Broket Migrations within Britain
Brokets have always migrated within Britain, but 2 migrations stand out, both from Yorkshire: one northward 14-17th C and the other southward 15-16th C.
They migrated overseas too—in the 19th C to Australia, China, New Zealand and South Africa—but 1 migration stands out: to North America, beginning 17th C and continuing ever since.
This was a far-reaching internal migration. There are no records specifically detailing Brokets but—although numbers were tiny—from it probably sprang the largest Grouping in Britain today: the Scottish Brokets. It was a successive migration, apparently at first under the banners of the Percys in the early 14th C, possibly even of the Bruces before. But most, if not all, of these earliest Broket migrants established no lines. Several-generation Brokets in Scotland today may mainly descend from later phases of this ongoing migration in the 15-17th centuries.
The End of the Feudal Society
As late as the 14th C England could still be called feudal; only a small percentage of the population lived in towns. The king granted lands to the barons and the Church. The barons built castles and in return for military service granted land to knights. Knights lived in large manor houses and through bailiffs managed their estates. The farm work was done by serfs. Loyalty shown by vassals to their lords was intense. If a baron expanded his territory many of his retinue would move with him into the new areas. Then during the 15-17th C ‘land holding’ began to become ‘land owning’ and below the aristocracy class strata emerged of knights / esquires / gentlemen / yeomen / husbandmen / labourers.
The wild Border territory was the stage for war between Scotland and England from 1286 until at least Flodden Field in 1513.1 Expansionist barons could establish new power bases in the surrounding region, and even threaten the Crown. The Bruce family, for instance, after gaining territory in Yorkshire established a base in Alnwick in Northumberland from which to expand into southern Scotland or retreat back to. They later became kings of Scotland. Local tenants transferred their allegiance to incoming lords. Loyal retainers accompanying their lords from further south were leased lands or made bailiffs.
Like the Bruces, the Percys were dominant barons first in Yorkshire then in Northumberland and with large scale territorial ambitions across southern Scotland. The 14th C was the great period of Percy expansion. At the beginning of the century Edward I granted Henry Percy lands in Scotland including the Earldom of Carrick and the wardenship of Galloway and Ayrshire although these were lost to Robert Bruce by 1327.2 Up till this time most of their estates had been in Yorkshire—among them Bolton Percy and Steeton—with some in Lincolnshire, but by 1399 they had become the most powerful force along the whole Scottish border. This occurred in two waves: 1309-35 they bought Alnwick from the Vescys—lords of Alnwick since early Norman times and landholders in Bolton Percy in the early 1300s—and gained control of Northumberland, and Berwick and Jedburgh in Scotland; then 1368-99 they became the leading power across Cumberland. After the eclipse of their influence by the Nevilles at the battle of Towton in 1461 they found safe refuge and support in Scotland.3
The Route North
Moving north from York, the next staging post and major centre of power in post-medieval times was Durham, about a day’s march away. The massive Norman cathedral and its castle vividly demonstrate the political and military importance of this semi-independent border territory between England and Scotland. A Broket on the move with his overlord in the 13-14th C would have encamped here. On from Durham, the road led over the Tyne river to Newcastle and then on up to the great castle of Alnwick, the seat of the Percy family, on the east of the wild, hilly territory of Northumberland. The Cheviot Hills stretch inland and the Vescys and Percys had loyal outposts in the valleys to assure protection; often with their own keep-like fortification. Alenam (Alnham) was one such small outpost up the Aln valley. Then round the Cheviots to the NW is the much larger Tweed valley and 10 miles past its upper reaches the road forks at Carnwath: one way to Lanark, Lesmahagow, Ayr and Glasgow, the other to Edinburgh.
The move northward
The first hereditary centre of people named Broket was in the base territory of the Percys, or in Vescy land—settlements like Brumpton Salden, Newton Kyme, Steeton, Appleton and Bolton Percy in the Ainsty hinterland of York City. There weren’t many there in the 13-15th C—maybe never more than half a dozen families at a time.
Young Brokets in Percy or Vescy service travelled north on campaigns. Others may have accompanied them further afield on Crusades. Sir John Sampson of York and Appleton, grandfather of Dionisia, took men with him on military expeditions to Scotland 1296-1300.4
One or two were stationed in outposts at Durham or Newcastle. From Alnwick one was granted land up in the outpost of Alnham, where descendants stayed for several generations. Others may have joined raids with their overlords round the Cheviots into the Tweed valley and further west into Lanarkshire and Ayrshire; at other times no doubt north east to Berwick.
One or more may have accompanied Percy advances from their western strongholds south of Carlisle up to Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. As the feudal system disintegrated, one or two may have settled more permanently. Most of their lines died out, however. Then after Flodden Field in 1513, sons of surviving lines ventured independently further up through Lanarkshire towards Glasgow and Edinburgh to find a better future for their families.
The second major internal migration was from Yorkshire to Hertfordshire and Essex. Thomas Broket became a Clerk in the Exchequer in Westminster and acted as attorney to the Sheriffs and Escheators of York. Once established there he helped some of his children move south—in particular his eldest son Thomas to Wheathampstead, then a younger son Edward, from whom sprang the largest and longest-lasting Broket dynasty and Grouping in Britain. This was what made the migration major, not that there were large numbers of original emigrants. Between 1400-1500 an estimate of only 6-10 households made the move. They must have all been kinsfolk.
Page Last Updated: April 7, 2020