BROKESBOURNE, Edmund (c.1340-1396/7), of Bradfield, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b.c.1340, yr. s. and h. Of Sir John Brokesbourne† of Bradfield by his 2nd w. Margery, da. and coh. of Sir John Whelnetham† of Great Whelnetham, Suff. m. (1) a da. of Robert, Lord Morley (d.1360); (2) by Sept. 1388, Elizabeth; (3) between Nov. 1390 and 1395, Idonea Lovey (d. 12 Sept. 1409), wid. of John Clenhand* of London, woolman, 1da.

Offices Held

Commr. to defend Harwich, Suff. July 1377; of inquiry, Essex Dec. 1390 (pillage).

Tax collector, Essex May 1379, Dec. 1380, Nov. 1383.

Treasurer of war to Thomas, duke of Gloucester, lieutenant of Ire. 20 Apr.-9 Sept. 1392.


Edmund was the child of Sir John Brokesbourne’s old age. Sir John had produced four sons by his first wife Elizabeth (d.1326) and had sat in Parliament for Essex three times (in 1316, 1327 and 1328) before his marriage to Edmund’s mother, Margery Whelnetham. He had procured from Edward II charters of free warren in his lands at Bradfield, Mistley, Wrabness, Ramsey, Dovercourt, Wix and Tendring and for a market and fair at Bradfield, and when he died (in 1342) the heir to these properties was his son Robert, aged over 30. However, in the following year Robert relinquished Bradfield to his stepmother and her son and they later acquired the other estates, too. Margery then married Sir John Sutton† (d.1369) of Wivenhoe, head of one of the most influential families in Essex, and as a consequence Edmund was to be always closely connected with Sutton’s sons, Sir John† (d.1393) and Sir Richard (d.1396). It was not until 1385, when Margery died, that Brokesbourne, then aged over 45, obtained full possession of his inheritance, which included his mother’s manors of Great Whelnetham and Alpheton in Suffolk.1 Through his second marriage he acquired more property in Brightlingsea, Great Bromley and Frating.2

According to the testimony Brokesbourne gave in the court of chivalry in 1386 (in the dispute over certain heraldic arms brought by John, Lord Lovell, against Thomas, Lord Morley), as a young man he had served at sea under the command of Morley’s grandfather, Lord Robert, when he was admiral; he had then taken part in Edward III’s campaigns in France in 1359-60; and had subsequently followed Thomas de Vere, earl of Oxford, in the duke of Lancaster’s army which attempted to seize Harfleur in 1369. He recalled seeing the contested coat of arms borne by the Morleys on each of these expeditions, and further recounted what his late stepfather Sutton had told him about the banners displayed by Lord Robert at the siege of Calais. At a comparatively recent, although unspecified date, he himself had married a daughter of that lord, but nevertheless now made formal affirmation that he was in no way biased in the defendant’s favour. From the beginning of Richard II’s reign Brokesbourne had figured on royal commissions, notably for the defence of Harwich in case of attack by the French. He was much involved in the Suttons’ affairs, often witnessing their deeds and joining them in transactions with John, 2nd Lord Bourgchier, whose son Bartholomew married Margaret Sutton (possibly his own half-sister). Brokesbourne’s mother and stepfather had both been named as executors of the will of Maud de Vere, countess of Oxford (d.1366), and the younger Sir John Sutton was also connected with the comital family.3 But despite these associations and his own military service under Earl Thomas, rather than joining the circle of the King’s favourite, Robert de Vere, Brokesbourne chose to enter the employment of Thomas of Woodstock, then earl of Buckingham. He probably did so before December 1380, when he was appointed as collector of the taxes granted specifically for the maintenance of Buckingham’s army in Brittany. In the event he was unable to carry out his task owing to infirmity, and this ill-health may explain why he did not go abroad with the earl and also why earlier in the year he had obtained letters patent exempting him from holding any royal office against his will. It may have been because of Brokesbourne’s connexion with Thomas of Woodstock that he was returned to the Parliament of 1386, in which Thomas (now duke of Gloucester) was to secure the impeachment of the chancellor, the earl of Suffolk. Certainly, by April 1392 he had risen high in Gloucester’s regard, being then made treasurer of wars for a proposed expedition to Ireland, where the duke had just been appointed lieutenant. Over the next few weeks Brokesbourne obtained 9,500 marks from the Exchequer; he authorized payments to men contracted to serve in the army; he spent some 4,500 marks on a variety of items required by Gloucester but seemingly irrelevant to the expedition; and he travelled from London to Essex, Suffolk and Wales to discuss preparations with the duke. However, by 23 July the King, having changed his mind, had cancelled his uncle’s appointment. Brokesbourne, who was being paid at the rate of £40 a year, closed his account in September. In June 1393 he received at the Exchequer on the duke’s behalf £166 13s.4d., as Gloucester’s expenses incurred on a mission to Calais. That same year he attested a deed for the duke’s mother-in-law Joan de Bohun, countess of Hereford.4

Brokesbourne continued to act as a trustee of the Sutton estates and as a witness to local conveyances until his death, which occurred at an unknown date between July 1396 and May 1397.5 He had married as his third wife Idonea, widow of John Clenhand of London, and although she had brought with her Clenhand’s handsome bequests of £200 and plate and goods worth 500 marks, as well as the wardship of properties in London during the minority of Clenhand’s sons, the marriage had drawn him into litigation as a result of rival claims to the merchant’s estate. After Brokesbourne’s death Idonea obtained royal confirmation of the charter of 1313 granted to his father, and within a few months she married, as his second wife, Bartholomew, 3rd Lord Bourgchier. She died in 1409, leaving as heir to the Brokesbourne lands her daughter Eleanor (c.1393-1437), then married to John Fitzraufe and later the wife of William Raynford (d.1433), and as heir to the Bourgchier estates her daughter Elizabeth, suo jure Lady Bourgchier.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. CChR, iii. 218, 417; CIPM, vi. 741; viii. 387; xvi. 147, 149; P. Morant, Essex, i. 463-4; CCR, 1343-6, pp. 80-81, 120; 1381-5, p. 545; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 25, 46; J. Copinger, Suff. i. 14; vi. 17, 350.
  • 2. Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 211.
  • 3. Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. xxi. 264-5; Harl. Ch. 84 A18; CCR, 1364-9, p. 91; 1381-5, p. 309; 1385-9, pp. 283-4; C47/6/1 m. 10.
  • 4. CPR, 1377-81, p. 480; CCR, 1377-81, pp. 426-7; K.B. McFarlane, Nobility of Med. Eng. 26; Add. 40859 A; Issues ed. Devon, 247; Add. Ch. 15602; E403/543 m. 12.
  • 5. Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 219; CCR, 1392-6, pp. 281, 283, 284; CPR, 1396-9, p. 2.
  • 6. London Rec. Soc. i. no. 207; CPR, 1396-9, p. 139; C137/78/32; CCR, 1429-35, p. 265. The only source for Idonea’s maiden name (Lovey) is Morant (ii. 253), who was followed by CP, ii. 247, where her date of death is wrongly given.