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John of New Haven d 1690

With about 47 others—28 of them from Rev John Davenport's Puritan congregation of St Stephen's Coleman St—John sailed from London on the Hector, arriving Boston 26 June 1637. The following spring they and others settled in Quinnipiac in Connecticut establishing a Puritan Colony, renaming it Newhaven—now New Haven—by 1640. This was just prior to the 1642-6 Puritan/Royalist Civil War in England at a time when Puritans were experiencing repression. John is recorded in New Haven and Wallingford through to the 1680s and his wife from 1646 or 7.
Sources: Calder 1934 p 30; Filby & Meyer 1981, citing Calder and Boyer 1977 p 201; www.cityofNew Haven.com/history/index.html July 2004; Mills Brown 1980 pp 24, 31 n 11; E J Brockett 1905 p 26.

Who were John's parents in Old England and what of his life before 1637? We say England rather than Scotland because emigration across the Atlantic from Scotland didn't begin till the 18th C.

The emigrations in the 1630s were largely from the eastern counties, but nothing is known of the origins of most passengers on the Hector before they set off. Davenport had preached in Hertford but it isn't known if any others had substantial Hertfordshire connections. A separate sailing into Boston 5 weeks after the Hector brought 15 Hertfordshire families, who joined Davenport's company. The '1641 map of New Haven' showed 8 of these in or next to the Hertfordshire quarter top left—spelt Herefordshire—whereas John was in the bottom left square of the nine.
Sources: Calder 1934 p 47; Fischer 1989 p 785; Mills Brown 1980 p 1; Madsen 1983.

An inventory attached to John's will shows that he died by Apr 1690. His age at death has been given as 77 (Mills Brown 1980 p 32 n 14 citing Jacobus 1974) and 80 (E J Brockett 1905 p 29, without a source)—making a birth c 1610-3 and age at emigration c 24-7. Ages at death in those times could be overestimated, but it is difficult to imagine him paying tax in 1641 as a minor and emigrating on his own on the Hector younger than 17—making a latest possible birth 1620.

Contents of this page: 1. 1590-1625 3. Son of a Knight?
  2. Son of a Yeoman? 4. Will and inventory

 

1. 1590-1625

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Statistics suggest that in England at the beginning of the 17th C there were about 50 Broket households, up to a dozen of which were northern, so there would have been about 38 Broket families in areas from which emigration was most likely. How many of those 38 had sons called John? Unless other records come to light, 16 John Broket baptisms were recorded in England 1590-1625, none of whom were from the north:

  1. 1593 20 Dec Boston, Lincolnshire (Lincs), son of John. Also known as Nicholas, he had an interest in a ship which transported cargo to Virginia in the 1630s.
  2. 1595 27 Mar Cowbit, Lincs, no parents listed.
  3. 1590s? buried 1666 Alton, Hampshire, possible son of Walter.
  4. 1598 16 Jul Southwark, eldest son of Thomas and Ann of Southwark. Died in London 1626-28. The next John in that family wasn't baptised till 1635—son of Thomas and Ann's 2nd son Joseph.
  5. 1599 25 Apr Dorking, eldest son of Raphe and Joan. John and Mary his wife (bur 1635) had 5 children between 1631-4.
  6. 1600 9 Nov Hitchin, son of William and Katherine of Hitchin. In 1652/3 he was a Grocer in Pirton, Herts.
  7. c 1602, son of Gentleman John and Dorothy of Codicote. He is recorded in London in 1638 along with his family as a Citizen of London.
  8. 1608 27 Nov Quadring Lincs, son of William. No previous and only one subsequent Brocket record has been found in the original Quadring registers or Bishops' Transcripts up to 1700—including burials, and in all probability William, b c 1580, and therefore his son John, were Brocups.
  9. 1610 8 Mar St Giles Reading Berkshire, no parents listed.
  10. 1611 20 May Wheathampstead, son of John Esq of Wheathampstead and his first wife Mary Garroway. It was argued that this was John of New Haven (Madsen 1983), but John was buried 1628 (Wheathampstead PRs).
  11. 1612 29 Jul Wheathampstead, son of John Esq and Joan of Wheathampstead, later Caswell. It was argued that this was John of New Haven (www.wheathampstead.net/brockett/index.htm), but John died in Norfolk 1663.
  12. 1617 27 Apr Dunton, 2nd son of Edward Yeoman and Ann. DNA tests reveal that descendants of John of New Haven were of entirely different stock from descendants of the Dunton clan.
  13. 1618 19 Jul Ware Herts, 1st son of Edward.
  14. 1618 16 Aug Eastbourne Sussex, only? son of Robert Brookat.
  15. 1619 22 Nov Hemel Hempstead, only son of Gentleman William and Mary of Codicote. Mary died late 1620 or early 1621 and her father and brother then looked after John through to at least May 1636, but John died before 1640.
  16. 1622 2 Sep Dunton, 3rd son of John Yeoman and Joan. Doubtless born the same year, John would only have been 15 in 1637 and 19 in 1641—the year John of Newhaven paid tax.
    Sources: PRs of Alton, Boston, Dorking, Dunton, Eastbourne St Mary (PAR 309/1/1/1), Hitchin, Quadring, Reading St Giles, Southwark, Ware St Mary, Wheathampstead; PRO; IGI.

Johns 1 and 2 don't fit a 1690 death. One of Johns 9, 13 and 14 could well have been John of New Haven.

The IGI records the baptism of a John son of John in Hertford in 1609, but it isn't in the original PR for either Hertford parish. Similarly the IGI records the marriage of a John to ... PRUDDEN in Hertford in 'abt 1641', but this isn't in the original PRs either, nor Allen's Index.

John probably married in New Haven; below are all the John Brokets known to have married in England 1620-45 (IGI):

  1. 1622 30 Jun Earsdon Northumberland to Isabel WILSON; and again 30 Mar 1631
  2. 1623 29 Dec St Bride Fleet Steet, London to Marye BANISTER—ie John of Wheathampstead
  3. 1624 8 Jul Oakley Bedford to Eliz MORDANT—ie John of Caswell
  4. 1635 14 Aug Sandridge to Mary BLACKWELL—ie John s/o John of Caswell
  5. 1641 7 Mar St Mary Staynings London to Elizabeth SCOTT spinster of that parish, servant aged 22. John was a bachelor of St Gabriel Fenchurch, Tailor aged 24—so b c 1617. Did his baptism go unrecorded?

The Northumberland couple were probably too far north to be relevant and would not fit a 1690 death, leaving only the 1641 one, but New Haven records don't show John as a Tailor.

 

2. Son of a Yeoman?

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Society then was organised by rank and deference; if a man was a gentleman, he was styled as such, or as 'Mr'—by law. The John who married at Sandridge in 1635, for instance, was recorded as 'gentleman'. But John of New Haven wasn't styled 'Mr' in the passenger list, nor in early New Haven records, as others were (Atwater 1881 p 109; Mills Brown 1980 p 31 n 9). His estate was one of the smallest on the c 1641 tax list—£12 (Atwater 1881 p 109; Mills Brown 1980 p 19).

Using sources from New Haven, it has even been argued that John of New Haven and his wife were of relatively low social status, e.g. a skilled artisan, a low tax-payer, and with a seat at the back of the meeting house (Mills Brown 1980 pp 9, 10, 32 n 13). But John was educated, so if not a gentleman, then he was likely to have been of yeoman stock. In the 17th C there were few yeomen who didn't send their sons to school.

When John married isn't known. He paid tax in New Haven as a single man c 1641, and was said to have still been unmarried in 1643 (Atwater 1881 p 133). Against this, 1642 has been given as the birth date of his 1st child (E J Brockett 1905 p 30)—is there a confirming source? Records from New Haven mention John's wife—there is no evidence that she was called Mary (Madsen 1983). She was referred to as 'Sister Brockett' or 'Goody Brockett'. In class-conscious England 'Goody' was the title for the wife of a yeoman or husbandman—a woman of middling rank (Laslett 1983 pp 38, 44) not 'a woman in humble life' (Mills Brown 1980 p 32 n 14).

Of currently known possible fathers of John only 1 is known to have been a Yeoman: Edward of Dunton, Bedfordshire, 1589-1660, but DNA tests reveal that descendants of John of New Haven were of entirely different stock from descendants of the Dunton clan.

 

3. Son of a Knight?

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The following extract from a 7-page letter from Linus Pierrepont Brockett of Brooklyn, physician and author 1820-93 (Dictionary of American Biography vol 3; photocopy of the original letter kindly supplied by Mark Brockett of New York, 1998), shows 3 main strands of an oral tradition concerning John of New Haven's life before 1637, that:

  1. he was the eldest son of a knight
  2. he fell in love with a Puritan maiden
  3. he relinquished his birthright and title.
Editorial Rooms of Descriptive America
206 Quincey St
Brooklyn
Sept 16th 1884
F.L. Brockett, Esq.
Auditor of City of Alexandria, Va.

My dear Sir,

...

In relation to our family name, I have had occasion to make considerable investigation. The results are briefly these.

The Brocketts are one of the oldest families of Norman blood in England, though almost extinct there now. Our earliest ancestors whom I have been able to trace came over to England from Normandy with William the Norman in 1066. He was of Baronial rank. His son was the first baron knighted by William Rufus in 1095, I think. He was knighted on the field of battle. The family kept up their intimacy with royalty for several centuries, but finally settled down upon their family estate, in Herts, Hertfordshire. At the time of Charles I Sir John Brockett was a Cavalier and took up on the side of the King; was a Commander in his Army. His Eldest Son John Brockett, had fallen in love with a Puritan maiden, and though he had not formerly united with the Puritan church, gave up his birthright and title, and receiving his share of the personal property, emigrated with his Puritan wife to America in 1640, and joined with Davenport, & his company in founding the Colony at New Haven, Connecticut. ...

You will find something of the history of the New Haven County Brocketts in the Tuttle Genealogy published last year. ...

I remain Yours truly,
Linus Pierrepont Brockett

Linus' younger brother Edward Judson continued the research, restating these 3 strands of the tradition 21 years later (E J Brockett 1905 pp 25-6) along with 2 further variants that:

  • on account of John's Puritannical ideas his Royalist father disinherited him
  • '[his father] had his name removed from all the family records, so that it should never appear in any published lists of the family, or the connection with himself ever be traced.'

Edward cited 2 written sources:

  1. a letter from the Hertford Parish Clerk in 1899 saying 'I am told that the first son of Sir John was outlawed, is it not possible that this first son is the one who emigrated to America and settled there between 1630 and 1639?'
  2. a Connecticut religious paper of 1868.

Otherwise Edward's sources here were either unnamed or oral:

  1. 'The tradition has existed for two hundred years in New Haven.'
  2. It had not been denied by any United States descendants.

He concluded 'Where there is so much of corroborative evidence there can be little doubt that he was the son of Sir John Brockett.'

However:

  • Which Sir John? Neither of the Brocket Hall Sir Johns: the first died 1558 and by the time of the second's last will in 1598 there were only daughters. Following Berry and Clutterbuck, the 1860 Gateshead Pedigree gave Sir John II and Helen 2 sons: John and Salathiel, both of whom it said died without issue. The burial of a probable son John in 1559 was recorded in the Wheathampstead PRs. This leaves the last Broket knight—Sir John III who died 1613, a dozen years before Charles I came to the throne. His wife was Mary Snagg; they were parents of John of Caswell, bap 1583, and grandparents of John who died in Norfolk 1663.
  • It was all but impossible for a 17th C Knight, or even Esquire, to disinherit a son, let alone an only son; family ties—especially to property in tail—were almost inseverable.
  • It was not possible for such records to be expunged without trace. Documents were often made in triplicate and some of those concerning a 17th C knight's eldest son come of age would have survived. Many survive of sons of Sirs John I and III.
  • The current Parish Clerk of St Etheldreda's Hatfield would not have written a letter saying what the Hertford Parish Clerk is said to have said in 1899.
  • The source of the 1868 Connecticut religious paper is unknown. The paper is also unknown.

Where did these oral traditions go back to? Oral Tradition isn't necessarily to be rejected out of hand, but 200 years without names of transmitters is weak evidence. Could it be that John descended from a cadet north Hertfordshire line and that over the generations the story grew in the telling and details of status and date were improved? One vestige could be found in the cousin of Sir John I, the first son of Edward of Letchworth being outlawed. But that thread appears to have come from the Hertford Parish Clerk rather than New England.

Mills Brown considered the traditions to be inventions of a descendant of John of New Haven living in Brooklyn, New York in the 1880s (1980 pp 8, 12-3, quoting Tuttle 1883). She was probably referring to Linus Pierrepont Brockett, judging by the reference to 'the Tuttle Genealogy published last year' in his letter of 1883.

An English variant of the tale—probably late 20th C—suggested that a son of Brocket Hall made a young maiden pregnant and had to leave for America for the honour of the family.

 

4. Will and Inventory

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Written 3 Mar 1689/90 (New Haven Library Records p 34). For an earlier transcription of the will see E J Brockett (1905 pp 29-30). A copy in Wallingford Public Library has minor spelling differences.

The last Will of John Brockett seniour
1. I John Brockett of the towne of Wallingford, being weake in body, yet having
2. a competent good understanding & memory doe make & ordaine this my last
3. Will & Testament in maner '&' forme as followeth. Imprimis, I give to my
4. Eldest son John Brockett all my lands & houseing that I have not given
5. deeds of gift 'of' nor sold, and all such meadow alsoe. / ———
6. Item: I give to my grandchild John Brockett that lives with me, Two oxen
7. or stears fitt to worke. —— Furthermore I give to my son John the one
8. halfe of my moveable estate. / —— I give to my daughter Silence Brad
9. =lye alsoe a quarter part of my moveable estate. — Out of the
10. quarter part I give to my son Samuell Brockett five pounds, —
11. Alsoe to my son Jabez I give two oxen, my cart with a whole
12. sett of plow gears. — Alsoe I give to my son Benjamins two
13. daughters, twenty shillings each of them. — Alsoe I give to my daughter
14. Mary Pennington twenty shillings, And in case there should not be
15. Alsoe I give to John Payne Twenty shillings. And in case there should not bee
16. enough in this quarter part of the moveables to pay my debts & funerall
17. charges & these Legacyes, what wants, must bee taken out of the foremen
18. =tioned moveable estate. — Furthermore, I give my son John my weareing
19. apparrell, & doe appoint him to bee my Executour: unto this Will & Testament
20. I sett my hand & seale this third of March 1689:90
Signed, & sealed in the
presence of us
   James Heaton
   Thomas Sanford
John Brockett
seale

An Inventory of the estate of Mr John Brockett late of Wallingford deceased …
Imprimis  
3 cowes with 3 calves. 12. 15s / 2 cowes. 8. / 3 two yeareolds. 6. / 3 oneyeareold. 3.
   29:15:00
2 oxen 10. The halfe of the house, barne & orchard & the land adjoining 56    66:00:00
A farme of out land of 100 acres    25:00:00
A cart & wheels with all jrons belong thereto, one plow with all jrons
belonging thereunto, one yoake, 3 chains, a new plowshare & a colter
old jron tools, hoes, axes, horse traces, 3 augers & a payre of fetters
   09:02:00
One gun & sword 1. 19s. one payr of stilyards. 18s / one brasse kettle. 4.    06:13:00
One warming pan & brasse skimmer 14s. pewter & spoones & 2 candlesticks 4. 8s    05:02:00
Two skilletts. 14s. one brass kettle 10s. / 3 jron potts, one jron kettle, one
jron skillett, 2 payre of pothooks & one tramell
   02:14:00
One fryeing pan, one spitt, fire shovell, tongs & one hamer
one gridjron, one axe & one morter
   01:00:00
A pewter still 12s. / wooden ware. 1. 10s. earthen ware 4s.    02:06:00
A bed, bed clothing & linnens 14. 14s. A trowell 2s. 6d half a thousand of pins 1s. 3d.    14:17:09
Sowing silke 1s. 10d./ 2 chests & a box 1. 10s. thread & twine 3s. 9d.    01:15:07
by wearing clothes. 3. 11s 1 cap. 2s. for neckclothes & caps 1. 4s.    04:17:00
One box. 4s. cushins & a joint stoole 4s. Inkye & indyan corne 2. 1 s. 1 acre wheat on the ground 1.    03:09:00
   Apprized by us this 7th of Aprill 1690: Samuell Anderson
                                                         Tho: Curtisse       9 Townesmen
 172:11:04
An addition to the forementioned estate  
Imprimis  
For severall acres of meadow. 150. / 2 oxen 10. 10s. / 3 cowes & 3 calves. 13  173:10:00
2 cowes & one bull 10. / 2 stears. 7. / 2 rugs, 2 blankets & 2 pillows 5. 10s.    22:10:00
2 sheets & 2 pillowbeers 1. 5s. / weareing apparrell, a hat & a payre of shoes. 2    03:05:00
Two old curtains & two earthen potts    00:05:06
   Apprized by us this 8th of Aprill 1690:  199:10:06
        James Heaton  172:11:04
        John Barnes                                                                                                    Totall 372: 01:10