BROGRAVE, John (1538-1613), of Braughin and Hamells, Herts.

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

bap. 27 Oct. 1538, s. of Richard Brograve of Kelsey’s, Kent by his w. Joan Sares. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1554; G. Inn 1555. m. Margaret, da. of Simeon Steward of Lakenheath, Suff., 3s. 2da. Kntd. 1603.1

Offices Held

Reader, Barnard’s Inn 1572; ancient, G. Inn 1576, Summer reader 1576, bencher 1576, treasurer 1580, 1584, 1598; duchy of Lancaster attorney 1580, steward of duchy manors of Higham Ferrers 1591-2 and Daventry 1591; commr. for chancellorship of duchy of Lancaster; of counsel to Cambridge Univ. 1581; j.p. Herts. from 1579, Lancs. from 1583; custos rot. Herts. c.1592.2


After being described in 1577 as ‘very learned, poor, small), practised, worthy of great practice’, Brograve soon came to be held in the highest esteem by the whole bench. His ‘reading’ of the summer of 1576 ‘of uses concerning jointures’, was printed in 1648. In 1589 he was appointed to carry out a double reading, but excused himself and was afterwards discharged from this onerous duty. He was several times employed by the Privy Council. In February 1582 he was one among others appointed to examine a dispute between the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon and Lord Mountjoy concerning the title to the Dorset alum works, and, in 1588, they asked him to submit suggestions ‘for the better and more exact administration of justice’. Among other lawyers he was required in 1600 to contribute £30 towards raising an army for Ireland.3

After becoming attorney of the duchy of Lancaster, Brograve was returned to Parliament for duchy boroughs and took an active part in the proceedings of the House. He sat on only two committees in 1587: on the learned ministry (8 Mar.) and fish (9 Mar.), but by 1593 he was established as one of the leading lawyers in the House. On 3 Apr. 1593 he spoke in the debate on privilege occasioned by the arrest of Thomas Fitzherbert for debt on the morning of his election for Newcastle-under-Lyme. Referring to the House in its capacity as a court of law, he said

This court for its dignity and highness hath privilege ... and as it is above all other courts, so it hath privilege above all courts; and as it hath privilege and jurisdiction too, so it hath also coercion and compulsion.

During this same session he was appointed to the committees on recusancy (28 Feb., 4 Apr.), and on 5 Apr. he was instructed to redraft the bill as amended. In 1593, as in 1597 and 1601, Brograve was named to the committee appointed at the beginning of each Parliament to examine any cases of privilege or returns. He was named to four other committees in 1593 concerned with the subsidy (26, 28 Feb.), continuance of statutes (28 Mar.), Plymouth harbour (29 Mar.) and letters patent (7 Apr.), and was appointed to two more in his capacity as burgess for Boroughbridge, concerning cloth (23 Mar.) and the maintenance of weirs (28 Mar.). In 1597 he took an active interest in the bill for the confirmation of the jointure of Lady Sandys, serving on the committee on 26 Dec., and reporting the progress of the committee on 19 Jan. 1598. He was involved in a further discussion of the matter on 30 Jan. 1598. He served on numerous legal committees in this Parliament, and also on committees considering the bills on armour and weapons (8 Nov.), houses of correction (19 Nov.), soldiers and mariners (20 Nov.), monopolies (8 Dec.), defence (16 Jan. 1598), and the ‘better measuring of seven miles from Great Yarmouth’. In 1601 he served on committees dealing with Exchequer reform (21 Nov.), perjury (1 Dec.) and sheriffs (4 Dec.).4

In 1605, during the illness of the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Brograve was in hot water as a result of encroachments by tenants and poachers on Enfield Chase. The King referred to ‘gross negligences whereby our most pleasant grounds, hard under our ordinary residence is like to be utterly spoiled and deforced ... If the chancellor be absent through infirmity’, the letter went on, ‘the King expects from his attorney not only more care, but better execution and will judge hereafter the effects, and not the promises, of the chancellor’s service.’5

Brograve bought several contiguous ‘parcels’ of land in Hertfordshire and joined the manors of Milkleys and Hasters together, holding a single court for them both, under the name of Hamells alias Milkley. At Hamells he built ‘a fair brick house ... situated upon a dry hill where is a pleasant prospect to the east.’ He also owned property in Essex, which he left in his will to his second son John. Besides this, John received £1,200. His Hertfordshire property, except for the manor of Westmill, went to his eldest son Simeon, the sole executor. Hamells was entailed for Simeon’s heirs, or, failing them, for John’s heirs. He also left £12 to a cousin Joan, six months wages to all his servants who had been with him for four years or more, £10 to the poor of the parish of Braughin and £5 to the poor of two other parishes. He wished to be buried simply, ‘without any great charge’, in the chancel of the parish church at Braughin, close to his late wife. He died Sept. 1613.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N.M.S.


  • 1. Chauncy, Herts. 226; Williams, Official Lists, Duchy of Lancaster, 34; Al. Cant. 223.
  • 2. Somerville, Duchy, i. 396, 397, 409, 587, 591; DNB; CSP Dom. 1601-3, p. 116; Lansd. 46, f. 205; 53, f. 178; 69, f. 152.
  • 3. DNB; APC, xiii. 339; xvi. 417; xxx. 31.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 413, 471, 474, 477, 478, 507, 508, 511, 512, 517, 520, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 559, 561, 568, 570, 574, 575, 577, 580, 581, 583, 586, 587, 589, 591, 622, 647, 662, 667; Neale, Parlts. ii. 290, 313-18.
  • 5. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 473.
  • 6. Chauncy, 226; PCC 90 Capell.