BROCKET, John (c.1540-98), of Brocket Hall, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1540, 1st s. of (Sir) John Brocket of Brocket Hall by his w. Margaret Bensted. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. matric. pens. 1554. m. (1) Helen, da. of Sir Robert Lytton of Knebworth, 5da.; (2) Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Roger Moore, wid. of Gabriel Fowler, 1da. suc. fa. 1558. Kntd. 1577.1

Offices Held

J.p. Herts from c.1561, q. by 1573; sheriff, Essex and Herts. 1566-7, Herts. 1581-2; commr. musters by 1573; dep. lt. Herts. 1589-d.2


Brocket belonged to a leading Hertfordshire family established in the county since the reign of Henry VII. He inherited extensive property near Wheathampstead and a number of manors, including Water End and Robinstowe. His first marriage brought him further land, mostly in the vicinity of Hitchin. He continued to add to his Hertfordshire estates until his death, but in 1568 he disposed of valuable property in the Charterhouse district of London. Among his neighbours, Francis Walsingham proved a firm friend. Brocket’s daughters brought him further connexions through their marriages with Sir John Cutts, Sir Alexander Cave, Richard Spencer, George Carleton, Sir Thomas Read and Dudley, Lord North.3

He sat in only one Parliament, serving on one committee in 1576 on tanned leather (18 Feb.), and three in the last session on supply (25 Jan. 1581), seditious practices (1 Feb.) and the bill against the Family of Love (16 Feb.). Though he is not known to have stood again, he was involved, as a leading Hertfordshire country gentleman, in the contested county elections of 1584 and 1593, in both of which he supported the losing candidate Denny against Sir Henry Cocke. He was also at loggerheads with Cocke and his fellow deputy lieutenant Sir Philip Butler, over a favour shown to one of the Coningsby family. He devoted himself to public affairs within the county, being active on commissions to inquire into the number of recusants and to provide for corn supplies. Above all, he concerned himself with the militia and trained bands. In 1588 he was given command of a group of Hertfordshire men ordered to protect the Queen’s person. He also served on a commission to inquire into disturbances at St. Albans in 1578, and, by request of the Privy Council, investigated slanders uttered there against the Earl of Leicester in 1580. He was a trustee of the free school at Stevenage and governor of Chipping Barnet school.4

He died on 2 Oct. 1598. In his will, made 7 Aug. and proved 12 Oct., he asked to be buried near his first wife and directed that the funeral should cost not more than £200. Most of his lands and goods were left to the daughter of his second marriage, Frances. He provided legacies ranging from £100 to £600 for his other daughters and grandchildren, and made bequests of plate to his brothers and sons-in-law. Thomas Walkeden received £10, and £20 was left towards setting the poor of Bishop Hatfield to work.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: M.N.


  • 1. H. Chauncy, Herts. ii. 16-19; Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 32; CPR, 1558-60, p. 361.
  • 2. St. Albans RO misc. docs. I, i. 149.
  • 3. St. Albans and Herts. Arch. Soc. Trans. 1889, pp. 24, 27-8; 1930-2, pp. 267-78; VCH Herts. ii. 300, 302, 311, 416, 434, 436; iii. 12, 23, 26, 64, 101, 145, 239; C142/257/42; CPR, 1558-60, p. 265; 1566-9, p. 301; HMC Hatfield, ii. 66; C. Read, Walsingham, iii. 218-19, 429; Chauncy, loc. cit.; Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 124.
  • 4. CJ, i. 106, 119, 121, 127; D’Ewes 298; Neale, Commons, 28-30, 330; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 561; 1581-90, pp. 602-3, 605; 1591-4, p. 194; 1595-7, pp. 98, 107-8, 127, 163, 206, 307; Lansd. 46, f. 193; 56, ff. 166, 168; 66, f. 268; 73, f. 163; 75, f. 212; 80, ff. 91, 95; 83, f. 45; APC, x. 433; xi. 455; Rylands Eng. ms 211.
  • 5. PCC 78 Lewyn.