Brooke, George, ninth Baron Cobham
- C. S. Knighton
George Brooke, ninth Baron Cobham (c. 1497–1558)
Brooke, George, ninth Baron Cobham (c. 1497–1558), soldier and landowner, was the eldest surviving son of Thomas Brooke, eighth Baron Cobham (d. 1529), and his first wife, Dorothy Heydon. He accompanied his father in attending Mary Tudor to her marriage with Louis XII of France in 1514. He returned to France in war in 1522 and served with distinction. He was knighted after the capture of Morlaix at the beginning of July, and led a force of 2000 men in skirmishes round Calais in September. In the court festivities on either side of Christmas 1524 he was prominent in the jousting around 'the castle of libertie' at Greenwich. By 1526 he had married Anne (c.1510–1558), eldest daughter of Edmund, Lord Bray; they had ten sons and four daughters. After succeeding to the barony in 1529 he was among the leaders of Kent society, and was frequently required to escort and entertain state visitors passing along the Dover road. He served as JP for the county and was named to numerous other commissions. He was rewarded with substantial grants of confiscated monastic and collegiate land, notably the site of Cobham College, founded by the third Baron Cobham in 1362.
In spring 1544 Cobham was lieutenant-general for the invasion of Scotland, praised by his commander (Hertford) for his 'ryght honist and paynfull sarvis' (BL, Add. MS 32654, fol. 204r). On 17 June 1544 he was appointed deputy of Calais. There he played a key role in negotiating peace with France and the return of Boulogne. On 24 April 1549 he was nominated knight of the Garter, as which he was installed on 13 December. He was sympathetic to the seizure of power by John Dudley in October (his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, was the second wife of Dudley's close ally the marquess of Northampton), and was rewarded with a place on the privy council from 23 May 1550. By September he had relinquished his post at Calais, and for the rest of Edward VI's reign he was in regular attendance at parliament and the council table. In January 1551, and again in November 1552, he was proposed as lieutenant in Ireland, but was never sent. In December 1551 he was assigned fifty of the mounted 'gendarmes' recently appointed as a security measure.
Cobham supported Dudley's attempted coup after Edward's death; he and Sir John Mason were sent in the name of Queen Jane to explain events to the imperial ambassadors in London, and to deter them from contacting Mary. Following Mary's accession Cobham was pardoned on 11 October 1553; but his loyalty to the new regime was uncertain. When Wyatt raised Kent in January 1554, Cobham was appointed to assist the duke of Norfolk in suppressing the rebellion. Through his mother Wyatt was Cobham's nephew and, despite family discord and disputes over property, looked to his uncle and cousins for support. Cobham joined the royal forces under Norfolk at Gravesend, and warned the duke of the unreliability of the Londoners, but was ignored. Norfolk's forces disintegrated soon afterwards, and Cobham withdrew to his castle at Cooling where, on 30 January, Wyatt gave assault. Cobham claimed to have fought valiantly for seven hours before capitulating to superior strength. In reality (as was at once suspected) his resistance may have been a pretence. Cobham went to Wyatt's camp, which three of his sons also joined, and then 'escaped' to London, where after examination by the council he was imprisoned in the Tower on 2 February.
Cobham was released at the suit of the count of Egmont, one of Charles V's emissaries, on 24 March. He suffered only a fine of £452, and was restored to his place in local, but not national, affairs. During 1554 he attended the arrivals of King Philip and Cardinal Pole. He was appointed to the Kent sewers commission in 1555, and to the heresy commission in the diocese of Canterbury in 1556. He was nevertheless distrusted as a heretic himself and 'of French leanings', in the words of the imperial ambassador Simon Renard (CSP Spain, 1554, 239). His attachment to the reform movement was probably genuine; he received a dedication from Thomas Becon, was on good terms with Archbishop Cranmer, and directed that his funeral be conducted without 'superstitious ceremonye' (TNA: PRO, PROB 11/43, fol. 448). He employed protestant tutors for his sons. His character is most pleasantly shown in directions given in 1541 for his eldest son, William Brooke, later tenth Baron Cobham, who was about to tour Italy. After more conventional moral strictures, he advised him to spend his spare time playing the lute, and not to speak 'too thick' (LP Henry VIII, 16, no. 893).
Cobham died on 29 September 1558 and was buried in Cobham church, where his fine tomb and effigy may be seen. His wife died on 1 November following and was buried on the 26th.
- GEC, Peerage, 3.347–8
- LP Henry VIII, 16, nos. 878(60), 893; 19/1, nos. 535, 680, 716, 812(59)
- CPR, 1547–8, 79, 85; 1553–4, 35, 36, 437; 1554–5, 110; 1555–7, 24–5, 368
- CSP dom., 1547–53, 274, 290; 1553–8, 25–8, 30, 54, 103
- CSP for., 1547–53
- CSP Spain, 1538–42, 468; 1544, 146; 1550–54; 1554–8, 23
- APC, 1550–52, 56; 1554–6, 83, 345
- The chronicle and political papers of King Edward VI, ed. W. K. Jordan (1966), 25, 30, 31, 47, 52, 100, 124
- J. G. Nichols, ed., The chronicle of Queen Jane, and of two years of Queen Mary, CS, old ser., 48 (1850), 36, 41, 71, 91
- The diary of Henry Machyn, citizen and merchant-taylor of London, from ad 1550 to ad 1563, ed. J. G. Nichols, CS, 42 (1848), 37, 75, 179
- The early works of Thomas Becon, ed. J. Ayre, Parker Society, 2 (1843), 264–8
- J. G. Waller, ‘The lords of Cobham, their monuments, and the church [pt 2]’, Archaeologia Cantiana, 12 (1878), 113–66
- P. Clark, English provincial society from the Reformation to the revolution: religion, politics and society in Kent, 1500–1640 (1977), 21, 50–51, 95, 105, 421 n. 85, 424 nn. 48, 51, 429 n. 120
- M. A. R. Graves, The House of Lords in the parliaments of Edward VI and Mary I (1981), 23, 225, 263 n. 217
- D. E. Hoak, The king's council in the reign of Edward VI (1976), 54, 62, 136
- H. Miller, Henry VIII and the English nobility (1986), 126, 241, 246
- W. K. Jordan, Edward VI, 1: The young king (1968), 77, 93, 203, 361
- D. M. Loades, Two Tudor conspiracies (1965), 57, 59–62, 82, 254
- D. MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: a life (1996)
- TNA: PRO, PROB 11/43, fols. 447v–453r
- Hall’s chronicle, ed. H. Ellis (1809)
- BL, Add. MS 32654
- BL, corresp. as deputy of Calais, Harley MSS
- H. Holbein the younger, drawing, Royal Collection [see illus.]
- effigy on tomb, Cobham
Wealth at Death
see will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/43, fols. 447v–453r