BROOKE, Giles (c.1553-1614), of Water Street, Liverpool, Lancs.
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Family and Education
Member, French Co. 1611.9
Brooke’s younger brother, Humphrey, was reputedly one of a group of Liverpudlian merchants imprisoned at Bilbao who brought first news of the Armada to England in 1586.10 Brooke himself was admitted a freeman of Liverpool in 1574, having served a seven years’ apprenticeship under a local merchant. He traded with Spain and Ireland, although an inventory taken at his death suggests that as much of his income was derived from husbandry and milling as from commerce.11 Liverpool’s port books show that Brooke’s regular cargoes included imports of Spanish iron, linen yarn and grain from Ireland, coal, hops, and other commodities; his business must certainly have been profitable, for he frequently paid among the highest subsidy in the town.12 However, he was also often fined for illegal trading, and on one occasion, Brooke not only refused to pay the fine of 13s. 4d., but was probably responsible for erasing the original entry in the town’s book.13 In addition to his mercantile activities, Brooke leased land in Toxteth Park from the earls of Derby and from the manorial lord of Liverpool, Sir Richard Molyneux†, upon which he set up corn mills.14
During his mayoralty in 1601, Brooke campaigned for recognition of Liverpool’s status and importance, writing to Sir Robert Cecil† for ‘redress of divers abuses wherewith Liverpool hath for a few years in the latter time of these last wars of Ireland been [op]pressed by our too near neighbours of Chester’.15 It was Brooke who, after the town’s charter was confirmed in 1604, protested that the grant had been misdated as ‘4 Anno Jac. I’.16 Despite his pleas for renewals, this scribal error meant that Liverpool had to wait until 1626 for its privileges to be reaffirmed. Brooke’s election in 1604 reflects his role in the town’s assertions of independence and its attempts to renew the charter.
Brooke is difficult to differentiate in the parliamentary records from his fellow Members Christopher Brooke, Thomas Brooke and William Brocke.17 However, it was certainly he who was granted leave of absence on 15-16 Apr. 1606 and 27 June 1610.18 As a Lancashire man he was appointed to committees for bills relating to the possessions of Ferdinando, late 5th earl of Derby (3 June 1607), the estate of Sir John Byron (21 May 1610), the Isle of Man (19 June) and Richard Orrell (20 June).19 Following the dissolution Brooke presented Liverpool corporation with a claim for £28 14s. expenses. They agreed to pay, but only after deducting 4s. 5d. ‘in regard of his stay in Chester about his own business four days’, and on condition that Brooke paid the fine of 20 marks imposed upon him in 1610 for illegally importing Irish grain. He was also required to return ‘the new charter and all such charters and writings of the town’s as he hath’.20 Brooke died in 1614, leaving a will in which he divided his property, valued at £238 13s. in total, between his widow and two sons, who succeeded him as aldermen of Liverpool.21