BROOKE, alias COBHAM, George (b.1533), of London.

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. 27 Jan. 1533, 2nd s. of George, 9th Lord Cobham by Anne, da. of Edmund, 1st Lord Bray, sis. and coh. of John, Lord Bray; bro. of John, Thomas, William and Henry Brooke alias Cobham I, and uncle of William and Henry Brooke alias Cobham II. educ. Venice 1546-7. m. by 1558, Christina (d.1608), da. and h. of Richard Duke of Otterton, Devon, 3s. 2da. She m. (2) Gregory Sprint.1

Offices Held

Member of Queen Elizabeth’s household and sewer at the coronation 1559.2


This Member, who seems to have preferred the Cobham surname, presumably owed his parliamentary seat at Portsmouth to the indirect influence of his brother William, 10th Lord Cobham, who early in Elizabeth’s reign became lord warden of the Cinque Ports and lord lieutenant of Kent. George’s career is fairly adequately documented up to 1564; after this little information survives. As a younger son he had no expectation of lands, and his wife, though an heiress, did not succeed to her property until after his death. As a result, financial difficulties dogged him all his life.

The first of a number of minor missions he carried out for the English government was in May 1553, when he was sent ‘to the King’s ambassadors in the Emperor’s court’. He took the oath of allegiance to Mary on her accession, but was involved with other members of his family in Wyatt’s rebellion, and sent to the Tower. After a period of imprisonment he was pardoned, but his family’s participation in the rising made it unlikely that the Marian government would grant him any office, and his vote against a government bill in 1555 cannot have helped him. By the end of the reign he was trying to supplement his income by gaining a patent for an ‘engine’ to clear away sand and mud from river banks and harbours. He had to wait until 1562 for the monopoly, which Elizabeth granted to him for ten years, provided that he brought his ‘instrument’—probably invented by his partner Tomazo Chanata—into the realm within three months. He also interested himself in other scientific projects—‘new invented furnaces for ale or beer brewers’, and pumps for raising water from mines.3

His name appears on the Household subsidy list for 1559, with an assessment on £30 in fees. Despite a parental annuity of £20, he was obviously living beyond his means. In 1561 he was in Germany, probably on government business, but in July of that year William Herle wrote to Cecil from Antwerp:

George Cobham has come to this town from Germany, in a miserable state, his apparel consisting of a doublet and hosen. It appears he should have been apprehended for debt, and is still in doubt, for his chamber is guarded night and day with two of the Margrave’s officers.

By January 1562 he was in Madrid, and he may have been the ‘Mr. Cobham’ who early in the following year carried official letters between London and Bilbao, but more probably this was a government messenger of the same name. In 1567 Cobham and a relative by marriage, Gilbert Duke, received a reversion in survivorship to a clerkship in the council in the marches of Wales, but he did not live to enter on the office. In November 1569 Cecil asked that ‘George Cobham, her Majesty’s trusty and well-beloved servant’, should be granted the lease of a farm belonging to New college, near Winchester—a request which the college authorities refused. About this time a man of his name was living in the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster.4

Nothing further has been found about him. His widow remarried in 1572.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. CP, iii. 347-9; Coll. Top. et Gen. vii. 352; Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. xlv (2), p. 12; Arch. Cant. xi. 208; xii. 127 seq.; LP Hen. VIII, xxi(1), pp. 21, 127, 171; C142/311/120; Wards 7/42/104; Vis. Devon (Harl. Soc. vi), 342; PCC admon. act bk. 1572, ff. 13-14; HMC Hatfield, i. 147.
  • 2. Lansd. 3, f. 193; EHR, xxiii. 670.
  • 3. APC, iv. 267, 395, 430; Machyn Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 58 et passim; Chron. of Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 53, 62; Narr. of Reformation (Cam. Soc. lxxvii), 166 n; Guildford Mus., Loseley 1331/2; CPR, 1553-4, p. 388; 1560-3, p. 407; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 119, 509.
  • 4. Lansd. 3, f. 193; 10, f. 104 et seq.; 11, f. 181; Arch Cant. xii. 125; CSP For. 1561-2, pp. 174, 390, 494; 1562, pp. 339, 587; CPR, 1566-9, pp. 21, 35-6.
  • 5. C142/311/120; Wards 7/42/104; PCC admon. act bk. 1572, ff. 13-14.