BROCKHILL, Thomas (d.c.1411), of Calehill in Little Chart and Aldington, Kent.
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Family and Education
Capt. of Marck castle, Picardy 16 Dec. 1380-6 Apr. 1382.1
Sheriff, Kent 26 May 1383-11 Nov. 1384.
J.p. Kent 29 Feb. 1384-July 1389.
Commr. of array, Kent Jan., Apr. 1385, Aug. 1388, Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399, Jan. 1400, July 1402, Sept., Nov. 1403, May 1406, June 1407; inquiry Mar. 1388 (inability of Faversham to supply warships), Kent, Mdx., Suss. Sept. 1391 (concealments), Kent May 1392 (shipwreck); sewers Feb. 1394; to hold special assizes, Nov. 1394; raise royal loans Sept. 1405.
Brockhill was the third member of his family to sit for Kent in Parliament; his namesake Sir Thomas had done so five times between 1337 and 1353, and the latter’s son, Sir John, was returned in 1378. His precise relationship to these two men is not known, but the fact that he never occupied the family’s principal residence at Saltwood suggests that he was Sir Thomas’s younger son or nephew.2 He would appear to have acquired his own landed interests in the county either by purchase or through marriage.
From early on in his career Brockhill was often placed in positions of trust. By 1371 he had become a close friend of Sir Walter Paveley (son of the Garter knight of the same name), for whom he acted not only as a feoffee of the manor of Boughton Aluph and of Paveley’s other estates but also, as named in Sir Walter’s will in 1379, as ‘distributor et ministrour’ of the testator’s goods. Paveley thought so highly of him as to supplement a gift to him of £13 6s.8d. with a legacy for life of an annuity of the same amount charged on the estate at Boughton. Before too long Brockhill was also named as executor of the will of Nicholas, son of Sir John Kyriel, another noted landowner in the county.3 In the meantime, since 1373 he had been serving as a trustee of the manor of Kentwell (Suffolk) and a moiety of Aldington (Kent), on behalf of John Gower, the poet. He eventually conveyed Kentwell to others, but Aldington came into his own sole possession, as in 1391 he applied for a royal licence to settle it on himself for life with remainder in tail to his daughter Joan and her husband William Pympe. (By the time the necessary permission was granted, eight years later, Joan was married to Henry Byrton.)4
At the end of 1380 Brockhill went overseas as captain of Marck castle, in which capacity he served until the spring of 1382. His first election to Parliament for Kent followed later that year, but it was his kinsman, Sir John Brockhill, who was appointed as sheriff of the county in November, the month after the Parliament was dissolved. Sir John died in office in May 1383, having named Thomas as one of his executors, and within a few days the latter took over the sheriff’s duties. He remained in the post for 18 months. In June 1387 he obtained royal letters of protection as going on the King’s service to Calais in the company of Roger Walden, the treasurer there, but these were cancelled in the following spring since he had failed to depart. In 1391 he and his wife conveyed their property in Murston, Elmley and elsewhere to John, Lord Devereux, then steward of the King’s household and warden of the Cinque Ports, but, this transaction apart, there is no evidence that Brockhill was ever closely acquainted with figures of political importance.5
During the 1380s and 1390s Brockhill’s employment in the capacity of a feoffee of landed estates continued with him acting on behalf of Helming Leget* and a Kentish lawyer, William Makenade.6 On his own account, in 1392, he applied for a licence to grant to the monks of Christ Church priory, Canterbury, lands in Little Chart and Pluckley, in return for which he was to receive from them a lease of the same properties together with the priory’s manor of Little Chart, at an annual rent of £18 4s.3d. The licence was eventually confirmed by royal letters patent in November 1396.7 It would appear that Brockhill’s only child predeceased him, for in October 1410 he and his wife Joan sold to the northerner, John Darell*, their manors of Calehill and Little Chart for a down payment of £500 and the promise of an annual pension of £20 for the rest of their lives. The transaction was completed two months later, when Brockhill’s feoffees conveyed these properties together with the manor of Etchden in Bethersden to Darell’s nominees. Brockhill, not recorded alive thereafter, died before 1412, by which date Joan was the sole recipient of the annuity from Calehill. He was buried in the Grey Friars’ church, Canterbury, where also lay other members of his family.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 134, 140.
- 2. Saltwood apparently passed to Sir John’s son William and then, before 1410, to his sons Thomas (d.1437) and Nicholas: Harl. 5481, f. 40; Feudal Aids, iii. 65, 66, 69; Mon. Brasses ed. Mill Stephenson, 256. Nicholas was appointed constable of Saltwood castle by Abp. Chichele in 1423: Reg. Chichele, iv. 245-6.
- 3. Harl. 5481, f. 31d; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Sudbury, ff. 102, 104d-105; CIPM, xvi. 766; CFR, ix. 219; CCR, 1377-81, pp. 452-3.
- 4. CPR, 1370-4, p. 425; 1377-81, p. 444; 1396-9, p. 462; DNB, viii. 299; C143/411/15.
- 5. Lambeth, Reg. Courtenay, f. 204d; CFR, ix. 366; CPR, 1385-9, p. 441; CP25(1)110/236/715.
- 6. CPR, 1385-9, p. 145; 1391-6, p. 279; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 277.
- 7. C143/411/28; CPR, 1396-9, pp. 36, 192, 449.
- 8. Harl. 5481, f. 40; Add. Ch. 16372; Arch. Cant. xxxvi. 132-3; CP25(1)112/274/523; C. Cotton, Grey Friars of Canterbury, 46; Feudal Aids, vi. 473 (where he is called Roger in error).