BROOKE, Sir William (by 1602-1643), of Cooling Park, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. by 1602,1 o.s. of George Brooke of Cobham, Kent, and Elizabeth, da. of Thomas, 5th Lord Burgh. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1616. m. (1) 17 Sept. 1623, Pembroke, da. of Henry Lennard, 12th Lord Dacre, of Hurstmonceaux, Suss. 2da.; (2) aft. Mar. 1627, Penelope (bur. 12 July 1694), da. of Sir Moyses Hill of Hillsborough Castle, co. Down, provost marshal of Ulster, 3da.2 suc. fa. 1603; cr. KB 1 Feb. 1626.3 d. by 28 Sept. 1643.

Offices Held

Asst. bridge warden, Rochester 1625-d., snr. warden 1626, 1633, 1640;4 commr. sewers, Rainham bridge to Mucking mill, Essex 1627, Kent and Suss. 1629;5 freeman, Rochester 1628;6 j.p. Kent 1629-d.;7 commr. charitable uses, Kent 1632-at least 1633, 1637,8 assessment, 1641, Poll Tax 1642,9 array, 1642;10 dep. lt. Kent 1642;11 commr. sequestration of delinquents, 1643, levying money, 1643.12

Col. of ft. (parl.) 1643-d.13


Heir to the one of the few conspirators engaged in the Bye Plot to be executed for treason, Brooke suffered the loss of his patrimony by attainder in 1606.14 Only Cooling manor, in north Kent, escaped the Crown, being granted to a Somerset cousin, Duke Brooke, at the request of Brooke’s distant relative, Sir John Brooke*.15 In 1606 Duke Brooke died without producing a son, and in April 1610 Duke’s brother, Charles, expired leaving only a daughter.16 Under the terms of the 1606 Act of Attainder, Brooke was now entitled to reclaim Cooling, as both Duke and Charles had died without direct male heirs. Consequently, in 1610 Parliament restored him to those lands which had not been seized by the king.17 Charles Brooke’s death nevertheless proved a mixed blessing, as Brooke was thereby deprived of a lease of various Devon manors formerly belonging to his uncle, Henry Brooke, 11th Lord Cobham†. Charles Brooke had obtained these lands after Cobham’s attainder, and had agreed that Brooke would lease them after his death, but in the event he bequeathed them to Robert Cecil†, 1st earl of Salisbury, who suppressed the lease and sold the manors to Sir William Strode*, among others. Although Brooke resorted to litigation, his case was finally dismissed in 1627.18

Brooke was heir to the 11th Lord Cobham, who died childless in 1619, but he was prevented from inheriting either the Cobham lands or title by the very Act that enabled him to recover Cooling in 1610. This condition of his restoration undoubtedly rankled, and may help explain his involvement in an attempt to unseat the royal favourite, the marquess of Buckingham, in January 1618. Along with Sir William Monson* and Sir Henry Mildmay*, he was brought to James’s attention in January 1618 by the Howards.19 Despite his failure to displace Buckingham, he later received some marks of royal favour. Indeed, shortly after his marriage to Lord Dacre’s daughter, described as ‘a fine gentlewoman’ by one observer, he was granted charge of the game within five miles of his house at Cooling.20 Moreover, at Charles’s coronation he was dubbed a knight of the Bath.

Returned to Parliament for Rochester in 1628, Brooke left no trace on its records. While serving in the Commons, he presented a fellow graduate of St. John’s College, Cambridge, Nathaniel Sparke, to the rectory at Cooling.21 Between 1630 and 1640 he acted as a trustee for the will of his brother-in-law, Richard, Lord Dacre.22 In 1631 goods belonging to him were seized at sea, but were recovered at Great Yarmouth through the vigilance of some townsmen.23 Named a commissioner of array in August 1642, he nevertheless helped raise money for parliament’s forces in Kent in 1643,24 and is alleged to have participated in the breaking of the altar rails in Rochester Cathedral and in ransacking both Cobham Hall and Barham Place.25 As colonel of a regiment of foot he spent at least £50 of his own money on its equipage.26 He was killed in action, probably at the First Battle of Newbury (20 Sept. 1643),27 as shortly thereafter Parliament ordered provision to be made out of the rents of his property for his widow and daughters.28 No will or administration has been found. In 1647 a grateful Parliament voted his widow and children £4,000 from public funds.29 Charles I bestowed the Cobham title on the royalist Sir John Brooke in 1645, but this new creation was extinguished on Sir John’s death without male heir in 1651. In 1665 Charles II granted Sir William’s three youngest daughters the rights of precedence due to the daughters of a baron.30

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 507.

  • 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to univ.
  • 2. Arch. Cant. xi. 208; Al. Cant.; CP sub Cobham; J. Cave-Browne, Story of Hollingborne, 81; J.P. Malcolm, Londinium Redivum, ii. 205.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 162.
  • 4. Traffic and Pols. ed. N. Yates and J.M. Gibson, 294.
  • 5. C181/3, f. 233; 181/4, f. 32.
  • 6. Medway Archives, customal, new f. 48.
  • 7. C231/4, f. 263; PRO 30/26/104, f. 23.
  • 8. C93/14/17; 192/1, unfol.
  • 9. SR, v. 85, 107, 152; A. and O. i. 92.
  • 10. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 11. CJ, ii. 724a.
  • 12. A. and O. i. 113, 149, 231.
  • 13. A. Everitt, ‘Acct. bk. of cttee. of Kent’, Seventeenth-Cent. Misc. (Kent Recs. xvii), 144.
  • 14. HLRO, O.A. 3 Jas.I, c. 33.
  • 15. Bowyer Diary, 143; CJ, i. 303b. The bill, in its amended form, encountered considerable opposition before its final passage; see ibid. 310b, 313b.
  • 16. PROB 11/108, f. 26; 11/115, ff. 277-8.
  • 17. HLRO, O.A. 7 Jas.I, c. 42.
  • 18. C78/293/14.
  • 19. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 127.
  • 20. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 133; Knyvett Letters ed. B. Schofield (Norf. Rec. Soc. xx), 62.
  • 21. E331/5, f. 33; Al. Cant.
  • 22. Essex RO, D/DL/C43/4/27; Cent. Kent. Stud. U1590/T23/28.
  • 23. Knyvett Letters, 76.
  • 24. ‘Pprs. relating to procs. in Kent’ ed. R. Almack, Cam. Misc. iii. (Cam. Soc. lxi), 12, 22.
  • 25. F.F. Smith, Rochester in Parl. 111-12 (Smith’s authority has not been established); Eng. Rev. III: Newsbooks 1; Oxf. Royalists ed. G. Aylmer et al. iv. 129, 131.
  • 26. SP28/157, Kent acct. bk. 17.
  • 27. W. Money, Battles of Newbury, 107-8.
  • 28. CJ, iii. 257a; CCC, 1.
  • 29. CJ, v. 144; LJ, ix. 143.
  • 30. CSP Dom. 1664-5, p. 374; CP sub Cobham.