John Brockett of New Haven and Wallingford
b 1609-18, d 1690
John was probably the first Broket immigrant to N America. The original records show how he became a competent and successful member of new plantations—an early example of the American dream. The earliest documentary evidence so far found of John is his name on the list of 104 subscribers to the Newhaven colony’s ‘Fundamental Agreement’ of 1639, and a mention of him in its preamble:1
For an image of the whole page click here.
Another early document is the “The names of all the Freemen of the Courte of Newhaven”:2
For an image of the whole page click here
For further details about these two pages: Read more
1. In the record of the Fundamental Agreement written by Thomas Fugill John’s is the penultimate name in the 2nd of the 4 columns, above the 2 columns of signatures. It is located on page 3 of the original, and transcribed on pp 17-18 of vol 1 of Hoadly’s 1857 edition.3 The numbers in square brackets in Hoadly’s edition refer to the original’s page numbers.
For this discussion we call the 4 Jun 1639 general meeting when “all the free planters assembled together in a ge[neral] meetinge to consult about settling ciuill Gouernment according to God, and about the nomination of persons thatt might be founde by consent of all fittest in all respects for the foundacion worke of a church w[hich] was intend to be gathered in Quinipieck”4 the Agreement meeting. Fugill’s write-up of this Agreement meeting into the records would of course have been later, and we call that the Agreement record. But how much later was the record than the meeting? A preamble to the Agreement record takes up pages 1-2 of Fugill’s account and the Agreement record itself is page 3.5 Page 4 is a follow-on document in the hand of Francis Newman called the ‘Free mans charge’. Then from page 5 Fugill’s account picks up again recording a meeting of the court on 25 Oct 1639 at which officials were appointed. Page 6 of Fugill’s account records events concerning the arrest and trial of the Indian Nepaupuck on 26 and 28 Oct, followed by a record of a general court meeting on 29 Oct which passed the death sentence on him. Page 7 records the items on the agenda of court meetings of 3 and 25 Nov 1639, and so on. So it appears that pp 1-4 were important introductory material to the Records of the Colony as a whole and Fugill’s actual serial recording of court meetings began from Oct 1639. (A suggestion that Fugill’s whole first volume could have been written up at one time, placing the Agreement record very much later, is probably to be rejected because of the actual signatures on the lower part of the page.) So, although 4 Jun 1639 was the date of the Agreement meeting, which “took place according to tradition, in a large barn belonging to Mr Newman,”6 the Agreement record could have been written up to 4 months later. John Brockett’s name demonstrates this. As mentioned and shown above, John’s name is the penultimate name in the 2nd of the 4 columns and is integral to the Agreement record. It wasn’t inserted later. In the preamble, Fugill recorded how the Agreement, or Covenent as it is called there, was read out aloud at the meeting and all those present held up their hands in assent to it.7 He then noted in the preamble that the names of John Clarke and 8 other men, including John Brockett “being nott [ad]mitted planters when the couenant was made doth now express their consent to itt.” He didn’t say when this was, but it was obviously not on 4 Jun, but between then and when Fugill wrote up the Agreement record. All 9 men’s names are integral to Fugill’s columns of names of signatories to the Agreement record. Atwater, quoting the contemporary record, said John Brockett and 7 others “being not admitted planters when the covenant was made, do now express their consent to it”, but also didn’t provide a date.8 Mills Brown’s comment that John’s name is missing from the plantation covenant, echoed Atwater and cited Hoadly vol 1 p 17.9 But she did so incorrectly, John’s name was there as everyone can see. It was only missing from the List of Freeman, and only at first—as the next point explains.
2. The List of Freemen is different. The page is an unattached, unnumbered, and undated loose leaf preceding page 1 of the original Records. It has no explanatory paragraph at the top and simply contains 69 names. Similarly, the List precedes the first page of the Records in Hoadly’s transcription, which includes the name of Goodman Davis, bringing the total to 70.10 John Brockett’s name was apparently inserted between two others near the top of the 2nd column. Be that as it may, the 2nd column as a whole was presumably a later addition. It was also in Fugill’s hand but with a lighter touch or quill tip than column 1. “I would imagine a person can infer that this and the Fundamental Agreement are contemporary, although the right-hand column in this List of Freemen may have been later.”11 The addition of John’s name to the List would have been after 7 Nov 1642 when he took the oath of freemanship of the colony: “A Generall Court held att Newhaven the 7th of Nouem: 1642. Brother Brockett admitted member of this court, and received the charg of freemen.”12 Thus, although the List of Freemen is at the very front of the original Records and of Hoadly’s edition, John Brockett’s name was added to it more than 2½ years after both the Fundamental Agreement meeting and record.
The third mention of John in the New Haven Colony Records was an entry for 4 Jan 1640:13 Read more
“Itt is agreed by the towne and accordingly ordered by the court thatt the Neck shall be planted or sowen for the tearme of seaven yeares, and that John Brockett shall goe about laying it out forthwith, and all differences betwixt party and party aboute ground formerly broke vp and planted by English there shall be arbitrated by indifferent men which shall be chosen to that end.”
In sum, the first 2 records so far found of John Brockett in N America date between June and October 1639, and the next was on 4 January 1640. The addition of his name to the List of Freemen was after 7 November 1642.
Contents of this page:
The main aim of this webpage is to analyse what primary sources can tell us about John’s origins: both in New and Old England. The aim is not to give you another account of his life and achievements—you can readily find that on the internet, especially in the online editions of the early records of the Newhaven colony.
When and how did John arrive in America? Knowing this could give us a clue about his previous life in England. According to Winthrop’s contemporary journal entry for 26 Jun 1637:16
Apart from these 5 men, the only primary record of people sailing in the Hector is of the captain and mate during an earlier voyage of 31 May 1636.17 But ever since the publication of Calder’s The New Haven Colony in 1934, it has been taken as fact that a long list of immigrants, John Brockett among them, were aboard the Hector as it sailed into Boston 26 Jun 1637, and then in the following spring moved down to Quinnipiac to set up a Puritan community. And now, so-called passenger lists of the Hector can readily be found on the internet, and John Brockett is on them. But unfortunately, there is no documentary evidence for them, nor that John himself was ever on the Hector, see here for an analysis.
John Brockett might have been a member of Davenport’s ‘company’ that is said to have sailed on the Hector. But it’s more likely that he came to New Haven from England later, or was in New England beforehand and moved down to New Haven, like those from Wethersfield, for example.18 But there is no evidence either way. Although John isn’t normally associated with them, there was said to have been a separate sailing into Boston, 5 weeks after the Hector, bringing 15 Hertfordshire families who joined ‘Davenport’s company’.19 And for another example, it is said: “During the second summer of the Davenport company at Quinnipiac, three ships sailing directly from London brought a great company from England to the new colony”.20 And with respect to possibly coming from Wethersfield—or by extension other places—John Gibbs, a signatory to the Fundamental Agreement in 1639 came from Wethersfield,21 as did John Clarke who was on the list of Newhaven Freeman.22
Thus, we cannot be sure when or how John Brockett came either to New England or New Haven; all we know is that by 6 Jun 1639 he was there—signing the ‘Fundamental Agreement’—or soon after.23 The benefit of this is that it widens the time frame in the search for his birth and removes restrictions on where in England it might have been.
So, who were John’s parents in Old England? We say England rather than Scotland because emigration across the Atlantic from Scotland didn’t begin till the 18th C, and the early Newhaven records portray a distinctly English community.
Because no document has been found that states who his parents were, all possibilities should be investigated. This requires comparing clues from contemporary New and Old England records. The Broket Archive contains results of extensive and rigorous research on the Brokets of Britain from those times. But new records are continually coming to light and the investigation into his English origins is certainly not closed. What you will find here is a progress report of the research so far:
These three matters cast light on John’s origins. John was clearly a capable man and by 1667 he, with one other, was representing Elizabethtown in the House of Burgesses.24 Then in 1669 he was a leading member of the endeavor to establish the new settlement of Wallingford and in many of its later records was styled “Mr”, e.g. in the document setting up the church there in 1675.25 But earlier records show that his social status had been lower. John Brockett was an early example of the American dream.
Although this document is found in the original record book for 1643, and you may find it referred to as the ‘Division of 1643’, for instance, we will follow Atwater who sensibly concluded: “There is so much probability that the schedule was recorded before the collection of the rate due in April, 1641, that it will be designated as the schedule of 1641.” Others since have dated it to 29 Oct 1640 and 22 Nov 1640.26 For John Brockett an earlier date than 1643 also makes sense, although for our purposes—reflecting on his social status—isn’t vital. John was recorded in the schedule on his own, therefore presumably unmarried, whereas the New Haven First Congregational Society recorded the baptism of his eldest son John on 31 Dec 1642.27 Atwater pointed out an instance where circumstances had changed between 1641 and 43 but the record had not been updated.28 If you’re interested in the dating of the schedule: Read more
“…the following schedule was prepared, exhibiting the name of every proprietor, the number of persons in his family, the amount of his estate, and the number of acres belonging to him in each of four classes of land; viz., the first division of upland, the neck, the meadows, and the second division of upland. The eighth and last column shows the amount of his annual tax. The schedule, though prepared before April,1641, is found in the record-book amid the records of 1643. It is not easy to determine whether it was copied into the record-book in 1643, after some changes had been made corresponding with changes of title; or was recorded when first prepared, the secretary reserving for his report of the court’s proceedings the thirty pages which precede it.(footnote 1: “Mr. Crane resigned Mr. Hickock’s lot into the town’s hand,” Sept. 30, 1641; yet the lot stands in Mr. Hickock’s name. There is so much probability that the schedule was recorded before the collection of the rate due in April, 1641, that it will be designated as the schedule of 1641.)
“The schedule furnishes important aid in determining who were proprietors of the town in the first years of its history, the social importance of each so far as the measure of his wealth determined it, and, when studied in connection with the land-records of the town, the location of his house-lot.”30
John’s estate was valued at £15, comprising 3¼ acres in the first division of upland, ½–24 acres in the neck, 1¼ acres in the meadows, and 5 acres in the second division of upland, with an annual tax rated at 2s 6½d.31
In his discussion of the personnel of the plantation, Atwater said of Roger Ailing or Allen, who came to New Haven with Capt Lamberton, that “He was at this time unmarried, and of small estate… John Brockett was also, in 1643, unmarried, and of even smaller estate than his neighbor, Roger Ailing.”32 Only 12 others had estates valued less, £10 being the lowest.
Another indicator of social status was where you could sit in church, the community’s meeting house. “On one side of the house men of the congregation were placed according to dignity, age, and estate, and on the other, the women.”33 The first organized seating arrangements were read out at a New Haven General Court on 10 Mar 1646.34 For the men there were the middle seats, the cross seats at the end and then the seats “on the other side of the dore”. For the women there were the middle seats, the cross seats at the end, the little cross seat, the seats on the sides and then the seats “on the other side of the dore”. The seats on the other side of the door were the last in order of precedence and were where John and Sister Brockett’s seats were—in rows 6 of 6 and 3 of 4 respectively. In later years, 1656 and 1662, their seating appears to have moved higher up the social scale.35
In 2 of the 4 known early Newhaven records of John’s wife she was styled ‘Goody’ or ‘Goodwife’. The latter prefix was often shortened in the records to ‘Goodw.’, as was the male equivalent ‘Goodman’ to ‘goodm.’, e.g. “in the house of goodm. Brockett” referring to John.36 This prefix was a social-status indicator. In class-conscious England at the time the prefix ‘Goodwife’ was used for the wife of a Yeoman or Husbandman—a woman of middling or low rank,37 and this carried over to New England: The case of Goodwife Fancy in New Haven in 1646 was of “a low-status woman”.38 Although to call John’s wife “a woman in humble life” was probably unfair;39 middling to low rank would be fairer.
To conclude: for the first decade or two of his time in New Haven, it’s fair to say that John and his wife’s “social status in the community was modest”.40 In the society of the time this would imply that that had also been their status before they emigrated.
If you explain John’s initial middling-to-low social status by saying he was the disinherited son of an English knight you should consider the evidence more carefully. You will find that it was a myth put into writing by Edward Judson Brockett (EJB) in his book published in New Jersey in 1905,41 although contradicted in an Appendix at the end of the book. You can find a more detailed analysis of his evidence as part of a wider discussion about the reliability of his work on this separate page, but in a nutshell the main weaknesses of this particular claim were:
2. Over-reliance on oral tradition.
3. Failure to resolve contradictory evidence.
An English variant of the myth—probably late 20th C—found in privately printed histories of Brocket Hall, suggested that the Hall remained in the Broket family till 1746 citing alleged rumors that it was sold “as a result of one of the Brocket sons getting a local girl pregnant; the family moved away and the errant son was sent to the worst possible place that could be thought of at the time—America.” This tale is obviously anachronistic—the Hall passed out of Broket ownership in 1598.
Society in those days was organized by rank and deference; if a man was a gentleman, he was styled as such, or as ‘Mr’—by law. The John Brokett who married at Sandridge in 1635, for instance, was recorded as ‘Gentleman’. But John of New Haven wasn’t styled ‘Mr’ in early New Haven records, as others were.42 As discussed above, his early social status in the community was modest. But the records of his activities in Newhaven suggest that he had had some prior education, so he could well have come from the Yeoman, or craftsman, class. In the 17th C there were few Yeomen who didn’t arrange for their sons to have some schooling. However, since Yeomen usually held land and so left records and Wills, if John sprang from that rank in society some trace of him in England might be expected.
Of currently known possible fathers of John only one is known to have been a Yeoman: Edward of Dunton, Bedfordshire, 1589-1660, see below.
An inventory attached to John’s Will showed that he died by Apr 1690. Citing the Wallingford Vital Records, Jacobus gave the date of death as “12 Mar 1689 [1689/90] ae 77”.43 This means 1690 aged 77. The microfilm of Barbour’s 1924 edition of the Wallingford Vital Records gave the same date but that he was aged 80.44 These make an earliest birth date of c 1609-13. Ages at death in those times could be overestimated, but he is unlikely to have been under 21 when he signed the Fundamental Agreement c 1639. This provides a latest birth date of c 1618, and a range of c 1609-18. For good measure, we will go back a further decade and search for a possible birth between 1600-20.
The emigrations in the 1630s were largely from England’s eastern counties, 45 although not exclusively. Statistics suggest that in England at the beginning of the 17th C there were about 50 Broket households, up to a dozen of which were northern, so there would have been about 38 Broket families in southern areas from which emigration was most likely. How many of those 38 had sons called John? Until other records come to light, the following 11 are the currently known Johns born in England 1600-1620 who might at first sight at least, have been John of New Haven, none of whom were from the north:46
- 1600 9 Nov Hitchin, 4th son of William and Katherine of Hitchin. In 1652/3 he was a Grocer in Pirton, Herts.
- c 1602, son of Gentleman John and Dorothy of Codicote. He is recorded in London in 1638 along with his family as a Citizen of London.
- 1608 27 Nov Quadring Lincs, son of William. No previous and only one subsequent Brocket record has been found in the original Quadring registers or Bishops’ Transcripts up to 1700—including burials, and in all probability William, b c 1580, and therefore his son John, were Brocups.
- 1610 8 Mar St Giles Reading Berkshire, no parents listed.
- 1611 20 May Wheathampstead, son of John Esq of Wheathampstead and his first wife Mary Garroway. Ray Madsen thought that this was John of New Haven,47 but corrected this opinion in 1999. John was buried 1628.
- 1612 29 Jul Wheathampstead, son of John Esq and Joan of Wheathampstead, later Caswell. This was the John who married Mary Blackwell in 1635, and Ray Madsen thought he was John of New Haven,48 but this John baptized 1612 was Rector of Grimston, Norfolk, England from 1646 till his death in 1663. Ray Madsen formally corrected his opinion in 2019.
- John Brockett, son of Robert and Jane of Wonersh, Surrey, alive 1614 and probably young—although how young is speculation.
- 1617 27 Apr Dunton, 2nd son of Edward Yeoman and Ann. DNA evidence gathered so far reveals that descendants of John of New Haven were of entirely different stock from probable descendants of the Dunton clan.
- 1618 19 Jul Ware Herts, 1st son of Edward.
- 1618 16 Aug Eastbourne Sussex, only? son of Robert Brookat.
- 1619 22 Nov Hemel Hempstead, only son of Gentleman William and Mary of Codicote. Mary died late 1620 or early 1621 and her father and brother then looked after John through to at least May 1636, but John died before 1640.
One of Johns 4, 7, 9 and 10 could have been John of New Haven.
1. A search in the IGI in 2003 found a record of the baptism of a John son of John in Hertford in 1609, but it isn’t in the original Parish Register for either Hertford parish. It would have been a wishful-thinking patron submission.
2. For a couple of decades the writing is small and untidy, but a careful search through the Parish Register of St Stephen’s Coleman St in the City of London showed no Brocketts or the like from 1590 to 1636.49
In Elizabeth New Jersey today there is a place called Bracket’s Brook, a branch of the Elizabeth Town Creek, in the north part of the town. It was apparently named after John.50 Referring to John, the historian of Elizabeth Hatfield said of the brook, “It probably indicates the locality of their allotment.”51 John was in Elizabeth from about 1666-70. Hatfield, who worked from the original records,52 recorded the surname 19 times, 15 of which were as Brackett,53 and only 4 as Brockett.54 Interestingly, in one document John was surnamed Bracket and his son John Brocket.55 Suffice it to quote 3 occurrences from Hatfield:Read more
2. For the first General Assembly of New Jersey, convened 26 May 1668 “The town had chosen John Ogden, sen., and John Brackett, to represent them in the House of Burgesses”.57
3. “Of those who took the oath in Feb. 1665/6, … Brackett had sold out to Samuel Hopkins, and returned to New Haven…”58
Anyone researching early North American Brokets soon notices that they were often recorded as Brakets. In the 1790 census for New Haven, for instance, they were nearly all Brackets. And the same applies occasionally with later records of US Brokets not in New Haven but descended from John. You might say these were just cases of scribes not making their ‘o’ distinct from their ‘a’ or else they were occasional misspellings or idiosyncratic transcriptions. That’s probably what happened in Hoadley’s New Haven Colony records 1638-49: In its 30 references to John or his wife, there was only once instance of the name spelt with an ‘a’: Brackitt.59 And this is the case with records in the UK—you find a few isolated instances of Broket being misspelt or mistranscribed as Braket.
However, with the surname of John of New Haven—and that of his descendants—there are more records spelt Bracket and the like than can be attributed to occasional misspelling. Moreover, elsewhere the Bracket version of the name didn’t pass on to following generations as it did with this New Haven clan descended from John. With them the ‘o’ and ‘a’ spellings often alternated with each other for 150 years or more following John’s immigration—for 5 generations or more—and some present-day cousins of Brocketts have been Bracketts for generations. Dexter’s New Haven town records for 1649-62 have 16 instances of the ‘o’ spelling of the surname and 7 of ‘a’.60 A record from Wallingford in the CT State Archives is indexed: “Brackett, John, Wallingford, appointed to assist in care of wounded at New London, Jan 14 1675/6.”61 The entry in Savage’s 1860 Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England for John Brockett and his 3 sons Benjamin, Samuel and John concluded: “In early days, as sometimes in our own, the name was Brackett.”62 In his discussion of reliable printed, i.e. secondary, sources Jacobus mentioned Savage’s “great compilation” and how he “displayed marvelous critical acumen and judgment in handling the material that was then accessible.”63 For other examples, see this separate page.
Later secondary sources tend to homogenize the Brackett spelling to Brockett, such that it appears much rarer than it was. Hatfield, as mentioned above, was of course a secondary source, but he was working from the original records, so was only at one remove. But in contrast to Hatfield, the recent edition of Founders of New Jersey, spelt John’s name each time as Brockett.64 Even when quoting from Hatfield it changed Brackett to Brockett, e.g. “the town chose John Brockett as one of the two men to represent it in the House of Burgesses”. If you look at Hatfield yourself you will see he spelt the name Brackett here with an ‘a’, as quoted more exactly above in this section. It isn’t quite so easy to change the the ‘a’ spelling of a place name, like Bracket’s Brook.
So, if the search thus far for John’s origins in England seems unsatisfactory as a Broket, we could cast the net a little wider and search for him under the name Braket as well. See this separate page for currently known records of baptisms in England of John Bracketts 1600-20.
Unfortunately, we know nothing about John’s marriage—neither where nor when it was, nor to whom. The marriage would not have been recorded in any of Jacobus’ many local sources; he left blank space after “m.” where he would have put her name and details, had there been a source.65 The social customs of the early New Haven society—evident from the 1665 court case in which John’s wife testified—make it impossible for the couple not to have gotten married. But there is no evidence that his wife was called Mary, and the contemporary John Brockett who married Mary Blackwell in 1635 became a London priest and later a Rector in Norfolk, England. Mary Blackwell had died before May 1646, when John Brockett of New Haven and his wife were being allocated seats in the meeting house there, and the former husband of Mary Blackwell was marrying for a second time in London.
Despite this clear evidence, published on this Archive since 2003 you can still find the mistaken claim that John Brockett of New Haven married Mary Blackwell. And largely due to the easy-copy nature of the internet the claim has become a ‘factoid’—in the sense of “an assumption or speculation that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact”.66 Many descendants of John Brockett of New Haven still wrongly record Mary Blackwell and John, son of John Brockett of Caswell, as their ancestors.
This ‘Mary Blackwell myth’ or factoid appeared in its first form in 1983 in a printed article, then with a slightly different conclusion in an internet update in 1999. Both were written by Raymond Madsen, an accredited genealogist (AG) with the official LDS organisation the Association of Professional Genealogists.67 Ray Madsen has since retired but his good standing with the Association has led to him being accorded Emeritus AG professional status.68 One of the Association’s criteria for accreditation is recognition of the Genealogical Proof Standard, and in accordance with Standard 4 “Resolution of conflicting evidence”, Ray Madsen has now formally acknowledged that his earlier theory—what we call here the ‘Mary Blackwell myth’—was incorrect.Read moreThe hope is that this will be made prominent enough to reverse the process and remove the factoid.Although on 3 Jan 2019 Ray wrote and asked wheathampstead.net to remove this article and replace it with a corrected one or else delete it altogether, as of 9 Apr 2019 it is still there (goo.gl/nRLYAi). The corrected one can be seen attached to several records in FamilySearch, primarily of John Brockett of New Haven LHNB-NNT at https://tinyurl.com/yyurldj2 (accessed 9 Apr 2019) where it can be found in the ‘Life Sketch’ under Latest Changes/Show All—scroll right down to the entry entitled ‘Mother removed’ dated 10 Feb 2019, written by ‘Chief’—and the full article can be found under ‘Memories’. Ray has also edited the record of John Brockett 1612 of Wheathampstead GMLH-216 and Mary Blackwell GMLH-7DW.
That Ray Madsen has publicly accepted the new evidence disproving his 1983 and 1999 theory is commendable and engenders trust in the LDS Association of Professional Genealogists. His courage and honesty in acknowledging that he came to mistaken conclusions is an admirable example of one of the fundamental principles of genealogy—acknowledging fresh evidence when it contradicts your previous theories or opinions. When someone publicly does so it generates trust in that person’s work, and in the case of a professional genealogist, trust in the organisation they represent.
Ray Madsen did some good research on the Wheathampstead Brokets, especially in the 1983 article, and although the 3 arguments he based his conclusions on were faulty, they are well worth looking at. They were essentially the same for both articles:
The first—and cornerstone—argument was that John of New Haven’s wife was named Mary: “Little has been known about [John’s] wife, except her name was Mary, “whose parents are not known. She is mentioned in various histories as “Mary Brockett” and Mrs John Brockett.”69 But Ray Madsen cited no sources for these claims, neither in 1983 nor later 1999. Which histories were they? The argument then progressed to a brief discussion of John’s Puritanism and involvement with Rev John Davenport, citing Calder. He added, “Tradition says he marrid a Puritan girl named Mary, which caused bad feelings within his own family.”70 Comment: Tradition recorded by EJ Brockett and his brother did say he married a Puritan maid, but not that her name was Mary. That appears to have been Ray Madsen’s addition to the myth.
Argument 2 concerned John’s education. The introductory 2 paragraphs of Ray Madsen’s article mentioned some of John’s activities in New England and that “He was an educated man, with a reputation as a civil engineer and surveyor” and in 1654 was “appointed a Surgeon.” Ray Madsen picked this up again after the discussion about his wife “Mary”, just mentioned above, and said, “Since John was an educated man, university records were searched for more information. The University of Cambridge, Christ College, shows John Brockett, son of John, born at Wheathampstead, Hertford, and admitted 23 April 1634 at age 21.”71 But these are anachronistic interpretations. Both “Civil engineer” and “surgeon” are modern-day professional categories inapplicable to the 17th C New Haven context. The idea of university education was also anachronistic. It assumed that like today someone in those days who was well educated would have gone to university. Of course, someone who had gone to university was well educated according the standards of the day, but the reverse wasn’t necessarily true. The ability to read and write and other essential elements of education were learnt as a child, just as they are today, and many a Yeoman sent his young sons to school. In England in those days there were just the two universities of Oxford and Cambridge, plus the Inns of Court in London, and these were largely the preserve of the sons of gentry or wealthy families—although there were scholarships for students from poorer families. University was largely a preparation for entering the Church, and the Inns of Court for the Law—they didn’t train people to be civil engineers or surgeons. The John Brockett who was admitted to Cambridge in 1634 became a parish priest.
Argument 3 concerned Hertfordshire. Although in 1983 Ray Madsen firmly rejected the myth that John was the son of a Hertfordshire knight, this element of the argument of his 1999 article was essentially a modification of that myth. It tacitly assumed that John was a son of the Wheathampstead family, albeit not of one of its knights. His conclusion was that John, baptized 1612 son of John Brocket Esq and Joan of Mackrey End, Wheathampstead, later of Caswell, “sailed to the American colonies to throw his lot with the Reverend John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton, Puritans from England.”72 However, that John of Mackery End baptized 1612 became Rector of Grimston, Norfolk, England from 1646 till his death in 1663.
Returning to the 1641 tax schedule in Newhaven, at that time John was single, or at least on his own, but on 31 Dec 1642 his son John was baptized there.73 John snr therefore probably married in 1641 or early 1642. Following are the 4 known records of John’s wife from early Newhaven, none unfortunately supplying her forename. As discussed above, her title of ‘Goodwife’ signified a middling to low social status:
1. Three times regarding the seating allocated to her in the meeting house:
1655/6: 11 Feb. Goodw. Brocket in row 9 of the women’s Longe Seates.75
1661/2: 20 Jan. Sister Brackit in row 7 of the women’s long Seates.76
2. 1665: 7 Feb. At a court held at Newhaven Goodwife/Goody Brockett testified against a young unmarried couple she caught “alone at an unseasonable time of night, & in an uncomely manner in the house of goodm. Brockett.” Read more
The Court Considering the Case proceeded to sentence, & First ordered John Clarke for his severall miscarriages in this & that after such warning from his Master, & his soe presumptuously denieing it againe & againe, That he be severely Whipt & for Mary Fuller Considering the infirmenes of her body, she onely to stand by him while the sentence of the Court is inflicted on him, for her shame, & soe was sharply reprooved & seriously warned to Carry it better for the future.”78
(3.) 1680: 20 Dec. The Widdow Brockett listed in the Newhaven town meeting’s announcement of the 3rd division of land with 4 in the household, £10 in Estates and 20 Acres on the Easterne side of the Towne, 3 lines down from John Brockett with 4 in the household, £40 in Estates and 24 Acres,79 couldn’t have been John’s wife/widow. He didn’t die till 1690. EJ Brockett carelessly assumed that she was.80 Although her forename was’t mentioned in the text, Dexter in his index of names listed her as Wid. Elizabeth Brockett, implying she was the widow of John’s son Benjamin.81
EJ Brockett was of the opinion that “from the middle of the year 1640 to the end of the year 1641 [John] returned to England, spending a year or more there, during which time he married, and that his wife did not arrive here until 1644 or 1645”.82 His support for this was the lack of “Colonial records in regard to John Brockett (excepting tax)” during that period. It is possible, but this is weak negative proof since there is no additional circumstantial evidence that John sailed back to England to marry, and the more natural place to find a wife would have been more locally somewhere in New England. But it’s curious that the marriage hasn’t been found in New England records, so below are all the John Brokets and Brakets currently known to have married in Old England 1620-45:83
John Broket marriages in England 1620-45:
- 1622: 30 Jun, John Brocket and Isabel WILSON, Earsdon Northumberland;84 and again 30 Mar 1631.85
- 1623: 29 Dec, John Brocket and Marye BANISTER, St Bride Fleet Steet, London86—this was John of Wheathampstead Esq.
- 1624: 8 Jul, John Brokett and Eliz MORDANT, Oakley Bedford87—this was John of Caswell Esq.
- 1635: 14 Aug, John Brokett and Mary BLACKWELL, Sandridge, Hertfordshire—this was John s/o John of Caswell Esq.
- 1641: 7 Mar, John Brocket and Elizabeth SCOTT, St Mary Staynings London, she a spinster of that parish, aged 22, servant, and he a bachelor of St Gabriel Fenchurch, Tailor aged 24—so b c 1617.88 Did his baptism go unrecorded?
The Northumberland couple were probably too far north to be relevant and would not fit well with a 1690 death, leaving only the 1641 one, however New Haven records don’t give any hint that John was a Tailor.
- 1624: “December 9 John Brackit & Margaret SOUTH maried”. South Somercotes, Lincolnshire.89
- 1631: “John Brakett & Isabell INMAN were maryed the xjxth day of May”. Norwich, St Gregory, Norfolk.90
- 1643: John Bracket and Elz BATE in St Benet Gracechurch, London.91
No records of burials of these 3 couples, nor baptisms of any children have been found 1620-60.92
For further details see this separate page.
Written 3 Mar 1689/90.93 A court copy, held in Wallingford Public Library, probated 23 Nov 1691, is transcribed here. The whole document—including probate details—is in one man’s handwriting, therefore not John’s.94 E J Brockett published an earlier transcription of the Will, with quite a few differences, but none of substance.95 Read more
2. a competent good understanding & memory doe make & ordaine this my last
3. Will & Testament in maner ‘&’ forme as followeth. Imprimis, I give to my
4. Eldest son John Brockett all my lands & houseing that I have not given
5. deeds of gift ‘of’ nor sold, and all such meadow alsoe. / ———
6. Item: I give to my grandchild John Brockett that lives with me, Two oxen
7. or stears fitt to worke. —— Furthermore I give to my son John the one
8. halfe of my moveable estate. / —— I give to my daughter Silence Brad
9. =lye alsoe a quarter
10. quarter part I give to my son Samuell Brockett five pounds, —
11. Alsoe to my son Jabez I give two oxen, my cart with a whole
12. sett of plow gears. — Alsoe I give to my son Benjamins two
13. daughters, twenty shillings each of them. — Alsoe I give to my daughter
14. Mary Pennington twenty shillings,
15. Alsoe I give to John Payne Twenty shillings. And in case there should not bee
16. enough in this quarter part of the moveables to pay my debts & funerall
17. charges & these Legacyes, what wants, must bee taken out of the foremen
18. =tioned moveable estate. — Furthermore, I give my son John my weareing
19. apparrell, & doe appoint him to bee my Executour: unto this Will & Testament
20. I sett my hand & seale this third of March 1689:90
Signed, & sealed in the
presence of us
John Brockett seale
The Will mentioned bequests to the following:
Daughter Silence married to BRADLYE
Sons Samuell and Jabez
2 daughters of son Benjamin
Daughter Mary married to PENNINGTON
These correspond with John’s children listed by Jacobus, who recorded a daughter Abigail married 1673 to John PAYNE, and son Benjamin’s death in 1679.96 John’s wife was not mentioned in the Will. It’s not clear if she was still alive.
The attached ‘Inventory of the estate of Mr John Brockett late of Wallingford deceased’ gives an insight into his way of life: Read more
3 cowes with 3 calves. 12£. 15s / 2 cowes. 8£. / 3 two yeareolds. 6£. / 3 oneyeareold. 3£. — 29:15:00
2 oxen 10£. The halfe of the house, barne & orchard & the land adjoining 56£ — 66:00:00
A farme of out land of 100 acres — 25:00:00
A cart & wheels with all jrons belong thereto, one plow with all jrons
belonging thereunto, one yoake, 3 chains, a new plowshare & a colter
old jron tools, hoes, axes, horse traces, 3 augers & a payre of fetters — 09:02:00
One gun & sword 1£. 19s. one payr of stilyards. 18s / one brasse kettle. 4£. — 06:13:00
One warming pan & brasse skimmer 14s. pewter & spoones & 2 candlesticks 4£. 8s — 05:02:00
Two skilletts. 14s. one brass kettle 10s. / 3 jron potts, one jron kettle, one
jron skillett, 2 payre of pothooks & one tramell — 02:14:00
One fryeing pan, one spitt, fire shovell, tongs & one hamer
one gridjron, one axe & one morter — 01:00:00
A pewter still 12s. / wooden ware. 1£. 10s. earthen ware 4s. — 02:06:00
A bed, bed clothing & linnens 14£. 14s. A trowell 2s. 6d half a thousand of pins 1s. 3d. — 14:17:09
Sowing silke 1s. 10d./ 2 chests & a box 1£. 10s. thread & twine 3s. 9d. — 01:15:07
by wearing clothes. 3£. 11s 1 cap. 2s. for neckclothes & caps 1£. 4s. — 04:17:00
One box. 4s. cushins & a joint stoole 4s. Inkye & indyan corne 2£. 1 s. 1 acre wheat on the ground 1£.— 03:09:00
Apprized by us this 7th of Aprill 1690: Samuell Anderson Tho: Curtisse 9 Townesmen
[sub total] 172:11:04
An addition to the forementioned estate
For severall acres of meadow. 150£. / 2 oxen 10£. 10s. / 3 cowes & 3 calves. 13£— 173:10:00
2 cowes & one bull 10£. / 2 stears. 7£. / 2 rugs, 2 blankets & 2 pillows 5£. 10s.— 22:10:00
2 sheets & 2 pillowbeers 1£. 5s. / weareing apparrell, a hat & a payre of shoes. 2£— 03:05:00
Two old curtains & two earthen potts— 00:05:06
Apprized by us this 8th of Aprill 1690: James Heaton John Barnes
[sub total] 199:10:06
[sub total c/f] 172:11:04
Totall 372: 01:10
This Broket Archive administers a DNA project, which contains a growing database of genetic information about descendants of John, and about Brokets in general. DNA research is hugely important for finding out who John Brockett of New Haven was. More DNA tests of his descendants are urgently needed. Currently we only have a few from just two of them—John 1642-1720 and Samuel 1652-1742. We need more both from them, and from descendants of other sons. Where are their descendants now? Are you one of them? Please get in touch.
The method is to try and document the ascent of those who claim descent from John and who have Y-DNA evidence. See the DNA evidence gathered so far here.
Page Last Updated: February 18, 2020