1 Feb.) and the bill against the Family of Love (16 Feb.). Though he is not known to have stood again, he was involved, as a leading Hertfordshire country gentleman, in the contested county elections of 1584 and 1593, in both of which he supported the losing candidate Denny against Sir Henry Cocke. He was also at loggerheads with Cocke and his fellow deputy lieutenant Sir Philip Butler, over a favour shown to one of the Coningsby family. He devoted himself to public affairs within the county, being active on commissions to inquire into the number of recusants and to provide for corn supplies. Above all, he concerned himself with the militia and trained bands. In 1588 he was given command of a group of Hertfordshire men ordered to protect the Queen’s person. He also served on a commission to inquire into disturbances at St. Albans in 1578, and, by request of the Privy Council, investigated slanders uttered there against the Earl of Leicester in 1580. He was a trustee of the free school at Stevenage and governor of Chipping Barnet school.9
He died on 2 Oct. 1598. In his Will, made 7 Aug. and proved 12 Oct., he asked to be buried near his first wife and directed that the funeral should cost not more than £200, Most of his lands and goods were left to the daughter of his second marriage, Frances. He provided legacies ranging from £100 to £600 for his other daughters and grandchildren, and made bequests of plate to his brothers and sons-in-law. Thomas Walkeden received £10, and £20 was left towards setting the poor of Bishop Hatfield to work.10
John’s 1st wife was Helen / Elena, eldest daughter of Sir Robert LYTTON of Knebworth, Herts, Sheriff of Essex and Herts 1545-6. Helen was mother to all of John’s children apart from the youngest, Frances. John’s younger brother Thomas married Helen’s youngest sister Anne, but died very soon after. Helen and her two sisters were coheiresses to a third of their father’s extensive estates.
The Inquisition taken on 18 April 1552 after Sir Robert’s death stated that Elena was by then married to John Broket esquire and gave her age at her father’s death on 10 July 1550 quite precisely as 16 years 1 month. So she was born in June 1534 and married to John by 18 April 1552. She may well have been married to him earlier, as her sister Elizabeth, younger by two years, was also already married by her father’s death, and the older sister would likely have been married first. So Elena was married to John at the very latest aged 17 years 11 months.
They already had two sons by Easter 1555 when they settled an estate first on their son John Brokett and then on “another son Zelathiel Brokett”. Their first surviving child, however, was a daughter born at least a decade later, c 1566. The Inquisition taken on 17 April 1599 after Lady Helen Brockett’s death said she died 22 March 1582 and that her and Sir John’s children were 5 daughters:
Anne Cave wife of Alexander Cave esquire
Elizabeth Carlton wife of George Carlton esquire
Ellen Spencer wife of Richard Spencer esquire
Mary Read wife of Thomas Read esquire”.11
Both sons were recorded on Clutterbuck’s 1815 pedigree, dying without issue:12
It isn’t known what became of Salathiel/Zelathiel, but the burial of a probable son John on 2 Feb 1559 was recorded in the Wheathampstead Parish Register. No record of either has been found elsewhere, and Sir John II is only otherwise recorded as having surviving daughters.
John’s 2nd wife was Elizabeth widow of Sir Gabriel FOWLER of Tillesworth, Bedfordshire, and d/o Thomas MOORE of Oxfordshire. Clutterbuck above wrongly recorded Sir John’s 1st wife Helen Lytton as widow of Gabriel FOWLER, and Elizabeth’s father as Roger rather than Thomas. He also wrongly recorded Helen’s burial in 1598, whereas her IPM showed that she died in 1582. The following year, on or about Sir John’s marriage to Elizabeth an inventory of her possessions was drawn up:13Read more
1583. A true and perfitt note of all the goods catells and other thinges which were lefte vnto Elizabeth fowler late wife of Gabriel fowler esquire & now the wife of Sir John Brockett knight: soulde vnto Richard Ferrers esquire vallued & prised as followethe’:
56 fallowed acres at 6s the acre £6 12s
28 stirred acres at 6s the acre 56s
10 dunged acres at 2s the acre & for carying the donge 20s
6 dunged acres at 5s the acre 30s
All the wheate and missleden in the barne £38
The Rocke of Beanes & Pease £28 16s
The hay apon 4 cockes by the house 6s 8d
A parcell of grasse in the newe grownde called the Deane £4 10s
The grasse in the comen feildes £4 10s
A quarter and a halfe of maulte at 13s 4d the quarter 20s
All the cheese at £4 13s 4d2 gray mares with there 2 sucking coltes £5
1 bay mare & 1 bade olde mare £3 6s 8d
1 Toune’ ablinge’ geldinge colte and 1 bay mare colte £3 6s 8d
1 bull 40s
6 yokes of Oxen at £6 the yoke. Somme £36,
4 lambes 10s
20 hens and 4 cocks at 7d a peece 14s
38 geese and ganders at 8d a peece 25s 4d
8 turkey hens at 2s 4d a peece 18s 8d
2 turkey cocks at 6s 8d
7 bigge turkey chickins at 6s 8d a peece
4 ducks at 16d
3 pea hens at 2s 4d – 7s
1 pea cocke at 3s
Total £4 9s
Dame Elizabeth’s Will was written 27 Apr 1612, executors son Richard Fowler Esq and William Bird Esq.14
Children living when John died in 1598, in the order of the funeral certificate:
- Margaret Brocket, b c 1566.15 Married—as his second wife—to Sir John CUTTES/CUTT of Childerleigh, Cambridgeshire, b 1545; MP for Cambridgeshire 1584, 1586 and 1601, and Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire 1572-3, 1601-2, and of Herts 1588-9; died 1615.16 If their birth dates are correct he was 20 or more years older than her. She bore him his son John, successor to his estate. According to some 19th, 20th and 21st C sources the marriage was annulled and Margaret married again successively Roger DALE Esq, Sir Francis LEIGH and Thomas LEVETT Esq but this was a confusion with Margaret d/o Sir John Brockett III, s/o Nicholas. A brass monument dated 22 Nov 1610, laid over the grave of this Margaret, d/o Sir John II, in the chancel of Lolworth Church (c 3 m from Childerley) by her apparently devoted son, is hard evidence that she died as the wife of Sir John Cutts.17 Read more
SACRED TO POSTERITIE AND THE GODLY MEMORIE OF MARGARET CVTTS. DAVGHTER & COHEIRE OF SR JOHN BROCKET. WIFE TO SR JOHN CVTTS BY WHOM SHE HAD ISSUE SR JOHN. ROBERT. AND ELENOR CVTTS. THE TWO LATTER DECEASED. SHE LEFT THE MANOVR OF BOXWORTH IN CAMBRIDGESHIRE TO THE SVRVIVER JOHN. WHO MUCH MORE IMPAYRED IN HER LOSSE. THEN REPAYRD IN HER BENEFIT AETERNALLY SAD SAVE IN THE ASSVRANCE OF HER HAPPIER STATE HATH HERE COVERD THE EARTH THAT COVERS HER WITH THIS PLAINE MONUMENT 22o NOVEMBER.1610.
- Anne Brocket, b c 1571.18 Married to Alexander CAVE Esq of Bagrave Hall, Leicestershire (later Knight and Sheriff of Leicestershire 1620-21).
- Elizabeth Brocket, b c 1572-3. Married to George CARLETON Esq of Holcombe, Oxfordshire. Elizabeth died 17 August 1591 upon which her part of the reversion of her mother’s estate descended to John Carlton as Elizabeth’s son and heir.19 John was created a Baronet in 1627 but the baronetcy became extinct after the death of his son in 1650.20
- Helene Brocket, b c 1574.21 Married to Richard SPENCER Esq of Offley (later Knight).22 Richard Esq was Sheriff of Herts 1597-8.23
- Mary Brocket, b c 1578.24 Married to Thomas READE Esq (later Knight). Thomas Esq was Sheriff of Herts 1618-19.25 The Hertfordshire Brockett Hall descended to this family.26
- Fraunces Brocket, b 1583 or 84, married to Sir Dudley NORTH, 3rd Lord of Kirtling (d 1666). The deference shown to parents by children in those days is described by their eldest son Sir Dudley 4th Lord North who well into middle age ‘would never put on his hat or sit down before his father, unless enjoined to it’.27
Following Berry and Clutterbuck, the 1860 Gateshead Pedigree gave Sir John II and Helen 2 sons: John and Salathiel, both of whom it said died without issue.
John’s sons-in-law Dudley Lord North, Sir Richard Spencer and Sir John Cutt were all signatories to the 3rd Virginia Charter of 12 Mar 1612.
Like his great grandfather John of Wheathampstead and great uncle his son Edward of Broadfield and Letchworth before him, John had two terms as Sheriff. As the representative of Queen Elizabeth his court was a hub of county enactments, influence and information. It came with both benefits of enrichment and contacts but also with expense and difficult duty like assessing and collecting taxes. “The potential expense to the incumbent of becoming High Sheriff was one of the reasons the role was for a single year only.”28 The Sheriffs’ financial returns were recorded annually at Michaelmas in the Pipe Rolls, but for John the are either missing or not yet seen.
1st term 1566-7—for Essex and Herts
John BROKETT Esq’s first appointment (or commencement of account) began 18 Nov 1566; his predecessor was Robert CHESTER Knt, and his successor in Essex was George TUKE Esq, and in Herts George PENRUDDOCKE Esq, both of whom took over 18 Nov 1567.29 The administration of the two counties were separated after John, however the uncle of his then wife Helen LYTTON, Rowland LYTTON Esq (of Knebworth) became Sheriff of Essex after Tuke and of Hertfordshire after Penruddock on 18 Nov 1568.30
It hasn’t been possible to find out if John owed anything on his account at the end of his term, as the latter part of the accounts for Michaelmas 1567-Michaelmas 1568 and 1568-9 seem to be missing.31 The end of the Michaelmas 1569-Michaelmas 1570 accounts for Essex and Hertfordshire, which were reported separately, seem also to be missing, as John is not found in either.32
2nd term of office 1581-2—for Herts on its own
Sir John BROCKETT’s second appointment (or commencement of account) began 27 Nov 1581; his predecessor was Thomas DOCKWRA Esq (of Putteridge), and his successor Henry CONYNGESBYE Esq (of North-Mims) who took over 5 Dec 1582.33 During his term in office, on 22 March, his wife Lady Helen died.
The return for John for the year Michaelmas 1582–Michaelmas 1583 has not yet been consulted.
Numerous records of Sir John’s personal and official activities survive and only a small selection can be referred to here.
1555 Easter: “William Lawson and George Collyns, plaintiffs John Broket, Esq, and wife Ellen, defendants: A third part of the manor of Hopebrydgehall [Houbridge Hall], and a third part of 2 capital messuages, 10 tofts, 1 dovecote, 3 gardens, 300 acres arable, 50 acres meadow, 100 acres pasture, 20 acres wood and 20s rent in Great Okeley and Little Okeley, Co Essex; and property in Herts and Suffolk. Defendants quitclaimed to plaintiffs and the heirs of William. And for this plaintiffs granted the same to defendants to hold for their lives of the chief lords without impeachment of waste, with remainder to John Brokett their son and the heirs male of his body and Zelanthiel Brokett, another son, and his heirs.”34
1558 Michaelmas: A Common Pleas action brought by George Fisshe gentleman mentioned “John Brokett junior” among the trustees of a property in Welwyn and Codycote. It must have been this John even though his father Sir John I had died in April 1558. The action was a virtual duplicate of one brought against Edward Brokett gentleman.
1558 18 Oct. The Inquisition after the death of his father Sir John I called him “John Brokett of Almesho in the county aforesaid esquire”.35
1559 Easter—This case shows that John and Helen held lands in Suffolk and their bailiff had absconded. By their attorney, John Brokett esquire and Ellen his wife brought a Common Pleas action at Westminster in the first year of Elizabeth’s reign with Thomas LYTELL esquire and Elizabeth his wife against Marmaduke DOWE of Coddenham in Suffolk yeoman, that he render them his reasonable account for the time that he was their bailiff in Coddenham, Barham, Bramford, Hempsson, Gosbacke, Henley, Cleydon, Blakenham, Baylam, Croxfeld, Stonham, Aspill, Ipswich, Cretyng and Nedeham. The court again ordered the Suffolk sheriff to take Marmaduke and bring him to court on 22 May 1559:36Read more
John Brokett esquire and Ellen his wife [and] Thomas Lyttell esquire and Elizabeth his wife appeared by their attorney for a fourth day against Marmaduke Dowe of Coddenham in the county aforesaid yeoman, in a plea that he render them his reasonable account for the time that he was their bailiff in Coddenham, Barham, Bramford, Hempsson, Gosbacke, Henley, Cleydon, Blakenham, Baylam, Croxfeld, Stonham, Aspill, Ippyswyche, Cretyng and Nedeham. And [the defendant] has not come &c.; and it had been ordered the sheriff to summon him &c. And the sheriff now reports that [the defendant] has nothing [in his bailiwick in lands or chattels whereby he might be attached]&c. Therefore let him be taken, to be here five weeks from Easter [30 April 1559] &c. On which day here come the aforesaid John, Ellen, Thomas and Elizabeth by their attorney aforesaid, and appear for a fourth day against the aforesaid Marmaduke in the plea aforesaid &c.; and he has not come &c. And it had been ordered the sheriff to take him &c.; and the sheriff now reports that [the defendant] is not found &c. Therefore, as before, let him be taken, to be here on the morrow of Trinity [22 May 1559] &c.
1560: A foot of fine is recorded from Michaelmas 2 & 3 Elz, summarised as: “Anthony Cavallary and William Whetcrofte [Querents, i.e. purchasors]; John Brokett esq [Deforciant, i.e. vendor]. Manor of Wateshypps alias Brokett Hall and 2 messuages and lands in Bysshoppes Hatfyeld, Little Ayott and Sandrydge.”37 This was John’s main residence and he held it till his death in 1598. So was this a temporary mortgage to raise some cash? The original might make it clear whether it was a mortgage or a trust. Anthony Cavallary was the father of Sir Robert Lytton’s fist wife.
- 1564 1 Jun: Commission of the Peace to Herts. John Brocket, Francis Walsingham, Richard Raynshawe, George Hadley, Rowland Lytton, William Doddes, Nicholas Brystowe, Edmund Twyneo, Thomas Hanchett, Edward Tailour, George Burgoyn, Henry Conyngesbye, Thomas Dockwray and William Hyde. 38
- 1564 16 May: Commission to raise a contribution re St Pauls] … John Brockett, Francis Walsingham, Richard Raynshawe, George Hadley, Rowland Lytton, William Doddes, Nicholas Bristowe, Edmund Twinio, Thomas Hanchett, Edward Taylore, George Burgon, Henry Conyngesbye, Thomas Dockwray and William Hyde.39
- 1565 8 Jan: As Justices of the Peace and of Oyer and Terminer in the County: John Butler, knight, John Brockett, George Horsey, John Knighton, Edward Basshe, William Tooke, Rowland Lytton, William Doddes, Nicholas Briscowe, Thomas Hanchett, George Burgoyne, Henry Conyngesby, Thomas Dockwraye, Thomas Snagge and William Hyde.40
- 1566 9 Feb: Commission to John Brocket, William Tooke, Nicholas Brystowe and Richard Barley (or two of them, Tooke being one) to inquire in the County of Hertford touching the idiocy of Henry Russheley.41
1564 21 Jan: Hertford Castle. Licence for John Burlase and Anne his wife to alienate a third part of the Manor of Mynlesden alias Mesenden [Minsden] and of lands in Huchyn, Ipolettes, Langley, Preston and Mynlesden, Co Hertford, to John Brockett. For 13s in the Hanaper.42
1566-7 Sheriff of Essex and Herts
1567 Margaret Brockett, Widow of kinsman Edward of Broadfield and Letchworth Esq, and her second son William were recorded paying tax on land in Ayott Parva (St Peter’s), part of which was in the manor of Westingtons, of which Sir John was lord, his father having purchased it in 1555.
Lands in Bedfordshire:
- ?1575: Acquired the Manor of Luton Hoo, sold by his trustees after his death to Sir Robert Napier in 1601.43
- ?1575: Acquired the Manor of East Hide—part of Luton Manor. On his death it passed by settlement to brother Edward, from whom it passed to his son John.44
- 1594: Paid £4 for £40 in land in Tyllesworth, but had sold it by 1597. Gabriell Fowler, 1st husband of John’s 2nd wife, had an estate in Tillsworth, Bedfordshire.
- 1598: Mentioned property in Stanbridge c 8 m W of Luton in his Will.
1577 18-23 May: John Brocket of Herts was knighted at Goremanbury, the house of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.45
1577 28 0ct: Along with Philip Boteler and George Horsey, John sent a signed certificate “from Brockethall” in response to an inquiry from the Bishops of Lincoln and London into recusants in Hertfordshire.46
1578: In the Hilary term of this year at the court of Common Pleas in Westminster John Brockett Knight concluded a final concord of purchase from Thomas Burton and Alice his wife of one messuage, 20 acres of land, 20 acres of pasture, with appurtenances in North’ Mymmes.47 This was a ‘placitum conuencionis’—a plea of covenant—and is an entry relating to a ‘foot of fine’. There would have been a corresponding ‘foot’ in CP 25.48 The fee was 6s 8d, repeated in the margin “D marc”, i.e. half a mark, which was 13s 4d. See the similar plea of 1580 below.
1578: Letter of attorney to deliver seisin of land in Sandridge parish.49
1580: In the Hilary term of this year at the court of Common Pleas in Westminster John Brokett Knight and Elen his wife concluded a final concord of sale to Edward Pulter Esquire of the manor of Bradfeilde alias Brodefeilde with appurtenances, 10 messuages, 200 acres of land, 100 acres of meadow, 200 acres of pasture, 200 acres of woods and 10s rent with appurtenances in Bradfeilde alias Brodefeilde, Rushden and Codreth alias Cotered, and also the advowson of the church of Bradfeilde alias Brodefeilde.50 The larger fee of 50s (ls) than the similar plea of 1578 above was because it was a larger property. See the similar 1580 Feet of Fines record on the separate page.
1580: As a Commissioner for the general muster of Hertfordshire, Sir John took part in the levy of 100 men for the service of the Queen.51
Although Sir John wasn’t named in this minute, it appears from the Acts of the Privy Council of the same 13 Jan 1579 that one letter was addressed to him.53
Frobisher had made voyages in 1574 and 1577 but this letter referred to the ill-fated Jun-Oct 1578 one which failed to establish a colony and among other mishaps brought back a large amount of ore, which turned out not to be gold but valueless iron pyrites. Sir John’s investment no doubt brought him no return and he was presumably reluctant to pay any remaining instalments.
1581-2: Sheriff of Herts
1582: John’s wife Lady Helen died 22 March.
1582 27 March: “Letter from Sir Walter Mildmay, Knight, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Recorder, requesting that a little house in the Old Bailey, belonging to the City, and formerly in the tenure of Dr. Gifford, might be let to Sir John Brocket, Knight, for such consideration as might be thought proper.”54
1584: In the Hilary term of this year at the court of Common Pleas in Westminster John Brokett Knight and Richard Ferris Esquire sued a writ of entry sur disseisin in le post in Chancery against Edward Denton Esquire and Joyce his wife of the manor of Beynton with appurtenances, 10 messuages, 10 tofts, 2 dovehouses, 20 gardens, 3 acres of land, 100 acres of meadow, 400 acres of pasture, 200 acres of woods, 300 acres of furse and heath and £5 rent with appurtenances in Beynton and Stockline Oxfordshire.55 Note: This was the manor of Bainton in Stoke Lyne Oxfordshire. According to the VCH, in 1562 “John Denton of Ambrosden and Bicester settled it on his eldest son John on his marriage to Theodora Blundell, the daughter of a London merchant. This son died young and his wife, who later married a Champneys, held the manor for life. After John Denton’s death in 1576, Bainton was inherited by his son and heir Edward, who in 1586 settled it on his son-in-law Edward Smythe of Stoke Prior (Worcs.).[fn. 154: C 142/178/61 (IPM of John Denton); C.P. 25(2)/197/Trin. 28 Eliz.; Oxon. Visit. 229. It had been mortgaged in 1584 to Sir John Brocket of Hatfield: Hants, R.O. Cope deed 213.].56
1585: First witness to uncle Nicholas‘ nuncupative Will.
2. Comyssioners Amongste others Auctorised for the
3. assessinge taxinge leavyinge and payinge of the
4. second payment of the second subsydie (graunted
5. to our soueraigne ladie the queenes maiesties [sic] by acte
6. of parliament holden at westminster in the xxxith
7. yeare of her highnes raigne) within the Hundred of
8. brodwater in the countie of hertford, doe hereby certifie
9. vnto the right honorable the lord Burghley lord
10. highe threasorer of England, the Barrons and
11. others her maiesties officers of the exchequer to whom
12. it doth or shall appertayne, that Sir John Brokett
13. of Broketthalle in the countie of hertford knyght at
14. the tyme of the assessinge taxinge leavyinge and
15. payinge of the said second payment of the said second
16. subsydie, was one of her maiesties comyssioners for the
17. taxinge leavyinge & payinge of the said second payment
18. of the said second subsydie, had and kepte his famylie
19. at his howse at Brokett halle within the countie of
20. hertford and in the parishe of Hatfeilde within the countie
21. of hertford, where amongst other inhabitaunce of that
22. same towne was taxed and assessed to paye to our
23. said soueraigne ladie the queenes maiesties, the some of fowre
24. poundes, accordinge to the valewe of his landes ratyd
25. at three score poundes / In wytnes wherof we the
26. said comyssionors to this our certificate haue sett our
27. handes and seales the xiiith daye of maie in the
28. xxxvth yeare of the raigne of our soueraigne ladie
29. Elizabethe by the grace of god of england Fraunce
30. and Ireland queene defender of the faithe et c
31. Phillip Bottler Thomas Fanshawe
Examples of disposal of property:
- Sold land and fishing rights in Bolton Percy in 1558 and 1563 to Roger Ryley and Brockethall Manor there to Thomas Fairfax in 1565.58
- Sold the Manor of Herons in Wheathampstead in 1565 to Thomas North.59
- Sold 174 acres in Wheathampstead in 1582,60 although over half of these were bought by brother Edward of Wheathampstead Place.
Written 7 Aug 1598,61 his executors were son-in-law Richard SPENCER and daughter Fraunces (under 21 and unmarried at the time):
2. daye of August Anno domini A thousand Fyve hundred nyntie Eight , and in
3. the fortith yeare of the Raigne of our Soveraigne Ladie Elizabeth by the grace
4. of God Queene of England Fraunce and Ireland defender of the fayth etes‘. I
5. Sir John Brockett of Brockett hall within the Countie of Hertford knight
13. please [God] to appoyncte for me at and by the discretion of my Executors herevnder
14. named : And I will that there shall not be bestowed vpon my funeralles aboue the
15. somme of Two hundreth poundes ; And after my body buried then I will that all
16. such debts and dueties as I shall owe vnto any person or persons , in right or in
17. conscience shalbe trulie payde : Item I will and my minde is , That there shalbe
18. bestowed with as convenient speede after my decease as maye be ower and be side
19. the chardges of my said funerall for and vppon thererectinge and settinge vpp
20. of a Tombe or monument for me with my Armes To be engraven vppon the same
21. within the parishe of Hatfeilde in the aforesaide countie of Hertff : mor neere
22. the place where the bodie of my late wife Dame Ellen Brockett lyeth buryed the
23. some of Fortie poundes of lawfull money of England as to the discretion of my sayde
24. Executors shall seeme good
Bequests to the family:
1. Daughter Fraunces : All goods, chattels and cash, the lease of the house in Aldersgate St and of the stable in St Bartlemewes, all fixtures and fittings at Brockett Hall (lines 24-35). All this after the life interest or widowhood of her mother Dame Elizabeth, who was not to dispose any of it unless for Fraunces’ benefit:Read more
44. my sayde wief : I geve and bequeath the vse and occupacion of all my sayde goods and plate
45. before geven and bequeathed to my sayd daughter Fraunces notwithstandinge my
46. fore saide guifte thereof made vnto her for and duringe all such tyme onelie as
47. my said wief shall continewe in her widowe hedd and remayne vnmarried
53. and vnder condition to this effect That she the saide dame Elizabeth
54. my wief or any other for her or by her assent commaundment or procuremente
55. shall not at any tyme or tymes duringe hir naturall lief or tyme of the possession
56. of the same as afore saide allien sell put awaye alter or change the propertie
57. of anie the sayde goods or plate which I haue before geven and bequeathed to my
58. sayde daughter Fraunces vnles yt shalbe by the consent of my sayd Executors
59. for the betteringe thereof and for the benefitt and proffitt of my saide daughter
If Fraunces were to die before marriage or the age of 21, all these legacies were to be sold as soon as possible after Dame Elizabeth’s death or remarriage and shared among the other daughters or their heirs (lines 71-82). Fraunces was also bequeathed 1000 marks at marriage or the age of 21 (line 85-9). If she were to die beforehand, £200 of this was to go to grandson John Cutts, £200 to grandson John Carleton and the remainder equally to his daughters or their eldest sons or heirs (lines 89-123).
2. Wife Dame Elizabeth: £100 within 6 months (lines 83-4).
3. Daughter Mary Reade: £100 within 1 year (lines 128-9).
4. Daughter Lady Margaret’s son John Cutts: £200 at the age of 21 (lines 130-5).
5. Deceased daughter Elizabeth’s son John Carleton: £600 at the age of 21 (lines 152-66).
6. Daughter Margaret Lady Cuttes: £100 within 1 year (lines 183-6).
7. Daughter Anne Cave: £100 within 1 year (lines 186-9).
8. Daughter Helene Spencer: £100 within 1 year (lines 189-92).
The Hall and servants were to be kept as normal for a month after John’s death:Read more
199. mynde is , that my house at Brockett hall and all my ordinarie houshold Servauntes
200. shalbe their kepte by my Executors in the same manner as nowe it is kepte for the
201. space of one moneth next after my decease with all such manner of provicion towardes
202. the kepinge of the same house as shalbe their remayninge at the tyme of my decease
John bequeathed his wife all her clothing and jewels (!):Read more
The Will was witnessed by Thomas Walkeden, William Pesley, Frauncis Stepneth.
He described his house in Aldersgate St (near the Barbican and St Paul’s and just north of London Wall) as ‘in the subvrbs of London’ (l 28).
Inquisition on his death62
A very large parchment document, c 8×5 ft, in bad condition in places from damp.
First wife Dame Helen Brockett’s IPM63 is dated 17 April 1599 following the death of Sir John on 2 Oct 1598. On her death in 22 March 1582 “according to the law and custom of the realm of England” all her property descended to her husband for his lifetime, after which it reverted to their 4 daughters “Lady Margaret Cutts wife of John Cutts knight, Anne Cave wife of Alexander Cave esquire, Elizabeth Carlton wife of George Carlton esquire, Ellen Spencer wife of Richard Spencer esquire, Mary Read wife of Thomas Read esquire”.64
Her properties were:
- A third of the manor of Mynnesden and a third of a certain wood called Hitchwood in Ipollets, Langley, Preston, Hitchin and Mynnesden. Held from the queen in chief by the service of a hundredth part of one knight’s fee, worth per annum 33s 4d.
- The manor of Broxsborn otherwise Canwickes, and 2 messuages, 100 acres of arable land, 100 acres of pasture, 20 acres of meadow, 50 acres of wood, and 8s rent in Stevnage, Knebworthe, Codicote and Langley. Held from the Bishop of London, as of his manor of Stevenage, for services unknown, worth 40s per annum.
- The manors of Dennis and Lewes in the parish of Codnam; the manor of Bunwalles in the parish of Hemyngstoune; the manors of Sackvills (Rents) in the parish of Barham and Claydon; the manors of Sturman and Playfford in the parish of Henley in county Suffolk. For services unknown, worth £5 per annum.
- 4 messuages, 70 acres of arable land, 20 acres of pasture, 20 acres of meadow and marsh in Claydon, Barham and Codnam in Suffolk.
These may well have been Lytton property originally, at least those local to Knebworth. As Newhall said, “His first marriage brought him further land, mostly in the vicinity of Hitchin.”
The College of Arms has a decorated certificate issued on 23 October 1598 by William Camden, Clarenceux King of Arms, and Nicholas Paddy, Lancaster Herald, for the funeral of ‘Sir John Brokett of Brokett Haule’.65 Funeral certificates were issued in connexion with the organisation of heraldic funerals. The certificate includes a painting of 2 standards; a tabard; his arms—with 5 quarterings; arms of each of his wives; and his crest—a stag lodged proper, gorged with a gold ducal or crest coronet. Henry Gray of Hatfield copied and painted the tabard and crest in 2004.
Sir Jhon Brokett of Brokett Haule in the Countie of Hertford Knight maryed Helen
the Daughter and Coheyr of Sir Robert Litton of Knebworth in the County of Hartf’ Knight
by whom he had yssue, Margaret maried to Sir Jhon Cuttes Knight. Anne maried to Allexander
Caue of Bagrave in the County of Leicester Esquier. Elizabeth maried to George Carleton
of Oxfordshyre Esquire. Helen maried to Richard Spencer of Offeley in the County of Hartf’
Esquire. Mary maried to Thomas Read of Barton neer Abbington in the County of Berk’ Esquire.
The sayd Sir Jhon Brokett maried to his second wyfe Elizabeth Daughter of Tho: Moore
of Bircester in the County of Oxon’, widdowe of Gabriell Fowler of Tillesworth in the County
of Bedford. by whom he had onely Frances Brokett a daughter at his death of the age
between 14. & 15 years.
The sayd Sir Jhon Brokett died the 2d day of October 1598. and his Funeralles were
solemnized worshipfully according to his degree at the Parish Church of Hatfield the 23th
of the same Moneth following. The Standerd was borne by Jhon Brokett sonne to Edw:
Brokett of Whetthamsteed, The Penon of his Armes by Jhon Brokett of Macarelles end. The
Helmet and Creast by Nicholas Paddy Lancaster Heraulde. The Coat of Armes Sword
and Shield by Wm Camden Clarencieux attending at the sayd Funerall. The Executors
Rich. Spencer Esquire and Frances Brokett Daughter to the Defuncte./
Signed by Ri. Spencer
William Camden Clarenceulx
Nicholas Paddie alias
Page Last Updated: September 23, 2020