BROKE, Richard (by 1474-1529), of London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1474, 4th s. of Thomas Broke of Leighton Cheshire by da. of one Venables (or da. and h. of John Parker). educ. M. Temple. m. Anne, da. of William Ledes of Suss., 10s. 10da. Kntd. ?29 Apr. 1520.3

Offices Held

Lent reader, M. Temple bef. 1502, Autumn 1510.4

J.p. Suss. 1500-9, Essex, Hunts. 1520-d., Mdx., Surr. 1522-d., Beds., Bucks., Cambs., Norf., Suff. 1524-d.; under sheriff, London 18 Mar. 1502-3 Sept. 1510, recorder 9 July 1510-2 May 1520; serjeant at-law Nov. 1510-Apr. 1520; commr. subsidy, London 1512, 1514, 1515, Surr. 1523, 1524; justice of assize, Norf. by 1519-?d.; j.c.p. 29 Apr. 1520-d.; trier of petitions in the Lords, Parlt. of 1523, chief baron of the Exchequer 24 Jan. 1526-d.5


Richard Broke, the youngest son of a family long established in Cheshire, came to London to make his way in the law. In 1495 and 1497 he and Edmund Dudley were appointed feoffees of lands in Surrey and Sussex by John Covert, and in 1502 Broke replaced Dudley as under sheriff of London, acting as judge in one of the sheriffs’ courts and as the City’s legal adviser. In January 1504 he and other counsel approved the corporation’s decision to seek a confirmation of the City charter and the amendment of one recently granted to the Merchant Taylors. In the winter of 1508-9 he twice took part in deputations led by the recorder, John Chaloner I, to negotiate with Henry VII over taxation, and in June 1509 he was one of seven representatives sent to petition the new King and the Council ‘for such matters as concern the wealth of this City and the liberties of the same’.6

The office of under sheriff not infrequently led to the recordership, and on Chaloner’s retirement in 1510 Broke received the promotion. Two days after this was agreed, on 9 July 1510, he was exempted by the King from being made a serjeant-at-law. His initial avoidance of the call has generally been put down to the cost involved, but Broke probably also bore in mind the ancient rule that the recorder should be below the rank of serjeant. However, it was a rule broken from time to time, and when Broke took the coif in November 1510 he had doubtless been assured that it would not be invoked against him. He was recorder for ten years and even after he quitted the office to become a judge he continued to have legal points referred to him by the City.7

It was as recorder that Broke was twice elected to Parliament. During the second session of the Parliament of 1512 the common council sought his advice on two bills, one for buying and selling in gross and the other for the appearance of juries at St. Martin’s, as well as his intervention with the lord privy seal on behalf of a bill bringing the City companies more closely under the corporation’s control. On the eve of the final session in 1514 the court of aldermen agreed to act as the mayor and he thought best ‘for the expedition of a bill passed the Nether House in the Parliament’ and four weeks later the same two were directed to speak to Chancellor Warham ‘for the expedition of the bill of corporations, and for the putting back of the bill of wines to be sold in gross, and also of cloth by strangers to foreigners in London’. Of these measures, that on juries was alone passed (5 Hen. VIII, c.5), and then only to be effective until the next Parliament. On the day that Broke was elected to that Parliament in December 1514 the common council agreed that ‘an act then recited by Mr. Recorder for the reformation of grand juries and petty juries shall stand and be in effect according as the said Mr. Recorder will advise and make up the same’, but no new Act was passed.8

Broke served on the commissions in London to collect the subsidies which he had helped to grant. Following an outcry in the City against the assessments, and a deficit in the collection, he appeared with the mayor and seven aldermen in November 1516 before Wolsey and others of the Council in the Star Chamber. Asked ‘whether they were sworn for their assessing, and other their fellows aldermen, to the King’s subsidy’, Broke replied ‘Nay, for it was contrary to the Act of Parliament’. His interpretation of the Act was contested by Wolsey, who advised an offer of £2,000 to the King ‘for the discharge of their oaths’, but the aldermen decided to make up the deficit out of their own pockets according to an allocation by the mayor and Broke. In May 1523, when as a judge he was present in the Lords, Broke was asked to assist his successor as recorder, William Shelley, in drawing up a ‘bill of petition’ to Parliament confirming the corporation’s right, which was disputed by the King, to appoint to certain offices in the City: their draft was accepted by the court of aldermen but the bill did not pass.9

In 1523 Broke was assessed for subsidy at 500 marks in goods. Although he owned lands in five counties at the time of his death six years later, the income he derived from them was probably not large. By his will of 6 May 1529 he offered all his lands in Sussex to his brother-in-law John Ledes for £20, and recommended the sale of all his lands in Kent for the payment of his debts and the maintenance of his wife and younger children. The nucleus of his estate lay in Suffolk, where he assigned lands worth £40 a year to his daughter-in-law as her jointure. He died on the same day as he made his will and probate was granted to his widow on 2 July, but his inquisition post mortem was not taken until April 1548 after her own death. His daughter Cecily became the wife of Sir Henry Delves and her sister Margaret of William Whorwood.10

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. City of London RO, Guildhall, jnl. 11, f. 147v; rep. 2, f. 125v.
  • 2. Ibid. jnl. 11, f. 204v.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 51; Ormerod, Cheshire, iii(1), 454; Suss. Arch. Colls. liv. 54; Manning and Bray, Surr. iii. 292; DNB; PCC 3 Jankyn, 1 Populwell.
  • 4. Dugdale, Origines Juridiciales, 215.
  • 5. CPR, 1494-1509, p. 622; LP Hen. VIII, i-iv; City of London RO, jnl. 10, f. 246; rep. 4, f. 52; Dugdale, Chronica Series, 79, 80; Statutes, iii. 83, 118, 172; LJ, i. p. lxxvi.
  • 6. CIPM Hen. VII, iii. 821-2; City of London RO, jnl. 10, f. 246; rep. 1, f. 150; 2, ff. 56v, 61, 69v, 93.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, i; City of London RO, rep. 2, f. 93; 4, f. 52; Liber Dunthorne, f. 459v; Dugdale, Chronica Series, 79, 80.
  • 8. City of London RO, jnl. 11, f. 204v; rep. 2, ff. 145, 146, 148, 169, 171; 3, f. 8.
  • 9. City of London RO, rep. 3, ff. 110, 116-16v; 5, ff. 204-4v; 6, ff. 36v, 166v; LP Hen. VIII, iii.
  • 10. Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 465; PCC 3 Jankyn, 1 Populwell; C142/87/60.