BROOKE, alias COBHAM, Henry II (1564-1619), of Cobham Hall, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 22 Nov. 1564, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of William Brooke†, 10th Lord Cobham, by his 2nd w. Frances, da. of Sir John Newton alias Cradock of Glos., lady of the bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth; bro. of William and nephew of George, John, Thomas, and Henry Brooke alias Cobham I . educ. King’s, Camb. 1580. m. May 1601, Frances, 2nd da. of Charles Howard I, 1st Earl of Nottingham, wid. of Henry Fitzgerald, 12th Earl of Kildare [I], s.p. suc. fa. as 11th Lord Cobham Mar. 1597. Kntd. 1598; KG 1599.
Constable of Dover castle and ld. warden of the Cinque Ports Sept. 1597-1603; j.p. Kent 1594-1603, ld. lt. 1597-1603.1
Brooke was senior knight of the shire when still in his twenties, taking precedence over his uncle, Sir Henry. As such he could have attended the subsidy committee appointed 11 Feb. 1589. Yet in 1593 he sat for Hedon. It is easier to account for his being returned for this small Yorkshire borough, perhaps through his brother-in-law Cecil, or through some link of his own family with the place (his uncle had represented it in 1555), than it is to account for his not representing a constituency in his own county. But in 1597 he was ‘beloved of never a man in Kent’ and it is interesting that in 1593 no member of his family sat for a Kent constituency. As Member of Parliament for Hedon he was appointed to committees on kerseys (23 Mar.) and the maintenance of weirs (28 Mar.).2
Much is obscure about Cobham. Thus, in 1597, despite his unpopularity, he secured the lord lieutenancy and the wardenship of the Cinque Ports in the face of competition from the Sidneys, who were backed by the Earl of Essex. He took a less than heroic part in the Kent by-election campaign of January 1598, first claiming that he was ‘indifferent’ as to who stood for the vacancy when he was deeply involved in the underlying Ravenstone manor dispute; then, to the evident exasperation of his deputy lieutenant (Sir) John Leveson, suggesting for the vacancy a man who was already a Member.3 Still, birth counted, and he received at least two more marks of the Queen’s favour, the Garter in 1599 and her visit to his Blackfriars house in 1600. By the end of the reign Cobham was short of money, which may or may not account for his participation, soon after James’s accession, in the ‘main plot’ that was to cause his and Ralegh’s ruin. Cobham’s trial in November 1603 led to a warrant for his execution in the following month, which he expected to be carried out. Instead, he was kept in the Tower and lost his lands, which were granted to his estranged wife in April 1604. During his long imprisonment, Cobham wrote frequently to Cecil and to the King, begging for release and declaring he would prefer death to his present state. His health breaking down, he was, in September 1617, permitted to visit Bath. On the return journey later that year, he collapsed at Odiham, where he remained for a time before proceeding to London. In July 1618 he was again given permission to go to Bath, or indeed anywhere in the kingdom, until the feast of All Saints. He died 24 Jan. 1619, in a lodging house close to the Tower, and lay unburied until funds could be raised for the funeral.4