Edward Brockett I of Hitchin
b after 1536, d between 1593 and 98
Please consider whether the following evidence proves that Edward, younger son of William I Yeoman of Hitchin was the ancestor of a line of Brokets in Hitchin of up to 7 generations till at least the 1780s, and in particular till at least the 1720s. In those days Walsworth was a village about a mile NE of Hitchin.
- 1556: Father’s Will
- 1591: Copyhold property
- 1591: The Bridge Street house
- 1593: A sale with wife Barbara
- 1598: Fines for property in Walsworth or Highover
- 1608: Survey of the King’s timber and wood
- 1635: An Ippollits marriage
- Other contemporary Edward Brokets
- Edward I of Walsworth and his line
The 1556 Will of William Brokett I, Yeoman of Hitchin, is the first record of Edward I of Hitchin. How old he was then isn’t known but he was under 20—the Will directed William’s wife Elizabeth to take the profit from all the copyhold land bequeathed to Edward until he reached 20 and give him an account of the average profits up till then, less reasonable costs.2 Edward would therefore have been born at the earliest 13 April 1536. The Will bequeathed his elder brother, William II, five copyhold acres in Wratton that William I seemed to have recently acquired, but the all the rest of his copyhold lands he bequeathed to Edward when he reached 22. If he died before that they were to go to his elder brother. 3 It is clear below that William I’s copyhold land—and indeed one of his freehold properties—were held and occupied in succession by more than one Edward Broket who wasn’t a descendant of William II. Since Hitchin records as a whole conclusively show only the family and descendants of William I living there, Edward I must have survived and had descendants of his own. Other records support this. However it is curious that the Hitchin parish register do not record Edward I’s descendants until the 1650s.
Even though the 1556 Survey of the Manor of Hitchin was in November and William I died in April, the manor court wouldn’t have sat as all the property was still recorded in William I’s name. At the next sitting after William I’s death his son Edward’s property would have been recorded in the guardianship of his mother Elizabeth. How long his mother lived isn’t known, a record of her burial hasn’t been found.
A Hitchin Manor Rental in 1591 recorded that Edward Brockeyt seynor held 8 copyhold properties.4 There is no doubt he was the man we call Edward I of Hitchin.
2. A howse medowe & A arable land Called Brockes, lying ther. Rent: 8s 11d
3. A Copie Called Pettotes. Rent: 5s
4. A Copie Called Colles. Rent: 2s 6d
5. A Copie Called Maltmans. Rent: 3s 4d
6. A Close Called Gerrades, late parcel of a Copie late Thomas Paris. Rent: 6d
7. A Copie lying at Hyover Called bridgemans. Rent: 5s
8. A Doolle land. Rent: 4s. In margin: “William moncke bought this dolle.”5
2. One tenement beside Waltesforthe and 27 acres of arable land. Rent 10s a year.
3. One tenement called Brokes with certain lands and meadows belonging. Rent 17s 10d a year.
4. A close? of land with … arable lying … parcels in the fields of Walteswothe and Hyover called peltoftes. Rent 10s a year.
5. One cotland7 called brigmans or Bridgemans lying beside Hyover. Rent 10s a year.
6. One cotland called Coollys. Rent 5s a year.
7. One cotland beside Highover called maltemans. Rent 6s 8d a year.
If you compare the two lists you see that Edward still held all the copyhold property he had been bequeathed by his father William I except for the close called Gerrades which he must have acquired himself (item 6 in 1591). In 1556 it had been part of a cottage in Waltesforthe (Walsworth) with 42 acres of land held by Thomas Parrys for 15s a year.8 Otherwise all were the same: Item 1 in 1591 was item 2 in 1556; item 2 was item 3 called Brokes worth 17s 10d a year; item 3 was item 4 called peltoftes; item 4 was item 6; item 5 was item 7; item 7 was item 5; and item 8 was item 1.
The 1591 Rental also has an entry for Edward Brockeyt’s freehold “tenement in Bridge street next The Fryers [Priory] called the Dye howse“, due 7d in rent. Edward’s name was crossed out and replaced with that of Nicholas RENOLDS—following the sale of the house to Nicholas two years later:9
Two freehold properties were mentioned in William I’s Will of 1556. This one in Bridge Street—then occupied by a tenant John Parker and identified here and in the 1556 Rental as the Dye House—had been left to his wife (Edward I’s mother) for term of her life.10 To whom it was to revert was not specified. No further record of his mother has been found, but this 1591 Rental shows that in due course Edward I had inherited it. Confusingly, Edward I’s elder brother, William II, in his Will of 4 Sep 1563, had bequeathed his “housse in the Brigge streate and all the lande that belongithe thervnto” to his younger son Edward, later of Dunton, Bedfordshire.11 So, coincidental as it may seem, William II must have acquired a different property in Bridge Street to the Die House. It seems unlikely that he had acquired the Die House between 1556-63 and left it to his son Edward, who later sold it to his uncle Edward I, or else that the Die House was subdivided. Edward son of William II died in 1598, but his Will made no mention of property in Hitchin.
The other freehold property mentioned in William I’s Will of 1556 was the burgage and a half in Bancroft Street, owned in 1591 by Edward’s nephew William III, the previous entry in the Rental:12
Literal transcription of the whole of William’s rent:
It’ For A burgage & di’ in Bancroft street next the howse of thom’ Whittomar xjd ob
It’ for xj di’ acres of arable land wth Dovin slad somtyme mr Francies; & lat Sargeant bayers
iiijd’i iijd’ vj d’
& on quarter of a pownd of Coumynseed ij d
· A burgage and a half in Bancroft Street next to Thomas Whittomar’s house — 11½d
· 11½ acres of arable land with [the field called] Dovin Slade once owned by Mr Francis and lately Sergeant Bayer’s — 6d
· ¼lb of cummin seed — 2d
A small—but significant—later entry from 1598 was found on the penultimate page of the Rental and is mentioned below.
A 1593 fine recorded Edward Brockett and wife Barbara selling a messuage in Hitchin with a garden, orchard and 3 acres of land with appurtenances to Nicholas RENOLD for 100 silver marks.13 That was £68 6s 8d. Although fines didn’t record actual sale prices, they received a large sum.
As shown by the emendation to the 1591 Rental above this messuage was the Dye House in Bridge Street. After this, Edward’s Hitchin property was all in Walsworth and Highover. The fine didn’t refer to him as Edward ‘senior’. This may simply have not been considered necessary, as his son Edward was a minor of about 14 years of age, b c 1577. But the following 1598 fine shows that Edward I had died by May that year and possibly a year or more before. No other records of Barbara have been found, but she could not have been the wife of any other Edward Broket owning property in Hitchin at the time.
An Estreat of Fines and Amercements of 5 Oct 1598 included fines paid by Edward Brockett for a customary messuage and lands after the death of his father. The estreat was probably drawn up when, or soon after, Edward came into possession of the lands, i.e. when he came of age. These correspond to the copyhold house and lands at Walsworth and Highover recorded above in the 1591 rental as being held by Edward Brockeyt senior.14 This means:
- Edward I of Hitchin, Edward ‘senior’, had died by 1598.
- He had a son Edward—the subject of this Estreat—whom we call Edward I of Walsworth.
- Edward I of Walsworth was a minor until 1598, and therefore born c 1577.
Translated this means:
From the aforesaid Edward Brockett for certain lands called Petotts, which have descended to him after the death of his father — 8s 11d
From the aforesaid Edward for certain lands called Colles, which have descended to him after the death of his father — 5s
From the aforesaid Edward for certain lands called Maltmans, which have descended to him after the death of his father — 3s 4d
From the aforesaid Edward for certain lands called Garrards, which have descended to him after the death of his father — 6d
From the aforesaid Edward for certain lands at Hyover called Bridgmans, which have descended to him after the death of his father — 5s
From William Rushe and Parnella his wife for custody of the lands and body of the aforesaid Edward Brockett committed to them — 3s 4d
From John Ponde …
(The only item missing here that was in the 1591 list was the second: A house medow and arable land called Brockes, presumably sold in the meantime.)
The entry at the end for William and Parnella Rushe proves the relationship of the Dunton Brokets to the Hitchin Brokets:
Parnell, nee TANNER, was formerly married to the nephew of Edward I of Hitchin, Edward Broket II of Hitchin and I of Dunton, younger son of William II of Hitchin. Edward I of Dunton was buried in Dunton 2 Jun 1598, and on 26 Jun 1598 Parnell married William Rush of Dunton, Gent. “Custody of the lands and body of Edward” means that William and Parnell had the guardianship until Edward son of Edward I of Hitchin came of age. This is further shown by a 1598 addition to the 1591 rental:15
William must have inherited the guardianship on marrying Parnell, who would have inherited it from her husband Edward Brocket I of Dunton. 30s 3d was more than half a year’s rent according to this 5 Oct 1598 estreat, showing that Edward I of Hitchin must have died by 5 May 1598 at least. Prior to that Edward I of Dunton may have paid the rent and wardship fine himself, so Edward I of Hitchin could have died a year or more before 1598, at any time in fact between 1593 and 1598.
This 1608 Survey lists the trees on Edward Brockett’s copyhold properties as follows:16
In Garretts 110 Elmes
Att Edward Brockett’s house 31 Elmes
In Pattens 36 Elmes
Att Hyover 66 Elmes
The total value of these 354 elm trees was £350 for timber and £41 for firewood.17 Garretts and Pattens correspond with Gerrards and Pattens in the 1591 Rental above, and the other unnamed properties could correspond to properties in Walsworth and Highover.
Given the 1598 estreat above, this 1608 Survey must have referred to Edward I of Walsworth. It’s unlikely to refer to the Edward of the next generation, Edward II of Walsworth, who married Anne and was recorded between the 1630s and 60s.
This record of the marriage of an Edward Brocket to Ann PAPWORTH 9 Nov 1635 in Ippollits,18 and the subsequent baptism of a daughter Ann there 30 Mar 1637,19 are most naturally taken to refer to Edward II of Walsworth. The place—Ippollits is a neighbouring parish—and the time fit. Previously it had tentatively—and mistakenly—been linked to Edward III of Hitchin, eldest son of William III, who had sold the family mansion and other property in Hitchin by 1632 when he and wife Joanna were ‘of Shenton, Leicestershire’. It isn’t known when Joanna died, but in the early 1640s Edward absented himself to places unknown and in the end settled in Wales. He would unlikely have returned to the Hitchin area to marry again.
With little doubt, Edward Brockett I of Hitchin (born 1540s, died 1593-8) was a relative of his contemporary namesakes Edward Brocket of Broadfield and Letchworth Esq (d 1559) and his eldest son Edward Brokett of Broadfield Gent (d 1583), who became an outlaw. Letchworth is only c 4 m NE of Hitchin and Broadfield c 8 m E of Hitchin, and both men held and sold property in Hitchin during Edward I’s lifetime. An example is the stalls or stallages in the Market Place recorded 1538-9, 1556 and 1564. The 1538-9 record must have concerned Edward Esq—no other Edward Brokets had connections to Hitchin then—and the 1556 record, even though Edward Esq was still alive, concerned his son Edward of Broadfield, as it specified him as ‘Gent’. None of the Edward Brokets of Hitchin itself were Gentlemen let alone Esquires. The two Edwards, Esq and Gent, also had other property interests and dealings in and around Hitchin, like the Mills, or the Vyne in Bridge Street Ward, or Boxe Busshe in Tylers St, but they were all distinct from the properties associated with Edward I of Hitchin and his father.
Other known contemporary Edward Brokets were:Read more
None of these could have been Edward I of Hitchin, and no other contemporary Edward Brokets are known.
Once it is recognised that the 1591 Rental entry for ‘Edward Brockeyt senior‘—whom we call Edward I of Hitchin—means that he had a son Edward—whom we call Edward I of Walsworth—other records clearly also refer to Edward I of Walsworth, such as the 1598 Estreat and 1608 Survey of the King’s timber, mentioned above. Further, some of the copyhold property owned by Edward I of Hitchin in 1591 was held 80 years later in the 1670s by Edward Brockett II, III and IV of Walsworth. It must have come down to them from Edward I of Hitchin, as it is clear that Edward II, III and IV of Walsworth weren’t members of the elder Hitchin line or the Dunton line. Edward I of Hitchin was probably born in the 1540s, which means that there would have been 3 generations between him and Edward III of Walsworth:
Edward I of Hitchin born 1540s.
Edward I of Walsworth born 1570s (actually c 1577), alive 1622—see the separate page—and died by 1638.
Edward II of Walsworth born by 1617 died 1687.
Edward III of Walsworth born 1650s died 1696.
Although these dates suggest that they were into their 30s or even 40s when their sons were born, this was not unusual at the time, and it is difficult to posit any intervening generations without actual evidence.
Page Last Updated: May 23, 2021