BROMFIELD, Robert (c.1575-1642), of Montague Close, St. Saviour's, Southwark, Surr.; later of Arneways, Lambourne, Essex
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Family and Education
b. c. 1575, 4th but 2nd surv. s. of Thomas Bromfield (d.1612), merchant, of Southwark and Udimore, Suss. and Grace, da. of Thomas Martin of Surr.1 educ. New Inn; M. Temple 1595.2 m. (1) 7 Feb. 1597, with £100, Sara, da. of John West, woodmonger, of Southwark, at least 2s.;3 (2) by June 1624, Anne, da. of John Palmer of Southwark, wid. of Robert Faldo of North Mimms, Herts., ?s.p.4 d. 31 Aug. ?1642.5
Examiner, Star Chamber by 1634.9
Bromfield’s family came from Essex, but his father, Thomas, settled in Southwark, becoming one of the alderman’s deputies by 1594. Thomas was a merchant, successful enough to purchase an estate in Sussex in 1596, to which he retired in about 1601,10 while Bromfield’s younger brother became lord mayor in 1637 and settled in Suffolk Place, Southwark. Bromfield himself initially studied the law, but turned to the timber trade, probably on his marriage to a daughter of a woodmonger in 1597. He also settled in Southwark, possibly in Montague Close in the Boroughside district of the parish of St. Saviour’s, where he was a tenant of the 2nd Viscount Montagu by 1622.11 In 1601 he took over from his brother-in-law, John West, a lease of one of the viscount’s wharves on Bankside, but shortly afterwards assigned it to his friend the actor Edward Alleyn.12 Thereafter Bromfield was a contractor for Alleyn’s theatre company, the Lord Admiral’s Men. Both Bromfield and Alleyn were appointed overseers of the will of Philip Henslowe, the theatrical manager who died in 1616, and as a result they were co-defendants in the ensuing Star Chamber case concerning Henslowe’s inheritance.13 In 1617 Bromfield tried to obtain a lease of premises for making soap from the St. Saviour’s vestry, but his offer of £40 a year was not accepted.14
Bromfield succeeded William Mayhew* as vestryman in 1614, and seven years later was returned for Southwark to the third Jacobean Parliament. He is only mentioned once in the surviving parliamentary records, on 17 May 1621, when he was named to consider a bill to reverse a decree procured by one Francis Verzelyne in a Chancery suit concerning the will of Verzelyne’s father.15
In 1624 the Southwark election was contested by Francis Myngaye and the sheriff returned two indentures, one naming Bromfield and the other Myngaye. Bromfield offered to relinquish the seat to his rival, but on 2 Mar. the Commons ruled that this was not in his power and a fresh election was ordered, at which he was elected, apparently without opposition.16 He was subsequently appointed to two committees, both of which concerned London measures. The first, established on 15 Apr., was to restrict the working of cloth in London to those who had served an apprenticeship to a member of the Clothworkers’ Company. Bromfield attended just one of the four recorded meetings of this committee. The second committee, established on 30 Apr., was concerned with a bill to settle the dispute between the Feltmakers’ Company and one Christopher Warwick. Bromfield does not seem to have attended any of the four recorded meetings of this committee. He is not known to have sought re-election.17
In 1625 Bromfield joined with his brother-in-law and fellow-vestryman, the soap-maker Thomas Overman, in the purchase of Montagu House with all Viscount Montagu’s messuages, wharves and ground ‘in the close of St. Mary Overies between the middle gate of the close and the outer gate next unto Southwark’. He immediately began to develop the property, pulling down all the ‘mean cottages and habitations’ and erecting houses ‘fit for men of better ability’, including himself.18
Bromfield had been summoned before the Privy Council in January 1622 for failing to contribute to the Palatinate Benevolence but was persuaded to contribute £43 16s. 9d. the following July. He was assessed at £20 for the 1625-6 Privy Seal loan.19 He was probably the ‘Robert Brumfield’ summoned by the Privy Council ‘out of the county of Hertford’ in January 1627, because in 1624 he had married the widow of Robert Faldo of North Mimms in Hertfordshire, and an Edmund Faldo, presumably a relative of Robert’s, was summoned before the Council at the same time. The nature of Bromfield’s offence is unknown, but it may be that he had gone to stay with Edmund to avoid paying his assessment for the Forced Loan in Surrey.20
In the 1634 herald’s visitation of London, Bromfield was described as one of the two examiners in Star Chamber, but it is not known when he was appointed to this office. He was among the chief inhabitants of St. Saviour’s who helped to prepare the Ship Money assessment of 1635. Bromfield himself was still living in Southwark in 1639, but appears to have moved to Essex soon afterwards.21 In 1641 he purchased the manor of Arneways in the parish of Lambourne, and was ‘sick and weak in body’ when he made his will there on 27 May 1642. He was buried in the chancel of Lambourne parish church, but the engraving on the floor slab recording his death on 31 Aug. ‘1602’ is clearly misdated and probably should read ‘1642’. His will was proved on 24 May 1647.22
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates
- 1. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xv), 107; VCH Suss. ix. 173.
- 2. M. Temple Admiss.
- 3. LMA, P92/SAV/3002 (St. Saviour’s Southwark par. reg.); PROB 11/84, f. 125; HMC 5th Rep. 356.
- 4. H.F. Waters, Genealogical Gleanings in Eng. 192; PCC Admins. 1620-30, p. 37.
- 5. R. Stevens, St. Mary and All Saints, Lambourne, 10.
- 6. LMA P92/SAV/450, pp. 449, 467, 473, 513, 568.
- 7. C212/22/21, 23.
- 8. C181/4, f. 126v; 181/5, f. 153v.
- 9. Vis. London, 107.
- 10. Manning and Bray, Surr. iii. 632.
- 11. M.C. Questier, Catholicism and Community in Early Modern England, 515.
- 12. G.F. Warner, Cat. of Mss. and Muns. of Alleyn’s Coll. of God’s Gift at Dulwich, 174, 258.
- 13. Playhouse Wills ed. E.A.J. Honigmann and S. Brock, 102-4; STAC 8/168/8.
- 14. LMA P92/SAV/450, p. 568.
- 15. CJ, i. 623b.
- 16. Ibid. 724b.
- 17. Ibid. 695a, 767b; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 203, 215.
- 18. LCC Survey of London, xxii. 44.
- 19. SP14/127/48; 14/156/14; A.R. Bax, ‘Names of those persons in the county of Surr. who contributed to the Loan to King Charles I’, Surr. Arch. Colls. xvii. 82.
- 20. APC, 1627, p. 30.
- 21. LMA, P92/SAV/232, 1351-55.
- 22. VCH Essex, iv. 78; PROB 11/200, f. 336-v.