BROKE, David (by 1491-1559/60), of Bristol and Horton, Glos. and London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



? 1536

Family and Education

b. by 1491, 3rd s. of John Broke of Bristol by Joan, da. of Richard Americk of Bristol. educ. M. Temple, adm. 1505. m. (1) Catherine (d.1556), da. of Sir Giles Brydges of Coberley, wid. of Leonard Poole (d. 30 Sept. 1538) of Sapperton.; (2) Margaret, da. of Richard Butler of London, wid. of Andrew Francis of London and Robert Chertsey of London; s.p. Kntd. 2 Oct. 1553.3

Offices Held

Clerk of the kitchen, M. Temple 1530, Lent reader 1535, 1540, treasurer 1539-42, gov. 1540.

J.p. Glos. 1531-d., Som. 1538-d., Oxon. 1540 Card., Carm., Pemb. 1541-53, Worcs. 1542-d., Mon. 1543, Herefs., Salop 1543-d., Cheshire, Staffs. 1543, 1547, Essex, Herts., Kent, Surr., Suss. 1554; servant of Thomas, de jure 5th Lord Berkeley by 1532; recorder, Bristol July 1544/45, justice, Card., Carm., Pemb. 28 June 1541-6 May 1551; commr. chantries S. Wales counties and Haverfordwest 1546, 1548, relief, Bristol, Glos., Som. 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; serjeant-at-law 3 Feb. 1547, King’s serjeant 25 Nov. 1551; receiver of petitions in the Lords, Parlts. of Oct. 1553, Nov. 1554, 1555; baron of the Exchequer 25 Aug. 1554.4


Broke was a lawyer active in local affairs from the 1520s. An aphorism attributed to him was ‘Never do anything by another that you can do by yourself’. It is likely that he first entered Parliament through the influence of Thomas Cromwell, who became recorder of Bristol on the death of Thomas Jubbes in 1553, and that Broke’s membership of the House would therefore date from January 1534. Cromwell evidently chose Broke as his deputy, and retained a good opinion of him despite his Catholicism, whereas a contemporary pamphleteer was to describe Broke, when he in turn succeeded to the recordership, as ‘the knave recorder’.

Broke’s future brother-in-law Sir John Brydges was already serving as knight of the shire for Gloucestershire when Broke first came into Parliament. The two had served together on the council of Thomas, Lord Berkeley, and both had agreed to act as Berkeley’s feoffees sometime before 1533. Shortly after the dissolution of the Parliament Broke received his wages for the last session: as these amounted to £7 4s. he had presumably attended thoughout its 70 days. he almost certainly sat for the town again during the summer of 1536 in accordance with the king’s general request for the return of the previous Members.5

During the 1530s Broke is often found associated with Thomas White I, as when they were chosen arbitrators, together with Sir William Kingston and his son Anthony, in a dispute between Bristol and Tewkesbury which had been referred to Cromwell: all four men were subsequently returned to the Parliament of 1539. On Cromwell’s execution Broke succeeded him as recorder, and he was returned in that capacity to the following Parliament during which he and his fellow-Member, Robert Elyot, carried out their instructions from the corporation in connexion with the purchase of former monastic property and with the elevation of Bristol to a city.6

Although Broke was succeeded by Robert Keilway II as recorder by the autumn of 1545, his services continued to be in demand by the corporation until 1556; many problems were referred to him, especially after the coup d’etat of 1549 and again after the final fall of the Duke of Somerset who was the city’s steward. Whether the connexion lasted after 1556 is not known, but it is of interest that Broke’s second wife may have been a kinswoman of Robert Butler. After his appointment as a serjeant Broke took a share in the drafting of parliamentary bills. He received writs of summons to attend the Lords in the last Edwardian Parliament and the first four Marian ones.7

Rewards for Broke’s services to the crown included the grants of the manors of Horton, Gloucestershire—he had previously resided at Week, Somerset, or Bristol, where he owned a house on Redcliffe Street—and of Canonbury, Middlesex, in 1554. These marks of favour increased noticeably during Mary’s reign, probably in recognition of his orthodoxy—he was to ask for a dirge to be said at his funeral ‘if it may be suffered’—and because his first wife had been nurse to the Queen. Pardoned at the accession of Elizabeth, he had made his will three days after she became Queen: he added a codicil on 4 Nov. 1559 and died soon afterwards, the will being proved on 29 Jan. 1560. He asked to be buried either in St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, or in Horton church. His collection of books he left to his nephew John Walshe, to John Cost and to the library of the Inner Temple. His widow took as her fourth husband Edward North, Lord North.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament; Bristol AO, 04026/2/127.
  • 2. Bristol AO, 04026/2/335; E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from education. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. iii. 231; Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 15; Fuller, Worthies, iii. 97; DNB.
  • 4. Foss, Judges, v. 359; LP Hen. VIII, v, xii-xxi; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 75-76, 82-84, 89, 91, 136; 1550-3, p. 54; 1553, pp. 354, 359, 361, 413; 1553-4, pp. 19, 27-29, 31-32, 67; 1554-5, pp. 104-5, 111; LJ, i. 447, 464, 492.
  • 5. Fuller, i. 390; LP Hen. VIII, vii, xiii, xiv, xvii, app.; CPR, 1554-5, p. 201; Bristol Chs. 1509-1899 (Bristol Rec. Soc. xii), 16; Great Red Bk. Bristol, iii (Bristol Rec. Soc. xvi), 168-9; iv (ibid. xviii), 9; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xxix, 119; xlix. 111; Bristol AO, 04026/2/127; PCC 3 Hogen.
  • 6. Bristol AO, 04026/2/202, 335, 3/71, 85, 186, 188; 04719/unnumbered temp. 26 Hen. VIII.
  • 7. Bristol AO, 04026/3/337 et passim; CJ, i. 19-22, 25-26; C218/1.
  • 8. LP Hen. VIII, iv, xiii; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 79, 268, 497; 1554-5, p. 201; E179/113/192; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, iii(1), 498; PCC 10 Mellershe.