North East Brokets 1300-1549 - The Broket Archive

Brokets of North East England 1300-1549

Border warfare had been a fact of life for centuries in these parts:1

1340: Scots invaded north Northumberland and completely destroyed 24 villages.
1346 : Scots ruined 24 villages as far south as Tyne and Derwent.
1471-2: Revenue from the Alnham manorial accounts depreciated considerably due to Scottish raids.
1532: Scots from Teviotdale destroyed Newstead and Alnham, carrying off 200 cattle and 26 prisoners.

John Broket, Chaplain, 1386, 1401, 1412-15

The first Broket record so far found regarding North East England is a purchase in Westminster on 6 May 1386, the ninth year of Richard II’s reign, by John Broket, Chaplain, and John Pace of a large property for £200—a large sum.2 It comprised the manors of Harnham (in Bolam) and Black Hedley (in Shotley) and 2 messuages, 7 tofts, 100 acres of land and 50 acres of meadow in Bradford (in Bolam), Green Leighton (in Hartburn), Shotley and moieties of the manors of Middleton (in Hartburn), Bolam, and Aydon (in Corbridge). The vendors were Robert de Clyfford and Jacoba, his wife.

1401: The second record of John dates to 1401, the second year of Henry IV’s reign, when in the Easter term John Broket, Chaplain, was recorded with reference to an order sent to the sheriff of Northumberland:3+ John Broket Chaplain 1401+Through his attorney, John had made a plea at the court of Common Pleas at Westminster to recover alleged debts from 5 men:+Read more

1401: He was probably the John Brokete who in the Easter term of the same year was accused in the same court of Common Pleas at Westminster, along with 9 others, of damaging the crops of Johanna de Graystok, Lady of Luce, in Middilton:7+Read more

It seems likely that this John Broket, Chaplain, was the same man as the John Broket, Chaplain, recorded in York in 1381.

1412-13: Three pleas at the court of Common Pleas are recorded for the Easter terms of these years for alleged debts owed by John Broket of Northumberland to drapers in the City of York:

1. In the City of York by William Pountfrayt and John Thornton from Robert Feurother of York merchant, Walter Dun of Redesdale, Peter de Dalton of Kirkeby Mesperton, William Sauneby baker, for various amounts, and £16 20d from John Broket of Northumbr’.10
2. In the City of York by Richard de Santon of York draper and Thomas de Santon of York draper for £23 from John Broket of Northehumber’ merchant, and other sums from Robert Plumpton knight, and Alexander Nevyle knight.11
3. In the City of York by William Pountfrayt of York draper for £8 10s from Walter Dun of Redesdale, £16 20d from John Broket of Northumbr’ and 40s from William Gumby tailor.12

1415: He was with little doubt the John Broket who had been living in Newcastle before 1415:+ John Broket Brinkburn 1415+In the Trinity term of 1415 was accused in the court of Common Pleas at Westminster of damaging the crops of the Prior of Brinkburn:13+Read more

Thomas Broket 1450

The next Broket record so far found regarding North East England is a Plea of covenant on 3 Feb 1450, whereby Thomas Hesilrygge, Esq, Nicholas Girlyngton’ and Thomas Broket purchased the manor of Donyngton’, Northumberland, for 100 marks of silver.17 The vendors were William Ingowe and Joan, his wife. The pleas was a Northumberland one, so the place would have been what is now called Dinnington in Ponteland, and not Dinnington, South Yorkshire, nor Donnington, Berkshire. Nonetheless the Thomas Broket concerned was no doubt the son of Thomas Broket, Remembrancer, d 1435, who in 1422 had been granted all the lands late of Thomas Hesylrigg of Eslyngton Esq, until his heir—probably this Thomas here—came of age. Thomas Broket, Remembrancer, had two sons named Thomas. Little is known of the first and how long he lived, and the Thomas Broket here was most likely the more famous one who moved down to Wheathampstead and died 1477.

The Alnham Broket clan

Alnham is a tiny farming settlement with a small church opposite the site of a little fort in rolling foothills up the valley from Alnwick. Despite living in distant, wild parts, a Broket in Alnham had a good income with contacts in London, where he sent 2 sons as apprentices in the 1480s or 90s: William to a Goldsmith, Robert to a Baker. A goldsmith’s apprentice had to pay 10 marks premium for a 7 year term, £5 for 10 in 1393.18 “An act of 1406 stipulated that no one might send his son to be apprenticed except he have land or rent to the value of twenty shillings a year at the least”.19 Earlier and later records from Lincolnshire suggest that this Alnham family originally came from there.The Northumberland outpost was probably a Percy one and the Percys held minor manors in Lincolnshire within a morning’s walk of Bolingbroke and Toynton—Slothby, Claxby, Burwell and Calceby.20

Both brothers later became Citizens. Their 2 Wills mention several relatives but no surviving children of their own:

‘Cousen’ Robert the Goldsmith could have meant uncle, and being an almsman by 1536 he may have been apprenticed in London a generation before William and Robert. He was recorded with William in 1524. Other ‘cousins’ mentioned in:

Robert’s Will:
+++Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Atkinson
+++Alice wife of John Hunt
+++Margaret Smythe
+++Alexander Watson, Brewer of London.
William’s Will:
+++Margaret Smythe
+++the wife of Guy Crayford
+++the wife of the late George Wykwan.

As well as those above in London and Lincolnshire, the brothers probably had relatives who remained in Northumberland. Perhaps some were casualties when the Scots sacked Alnham in 1532. Brokets were recorded in Berwick 40 years later in 1576 and then in the 1650s and 1680s in Rothbury only 8 miles from Alnham, and Felton 16 miles away. Parish Records began in Northumberland in general in the 1560s, usually later in remote areas. Anyone visiting the tiny church of St Michael and All Angels in Alnham will be impressed that any records survived at all.

William bequeathed 10 marks “that the Renters of the Craftes or mistere of Goldsmythes shall provide and make an honest drynking for all the lyverey of the said Crafts on the day of my buriall”.21

Records of the brothers are also found in the folllowing TNA documents:

  1. Richard Scrope Esq son and heir of Sir John Scrope [of the Bolton line] v William Brokett of London, Goldsmith, re detention of deeds relating to the barony of Castlecombe. Wiltshire, dated between 1518-1529.22
  2. Robert Brokett and others, wardens of the fellowship of bakers of London v The [mayor and] aldermen of London for forcible entry on a messuage and garden.23
  3. Christopher Harryson of London, cordwainer v The mayor, aldermen, and sheriffs of London: Acti on by William Brokett of London, goldsmith, and Johane, his wife, formerly Sterne, on a bond for which an extension of time had been granted.24
  4. William Reede, cousin and heir of Bartholomew Reede, knight v Elizabeth Reede, executrix and late the wife of the said Sir Bartholomew, and … Brokett, John Tweselton, and John Dane, wardens of the fellowship of the Goldsmiths re detention of deeds.25
  5. William Chamberleyn v Robert Brokett of London, baker re a house with shops in the parish of St Botolph without Aldgate.26
  6. Harry Thorneton v Emanuel Symson and Harry Kynge: Arrears of a yearly sum payable to William Brokett or other master and warden [of the gild of the most glorious name] of Jesus.27
  7. Thomas Nasshe v John Atkinson and Robert Broket, wardens of the Fellowship of Bakers re a fine imposed on the plaintiff.28

Records from the Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII29 show:

  1. Robert Broket of London, Baker, and 10 others were mentioned in the account of the second victualling in 1514 re debts in the Auditor’s books due to Henry VIII concerning the late wars against France.30
  2. Grant of 25 June 1524 “George Wytwom, William Esyngton, William Broket, Robert Broket, goldsmith, and Edmund Barker, vintner, of London. Pardon for having acquired, without licence, from John Prynce, a tenement at Snowrehyll, in the parish of St. Sepulchre, London”.31
  3. William Brokett testified as an alderman of London, with others, as to the fitness of certain coins 30 Oct 1526.32
  4. In Dec 1527 William Broket was one of the 16 jurors “of the quest of goldsmythes that were upon the quest”.33
  5. Greenwich, 8 Feb 1529. A letter from John WEST, Friar Observant, to WOLSEY, shows that [presumably William] Brokett, Goldsmith, was one of the two executors of the Will of Sir Thomas Exmew, died 6 Feb, father-in-law of John West, who complained that the executors had retained all his goods. The other executor was Thomas KYTTSON, Mercer.34
  6. 14 Feb 1535 William Broket was one 19 signatories to a “Petition to the lord mayor of London, aldermen and common council of London for diminution of the expenses of the shrievalty… It was proposed that henceforth the mayor and sheriffs should keep one house and household, at an expense of not less than 1,600 pounds a year, over and above the charges of their feast on the day following St. Simon and Jude, of which as heretofore the mayor shall sustain one half and the two sheriffs the other.”35

Page Last Updated: September 19, 2020


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


[1] Bean 1958 pp 30, 34, 45; Miller 1960 p 7 citing the Northumberland County History.

[2] CP 25/1/181/14 no. 14; found from 13 Aug 2018.

[3] TNA CP 40/561 m 185, digitised By AAALT at (accessed 14 May 2019). For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website. Image of John's name reproduced by kind permission of the National Archives licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

[4] The AAALT indexer read this as Gatasgeved and Herill. David Bethell said: 'I cannot find a parish similar to Herill or Herikk any closer to Northumberland than the various Hardwicks.'

[5] The AAALT indexer read this as Gattilman.

[6] The AAALT indexer read this as Mauland.

[7] TNA CP 40/561 m 234, digitised By AAALT at (accessed 14 May 2019). For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[8] The AAALT indexer read this as Oogle.

[9] The AAALT indexer read this as Done.

[10] TNA CP 40/605 d1041 (AALT). Easter 13 Henry IV.

[11] TNA CP 40/609 f195 (AALT). Easter 1 Henry V.

[12] TNA CP 40/609 d515 (AALT). Easter 1 Henry V.

[13] TNA CP 40/618 m 151, digitised By AAALT at (accessed 15 May 2019). For the original Latin contact the Archivist of this website.

[14] The AALT indexer read this as Brenkenourne.

[15] 'in villa Noui sup' Tynam', 'Castri' omitted.

[16] (accessed 15 May 2019).

[17] CP 25/1/181/15 no. 14; found from 13 Aug 2018.

[18] Thrupp 1948 p 214.

[19] Briggs 1999 p 102.

[20] Bean 1958 p 159.

[21] Lines 18-20.

[22] C1/576/30.

[23] C1/290/87.

[24] C1/415/74.

[25] C1/439/7.

[26] C1/492/31.

[27] C1/680/16.

[28] STAC2/20/66.

[29] vols 1-21 - all indexes searched at British History online, re letters and papers Henry VIII at (accessed 15 Sep 2018).

[30] Vol 1 item 3611, p 1505.

[31] Pat. 16 Hen. VIII. p. 1, m. 38. (vol 4 item 464 (25)).

[32] Vol 4 item 2595.

[33] Vol 4 item 3738.

[34] Vol 4 item 5275.

[35] Vol 8 item 208.