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.
The following Brokets can be highlighted:
- Edward Gent of Bradfield, d 1559 (separate page)
- Thomas the elder Esq of Brockett Hall, d by 1560
- Robert of Wheathampstead, d 1562
- William II Yeoman of Hichyn, d 1563 (separate page)
- Elizabeth and Edmund, bap Harpenden 1564 and 65
- Johan of Offley, 1570 (separate page)
- Lucie daughter of Edward of Letchworth, d 1572
- John Brockett Gent of Bishops Stortford, d 1578
- Edward Gent of Sabridgworthe, 1584 (separate page)
- Nicholas Esq of Mackery End, Whethampsted, d 1585
- Elizabeth (Barley) of Sabridgworth, d 1592 (separate page)
- Edward I of Hitchin, d 1593-8 (separate page)
- Sir John II of Brockett Hall, d 1598 (separate page)
- Edward Esq of Wheathampstead Place, d 1599
- William Gent of Esyndon, d 1611
- 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.
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.
Note: This means “I give my son Thomas Brokett the elder all my property in Nottinghamshire in compensation for a marriage contract that I made, ensured by a matching bond I made along with my eldest son John, to pay Anne Lytton £100, whom god willing Thomas shall marry. This gift of property in Nottinghamshire is to prevent Thomas from gaining any advantage for himself out of the £100 agreement, but if he does so this legacy of £10 is cancelled.” The proviso at the end means that Edward will inherit the profit from the deal that was made in arranging the marriage.7
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
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.
It is not known who this propertyless relative of Edward was:15
margin: Lincoln [diocese] Ascension Day. No goods came into the hands of the administrator. 2 shillings
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:16Read more
Firstly, the original clerk dotted the ‘i’s, as in ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Squier’ on the next line following the entry for Elizabeth, and elsewhere. Secondly, the ‘i’ was a straight downward stroke joining with the following letter, as in ‘Squier’ and elsewhere, and the combination ‘ic’ can be seen in ‘Alice’ 3 lines below. The letter after ‘Br’ in Elizabeth’s entry is not fully evident in this reproduction of the microfilm, but what is there is clearly rounded and not straight, nor joined with the following letter. It is an ‘o’, as in ‘John’, ‘Thomas’, etc. Also ‘h’ was very different from ‘k’. Other ‘h’s can be seen in ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Thomas’ in the next line, and after ‘c’ in ‘Birchmore’ 4 lines above.
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.
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
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:
2. the daughters of Edward Broket late of
3. lechworthe in the countie of hartford esquireRead more
4. decessed Beinge grevid with a certaine Ache
5. or Imbisilitytie22 in my lymes wherby I call to
6. remembraunce the vncertaintie of this transitorye
7. lyfe which as the hollye scripture saythe
8. florishethe to daye as a freshe flowre in the
9. field and to morrowe is cutt downe and withered
10. quite awaye And not knowinge in what
11. hower god hathe appointed to call me beinge now
12. of perfitt remembrance (thanked be god) Doe reuoke
13. all other willes by me before this daye made
14. and ordeyne this my last will and testament
15. in maner and forme folowynge Fyrst I commende
16. my soule to almightye god my creator in whome I
17. faythfullye beleue assuredlye to receiue remission
18. of all my sinnes be they neuer so many And
19. thenheritaunce appointed of him for the faithfull
20. onelye throughe the merites of his dere sonne and the
21. redemer of the hole worlde our sauiour Iesus christ
22. in the day when all fleshe shall ryse againe my body
23. I committe to the yerthe whereof it is made as
24. yearthly to be buryed And for the distributione of that
25. little worldlye welthe that god hathe here
26. lent me my will is to dispose it in this sorte follovynge
27. Fyrst I geue and bequethe to William broket Iohn
28. Brocket Edmunde Brocket and Thomas Brokett youngar
29. sonnes to my brother William fortie poundes to be equallie
30. Deuided amongst them Desiringe my sayd brother William
31. to applye the same as A naturall and louinge father to some
32. profitt and comodytie for his sayd children till they come to
33. the age of Twentye and one yeres and then eche of them
34. to haue x li of good and lawfull monye of England And
35. yf any of the aforenamed parties fortune to departe this life
36. before theire full ages (as god forbid) Then I will the sayd
37. summe of fortie poundes equally to be deuided amongst them
38. that remaine aliue Also I geue to my newey Edward
39. Brocket fyve poundes to bye him a geldinge withall so that
40. he applie his booke and pleyse his father and mother
41. If these aboue named my swete neweyes departe this
42. worlde (as god defende) before the tyme appoynted for
43. the receyte of this my legacie my mynd and will is it
44. shall whollye remaine to Elizabethe Brocket Syster to
45. my sayd neweyes Item I geue to my newey William
46. hamillden fyve poundes of good of good and lawfull monie of
47. England to be payd vnto him within one monethe after that my
48. executour hathe receiued such debtes as be due vnto me
49. And Further I geue vnto Edward
50. leache the sonnes of millicent my sister Tenne poundes of
51. good and lawfull monye of England to be payd vnto
52. george leache there father within one monethe after that my
53. executor shall haue receiued such debtes as of right
54. belonge vnto me so that the sayd george leache be
55. bound vnto my executor to paye the same monye
56. vnto his sayd children at there full ages of twenty
57. and one yeres If it fortune anye of them to dye I
58. will the survivour of them to haue the hole Tenne
59. poundes if the [sic] dye bothe I will there mother
60. haue the hole legacie lykwise I geue vnto Iohn
61. brocket my brother twentye poundes of lawfull
62. monye of England to be payd him within ten yeres
63. after that he hath payd and discharged vnto my
64. executor his obligacion of Two hundrethe poundes which
65. he standeth bounden vnto me in bearynge
66. date the fourthe daye of October and in the eleuenth
67. yere of the raigne of the Quens maiestie that
68. now is with condicion in the same to pay
69. one hundred poundes So that he the sayd Iohn
70. Brocket my brother giue no occasion to my executor
71. to vse or commence anye sute against him for me
72. or in my name but willinglye and quietlye paye
73. his debte aboue named as more plainelye apperethe
74. in the condicion of the afore mentyoned
75. obligacion And also that my sayd brother Iohn see
76. me decentlye and honestlye buryed yf it please
77. god to call me in his howse not askinge nor
78. requiringe anye recompence of my executor
79. for the same nor for any charges of my bourdinge
80. or other wayes layd out or disbursed
81. by him to my vse and behofe durynge all the tyme
82. that I haue bourded or osted23 with him yf he doe
83. contrarye to the purporte and playne meaninge
84. of this my last will and testament then my full
85. mynd and intente is that he shall not haue the
86. benefite of this my legacie and bequest but
87. to remayne hollye to my sayd executour to be
88. imployed at his discretion Further I will my
89. brother Thomas haue the twentye poundes
90. to his owne vse and comodytie which is to be
91. payd him at the feast of saynt michaell
92. tharckangell next ensuinge the date hereof24
93. as by an obligation of two hundred poundes
94. made vnto me by my brother Iohn (more
95. playnlye maye appere) And to performe this
96. my last will and testament I ordeyne and
97. make my lovinge brother William brocket
98. my executor gevinge him full powre and
99. auctoritie to aske take and receiue that
100. which of righte in anye wise to me belongethe
101. Signed and Sealed with my hand the
102. fifte daye of october in the yere of the
103. raigne of Elizabethe by the grace of god
104. of England Fraunce and Ireland Quene
105. Defendour of the faithe &c the Eleuenthe
106. These beinge witnesse peter Roswell
107. Iohn hall Iohn Berche William clark Richard Euere..
108. Memorandum that the seuentenne daye of december and
109. in the twelthe yere of our soueraigne ladye
110. Elizabethe that nowe is the within named luce
111. Broket beinge of good remembrance dyd frustrate
112. and make voyde the legacie and gifte of Twentye
113. poundes within limited to Iohn Brockett her brother
114. and in no wise to haue it accoumpted or taken
115. to be any parte of this her last will and
116. Testament In the presence of this [sic] parties vnder
117. written Thomas Turner mychell leche
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
Fuller used it several times of students at Oxford and Cambridge:
“John GREGORY, born 1607 … was bred (educated28) in Christ Church in Oxford, where he so applied his book, that he studied sixteen hours of the four-and-twenty for many years together”.29
“WALTER Mildmey, knight … was bred in Christ’s College in Cambridge, where he did not (as many young gentlemen) study only in compliment, but seriously applied himself to his book“.30
“Sir JAMES Ley … endeavoured to make himself an heir by his education, applying his book in Brasen-nose College…”31
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Edward Broket of Wheathampstead (d 1598) would have been well into his 30s by then.
- Edward of Wingaledoe was yet older, b c 1518, and was a student at Furnivals, one of the Inns of Chancery in 1541.
- 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:
Sum of the Inventory [blank]37
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.
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 , 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
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 1554:46Read more
Nicholas Brokett gentleman appeared by Thomas Chalfount his attorney for a fourth day against Thomas Carter of Northmerston in county Buckingham yeoman, in a plea that he render him £20 that he owes him and unjustly withholds &c. And [the defendant] has not come; and, as many times, it had been ordered the sheriffs to take him if &c. and safe &c. so that they have his body here on this day, namely, on the octaves of Hilary &c. And the sheriffs now report that [the defendant] is not found &c. Therefore it is ordered the sheriffs to cause him to be exacted from husting to husting until &c. he shall be outlawed if he do not [appear] &c. and if [he appear] &c. then they shall take him and safe &c. so that they have his body here on the morrow of Trinity [21 May 1554]; and whereof &c. And be it known that the justices here in court this same term delivered the writ thereon to Richard Bydwell deputy sheriff of London, to execute in form of law &c.Buckinghamshire
And by the statute &c. it is ordered the sheriff of Buckinghamshire to cause to be proclaimed in his county [court] on three several days, whereof one of the proclamations aforesaid shall be at a general session to be held in the district of Northmerston aforesaid, that the aforesaid Thomas surrender to the aforesaid sheriffs of London, so that the same sheriffs shall have his body here at the term aforesaid to answer the aforesaid Nicholas in the plea aforesaid. And be it known that the justices here in court this same term delivered the writ thereon to [blank], deputy sheriff of the county of Buckingham, to execute in form of law &c.
Be it remembered that the justices of the lord king here on the 30th day of October this same term delivered to Nicholas Brockett, undersheriff of the county aforesaid, a writ close of the lord now king, directed to the sheriff of the county aforesaid to execute in form of law, which said writ the same undersheriff opened here in court, the tenor of which said writ follows, in these words …
Comment: The Sheriff of Buckinghamshire 11 Nov 1550 – 10 Nov 1551 was Sir Thomas Rotheram of Luton, Beds.48 “For centuries the job of the Under-Sheriff was carrying out the execution of High Court Writs of Fieri Facias. These were Writs of Execution directing the Sheriff to levy a sum equal to the amount of a judgment debt and interest from the goods and chattels of a debtor. The Under-Sheriff then appointed a Sheriff’s Officer (a bailiff) to carry out the seizure of goods and to sell them. The Under-Sheriff also enforced Writs of Possession (for the repossession of land or property) and Writs of Delivery (to deliver up a specific item of property).”49
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:
- John, bap Wheathampstead 14 Jan 1562,51 later SirJohn III
- “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 1585:54Read more
2. late of Whethampsted in the Countye of Herford Esquier deceased whiles he lyved beinge of perfect mynde
3. and remembraunce Dyd make and declare his last will and testament nuncupatiue before honest wittnesses,
4. the Seavententh Daye of Aprill Anno Domini one thowsand fyve hundred eightie
5. fourme in effecte as followeth. Fyrst beinge Demaunded by certen of his frendes that dydd vysite him
6. in his sicknes, howe he woulde bestowe his goodes and namely his Lease of his Mannour of Tortridge in
7. Hartford shire, He made aunswere and sayde I giue the same my Lease of Tortredge to John my sonne
8. And to him also I doe gyve all my goodes, And I make the same John my sonne my sole executour: Then
9. being present Sir John Brockett Knighte, Sir John Cuttes Knight and Thomas Hoo, & Edward Bardolff.
A memorial inscription on the wall of the north transept in Wheathampstead Church reads:55
JOHN HEYWORTH OF MACKEYRE END ESQVIER &
JOANE HIS WIFE THEY HAD 3 CHILDREN BVRYED IN
THERE INFANCIE, WHERE FORE THEY BOOTH DID
ADOPTE MARGARETT HOO THEIRE SOVLE HEIRE:
HER FIRSTE HVSBANDE JERRAM REYNOLDES, BY
WHOME SHEE HAD NO ISSVE HER SECOND HVS
BANDE WAS NICHOLAS BROKETT ESQ: WHO
LYETH BURYED NEXT TO MR HEYWORTH, THEY
HAD ISSVE JOHN WHO AT YE COMMANDEMENT OF YE
SAIDE MARGARETT DID ERECKTE THIS MONVMENT
THE SAIDE JOHN HEYWORTH DECEASED THE
XXVTH DAYE OF DECEMBER ANNO DOMINI 1558
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:
- Ursula m Edward SALTER Esq, later Sir.
- John b c 1571
- 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 esquier
1 Light horse furnished
1 Almaine Revett
1 sheff of Arrows
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
8. … and my body I wyll to be buryed
9. in the paryshe churche of Whethamsted in the chappell whereas my auncestors haue heretofore
10. byn interred, Item to my welbeloved wyfe the lady Challynor I gyve & bequeath all suche
11. goodes chattelles & moveables whatsoever as in an Inventorye thereof taken att Steeple
12. Claydon in the county of Buckyngham the ixth of Februarye 1589 and a coppye
13. thereof made & vnto thys my last wyll & Testament annexed vnder the handes of those
14. whoe are wyttnesses vnto thys my last wyll & Testament are partycularlye noted and
15. sett downe. And , further I gyve vnto my sayde wyfe in token of good wyll one bowle
16. gylt with a cover to the valewe of Fyve poundes, Item I gyve & bequeathe vnto Isabell
17. Brockett my beloved daughter the summe of Fowre hundred poundes
54. … Item. I gyve & bequeathe vnto
55. my wyfe and my daughters and vnto my sonne in lawe master Salter each of them
56. a mornynge gowne of fyne black clothe which I hope they wyll weare one halfe ‘yere’
57. next after my decease in remembraunce of me …
101. … Item I gyve & bequeathe vnto Edward Salter my sonne in lawe the
102. moyetye of all those landes tenementes or heredytamentes whatsoever which
103. I have or of ryght ought to haue of in or to certayne suche landes Tenementes
104. or heredytamentes which were late Sir morrys Dennys scytuate lyinge & beyinge in the
105. countie of Glocester which were extended vnto my vse by vertue of a Judgment out
106. of the court of the common pleas att Westminster agenst the sayde Sir morrys Dennys
125. … Item I gyve & bequeath Forty Shyllynges
126. to be dystrybuted att my funerall amongest the poore howseholders inhabytynge
127. withyn the sayde paryshe of Whethamsted att the dyscrecion of my Executor and
128. Overseers, The resydewe of all my goodes & chattelles after my debtes payde my
129. funerall expenses performed and theyse my legacyes conteyned in thys my present Testament
130. fulfylled, I wholely gyve & bequeathe vnto the sayde John Brockett my sonne whome I
131. make & ordayne my sole & onely Executor of thys my last wyll & Testament Item
132. I make & ordayne my welbeloved cosen master Rychard Spencer of Offley Esquyre and ‘my lovynge cosen‘
133. master Thomas Dockwraye of Pyrton Esquyre Overseers of thys my last wyll & Testament
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
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”.
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.
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”:
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.
“an officer belonging to the sessions of peace: his duty is to read indictments, enroll proceedings, and draw the process; he keeps the counter-part of the indenture of armour; records the proclamation of rates for servants wages; has the custody of the register-book of licenses given to badgers of corn; of persons licensed to kill game. And he registers the estates of papists and others not taking the oath. Also he certifies into the Kings Bench transcripts in indictments, outlawries, attiendes and convictions, had before the justices of peace within the time limited; and by statue, clerks of peace, are to certify the tenor of every indictment, outlawry, into B R within forty days, under a certain penalty. And every clerk of peace is to deliver to the sheriff within twenty days after Michaelmas yearly and estreat of all fines. The custosrotulorum of the county hath the appointment of the clerk of peace, who may execute his office by deputy. And if a clerk of peace misdemeans himself, the justices of peace in quarter-sessions have power to discharge him, and the Custos rotulorum is to choose another resident of the county, or on his default the sessions may appoint one”.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
Extract from the Will:Read more
25. my daughter Anne shall have and enioy seuerally to her selfe one chamber in
26. my howse viz the little Parlor, with bedd boulster bedstedd, couerlett blankettes
27. curtaynes, & fower payre of sheetes duringe her liffe. Item I give more
28. to my saide daughter Anne my grey geldinge, which I will also my sonne
29. William shall keepe for her & to her vse winter & somer as he keepethe his
30. owne. Item I give more vnto her the Ioyned waynscotte cheste that came
31. From Bradfylde. Item I give & bequeithe vnto my daughter Anne all
32. suche bondes & the mony dew by the same, as are taken in her name &
33. myne, & alsoe for the better increasing that porcion I give vnto her all the
34. benefittes of the cole wood in Busshey Lepes, And Alsoe the croppe of wood
35. next adioyninge to yt called Dringe hall grove, to be Felled the next yeare
36. by the discretion of my sonne William to her use, & the mony thereof rysyn to be payd
37. vnto her, Also I give her more in mony to be charged owte of
38. my goodes
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.
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: April 17, 2020