William Brokett's imprisonment 1628 - The Broket Archive

William Brokett’s imprisonment 1628

In March 1628 William, servant of Robert Radcliffe, 5th Earl of Sussex, was arrested in London for a small debt and imprisoned. William petitioned the House of Lords claiming he had been arrested contrary to privilege granted to the Earl and was freed.

Four documents detailed the case:

  1. Petition 1 May 1628
  2. Writ of Habeas Corpus 2 May 1628
  3. Petition 5 May 1628
  4. Return to the Writ 5 May 1628

William’s two petitions referred to his brother Thomas and ‘one Samuell Cowley, a man no wayes interessed in the said Cause … a welthie man pretending love and advice’, showing that William was a son of William, deceased eldest son of William of Esyndon.

The petitions also mentioned William’s wife and family. (Was her name Mary and did they baptise another child, Elizabeth, in St Mary Whitechapel, Stepney in 1629?) To have a wife and children by May 1628, William would have to have married by 1624. He would also have to have been 21—in those days most men married aged c 271—making 1603 a latest date of birth. His parents had married by 1599 and Thomas—at least—was an older sibling, so William was aged 25-7 in 1628. Thomas was then still entrusted with William’s property.

Many records weren’t kept or were destoyed in the period leading up to and during the Civil War and only 2 subsequent ones have been found that might have been of William: emigration to Virginia 1638, and signing the Protestation in Reigate, Surrey 1641/2.

Aged 35-7 in 1638, he would have been uncommonly old as an emigrant to Virginia. Most indentured servants at that time were said to have been 15-24, ie b c 1614-22. The Protestation record is more likely to have been of him, Reigate is c 9 m W of Oxted, where his father owned a house called Stockenden.

William’s petition for freedom succeeded, but the family’s estate as a whole disappeared with the eldest son. Although she married again in 1629, their widowed mother described her 5 youngest children then as ‘like to starve or be thrown on the parish’.

1. Petition of 1 May 1628

“To the right honourable the Lords of the vpper house of Parliament . The humble peticion of William Brokett”:2   Read More

William Brokett's signature 1628

The House of Lords Journal recorded:3   Read More

The Radcliffes’ seat was at New Hall in Boreham, Essex, c 3 m NE of Chelmsford.4 Three other servants of the Earl of Sussex complained similarly of arrest in breach of privilege between 1625-9.5

2. Writ of Habeas Corpus 2 May 1628

The Writ was directed to the sheriffs of London to bring William before their Lordships immediately.6

3. Petition of 5 May 1628

“To the right honourable the Lords of the vpper howse of Parliament . The humble peticion of William Brokett”:7   Read More

William Brockett's signature no.2 1628

The House of Lords Journal recorded:8   Read More

4. Return of the Sheriffs to the Writ 5 May 16289

Page Last Updated: September 15, 2018

Footnotes

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

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[1] Laslett 1983 p 82

[2] HL/PO/JO/10/1/35

[3] vol 3: 1620-1628, pp 776-7 (British History online, accessed Oct 2005).

[4] Complete Peerage, Sussex p 524

[5] HL/PO/JO/10/1/28, 36 and 37

[6] HL/PO/JO/10/14/7/3426

[7] HL/PO/JO/10/1/35

[8] vol 3: 1620-1628, pp 779-81 (British History online, accessed Oct 2005).

[9] HL/PO/JO/10/14/7/3426