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The history of the proper noun

As well as a word, Broket is and has been a surname and a place name.

Compared with many surnames Broket has been stable and variant spellings are minor. Only 4 have been common: Broket, Brokett, Brockett and Brocket, with the 2 t spelling predominating. The 2 earliest records of the name—as of the word—were spelt Brochet. The ch was an early scribal convention for the k sound and for the rest of the 13th and 14th C the name was spelt Broket, apart from one instance of Brocket in 1372. Brokett was becoming common by the 15th and Brockett by the 16th. Spellings without a c had died out in England by the 17th C, but continued in Scotland until 1831. Brockett and Brocket were used interchangeably 16-18th C, sometimes in the same document. But by the 19th C the 1 t spelling was becoming less common and today is comparatively rare. An all-but-unique Brockette was adopted in the 20th C by one American family.

There have been chapels, properties, a manor, farms, fields, roads, a wood and even a castle in Britain called Brocket, but there has only been 1 actual place name: Brocketsbrae, a hamlet of a dozen or so houses on the hillside east of Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire. The possessive s signifying 'brae of Brocket' suggests that the hill was named after a person or family rather than being a place name after which inhabitants were named. The same holds true of other non-human occurrences of the name Brocket: the origin of the surname was not locative, even in Scotland. Nor was it a Viking, Domesday or Anglo-Saxon name or place-name (Searle 1897; Björkman 1910; Keats-Rohan & Thornton 1997); it came later.

Contents of this page:   
1. Origin of the surname 5. Place name  
  2. Scribal variants 6. Property and field names  
  3. Scribal errors 7. Road names  
  4. Unrelated surnames    

1. Origin of the surname

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In order to govern the feudal system and raise revenue the king and his administrators needed to know what service each knight owed him. Unlike the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, the Normans used a small number of first names and officials needed a new way to identify men beyond dispute (Reaney 1995 p xl ff). Which William, John, Roger or Richard was it?

Men therefore received bynames. Not only landowners, but tenants and others also needed to be identified for tax, so bynames arose according to:

  • father's name
  • occupation
  • location
  • nickname.

Broket was not a first name, so it did not originate as a father's name, nor was it an occupation—it was not a variant of Broker. It has been suggested that it was locational, but on reflection there is no doubt that Broket began as a nickname (Reaney 1995 p 66; cf Hey 1993 pp 27, 1997 p xi, 1998 pp 428-30; but Hanks et al 1988, 2002 did not mention it).

i. Nickname

The word brocket meant a young male deer, common among the predominantly rural population at the time of surname formation. Animal bynames mostly—if not always—originated as nicknames. Some domesticated animal bynames, like Pigge or Bull, might have had an occupational origin with someone who looked after the animal, although a nickname seems more likely with these two too.

Brockets of course were wild creatures, so like Buck, Crow, Deere, Foxe, Hare, Hawke, Hind, Lovell, Roe, Stagg, Todd, Wolfe and others, the byname Broket originated as a wild-animal nickname. What occupation looked after young male deer? A man acted like a young deer perhaps, or had big ears, or had the skull of a brocket with its single-spiked antlers over the door to his house.

If a man in Yorkshire was nicknamed Fox or Crow or Broket, another man in Oxfordshire could have been too. Nicknames were not limited by place, but by usage of the word. The word brocket was not provincial in origin, it had come from France. The earliest records of the name Broket show provenances too far flung to suggest that these Brokets had moved out from one source. Some were given the nickname independently.

If Scottish Brokets had not come up from England, it is possible that the nickname there originated because of a spotted, streaked or black-and-white characteristic of some kind.

Before the 14th C bynames were often not hereditary and changed from father to son, but of the 4 types of bynames nicknames became hereditary most readily. The earliest Broket record in 1207 is of 2 together, implying at least 1 preceding generation, and connections between Yorkshire Brokets in 1240/50 point to forbears with the name there too. This is confirmed by relatively regular records of the name between 1260 and 1379 from a small rural area near the city of York despite the ravages of the Black Death, which hit the city 5 times between 1349-78 (VCH , City of York, p 85).

ii. Placename?

Although Broket was not locational in origin, the faint possibility of such an origin for perhaps some bearers of the name should not be ignored:

  • It has been suggested for the Scottish name Brocket, but it is more likely there also that the property was named after a person.
  • Lower (1860) guessed that the name Brockett derived from the Anglo-Saxon locative compound brochesheved meaning 'brook's head'. A Luca de Brochesheved was indeed recorded in the Pipe Rolls for the 3rd year of King John for Essex in 1201, and the author of the 1860 Gateshead pedigree cited this man at the very top as though Brochesheved were the original form of the name Broket. But for the name Broket—already hereditary in 1207—to derive from de Brochesheved of 1201 Essex is not possible. Moreover, sound and emphasis shifts from shéved to et are not elsewhere found.
  • Leland used the word brocket to mean 'streamlet' and it was once apparently attested as a fieldname near Bradford, although the details are lost. That this might have been an origin of someone's Broket byname is implausible—no Brokets were recorded nearby.
  • The earliest locative form of the name recorded in the vicinity of people called Brocket is Brocket Wood in Bolton Percy, clearly named after its owners rather than the other way round.


2. Scribal variants

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Scribes wrote names as they heard them and records show a number of scribal variants—but none were substantial:

  1. The first syllable Brok carried the stress and its consonants and vowel remained distinct. Braket, Briket, Burkit, Boket and their variants are all different names.
  2. The k sound was interchangeably spelt k or ck, occasionally kk. Two of the earliest records spelt it ch—Brochet—and one g—Broget.
  3. The final vowel was unstressed so could be written at, et, it, ot or yt (but Brokut hasn't been found).
  4. The final t might or might not be doubled and very occasionally an e was added at the end—without any effect on the stress.

The stability of the sound and its link to a common word have led to no oral variants as such; nothing like Bolsover > Bowser (Hey 1993 p 22).

  • The 2 instances of the definite article—John Alfonso del Broket 1344 and Drugo le Broket 1416—were on the one hand the Europeanisation of a foreign (i.e. English) name, and on the other the common insertion of le by Latin scribes in front of a [supposed] foreign name.
  • Brocketman meant servant of Brocket—attested only in 1379 Yorkshire.
  • Names like Brocard, Brocas, Brock, Brocup, Brokert, and their variants and the 19th C Brochet and Broquette are all unrelated.

Variety in spelling the name survived longer in Scotland than in England.

Broakate 1757 Carnwath (Sasine RS42/16 f 302v). This variant suggests the name may have had a slightly longer o sound in Scotland than in England, but its isolated occurrence among hundreds of other Carnwath Broket records makes this unlikely, indeed in the Sasine the name was mainly spelt Brockate. Similarly its rarity should not be taken as hinting at a different origin. See also Broocket.
Brocat Elizabeth Ash's IPM; Scotland 1546-.
Brocatt 1485 Wheathampstead.
Broccket 1569-75 Suffolk.
Brochet 1207 and 1214 Lincolnshire; 1775 Pickering. The ch spelling was recorded in the IGI about a dozen more times between 1595 and 1834, excluding the different Walloon name.
Brochett 'In [Bolton Percy] parish stood Brochett-hall, antiently the seat of the Brochetts of this county' (Drake 1736 p 388, citing the name as Brocket on p 386).
Brocit 1716 Newark.
Brockat The 19th C Carstairs & Glasgow family used this spelling consistently.
Brockatt 1598 Alton.
Brocked 1593 Boston; 1589 and 1596 Hampshire; 1627 Dunton.
Brocket Used interchangeably with Brockett 16-18th C, but by the 19th C had become less common, and now is comparatively rare; mainly found in Scotland and New Zealand.
Brockett When the Brocketts were living at Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire the name was more often spelt Brokett or Brockett, as well for the Hall. Its single t spelling became fixed long after it had passed into other hands.
Brockette This doesn't represent stress on the second syllable. Found earlier very occasionally, e.g. 1571 Surrey, 1626 York, 1663 Somerset. It was adopted by 1 family in the 1940s to distinguish themselves from Lord Brocket, a Nazi sympathiser.
Brockhatt Scotland 1787, but Brocket for the same man 1789-93.
Brockit Mostly in Scotland, except 1657-88 Suffolk; 1664-76 York; 1679 Herts; 1827 Whitby.
Brockitt Several, e.g. 1655-79 York; 1614/5 Somerset.

1631 York.

Brockket 1571 Suffolk.
Brockkett 1578 Suffolk; 1614/5 Somerset.
Brockott Brockott of Silesia, southwestern Poland, with a deer as their arms would have been an indigenous clan whose name emerged as a separate nickname (Rolland pl 324).
Brockut 1665-1703 Somerset.
Brocot 1720s Lindridge, Worcestershire.
Brogat 1536 Surrey.
Broget 3 relatives in a Yorkshire 1301 poll tax return. Subsequently spelt Broket.
Brokat Sawbridgeworth 1294 & Kirkeby Malore 1316. Common in Scotland 1506-1743.
Broket The spelling in England till the 14th C, carrying through occasionally to the 16th, e.g. York, and in Scotland till the 17th (once in the 19th: Renfrew 1817).
Brokete 1522 York.
Brokett The most common spelling 15-17th C.
Brokette 1481 and 1527-30 Herts. The ette was a scribal tautology, not indicating stress on the second syllable.
Brokhet 1896 Carlisle.
Brokit Scotland, apart from 1801 Bromham.
Brokket 1575 Suffolk.
Brokkett 1653 Herts.
Brokytt 1427 York.

It is just possible that an isolated family in Alloa whose name was spelt 3 times out of 7 with oo in the OPRs 1730s, may not be a mistranscription but an example of the Scottish name having a different origin to the English one. But since records of this family were spelt more times with o and since it is otherwise unique in Scotland, it most likely simply indicates a local Scottish lengthening of the vowel, similar perhaps to the spelling Broakate. Recorded first as Brocket, the surname of John and Mary Crumbie's children was recorded—all but the last in Alloa, Clackmannanshire—as:
1. Brocket - Helen bap 13 Jun 1731
2. Broocket - William bap 13 Jul 1733
3. Brooket - Janet bap 29 Dec 1734
4. Brocket - William bap 20 Feb 1737
5. Brookit - Mary bap 20 Oct 1738
6. Brocket - Edward bap 5 Oct 1740
7. Brokat - Elizabeth bap 2 May 1743 (St Cuthberts Edinburgh).

Brookat 1618 Eastbourne, Sussex.

1562 Ardingley, Sussex.

More scribal variants—or errors—are found in the IGI.


3. Scribal errors

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Scribes and compilers of indexes of course sometimes made errors as they copied written documents:
  • Thus for instance Braket—and Bracket, Brackett—although a well-attested name in its own right, occured as an error for Broket.
  • a and o are more similar in shape than a and i; Briket has only once been found as a scribal error.
  • Similarly l can be an uncrossed t and Brockell mistakes occured.
  • Breket is recorded twice, but is not otherwise a name.
  • Brockeff and Drokett—also not otherwise names—have each been found once.

These were simply errors of transcription so couldn't carry over to the people concerned. Brocketts in the States, even if recorded in a cenus as Brackett, could not originally have been Bracketts.

Blaket 1406 Sir John Blaket mistakenly called Sir John Broket.
Braket A 20th C mistranscription of a 13th C Broket entry; 1697 Bedfordshire.
Bracket Andrew Brocket's marriage in Lesmahagow 1783 was also recorded in Stewarton as Bracket. Mary Brockett of Durham's burial in 1692 was indexed as Bracket.

Examples of Brockett mistranscribed as Brackett:

  • Willliam Alfred, 1880 (Scottish OPR).

Examples of Brackett mistranscribed as Brockett:

  • Mary, Somerset 1583 (IGI)
  • Perceval, b Hackney 1847 (GRO).
Brechet Mistranscription of the 1207 Curia Regis Roll in the 1931 Calendar. Brechet is not attested elsewhere as a name.
Brecket Susan b 1863 Carnwath Lanark.
breket Mistranscription of broket in the mid-14th century Gonville and Caius College ms 424/48 of Le Venery. Breket is not attested elsewhere as a word or a name.
Bricket Thomas Brockett wrongly transcribed in the IGI transcription of the 1881 census for London.
Briket Mistranscription of Margarett Briket as Broket in the Catalogue for a 1538-44 action of debt (PRO C1/737/7). The only occurrence of the name in the original clearly has Briket (l 2).
Brochet Maggie Brocket 1901 census Scotland—a mistranscription of the original return. Two other mistranscriptions of marriages in Ayrshire: 1783 Stewarton, 1814 Kilmarnock.
Brokel 1422 Westminster.
Brockell 1540-42 Ayrshire. Thomas of London's marriage certificate 1861. Brockell is a name in its own right and ought not to be assumed to have uncrossed ts unless obviously so. Mathewe Brokell of York 1597 for instance was not a Brokett, nor Christopher Brockil of Newark 1736-7. Conversely Brocket has been found in error for Brockel: in Cambridge 1737 and Barnard Castle 1668, 1757 (will of William, pr York).
Brockeff 1741 Durham St Oswald Parish Register Index for Elisabeth.
Brocketts A flourish usually indicating the plural es was added to the final t of the name a 15th C York Constable. A Miss Brocketts was recorded in the IGI transcription of the 1881 census for Middlesex.
Brocktot This was a double error. The original parish clerk in 1620 York wrote Brocktet and the 1935 transcriber misread the e as an o.
Brooket 1612 Lancashire (IGI misinformation; 3 F# entries). The IGI has a number of Brooket misspellings in England. See also the Scottish Alloa family.
Broxhett 1605 Hampshire.
Burkett 1617/8 Dunton.
Drokett 1530 Edward Drokett: licence to alienate the manor of Este Rede, Herts (Calendar of Patent Rolls vol 4 p 3052).

As with Brackett and Brockell, Brokett has been found in error for Blaket.


4. Unrelated names

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  1. Boket/Bockett of Hitchin. See John of Offley's will and Howlett (2000 p 66). Reaney (1995 p 51) related it to Burchard and Hanks et al (2002 p 75) to its variant Burkett.
  2. Braket was recorded 1214; a diminutive of brache 'a hound which hunts by scent' (Reaney 1995 p 59).
  3. Briket. A variant of Birkett 'dweller by the birch-covered headland' 1301 (Reaney 1995 p 64; Hanks et al 2002 p 92, 69).
  4. Brocard. Recorded in England with Osbert Brochard in Hampshire 1175 (PRO E372/21, Calendar of the Great Roll of the Pipe 21 Hen II, London 1897 p 187) and John Brocard in Cambridge as late as 1327, Brocard has only continued as an English name extremely rarely. A search through relevant books and documents in La Bibliothèque Généalogique, rue de Turbigo, Paris showed a long-established Brocard name in various parts of France—one as early as 1350—but no Broket. Some had a stag as the motif on their arms (Rolland pl 323).
  5. De/du Brocas, Broquas, Brocquas, Broca. That the Brokets originated in 14th C Gascony where the de Brocas name is recorded (H Andrews 1927 p 401) is unreferenced speculation and does not fit with the existence of earlier English Brokets.
  6. Brochet was recorded with 19th C Walloon emigrants from mainland Europe to Norwich and Canada with the t unpronounced—. The spelling k or ck had become standard for a k sound by the 15th C, so a post 16th C ch spelling after a short vowel represented —when not a scribal error.
  7. Brock was always distinct from Broket, with the Durham exception to prove the rule.
  8. Brockey. A mistranscription of this name as Brocket occurred in the Parish Register of Cowbit Lincs 1679. Otherwise the names have been unrelated.
  9. Brocup, Brockup, Brokup. Two mistranscriptions of this name as Broket occurred in the Parish Register and BT of Quadring Lincs 1608 and 1613/4. Otherwise the names have been unrelated.
  10. Broker/Brocker. An occupational name meaning 'agent, purveyor' le Brokour 1276 (Reaney 1995 p 67).
  11. Brokert and Brokart are found in Ireland, with 8 births, marriages or deaths in London 1865-1928 (GRO 1837-1936).
  12. Brokest. Found once in London in 1873 as a variant of Brockert.
  13. Broketod was recorded once in Suffolk 1176 (PRO E372/22, Calendar of the Great Roll of the Pipe 22 Hen II, London 1904 p 66) but this name hasn't been considered a variant of Broket. The -od ending is typical of a place name, comparable perhaps to Broxted.
  14. Broquet/Broquette. Recorded twice from Flanders/Holland 1680 and 96. These were isolated occurrences, most probably with the stress on the second syllable and perhaps Anglicisations of a continental name, perhaps Brocard or the like.
  15. Burkett. Hanks et al (2002 p 101) said Birkett and Burkett get confused but have different origins.


5. The place name Brocket

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There has only been 1 Brocket place name, as distinct from field or property names:


To the east and north east of Lesmahagow the land rises gently and half way up is a small hamlet called Brocketsbrae. The maps of Pont 1596, Ross 1773 and Forrest 1816 did not show it and while Thomson's 1822 Map of Lanarkshire showed tiny nearby settlements like Kilslack—3 cottages—it did not show Brocketsbrae either. The 1821 census listed residences in Brocketsbrae (Devon quarter nos 687, 689) and the 1841 census did too, but the 1851 census recorded none. 1858 is the earliest reference to it on a map—the 1st edition of the OS map—albeit misspelt Brecketsbrae.

Before the original Lesmahagow railway station was built on Brocketsbrae in the 1850s, there were few if any houses there. It seems that before the 1850s the hill as a whole was called Brocketsbrae and was largely uninhabited; then after the 1850s the name came to refer increasingly to the railway station and the settlement that grew up around it rather than to the hill. Now that the station has gone, Brocketsbrae refers to the remaining hamlet only.

The possessive genitive form of the name 'brae of Brocket' suggests that the brae—the hill—was named after an owner or inhabitant rather than the other way around. It would not originally have been named for being a hill frequented by animal brockets—wild brockets lived alongside older and younger deer, and roamed areas far wider than one hill. However, human Brockets lived in the parish; they held land there in the late 16th early 17th C and a clan lived on through to the 20th C.

The name is most likely to have become attached to the hill during a time when it was associated with Brockets. Perhaps it was a way in local conversation to refer to the next landmark going north from Devonburn on the old Carlisle-to-Glasgow coaching road. It may also not be a coincidence that Castle Brocket—about 5 miles to the west in the Kype valley—can be seen from the top of Broketsbrae.


6. Property and field names

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Five counties in Britain have had Brocket field and property names. Most were named after people.

i. Yorkshire iii. Lanarkshire v. Essex
ii. Hertfordshire iv. Ayrshire vi. Elsewhere

i. Yorkshire

  1. Brockethall Manor
  2. Brockett Chapel
  3. Brocket Wood or Hagg
  4. The Brocketts
  5. broket
  6. Brocket Holes Gill
  7. Brockett Field

1-4 were associated with the Broket family of Appleton, 5-7 were not.

1. The Brockethall Manor house stood on the south of the moat enclosure at the east end of Appleton in the Ainsty. The manor house has long gone, but the moat remains as one of the best preserved in Yorkshire and—although not found on smaller modern maps—is still known as Brocket Hall (Le Patourel 1973 p 122, Plate IV is unclear; Ordinance Survey maps 1865, 1890—as reproduced by Selby District Council's Map of the Village of Appleton Roebuck, 1995, no 4, and in excellent detail in 1965 SE5442 and 5542).

The moat may have been constructed by the Fauconbergs in the 2nd half of the 12th C when it 'would no doubt have held a large timber famed house, a gate house and other buildings. It had a huge platform and was capable of housing the entire population and their stock if necessary during the troubled times of the 12th and 13th century' (M J Harrison 2000 p 71).

'Brockett Hall is a goodly moated site at the head of Daw Lane—of rectangular form, and divided in the centre by a deep trench and rampart, each space measuring within the inner bank about one hundred and twelve yards by sixty' (Bogg 1902 p 294).

It was formerly called Southwood Manor (M J Harrison 2000 pp 70, 75, 192, 257) and would have been renamed Brockethall after Thomas Broket inherited it by marriage to the heiress Dionisia Sampson. A H Smith (1961-2 pt 4 p 220) missed out this surname stage and unconvincingly said that Brocket Hall and Brocket Hagg derived from late Middle English word broket meaning a red deer in its 2nd year.

Thomas appears to have rebuilt or extended it, perhaps inserting a storey into the single medieval hall open to the rafters (Palliser 1979 p 34). The Abbot of Selby paid him 60 ash trees c 1401 for pleading on his behalf as his attorney in the court of the Exchequer. The next entry in the Abbot's accounts shows the same number of trees being given to a prior at York to renovate a house. In York City timber-framed houses at this time were of oak (Palliser 1979 p 31) and the Gatehouse at Bolton Percy Church, although more recent, is oak-framed. Brocket Hall was sold by Sir John Brockett of Herts to Thomas Fairfax in 1565 and the last known occupant was his son Charles Fairfax in 1602, whereafter the buildings decayed (M J Harrison 2000 pp 92, 99).

There had always been 3 manors in Appleton. The largest was Southwood, then Woolas, but there is doubt over the 3rd. Was it Nun Appleton? No records actually refer to it as a manor. Or was it Jew Leas? Edward Broket of Appleton and Wheathampstead bequeathed 'the maner of Julies' to his second son Robert.

2. Brockett Chapel is the south transept—or the end of the south aisle—of Bolton Percy parish church, endowed by Thomas Lord of Appleton during the Church's rebuiding (1413-23). Also called St Mary's Choir, it is referred to as the Brockett Chapel in the Guide for the Visitor currently available in the Church (also Jackson 1938 p 15). It was originally a Broket family chapel, probably a chantry for Thomas and Dionisia, and later a Lady Chapel (Jackson 1938 p 15; M J Harrison 2000 p 14).

There have been no extensions to the outer fabric of the Church and the Broket arms emblazoned and set into the external east wall above the window of the chapel are original.

3. Brocket Wood consisting mainly of oak in 2004, can be found on modern large-scale Ordnance Survey maps, about a mile N of Appleton Roebuck, on the north side of the road. It has also been called Brocket Hagg, 'hagg' being a local word for 'wood'. On Jeffrey's map of 1596 it is spelt Brocked-wood (BI PR BP 15). Frances White's map of 1783 has Brockit Wood—possibly Brackit—and Robert Cooper's map of 1832 has Brocket Wood. Its size was 20 acres in an 1840 document of sale held by the East Riding of Yorkshire Archives (DDGU/3/3). It used to be larger, lying on both sides of the road, and included pasture land, according to its sale in 1563 by John Brockett Esq and Elena, his wife, of Herts (YASRS vol 2 'Yorkshire Fines' p 274).

As with Brocketsbrae, it is safe to say that Brocket Wood was originally named after its 15th C owners.

4. The Brocketts was a house in the centre of Appleton village by the old school house in the vicinity of the moated site and named after the site. It, and the nearby house called Brockett Willows, were on the 1965 OS map.

5. broket was a field name recorded 1334 in Elland, c 3 m NW of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire (A H Smith 1961-2 pt 7 p 163). Smith gave no source and the Place Name Society no longer have his notes. He linked it to the Early Modern English 'brooket', a small brook or stream—a rare word recorded only from Leland. Assuming nonetheless that this field was named after a little stream, it and no. 6—Brocket Holes Gill—are probably the only field names not named after a human Broket.

6. Brocket Holes Gill was situated in Backgate in Ingleton in Ewcross wapentake, West Yorkshire (A H Smith 1961-2 pt 6 p 245). Smith made no suggestion of origin, but the field name Brock Holes occured in the same area and in the West Riding another dozen or so times. Brock Holes has a clear origin in 'badger hole' and Brocket Holes Gill was an exceptional example of the name Brocket deriving from Brock.

For a similar exception, but with a surname rather than a field name, see Henry Brocket. However, to argue from this that the word brocket, and then the surname Broket, derived from brock meaning 'badger' would be to make a generality out of an all-but-unique exception.

7. Brockett Field was a small parcel of land sold among many others in 1721/2 at Aislaby, 4 miles west of Whitby. Perhaps it had had some connection with a Brockett from Whitby (Durham County Record Office: Eldon Estate and Family Records, Ref No D/El 1/53, 54 from http://www.durham.gov.uk/recordoffice Mar 2002).


ii. Hertfordshire

There have been 4 or 5 property and field names in Hertfordshire associated with the Broket family of Hertfordshire:

  1. Brocket Hall and Park
  2. Brocket Chapel, Wheathampstead
  3. Brocket Chapel, Hatfield
  4. Brockets Bushes
  5. Brocket Arms

1. Brocket Hall and Brocket Park—or simply Brocket—formerly in the parish of Hatfield, lie a few miles north of Hatfield and c 40 miles north of the centre of London. Saxton's 1577 map of Herts shows 'Brockethall parck' in the centre as an enclosed area with woods and a large house. 'This seat stands in a beautiful park on the North-East bank of the river Lea. It derives its name from its antient proprietors, the family of Brocket' (Clutterbuck 1815-27 vol 2 p 359; Gover et al 1938 p 127). Chauncy (1826 vol 2 p 16) described Brocket Hall as:
'the ancient Seat of the Brockets, situated upon a dry Hill in a fair Park, well wooded and greatly timber'd, enclosed with a brick Wall on the West Side of the Road, for the Length of a Mile, and plentifully water'd with the River Lea. It came to Thomas Read, by the marriage of Mary the fifth Daughter of Sir John Brocket, Knight.'

Two original properties combined to form Brocket Hall: Waterships and Durantshyde. Others like Cromerhyde were added later (VCH vol 3 1912 pp 101-2; Andrews H 1927 p 398).

FitzSimon land since the early 13th C Waterships and Durantshyde had descended to Elizabeth Ash and thence to her husband Thomas Broket in the 1430s. They remained primarily Elizabeth's as shown when the IPMs on their deaths without issue in 1477 and 1482 (Thomas: PRO C140/62 ll 29-41; Elizabeth: PRO E149/244 ll 7-13) both said that 'a messuage called Watershepis with appurtenances and a hide of land with appurtenances called Duranteshide in Bishops Hatfield' were to devolve to Robert and Elizabeth Mosely; then if they too died without issue they were to devolve to 'the right heirs of Thomas Broket himself for ever'.

Robert and/or Elizabeth Mosely must have lived beyond 1488 as Waterships and Durantshyde were not mentioned in the IPM of Thomas' immediate heir his brother Edward (PRO C142/4). Thereafter they devolved from the Moselys to Edward's heir John of Wheathampstead—recorded for the first time as the manor of Waterships in his IPM of 1532 (PRO C142/397 ll 27-31).

This John, the first Broket in Herts to be called 'of Brocket Hall' (recorded 1522-3) probably built the Hall, or at least extended it as his grandfather had done to Southwood in Yorkshire.
Histories of the Hall, privately printed by current owners, date the rebuilding 1440, which is too early. They further mistakenly say that the Hall remained in the family till 1746 citing alledged rumours that it was sold 'as a result of one of the Brocket sons getting a local girl pregnant; the family moved away and the errant son was sent to the worst possible place that could be thought of the time—America'.

A fortnight before she became Queen in 1558, Elizabeth was staying at Broket Hall, as shown by a letter signed by herself:

(BL Cott Vespasian FIII no.25)
Your verye lovinge
frende Elizabeth
Withe our right hartie comendacions we haue
thought good taddresse these fewe lynes
vnto you . to render our like thankes for your
gentillnessez and the redynesse euermore of
your good wille to do vnto vs all the pleasur
ye cann, which we sufficiently vnderstand ye
may well assure yourself that we neyther
do nor cann forgrate the same As whensoeuer
tyme and power may serue ye shall well
fynde vpon prouffe at our handes God
willing To whome we comende you At
Broket Hall the 28 of octobr 1558

All that remains of the Brockett Hall of the Brocketts is the Tudor basement, and perhaps one or two of the grand old oak trees nearby. The present Hall dates from the mid 18th C.

Either side of the main staircase of Brocket Hall today are two large portraits with arms, attributed to the Dutch artist Antonio More. They are said to be of Sir John II (born c 1540) and his second wife Elizabeth Fowler (H Andrews 1927 pp 402-3), but this is mistaken. Their arms are mainland Europeanpossibly from Flandersand their dress is Flemish c 1550 (private communication from R M Jammart, a Belgian historian of costume 1999).

In 1798 Manson of Pall Mall published an engraving of the male portrait saying that the original picture came from one of Sir John's daughters' houses in Wheathampstead where 'the arms of Brockett, correspondent with those in the picture, were carved over the mantelpieces of the two parlours' (Andrews H 1927 p 403). This has not been verified. E J Brockett (1905 p 228) reproduced the male portrait from Manson.

A label on the lady's painting says, 'Aetatis suae 22 anno 1566', making her birth c 1544. Her arms are on a lozenge: 'Or, a fess counter campony gules and argent'. The crest is a lion. Apparently there are similar—but not identical arms—belonging to the family La Marcke (Vredius 1642 p 15) and the family Calckine (De l'Espigny 1631).

A label on the gentleman's painting says, 'Aetatis suae 23 anno 1568', making his birth c 1545. His arms are 'Vert, three greyhounds, two and one, proper, the upper two courant to sinister, the lower one seated on a dog collar or ring or slip proper', without a crest. These are not British and there are no similar arms in Rolland's edition of Rietstap; but European arms number many millions.

2 & 3. Brocket Chapels are situated in the south transept of both St Helen's Wheathampstead and St Etheldreda's Hatfield.

The chapel in St Helen's Wheathampstead was originally a Lady Chapel, dedicated to Mary. In 1532 John of Wheathampsted Esq willed to be buried 'in the Chapell of our Lady' (l 6). In 1557 Sir John I willed to be buried 'in the Chappell whereas my Auncestours be buried'.

The ancestors were probably: Thomas and Elizabeth Ash, Edward and Elizabeth Thwaites, and his grandparents John and Lucy Pulter.

It may have been Sir John I and Lady Margaret's imposing alabaster tomb altar (VCH Herts vol 2 p 311) which fixed the name as the Brocket Chapel; soon after John's death the Catholic revival under Mary ended.

Sir John II, whose father's tomb altar dominated the Brocket Chapel in St Helen's Wheathampstead, left £40 for his own tomb to be set up in the Brocket Chapel in St Etheldreda's Hatfield in 1598, where it still stands—although in need of restoration.

'In accordance with his wishes, his tomb bears his arms on a shield of thirteen quarterings, to show his family alliances, with others on the front of the monument, and at the back those of his six daughters. Under the canopy are alternate crosses patonce (from his arms) and chained brockets (young stags) from his crest, which would have surmounted his helmet still hanging above his tomb.' (Rosenthal 1981 p 16)

Although Sir John II and his wives were buried in the Chapel in St Etheldreda's, it was named after the Hall rather than after the Brockett family itself—'it was used as a mortuary chapel by the owners of Brocket Hall for two hundred years' (Rosenthal 1981 p 14). The VCH (vol 3 1912 p 106) has a picture. Daily services are held there.

4. Brockets Bushes was a field name on Benwick Hall Estate near Stapleford, recorded on a late 17th C map but not in the Tithe Commutation Assessment of 1837 (R T Andrews 1908-11 pp 100-1). It dated perhaps from the times when the Wheathampstead Brokets owned nearby Bengeo Manor, but changed its name to Bardon Clumps on enclosure.

5. The Brocket Arms is a pub in Ayot St Lawrence, a couple of miles north of Wheathampstead. Parts of the inn date to the 14th Century and it is said to be haunted by a phantom monk. It is near Minsden Chapel, once owned by the Brokets. Nowadays the pub's sign is the coat of arms of the Nall-Cains. There is also a Brocket Arms Hotel on Mesnes Road, Clitheroe, Lancashire.


iii. Lanarkshire

Castle Brocket is a farm overlooking the Kype Water in Avondale parish about 2 m SE of Strathaven and 5+ miles as the crow flies from Lesmahagow and Brocketsbrae. Probably originally a 16th C tower house situated within the current c 60x45 ft courtyard of the farm buildings, there are no remains today. The present owners, there since 1921, once dug up the courtyard with a mechanical digger to repave it but noticed no trace of a castle. Downie (1979), the only modern history of the area, mentioned it twice: on p 53 that Blaeu's map showed pre-reformation Chapel buildings and p 301 re an owner Abraham Torrance 1820-45.

Working backwards with maps from 1911 it is probable that it was on the earliest ones:

  1. The 1911 OS map (25"=1 mile) had 'Castle Brocket on Site of Castle'.
  2. The 1897 OS map (25"=1 mile) showed the site of the castle in the courtyard of the farm buildings.
  3. The first OS map (6"=1 mile), surveyed 1858 and published 1864, showed it as a courtyard farm building with 'Castle (site of)' in Gothic writing underneath indicating an antiquity.
  4. Forrest's 1816 map showed 'Castle Brocket in ruins' as a large building. It is surrounded on all sides on the map by names with 'Kype' in them: West Kype and Kype Rig to the west; Kypes Rig, Kypesrig, Kypes Water to the south; Little Kypes, High Kypeside and Nether Kypeside to the east (in Lesmahagow parish); and Kypes Water again to the north. But Forrest showed no Langkipe.
  5. Ross's 1773 Map of Lanarkshire clearly showed 'Castlebroket'.
  6. On Pont's 1596 handwritten map the second part of the name is illegible, but it probably represented Broket. Blaeu's 1654 Atlas—a printed version of Pont—probably mis-deciphered it as 'Cast. Bratwood'.

The index of the Register of the Great Seal does not mention Castle Brocket, however it was recorded a few times in Lanarkshire Sasines:

  • Sasine RS42/16 f 232r, l 45: Castlebroket occurred with reference to Joseph Allan of St Laureance Chapple. James Allan was still the recorded owner in 1771 (Lanarkshire Valuation Roll, SRO E106/36/7).
  • Sasine RS42/17 f 112v, ll 36, 60, f 113r l 16 linked it to land called Kype: The 'Thirteen Shilling four penny Land of the Lands of Meikle Kype called Castle Brocate' owned by Joseph Allan of St Lawrence Chapple.
  • RS42/17 f 112v ll 26-33 further showed that Joseph Allan acquired it from Rev John Steel of Stair, eldest son of Rev John Steel of Cumnock, who had inherited it from William Porterfeild of that Ilk and Juliana Steel.
  • Sasine RS40/5 ff 223v-224r, ll 27-37 confirmed this ownership descent, taking it back further to Margaret Hamiltoun , natural sister of Robert Hamiltoun of ...
  • Sasine RS40/5 ff 248v-249r, ll 30, 45 specifically placed Castellbrokat or Castellbrocket in the meere of Langkype.

When it acquired its Broket name is unknown, but that it was named after owners or occupiers rather than after a place is suggested by the word order. Place names normally precede Castle, like Edinburgh Castle or Glamis Castle. There must have been a connection between Castle Broket and Edward Broket who was holding land in Langkipe from David Hammiltoun of Prestoun and Alexander Hammiltoun of Silvertounhill in the 1540s.


iv. Ayrshire

Brocketnow called Brocket Farmis a small farmhouse with an acre or 2 of land overlooking Monkton and modern-day Prestwick Airport, c 24 m W of Castle Brocket. Derelict until recently rebuilt, it adjoins the much larger Rosemount estate to the west, but doesn't seem to have been a part of it. Adamton Mains Farm is on the east side of Rosemount.

The first record is Pont's 1596 map as Brokat, then Blaeu's 1654 printed version of Pont, then Armstrong's 1775 map of Ayrshire as Brackett. It was one of a long list in a 1621 inquisition into the properties and lands of the Earl of Abercorn (as Brokat), and in another in 1662 (as Brockatt) into those of Lord Barganie (Inquisitionum retornatum abbreviato nos 201, 525). By the time of the 1856 and 1910 Ordnance Survey maps the spelling had settled on Brocket.

Every Scottish dwelling, large or small, had its own name and maps of sparsely-populated areas of Scotland would record them all. What might seem at first glance to be a town or village often turns out to be a house or cottage. So it is with Brocket. Neither book of Scottish place names—Johnstone 1934 nor Nicolaisen 1976—mentioned it and it does not figure in standard local histories of Ayrshire (Paterson 1852, 1864).

Black (1962 p 104) said it was probably the origin of the surname Brocket, followed by Burke's Peerage World Book of Brocketts (1997 p 2.3; New World Book of Brocketts, p 4.4). But the opposite is more likely true: that this Brocket was a small farm named after a 16th C owner. Records from 1540-2 showed a George Brokett renting a tenement and land in the Burgh.

Although the earliest Scottish records of Brokets are only about a generation earlier than George, one would have to posit a 200-year-long line of unrecorded Brokets in this small homestead to plausibly suggest that it was the origin of his—and their—surname. Most English surnames emerged in the 13th C, Scottish ones not much more than a century later. Again, although the land at Brocket Farm is heavy and hard to gain a living from, it would be too much of a coincidence that a 16th C Broket lived in or near a place already called Broket on account of its boggy ground. This rare attributive usage of the word with ground was apparently actually Irish rather than Scottish.


v. Essex

A house or hall in Tendring parish, whose origin is so far unknown. The Essex historian Morant (1763-8 vol 1 p 473) under other estates in Tendring parish said: 'Brockets belongs to the widow of Henry Bevan Esq'. In the 19th C John Thompson senior 'was resident at Brockett's Hall' (White's Essex 1863). Tendring is about 8 miles E of Colchester and 8 SW of Harwich.


vi. Elsewhere

Bocketts Farm, sometimes wrongly called Brocketts Farm, is a contemporary working farm south of Leatherhead in Surrey. None of its early owners had the surname Bockett or Brockett (Blair 1977 pp 3-8). Deeds relating to it 1475-1922 are in Surrey Archives reference K3/5-189. Gover et al (1934 p 80) suggested an etymology: 'This estate covers the fields marked in a survey of 1629 as Great, Lower Great, Lower Bockett and Bockett Fields. The s is therefore the plural sign, not the possessive. Bocket(t) would seem to be an et-derivative of boc, 'beech'.'


7. Road names

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  • Brocket Road leading to Brocket Hall, Wheathampstead
  • Brockett Close, Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham—named after one of the Gateshead Brocketts?
  • Brocket Close, Stourton on Severn, Worcestershire
  • ?Brocket Gardens, Penicuik, Scotland.