BROOKE, alias COBHAM, William (1565-97), of Cobham Hall; later of Newington, Kent.

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. 1565, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of William Brooke, 10th Lord Cobham, by his 2nd w. Frances; bro. of Henry Brooke alias Cobham II and nephew of George, John, Thomas and Henry Brooke alias Cobham I . unm. Kntd. 1591.

Offices Held

Capt. Dreadnought June 1597; keeper of Eltham park 1597.


Brooke, a ‘comely youth disposed to follow the court’ and one of the Earl of Essex’s brilliant young men, was brought into Parliament for Rochester by his father, the lord warden of the Cinque Ports and lord lieutenant of Kent. He may have served with the Captain Brooke who in September 1589 was commanding a company in the forces assisting Henri of Navarre—possibly the same company later described as having crossed from Sandwich to Flushing. In September 1591 he was knighted before Rouen by the Earl of Essex and was later that year at Dieppe.

In autumn 1597 Brooke and (Sir) Robert Sidney stood for the county. Brooke’s brother Henry, 11th Lord Cobham, was ‘much grieved’ to see that Sidney was returned senior Member ‘by the voices of the people, which he would not have believed’. The Queen objected to both candidates being abroad, and Brooke had an additional handicap in that he stood outlawed — presumably for debt—which brought him within the Queen’s instruction that such Members could not take their seats until they had compounded with their creditors. Whether or not he ever took his place in the House of Commons, he did not see the session through. He had made his will 17 June 1597, before setting out on the Islands voyage. In December he added a codicil leaving his brother George his lands, leases and prisoners, writing ‘Your jest and my haste would not suffer me to acquaint you with what I am gone about this morning—what hath called me out so early’. This was a duel at Mile End Green with a son of (Sir) Thomas Lucas, in which Brooke was mortally wounded. His cousin Percival Hart wrote to (Sir) John Leveson, a deputy lieutenant of Kent, 24 Dec., of the ‘misfortune’ of Brooke, who had ‘left many sorrowful friends behind him’. Having been with him most of the day he died, Hart could ‘note the continual concourse of his friends, which was without intermission that came to see him, and of the best sort’. On 24 and 29 Dec. the Privy Council issued warrants for Lucas’s arrest.

CP, iii. 348; Arch. Cant. xi. 208; xii. 154, 156; APC, xviii. 118; xxii. 107; xxviii. 198, 205; CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 454; 1591-4, p. 44; 1595-7, pp. 363, 442, 450, 467; HMC Hatfield, iv. 157; Collins, Sidney State Pprs. ii. 62-71; PCC 110 Cobham; Staffs. RO, Sutherland mss.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.