Hertfordshire Brokets 1558-99 - The Broket Archive

Hertfordshire Brokets 1558-99

Brokets remained influential in Hertfordshire throughout this period. In 1558 Nicholas, younger brother of Sir John I, married Margaret HOO, heiress of Mackary End. With Sir John II succeeding the same year to the Wheathampstead manor, this gave the family a commanding position in the local community.1 Mackary End stayed in Nicholas’ family till 1628, but the Wheathampstead estates dwindled with Sir John II. As the half century progressed Sir John II steadily sold parts of the estate, appaently to finance his daughters’ dowries. This was the time to have a pedigree drawn up by the Somerset Herald Glover. By his death without a surviving son in 1598 the family seat of Brockett Hall passed with daughter Mary to the Reade family and what was left of John’s estate was divided between his other 5 daughters or their heirs.

These were Elizabethan times—she reigned 1558-1603. During the 16th C money fell in value by 5 or 6 times. By 1592 a Hertfordshire working man’s food and drink for a day cost 4d.2 In the 40 years 1563-1603 Hertfordshire’s population increased by about 59%. In 1563 Wheathampstead had 77 families, for instance, and in 1603 about 140.3

The following Brokets can be highlighted:

  1. Edward Gent of Bradfield, d 1559 (separate page)
  2. Thomas the elder Esq of Brockett Hall, d by 1560
  3. Robert of Wheathampstead, d 1562
  4. William II Yeoman of Hichyn, d 1563 (separate page)
  5. Elizabeth and Edmund, bap Harpenden 1564 and 65
  6. Johan of Offley, 1570 (separate page)
  7. Lucie daughter of Edward of Letchworth, d 1572
  8. John Brockett Gent of Bishops Stortford, d 1578
  9. Edward Gent of Sabridgworthe, 1584 (separate page)
  10. Nicholas Esq of Mackery End, Whethampsted, d 1585
  11. Elizabeth (Barley) of Sabridgworth, d 1592 (separate page)
  12. Edward I of Hitchin, d 1593-8 (separate page)
  13. Sir John II of Brockett Hall, d 1598 (separate page)
  14. Edward Esq of Wheathampstead Place, d 1599
  15. William Gent of Esyndon, d 1611
  16. William III Yeoman of Hitchin, d 1623 (separate page)

Edward Brockett of Bradfield Gent/Esq b c 1521-26 d 1583

Eldest son of Edward of Letchworth. Became an outlaw.

Thomas Brockett ‘the elder’ Esq, b c 1536-40 d by 1560

Son of Sir John I of Brockett Hall. The earliest known record of Thomas is his mention in his father’s Will written 14 Aug 1557 along with his other living siblings, including Thomas the younger. Neither Thomas was recorded in the surviving transcript of the Wheathampstead Parish Registers or of Hatfield, but the order of mention in the Will suggests that Thomas the elder was the third living son after John (later Sir John II) and Edward (later of Wheathampstead Place Esq). The next mentioned son, Bensted, had been baptised 12 May 1548. Eldest brother John was born by 1532, so allowing a minimum of a couple of years between births and no sisters in between, Thomas would have been born c 1536-40. We know that Thomas was married between 14 Aug 1557 and 17 May 1558, so the earlier date would have made him either 17 or 21 at marriage and the later one 18 or 22. Seventeen was uncommon for a groom in those times.4 However his bride, Anne Lytton was only 14 or 15. The Inquisition taken on 18 April 1552 stated that Anne was aged 6 years and 10 months on 10 July 1550—the death of her father—dating her birth to May 1543.5 A handsome inheritance would have come with Anne, as came to brother John through his marriage to Anne’s sister Helen.

At the time of Sir John writing his Will Thomas had not yet married Anne, but a marriage contract had been entered into:6+Read more

It was a coincidence that a Thomas Brokett was recorded in Nottinghamshire 1536-7 and 1545. He was not this Thomas, son of Sir John.

Sir John died 24 Mar 1558 and on 17 May 1558 a long and elaborate licence was issued by the Crown court for “Thomas Brokett esquire and Anne his wife” to enter into Anne’s share of her father’s estate.8

“The licence is catalogued for the regnal year 1557-8, i.e. the 5th year of Mary, 6 July 1557 – 5 July 1558. So the date 17 May 1558 seems likely. However the licence to enter would not have been issued in that form unless they were already married. This must have been after the date of the Will: there will have been this marriage contract already in existence at the time of writing the Will, with a matching bond to ensure compliance. The document is long and strives to cover every possible option, such that you are left wondering what, if anything, actually happened. It seems that we are certain that Thomas and Anne were granted a royal licence to enter into her inheritance, some or all of which was held in capite from the Crown. Whether her father’s estate was entailed, whether they had actually entered into the premises without royal licence, whether they had been receiving the revenues since she came of age or not, these are all possibilities covered by the format, but we are left unsure if they had actually happened. The purpose is not to tell us what had happened, however, but to give the estate cast iron security against any claim that it was invalid because of any such possibility.”9

Thomas must have died soon after this. There were no children from the marriage and, according to the History of Parliament, by c 1561 Anne Lytton (not Brockett) was married to John BORLACE of Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and bore him 1 son and 6 daus. John was b c 1527; MP for Buckinghamshire 1586; Sheriff of Bucks and Beds 1567-8, Bucks 1588-9; d 1593.10 Their son was baptised 26 Jan 1566.11 He went on to become Sir William Borlase, Sherriff of Buckinghamshire 1601, and MP for Aylesbury 1604 and Buckinghamshire1614, and died 1629.12

If the History of Parliament‘s dates are correct, Anne was about 18 and John Borlace about 34 when they married.

Both Thomas (the elder) and his eldest brother John were married to daughters of Sir Robert Lytton (d 1551 or 5). The Visitation of Hertfordshire  called him Sir Robert Lytton of Shrubland and included Anne in the list of his daughters, but did not mention her first husband Thomas Brokett:13

1. Elizabeth m Edward Barrett of Aveleigh, Essex
2. Anne m John Burlacey of Marlow, Oxfordshire.
3. Helen m 1 Gabriel Fowler; 2 Sir John Brocket [This is a mistake—rather it was Sir John Brocket who married 1 Helen Lytton and 2 Elizabeth, widow of Sir Gabriel Fowler].
4. An unnamed daughter.

Who the 4th daughter here, or Mary in Burke’s list next was, is not known. The licence for Thomas and Anne states that there were three heiresses.

Burke omitted Anne from his list of Sir Robert Lytton’s daughters and their husbands:14

1. Helen m 1 Sir Gabriel Fowler; 2 Sir John Brocket [The same mistake as above].
2. Elizabeth m 1 Thomas Little; 2 Edward Barrett
3. Mary m 1 Thomas Harleston Esq; 2 Edward Pulter Esq.

Robert Brockett of Wheathampstead, d 1562

It is not known who this propertyless relative of Edward was:15

On 20 Feb a commission was issued to Edward Brockett, relative of Robert Brockett of Whetehamsted deceased, having [authority] to administer the goods, rights and credits of the same. [Edward] was sworn to [administer] well [the rights and credits of the same].
margin: Lincoln [diocese] Ascension Day. No goods came into the hands of the administrator. 2 shillings

Was he a younger son of Sir John I (d 1558), and was the Edward here an older brother or uncle?

Elizabeth and Edmund baptised Harpenden 1564 and 65

As of 20 Jun 2019 the transcriptions of these two Harpenden Parish Register entries were problematic for two reasons. First, the FamilySearch online database transcribed the surnames as Brichett and Birchett, and the FindMyPast online database has followed suit. But usefully, FindMyPast reproduced images of the frames from the microfilm of the whole Parish Register for 1562-1677 and the following snip shows the entry for Elizabeth in 1564 in the middle, 4 lines up from the bottom. It is clear that the transcription ‘Brichett’ here is an error for Brockett:16+Read more

Elizabeth Brockett bap Harpenden 1564

Further down the same page was the entry for 1 Oct 1565 for Edmund Brockett, in which the ‘o’ is clearer—nonetheless transcribed carelessly by FamilySearch and FindMyPast as Birchett.17

The second problem was that FindMyPast recorded these two entries—and all those around them—as burials when they were actually baptisms. But a thorough investigation of the register reveals that the two entries were in fact of baptisms. FindMyPast’s microfilm of the Harpenden Parish Registers has 72 frames, and the title page on frame #1 says the baptisms, marriages and burials date from 1562-1677. An older note by a clerk on frame #3 listed the contents of the Register in the order:

Baptisms Mar 1563 to May 1677
Marriages May 1562 to Jan 1677
Burials Oct 1562 to Oct 1596, Mar 1603 to May 1667 and Oct 1672 to May 1677

Following a few frames (#4-7) of information about registration, the next 3 frames of the microfilm (#8-10) contain the last batch of burial entries in the clerk’s list just mentioned (Oct 1672 to May 1677), which may have been added at the beginning of the book having used up the end. Be that as it may, the two earlier batches of burial entries in the clerk’s list (Oct 1562 to May 1667) are in frames #55-71, #72 being an end frame. Frame 55 is entitled ‘Sepultura Mortuorum’ and the first entry is a burial from Oct 1562 and the entries then run consecutively through to the final frame (#71) which is entitled ‘Burialls’ and contains burials 1662-7. The microfilm’s marriage entries are entirely consecutive in frames #43-54. Frame #43 begins with a marriage from May 1562 and frame #54 ends with a marriage in Jan 1677. As for the baptisms, the first of the microfilm’s frames with a visible title ‘Baptisma’ on the verso, and ‘Infantum’ recto, is #14 for Jan 1578 and the entries then run consecutively through to frame #43 which ends with a baptism in May 1677. Thus what is so far missing from the clerk’s list are baptism entries from 31 Mar 1562 to Jan 1578 of frame #14, and these are indeed the start and end dates of the entries on frames #11-13. Although only a few entries between 1562-84 recorded the names of the parents, these entries in frames #11-13 are baptisms not burials. The top of the page of frame #11 is torn at the corner leaving only a ‘B’ for the title. It doubtless continued ‘Baptisma’. The entries for Elizabeth and Edmund Brockett in 1564 and 65 are on frame #11.

Having solved the problems of transcription, who were Elizabeth and Edmund? Edmund is a less common name, and in fact the only Edmund Brokett found recorded in the 16th C was the second or third son of William of Esyndon, Gent. It had already been estimated from other records that Edmund was b c 1565, but no record of his baptism had been found. His father William is known to have married Ann, eldest daughter of Edmund BARDOLPHE of Harpenden/Rothamsted. This Harpenden baptismal register began in Mar 1563, so if William and Ann had had earlier children baptised there they wouldn’t have been recorded. After Edmund no other Broket baptisms were recorded in Harpenden until 1606 and 1609—sons of John, another son of William and Ann—and none thereafter.

The whole Harpenden Register has been carefully searched and the following 4 entries are of interest:

1590 10 Aug: “Edmund Bardolf Esquier and Margaret Brokett gent vid late wife of Nicholas Brokett Esquier” [were married].18
1606: “Edward the sonne of John Brokett gent’ was baptised the vijth day of Decemb'”.19 Edward was the son of John of Codicote, probably the second son of William of Esyndon, Gent.
1609: “Richard the sonne of John Brokett gent baptized the second day of July”.20 Richard was another son of John of Codicote, probably the second son of William of Esyndon, Gent.
1610 18 May: Margery Brickatt [was buried].21

Lucie Broket, daughter of Edward of Letchworth, d 1571-2

Probably born between c 1519 and 1521, Lucie was in her early 50s at death. It has been inferred, rightly or wrongly, that she was not the eldest daughter since her Will begins “I lucie broket one of the daughters of Edward Broket …”. If the eldest she might have said so. The 2nd eldest son, her brother William, did not die until 1611, so may have been younger than her.

Her Will was written 5 Oct 1569, with Memorandum 17 Dec 1570, and was proved 15 months later at Hitchin 17 Apr 1572. The title in the margin of the court copy to her Will reads: “T[estamentum] Lucie Brocket nuper de Groffeh’m vidue defuncte”, i.e. the Testament of Lucie Brocket, formerly of Graffham (Hunts/Cambs), widow, deceased”. If this wasn’t an error by the copyist, it isn’t known who Lucie’s husband was, but her Will shows that she had no surviving children. She must either have reverted to her maiden name, or else like some of the wealthier women of the time, never adopted her husband’s surname.

Her Will provides insight into her character and information about her siblings and their children:

1. In the name of god amen I lucie broket one of
2. the daughters of Edward Broket late of
3. lechworthe in the countie of hartford esquire+Read more

Genealogical information from Lucie’s Will:+ View Tree

Further points regarding Lucie’s Will:

  • Graffham—now in Cambridgeshire, but then in Huntingdonshire—is c 8 m W of Huntingdon and c 4 m E of Stow Longa, where brother John lived, perhaps at this time. Lucie lodged with him for some time.25
  • She says she had little worldly wealth,26 but mentioned a loan of £200 and bequests totalling £80; quite a large sum.
  • Her brother William’s 4 sons were all under 21 in Dec 1570 and therefore born after Dec 1549.
  • Sister Millicent (l 50) was not mentioned in father Edward of Letchworth’s Will in 1558, so if she was Lucie’s actual sister rather than her sister-in-law, she was presumably married by 1558. The 2 daughters Edward did mention were unmarried—Lucie and Anne—and perhaps for that reason since their mention was specifically regarding bequests towards their marriages. Was Millicent formerly married to John Stanes of Stowe Longa Huntingdonshire Gent?
  • The mother of nephew William Hamillden (l 45-6) would have been another sister or sister-in-law of Lucie, if Lucie was using ‘nephew’ in its strict modern sense.27 Unlike the other nephews, William was not mentioned as being under 21 in 1569, so he would have been born before 1548. His mother could not therefore have been Lucie’s sister Ann, who was still unmarried in 1558. If Lucie was using ‘nephew’ in a looser sense then William Hamillden’s mother may have been a more distant relative.
  • Niece Elizabeth (l 44) was not mentioned in her father William’s will of 1609. He did mention 2 daughters, however, 1 married and 1 unmarried, so perhaps Elizabeth had died between 1570 and 1609. Born before 1569, it’s only likely that she was the bride of James KEYNE in Shillington in 1610 if she married as a 41-49 year-old Spinster. It’s possible to infer from Lucie’s will that she was William’s eldest daughter—neither of his other daughters Margaret or Anne were mentioned.
  • Nephew Edward Brocket (l 38) is a mystery. Lucie’s legacy was “so that he applie his booke”. This term tended to be used of a youth studying away from home at university or an inn of court. Read more
    so he was probably aged 15 or so in 1570 and therefore born c 1555. But no relevant student is recorded at Oxford and Cambridge or at an Inn of Court. Mention of parents suggests he wasn’t illegitimate, but Lucie didn’t name them.

    If Lucie used nephew in its strict sense, Edward would have to have been the son of one of her 4 brothers as follows:

    1. Edward being a namesake was a possible father. He had become embroiled in major financial problems, ending up an outlaw and then in prison in the late 1560s, which, if he was the father of Lucie’s nephew Edward, was perhaps why Lucie did not name nephew Edward’s parents, as she did with her other nephews. According to the records, however, Edward the outlaw’s only surviving issue was a daughter Mary, his heir—although he and his wife did have at least one other child, Joanna who died 1560.
    2. William, in his Will in 1609, mentioned the same 4 sons as Lucie had done: William, John, Edmund and Thomas. If William had had a son Edward, he may have died by 1609 of course, but considering that Lucie mentioned Edward separately and differently to these other 4 Brocket nephews (he also received a lesser legacy), it is safe to say he was not a son of brother William. The 1860 Gateshead pedigree mistakenly had William as father of his elder brother Edward, the outlaw.
    3. Thomas was probably alive, since Lucie called brother William’s son Thomas ‘youngar’. But if her brother Thomas had been the father of her nephew Edward, Lucie might have been expected to qualify him as such, as she did with brother William with his sons. It isn’t known if Thomas married or had children, but he might have been in prison in 1569. If her brother John didn’t discharge his debt to Lucie’s estate she willed that Thomas receive John’s £20 on 29 Sep 1570. The Memorandum shows that this happened.
    4. John had no surviving issue in 1607, when he wrote his Will. He was a possible father, but again Lucie might have been expected to qualify Edward as his son, as she did with the sons of her brother William. At the time of his own Will in 1607 John was of Impington in Cambridgeshire, late of Stowe [Longa] Huntingdonshire. Lucie had stayed with her brother John, perhaps when he lived at Stow Longa, 4 miles from Graffham. She asked him to see her decently and honestly buried if she died in his house, and not to ask for expenses from her executor.32 In or before 1561 John was also associated with Letchworth,33 and Lucie may have stayed with him there. She said that by a bond dated 4 Oct 1569—the day before writing her Will—that he owed her £200, and required him to repay £100 of it before receiving a legacy of £20 from her,34 or else it would go to brother Thomas. Something happened between Luice and John between that writing of her Will on 5 Oct 1569 and the Memorandum of 17 Dec 1570 that made her cancel his legacy of £20.35 Presumably he didn’t settle his debt to her.

    If Lucie used nephew loosely to mean a more distant young relative, no suitable Edward is known:

    1. Edward Broket of Wheathampstead (d 1598) would have been well into his 30s by then.
    2. Edward of Wingaledoe was yet older, b c 1518, and was a student at Furnivals, one of the Inns of Chancery in 1541.
    3. Edward Brocket of Hitchin—later Dunton—was only 7 pr 8 years old (b 1562), and his father had died 1563.

    No other Edward from the Herts Grouping of suitable age in 1570 is known. Perhaps he died not long after this or a least never had a family or owned land. How giving him a gelding would have helped him focus on his studies is curious to wonder.

  • Probate of Lucie’s Will:


Translation:36+ Read more

John Brockett Gent of Bishops Stortford Co Hert (London) 1578

Administration of the estate of a John Brockett of Bishops Stortford, Co Hert (Lond) Gent was given to his widow Margery Brockett 3 Nov 1578.38 It is not clear who this couple was.

Nicholas Brockett of Mackery End Esq, d 1585

Son of John and Dorothy of Swaffham Bulbek. Nicholas married Margaret HOO, heiress of John and Joan HEYWORTH of Mackary End.39 “John Heyworth settled his lands, in 1558, shortly before his death, upon Margaret Hoo his adopted daughter, widow of Jerome Reynolds, and the then wife of Nicholas Brockett.”40 This was how Mackary End came to the Brokets.

Nicholas and Margaret had therefore married by 1558. In his Will of 10 Nov 1558 John Heyworthe, Gentleman of Whethampsted, Hertfordshire—after many bequests to the poor, his servants, widows and other individuals—left the residue of his estate to “to Nycholas Brokett Esquyer and margarete hys wyef”, concluding “And furthermore I wylle giue and declare by thys my laste will and Testament alle my other mesuages maners Landes and Tenementes medowes Lesures woddes and pastures aswelle free as copye or costomary landes and Tenementes scytuate lyinge and beinge within the parishe of Whethampsted or els wheare in the countye of Hertford To the sayd margarett and to the heyres mayles of her bodye lawefullye forgotten [sic]”.41 Nicholas Brocket may therefore have held Mackary End in right of his wife, but since Nicholas predeceased her, she would have settled Mackary End on their only surviving child, John Brockett, later Sir John III, before she married for the third time, to Edmund Bardolf. Did she outlive him too? The monument in Wheathampstead Church said she had no children with her first husband, Jerome Reynolds.

This doesn’t tally with Howard & Fowler’s statement: “About this date [1558], it is supposed, Mackery End (house and manor) was purchased by Sir William Garrard, Kt., who had come into possession of Lamer in 1553.”42 They put a footnote here, but its evidence relates to the purchase of Lamer rather than Mackery End, so the “it is supposed” looks like their own supposition. According to the VCH it wasn’t till 1681 that Mackary End came to the Garrards.43

John Heyworthe appointed Nycholas, Margaret and Thomas Northe his Executors, and Hughe Pope overseer. Nevertheless, interestingly, John wanted to reclaim a property in Surrey for Margaret which he said Nicholas had appropriated for his own heirs: “Allso wheare nycholas Brokett gent owethe to me Twentye pounde of Lawfulle money as by an oblygacion thereof made planly apperethe, i doo clerelye remytte and forgyue yt to the sayd nycholas, vpon condycion that the sayd nycholas shalle ymedyately convey and make sure or cause to be made sure the Reuercion of my Landes at Hatcham Barne in the countye of Surrey to me and my Heyres which the sayd nycholas hathe nowe Turned to hym and to hys heyres.”44

1543: As shown by his arms in the window of the hall, by 1543 Nicholas was principal, i.e. head, of Staple Inn of Court in London.45

1544: On 20 Jan Nicholas Brokett, Gentleman, brought a Common Pleas action attempting to reclaim a debt of £20 from a Buckinghamshire yeoman, but he had not come to defend himself. The proceedings appear to have almost reached the stage of outlawry and the court ordered the deputy sheriff of London and the sheriff of Buckinghamshire to take the defendant and bring him to court on 21 May 1554:46+Read more

1551: An action at the Court of Common Pleas on 30 Oct shows that Nicholas was undersheriff of Buckinghamshire at this time:47+Read more

During the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) it was said that Nicholas Brocket “doth inclose … most unjustlye a lane …. which hath Marshalles Woode on the Sowthwest Side and on the North Side a Comen felde”, an area within a mile of Mackerye End.50

Margaret and Nicholas’ known children were:

  1. John, bap Wheathampstead 14 Jan 1562,51 later SirJohn III
  2. Johanna filia Nicholas Brocket”, buried 20 Apr 156652

Five years after Nicholas’ death, on 10 Aug 1590 “Margaret Brokett gent vid late wife of Nicholas Brokett Esquier” married Edmund Bardolf Esq of Rothamsted in Harpenden.53 Edmund was elder brother of Ann married to William Brokett of Esyndon, and of Edward Bardolff of Blakesleys, witness to Nicholas’ Will written 17 Apr 1585, proved 28 Apr 1585:54+Read more

A memorial inscription on the wall of the north transept in Wheathampstead Church reads:55


Edward Brockett of Wheathampstead Place Esq, b c 1534-38, d 1599

Second son of Sir John I. Allowing a minimum of a couple of years between the births of his older brother John (b by 1532) and younger brother Thomas (b c 1536-40) and no sisters in between, Edward was probably born 1534-38.

Edward was educated at Gray’s Inn in London from 1562. His father had been at the Middle Temple.

In 1566-8 William MARSHALL, parson of Marston [Moretaine], Bedfordshire sued “Edward Broket of Grays Inn esquire” for the return of a silver bowl pledged to the defendant.56

He acquired land in Steeple Claydon Buckinghamshire through his marriage to Etheldred Lady CHALLONER, d/o Fred SHAM of Elton, co Chester and widow of Sir Thomas Challoner. Edward married the widow of a knight. They had 3 surviving children:

  1. Ursula m Edward SALTER Esq, later Sir.
  2. John b c 1571
  3. Isabell m 1 … RAINSFORD, m 2 Sir Gerrard HORSEY. The IGI recorded the marriage of Isabell Brockette to Hierome HORSEY 28 Oct 1609 Offley. That same day she assigned the lease of the Manor of Wheathampstead with Harpenden to John Brokett of Mackery End Esq, for 99 years as Isabel Brokett.57

In 1569 Edward was recorded in the muster for Steeple Claydon Buckinghamshire:58

Edward Brockett Bucks muster 1569
Charged there by Inquesicion
Edward Brockett esquier
1 Light horse furnished
1 Corselet
1 Almaine Revett
1 bowe
1 sheff of Arrows
1 Harquebus
1 Moryan and 1 stele cappe

This was not an account of his armour as such but a requirement, or charge, to provide these items on account of the extent of his property. Descriptions of the items: +Read more

This image shows half armour (almain rivet), a harquebus and a morion:64

In 1582 for the London Subsidy Edward Brockett of St Martin Ludgate, London was assessed at 5s 4d for £40 in lands (apparently in Buckinghamshire).65

Here are 5 extracts from Edward’s original will written 13 Aug 1598 in a fine Secretary Hand, but with many corrections and insertions:66+Read more

Overseer Thomas Docwra of Pirton, Herts, was either the son of John Docwra67 or his son. Around the time of the writing of this will Thomas the father was settling Pirton on his son Thomas. Calling him ‘cosen’ did not necessarily mean a blood relationship, but there may have been one. Edward signed each page:68

Signature of Edward Brokett of Wheathampstead Place Esq

According to his IPM taken on 9 July 1601,69 Edward died 3 Oct 1599 and his son and next heir was John Brockett, aged at the time “23 years and more”.

William Brockett of Wildhill/Esyndon Gent b c 1521-26 d 1611

Second son of Edward of Letchworth, William was probably born c 1521-26. According to his Hertfordshire IPM he died 6 Apr 1611,70 at Esynden (Essenden) near Hatfield,

“seised of a messauge, mansion-house and farm called Camfield‘ purchased in 1601. ‘The house called Wild Hill is just within the parish of Hatfield; but the estate is generally spoken of as lying within the parish of Essendon.”71

He was styled ‘Gent’ in most records but not, for instance, in his IPMs and the admission of son William to Gray’s Inn 1597, where he was styled “armiger”, i.e. Esquire. He was educated at Lincoln’s Inn himself, where he was recorded 1567-75. In 1564 (or a year or few before72). William Brockett, Gent, was sued by Lincoln’s Inn as a member, and the proclamation was sent to the sheriff at Hertford, Herts, as William’s last known place of residence. He was styled ‘Esq’ in a suit on behalf of his brother Edward’s widow in 1586.

Co-executor of his father’s Will
With younger brother John, William was co-executor of his father’s Will, written 1558, probate of which was delayed c 25 years. Between the ages of c 35 and 60 William had the problems of his eldest brother’s inheritance.

In his Will his father had left William all his ‘Landes and Tenements in Plumpsted Marshe in the countie of Kent and in the parishe of Lechworth and Willien’. A licence issued 15 Oct 1555 allowed Cuthbert and Mary Thomson to alienate 32 acres in Plumstead Marsh to William. This was bound up with a loan of £140 made to William’s father by his yeoman cousin William I of Hitchin, to whom an all but identical licence had been issued 10 Oct 1554.

Clerk of the Peace
William is recorded as being Juror and Clerk of the Peace for 33 years 1570-1603:73    Read more

A letter along with a prisoner was sent to William on 1 May 1590 from Hertford on behalf of Sir Philip Boteler addressed “To the worshipful his loving friend Mr Wylliam Brokett Clerk of the Peace of the County of Hertfordshire”:

Address to William Brokett 1590

A note underneath the letter is signed by Willyam Snowe and Thomas Brokett:

Signature of Thomas Brokett 1590

This may have been William’s 4th son, and his father had secured him a position in Hertford in the judicial system. Since he signed with a flourish he may alternatively have been Thomas the younger, son of Sir John of Brockett Hall.

The Clerk of Peace (clericus pacis) was described in 1795:74   Read more

William served on the Grand Jury at the Hertfordshire Assizes 23 Sep 1603.75

1598 16 May: William Brockett ‘gent’ was mentioned with 40 others, all customary tenants of the manor of Kings Walden, Hertfordshire, in a complaint against the lords of the manor regarding the fines and commons of the manor.76 With ‘gent’ after his name William here would have been our William of Essendon (d 1611), or less likely his son William (d 1626). Although Kings Walden is only 5 miles from Hitchin, this would not have been William III of Hitchin, always a Yeoman. William of Essendon’s father, Edward Brokett of Letchworth Esq (d 1559), left property in Kings Walden (although to William’s younger brother John).

Wife and family
William married Ann, eldest daughter of Edmund BARDOLPHE of Harpenden/Rothamsted.77 Edmund Bardolph had married the heiress to the Cressy estates in Harpenden in 1519, and “the Bardolphs must have been far and away the most important people in Harpenden in the last half of the sixteenth century”.78 Munby’s Bardolph pedigree was focussed on the transference of the Harpenden estates and since Edmund had 4 sons, 3 of whom inherited a manor, it didn’t show Ann or any other daughter. It also didn’t show the other relationships to Brokets at the time. William and Anne had 7 surviving children, whose order isn’t known for definite, but can be fairly reliably reconstructed from various sources, including William’s own Will and the Wills of his sister Lucie 1569 and his daughter Anne 1616, as follows:

  1. William. No baptism record has been found, but he was probably born two or more years before Mar 1563. The Harpenden baptismal register began in Mar 1563, and sister Elizabeth’s baptism there in Jun 1564 was the first Broket recorded, so if William—and John after him—had been baptised there it would have been before Mar 1563. William was mentioned in 1611 as next heir aged “46 and more” in his father’s Hertfordshire IPM, and “40 or more” in 1611 in his father’s Suffolk IPMs.79 These ages of 40 or 46 and more were formulaic estimates simply implying an early middle-aged man. If William had been born as late as 1571, or even 1565, he would not have been his father’s “next heir”. William was sole executor of his father’s Will of 1609, proved 1611.
  2. John. Of Codicote. Probably the second son—listed second in aunt Lucie’s Will of 1569, although after Edmund in his father William’s Will. No baptism record has been found, but he was probably born a year or more before Mar 1563, when the Harpenden baptismal register began.
  3. Elizabeth. Baptised Harpenden 22 Jun 1564, see above. No parents were mentioned, but brother Edmund’s baptism a year later proved who he and Elizabeth were. She was alive 1569, when her father’s sister Lucie wrote her Will, in which Elizabeth was the only daughter mentioned, and thus probably their eldest. She was unlikely to have been the Elizabeth who married James KEYNE in Shillington in 1610. She wasn’t mentioned in her father’s Will of 1609.
  4. Edmund. Baptised Harpenden 1 Oct 1565. No parents were mentioned, as with Elizabeth, but since the only Edmund Brokett recorded in the 16th C was this Edmund, it proved that both Edmund and Elizabeth before him were baptised in Harpenden. Their mother Ann was of the Harpenden Bardolf family and it’s possible that William and Ann lived in Harpenden for the first few years of their marriage, or at least baptised their first few children there. After Edmund no other baptisms were recorded in Harpenden until 1606—sons of Edmund’s brother John—so perhaps William and Anne themselves moved away soon after 1565. Edmund later became Vicar of Luton, Rector of Graveley and lived until 1652/3.
  5. Thomas. No baptism record has been found. His parents appear to have moved away from Harpenden before he was baptised. Was Thomas the Gentleman Adventurer of the Virginia Company? See also the Star Chamber court case dated 1620.80 He was probably the Thomas working in Hatfield 1590. He was unlikely to have been the Thomas discharged 10 Mar 1587 from Hertford gaol. His father’s Will of 1609 mentioned him and wife Elizabeth.
  6. Anne. That Anne was younger than the 4 brothers above has been inferred from her aunt Lucie’s Will of 1569, which mentioned the 4 brothers and sister Elizabeth, but not Anne. But of course Lucie may simply have omitted her (and Margaret). Anne was buried in Saffron Walden, Essex 11 Mar 1615/16, probably staying with her sister Margaret.81 Anne’s Will was written 6 Mar 1616, proved PCC 28 Mar 1616. One of the witnesses was H Mordaunt, perhaps a relative of her nephew William’s wife Jane Mordant. If so maybe she wrote it in Saffron Walden—she did so only 5 days before she was buried there.
  7. Margaret. Married 1st Samuel CAGE. Her father bequeathed 4 angels to “my daughter Cagge in token of my love” in his Will written 17 Feb 1609/10. It was probably this Samuel Cage who was buried in Saffron Walden 27 Oct 1612.82 On 6 Mar 1615/6 her sister Anne bequeathed “my good and loveinge sister Margaret Cage widdowe” the residue of her goods and chattels and appointed her sole executrix. Margaret married 2nd Christopher WYVILL, eldest son of Sampson, 3rd son of Sir Marmaduke Wyvill of Little Burton, Yorkshire, MP: “Margery, dau. of William Brockett, wid. of Samuel Cage, of London and Saffron Walden, mar. Christopher [WYVILL] of Saffron Walden, Essex, D.C.L.”83 It isn’t known if Margaret had any children. The 12 Oct 1632 record of the burial in Saffron Walden of — Wivell (no first name supplied) was perhaps of Margaret.84 Colonel William Brockett, eldest son of Margaret’s brother Edmund, had a house in Saffron Walden in 1655, in which hung a table of arms of Sir Marmaduke Wivell of Burton, Yorkshire, suggesting that he inherited Margaret’s house.

The 1860 Gateshead Pedigree mistakenly had William ‘of Wild Hill’ as Edward of Letchworth’s only son and as the father of Edward married to Bolfield. Actually the Edward who married Ellen BELFIELD was William’s brother, not his son, and Edward of Letchworth had 4 surviving sons.

William’s Will and IPMs
The Will of William Brokett the elder of Esynden gent’ was written 17 Feb 1609 but has no probate date.85 He signed it with a shaky hand:

Signature of William Brokett the elder of Esynden Gent

Extract from the Will:+Read more

The Will shows:

  • He was a widower.
  • He willed to be buried in Esyndon Church chancel, as near to where his wife was buried as may be.
  • Son William, married to Sara, was the sole executor. William the elder gave Sara “my wiffes booke of golde & her wedding Ringe”.86
  • Son Thomas and wife Elizabeth probably had no children. Their inheritance—the farm at Rooe gardene in Hatfield—was to pass to brother William when he and Elizabeth died. In 1616 Anne mentioned children of 3 of her brothers but not of Thomas.
  • Daughter Elizabeth, mentioned in aunt Lucie’s Will, was not mentioned. She had probably died between 1570 and 1609.
  • Anne received most attention—about a quarter of the Will as shown in this extract—perhaps because she was unmarried.

William’s Hertfordshire IPM, held 30 May 1611,87 listed lands in Ickleford, Waldon Regis, Ippolletts, St Albans, suggesting that William also inherited some of his elder brother’s inheritance. It says he died on 6 April that year88 and that his son and heir was William Gent aged 46 or more at his father’s death (ll 20f).

His Suffolk IPM, held 4 Jan 1620,89 concerned a messuage called Bulwardes in Bliford, c 2 m NE of Bramfield, and 40 other acres in Bliford, Bulcampe, Bliburgh, Henham and Wenhaston. It says he died on 6 April 161190 and that his son and heir was William Gent aged 40 or more at his father’s death.

Note: Before the Latin dates of death had been noticed, it had not been realised that the 1620 Suffolk IPM concerned this William as well as the 1611 Herts one, and it was mistakenly thought that the Suffolk IPM concerned William son of Robert of Bramfield, Suffolk. It should have been realised that in the first half of the 17th C there was only one William Brockett Esq with a son and heir William Gent in his 40s. That Thomas of Chidingstone Esq owned Bullers [Bulwardes] in 1661 confirms that he was William of Esynden’s grandson.

A 2nd Suffolk IPM was held on 11 April 1623.91 Only the 1620 one supplied dates of death and heir. The 1623 one provided more details about the properties. Perhaps there had been a challenge.

Page Last Updated: May 30, 2020


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


[1] Munby 1974 p 62.

[2] Munby 1974 pp 41-2.

[3] Munby 1974 p 54.

[4] Laslett 1983 p 81ff; Stone 1977 p 40ff.

[5] TNA C142/95/99

[6] Lines 56-64.

[7] Thanks to David Bethell for this explanation.

[8] TNA C 66/921. For the original Latin and a translation contact the Archivist of this website.

[9] Email communication from David Bethell Aug 2015.

[10] goo.gl/Hbmhx4 accessed 11 Sep 2017.

[11] goo.gl/1i3fmm accessed 11 Sep 2017, citing Little Marlow parish register.

[12] goo.gl/Jy8oFM accessed 11 Sep 2017; The history and antiquities of the county of Buckingham, by George Lipscomb, J. & W. Robins, 1847, i. 309-10, as cited in goo.gl/uLHSa6 fn 2 accessed 11 Sep 2017.

[13] Metcalfe 1886 p 151.

[14] 1838 vol 1 p 447.

[15] TNE Admons (PROB 6/1) 1561/2.

[16] Harpenden Parish Register, D/P 122A 1/1, image courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies, published by FindMyPast, accessed 19 Jun 2019.

[17] As of 20 Jun 2019.

[18] Frame 45/72 of FindMyPast's microfilm.

[19] Frame 18/72 of FindMyPast's microfilm.

[20] Frame 19/72 of FindMyPast's microfilm.

[21] Frame 61/72 of FindMyPast's microfilm.

[22] NSOED: imbecility: Weakness debility, feebleness ... (late Middle English)

[23] NSOED: hosted: received a guest (late Middle English)

[24] Michaelmas: 29 Sep 1570

[25] Will lines 82-3.

[26] Line 25.

[27] The NSOED lists secondary meanings including 'grandson' or 'a descendant of a remote'; also a 'euphemism for an illegitimate son' which wouldn't be the case here with any of Lucie's 'neweys', since they are all allocated to parents. The 'newey' spelling isn't currently listed in the OED (June 2017).

[28] NSOED meaning 6

[29] 1662 Vol 1 p 208

[30] 1662 Vol 1 p 521

[31] 1662 Vol 3 p152

[32] Lines 60-95 of Lucie's Will

[33] Baker 2012 p 170

[34] Lines 61-69

[35] Lines 108-117

[36] For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[37] This is where the total value of the estate, as indicated by the inventory, should have been (but was not) inserted.

[38] TNA Admons 1572-80 (indexed) vol II Exeter 1917, p 105 = f156.

[39] Pedigree: Munby 1974 p 61.

[40] British History online at goo.gl/YorNni accessed 29 Oct 2017, citing in fn. 47: Westm. D. and C. Ct. R. 8948, 8953; and Trans. St. Albans Arch. Soc. 1889, p. 24, (part 2, by H Fowler, available at goo.gl/mkjMDG (accessed 23 Mar 2018)).

[41] Proved PCC 25 Jan 1558/9, TNA PROB 11/42A/250.

[42] 1889, p 28. I owe this reference to Dianne Payne 23 Mar 2018.

[43] British History online at goo.gl/YorNni accessed 29 Oct 2017, citing in fn. 53 Feet of F. Herts. East. 33 Chas. II.

[44] TNA PROB 11/42A/250.

[45] Baker 2012 p 366.

[46] TNA CP40/1023 d689. For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[47] TNA CP 40/1148 m.108d (pt 1, d1226). For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[48] goo.gl/AppBwH (accessed 12 Sep 2018).

[49] goo.gl/VDqr5Y (accessed 12 Sep 2018).

[50] WAM 14030 D quoted in WEA p 45 (Munby 1974?) I owe this reference to Dianne Payne 23 Mar 2018.

[51] Parish Register, as recorded by Gough in the Bodleian Manuscript Gough Herts. 4, p 1 (fol. 138r).

[52] Parish Register, as recorded by Gough in the Bodleian Manuscript Gough Herts. 4, p 9 (fol. 139d recto).

[53] Harpenden Parish Register, HALS D/P 122A 1/1.

[54] PCC, PROB 11/68.

[55] Bob Speel has an image and interesting description at goo.gl/5qDy9W (accessed 23 Mar 2018).

[56] TNA C 1/1451/10.

[57] HALS DE/Cm/37752

[58] goo.gl/aHqQXT accessed 10 Sep 2017; reproduced by kind permission of the National Archives licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

[59] Craib 1914-20 p xxv

[60] NSOED definition 1

[61] NSOED under Almain

[62] NSOED definition 3

[63] NSOED definition 1

[64] Acknowledgements from left to right: 1. Half Armour (Almain rivet) worn by heavy foot or light cavalry with morion or burgonet with detachable buffs from goo.gl/Ku5i2x accessed 10 Sep 2017. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France license. 2. The Harquebus from Pearson Scott Foresman - Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation. This file has been extracted from another file: PSF H-420010.png, Public Domain, goo.gl/iz41Zo. 3. Spanish morion in the Public domain goo.gl/h7uVNp accessed 10 Sep 2017.

[65] TNA E 179/251/16; Lang (1993) p 229; Baker (2012) p 366a l.3.

[66] HALS 2HW/50

[67] Metcalfe 1886 Appendix II p 140.

[68] Reproduced with kind permission from HALS.

[69] TNA C 14/645/48.

[70] TNA C142/316/29.

[71] VCH Herts vol 2 p 459.

[72] Baker 2012 p 55.

[73] Guide to The Hertfordshire Record Office, part 1; HALS HAT/SR2, 23, 70, 75, 132, 181

[74] A New Law Dictionary, Ninth Edition, 1795, originally compiled by Giles Jacob

[75] Cockburn 1975 p 8.

[76] TNA C 78/100/5, available at AALT at https://tinyurl.com/yy8fjeu2 (accessed 13 Jul 2019). Thanks to James Lively for this reference May 2019.

[77] Metcalfe 1886 p 2; Pedigree: Munby 1974 p 67.

[78] Munby 1974 p 63, 66.

[79] TNA C142/316/29, C142/382/38, C142/391/51.

[80] TNE STAC 8/263/12.

[81] Essex Burial Index 1530-1994, ERO D/P 192/1/1 (transcribed as Mrs Anne Brookett Gent); National Burial Index For England & Wales (as Anne Brockett). Both transcripts accessed on FMP 3 Feb 2020.

[82] Essex Society for Family History's transcript of the National Burial Index For England & Wales, accessed on FMP 20 Jan 2020.

[83] Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire Pts I To X, With Additions, published 1894-1912, p 432 (image accessed from FMP 20 Jan 2020). Did 'D.C.L.' stand for Doctor of Civil Law?

[84] National Burial Index For England & Wales, transcript accessed on FMP 3 Feb 2020.

[85] HALS 9HW10.

[86] Lines 44-5.

[87] TNE C142/316: anno regni domini Iacobi dei gratia Anglie ... Octauo—James acceded 24 Mar 1603.

[88] sexto die Aprilis vltimo.

[89] TNE C142/382: Anno regni domini Iacobi dei gratia Anglie ... decimo octavo.

[90] sexto die Aprilis Anno regni domini Regis ... Anglie &c octavo (lines 13ff).

[91] TNE C142/391: anno regni domini Iacobi dei gratia Anglie ... vicesimo.