William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham

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William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham
Quartered arms of Sir William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham, KG.png
Quartered arms of Sir William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham, KG
Born 1 November 1527
Died 6 March 1597
Noble family Brooke
Spouse(s) Dorothy Neville
Frances Newton
Maximilian Brooke
Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham
Sir William Brooke
George Brooke
Elizabeth Brooke
Frances Brooke
Margaret Brooke
Father George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham
Mother Anne Braye
See Baron Cobham for other simultaneous creations of the title.

Sir William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham, KG (1 November 1527 – 6 March 1597)[1] was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and a Member of Parliament for Hythe. Although he was viewed by some as a religious radical during the Somerset protectorate, he entertained Elizabeth at Cobham Hall in 1559, signalling his acceptance of the moderate regime.


William Brooke was the son of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham (d. 29 September 1558), and Anne Braye (d. 1 November 1558).[2]

Brooke's father died in 1558 when he was just over thirty. Brooke married Dorothy Neville, daughter of George Neville, 5th Baron Bergavenny[2] in 1545, but the marriage was unhappy, and they separated after 1553. Brooke seems to have attended The King's School, Canterbury and Queens' College, Cambridge before 1544.[3] He spent much of his younger life in Europe. In the early 1540s he visited Padua. At the end of the decade he served in northern France, where his father was in charge of Calais and in 1549 accompanied Paget's embassy to Brussels.

Like his father, Brooke sympathized with the anti-Marian nobles; he sided with the rebels during Wyatt's rebellion, and the intervention of his brother-in-law, Henry Nevill was needed to keep him from prison. In 1555 he served as MP for Rochester.[2]

In the late 1550s, Brooke's opportunities expanded in a number of areas. His father died, making him Baron Cobham; his first wife died, leaving him free to marry Frances Newton (at Whitehall in 1560). He became Warden of the Cinque Ports, a position in which he wielded great power over a large number of seats in Parliament. Most important, the accession of Elizabeth, and his close friendship with William Cecil made him a powerful noble. Elizabeth deputed him to inform Philip II of Mary's death. This embassy was only the first in a long series of missions and intrigues. Along with Cecil, he numbered among his friends some nobles, such as Thomas Howard and the Earl of Arundel, whose loyalty to Elizabeth was far from certain. He suffered some months' house imprisonment as a result of a very tangential role in the Ridolfi plot. In 1578, he joined Francis Walsingham's failed mission to the Low Countries; on this mission he presumably served as Cecil's agent. In the late 1580s, he helped John Whitgift search for the author of the Martin Marprelate tracts.

Brooke was made a Knight of the Garter on 14 April 1585, and appointed to the Privy Council by 12 February 1586.[2] He was involved in a minor capacity in the events that ended with the death of Mary, Queen of Scots. During the Armada crisis, he was on a diplomatic mission to Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma. By the early 1590s he had assumed a less active role in government. His daughter married Robert Cecil in 1589. His second wife died in 1592. He succeeded Baron Hunsdon, as Lord Chamberlain in August 1596, and held the office until his death on 6 March 1597.[2]

Marriages and issue[edit]

Portrait of William Brooke and his Family, 1567.

William Brooke married firstly Dorothy Neville (d. 22 September 1559), daughter of George Nevill, 5th Baron Bergavenny, by his third wife, Mary Stafford, daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham,[2] by whom he had a daughter, Frances Brooke (b.1549), who married firstly Thomas Coppinger (1546–1580), and secondly Edward Becher (born c.1545).[4]

He married secondly Frances Newton, by whom he had four sons and three daughters:

  • Maximilian Brooke (4 December 1560 – July 1583),[5][6] eldest son and heir, who died without issue.[7]
  • Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham (22 November 1564 – 24 January 1619),[8] who married Frances Howard (1566 – July 1628), widow of Henry, Earl of Kildare, by whom he had no issue.[7]
  • Sir William Brooke (11 December 1565 – 1597)[9][7]
  • Sir George Brooke (17 April 1568 – 5 December 1603),[10][11] who married firstly Elizabeth Burgh (died c. 1637), the eldest daughter and coheir of Thomas Burgh, 3rd Baron Burgh (d. 14 October 1597),[12] by whom he had a son, William (1601–1643), and two daughters, Elizabeth and Frances. After his death his widow married secondly Francis Reade.[7]
  • Elizabeth Brooke (12 January 1562 - 24 January 1597),[13][14] who married on 31 August 1589 Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, by whom she had issue.[7]
  • Frances Brooke (born 12 January 1562),[13] who married firstly, circa 1580, John Stourton, 9th Baron Stourton, (1553–1588),[15] and secondly Sir Edward More (d.1623) of Odiham, Hampshire,[7] whose first wife was Mary Poynings, daughter of Sir Adrian Poynings.[16]
  • Margaret Brooke (2 June 1563 – 1621),[13][7] who in 1584 married, as his second wife, Sir Thomas Sondes (1544–1593) of Throwley, Kent, by whom she had a daughter, Frances Sondes (1592–c.1634), who married Sir John Leveson (d.1613). Sondes became convinced that the child was not his, and levied a fine of his lands, thus effectively depriving Margaret of her jointure, and died a few months later. His brother and heir, Michael Sondes, honoured Margaret's jointure, but the Sondes family never acknowledged Frances, and Margaret and Frances returned to Cobham Hall. Before he died in 1597 Lord Cobham made his eldest son, Henry, promise to care for Margaret, and she and her daughter lived at Cobham Hall on their own after Lord Cobham's death. At an unknown date Margaret went mad, and on 4 November 1602 it was reported that Doctor John Dee had been called in and 'hath delivered the Lady Sondes of a devil or of some other strange possession'. Nothing further is known of her circumstances, apart from the fact that 'the mad Lady Sondes' died in 1621, aged fifty-seven. Her daughter, Frances, had two children by Sir John Leveson (d.1613), the elder of whom was Christian Leveson.[17] After Sir John Leveson's death, Frances married, as his first wife, Thomas Savile (bap. 14 September 1590 – c.1659), later Earl of Sussex. There were no issue of the marriage. After Frances' death, Savile married secondly, shortly after November 1640, Anne Villiers, only daughter of Christopher Villiers, 1st Earl of Anglesey, by Elizabeth Sheldon, the daughter of Thomas Sheldon.[18]


  1. ^ Cokayne 1913, pp. 348-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cokayne 1913, p. 348.
  3. ^ "Cobham, William (CBHN544W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ McKeen 2 1986, pp. 700-1.
  5. ^ McKeen 1 1986, p. 148.
  6. ^ McKeen 2 1986, pp. 430-1.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g McKeen 2 1986, pp. 700-2.
  8. ^ Nicholls 2004.
  9. ^ McKeen 1 1986, p. 161.
  10. ^ McKeen 1 1986, p. 162.
  11. ^ Nicholls 2008.
  12. ^ Cokayne 1912, p. 424.
  13. ^ a b c McKeen 1 1986, p. 151.
  14. ^ McKeen 2 1986, p. 666.
  15. ^ McKeen 2 1986, pp. 420-1.
  16. ^ Richardson II 2011, p. 4.
  17. ^ McKeen 2 1986, pp. 372, 424-9, 686, 702.
  18. ^ Cokayne 1953, pp. 531-2.


  • Cokayne, George Edward (1913). The Complete Peerage, edited by Vicary Gibbs. III. London: St Catherine Press. pp. 348–9. 
  • Cokayne, George Edward (1953). The Complete Peerage, edited by Geoffrey H. White. XII, Part I. London: St Catherine Press. pp. 531–2. 
  • McKeen, David (1986). A Memory of Honour; The Life of William Brooke, Lord Cobham. 1. Salzburg: Universitat Salzburg. 
  • McKeen, David (1986). A Memory of Honour; The Life of William Brooke, Lord Cobham. 2. Salzburg: Universitat Salzburg. 
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. II (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1449966381. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Seymour
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Succeeded by
The 11th Lord Cobham
Preceded by
Lord Lieutenant of Kent
Preceded by
The Lord Hunsdon
Lord Chamberlain
Succeeded by
The Lord Hunsdon
Peerage of England
Preceded by
George Brooke
Baron Cobham
Succeeded by
Henry Brooke