Edward son of Edward of Letchworth - The Broket Archive

Edward Esq/Gent son of Edward of Letchworth
d 1584

Edward’s signature in 1562:1
Edward Brokett signature 1562 HALS 57616B

Possibly born c 1515-17, Edward would have enjoyed a certain status in society as eldest son of the Sheriff of Herts and Essex—1547, 54, 55. He gained special admission to Lincoln’s Inn 1544, probably through influence from his father, and was called to the bar 1560. But Edward became embroiled in financial problems, ending up an outlaw and then in prison in the late 1560s—pardoned 1569. His sister Lucie gave bequests to most of her brothers and sisters and their children in her Will of 1569, but not to Edward nor his wife nor daughter.

Edward was buried in his local parish church of Cottered, Hertfordshire, 8 Jan 1583/4, as plain Edward’ Brocket:2

Contents of this page:
1. Wife and children
2. Administration of his father’s estate 1559…
3. Pardon of outlawry 1569
4. The manor of Bradfield or Broadfield
5. Other Records

1. Wife and children

Edward married Ellen daughter of William BELFELD.3 As eldest son, this would have been a strategic move by his father. The 1860 Gateshead Pedigree mistakenly made Edward son of William, his younger brother, and misspelt Ellen’s surname Bolfield. Ellen died 10 years after Edward, and was buried 5 Aug 1593 in Cottered, Herts, like him:4


  1. Mary, married Richard BARDOLFE Esq, heir to Bardolf of St Michaels and had issue.5
  2. Joanna, buried Cottered 12 Apr 1560.6.

in 1569 Lucie—Edward’s sister—left a bequest to a nephew Edward, probably b c 1555. If she used the term in its modern sense, then he was most likely the son of either of her brothers Thomas or John. It is clear from the 1583 case brought against Richard Bardolfe by William Brokett that Edward and Mary only had daughters, both in 1559 and 1583.7 The Cottered Parish Register of burials began in 1558, and of baptisms in 1563, and only show the 3 Broket events displayed on this page: the burials of Joanna, Edward and Hellena.8

2. Administration of his father’s estate

The copy of the Will of Edward Brockett senior, proved in the PCC, written 31 Jul 1558, named his sons William and John as his executors. However, as mentioned in the case brought against Edward by the executors of William Broket of Hitchin, “a certayn agrement was vppon good consideracions had and made betwene [eldest son Edward jnr] and his brethren beinge executors of the said last will”,9 and Edward jnr took upon himself the execution of the Will.10

In the case Edward brought in … against Milicent Stane, he held up a document stating …. Probate of Wills and Administrations occurring during a vacancy—Sede vacante—were proved by the Dean and Chapter down in Canterbury itself, however there is no record of one being proved there then for any Brokets.11 Moreover, the vacancy was actually between … and … Another irregularity concerns the date of Edward senr’s death … Furthemore, in the probate of the Will by son William xx years later, once Edward jnr had died, says …

The whole business seems suspect, especially when coupled with Edward’s outlawry…

3. Pardon of outlawry 2 July 1569

“Pardon of outlawry for Edward Brokett late of Letchworth, Co. Hertford, administrator of Edward Brokett late of Letchworth, deceased intestate, who was put in exigent in the Husting of London for non-appearance in the Common Pleas to satisfy William Nicolles of Eaton [Ecton], Co. Northampton, and Thomas Nicolles of the Middle Temple, London, in respect of a debt of 100 marks, and £4 4s 4d damages, recovered in the said Court and has now surrendered himself to the Fleet Prison“.12


  1. To be put in exigent meant to receive a sheriff’s summons to appear and answer to a complaint, or else be declared an outlaw.
  2. The Husting was the oldest and highest court in the City of London.
  3. The Court of Common Pleas—or ‘the bench’ as in l 3 below—was the highest court for civil actions at law brought by one subject against another, as opposed to Pleas of the Crown, where the Crown had a financial interest.
  4. 100 marks was £66 13s 4d.
  5. No Fleet records survive before 1690.
  6. It isn’t yet known why William and Thomas Nicolles sued Edward for debt. But it seems too much of a coincidence that since about 1559 Robert Nicholles and John Gaddesden, executors of William Brockett I of Hitchin, had been doing the same, and a judgment was reached on 30 Jan 1566 ordering Edward to pay them £90, with a first instalment at Easter 1556.13 The natural conclusion is that the Nicolles at least, if not their suits, were connected. But a connection between Robert and William and Thomas hasn’t yet been found.

The text of the Pardon:14    Read more

A draft of the Common Pleas action brought against Edward by William Nicolls of Ecton, Northamptonshire, and his son Thomas Nicolls (d 1568) of the Middle Temple, London, ordered Edward to pay 100 marks plus damages (£70 17s 8d) on 28 April 1566:16+Read more

The Will of Thomas Nicolls, Gentleman of Pichelye, Northamptonshire, was written 20 Mar 1568 proved 22 October 1568.17 Pytchley is c 7 m N of Ecton, which is c 5 m NE of Northampton. Thomas was a Member of Parliament 1553, “It is not known whether Northamptonshire was Thomas Nicolls’s native or adopted county. His father [William Nicolls of Great Billing and Ecton], who was born about 1480, came from the north of England and only settled in that county towards the end of his life, perhaps after his son had married into a Northamptonshire family and had begun to purchase land there. Nicolls entered the Middle Temple, established a reputation for himself and achieved high rank within the inn before his early death.”18 A Will of the father William Nichols hasn’t yet been found.

4. The manor of Bradfield or Broadfield

Edward was bequeathed Bradfield/Broadfield manor in his father’s Will of 1558. It was entailed: after his heirs male it was to go to brother William and his and so on, but the Will was not proved until 1584 once this Edward the son had died. Beforehand, partly perhaps because Edward the son had no heirs male and/or because he had debts, various arrangements had been put in place, with the result that Edward Pulter gained an interest in the manor along with Edward the son’s widow Ellen. Edward and Ellen Brockett did have a surviving daughter, Mary, who had married Richard Bardolf, and in due course Richard Bardolf also gained an interest with Ellen. These two made attempts to sell their interest to Edward Pulter. Apparently he then held it solely from 1592. This is an oversimplification but the surviving records, primary and secondary, do not present a complete sequence of what happened when, let alone why. Following are three sources so far found:

+++4.1. Chauncy
+++4.2. The Victoria County History
+++4.3. Chancery hearings

Edward and his wife continued to reside at the manor until they died.

4.1. Chauncy’s account

John Brocket of Stow Longa in the County of Huntingdon, Gent., and Katherine his Wife, by Deed covenanted with John Brocket of Brocket-Hall in this County, Esq. George Horsey of Dygeswell, Esq. and Thomas Docwra, Gent. to suffer a Recovery of [Bradfeild] Mannor with the Advowson of the Church, to the Use of Edward Brocket of Bradfeild, Gent. for the Term of his Life, with Remainder to the Use of Ellen his Wife, for her Life; the Remainder to the Executors of Edward Brocket until Michaelmas Term then next following the Death of Edward and Ellen, and from thence unto the Feast of St. Michael, then next ensuing, also to the same Executors, to the Remainder to John Brocket and Ellen his Wife, and his Heirs.
“This Edward Brocket died, Ellen surviving, whereupon his Executors conveyed this Mannor to the said Ellen, and Richard Bardolf the younger of Harpeden in this County, Gent.
“Which Ellen Brocket, Widow, and Richard Bardolf, by Deed dated the 5th of May, An. 34 Eliz. [1593] convey’d the same to Edward Pulter of Codred …
“Queen Elizabeth by Letters, Patents dated at Westminster, Febr. 15th, 30 Regni sui [1589], demised the same to Ellen Brocket Widow, to hold from the Feast of St. Michael then last past for twenty one Years, reserving to the Crown 3s. 4d. to be paid at the Annunciation of the Virgin mary, and St. Michael the Archangel.”19

Comments:+Read more

4.2. The VCH account

“In 1571 Edward Brockett settled the manor [of Broadfield] on himself with remainder to Ellen his wife for life with remainder to John Brockett of Brockett Hall and Ellen his wife.21 On Edward Brockett’s death his executors conveyed the manor to his widow Ellen and her kinsman Richard Bardolf. In 1580 John Brockett, who had been knighted in 1577, and his wife Ellen, released their interest in the manor to Edward Pulter of Great Wymondley,22 and in 1592 Ellen Brockett and Richard Bardolf conveyed their interest. Edward Pulter held the manor till 1600.”23
Note: The 1580 release was actually before Edward died—in 1584. See also the similar Common Pleas action of 1580.

The inter-relationships of those involved can be seen here:

Edward son of Edward Brokett of Letchworth inter-relationships
Note: Between 2017-21 this chart showed Edward Brockett jnr and Ellen BELFIELD having a son “Edward alive 1570 ? d young”. This non-existent son was a mistaken interpretation of his aunt Lucie’s Will of 1569-70, see the separate page.

4.3. Chancery Decrees and Orders24

Brockett v Powlter 1586-9: Seven hearings have been found in this case, but the original order of 1582 hasn’t. In each hearing, except the 1st, the Plaintiff was Ellen/Helene Brockett widow. In each one except the 7th the Defendant was Edward Powlter Esq. In the 7th he was joined by Julian Cotton widow. In the 1st hearing the Plaintiff was William Brocket Esq. This would have been Ellen’s eldest brother-in-law, William Broket of Essendon, who in most records was styled ‘Gent’, but there was no other William Broket Esq at the time.+Read more

5. Other records

Which Edward?+Read more

1538: Edward Brokett of Temple [Dinsley] Gent was accused of not repaying a debt of £40. Temple Dinsley was a hamlet in Preston, where Edward’s father held property 1541-5 at least, so it has been assumed that this record concerned him, rather than Edward his son. The same applies to the 1545 case below. However, both could feasibly have been early examples of Edward junior’s later record of indebtedness.

1543: Edward Esq made a plea at the court of Common Pleas held at Westminster against Robert Harryson of Walden Abbots, Hertfordshire, Weaver, and his wife Anne that they had maliciously slandered him by accusing him of murdering John Lucy. They did not come to defend themselves and the court ordered the Hertfordshire sheriff to take them and bring them to court on 8 April 1543:36+Read more

The death might have occurred a year or two earlier than this 1543 Common Pleas case, in which case Edward would have possibly been in his mid 20s when the accusation was first made. It would not have been made against Edward’s father, who was Sheriff of Herts and Essex in 1547, 54, 55 and MP for Herts 1542 and 44—the years either side of this case.

Assuming that John Lucy was slain, and in Hertfordshire, the Hertfordshire assizes would have recorded the trial, but Hertfordshire Assize records only date from 1573, and the Quarter Sessions Rolls only go back to 1588. So records of a trial in Hertfordshire have not survived.+Read more

But there is very little to go on in the plea, and the alledged crime might have taken place in London or Essex or elsewhere, or it might of course have been an accidental death.

1545: Edward Brokket or Brokkett formerly of Temple Dynnesley, Esquire, was accused of not repaying a debt of £20. As with the similar plea from 1538 above, it has been assumed that this record concerned Edward’s father, however it’s possible that it concerned this Edward jnr.

1546: ‘Edward Broket’ with no title was mentioned in the Manor Court proceedings of either the Manor of Limbury cum Biscot or of Lewsey-cum-Chalton in the Luton area. That Edward’s father’s principal taxable lands in 1541-5, at least, were in Preston, c 6 m NE of Luton suggests that this record concerned him, but it may have concerned this Edward.

1553: Sale of 9 acres of land and 2 of pasture in Hitchin by Edward and his father to William Frances.37

1555 27 Nov: A Chancery Order in an action brought by John Lawryng and his wife against Edward Brokett said, “The defendant hath taken othe that he cannot make aunswer for lacke of his euydence Wherupon he is respected to make answer octaves hillary”.38 The original complaint is unknown, also whether it concerned this Edward or his father.

1556: The Survey of the Manor of Hitchin located a stallage in the Market Place held by William Papworthe as south of John Smythe’s former stallage and north of Edward Broket gent’s:39

E315_391 Hitchin rental 1556_70v Wm Papworth item 4 70
A stallage was:   Read more

This stallage would probably not have been the one held by his father in 1538-1539, but the “shoppe” his father purchased in 1555. It was referred to again in a 1564 record that mentioned Edward Brokett.41

1558 Michaelmas: A Common Pleas action was brought by Ralph Astry Esq against 5 Hertfordshire men for various debts including for 60s from “Edward Brockett of [blank] in the county aforesaid junior gentleman son of Edward Brokett senior esquire”.42 Ralph Astry Esq of Harlington, Beds, was the grandson of Thomas Astrey Esq of Hitchin.43

1559 Easter: A Common Pleas action was brought by George Fisshe gentleman against “Edward Brokett gentleman [regarding] two messuages, a toft, two gardens, 80 acres of (arable) land, 13 acres of meadow, 14 acres of pasture, 9 acres of wood and 10s rent with appurtenances in Welwyn and Codycott”.44 +Read more

George Fish failed to get the fine nullified on the grounds that the 13th of 16 proclamations was erroneously made on a Sunday. This point of law was discussed in Plowden,47 and was still being cited in case law in 1838.48

1559: By 27 April Edward’s father had died, see next item.

1559 Easter: Edward brought a Common Pleas action in Westminster against Milicent Stanes late of Stowe Longa Huntingdonshire widow, administratrix of the estate of John Stanes for £200 that he alleged she owed her father. Milicent may have been Edward’s sister. 49 +Read more

1559: Easter. A plea made at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster that Edward Brockett formerly of Hatfield, Gentleman, and 5 others (not gentlemen) forcibly broke into a close of Thomas Clarke at Hatfield and took grazing animals and grass to the value of 100s and also cut down and carried off his trees and underwood to the value of 100s, and had not come to defend themselves. The court ordered the Hertfordshire sheriff to take Edward and the others and bring them to court on 4 June 1559:50 +Read more

Whether Edward owned property in Hatfield is not known but this case is unlikely to have concerned any one but this Edward. His father was styled ‘of Hatfield’ when sheriff in 1547, 54 and 55, but not at this time as ‘Gentleman’.

?1559: Complaint against William More concerning land in East Greenwich, Kent. Edward’s father was deceased, dating the Complaint after October 1559.51

1560: Edward was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn.

1562: Edward assigned the 14 remaining years of the lease on tithes in the Manor of Almshoe inherited from his father to John Esq.52

1562: Edward sold all his property in Hitchin, Offley, and Ippollitts. An indenture of bargain and sale shows that for £330 “Edward brokett of bradfylde in the cowntie of Hertf’ esquyer Sonne and Heyre of Edwarde Brokett late of letecheworth in the said cowntie of Hertf’ esquyer disceased” sold the capital messuage Boxe Busshe with all its land and buidlings in Tylers St Hitchin and all his other property in Hitchin, Offley, and 25 acres in Ippollitts, to Edward Pulter of mutche wylmeley Herts Esq, after the life interest of Edward’s mother Margerye, paying Edward Pulter an annual rent of £20 a year while she lived there out of his income from the manor of Bradfield, along with a recognisance of £400.53 Edward’s signature is at the bottom.

1562: A brief record of an Edward Brockett being commissioned with the administration of Robert Brockett of Wheathampstead, a propertyless relative dates from 20 Feb of this year.54 It is not known for certain who Robert or Edward were, but the likelihood is that they were sons of Sir John I (d 1558), see the separate page.

1564: On 24 Mar 1564 George Johnson, Clerk, was presented as Vicar of All Saints Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire, sponsored by Mr Brocket. The patron of the living was Elizabeth I and its annual income was £11 3s 4d.55 “Any gentleman could act as sponsor,”56 Houghton Regis is c 5 m W of Luton, but who other than this Edward of Letchworth Gent might Mr Brocket have been? Possibly one of his brothers.

1569: Edward was steward of the readers’ dinner at Lincoln’s Inn.57

1571: John Spurling, Yeoman of Baldock, sued “Edward Brockett of Brodfyld, gent, son of Edward Brokett of Lechworthe” in the Court of Common Pleas to recover a debt.58 John Spurling was a Maltster/Vintner of Baldock, a relative of the Underwoods. “John had sued Edward for debt; in the process Edward had been outlawed; but Edward now successfully claims that he had been pardoned under the provisions of an Act of Parliament 2 April 13 Elizabeth 1571. John is given an opportunity to attend and put his case, but he does not appear. Very little detail otherwise. The suit gives neither a date nor a sum for the original debt claim against Edward. 13 Elz cap. 28 was a general pardon act, different from the Pardon of Outlawry on 2 Jul 1569, above.”59

1573/4: Edward was listed as a discontinuer by Lincoln’s Inn,60 meaning that he was no longer in residence there those years.

Page Last Updated: July 2, 2022


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


[1] On the foot of HALS 57616B. Reproduced by kind permission of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.

[2] Image extracted from the Cottered Parish Burials Register digitised by FindMyPast, microfilm frame 35/47. With thanks to Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies. Cottered seldom had more than 5 or 6 burials a year, and the one previous to Edward was in Sep 1582. Edward's was 10 months later in Jan 1583/4.

[3] Metcalfe 1886 p 3.

[4] Image extracted from the Cottered Parish Burials Register digitised by FindMyPast, microfilm frame 36/47. With thanks to Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.

[5] Metcalfe 1886 p 26; Munby 1974 p 67—where her surname is wrongly given as Braitell.

[6] Image extracted from the Cottered Parish Burials Register digitised by FindMyPast, microfilm frame 33/47. With thanks to Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.

[7] TNA C24/189. The Cottered Parish Register of burials began in 1558, and of baptisms in 1563.

[8] The Cottered Parish Register from its start was searched online at FMP 5 Oct 2019---baptisms from 1563-1643, burials from 1558-1641, and marriages from 1563-1663.

[9] TNA C 78/25/17 line 50-1

[10] TNA C3/132/103 line 25

[11] ref.

[12] The Calendar of Patent Rolls 1566-1569, vol 4 p 420 no 2523 summary.

[13] TNA C78/25/17.

[14] TNA C66/1059.

[15] A mistake by the court clerk for Ecton, a village c 6 m E of Northampton.

[16] Bedfordshire Archives L24/840 (who had no record of how this document was in their possession). For a transcription of the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website. 'That there are so many emendations to the text suggests a draft rather than a copy - it appears to have been scribbled out by a clerk of the court or at least a lawyer's clerk who knew (for his own consumption) what he meant' (Communication from David Bethell, translator, Aug 2015).

[17] TNA PROB 11/50/314.

[18] Bindoff 1982, available at goo.gl/bRZ3Jy (accessed 14 Sep 2018).

[19] 1826 vol 1 pp 144-5.

[20] PRO Lists and Indexes, vol 9, p 64; Chauncy 1826 vol 1 p 48; Metcalfe 1886 p 85; Clutterbuck 1827 vol 3 p 517.

[21] Feet of Fines Herts Hil 14 Eliz, Recov R Mich 14 Eliz rot 513 (a wrong reference).

[22] Feet of Fines Herts Hil 22 Eliz.

[23] VCH Herts vol 3 1912 p 210.

[24] TNA C 33, from http://aalt.law.uh.edu.

[25] C 33/72, p 559v: goo.gl/gKC89q (accessed 20 Aug 2018).

[26] The day and month in square brackets is the next previous date visible in the text. Many thanks to David Bethell for explaining many of the points in these hearings.

[27] C 33/74, p 373v: goo.gl/NBWKf8 (accessed 20 Aug 2018)

[28] NSOED postponed.

[29] C 33/74, p 519r: goo.gl/Yauf2B (accessed 20 Aug 2018).

[30] C 33/75, p 15v: goo.gl/gQxCmM (accessed 20 Aug 2018).

[31] C 33/75, p 292: goo.gl/SbuFU1 (accessed 20 Aug 2018).

[32] Thanks to David Bethell for this explanation.

[33] C 33/78, p 47r, 47v: goo.gl/coeEji and goo.gl/gxC4aB (accessed 20 Aug 2018).

[34] Thanks to David Bethell for this explanation.

[35] C33/80, p 225v: goo.gl/NzK8du (accessed 20 Aug 2018). This 7th hearing was the final C 33 record in the case

[36] Hilary 34 Henry VIII; http://aalt.law.uh.edu TNA CP 40/1116 f430. For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[37] HALS 87655.

[38] TNA C33/13 f 141. Available on AALT. Thanks to David Bethell for this reference.

[39] TNA E 315/391 f 70v. Reproduced by kind permission of the National Archives licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

[40] Thanks to Bridget Howlett for this information, Feb 2015.

[41] HALS DE/Ha/B1966. Thanks to Bridget Howlett for the reference and information, Feb 2015.

[42] CP 40/1176 m 194 (f0402) retrieved from goo.gl/HpDBnL 31 Aug 2017.

[43] Visitation of Bedfordshire p 59

[44] CP 40/1180 m.840 (f728) retrieved from goo.gl/TzcPHU 31 Aug 2017.

[45] Communication from David Bethell 2 Sep 2017

[46] CP 40/1180 m.840 (f729) retrieved from goo.gl/ttAjeQ, continued as goo.gl/8cDn8C accessed 26 Nov 2017. Many thanks to David Bethell for this reference, 2 Sep 2017.

[47] 1816 pp 264a-266a. Thanks to David Bethell for this reference, 26 Nov 2017.

[48] Arnold 1840 p 238. Thanks again to David Bethell for this reference, 27 Nov 2017.

[49] TNA CP 40/1180 m 788d retrieved from goo.gl/NJSh2w 19 Oct 2017. For a transcription of the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[50] Easter 1 Elizabeth. Translated from the Latin of CP 40/1179.

[51] TNA C3/14/26 line 28.

[52] Chauncy 1826 vol 2 p 183.

[53] HALS 57616B.

[54] TNA PROB 6/1(Admons) 1561/2.

[55] BARS Fasti/1/HouR; Calendar of Patent Rolls (1960) Elizabeth I, vol 3 1563-6, p 144, no 681. TNA C 66/1004; Valor Ecclesiasticus Henry VIII (1535) p 210.

[56] Communication from David Bethell, 14 Sep 2018.

[57] Baker 2012 p 365.

[58] TNA CP40/1297 f 755, available Jan 2020 online at AALT, thanks to James Lively for drawing attention to this.

[59] Summary of the Latin by David Bethell 1 Jan 2020.

[60] Baker 2012 p 365.