Basil Brooke inherited the manor of Madeley, which contained iron and steelworks and coal mines, in the 17th century. Around 1615, he obtained a patent for forging steel by cementation, and it is possible that the steelworks at Coalbrookdale were active at this early date, but certainly were by 1640.
Brooke was also one of the leading English Roman Catholics of his time, and was said to have personal contact with James I and Charles I. Late in 1643, he was implicated in a plot to divide Parliament and the City of London authorities with a view to preventing the Scottish army taking part in the English Civil War. His correspondence was discovered and he was imprisoned. His estate was sequestrated in 1645 as a papist delinquent. He died on 31 December 1646, leaving debts of £10,000 and an estate worth £300 per year. His son Thomas later recovered his estate, which passed down the family for several generations.