BROKESBY, Robert (d.1615), of Shoby, Leics.
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Family and Education
2nd but 1st surv. s. of Anthony Brokesby of Shoby by Anne, da. of Thomas Sapcote of Burley, Rutland. m. (1) Dorothy, da. of John Congreve of Staffs., 2s.; (2) Jane, da. of John Beaumont† of Gracedieu, Leics., s.p. suc. fa. 1552.
J.p. Leics. from 1559.
Brokesby came of an old Leicestershire family, settled at Shoby since Edward IIl’s reign. In addition to his patrimony he also inherited lands in Rutland from his uncle Edward Sapcote†. Described in the bishop’s letters of 1564 as ‘earnest in religion’, Brokesby was reported to the Privy Council in 1577 as an absentee from his parish church, though he claimed to hold Anglican services in his own house. The bishop wrote that he had left the matter alone, ‘meaning ere it were long to deal with him further’: he was uncertain whether Brokesby and his wife did, in fact, attend such services ‘in reverend manner’, but he had arranged for Brokesby’s property to be assessed. In October 1581 the Privy Council, writing to the bishop about the growing strength of popery in his diocese, asked him to deal with Brokesby, should he not conform by the end of the next law term. By October 1585 Brokesby was definitely labelled a recusant and his lands and goods were officially valued. Possibly he was the ‘Mr. Brokesby of Leicestershire’ who collaborated with Father Persons, during the priest’s visit to England, in the printing of Catholic works near London.
Brokesby may have been returned at Leicester through the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, despite the religious differences between them. The two families had long been on friendly terms. In 1565 he sold the lordship of Shakerston to the Earl. In his will, dated 7 Dec. 1615, three days before his death at Shoby, Brokesby asked to be buried in the parish church of Saxelby ‘where my ancestors were buried ... in decent and orderly manner’ and ‘with as little pomp and expense as conveniently may be’. Both his sons—the elder of whom, Edward, had married into the Vaux family of Harrowden—had predeceased him, as had his grandson, Edward’s only son William, who, by his wife Dorothy, of a recusant Essex family, left two daughters, Winifred and Mary, both under 14 years old. The two girls were, accordingly, Brokesby’s coheiresses, and before his death it had already been arranged that the elder should marry young Francis Englefield. The young couple and Sir Francis Englefield, the boy’s father, were to have the first refusal of Brokesby’s household goods at Shoby after their valuation. Brokesby made charitable bequests to the poor of Leicester, Saxelby and Grimston, and appointed two of his nephews executors.
Nichols, Leics. iii. 402, 406; Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 49; CPR, 1560-3, pp. 392, 439; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 30; Cath. Rec. Soc. ii. 29; xxii. 52-3; APC, xiii. 239; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 275; Bell, Huntingdon Peerage, 65; PCC 70 Cope; C142/354/123; HMC Var. iii. 84, 85, 100.