BROKESBY, William (d.1416), of Shoby, Leics.
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Family and Education
s. of John Brokesby of Shoby by his w. Agnes; er. bro. of Bartholomew*. m. bef. Feb. 1406, Joan (d. aft. Jan. 1453), da. of William Alderwich of Aldridge, Staffs., 1s.
Marshal of the King’s hall 7 Nov. 1401-c. Mar. 1413.
Sheriff, Warws. and Leics. 22 Oct. 1404-22 Nov. 1405, 4 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410.
Commr. of array, Warws., Leics. May 1405; to assess contributions to a subsidy, Leics. Jan. 1412; of inquiry, Warws., Leics. Jan. 1414 (lollards).
J.p. Leics. 14 May 1408-Dec. 1414, 18 Feb. 1415-d.
Brokesby’s parents contributed to the poll tax of 1377 as resident at Shoby, and besides the manor there and rents from other properties in the vicinity, they also held the advowson of the nearby church of Saxelby. All of this William was to inherit some time between 1393 and 1411.1
Brokesby’s career was made in the service of Henry IV. As early in the reign as June 1400 he was a member of the King’s household then about to leave Pontefract on its way at the head of the royal army marching on Scotland. As well as the normal fees and livery issued to an esquire of the body, as a marshal of the King’s hall Brokesby received from 7 Nov. 1401 a life annuity of 40 marks charged on the Exchequer. Six months later he was among those delegated to escort Henry’s elder daughter, Princess Blanche, to Cologne for her marriage, accordingly being absent from England from 17 Apr. to 26 July 1402. Access to royal patronage could enable a privileged few to avoid the consequences of litigation: later that year Brokesby was pardoned his outlawry for failure to appear in the lawcourts to answer the prior of Wormsley, Herefordshire, for a substantial debt of 200 marks, and in March 1403 the King granted him back all the goods and chattels declared forfeit on this account. Further signs of Henry IV’s favour followed: at the next Christmas, Brokesby shared with his fellow marshal, Thomas Gloucester*, a grant of the profits (up to the sum of £26 13s.4d. a year) from the estates of a royal ward. At that time he was probably already knight-elect for Leicestershire to the Parliament summoned for 14 Jan. 1404. Appointed sheriff later that same year, Brokesby was one of those commissioned in May 1405 to assemble with all speed the military men of his bailiwick and lead them to the King’s side to ride north for the chastisement of the rebels. For his good service while holding the shrievalty the King made him a personal gift of £40. Nor was this his only reward: on 7 Feb. 1406 he and his wife Joan were granted an annuity of 20 marks for term of their lives in survivorship, to be disbursed by the receiver-general of the duchy of Lancaster. Brokesby’s second term as sheriff (1409-10) was marred by the escape of a felon from his custody, which dereliction of duty cost him a fine of ten marks; but the post did provide him with the opportunity to return his brother, Bartholomew, to the Parliament of 1410. Payment of his 40 marks’ annuity at the Exchequer had become erratic since the Act of Resumption of 1404, but his difficulties in this respect were alleviated after July 1412 when assignment was authorized to be made directly by the sheriff from the issues of Warwickshire and Leicestershire.2
Brokesby attended the Leicestershire elections of 1411 and 1413 (May), and served in his native county as a j.p. as well as on other royal commissions. Yet these local duties did not apparently lead to his being asked by others of the gentry to act as a trustee of their estates; indeed, the only record of such a feoffeeship discovered probably concerned the property of his own brother, Bartholomew.3 Brokesby is not mentioned in the household accounts of March to October 1413, immediately following the accession of Henry V, and it seems likely that he had to relinquish his post as marshal of the King’s hall when Henry of Bolingbroke died. Yet the new King confirmed his annuities (amounting to 60 marks) and in April 1415, when preparations were under way for the invasion of France, contracted him for service with one other man-at-arms and six archers. Furthermore, at embarkation Brokesby was among the 13 ‘hensemen de Roy’ in the royal entourage.4
Brokesby died, perhaps of the effects of the Harfleur-Agincourt campaign, shortly before 23 Feb. 1416. He was probably still a comparatively young man, for his brother Bartholomew survived him by 32 years and his widow Joan by at least 37. The latter obtained confirmation of her annuity from the duchy of Lancaster in 1417 and subsequently married the wealthy (Sir) William Mountfort I* of Coleshill. She, who had been born in Brittany, eventually took out formal letters of denization in 1453.5 Brokesby’s unruly son Henry (d.1460) was encouraged by his uncle to enter the service of Joan, Lady Beauchamp of Abergavenny, who in her will made in 1435 left him 100 marks ‘on condition that he be governed by me and by the worthiest of his kin’6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Leics. Village Notes ed. Farnham, iv. 75-76; J. Nichols, Leics. iii. 402, 405-6.
- 2. SC1/57/24; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 25, 142, 221, 334; 1408-13, pp. 405, 416; E364/48 m. D; E101/404/21, f. 45; E404/21/17; DL42/16 (pt. 3), f. 21; SC8/231/11507.
- 3. C219/10/6, 11/2; Leics. Village Notes, ii. 260.
- 4. DL42/17, f. 28; CPR, 1413-16, p. 47; E101/69/5/442, 406/21, 407/10.
- 5. CPR, 1413-16, pp. 332, 405; 1452-61, p. 49; DL42/17, f. 57; CAD, vi. C5340.
- 6. CCR, 1429-36, p. 295; Reg. Chichele, ii. 538.