BROOKE, Sir Robert (1573-1646), of Cockfield Hall, Yoxford, Suff. and Walbrook, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

bap. 8 Mar. 1573,1 1st s. of Robert Brooke, Grocer, of Bucklersbury, London, alderman 1590-1601, and Ursula, da. of Robert Offley, Merchant of the Staple, of Gracechurch Street, London.2 m. (1) 24 Oct. 1597, Joan (d. 12 May 1618), da. of Sir Humphrey Weld, Grocer, of London, ld. mayor 1608-9, s.p.;3 (2) c.1620 (with £700), Elizabeth (d. 22 July 1683), da. of Thomas Culpeper of Wigsell, Salehurst, Suss., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1601; kntd. 9 Jan. 1609. d. 10 July 1646. 4

Offices Held

Commr. piracy, Suff. 1612, 1640,5 sheriff 1613-14,6 j.p. 1614-12 July 1637, 11 Nov. 1637-at least 1641;7 commr. sewers 1619,8 subsidy 1621-2, 1624-5, 1641-2,9 Forced Loan 1627,10 sea-breaches, Norf. and Suff. 1638,11 propositions, Suff. 1642; dep. lt. 1642-at least 1643;12 commr. assessment, Suff. 1643-d., levying money 1643, defence of Eastern Assoc. 1643,13 gaol delivery, Suff. 1644, oyer and terminer, Suff. and Bury St. Edmunds, Suff. 1644,14 New Model Ordinance, Suff. 1645;15 elder, Halesworth classis, Suff. 1645.16


Brooke’s great-grandfather was Reginald Brooke, the younger son of Thomas Brooke (returned for Dorset in 1413 and subsequently four times for Somerset) and Joan, suo jure Baroness Cobham. Reginald inherited an estate in Suffolk, where he settled, and Brooke’s cousin George sat for Eye in 1584. Brooke’s father was a younger son who made a fortune in the City and bought Cockfield Hall, with much other property in his native county, from Arthur Hopton† in 1597.17

Brooke inherited his father’s estate in 1601. Two years later, evidently expecting Parliament to be summoned soon after James I’s accession, he wrote to the corporation of Dunwich, six miles from his home, requesting a seat. However, the borough offered one place to Valentine Knightley* and the other to one of the Stanhopes, almost certainly Sir Michael*, although it agreed to elect Brooke if Stanhope tried to nominate someone else.18 There is no evidence that Brooke reapplied for a seat the following year, when the borough returned Knightley and Philip Gawdy.

As sheriff of Suffolk, Brooke was ineligible for election to the 1614 Parliament. There is no evidence that he sought election in 1620. He evidently had interests in the City of London, presumably inherited from his father, as the following year, ‘having great occasions from time to time to sojourn’ there, he acquired a great house in Walbrook as satisfaction for £3,000 due from one of his father’s old servants who had gone bankrupt.19 In February 1622 he paid £50 towards the Palatinate Benevolence.20 Brooke was not finally elected to Parliament until 1624, but played almost no recorded part in its proceedings. He was named to no committees, and is known to have spoken only once, on 14 May, when he complained to the Commons that the serving of two subpoenas on him, one at the very door of the House, had violated his privilege.21 Re-elected in 1625, he received two committee appointments, one concerned with a bill to prevent the export of wool (27 June), and the other with a measure dealing with some recently drained marshland in north Kent (28 June). The latter may well have arisen from Brooke’s continuing connection with London, as William Childe, a London scrivener, had a significant interest in the property in question.22

Brooke was not re-elected the following year, but was returned again for Dunwich in 1628, possibly after a contest with Sir John Rous I*.23 He was named to just three committees in the third Caroline Parliament, these being to consider the scandalous ministers bill (19 Apr.), a naturalization measure (13 June), and petitions against the office of royal exchanger (13 June) from the London Goldsmith Company and London currency exchangers.24 Nevertheless he was diligent in attendance. The Cambridge theologian, Joseph Mead, wrote that after he dined with him on 7 June, Brooke ‘made haste again to the Parliament House’ at two in the afternoon to attend the committee of the whole House about the Remonstrance.25 Brooke left not trace on the records of the 1629 session.

In March 1630 Brooke appeared before the Privy Council on a close warrant, for an unspecified offence, but he was allowed to return to the country four days later.26 Shortly before the Civil War he lost possession of the quay and 1,400 acres of commons at Walberswick after a bitterly fought court case with the local inhabitants, but the hostilities enabled him to regain control by force.27 He was a member of the parliamentarian Suffolk county committee during the war and died on 10 July 1646, when he was buried at Yoxford. No will or grant of administration has been found. He left an estate estimated at the restoration to be worth £1,200 p.a. to his son Robert, who was returned for Aldeburgh in 1660.28

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Transcript of Regs. of United Pars. of St. Mary Woolnoth and St. Mary Woolchurch Haw ed. M.S. Brooke and A.W.C. Hallen, 302.
  • 2. The Gen. n.s. xix. 227.
  • 3. St. Mary Le Bow, Cheapside, All Hallows, Honey Lane, and St. Pancras, Soper Lane ed. W.B. Bannerman (Harl. Soc. Reg. xlv), 420; G.E. Cokayne, Some Acct. of Ld. Mayors and Sheriffs of City of London, 40.
  • 4. St. Mary Woolnoth and St. Mary Woolchurch Haw, 321, 323, 381, 389, 393; W.A. Copinger, Manors of Suff. ii. 220; F.W.T. Attree ‘Suss. Colepepers’, Suss. Arch. Colls. xlvii. 65-6; T. Gardner, Hist. Acct. of Dunwich (1754), p. 142; Top. and Gen. i. 491; Add. 19083, f. 285; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 147.
  • 5. C181/2, f. 174v; 181/5, f. 176.
  • 6. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 132.
  • 7. C66/1988; 66/2859; Cal. Of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 73-4.
  • 8. C181/2, f. 349v.
  • 9. C212/22/20-1, 23; Harl. 305, f. 206; SR, v. 66, 156.
  • 10. C193/12/2, f. 55.
  • 11. C181/5, f. 103.
  • 12. LJ, v. 245, 337; Suff. and Gt. Rebellion ed. A. Everitt (Suff. Recs. Soc. iii), 39.
  • 13. LJ, v. 658; A. and O. ii. 168, 235, 293, 537, 639.
  • 14. C181/5, ff. 232-3v.
  • 15. A. and O. i. 624.
  • 16. W.A. Shaw, Hist. of Eng. Church during Civil Wars and under Commonwealth, ii. 425.
  • 17. Copinger, ii. 219-221; iii. 218-19; HP Commons, 1386-1421, ii. 375; HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 492.
  • 18. HMC Var. vii. 88.
  • 19. C78/295/11; PROB 11/97, f. 192v.
  • 20. SP14/156/14.
  • 21. ‘Earle 1624’, f. 183; CJ, i. 708.
  • 22. Procs. 1625, pp. 252, 257; C106/21, 27 Nov. 1624, indenture between Lambard Cooke of North Cray and others.
  • 23. Procs 1628, vi. 145.
  • 24. CD 1628, ii. 564; iv. 289, 292.
  • 25. T. Birch, Ct. and Time of Chas. I, i. 361.
  • 26. APC, 1629-30, pp. 318, 324.
  • 27. CSP Dom. 1639, p. 205; 1639-40, p. 108; T. Gardner, Hist. Acct. of Dunwich, 172.
  • 28. Top. and Gen. i. 491; Add. 19083, f. 252.