Brokets of Yorkshire
Only a few Brocketts—incomers—live in Yorkshire today, yet the first sustained hereditary centre of the surname in Britain was in the Ainsty, an area of only a few square miles just south of York City. Here was the source, along with the City later, of most 14th and 15th C English Broket records, few as they were.
A Broket had probably been born near York by at least 1210. Subsequent records are mostly, and with little doubt, of related families in the Ainsty and City—but only once or twice more than two of these at one time—plus isolated families very occasionally appearing elsewhere in the county. Many, if not all, of these medieval Yorkshire Brokets would have been in the retinue of the barons Percy and Vescy.
Then in the early 14th C they emerged as parish gentry in Bolton Percy parish, on a par with other landholders in neighbouring parishes. Cloth was then a mainstay of York’s economy and probably a means by which Brokets who moved to the City improved their status.
Although Broket numbers were tiny, the 14-16th C Yorkshire picture is of a continuing hinterland stock now and then providing an individual for York City, rather than any established City line of more than three generations. York’s population was mobile, the Ainsty’s less so. Sure, many Ainsty manors were purchased by City men, but one Broket rose locally to lordship of the manor, albeit possibly via the City and perhaps helped by the decrease in population from the Black Death. It’s estimated that at least a third—some say two thirds—of the European population died from the disease in just 4 or 5 years 1347-51. On the positive side from the Brokets’ perspective this had a levelling effect on the feudal system in England and improved social mobility.
Brokets remained lords in Appleton for 170 years but the eldest line focused its attention on territory further south, mainly Hertfordshire. They sold their last Yorkshire estates by the 1560s but one line lived on in York till 1720. Brokets then all but disappeared from Yorkshire, excepting a small 19th C clan at Whitby and in Goathland on the moors behind.
Page Last Updated: September 11, 2020