Thomas Smalbroke of Handsworth

Thomas Smalbroke of Handsworth died and left a will, probate 1649. He was the second son of Thomas Smalbroke (will PCC 1609) and his wife Elizabeth Colmore, born in about 1584. Both the Smalbrokes and Colmores owned substantial amounts of land around what is now the city centre of Birmingham

This article looks at the connections between Thomas and other people discussed on this site.

Thomas had three wives. The first was Elizabeth Rotton, the niece of his uncle Ambrose Rotton, who was the mother of all but one of his children. The other child was Josiah Smalbroke (1643-1667), the son of him and his third wife Hannah Cookes.

Thomas is described as a Mercer, meaning that he was trader and possibly shopkeeper. His father also described himself as a mercer and in his will he talks of his numerous burgages and shop premises in Birmingham.

Thomas, his father and his mother, in their respective wills, declare that they are members of God’s Elect, which gives clear evidence to Thomas’s religious and political leanings. Everything in his circumstances would suggest that he had strong Puritan beliefs and when it came to the Civil War, as with most of the merchant classes, he sided with Parliament.

Thomas’s move from Birmingham to Handsworth in the last ten years of his life seems to be associated with the fact that his third wife came from Handsworth. They married  in 1641 but it is also possible the move was triggered by an effort to the avoid the impact of the war, that must have disrupted trade and the community in Birmingham. After her father John Cookes’s death in 1633, Hannah, was quite likely living in Handsworth, in the household of her Uncle Henry Cookes and his wife Anna.

Thomas eldest surviving son and heir was Richard Smalbroke, born in about 1611. Richard was a brother-in-law of Lancelot Lee. Richard’s second wife Judith Gough was the younger sister of Lancelot’s wife Elizabeth Gough. Although the Gough sisters’ father Henry Gough was a staunch royalist, Elizabeth Lee’s daughter Dorothy married the arch Parliamentarian and barrister William Bendy in about 1652.

Many of the later Smalbrokes went on to be lawyers too.

Thomas Smalbroke’s daughter Sarah was married to a William Turton, who was the great nephew of his sister Ann’s husband also William Turton of West Bromwich (d 1621). These Turtons were in turn cousins of the Turtons of Rowley Regis, notably John Turton. The Turtons both in Rowley and West Bromwich were renowned for their determined religious non-conformity.

Thomas Smalbroke was buried on 22 Mar 1649/50 in St Mary’s Handsworth.

Sources and Notes

  • Will of Thomas Smalbroke of Handsworth, PCC Probate 29 Apr 1650
  • Will of Thomas Smalbroke, PCC Probate 15 May 1609 (Father)
  • Will of Elizabeth Smalbroke, Lichfield 1628 (Mother)
  • Will of Richard Smalbroke, PCC Probate 10 Jun 1668 (Eldest Son)
  • National Archives MS 3602/104 – showing Ann Cookes, widow, leaves all her property to Thomas Smallbroke in a grant 10 Sep 1641 at the marriage of her husband’s niece Hannah to Thomas.
  • Will of Henry Gough, 1655 (Son’s father-in-law) mentions Richard Smallbroke and his wife Judith.
  • Will of Josiah Smalbroke , Lichfield Sep 1667 – this will indicates that his mother Hannah remarried and was Hannah Hill
Last updated on 17 August 2022 by JJ Morgan