Origin of the BROCKMAN family name

The English surname BROCKMAN is of occupational origin, being derived from the work, trade or profession of the original bearer. In this instance the surname BROCKMAN is derived from the occupational names BROOKMAN and BROOKER, meaning “the broker”, an agent in business transactions. Thus the surname BROCKMAN signifies “one who worked as a broker or retailer”. Alternatively, the surname BROCKMAN is of locative origin, being derived from a natural or man-made feature near to where the original bearer once dwelled. In this case, the surname derives from the Old English “brok” meaning “stream or waterway” and signifies “dweller by the bank or Stream”. Variants of the surname BROCKMAN include Brookman, Brooker, Broker and Brucker

References to the surname BROCKMAN or in its variants are found in English documents that date back to the thirteenth century. Stephen Brokman, William Brokere and Anger atte Broke were recorded in the “Subsidy Rolls” of Sussex in 1296. William le Brokaur was listed in the “Fines Rolls” at the time of King Edward ll. Nicolas Broker was registered in the “Calendar of Wills” in Somerset in 1426. Thomas Brookman of Wiltshire and James Brookman of Surrey were listed among the passengers bound for America in 1731. Solomon Brooker and Elizabeth Hale were married at St. George’s, Hanover Square in 1798.

The excerpt below is quite possibly a way of explaining the BROCKMAN family in Thanet connection to the BROCKMAN family in Essex County of 1390. (If there is one) I think it is an error to conclude that the Thanet group was totally independent from the southern documented group from Newington next to Hythe and the northern documented group from Essex. The following excerpt from a book published in 1936 should give all serious researchers of the BROCKMAN name in Thanet some food for thought.


"One other Manor, called BROADGATE, otherwise BROCKMANS, lies within the bounds of the parish of BIRCHINGTON, extending to MONKTON, having formed part of the possessions of HENRY BEAUFORT, Duke of Somerset, on whose attainder, in the eighth year of King Edward IV, it came to the crown. It then was granted to JOHN BROKEMAN, of Whitham, in Essex, who died possessed of the same in the 16th year of King Henry VIII, :& A.D.1500, as appeared by the inquisition then taken."


Compiled by Brig.-Gen. D.H. DRAKE-BROCKMAN, C.M.G. and printed in 1936.

King Edward IV reigned 1461 - 1483

King Richard III reigned 1483 - 1485

King Henry VII reigned 1485 - 1509

King Henry VIII reigned 1509 - 1547

John BROKEMAN died August 22, 1500

The line of thinking for this explanation is that if you (John BROKEMAN) received an estate from the King, you would not just give it to anyone to manage. It would most definitely be managed by a family member, either a son or brother etc.

If any of the above is true it places the Essex BROKEMAN family in Thanet, Kent. There is a burial record at the Parish of All Saints of Birchington that fits this time line:

A Joan (Jhone) and Thomas BROKEMAN (GG grandchildren of the original recorded JOHN BROKEMAN of Essex) have not been traced or recorded at all so far as I can find. This leaves a possible opening for Thomas BROKEMAN (possibly a black sheep of the family) to appear in Thanet, Kent. It is stated (in the same book the above excerpt is taken from) that the above Thomas got in trouble with the authorities and just disappeared. If Thomas was the owner or keeper of the Birchington estate, we must seriously consider the last line of the excerpt " as appeared by the inquisition then taken". This could possibly explain why the Thanet family branch disappeared from prominence. From what I can figure out by reading the history about the inquisition, being on their list of dissidents could be compared with being on a Mafia hit list today. It has been documented that two BROCKMANS paid fines (July 4, 1651 Sir William BROCKMAN of Beachborough £. 500 and Zouch BROCKMAN of Cheriton £. 367) because of some political and/or religious conflicts.

If Thomas BROKEMAN became embroiled in some serious political and/or religious conflicts it would be reasonable to presume that he would try to disappear taking his family with him. When thinking with this line of thought, it would be a very good reason to change the spelling of one's surname.

Consider it as though maybe he did not have enough money or influence to buy his way out of trouble as his relatives seemed to be able to do.

I do not know if moving from ownership of an estate in Birchington, to St. Nicholas at Wade or Chislet or anywhere else in Kent or England and proceeding to get employment as a pauper or farm labourer would be enough distance for evading the problems incurred.

This now presents a research challenge. The Manor BROADGATE or BROCKMANS will have to be found. This will be a fair undertaking as the research will have to start around 1500. The research might have to start with the Duke of Somerset's holdings at the time.

EXCERPT From the BROCKMAN Scrapbook:

The earliest documentary evidence of the BROKEMAN, BROOKMAN, BROCKMAN family in England is the record of John BROKEMAN who was granted the Manor of Pirrie, Essex in 1390.

 The information in the following excerpt would have been available for him to peruse if he so desired. Obviously he did not, or he would have the family name traced back to 1256 with possibly other estates added to the list. The W.E. BROCKMAN who made the family tree (wall chart) could be the same one who wrote the BROCKMAN Scrapbook.


On the death of the last Squire (Francis Drake-Brockman 1930), an old oak chest, which had lain many years at Beachborough unopened, was found and the locks forced. It was found to contain many old deeds concerning land which had been in possession of the Brockmans. A very interesting paper was written for the Kent Archaeological Society by Miss Burford Butcher. These deeds have been presented to the British Museum, where they have been catalogued. I give Miss Butcher's paper in extenso.

"There has recently come to light a most interesting collection of family deeds belonging to the Brockman family of Beachborough, Newington, Kent. These deeds, which number about two thousand and date from 1256 to the nineteenth century, are in extremely good condition, only one or two having been injured by rats. Their good preservation is, no doubt, due to their having been kept locked up in two enormous chests, probably made on the estate, which had not been opened during the memory of any living member of the family until a few weeks ago, when the locks were forced so that the collection could be catalogued. Owing to the great generosity of the family, it will shortly be accessible to students, as on the death of the late Francis Drake-Brockman it was presented in its entirety to the British Museum.

"The family originally came from Essex, but settled in Kent early in the sixteenth century; Henry Brockman having purchased Beachborough in the latter days of the reign of Queen Elizabeth; though it still belongs to the family, the place is now let as a school. They also owned property in Blechingley, Horley, Nutfield and several other places outside Kent. The collection naturally consists mainly of leases, releases, fines, etc., but there are numerous other interesting documents, including two Court Rolls, one of Newington 1591 - 1603, and the other of Bletchingley, Surrey, 1661 - 1670, two volumes of ' matters transacted as Justices of the Peace, ' 1689 - 1781, and copies of thirty two wills, dating from 1424 - 1796. Besides the wills there are others included with deeds sorted together at some previous date into bundles relating to the same property. For instance, there is a bundle of ten deeds concerning the purchase of land in Blyborough, by Henry Brockman, from 1553 to 1730.

" The collection also includes papers, letters and receipts relating to the cure of Wye, 1606 - 1753; ten deeds relating to the churches of Boughton Aluph, Brenzett and Wye, 1596 - 1634, with papers relating to the parsonages of those places; a Parliamentary Survey of Combe Manor, 1640; a rent book of Combe Wood, with other papers, 1639 - 1747; and a petition from the fishermen of Folkstone to the Commissioners of Dover Harbour, and other deeds concerning the Harbour, 1677 - 1750. An interesting section is formed by forty account books and journals, dating from 1644 to 1825 and relating to the affairs of the estate. A study of these would give a fair idea of the manner of working an estate during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The charters, about five hundred in number, date from the reign of Henry III. To the Tudor period and beyond; the earliest is dated 1256-7.

“With this collection were found books and packets of recipes, both culinary and medicinal, of the eighteenth century. This section is, for the present, being retained by the Brockman family. Those particularly interested in this side of domestic life will appreciate the two following medicinal prescriptions chosen at random. One, called ' Mr. Deeds Snail Water, ' tells one to take two hundred snails and two pounds of worms; these, with various other ingredients, are to be pressed with a knife and then strained. Another ' for strengthening of the sinews ' requires that sixteen swallows ' alive if may be ' shall be pounded in a mortar until no feathers or bones remain, mixed with other ingredients, warmed by the fire and then eaten. It may be added that the recipe says this will keep for several years."

I thought the above excerpt would interest you in regard as to the documents that states the BROCKMAN family history is now documented back to 1256. Before reading this book, I held the prior date of 1390 as the oldest recorded date. The so called "new documents" were found and catalogued in the "1930s" and placed in the British Museum for public use, if I understand Miss Butcher's write up about them correctly. But I guess that her inference to access to the items could have been changed by now.

The Australian branch of the BROCKMAN family is reported to have been originated by a William Locke BROCKMAN. It is stated that he owned a large farm in Romney Marsh which he left to go to Australia in 1829. It is further stated that he was the first mayor of Perth, W.A. From my calculations (which are not too good) he was a great grandson of Rev. Ralphe Drake-BROCKMAN.

The Outpost Home of the BROCKMANS in Western Australia was called "The Warren", Bridgetown, which they occupied for fifty years when they were exploring the country and settling down.

The BROCKMAN mountain range in Australia is supposedly named for this family.

Written by Lloyd Paskall November 12, 2002

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