Thomas Broket of Bolton Percy and Westminster
b by 1373 d 1435
Thomas Broket laid the foundations of a land-owning dynasty that lasted 275 years. His dramatic acquisition of wealth flowed down generations of knights, esquires, gentlemen and wealthy yeomen.
Contents of this page:
- Early years and marriage
- Life and work in Yorkshire
- Attorney at the Exchequer
- Treasurer’s Remembrancer
- Grants and Mainprises
- Death and burial
Born into a parish-gentry clan Thomas rose to county and then national standing. He became lord of a manor near York in 1393 through marriage to the heiress, and renamed it Brockethall. By 1399 he was working in the Exchequer at Westminster as a Clerk, and as an Attorney soon after, if not before. Then in 1410 he was appointed Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer. This brought him wealth through grants from the king, and status such that he could arrange a marriage for his son Thomas to a yet wealthier heiress in Hertfordshire, and his son Edward to an Ainsty heiress. He also rebuilt the manor in Appleton and endowed its parish church with a Lady Chapel—probably a chantry to his and his wife’s perpetual memory, see the separate page. His work in Westminster brought him in contact with high-ranking officers of State and members of the royal court. Henry Somer, who was King’s Chancellor the whole time Thomas Broket was at the Exchequer (and listed below Broket on the payrolls) was an acquaintance of Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400).
1. Early years and marriage
The 14th C Brokets of York and the Ainsty were very few in number. Early 14th C records of some in Bolton Percy parish in the Ainsty show them as parish gentry, like Thomas Broket of Steton. Later in the century a few scions appeared in records from the City of York, like Robert Broket, Draper. Although this Thomas, d 1435, was clearly from the clan his parents are not known. Were they from Bolton Percy parish, or had they moved to York City? Was he born in the Ainsty and himself sent to the City to school, or was he there already?
There is a record of a father of Thomas but it is from more than a century later—Glover’s Pedigree of the mid 16th C. It named him as Thomas Broket, married to Elizabeth Rider of the Northe. A later source such as Glover should be treated with caution, since it had a contemporary aim and earlier generations were potentially fictitious. However if it tallies with other evidence it shouldn’t be ignored.
To be able to plead later in the court of Exchequer at Westminster, Thomas would have had to have had good schooling, either in York or perhaps even at one of the Inns of Court in London—the universities in those pre-university days.1 He would have been in minor orders—a ‘clerk’, as he was called in line 4 of his appointment as Remembrancer.
Education at the time was divided into levels: grammar, writing, reading and song.2 St Andrew’s at Acaster had most if not all of these, but was not founded till c 1470.3 There were no schools in Tadcaster till 1446, Nun Appleton till 1489 and Bolton Percy till 1505.4 So whether Thomas was an Ainsty or a City boy, the nearest school of any kind would have been York. There were several there, including St Leonard’s Hospital where Robert Broket had connections.
William Sampson, Lord of the manor of Southwood in Appleton in Bolton Percy in the previous generation, died between 11 Sep and 30 Oct 1393—the writing and proving of his Will. According to the historian of Appleton, on his death the manor passed to his daughter Dionisia, “who had married Thomas Brocket”.5 Manors could not be inherited by unmarried heiresses, and in the case of minors they would pass to the girl’s ward. Harrison would have deduced that Dionisia had married Thomas by 1393 through lack of any evidence of a wardship. So it is safe to say that Thomas Broket became Lord of the Manor of Southwood in 1393 by right of his wife.
Married therefore by 1393, Thomas would have been born no later than 1373. A man’s age at marriage could have been as low as 20 in the 14th C, particularly in richer families.6 But how rich were Thomas’ parents? And given that William Sampson’s fortunes were in decline,7 how much lower status a bridegroom—and hence an heir—would he have accepted for his heiress daughter? Would he have sought after one from a City family? Or would he have accepted the son of a village contemporary? Or if he was clearly an up-and-coming young man in his own right, would his parentage not be so much of a consideration? Furthermore, how much before 1393 did William marry Dionisia to Thomas?
These are all questions that affect estimates of Thomas’ birth date. Fortunately we know from other evidence the latest birth dates for his two sons who became significant landowners after him, Thomas and Edward, so different possible birth dates for this Thomas, their father, do not have a knock-on effect on subsequent generations. But they do have an effect on speculation about his own father. In theory his father could have been one of five contenders:
- A known man from the Ainsty.
- An unknown man from the Ainsty.
- A known man from the City.
- An unknown man from the City.
- An unknown man from elsewhere.
Unfortunately the poll taxes do not provide much evidence. Only half of the 1377 poll tax for the City survives8 and no Brokets are recorded in that half. The 1379 Ainsty poll tax records are well preserved, but while other Brokets were recorded, Thomas was not. So if Thomas was from the Ainsty rather than the City, he was either too young, not there, or evaded paying. The eligible age was 16, so if he was there, 1363 would have been his earliest year of birth and Nicholas of Steton (b c 1324) would be a possible father. They were working together in 1399, and Nicholas was a co-signatory to a deed with William Sampson in 1391. If Thomas was from the Ainsty but absent at the time of the poll tax—whether in York City or elsewhere—he could have been older, ie born before 1363, and still could have been the son of Nicholas. A birth date much before 1363, however, would have made him fairly old to have married Dionisia in 1393, although perhaps not too old if he married her before 1393. However since he was working in Westminster right up to his death, a birth date much before 1363—say 1360 or even 1356—would have him still working there in his mid to late 70s, which is not too likely. So despite the lack of evidence from the poll tax, if Thomas was from the Ainsty or the City, 1363 is a reasonable earliest date of birth.
From 1398 there are frequent records of Thomas acting as an attorney in Westminster for the Sheriffs of York County and City. It is quite possible therefore that he was acting as a mainpernor and standing joint surety in Westminster four years earlier:
That he was dubbed ‘of Yorkshire’ doesn’t mean he wasn’t of the City. And if he was born in 1363, then it is also quite possible that he was acting as a mainpernor in 1387, aged 24:
This would mean he was working in Westminster up to the age of 72, which is not impossible and more likely than aged 75, making a birth date of 1360 probably too early. It could also be argued that had he been 25 or more in 1385 and of some standing in York, he might have been expected to have been a deponent in the Controversy between Sir Richard Scrope and Sir Robert Grosvenor.11 However this is a somewhat weak argument from silence.
|Age if b 1373
|Age if b 1363
|Age if b 1360
|Mainpernor in Westminster
|Attorney at the Exchequer in Westminster
|Appointment as Treasurer’s Remembrancer
But it is not definite that the 1387 record was of Thomas, d 1435. Perhaps the 1387 Thomas was an older man, even his father?
- Standing surety required being present at the court and having sound financial assets. The 1387 record shows a man who already had contacts on a national level. He therefore had a certain financial base in Yorkshire and probably would have visited Westminster or London before. Is this likely with a man of 24?With respect to visiting London, in order to act as an Attorney at Westminster, Thomas would have been in minor orders. The text of his appointment as Remembrancer shows that he was a ‘suitable clerk’. He therefore had a good education and this may have been at one of the Inns of Court in London, where he could have made national contacts as a young man.Without knowing his parents, it is not possible to comment on his financial base, however William Sampson, lord of the manor, would not have married his heiress to a husband of much lesser status or financial prospects.
- If the 1387 record was not of Thomas, d 1435, then it is the only contemporary record so far found of another possible Thomas Broket of Yorkshire. The records of Thomas Broket of Steeton are of a man who would have been born by 1280. Given the small number of Brokets in Yorkshire at that time, it seems a bit too much of a coincidence that two Thomases were acting in courts down in Westminster more or less at the same time. But it could be that the Thomas of the 1387 record was the father of Thomas, d 1435, and that the son soon after followed in his footsteps. The qualifications ‘the elder’ or ‘the younger’ after their names might have been expected, but if they were not working simultaneously and recorded in a document together this may not have been obligatory. Glover’s Pedigree, Harley 807, does say that the father of Thomas, husband of Dionice, was also a Thomas. So even if the 1387 record was not of this father of Thomas, d 1435, and no contemporary evidence recorded him either, the father could still have been a Thomas, as Harley 807 has it. It does not not dub him ‘of Steeton’ as it does the others before him.
On balance, he was probably born in the early 1360s and—pending the discovery of further documents mentioning his parents—we have to assume that Thomas had already established himself and had good future prospects before winning Dionisia’s hand in marriage, by 1393, aged as old as 30, and some years earlier.
In conclusion, pending further evidence, there are two known possible fathers of Thomas: Nicholas of Steton and Thomas of Yorkshire, and two unknown ones: a York City man, possibly also the father of Robert of York, or else another hinterland man. He was most likely the son of Thomas of Yorkshire, who himself could have been the son of Thomas of Steeton.
Among the disparate group of records known as ‘Old Grants’ there is no grant or confirmation of arms made to any Broket. Families bearing arms ‘time out of mind‘ did not need such a grant. But up-and-coming men also assumed arms themselves in late medieval times—to do so on one’s own initiative in the early 15th C was just as proper as accepting them from a herald.12
Sable a cross flory or
Or a cross flory sable
It is incorrect that Brokets first assumed arms in Hertfordshire.13 The arms are emblazoned in stone in the original external wall over the SE window of Bolton Percy Church, see the separate page . In his Visitation of Yorkshire in 1584/5 Glover mentioned “a cross patonce … cutt in stone without the Church”. Glover also mentioned 2 other occurrences of Thomas Brockett’s arms—Or a cross patonce sable—in Bolton Percy Church, one charged with a cinquefoil argent—a five-lobed flower.14 Crosses flory and patonce are little different and commonly interchanged, as with Percehay and Lascelles below. Later in Hertfordshire the Broket cross was usually described as patonce.15 In addition, Glover assigned 2 further arms in the church to Brockett: Gules a fesse between 2 lions passant orand Sable a cross patonce or, rather than to Harwood and Sampson.16
Did the earlier Steeton Brokets bear arms, as Harley 807 stated? Did one originally model it on Vescy or Percy overlords? The basic Yorkshire Vescy arms were: Or a cross sable—Broket colours but with a simple cross.17 More specifically, William de Lacell: Sable a cross patonce or, held 2 knight’s fees of William de Vescy: Gules a cross patonce argent.18 See also Percehay of Ryton and Barton, Rydal 14-15th C: Argent a cross patonce gules, Argent a cross flory gules.19
William de Vescy ?13th C
Gules a cross patonce argent
William de Lacell ?13th C
Sable a cross flory or
Percehay 14-15th C
Argent a cross flory gules
Working in Westminster Thomas was well placed to hear about land availability and attract patronage and good prospects for his children, and his 2 sons Thomas (b bef 1396) and Edward (b bef 1417) are well documented. With a span of 20+ years between the two, Thomas and Dionisia would have had other children between, and perhaps before and after too. Glover’s Pedigree, Harley 807, gave them 5 children in the following order:
- William, died without issue
- Thomas, died without issue
- Edward, married Anne HARRINGTON
- Lucy, married DALISONE
- Thomas of Brokethall, married Elizabeth ASCHE.
The pedigree was compiled well over a century after Thomas and Dionisia were having their children and while a good deal of it is reliable, much of it also reflects how the then head of the Wheathampstead Brockett dynasty wanted to portray his ancestry. So the order of these 5 children—and indeed some of the children themselves—are not to be taken at face value:
- The Thomas who married Elizabeth ASCHE is placed on the right hand end in order to allow the ancestors of Elizabeth ASCHE to be shown symmetrically, and should not imply that he was the youngest child. On the contrary he may have been one of the oldest, or oldest surviving. A complaint submitted to Chancery in 1419-22 provides a latest birth date for Thomas of 1396.
- Lucy as a daughter is listed after the sons, as often elsewhere on the pedigree. Because of the need to have Thomas on the far right, however, she precedes him, but if she was a daughter, she was not necessarily younger than Edward. It is not known who DALISONE was, so her birthdate cannot be estimated with any accuracy.
- Disregarding Thomas who married Elizabeth ASCHE, the order of William, Thomas and Edward might be correct, but is not of great significance, since none are given any descendants.
- William corresponds with William Broket of the Exchequer who in 1433 was convicted of tampering with the king’s records. At the time of the case William would have been at least 25 years old, and so born at the latest by 1408. If this William was an older brother of the Thomas who married Elizabeth ASCHE, then depending how much earlier than 1393 his parents married he could have been born any time between say 1390-95 rather than 1408. This would make him aged 38-43 at the time of the 1433 case, which is perfectly feasible.
- The Thomas who died without issue. In 1419 Thomas Brokett of Nunappilton was a witness to a deed concerning land in neighbouring Acaster Selby. If the Thomas who married Elizabeth ASCHE had moved south to study or establish himself as an attorney and another record of 1419 shows him dealing in land matters down in Buckinghamshire, it is difficult to see why he was called ‘of Nunappilton’. There may well therefore have been two Thomas sons. Sir John I had two sons called Thomas living at the same time.
- This Edward, who according to Harley 807, married Anne HARRINGTON, was not the well-documented son Edward, who later inherited all the estates and who married Elizaabeth THWAITES. Harley 807 gave him incorrectly as a grandson. The name HARRINGTON may have been chosen from family recollections of Thomas the Remembrancer working with William Harrington, Knight, Sheriff of York County 1410. But as with the two sons named Thomas, it may always be possible that there were also two Edwards, but through lack of any other evidence, plus a reason for the known son Edward being given as a grandson, it seems unlikely.
- Among the children of Thomas and Dionisia in all likelihood were Parnelle who was working for the Exchequer in 1419 and William (b 1400-1410) who was working for the Exchequer up to 1433, and also possibly John of Hatfield.
It also places Elizabeth as a child of Thomas and Elizabeth Ash—as also Edward who married Elizabeth Thwaites—i.e. grandchildren of Thomas and Dionisia instead of children. But these were an Elizabethan reconstruction. In 1422 Thomas—the father of Thomas and Edward—was granted all the lands of the late Thomas Hesylrigg of Eslyngton Esq until the lawful age of his son and heir, together with the marriage of the heir. He appears to have married the heir to his daughter.
There is a memorial in Noseley chapel—c 10 m E of Leicester—to Elizabeth and Thomas Hesilrige d 1467, ancestors of the current Lord Hazelrigg. Thomas succeeded to the estates 1434, so would have been b c 1413. Elizabeth was therefore probably b c 1415. There is also a tomb there of Margaret d 1406, daughter of Sir Ralph Hastings and wife of Sir John Blaket, d c 1437.20 A pedigree in Nichols’ Leicestershire21 described Elizabeth as daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Broket. It also mistakenly called Sir John Blaket Sir John Broket.
Thomas is said to have rebuilt Brocket Hall.22 This accords with its change of name from Southwood. If the trend was for wealthy York men to acquire land and property outside the City, then while the wealth of this Thomas was insufficient to generate many records in York, his existing local connections could have compensated.23
1399 August. As joint executor with his much older kinsman, or perhaps father, Nicholas of the Will of John Somurby, Priest, Thomas took an oath to prepare an inventory of John’s goods and render account to Archbishop Richard Scrope of York.24
1400 Thomas was recorded in an inventory in York.25
1403 Thomas was executor of the Will of William Barkar of Tadcaster, proved 8 Nov.26
1424 With John and Joan Boteller, Thomas paid the York City Chamberlains 1 mark regarding 2 messuages and 6 bovates of land in Wygynton, Co York, and 12 messuages and 2 gardens in the City.27
1431 Thomas and Dionisia are recorded in a title deed in the City of York.28
1455 ‘Thomas Brockett of Bolton Percy’ is mentioned in the Will of Sir John Stapilton of Wighill as having given John an engraved silver piece with parcel gilt.29
1458 Thomas and Dionisia are mentioned in a release of lands by their heir Thomas in Nether Acaster, just across the river Ouse from Bolton Percy.
From at least 1399 Thomas was working and moving in court circles down in Westminster, often an absentee landlord from his Appleton manor. One imagines he was a frequent visitor to the Archbishop of York’s Inn at Westminster.30 If Thomas had been born c 1363—he had married Dionisia by 1393—it’s possible that he was the Thomas who acted as surety in Westminster in 1387 and 1394.
From 1410-35 he couldn’t have effectively fulfilled the role of Remembrancer without being in Westminster much of the time. This was where the lucrative wardships were handed out by the king, and probably where he heard of the FitzSimon heiress and negotiated her marriage to his son.
Details: “[Owed] to Thomas Broket of the Lord King’s exchequer, for divers churches and priories pending upon him in the same exchequer, £7 19s 6d.” 32 Thomas was therefore working in the Exchequer before 1400.
c 1401: Client: The Abbot of Selby, Yorkshire.
Details: Gave 60 ash trees to Thomas Brocket c 1401 for pleading on his behalf as his attorney in the court of the Exchequer.33
1404: 8 Oct. Client: John Santon, clerk and attorney of Langeton, about 10 miles NE of York.
Details: Westminster.34 A permit from the king allowing Santon to give John Brokholes and Thomas Broket general power of attorney to collect moneys for him throughout England for a year while he was in Ireland. Either of them could deputise interchangeably. John Brockholes was the king’s Clerk of the Signet, later canon and prebend of Boole, York.
5.2 On behalf of Sheriffs and Escheators
The Sheriffs, Escheators and others paid their dues twice a year to the Exchequer. An attorney usually deputised for them. Thomas was Attorney for the Sheriffs of York County and City and Escheators 1398-1410.35 The following entry from 1410 is typical:36
York: The Sheriff, i.e. William Haryngton was represented by Thomas Broket, his attorney, who brought £30.
York City: The Sheriffs, i.e. John Moreton and Robert Gamit were represented by Thomas Broket, their attorney, who brought 10s from the revenues of their baileywick.
On 6 Jan 1410 Lord Henry Scrope of Masham in Yorkshire became Treasurer of England.37 Six months later on 19 June his Remembrancer the Yorkshireman Richard Banks was promoted to become a Baron of the Exchequer—a chief justice—and on 11 July Scrope appointed Thomas Broket Remembrancer:38 Read more
For the rest of his life Thomas Broket moved and worked in high circles in Westminster, the highest-ranking officers of State or members of the royal court being among his regular colleagues and contacts. Read more
The annual salary for the Treasurer was 100 marks, and for the Barons, the Treasurer’s Remembrancer and the King’s Chancellor of the Exchequer 40 marks (£26 13s 4d). The King’s Remembrancer received slightly less: £20 a year. The Remembrancers also received a variable income from fees and backhanders.42 Thomas Broket held the post of Treasurer’s Remembrancer for 25 years till his death. Here is an account of the half-yearly payment of 20 marks for the members of the Exchequer in May 1420 (8 Henry V), Thomas comes 3 lines up from the bottom, just above Henry Somer:43
Others who held this office of Treasurer’s Remembrancer became knights—like Robert Lytton, Remembrancer for 20 years 1485-1505 and John Smith Remembrancer for 34 years 1513-47.45 Indeed, in a couple of documents Thomas was referred to as ‘Knight’.
Thomas appears many times in the Memoranda Rolls, especially during his time as Remembrancer. A very late example is on m 2 of the Recorda section of the roll for 1435, where on 10 Sep that year re Kingston on Hull there were Letters Patent assigning him and William Babthorp to investigate various transactions of the former Sheriff William Ryther. This is strange, as Thomas had died on 13 April 1435. Perhaps it is why these letters were not enrolled—they aren’t in the Patent Roll Calendar.
Henry Scrope was executed for treason outside Southampton 5 Aug 1415 and his head was stuck on Mickelgate Bar in York, but Thomas was confirmed in office. Thomas was not part of Scrope’s close circle, or he would have been mentioned in Scrope’s Will46 and neither he nor any Brokets are recorded as a witness, or in any other capacity, among the Scrope muniments in Westminster Abbey.47 He had done work in 1399 for Scrope’s brother Richard, Archbishop of York and was clearly a fellow Yorkshireman, but beyond that Thomas’ connection with Henry Scrope is not clear. Two of Scrope’s main residences, Masham and Faxfleet, are c 33 miles NW and c 25 m SE of Appleton Roebuck as the crow flies, so it would probably have been in or from York that they came in contact. In 1432-3 Thomas served Scrope’s brother during his year as Treasurer.
Henry Scrope had been extremely wealthy, so the King would have been particularly keen to get hold of all his belongings, and Thomas Broket was involved, with others, in retrieving them:Read more
Thomas served 11 Treasurers—always noblemen—in Westminster:57 Read more
The penultimate Treasurer—Sir John Scrope 4th Lord Scrope of Masham—bought back the Scrope lands confiscated following his brother’s execution in 1415 and had his Barony restored in 1426.58
Being Remembrancer to John Scrope must have been difficult:
- Thomas had earlier had to list all John’s brother Henry’s confiscated vestments.
- He had had to pursue their mother for jewelry she had kept back.
- The case brought by Danvers in 1433 against Thomas’ probable own son William was heard before the Lord Chancellor of England in Westminster in the presence of top lords, including the Lord Treasurer of England, John Lord Scrope.
The next Remembrancer to be appointed in the rolls was John Cerf on 8 Nov 1435.59 The post was vacant because Thomas had died. John had long worked with Thomas as a mainpernor, and already in 1413 was referred to as “one of the Clerks of Thomas Broket one of the Remembrancers of our Treasury”.60 John was probably a member of the long-established Steeton Cerf family. In 1317, Thomas Serff of Styffton (Steton) was a witness to a land sale along with Thomas Broket of Styffton, 2 or 3 generations before this Thomas, the Remembrancer. Then a generation later in 1355 and 56 John Broket of Steton witnessed land grants of another—or the same—Thomas Ceyrf of Steton at Steton, and in 1379 Nicholas Broket and William Cerf, were the highest of the 30 Steeton poll-tax taxpayers.
The corruption in the government administration at this time was satirised in a long poem describing the progress of an account through the Exchequer.61 Those needing to be bribed at each step are listed—the Auditor, the Baron, the Chancellor himself—and on line 37 the two Remembrancers are referred to by name. Robert Thresk was King’s Remembrancer 1398-1419 and Richard Bank was Treasurer’s Remembrancer 1397-1410, dating the poem 1398-1410. Richard Bank was Thomas Broket’s immediate predecessor. Ten lines can be singled out:62 Read more
Here are two snips from the wages accounts, one from 1410 when Bank and Thresk were the Remembrancers, and the other from 1415 when Broket and Thresk were:63
Abuse may have decreased after 1406, when articles for the reform of the government administration were presented to the king by the Commons. The taking of gifts and fees by the Treasurer and the officers of the Exchequer—including ‘les deux Remembranciers‘—are mentioned in article 15.64 But some of the practices may well have continued during Thomas’ office.
1403: 20 Sep Westminster. All the lands late of John de Cawode.Read more
1418: 12 Feb Westminster. All the lands late of George Salvan and Elizabeth his wife.Read more
1419: 23 Aug Westminster. All the lands late of Henry Lescrop, late lord de Masham.Read more
1420: 18 Nov Westminster. All the lands late of George Salvan and Elizabeth his wife.Read more
1422: 3 Dec Westminster. All the lands late of Thomas Hesylrigg of Eslyngton.Read more
1403: 16 Sep Westminster. Two-thirds of all the lands in the county of York late of Robert Percehay.Read more
1402: 20 Feb Westminster. The manor of Fennystanton, Co Huntingdon.Read more
1405: 10 May Westminster. The keeping of Robert son and heir of Robert de Plesyngton, and of all the lands late of his father.Read more
1405: 4 Jul Westminster. Land in Co Leicester.Read more
1422: 17 Jul Westminster. All the lands late of Thomas Hebbourne.Read more
1423: 3 Dec Westminster. All the lands and tenements of Thomas Hebbourne.Read more
1430: 4 Mar Windsor. All the lands of Robert Bolley in New Windsor.Read more
Thomas died 13 April 1435 and was buried in Bolton Percy Church; Dionisia 2 years later. In his Visitation of Yorkshire in 1584/5 Glover described an inscription on a gravestone, which was still in the Church in 1641 according to Drake:77
Translation: Here lies Thomas Broket and Dionisia his wife. Thomas died 13 April 1435 and Dionisia died 14 April 1437.
No Will has been found. York Wills are lost 1408-17 and 1418-26.78 Nor has an IPM for Thomas been found, so either it has been lost or else Thomas held no land in chief at his death.
Page Last Updated: May 30, 2023