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The Wotton Survey

Jacqueline Bower

Part I  :    Introduction and Methodology

Part II :    The Wotton Family

Part III:    The Survey

Transcript of the Wotton Survey


Jacqueline Bower

I  The Manuscript and Methodology

This project was initiated in March 2009. Its primary objective was to transcribe the Wotton Survey 1 and publish it online in order to make it available to researchers. A secondary objective was to enable those participating in the project to acquire, or improve, palaeography skills.

The Wotton family of Boughton Malherbe owned substantial lands in Kent in the sixteenth century. At the time of the Survey their estates totalled about six thousand acres, scattered over every part of the county. 2 The Survey was carried out between 1557 and 1560 on the initiative of Thomas Wotton. Its purpose was to establish precisely what lands he held, where they were, how they were used, what feudal obligations they carried and, especially, whether they were ‘of the custom, nature and tenure of gavelkind.’ This was the particular inheritance custom of Kent whereby lands were partitioned equally between all heirs instead of descending in their entirety to the eldest son. 3

The Survey was still in the possession of the Wotton family, and still in use, in the early seventeenth century, after Edward Wotton had been ennobled; there is a note about the proceeds of a sale that had come ‘to your lordship‘s use.' 4 Its subsequent history is uncertain. The Wotton male line ended with the death of Thomas Wotton’s grandson, also Thomas, who died in 1630. Over the next three centuries, the Wotton estates, and the papers relating to them, were dispersed to a variety of owners through inheritance or sale.

Thomas Wotton the younger left four daughters. By the marriage of the eldest, Catherine, to Henry Stanhope, Boughton Malherbe and other Wotton lands passed to the Stanhopes, Earls of Chesterfield. Thomas Wotton’s library, and many documents relating to the former Wotton lands also passed to the Stanhopes.

In 1750, much of the former Wotton estate was sold by the Stanhopes to Galfridus Mann, and thenceforward descended through the Mann and Cornwallis families. Some records relating to the estate were also transferred to the Manns. 5 Others were retained by the Stanhopes, and were sold, with Thomas Wotton’s library, by the Earl of Caernarvon in 1919. It is unknown whether the Survey was part of this sale. Other documents relating to the Wotton estates, chiefly manorial surveys and rent rolls, were in the hands of private collectors in the 1920s. Some were acquired by the Kent Archaeological Society and are now deposited with their collections at the Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone. 6

In 1955 the Mann-Cornwallis collection was deposited with the Kent Archives service in Maidstone, where it remains. If the Survey had been in the possession of the Mann-Cornwallis family, it seems likely that it would have been deposited with the rest of the papers.

The Survey, however, is not part of either the Mann-Cornwallis collection or that of the Kent Archaeological Society. If it ever was in the possession of the Mann family, it must have been disposed of separately at some date between 1750, when the Wotton estates were acquired by Galfridus Mann, and 1955, when the papers were deposited with the Kent Archives. Possibly, however, the Manns had never had the Survey.

According to a note in the volume, the Survey was at one time 'in the handes of Thomas Lambard of Sevenoke in Kent'. 7 This could have been either Thomas Lambarde who died in 1745, great-great-grandson of the historian and antiquarian William Lambarde, or Thomas Lambarde’s son and heir, another Thomas, who died in 1769. Possibly the Survey passed into the possession of the Lambarde family at the time the former Wotton lands were sold to Galfridus Mann in 1750.

Nothing more is definitely known of the Survey until 1929, when the volume was sold by the auctioneers Hodgson & Co. of Chancery Lane. The identity of the vendor is unknown. It was then, or very soon after, that it was acquired by the British Library. It is described as a ‘recent acquisition’ in the British Museum Quarterly of 1932. 8

The Survey, with associated documents, is bound in a volume of 365mm by 285mm. It is written on vellum in a good sixteenth century hand. The ink is brown, with rulings and decorations in red. In all there are 338 folios, or 676 pages. The pages were numbered at the time the survey was written up. Folio numbers have been added at a later date. In the transcript, we have used the original page numbers.

The survey is bound in gatherings of two leaves - that is, the scribe has used sheets of vellum folded once to make two folios, or four pages. Where he has started a new sheet, but not needed to use all of it, there are blank pages. For example, the survey of Newestedde in Staplehurst is on pages 416, 417 and 418. Page 419 is blank. The survey of Whiteherste in Marden covers thirteen pages, 397-409. The following three pages are blank.

Sixty seven discrete units of land are described in the Survey. Each section is headed with the name of the land being described. Sometimes it is an entire manor, sometimes a farm or tenement, sometimes what appears to be an assortment of fields, pasture and woodland. Each section begins with a preamble identifying the land and stating when and by whom it was surveyed.

Each field or piece of pasture or woodland is described in a separate paragraph. The name of the piece of land is given in the left hand margin. The main body of the text describes the land, its bounds and usage, and the name of the occupier or ‘fermour’. The acreage or the yearly rent due from the land is given in the right margin.

Example page from the Wotton Survey

© The British Library Board. Shelfmark:  Add 42715

Each section concludes with an account of how the land came into the possession of the Wottons, by what feudal tenure it was held and what rents or customary services were due from it, and finally whether the land was subject to gavelkind.

In order to carry out the transcription, a group of volunteers was recruited in May 2009. Some were experienced in reading sixteenth century handwriting. Others were complete beginners. Digital images were supplied on CD by the British Library. The volunteers worked from A3 sized paper copies of the digital images. These black and white copies were slightly larger than, and more legible than, the brown ink on cream vellum of the original.

The volunteers worked with speed and efficiency and transcribing was completed in March 2010. Every page was then checked at least once by someone other than the person who transcribed it. We have done our best to remove all mistakes and typos, but it is not possible to be certain that the transcript is one hundred per cent error free, or that all members of the group have interpreted sometimes unfamiliar terminology in the same way. The scribe himself was not always consistent in his capitalisation of place names and personal names, or in the way he formed his capital letters. He had three ways of writing the letter ‘d’, for example.

example of letter 'd'

© The British Library Board. Shelfmark:  Add 42715

He had three ways of writing the letter ’l.’

examples of letter 'l'

© The British Library Board. Shelfmark:  Add 42715

In describing the bounds of the various pieces of land, the scribe frequently named the points of the compass. He was clear and consistent in his capitalisation of North,

examples of 'north'

© The British Library Board. Shelfmark:  Add 42715


example of 'south'

© The British Library Board. Shelfmark:  Add 42715

and East

example of 'east'

© The British Library Board. Shelfmark:  Add 42715

However, it is not so clear that west is always intended to be capitalised.

example of 'west'

© The British Library Board. Shelfmark:  Add 42715

The scribe wrote the name Wotton many times, using several different styles for the initial W.

How the scribe wrote Thomas Wotton © The British Library Board. Shelfmark:  Add 42715

We decided how to transcribe these on a case by case basis.

To assist transcribers and checkers, the end of each line in the document was marked in the transcribed text by a slash mark / and a line break. These have been retained in the published version. The scribe did not use many abbreviations. Where they occur, they have been extended by the transcibers, with the letters added between square brackets: cont[eynethe]. Words inserted into the text by the scribe himself are indicated with chevrons: ‘the manoure <of Burscombe> aforesaid’.

Because the Survey is bound in a volume, some of the marginal notes could not be captured in the digital imaging process, and the first few letters of some lines in the main body of the text were also lost. It was found possible to recover most of the marginal notes from the volume in the British Library. They were added to the transcript prior to publication.

Spelling of place names and personal names is inconsistent. A piece of land in the manor of Bocton is spelled Cheryels, Cheriels, Cherils and Cherilles on the same page. A piece of land in Eynsford is variously spelled Tittlea or Tyttlea. An occupier of land in or adjoining the manor of Colbredge was Christofer Edynden, Idenden or Idendenne. 9 Boughton (Malherbe), however, is always spelled ’Bocton’. We have not attempted to standardise or modernise spellings in the transcript. However, in this introduction, a single spelling will be adopted for the name of each place or individual referred to. For parish names, the modern spellings will be used.

While the Survey itself is in English, the volume contains several associated documents in Latin. These mostly relate to the Wottons’ title to their estates and to services and obligations issuing out of them. They include the Inquisition Post Mortem on the lands of Nicholas Wotton, great grandfather of Thomas. There is also a lengthy enquiry into the liability of the manor of Bocton for payment towards the maintenance of Dover Castle. These Latin documents have been transcribed but not translated.

The volume also contains a copy of the Act of Parliament of 1548-49 by which the lands which then formed the Wotton estate were disgavelled.

The Survey is a valuable resource for the study of landscape, land usage, tenure and feudal obligations in Kent. It is hoped that this transcript will be of use to scholars and local historians and enable research that will increase our knowledge of the county in the sixteenth century. We would be glad to hear of any research or publication based on the Survey.


Where books or articles are available online, a link to the website is given at the first reference. However, a subscription or password may be required to access some material.

1. British Library (henceforward BL) Add. Ms. 42,715, henceforward Survey .

2 Michael Zell, ’Landholding and the land Market’, Early Modern Kent 1540-1640 (2000), p.65. The Wotton family and its place in Kent is discussed in Part II of this introduction.

3. Gavelkind, its significance to the Wotton estates, and Thomas Wotton’s reasons for carrying out the Survey, are discussed at greater length in Part III.

4. Survey , p. 444.

5. Centre for Kentish Studies (CKS) U24 Mann Cornwallis papers.

6. BL Catalogue description of Add. Ms. 42,715; ;

7. BL Add. Ms. 42,715.

8. BL Add. Ms. 42,715 i, ii; Robin Flower, ‘A Survey of the Wotton Estate’ The British Museum Quarterly , Vol. 7, No. 1 (1932), pp. 20-21

9. Survey , pp. 65, 361, 30, 31.

Text:  Copyright © 2012 Jacqueline Bower
Design & Layout:  Copyright © 2012 Kent Archaeological Society

The Wotton Family

‘The Wottons being a family that hath brought forth divers persons eminent for wisdom and valour, whose heroic acts and noble employments, both in England and in foreign parts, have adorned themselves and this nation, which they have served abroad faithfully in the discharge of their great trust, and prudently in their negociations with several princes; and also served at home with much honour and justice, in their wise managing a great part of the public affairs thereof in the various times both of war and peace.’ 1

Or, less floridly, the Wotton family, ‘for their learning, fortune, and honors, at times when honors were really such, may truly be said to have been ornaments to their country in general, and to this county in particular.’ 2

Like many noble and gentry families, the Wottons initially established themselves through trade. The earliest member of the Wotton family so far identified is William, a merchant of the City of London, whose will was proved in August 1391. He owned property in ‘Thamysestret and Wolsyeslane in the parishes of All Hallows the Great and All Hallows upon the Solar… in the lane and parish of S. Laurence aforesaid, and elsewhere.’ His widow Margaret, in her will of 1404, referred to ‘a tenement called "le Cok on the hoop," with wharf, &c., in Thamisestrete in the parish of S. Magnus the Martyr near London Bridge.’ William, and presumably his wife also, was buried in the church of St Lawrence Pountney in the City. This church was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, so if there was any memorial to them there it is now lost. 3

After various bequests, both William and Margaret left the residue of their estates to their son Nicholas, a draper. Nicholas was sheriff of London in 1406-07, the year of Richard Whittington’s second mayoralty, and Lord Mayor twice, in 1415-16 and 1430-31. 4

A William Wottone was elected alderman for Dowgate in 1388 and was among those representing the City in its dispute with Richard II in the 1390s. A Thomas Wotton, also a draper, was active in the City either side of 1400. Peter Wotton, draper, was a member of the Common Council, representing Bassishaw, in the ninth year of Richard II (1385-86). 5 Since it was usual for family members to follow each other in the same trade, it is likely that Peter and Thomas at least were relatives of Nicholas. Research into the records of the Drapers’ Company and of the Corporation of London might reveal more information about Nicholas and other Wottons in the City of London, and about what role, if any, Nicholas played in relations between the City and the Crown at this critical point in English history.

It was common for successful citizens to acquire country estates. Brandon suggests the custom of gavelkind, and consequent active land market, made Kent particularly attractive. John Pulteney, four times Lord Mayor of London, bought the manor of Penshurst in the early fourteenth century. John Peche, clothier and alderman, bought Lullingstone in 1360. Government officials also moved out into Kent. Robert Belknap, Chief Justice (and an ancestor of Edward and Thomas Wotton), acquired Shawstead manor in Chatham and Gillingham and Sandling (Seynctling) in the Cray Valley in the second half of the fourteenth century. Geoffrey Chaucer, Comptroller of the Customs for the Port of London, had an estate in North West Kent. 6

The Wotton family tree.

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The first generations of the Wotton family to settle in Kent acquired their lands through marriage and inheritance rather than purchase. Nicholas married Joane, daughter and heiress of Robert Corby. The Corby or Corbie family had been established at Eltham and at Widehurst in Marden since the early thirteenth century, if not earlier. The family rose to prominence in the reign of Edward III and was ‘of no small account in this county.’ Robert Corby was sheriff of Kent in the 8th year of Richard II (1384-85).

Through this marriage Nicholas Wotton acquired the manor of Boughton, or Bocton, Malherbe, and Boughton Malherbe was henceforward the principal residence of the Wotton family in Kent. The manor had descended through the female line over several generations prior to Nicholas Wotton acquiring it. It had come to Robert Corby through his wife, Alice, daughter of Sir John Gousall. Sir John Gousall had acquired it from his wife Martha, daughter of Thomas de Dene. The manor had come to the de Dene family through the marriage of Thomas’s father William to Elizabeth de Gatton .7

Descent of the Manor of Boughton Malherbe through the female line.

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In addition to Boughton Malherbe, the Corby marriage brought Nicholas Wotton substantial estates in Kent and elsewhere. Joane Corby’s inheritance included Wormshill, Chilton in Sittingbourne, Sheriff’s Court in Minster in Thanet, Thurnham, Whitehurst in Marden and Mardol in Boughton Aluph. Outside Kent, Nicholas Wotton acquired from Robert Corby the manor of Bayhouse at Purfleet in Essex, although it is unclear whether this was through his marriage, or by purchase. 8

Joane predeceased Nicholas, and he remarried at least once. He died in 1447/8 leaving a widow, Margaret, and two sons, Nicholas and Richard, a clerk. Nicholas senior bequeathed one third part of his estate, including the manor of Chilton, to Richard, but as a clerk in holy orders, he could have no issue, so his inheritance reverted back to his brother. 9

Nicholas Wotton junior married Elizabeth, daughter of John Bamburgh or Bamberg. The marriage brought the manor of Paddlesworth to the Wottons. Nothing is known of John Bamburgh’s life or career; there is no evidence of him having held public office or leaving a will. He was an executor of, and witness to, the will of Nicholas Wotton senior, so was evidently still alive when the will was made in 1447.

Nicholas junior died in 1480 and his widow Elizabeth in 1494. Their memorial brass in Boughton church shows them with three sons and seven daughters, but only one son, Robert, and three daughters appear to have survived to adulthood. The daughters married into the Baker, Cheyney and Cumberland families. 10

Nicholas and Elizabeth Wotton brass in Boughton Church
© Jacqueline Bower

Nicholas & Elizabeth Wotton brass, Boughton Malberbe church

Nicholas and Elizabeth seem to have had a comfortable but not overly lavish lifestyle. Among the items Elizabeth bequeathed to her daughters were a featherbed with coverings and hangings, sheets of hemp and flax, tablecloths, napkins and towels, several items of brass, a psalter and primer, ‘my best gowne Furred with mynke, a blewe gowne Furred with Black my Furred cloake … my blak gown lined with velvet.’ 11 On her memorial brass, Elizabeth is shown wearing a gown that appears to be trimmed with fur, possibly mink, at the cuffs and neckline - possibly the gown referred to in the will.

Detail showing dress trim

© Mike Perring

Detail of brass showing trim on Elizabeth’s gown.

Nicholas Wotton junior does not appear to have held any public office. He lived much of his adult life against the background of the Wars of the Roses and the reign of Edward IV; perhaps he was not a supporter of the Yorkists.

The Wottons might have been out of favour under the Yorkists, but they appear to have flourished under the early Tudors. The family seems to have moved up the social scale during the lifetime of Nicholas junior‘s son Robert. Robert Wotton is the first of the family who can be shown to have played a part in public life in Kent. He was sheriff of Kent in the 14th year of Henry VII (1498-99), and was knighted at some point.

Robert also held office further afield. Under Henry VIII he was chief gatekeeper of Calais, lieutenant of Guisnes, and later Comptroller of Calais. 12 Calais and the ‘English Pale’ around it were the last remaining English territory in France. Given Henry VIII‘s uncertain relations with France, these were politically and militarily sensitive appointments.

According to Peter Clark, 'The personnel of the Calais garrison and administration was increasingly recruited from Kentish folk; landholding on both sides of the Channel was fairly common and in time of war Calais was largely provisioned from the county.’ Kent and Calais may have together formed a regional economy that counterbalanced the increasing pull of London in this period. The need to provision Calais, Guisnes and English Pale stimulated the economies of Kent and East Sussex, it is suggested. This need may have been a factor in the apparent preference for gentlemen from Kent as officeholders in Calais. As landowners, gentlemen such as Robert Wotton would have had access to the quantities of supplies needed, and been aware, through their stewards, of local market conditions. 13

Robert Wotton married Anne Belknap, daughter of Sir Henry Belknap, who held lands in Warwickshire, Essex, Sussex and Kent. He died in 1488. ‘Robard Wotton’ was one of his executors. Sir Henry’s heir, Edward Belknap, also held office in Calais; he was one of the Commissioners responsible for overseeing the construction of the encampment at the ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’ for Henry VIII’s meeting with Francis I of France in June 1520. The king’s retinue of six thousand men and women was bigger than the population of most, if not all, towns in Kent at the time. The ‘temporary’ palace was built of stone, brick, wood and canvas. Three of the rooms were larger than any room in any of the king’s palaces in England. 1

Edward Belknap died in 1521. His estates were divided between his sisters Elizabeth Cooke, Mary Danett and Anne Wotton. The Wottons thereby acquired a one third share of the manors of Ringwould, Saintling Okemere in St Mary Cray and Old Longport in Lydd, as well as land in Warwickshire. 15

The Wottons and the Belknaps.

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In May 1522 Robert Wotton was ‘sore vexed with contynewall infyrmite and by all symylitude of no longe perseverance in this liff.' In July he was still `very seke'. He died in 1524. In his will he asked, if he died in Calais, to be buried next to his late wife Anne, before the altar of the church of the Blessed Mary the Virgin of the Order of Carmelite Friars in Calais. This church was suppressed by Henry VIII, so no memorial to Anne or Robert Wotton survives. 16

Robert Wotton appears to have had a more lavish lifestyle than his parents, possibly due to the requirements of his office. His will mentions gold crosses and chains, silver plate, and cloth of silver bought to make him a coat. The spiritual bequests in the will indicate an orthodox Catholicism; he required his son Edward and Edward’s heirs to provide, out of their inheritance, a priest to sing in the church at Boughton Malherbe for twenty years for the souls of his ‘fader and moder’, for the souls of Robert himself and Anne, and for all Christian souls. The will shows that the family’s Continental links stretched beyond Calais; Robert’s nephew William Baker was a student at Louvain, one of the leading universities of the sixteenth century. 17

Six of Robert and Anne’s nine children survived to adulthood. Their daughter Idonea married Thomas Norton ‘of Calais’. Mary married first into the Guldeford family of Leeds in Kent, then into the Carew family of Devon. Margaret married first William Medley, then Thomas Grey, second Marquess of Dorset, grandson of Elizabeth Woodville and thus a cousin of the King. This marriage elevated the family, or at least Margaret, from the gentry to the aristocracy and brought them close to the Court and the political intrigues of the mid sixteenth century; Margaret and Thomas’s son Henry was the father of Lady Jane Grey. 18

Robert Wotton’s heir was his son Edward. His second surviving son, Anthony, was a monk at Canterbury. The third, Nicholas, born about 1497, was also a churchman and diplomat. Edward and Nicholas did not conform to their father’s conservative religious beliefs. Clark suggests that Edward was one of a number of Kent gentlemen holding radical religious views in the 1530s. Nicholas was one of a humanist circle that flourished at Canterbury in the later 1520s. 19

Although an ordained priest and Dean of Canterbury and of York, Nicholas Wotton followed a career in law and diplomacy. He held office under Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth, serving as ambassador to Cleves, the Netherlands, the Empire, France and Germany. He is described as ‘one of the most long-serving, and probably the last, of the great early Tudor clerical diplomats‘. Nicholas Wotton died in 1567 and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral. 20

Memorial - Nicholas Wotton in Canterbury Cathedral

© 2012 Graham Stark
Nicholas Wotton - memorial at Canterbury Cathedral.

Edward Wotton was born about 1489. He was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1511. It was becoming common for the sons of gentlemen to spend time at the inns of court instead of, or in addition to, university. As well as the useful social connections to be made, knowledge of the law was valuable to men who might have to deal with complicated legal matters in connection with their own estates, and who were likely also to be required to serve as magistrates. Possibly through the influence of his father in law, Edward Wotton was a ‘filazer’ - a court official - at Westminster from 1513. 21

The next phase of Edward Wotton’s career was typical of many county gentlemen. He was a Justice of the Peace in 1524, knighted by 1528 and sheriff in 1529 and 1535. He was present at a number of court occasions, including the coronation of Anne Boleyn in 1533 and the baptism of Prince Edward (the future Edward VI) in 1537, and was among those who travelled to Calais to greet Anne of Cleves on her way to England in 1539. The following year he was appointed treasurer of Calais. Much of his work there involved overseeing the extensive refortification of the town, and preparation for war with France. He continued his career in public service into the reign of Edward VI. 22

Edward also paid attention to the family estates. During the 1520s he substantially extended Boughton Place, the Wottons’ principal seat at Boughton Malherbe. He added to his estates by marriage and by purchase, taking advantage of the active land market in Kent when monastic estates became available following the Dissolutions. In 1539 and 1549 he was one of a number of Kent gentlemen who sought Acts of Parliament to disgavel their estates. These disgavelling Acts led to the Survey which was carried out by Edward Wotton’s son Thomas and is transcribed here. The disgavelling Acts are discussed at greater length in Part III of this introduction. 23

Boughton place today

© Mike Perring

West wing of Boughton Place viewed from the Greensand Way.

Edward Wotton was married twice. His first wife, Dorothy or Dorothea Rede or Reed, was the daughter of Sir Robert Rede, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. She was the mother of Edward’s heir, Thomas. Like Robert Wotton’s brother in law Edward Belknap, and Idonea Wotton’s husband Thomas Norton, the Redes had links with Calais. Robert Rede’s father, Dorothy’s grandfather, was a Lincolnshire man who traded as a Calais merchant. Further research into the English community at Calais might reveal more about their family connections and business interests there.

Robert Rede’s wife was Margaret, daughter of John Alfegh or Alphay of Chiddingstone. Through this marriage Robert Rede acquired land in Kent which eventually passed to Edward Wotton by his marriage to Dorothy. The Rede lands included manors in Eynsford and Cliffe and other lands in Sittingbourne, Brenchley and Hadlow. 24

Dorothy died in 1529. Edward married secondly Ursula, daughter of Sir Robert Dymoke of Scrivelsby, Lincolnshire, and widow of Sir John Rudston, draper and former Lord Mayor of London. 25

Edward Wotton died in 1551. In his will he asked to be buried in the choir of Boughton Malherbe parish church. There is a memorial brass to him there.

Edward Wotton memorial brass in Boughton Malherbe church

© Mike Perring
Edward Wotton memorial brass in Boughton Malherbe church

Edward Wotton’s will indicates an austere personality with strongly Protestant beliefs. He refers to his ‘bodie or vile Carkas’ and to his soul being received by God ‘into the number of his Elect.’

‘Where oftentimes greate summes of money be wastfully spent and consumede aswell in Bowelynge and Ceryng of the corps, as also in the funerall (to wyt in blacke clothe for Morners and servantes) in a hersse with lights and deckyde with schochyns of Armes, with cote Armes, helmet and sworde with suche other ceremonyes usually don by the heraulds at Armes with suche lyke, I do utterly charge myne Executours that in nowyse they bestowe one peny in eny of all the foresaide thinges.’ 26

There was a somewhat pointed legacy for the King:

‘Where the King of most famous memorye King Henry theight my late Master by his testament dyd give and bequeathe to me three hundreth poundes, whiche I have not yet recevyde, I do frely Remytt and give to the King’s Maiestie our present Master the said legacie and some of three hundreth poundes.’

Edward Wotton was survived by his sons Thomas and William and daughter Anne. Two more sons and a daughter died young. Family relationships became complicated in this generation. Brother and sister Thomas and Ann Wotton married sister and brother Elizabeth and Robert Rudstone, daughter and son of their stepmother Ursula by her first marriage to Sir John Rudstone. William Wotton married Mary Danett, descendant of one of the co-heirs of the Belknap estates. 27

Thomas, born in or before 1521, was his father’s principal heir. While his father Edward’s and uncle Nicholas’s lives are reasonably well documented, Thomas’s is not. He appears in the Dictionary of National Biography only as an addendum to his father’s life.

Thomas was educated at Lincoln’s Inn and at Cambridge. He probably spent time in Calais when his father was there and is also believed to have visited Paris as a young man. 28

Having succeeded his father at Boughton Malherbe, Thomas Wotton might also have expected to follow him in a career in government service, perhaps holding an appointment at Calais as both his father and grandfather had done. However, while his father and grandfather had successfully negotiated the uncertainties of Tudor politics in the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, Thomas found himself vulnerable under Mary.

On the death of Edward VI in July 1553, the Duke of Northumberland proclaimed his daughter in law Lady Jane Grey queen. 29 The attempted coup collapsed after nine days and Mary Tudor succeeded to the throne. Northumberland was executed. Jane and her husband, Northumberland’s son Guildford Dudley, were imprisoned in the Tower. Lady Jane’s father, Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, Thomas Wotton’s first cousin, remained free.

The Wottons and Greys.

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There is no evidence that Thomas Wotton was in any way implicated in Northumberland’s attempted usurpation. A few months later, however, events in Kent placed him much closer to potential treason.

Mary Tudor’s intention of marrying Philip II of Spain aroused the opposition of many of her subjects. Kent had already experienced economically motivated disturbances in 1551 and 1552. Late in 1553 Thomas Wyatt of Allington, a close contemporary of Thomas Wotton, began to conspire with other gentlemen in Kent to lead an uprising against the Spanish marriage. There were to be simultaneous risings in Herefordshire, in Devon and in East Anglia, the East Anglian rising to be led by Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk. Although the stated aim of the rebels was only to stop the Spanish marriage, it was widely suspected that at least some of them intended to depose Mary and place Elizabeth on the throne instead. Additionally, Wyatt and other conspirators, like the Wottons, owned former monastic lands. It was known that Mary wished to restore those lands to the church. Preserving their estates therefore provided additional motivation for the plotters.

Wyatt’s co-conspirators in Kent were thirty or so gentry from the Medway Valley area, many of whom were linked by marriage. The plot was also known and supported by the French ambassador; France had an interest in stopping the Spanish marriage.

In January 1554 Wyatt led his followers out of Kent. They reached Westminster and attempted to enter the City. The situation might have become critical, but after initial uncertainty and weak leadership among the queen’s advisors, the rebellion crumbled. Wyatt was arrested and executed, as was Thomas Wotton’s cousin the Duke of Suffolk, and also Lady Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley, although they had not been in any way involved the rebellion. Elizabeth was suspected of having supported the rebels and for a time she too was in danger, but nothing could be proved. She spent two months in the Tower but her life was spared. 30

In such a closely connected community as the Kent gentry, it seems unlikely that Thomas Wotton knew nothing of the conspiracy, even if he was not directly involved. If he had intended to take part in the rebellion, however, he was prevented from doing so. The rising in Kent began on 25 January 1554. Four days before that, Thomas was committed to the Fleet ‘to remain a close prisoner … for obstinate standing against matters of religion.’ 31

The exact circumstances of Thomas’s arrest and imprisonment are unknown. According to Isaak Walton,

‘Nicholas Wotton, Dean of Canterbury, being then Ambassador in France, dreamed that his nephew, this Thomas Wotton, was inclined to be a party in such a project, as, if he were not suddenly prevented, would turn both to the loss of his life, and ruin of his family….

‘Considering also that Almighty God (though the causes of dreams be often unknown) hath … by a certain illumination of the soul in sleep, discovered many things that human wisdom could not foresee: Upon these considerations he resolved to use so prudent a remedy, by way of prevention, as might introduce no great inconvenience either to himself or to his nephew.

‘And to that end, he wrote to the Queen, and besought her, That she would cause his nephew, Thomas Wotton, to be sent for out of Kent; and that the Lords of her Council might interrogate him in some such feigned questions, as might give a colour for his commitment into a favourable prison; declaring that he would acquaint her Majesty with the true reason of his request, when he should next become so happy as to see and speak to her Majesty….’ 32

Leaving aside the story of the dream, it is quite plausible that Nicholas Wotton heard of the Wyatt conspiracy, either from acquaintances in Kent or through his diplomatic contacts in France, and determined to keep his nephew out of it by having him arrested on a lesser charge.

The author of a pamphlet on the Wyat rebellion wrote

‘It befell … that … the Privy Council committed a Gentleman of that Shire [Kent] to Ward, one to Wyat above all others most dear: whereby the common bruit grew that he (suspecting his secrets to be revealed, and upon that occasion to be sent for by the Council) felt himself, as it were for his own surety, compelled to anticipate his time. But whether that were the cause or no, doubtful is.’ 33

It is suggested that the gentleman referred to was Thomas Wotton, and that it was he who revealed Wyat’s plans to the authorities. Even if Thomas did speak of anything he might have known, it is highly unlikely that it would have made any difference to the course of events. His imprisonment occurred only days before the rising; the authorities had known long before that a conspiracy was in progress.

Thomas was still in prison on 4 March. The date of his release is unknown. In a letter to Francis Walsingham written in 1578, Thomas seems to suggest that Walsingham was responsible for securing his release.

‘Thus have you first delyvered mee (without good cause surely as I thincke, once shut up in prisonne,) and nowe for my sake my sonne.’ 34

However, this must refer to some later, as yet unidentified, imprisonment. Walsingham was abroad throughout Mary’s reign and was in any case too young at the time to have had that much influence over the Privy Council. 35

The former Margaret Wotton, Marchioness of Dorset, Henry Grey’s mother and Thomas’s aunt, did not live to see the execution of her son and granddaughter, having died in or soon after 1535. 36

The loss of one or more family members to the executioner’s block was not an unusual experience for the gentry and aristocracy in the Tudor period. Thomas’s will and his letters show that he was aware of his wider family connections. 37 It is impossible to know how close he was to his Grey cousins, and how deeply he might have been affected by the executions of Henry and Jane, but the events of 1553 and 1554 perhaps explain why he held no public office at national level during Mary’s reign. Although his uncle Nicholas continued to serve the crown as a diplomat (albeit at a safe distance, in Paris, until the outbreak of war with France in 1557), Thomas may have considered it wise to keep a low profile.

He did, however, hold office at local level. He was sheriff of Kent in the fourth and fifth years of Mary’s reign, completing his second shrievalty under Elizabeth. He was sheriff again in 1577-78. In August 1573 the Queen visited Boughton Place on her progress through Kent. Thomas ‘had many invitations from Queen Elizabeth to change his … retirement for a Court, offering him a knighthood … and that to be but as an earnest of some more honourable and profitable employment, yet he humbly refused both’. 38

Thomas could not, of course, continue the family tradition of office holding in Calais following its capture by the French in 1558. In 1574 it was rumoured that he was to have an appointment in Ireland, but, he wrote, ‘I am not (I thanke God) so ambitious as that for a little honoure. I sholde take upon me an office of greater weight then my shoulders ar hable to bear, and so eyther fall and shame meself, (which were yll), or by simple service for lacke of good knowledge hynder her Matie and the Realme (which were woorse).’ 39

Both Nicholas and Thomas served on a Commission established by the Queen in 1561 to investigate the ‘ruyne and decaye’ of Rochester Bridge and take immediate steps for its repair. The main work of reviewing the bridge accounts was undertaken by Nicholas, Richard Sackville and William Lovelace. Thomas served on a second Commission in 1571 (Nicholas had died by this time) and a third in 1573. This Commission led to the Rochester Bridge Act of 1576. The Act required the parishes which contributed to the upkeep of the Bridge to elect annually two wardens, twelve assistants, and four auditors to manage the Bridge estates and accounts and ensure the maintenance of the Bridge. Thomas served as one of the auditors in this new system’s first year of operation. In 1583 he was Senior Warden. 40

Rochester Bridge and Castle 1795

Rochester Bridge 1795

The new system seems to have made the administration of the Bridge’s affairs more efficient, but not to have increased its income. Expenditure on repairs and maintenance consistently exceeded income; the average annual deficit 1576-85 was nearly £80. The Wardens resorted to soliciting gifts for the maintenance of the Bridge. In 1583 Thomas wrote several letters asking for donations .41 To ‘the right honorable his verye good Ladie the Countesse of Pembrooke’, a daughter of Sir Henry Sidney, he wrote

‘You maye saie, Good madame, that I doo in a presumptuous sorte moche forget mee selfe in the first Letter that ever I sent you, and afore that ever I spake wythe you, in a matter of charge to present a petition unto you.

'The reaporte of your great curtesye and bountie of thone side dothe incourage mee; the necessitie of the thing I have in hande of thother syde dothe constrayne mee unto yt. Yf emong other of yout most vertuous actions, yt might please you to bestowe some good Portion of moneye upon Rochester Brydge, you shall hardelye bestowe yt upon any persounes that wyll more gratefullye receyve yt then th officers of that Brydge, (wherof unworthily I am one), you can hardlye bestowe yt upon any woorke that ys in shewe more bewtifull; in stuffe or matter more notable; in trade rnore usuall; in use more necessarye; and in present estate more ruinous then Rochester Brydge. Yf I had not ihis Sommer of myne awne moneye bestowed upon yt lixiviij li yt had surelye fallen into a verye great decaye.

'You knowe, right vertuous Ladye, that Beggars maye be no choosers; towarde this good purpose appoynt what ye will, and when ye will. I will therof, God willing, towarde a continuall rememberance of your most virtuous disposition among our recordes make a speciall note.'

Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, was only in her early twenties at the time this letter was written. Thomas Wotton was forty years older. The highly respectful tone of the letter might be because Thomas was asking for money from someone he did not know, or may reflect the difference in social status which Thomas may have perceived to exist between them. Mary Herbert's mother, Mary Sidney, born Mary Dudley, was a sister of John, Duke of Northumberland, and Robert, Elizabeth I’s Earl of Leicester.

Thomas was a public spirited man. He wrote many letters seeking the help of prominent men on behalf of acquaintances, or with county business. He wrote to the highest in the land - Leicester, Burghley, Walsingham - but the correspondence is formal and business like; there is no suggestion that he was on intimate terms with any of these men.

In February 1573 he asked Sir Henry Sidney to use his influence with his servant, Thomas Finch, on behalf of Mrs Finch. Mrs Finch, who was evidently living apart from her husband, had appealed to Thomas for help in resolving her marital troubles. In June 1574 Thomas wrote to the Archbishop, Matthew Parker, about ‘poore Bonham, in profession a christian man, in conversation a virtuous man’, who was imprisoned for failing to conform to the Church of England. 42

Although Northumberland had fallen in 1553, the Dudleys were still prominent and powerful. Thomas had dealings with members of the family on more than one occasion. In March 1578 he wrote to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the Queen’s Master of the Horse, appealing for a reduction in the quantity of oats the county was required to supply to the Queen’s stables. 43

In September 1582 he rejected an appeal from Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, brother of Northumberland and Leicester, on behalf of Thomas Wandenne, apparently a servant or protégé of Warwick’s;

‘Our bounden dutyes unto your good Lordeshippe most humblie remembered. Right sorye ar wee that the lewde demeanure of Thomas Wandenne dothe holde us from shewing hym that favoure that for the dutye wee owe unto you, the sight of your lyverye alone might otherwyse easelye bryng us unto. At the last quarter sessions holden in this place, accused to be, and by good testimonye proved to be a person moche bent unto quarreling.

'And here also then accused, and by like testimonye well proved to have uttered verye sclaunderous woordes against Mr Hendeleye (whom all wee and besyde us a great nomber, for his great yeres and vertuous course of lyfe, doo highlye esteeme), hee was by recognisaunce bounde to his good behavoure.

'Sythens which tyme hee ys here also shrewdelye suspected to have corrupted sondrye bagges of woade, the doying wherof dyd tende to the great losse and hynderaunce of dyvers honest Personnes.

'The consideracon of whiche thinges thus layed together hathe inforced us in this Sessions towarde hym to doo as moche as wee dyd in the last Sessions. Wherof (and so of the disposition of the persoun hym self), wee thought meete to advertise your good Lordeshippe. And thus wee beseeche the Lorde in honourable estate to sende you a course of many ioyfull yeres.’ 44

There is a marked difference in tone between this letter and Thomas’s appeal to Warwick’s niece, the Countess of Pembroke, the following year. Between the minimal courtesies here there is a fairly brisk dismissal of what appears to have been an attempt by Warwick to interfere in county justice.

Thomas’s one known sporting interest was deer hunting. He spent more than £56 enclosing South Park in Boughton Malherbe in 1567, although ‘The days of deer hunting were moving to a close.’ Deer parks were being converted into farmland, as the rising population led to rising demand for agricultural produce and rising prices. 45

The park was stocked with ‘six score deer’. These had come ‘from the nomber of 30 deere of all sortes by the gifte and graunte of John Tufton Esquire had owt of the parke of Westwell … in the iiiith of November 1561.’ 46

Thomas in turn made gifts of deer to others. In 1580, ‘to his verye assured frende Mr Best’, ‘of all the deere that ever you had, I sende you (I feare) the worst, and yet of all those that I nowe have, I sende you (I thincke) the best. But seeing hee ys neyther suche as you deserve, nor suche as for you I desyre hee sholde bee, in the place of this I praye you, appoynt when and where ye will have suche as my Parke can geve, for suche hathe your curtesye ben towarde mee, as at my handes yt deservethe greater matter then Buckes.’ 47

Antiquarianism and other scholarly interests were common pursuits among gentlemen in Kent. In the seventeenth century Edward Dering acquired a substantial collection of manuscripts dating back to the Anglo Saxon period. In the eighteenth century Edward Hasted published his parish by parish History and Topographical Description of Kent.

Nicholas Wotton compiled a collection of histories and genealogies of distinguished English and French families, derived from books and manuscripts borrowed from friends and acquaintances. 48

Thomas probably made some of his uncle’s manuscripts available to William Lambarde, the first historian of Kent, for use in his research. When Lambarde was seeking informed opinions on his Perambulation of Kent , prior to its publication, he sent the manuscript to ‘the Right Woorshipfull, and vertuous, M. Thomas Wotton, Esquier’. In his dedication to Thomas in the published work, Lambarde wrote ‘When I [was] minded to communicate the same with some such of this Countrie, as for skill abundantly could, and for good will indifferently would, weigh and peruse it, You (Right Woorshipfull) came first to my minde, who, for the good understanding and interest that you have in this Shire, can (as well as any other) discerne of this dooing, And to whom (beyond other) I thought my selfe for sundry great courtesies most deepely bound and indebted.’ Thomas, returning the compliment, wrote a preface commending the work to the gentlemen of the county. 49

Thomas Wotton’s greatest personal interest seems to have been his library of books with fine bindings. He is believed to have been the first Englishman to assemble a library of gold-tooled bindings, most of which he acquired in Paris around 1550-1552.

His library included works by Chaucer, Cicero and Pliny, a ten volume edition of Ersamus’s works, Bernardo Ochino’s Tragoedie or Dialoge of the unjuste usurped primacie of the Bishop of Rome, (1549) translated by John Ponet, a leading Protestant theologian, Bishop of Rochester under Edward VI. 50

The greater part of the library passed through the hands of Thomas’s descendants into the possession of the Stanhopes, Earls of Chesterfield and ultimately to the fifth Earl of Caernarvon. It was sold by him, and the volumes dispersed, in 1919. About 140 books in existence today can be identified as having belonged to Thomas. Some are in the British Library. Some are in the library of Eton College. Others are in the United States. One volume sold by Christie’s in New York in 2005 achieved a price of $31,200. 51

Thomas married twice. His first wife, whom he married before 1545, was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Rudstone. They had six sons and three daughters. Elizabeth died in 1564. Thomas subsequently married Heleonor, daughter of William Finch of Eastwell, widow of Robert Morton. Thomas and Heleonor had two sons. 52 By his marriage to Heleonor, Thomas also became stepfather to her son George Morton. George seems to have been a less than satisfactory stepson. In July 1582 Thomas wrote to him

‘Howe the state of your lyving maye maynteyne the charges that your abode in London dothe put you unto, How your abode there without cause dothe answer the dutie ye owe unto your virtuous wife and Childerne (as farre as I can see left to themselves in the Countreye), every man maye easelye judge.’ 53

Thomas died in 1587. His will displays the same austere attitude to funerals as his father. He wanted to buried ‘without any manner of pompe … without sermon Armes or Banners black gownes or Coates or the presence of other persons then such as maye be accepted my ordinarye and Daylye familye.’ 54

There is an alabaster memorial bust to Thomas on the north side of the chancel in Boughton Malherbe church.

Bust of Thomas Wotton on his memorial.

© Mike Perring

Thomas Wotton memorial bust in Boughton Malherbe church

W.E. Moss, a collector and bibliophile who compiled a catalogue of Thomas’s library, believed the bust was ‘a mass produced thing and not portraiture.’ 55 Nothing that is known of Thomas’s character suggests that he would have been pleased with a mass produced memorial, but if he left no instructions (there are none in his will) then it would have been the choice of his widow and his heir.

In his will Thomas made bequests of varying sums of money to more than twenty named male servants. He also refers to ‘the rest of my yeomen servants as … being my household servants doe take my yearely wages.’ Possibly these were farm servants working on the demesne at Boughton Malherbe. Boughton Place was a substantial house, but it seems improbable that there would have been enough work for this number of male servants plus an unknown number of women servants. (The will mentions Mary Whitton, who was perhaps the housekeeper, plus unspecified women servants.) It sounds more like the retinue of a minor medieval nobleman than the household of an Elizabethan country gentleman. Possibly research into the named servants would shed light on what role they played in Thomas’s household.

Thomas seems to have been respected by all who knew him. Renolde Scot of Smeeth described him as ‘a man of great worship and wisedome, and for deciding and ordering of matters in this commonwealth, of rare and singular dexteritie.’ 56

Isaak Walton, who knew his son Henry, wrote that Thomas was ‘a gentleman excellently educated and studious in all the liberal arts… a man of great modesty, of a most plain and single heart, of an ancient freedom and integrity of mind… This Thomas was also remarkable for hospitality, a great lover and much beloved of his country; to which may justly be added that he was a cherisher of learning.’ 57

The editor of his letters described him as ‘a man of strong character, austere, and utterly devoid of humour.’ This assessment is unfair, since the letters on which it was based were mostly formal, addressed to men of superior social status. They were not the place for humour or frivolity. 58

Thomas was typical of the Kent gentry of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Extensive family connections, not overly ambitious, conscientious in his attention to his estates and to county affairs, honourable, well respected and scholarly. He seems to have been comfortable with people in all walks of life, from the highest to the lowest. At one time he was entertaining the Queen at Boughton Place. At another he was walking or riding around fields and overgrown woods, observing while his servants measured out his lands. As he himself said, he was ‘brought up … in the Countrye about Countrye causes …. In a meane estate contented wythe that that the Lorde hathe sent me, being many wayes moche more then I have deserved, and every waye as moche as I desyre.’ 59

There is scope for further research into Thomas Wotton’s life, especially his family connections, his role in county affairs and his religious beliefs.

Descendants of Thomas Wotton.

(Opens in resizable new window)

Four of Thomas’s sons - Edward, James, John and Henry - were knighted. James was a soldier, who took part in a raid on Cadiz. Henry travelled widely in Europe, carried out diplomatic missions for James I, and ultimately became provost of Eton. John died too young to have become established in any career. 60

Edward was Thomas’s heir at Boughton Malherbe. He was a courtier and diplomat under Elizabeth and James I. In 1603 James created him Baron Wotton of Marley (one of the Wotton manors, in Harrietsham). He served as MP, JP, sheriff and Lord Lieutenant in Kent. 61

Edward married Hester, natural daughter and heiress of William Pickering. Pickering had served in Calais under Henry VIII, so this was possibly an old Wotton family connection. Hester died in 1592. Edward subsequently married Margaret, daughter of Philip, third Baron Wharton.

In the early seventeenth century Edward rejected the Protestantism of his father and grandfather and converted to Catholicism. He avoided notice until 1624, when he was summoned before the Quarter Sessions on charges of recusancy. Because of his age (he was seventy six), his long  service to the county and the country, and the respect with which his family was regarded, the magistrates took no action against him.

Edward died in 1628. His heir was his son Thomas, who was also a Catholic. Thomas survived his father by only two years. He had no son; his heirs were his four daughters. The greater part of the Wotton estate, including Boughton Malherbe, passed to the eldest daughter, Catherine. She was married to Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, and her part of the Wotton estates passed down through the Stanhope family until 1750, when it was sold. 62

This is not intended to have been an exhaustive account of the Wotton family in Kent. Its purpose has been to provide some background and context for the Survey, to draw together in one place all the aspects of Thomas Wotton’s life, which has only been written in a fragmentary fashion, and to suggest further avenues for research into the family.

Where books or articles are available online, a link to the website is given at the first reference. However, a subscription or password may be required to access some material.

1. Izaak Walton, Lives of John Donne, Henry Wotton, Richard Hooker, George Herbert, &c.  

2. Edward Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent : Volume 5 (1798), pp. 397-415.

3. Wills: 21 Richard II (1397-8); Wills: 6 Henry IV (1404-5); Calendar of wills proved and enrolled in the Court of Husting, London: Part 2: 1358-1688 (1890).

4. The Visitation of Kent, Taken in the Years 1574 and 1592 (1924); Hasted, op. cit .

5. Reginald R. Sharpe (editor) Calendar of letter-books of the City of London: H: 1375-1399 (1907), pp. 380-396; Calendar of letter-books of the City of London: K : Henry VI (1911); Calendar of the plea and memoranda rolls of the City of London: volume 3: 1381-1412 (1932), )

6. Peter Brandon, The North Downs (2005) p.86.

7. Hasted, op. cit ., Vol. 1, Vol. 7, (1798).

8. A History of the County of Essex : Volume 8 (1983), pp. 57-74.

9. Visitation, op. cit .; Abstract Will of Nicholas Wotton

10. Visitation, op.cit .

11. Will of Elizabeth Wotton, CKS PRC32/4/27

12. Hasted, op. cit .; Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 2: 1515- 1518 (1864).

13. Peter Clark, English Provincial Society from the Reformation to the Revolution: Religion, Politics and Society in Kent, 1500-1640 , (1977), p.11; Mavis E Mate, Trade and Economic Developments 1450-1550; The Experience of Kent , Surrey, and Sussex , (2006).

14. Victoria County History: Warwickshire ; Will of Henry Belknap TNA PROB 11/8; ed. John Nichols, Chronicle of Calais in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII to the year 1540 , . Jasper Ridley, Henry VIII (1985) p.118. A painting of the Field of the Cloth of Gold, by an unknown artist is in the Royal Collection;

15. Will of Edward Belknap TNA PROB 11/20.

16. State Papers, quoted in David Potter, ‘Sir John Gage, Tudor Courtier and Soldier (1479-1556)’, English Historical Review , cxvii, November 2002; Will of Robert Wotton TNA PROB11/21;

17. Will of Robert Wotton TNA PROB11/21. Louvain was in the Duchy of Brabant, present day Belgium, in the sixteenth century part of the dominions of the Hapsburgs.

18. Visitation, op.cit .; Robert C. Braddock, ‘Grey, Thomas, second marquess of Dorset (1477–1530)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , (2004). [, accessed 1 April 2011]

19. Visitation, op. cit .; Clark, op. cit . pp 52, 29.cit

20. For a full account of Nicholas Wotton’s career see Michael Zell, ‘Nicholas Wotton‘, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , (2004). [, accessed 5 Dec 2010]

21. Records of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn: Admissions 1420-1799 . ; Clark op. cit . p.18; J. H. Baker, ‘Rede, Sir Robert (d. 1519)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , (2004); [, accessed 6 Dec 2010]; Oxford English Dictionary .

22. For a full account of Edward Wotton’s career see Luke MacMahon, ‘Edward Wotton‘, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , (2004) [, accessed 5 Dec 2010]

23. Anthony Quiney, Kent Houses (1993) p.180; Michael Zell, Early Modern Kent 1540-1640 , p.64.

24. Robert Rede, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ; Survey .

25. Edward Wotton, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography .

26. Will of Edward Wotton TNA PROB11/34.

27. Visitation, op.cit .

28. Edward Wotton, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;

29. Historians debate how far this was Northumberland’s initiative alone, in an attempt to maintain his own position of power after the death of Edward VI, and how far it was the wish of the young king himself, as a means of securing the Protestant succession.

30. Clark, op. cit ., p.87.

31. John Roche Dasent (ed.) Acts of the Privy Council of England vol 4 1552-1554 p.389

32. Walton, Lives.

33. John Proctor, 'Wyat’s Rebellion; with the order and manner of resisting the same', (1555) Tudor Tracts, 1532-1588 .

34. G. Eland (ed.) Thomas Wotton’s Letter-Book 1574-1586 (1960) p.16.

35. Simon Adams, Alan Bryson, and Mitchell Leimon, ‘Walsingham, Sir Francis (c.1532–1590)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , (2004); [, accessed 1 April 2011]

36. Thomas Grey, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography .

37. Will of Thomas Wotton TNA PROB 11/70; Letter-Book pp.11, 40, 55.

38. Edward Wotton, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ; Walton, Lives .

39. Letter-Book , p.3.

40. Nigel Yates and James M. Gibson, Traffic and politics: the construction and management of Rochester Bridge , AD 43-1993 (1994).

41. Letter-Book , pp. 50, 53, 55, 56, 59.

42. Ibid ., pp. 5, 7.

43. Ibid ., p.30.

44. Ibid ., p. 44.

45. Joan Thirsk, “Agriculture in Kent, 1540-1640”, Michael Zell (ed.) Early Modern Kent 1540-1640 (2000) p.88.

46. Survey p. 93.

47. Letter-Book p.39.

48. BL Add. 38692

49. Retha M. Warnicke, William Lambarde Elizabethan Antiquary 1536-1601 (1973) p. 31; William Lambarde, A Perambulation of Kent (1576)

50. The British Library Database of Bookbindings; Bindings database;; Letter-Book p. xii.

51. Letter-Book p.xii;

The fifth earl was of course the man responsible for financing the excavations which resulted in the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. Possibly the sale of Thomas’s library helped to pay for Howard Carter’s dig?

The Times 12 March 1936 p.10 col c.

52. Visitation, op. cit .; Transcript of Boughton Malherbe Parish Register CKS TR2896/48

53. Letter-Book p.41.

54. Will of Thomas Wotton TNA PROB 11/70

55. The Times 12 March 1936 p.10 col. c.

56. Renolde Scot Discoverie of Witchcraft

57. Walton, Lives .

58. Letter-Book p.xiv.

59. Letter-Book p.3.

60. Walton, Lives .

61. A. J. Loomie, ‘Wotton, Edward, first Baron Wotton (1548–1628)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , (2004);, accessed 1 April 2011

62. Edward Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent : Volume 5 (1798), pp. 397-415.

Text:  Copyright © 2011 Jacqueline Bower
Design & Layout:  Copyright © 2011 Kent Archaeological Society

‘The historic landscape [is] a human creation, made from a complex combination of roads, hedges, boundaries, woods, meadows, parks, slag heaps, railway lines and airfields. Buildings, which included castles, churches, country houses, farms, cottages, mills and bridges, contributed to the whole picture of a constantly evolving countryside.’ 1

Other than slag heaps and bridges, and, obviously, railway lines and airfields, all of the above feature in the survey that was made of the Wotton lands in Kent in the late 1550s. The purpose of this introduction is to describe why and how the Survey was compiled, to give an indication of its content, to set it in its historical context, and suggest how it might be used in research. It is not intended to carry out here any detailed analysis of any of the information in the Survey.

The ancient county of Kent, before boundary changes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, covered just under a million acres. It was the ninth largest English county. The population in the mid sixteenth century was perhaps 80,000. 2 It had begun to grow rapidly in the 1540s, with associated social and economic problems.

1769 map of Kent

Map of Kent

William Lambarde, contemporary of Thomas Wotton, and himself a substantial landowner in the county, described Kent in glowing terms:

‘The soile is for the most part bountifull, consisting indifferently of arable, pasture, meadow and woodland, howbeit of these, wood occupieth the greatest portion … except it bee towards the east, which coast is more champaigne than the residue…. It hath corne and graine, common with other shyres of the realme; as Wheat, Rye, Barley and Oats in good plenty.… The pasture and meadow, is not onely sufficient in proportion to the quantitie of the country itself for breeding, but is comparable in fertilitie also to any other that is neare it … In fertile and fruitfull woodes and trees, this country is most flourishing also….

Touching domestically cattel, as horses, mares, oxen, kine and sheepe, Kent differeth not much from others: onely this it challengeth as singular, that it bringeth forth the largest of stature in eche kinde of them: … Parkes of fallow deer, and games of gray conies it maintaineth many…’ 3

It was the different farming regions of Kent that gave rise to this rich and varied agriculture. From north to south, these regions are the marshlands of north Kent, the chalk of the North Downs, the greensand ridge, the Vale of Holmesdale at the scarpfoot, the Low Weald, the High Weald, and finally Romney Marsh. Although distinctive, these regions were interdependent, with many landowners and farmers having land in several, or all. 4

A typical Kentish landscape.

© Mike Perring

View of the Low Weald from the Greensand Ridge in Boughton Malherbe

The Wotton estates were chiefly concentrated on the greensand ridge, in the scarpfoot and in the Low Weald to the south east of Maidstone, but outlying lands were scattered over the county, from Hadlow in the west to the Isle of Thanet in the east, from Cliffe in the north down to Romney Marsh. There was land in the marshes, on Downland, in Holmesdale and in the Weald. The bulk of the estate, however, was in Boughton Malherbe, where the family’s principal seat was, and in the parishes around. 5

The Wotton lands had been accumulated over nearly 150 years, by marriage, inheritance and purchase. The first part of the estate, including Boughton Malherbe itself, was acquired in 1416, when Nicholas Wotton, Citizen and Draper of London, married Joane, daughter and heiress of Robert Corby, a substantial landowner in Kent. Their son, another Nicholas, added Paddlesworth and other lands to the family estates when he married Elizabeth, daughter of John Bamburgh. Nicholas and Elizabeth’s son Robert married Anne, one of the three sisters and heiresses of Sir Edward Belknap. The Belknap inheritance, which included lands in St Mary Cray, in Ringwould and in Lydd, was to cause ongoing problems for Robert and Anne’s son and grandson Edward and Thomas. 6

Edward Wotton’s marriage to Dorothy Reed added more lands to the Wotton estates. Edward also made substantial purchases of land during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. When the Survey was compiled, the Wotton lands in Kent covered an estimated six thousand acres, a very large estate by Kent standards. Possibly only the ecclesiastical landlords and a handful of lay lords had greater estates in Kent than the Wottons. The majority of gentry families in Kent held only one or two manors, their estates totalling a thousand acres or less. 7

The Survey was carried out by Thomas Wotton in the late 1550s and early 1560s. Its purpose was to establish what lands he held, where they were, how they were used, the size of each individual piece of land, when and how each piece had been acquired, and of whom and by what tenure it was held. In particular, whether it was ‘of the custom, nature and tenure of gavelkind.’ 8

Gavelkind was the ancient customary tenure of the county, described in the Custumal of Kent. The earliest surviving manuscript versions of the Custumal date from the early fourteenth century, but the custom itself is believed to be of much earlier date. It was traditionally believed that the ‘Custom of Kent’ was accepted as having the force of statute law in 1293, but elements of it almost certainly date from before 1066. 9

According to the Custumal, ‘if a man die seised of landes in Gavelkind ... all his sonnes shall have equall portions.’ 10 Until 1540, the power of a freeholder to bequeath, or devise, his land by will was limited; however, owners of land held in gavelkind were supposed to have the right to bequeath them by will. This aspect of the custom is disputed, however; it is pointed out that there is no mention of it in the Custumal of Kent, which is the legal basis for the existence of gavelkind. 11

It was accepted that lands held directly of the king ( in capite ) were not gavelkind; lands held of sub-tenants (by socage tenure) ‘are of the nature of gavelkind’. 12 The Survey therefore records the feudal tenure by which the Wotton lands were held.

Gavelkind facilitated the emergence of the yeoman class in Kent in the late medieval and early modern periods. Many people had the opportunity to acquire land, by purchase or inheritance, and landownership in the county was broadly based. The custom of gavelkind may have been responsible for the large number of gentry families in Kent in the seventeenth century with modest estates between eight hundred and a thousand acres. Many families had several branches, each established on its own estates. The Boys family was perhaps the most extensive, with ten to a dozen branches. The Finch family had nine branches, the most senior headed by a peer. Each of these separate branches was probably established in the past by a son taking his share of his father’s estates. 13

At the lower end of the economic scale gavelkind could lead to the fragmentation of estates, with all the sons of a small landowner inheriting some land, but none of them having enough to support a family. Gavelkind also operated against the interests of the larger landowner who wished his estate to pass on intact to his descendants over several generations.

There were, however, methods whereby landowners could circumvent the custom of gavelkind in order to bequeath their estates intact. One way was to create a ‘feoffment to use’. The land would be held by named feoffees or trustees. The original landowner would have the use, or benefit, of the land, but technically would not be the actual owner.

‘The landowner could provide for younger sons, daughters, bastards, remote relations, or charities, could vary the provision given by law to his widow, and could charge the payment of his debts and legacies on real property .... It was the use and not the legal title which passed on the testator's death.' 14

By about 1500, much of the land in England was held in use, in order to evade the limitations on devising land, and allow the landowner greater freedom in making provision for his family. Boughton Malherbe and other lands of Robert Corby seem to have been held by various feoffees before they passed to Nicholas Wotton. 15

A feoffment could also be used to establish settlements or entails which prevented land being treated as gavelkind; these might be continued from generation to generation, thus avoiding the custom indefinitely. In his will dated 27 January 1523, John Roper, Kentish gentlemen and attorney general, created a feoffment to use to ensure that his lands ‘would never be parted among heirs male... going from the eldest issue male to one other the eldest heir and issue male of his [son's] body lawfully begotten for ever, undivided, and not parted nor partible among heirs male.’ 16

Nicholas Wotton the younger, who died in 1480, and his son Robert, who died in 1523, both enfeoffed their lands. Nicholas’s will does not survive. Robert’s will is dated 26 December 1523, just one month before that of John Roper. His intention was to create an entail. He divided his manors of ‘Sherifyscote’ in Thanet and Chilton in Sittingbourne between his sons Edward, Nicholas and George, ‘as gavellkynde lands.’ The manors of Boughton Malherbe, Powcyns and Burscombe, however, he willed either to Edward or Nicholas or George in their entirety 'never to be divided or departed'. The specified lands were then to pass to the eldest sons of the three heirs, and, failing legitimate issue of any of them, to pass to the survivor or survivors. In the event both George and Nicholas died without issue, so all the lands ultimately passed to Edward’s eldest son Thomas. 17

Feoffments to uses were also a means of avoiding feudal dues to the king, thus reducing the Crown’s income. The Crown initiated a test case in Chancery, based on an inquisition into the estates of the late Thomas, Lord Dacre, who died in 1534. The inquisition was held at Canterbury, so Kentish gentlemen would have been well aware of the case. The Statute of Uses, which ensued in 1536, attempted to restrict the way in which feoffments were used. The Statute aroused opposition among gentry in some parts of England; it was a factor in the risings in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace, in the autumn of 1536. Some of the objections to the Statute of Uses were dealt with by the Statute of Wills, 1540, which gave freeholders the right to dispose of freehold land by will. This was of no assistance to landowners who wished to dispose of gavelkind land, however. If they had been using feoffments to uses to circumvent the custom, they now had to find other means. 18

Gavelkind tenure could only be altered by Act of Parliament. Some disgavelling took place in the early medieval period, and Acts were passed in the eleventh year of Henry VII and the fifteenth year of Henry VIII to disgavel the lands of Sir Richard Guldeford and Sir Henry Wyat. Then in 1539 an Act of Parliament was passed to disgavel the lands of thirty four gentlemen, including Sir Edward Wotton. This was the year in which legislation to dissolve the remaining monasteries was passed; many of these gentlemen would add to their estates when the monastic lands came onto the market. A second disgavelling Act was passed in the third year of Edward VI, 1549. Forty four men were named in this Act, including Edward Wotton and eleven others who had already had lands disgavelled under Henry VIII. 19

The second Act was passed against a background of controversy at court, with the scheming, fall and eventual execution of the Protector's brother Thomas Seymour, and economic depression and public disorder in Kent. In the summer of 1548 about five hundred people pulled down recent enclosures of Sir Thomas Cheyney, one of the men whose lands were disgavelled. Enclosures of Sir Thomas Wyatt were also torn down. There were rebellious assemblies outside Canterbury and on Penenden Heath. ‘Popular disturbance was almost endemic in Edwardian Kent.’ Peter Clark suggests that the disgavelling may itself have been a cause of the disorder, along with enclosures, engrossing and rack renting. ‘Though it is not certain how far tenants saw disgavelling … as a threat to their rights, they may have regarded it as part of a general attack on peasant rights and customs.’ 20

The disgavelling may have been a response to the Dissolutions, which changed the pattern of landownership in Kent more than in many other counties. Elton suggests that confusion was created when Henry VIII made grants of former monastic lands without considering under what tenure the lands had been held before they came into the possession of the religious houses. ‘Much land, which was at first gavelkind, had come to be held in knight service [i.e in capite , and thus not subject to gavelkind], and yet the customary descent remained.’ 21

Thomas Cromwell heads the list of names in the first Act, and the name of Sir Christopher Hales, the Master of the Rolls, also appears, suggesting there was official impetus behind this legislation. Edward Wotton himself was a courtier in the reign of Henry VIII and a Privy Councillor under Edward VI. Many of the families that would be active in county affairs for the next century or more were associated with the two Acts - Culpepper, Darell, Harlakenden, Harte, Hussey, Lovelace, Moyle, Roper, Scott, Walsingham. 22

There were no doubt also economic and personal reasons for the disgavelling. Zell suggests that the landowners ’may have believed that the transmission of their estates to their chosen heir would be more secure if their land shared the same common-law, impartible tenure by which most other English landowners held their estates. Or it may have been merely a matter of prestige to distinguish their estates from those of lesser men.’ 23 There may have been a fear that Henry VIII, having done away with the traditional practice of enfeoffment, might have turned his attention next to customary practices such as gavelkind; these landowners might have wished to protect themselves by bringing their estates within the framework of the common law.

Further research might show whether the impetus for the disgavelling came from the government, from the emerging county community, or from a group of courtiers, office holders, incomers and non-resident gentry wanting to adapt the customs of the county to their own benefit.

It was assumed that all land in Kent was gavelkind unless it could be proved otherwise. In the absence of any evidence that land had been disgavelled, it continued to be treated as if it was gavelkind. Demonstrating that land had been disgavelled was not necessarily easy. The disgavelling acts were private Acts. They were presented to Parliament in the form of petitions, which were either assented to, or not. Private Acts were not normally published; the second of the two disgavelling Acts was not printed. Nor, during the period in which the disgavelling Acts were passed, were private Acts routinely included in the Parliament Roll, the official listing of all statutes. There was thus sometimes no public record of the passing of such Acts. 24

Since the disgavelling Acts are referred to by Hasted and other authorities on landholding in Kent, it must be assumed that they were not forgotten. However, there was no publicly available schedule specifying precisely which lands were covered by the legislation. In order to ascertain whether any piece of land was still subject to gavelkind, it was therefore necessary to examine ‘the inquisitions post mortem of the owners before and after the date of the Acts, the Patent Rolls for the date of any grants to them of lands taken from the monasteries, and the licenses of alienation (or pardons for aliening without license) of lands disposed of during their lives, and other records’ 25 Hence the necessity for the survey of the Wotton lands, to establish which were still of gavelkind tenure following the two disgavelling Acts.

The Survey was still in use in the early seventeenth century. A note regarding the sale of Pettes in Bredgar records the sale price which has come ‘to your lordships use’. 26 This note must have been made after Edward Wotton was ennobled in May 1603. The history of the Survey subsequent to this is uncertain; it is not certain whether the owner of the Wotton lands at any time was aware of its existence, or the nature of the tenure of the lands which they held. Even before the greater part of the estate was purchased by Galfridus Mann, some of the land was sold piecemeal. The Survey is annotated with details of land disposed of even at the time the Survey was being compiled, or soon after. Much of Bynwall marshe in Iwade was sold to Myldred Taylor. The entire manor of Paddlesworth was sold to the Marshams of Cuxton in the mid seventeenth century.

Seventeen acres of woodland in Burscombe in Egerton were sold in 1699. Thirty six acres of woodland in the manor of Colbredge in Boughton Malherbe were sold in 1700. It is possible that the new owners of the disgavelled lands were unaware that they were no longer subject to gavelkind. Research into wills and family papers of subsequent owners of the Wotton lands may reveal whether or not the lands were treated as though they were still subject to gavelkind. 27


Sixty seven discrete units of land were surveyed, including the demesne lands of twenty manors. They range from large manors such as Colbredge in Boughton Malherbe, to moderately sized ‘messuages and tenements’ or farms such as Robyns Tenement in Lenham, to small plots of land such as Goldhurdfeeld in Lenham. The description of Colbredge is nineteen pages long. That of Goldhurdfeeld is just two pages.

Each section begins with a preamble, stating the name of the land being surveyed, and when and by whom the surveying was done.

‘The boundes or lymetes and contennt or quantitie of allthe Demeane landes of the manoure of Ryngewolde, lyenge in Ryngewoolde in the Countie of kennt.’

‘The boundes or lymetes: and contennt or quantitie of certainelandes called Powcynes, lyenge in Bocton malherbe in the Countie of kennt.’

The parish in which the land lay was always stated. However, some manors extended over more than one parish, so some of the lands surveyed might lie in a parish or parishes other than the one named in the preamble. The demesne lands of the manor of Mynchincourte alias Fryringcourte lay in Shadoxhurst, Orlestone, Warehorne, Snave and Woodchurch. The manor of Wardones, in Egerton, had meadow in Charing. The manor of Burscombe in Egerton extended into Charing and Boughton Malherbe.

The Survey was carried out in the last years of Mary Tudor’s reign and the first years of Elizabeth. In his recitation of the regnal years in which the measuring took place, the scribe very correctly named Philip and Mary as King and Queen, and listed all their titles:

‘owre sovereigne lorde and ladye Philippe and Marye (by the grace of god) kinge and Queene of England Spaine, Fraunce, bothe Cicilles, Jherusalem and Ireland: defendoures of the faithe: Archedukes of Austria: Dukes of Millaine burgundie and brabante: Erles of haspurge flannnders and Tiroll.’ 28

Mary was Queen of England, France and Ireland. The English claim to France was based on the marriages of Isabella of France to Edward II of England and Catherine de Valois of France to Henry V of England. The Tudors could also assert a claim to the French throne through their descent from Catherine de Valois and Owen Tudor. By Mary’s reign, Calais and its surrounding Pale was all that remained of English territory in mainland France, and that too would be lost in Mary’s lifetime. English sovereigns however continued to include France in their titles until 1800.

The remainder of the titles were Philip’s. His claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem was even more tenuous than that of Mary to France. The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem had fallen to Saladin in 1187 and had been under Ottoman rule since 1517, but several royal houses of Europe continued to lay claim to it. Philip‘s claim was derived from his relationship to the Aragonese royal family through his grandmother Juana. The Aragonese claim to Jerusalem had been acquired by a convoluted mix of inheritance, conquest, purchase and diplomacy.

Elizabeth laid claim to far fewer titles. She was ‘owre sovereigne ladye Elizabeth (by the grace of god) Queene of England Fraunce and Ireland Defendoure of the Faithe etc.’ 29

Nearly all the lands were surveyed between October 1557 and November 1560. Seynctling Okemere in St Mary Cray was surveyed in May 1562. Oldelongporte in Lydd was surveyed in May 1564. The surveying of these two manors was delayed by complications arising from the will of Edward Belknap.

Most of the measuring was carried out in the months of September, October and November and March and April. Presumably this was to avoid times when there were crops growing in the fields, and also the worst of the winter weather. The measuring was nearly all done by William Clarke, husbandman of Lenham, and Robert Kennett, labourer of Boughton Malherbe, ‘withe Roddes of xvj foote and halfe a foote in lengthe’. The rod, five and a half yards, or sixteen and half feet, was a standard unit for the measurement of land.

Thomas Wotton himself usually accompanied Clarke and Kennett. He was not present at the measuring of land in Boughton Malherbe and neighbouring parishes on 27 April 1560 (although he was at the measuring of New Park in Lenham the same day). Other than on this occasion, it was the measuring of those lands furthest from Boughton Malherbe that he missed - lands in Cliffe, in Hadlow, in Ringwould and in Chislet. Whenever Thomas was not present, his servant William Dymming was. The assumption must be that it was either Thomas himself or William who made notes of the measuring on the spot, to be written up later.

The occupier of the lands being measured, and the owners and occupiers of adjoining lands, were also often present. Richard Rabbet of Staplehurst, ‘fermoure’ of Newstedde, and William Feelde of Marden, were present when Newstedde was measured on 19 March 1559. Thomas Browne, Nicholas Munde, John Cocke and John Church of Cliffe were all present when Molland and Deanefee was measured on 29 November 1560.

The surveyors worked quickly. On 28 September 1559 they measured Mayes Tenement, Gibbes, Wryhalfeyoke, Robyns Tenement and Doddesdane, all in Lenham. On 20 April 1560, they measured Chapmansfold, Humphries and Cowpers, Powcyns and Woodfeild in Boughton Malherbe and Kennerden and Snothfields in Egerton. A large manor, however, might take three or four days to survey; Chilton, in Sittingbourne was measured on 6, 7, and 8 March 1559/60. Sherivescourte, in Minster in Thanet, was measured on 4, 5 and 6 April 1560. The lands measured ranged from plots of a few acres to moderately sized farms to the demesne lands of entire manors. Sandeland and Ketcroft, in Charing, were only two and a half acres and three acres respectively. Bourne's Tenement , also in Lenham, was about seventy acres, Austens or Upstreet, in Chislet, was over eighty acres. The demesne lands of Ringwould totalled several hundred acres.

Within the manor or tenement, each individual piece of land was described and its acreage given.

'A peece of Lande called Stoneteghe, nowe of the saide Thomas Wotton, and lyenge in Charinge aforesaid … conteynethe by Estimacion sixe acres one yarde threetie perches.'

‘A peece of lande called sowthfeelde, late of John Gibbe, nowe of the sayd Thomas Wotton lyenge in lenham aforesaid… conteynethe by Estimacyon Three acres/ one yarde sixteene/ perches.’ 30

Small fields surrounded by hedges were typical of much of Kent in the medieval and early modern period. Chalklin suggests that in the seventeenth century ‘in the Weald and along the sandstone ridge few fields were larger than ten acres, and on most holdings their size was between three and seven acres.’ 31 The demesne lands of the manor of Wardones in Egerton consisted of over two hundred acres of arable land and over eleven acres of woodland in forty one separate fields and shaws. The largest fields were Hartfeeld and Netherwellfeelde at eleven and a half acres each.

The largest fields tended to be found on the fertile arable lands of East Kent, where the land was too valuable to be left to hedgerows and woodland. On the Wotton estates, some fields belonging to Canon Barne in Thurnham were twenty or thirty acres. On the manor of Marleghe in Harrietsham there were fields of thirty, thirty nine and forty five acres. ‘The Greate Close’ in Minster in Thanet, belonging to Sherivescourte, was forty seven acres. However, there were some very small fields and closes, of three or four acres, in Austens, alias Upstreet, in Chislet. Detailed study of the Survey may reveal how precisely field sizes correlate with farming regions.

It is generally accepted that there was never any common field farming in Kent; or, that if there had been, it had died out by the early modern period. There were, however, open fields, subdivided between individual landowners and farmed separately. There is ‘evidence of arable fields subdivided into unenclosed parcels at Aylesford, Boxley, Charing, Harrietsham, Hollingbourne, Kemsing, Sundridge, and Westwell.’ 32

The existence of open fields is apparent in the Wotton Survey. At Thurnham, there were several pieces of land ‘lyenge in a peece of lande called Thornham feeld.’ References to enclosed land at Sherivescourt in Monkton suggest that much of the land there was not enclosed. The manor of Wardones in Egerton had lands in the ‘common meadow’ called Stowremeade in Charing. Detailed study of individual manors and tenements will no doubt reveal further examples.

A field at Thurnham

© Mike Perring

The ploughed (brown) field west of Thurnham Church

Most of the land surveyed was arable or ‘earable’, meadow and pasture, or woodland. Wheat, barley and oats were the principal arable crops grown in early modern Kent. Generally, in Kent, wheat was for consumption as bread, barley for brewing and oats for fodder. The proportion of each crop grown varied from region to region of the county, and from farmer to farmer. 33


Much of Kent was heavily wooded, and woodland was often recorded in the Survey. Sometimes there were large areas of woodland; on the manor of Burscombe in Egerton, Foxsmytheswoodd was eighteen acres. In all there were nearly ninety acres of woodland on the demesne.

It was quite frequently noted that ‘bycause the peece of woodland aforesaid was at this tyme somewhat highe, and verie thicke and roughe: And so for the hignes not well able to be seene throughe And for the thicknes not well able to be gonne throughe: the measurers aforesaid were verie vncertaine whether they had well and trulie measured the same peece of land ye or no.’ 34

Typical woodland

© Mike Perring

Looking south from Pope's Hall Lane (Boughton Malherbe) to Coldbridge Wood

Woodland was too important a resource to be neglected in this way; it was normally carefully managed. Thomas Wotton kept a ‘booke of woodes’ in which he recorded the age of the timber on his lands. 35 Leases imposed duties on tenants to maintain woodland. Further research might reveal whether this neglected woodland had been in   the Wottons’ possession for some time or had only recently been acquired, or whether it had been in the hands of careless tenants.

Timber had many uses; for building houses, barns and ships; for domestic fuel and for charcoal for industrial purposes; for carts and wagons and tools. The rapid destruction of woodland was of sufficient concern to the government for legislation to be passed in the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth in attempts to control the felling of timber in the south east.

A few years after the Survey was carried out, Thomas Wotton was acquiring wood from a variety of sources for the fencing of South Park, his deer park in Boughton Malherbe. Six oaks were felled in Chapmansfolde in Boughton Malherbe to make fenceposts. Loads of timber for paling were carried. Several young beeches were dug up to be replanted in the park.

Often, woodland was recorded in the Survey as a ‘shave’ or ‘spring’. A shave or shaw was an irregular piece of woodland between fields, typical of Kent. 'Spring' was the new growth from the bases or stumps of felled trees. The implication is that the woods so described were being managed by coppicing. Thomas grew his coppice wood for ‘tenne, eleaven or twelve yeares’, at a density of twelve staddles or stumps to the acre. 36

Yewtree Shaw, Boxley
© Mike Perring

Yewtree Shaw, Boxley close to the Detling boundary

Coppicing woodland

© Mike Perring

Coppiced trees in Wrinsted Wood, Frinsted

Many of these shaws or springs were small; often less than an acre each. On the manor of Colbredge in Boughton Malherbe, ‘a shaue or springe of woodde called Middlefeeld springe’ was ‘one yarde threetie perches’. ‘A peece of wooddelande called Barnecrofte shave’ belonging to Loyes in Hadlow was ‘one yarde twentie perches.’

Everitt suggests that shaws or shaves were ‘irregular strips of woodland left … around the edges of medieval assarts as settlement advanced; in many places they are still a faithful indicator of medieval assarting.’ However, Brandon and Short believe that ‘many shaws appear to represent the encroachment of trees and shrubs onto previously cultivated land and the development of shaws, far from being a relict feature of medieval farming, probably occurred when the valuation placed on timber… exceeded that of farmland, as during the peak of the charcoal industry in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.’ 37 Further research on the shaves or shaws described in the Survey may contribute to this debate.


The marshlands were important to the county economy. They were principally used for sheep pasture, but both Leland and Lambarde mention the large number of cattle grazing on the marshes. Downland farmers grazed their livestock on the marshes of the Thames shore or Romney Marsh for up to nine months of the year. 38

In the Survey, fresh marsh and salt marsh were described at various places, including Bynwallmarshe in Iwade, Urnhammesmarshe in Upchurch, Sharleysmore (present day Shirley Moor) in Woodchurch, and Austens, otherwise Upstreet, in Chislet. The manor of Chilton in Sittingbourne had fresh marsh and salt marsh in Iwade. As with the woodland, measuring was not always easy. At Bynwall marshe in Iwade, ‘bycause the peece of marshelande aforesaid called Bynwall marshe was at this tyme verie wette and Fowle: And therefore vneasye to be gone in the measurers aforesaid were verie moche in Doubte whether they had truelye measured the same peece of Lande, ye or no.’

A view of some marshland

© Denis Anstey

Holborough Marsh at Snodland


Various other types of land usage were recorded in the Survey. Hemp platts were mentioned frequently. Rope and canvas, both made from hemp, had many domestic and industrial uses. Hemp was regarded as so important for the Royal Navy that in 1533 Henry VIII required all owners or occupiers of land to set aside a quarter of an acre for its cultivation. There was a saffron close at Wardones in Egerton. Saffron, from the crocus, was used as a dye, for seasoning and for medicinal purposes. It was a profitable but labour intensive crop and therefore would normally be grown in small plots.

There was a hop garden at Boughton Malherbe. Hop cultivation was relatively new in England at the time of the Survey. Renolde Scot of Scots Hall in Smeeth, who knew Thomas Wotton, published A Perfite Platforme of a Hoppe Garden , the first English guide to hop cultivation, in 1574.

Also in Boughton Malherbe was ‘a peece of Lande called the vyneyard’. It is unclear whether vines were actually cultivated there at the time of the Survey, or whether this was simply a name that had survived from an earlier time, such as, for example, The Vines in Rochester. Vines were cultivated in England in the Middle Ages, by monastic houses and lay landlords, but their cultivation had declined by the mid sixteenth century. Contemporaries noted ‘places in this realm that keeps still the names of vineyards and upon many cliffs and hills are yet to be seen the roots and old remains of vines.’ 39

Various reasons have been suggested for the decline of vineyards in England; climate change making the country too cold for viticulture; shortage of labour following the Black Death; the Dissolution of the Monasteries ending monastic cultivation of vines; the need to devote more land to arable crops as the population rose in the second half of the sixteenth century. The cultivation of grapes in England continued in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries largely as a hobby for gentlemen. Samuel Pepys records being offered wine made from grapes grown at Walthamstow by his friend Sir W. Batten. Kentish gentlemen such as Lord Cobham, Sir Cheney Culpeper of Leeds and Sir Peter Ricard of Great Chart produced wine from their own grapes in the first half of the seventeenth century. Boughton Malherbe, on a south facing hillside, would be as well suited to the cultivation of vines as anywhere; perhaps the Wottons too produced their own wine.


It is not easy to establish precisely the limits of a manor. The lands of a manor may not lie in a compact unit. They may be intermingled with other manors, perhaps with detached portions lying at some distance. Upland manors typically had outlying pastures in the Weald or marshland, some distance away from the parent settlement. The manor of Chilton in Sittingbourne, for example, had marshland pasture in Iwade.

The locations of some of the manor houses, such as Chilton in Sittingbourne and Sherivescourte in Minster in Thanet are easily identifiable. Whiteherste in Marden survives as Widehurst. Others, such as Holmyll in Harrietsham, are now lost. Some of the farms or tenements, such as Frendes, Beadles and Gibbes, were recorded in the Survey simply by the names of their former owners; discovering their locations is not easy.

However, using the information given in the Survey, it might be possible to identify the locations of farmhouses and reconstruct the landscape of the 1550s and 1560s. The relationship of each piece of land to adjoining fields, woods or roads was described.

‘A peece of meadowe lande called Sednores meade, percelle of the Demeane landes of the manoure of Fyll aforesaid, and lyenge in Edgerton aforesaid, To certaine landes nowe of John Boicote … towarde the East: To the kinges highe waie leadinge from a place or Streete called Stonebridge in Edgerton aforesaid to Pluckleye in the same countie, toward the Sowthe: To certaine landes nowe of Thomas Sedgeweeke, And to certaine landes nowe of John Fidge, toward the West: And to a Streame or water Course there, toward the Northe.’

‘A peece of Lande called sealeshott, percell of the Demene landes of the manoure of molland and denefee aforesaid, and lyenge in Clife … To certaine landes nowe of Roger Adye, toward the East: To the kinges highe waye there, leadinge from Cowlinge in the said countie to a Mylle called Clifemylle: towarde the Sowthe: To certaine landes nowe of the heires of Richard Parke gentleman, towarde the West: To certaine landes, percell of the Demeane landes of the manoure of Islyngham in Frendesburye in the same countie, nowe of o[wre] said sovereigne ladye the Queene, toward the Northe.

Unlike many other English counties, Kent was not transformed by Parliamentary Enclosure in the eighteenth century. Changes to the landscape have occurred over time, however. In the sixteenth century, landlords were enclosing land, planting hedges and erecting fences. In 1567, Thomas Wotton himself was engaged in hedging, ‘palinge and inclosinge’ South Park in Boughton Malherbe.

The turnpike road from Maidstone to Ashford, laid out in 1793, and from Maidstone to Biddenden, laid out in 1803, passed through Headcorn, Harrietsham, Lenham and Charing, all parishes where Wotton lands lay. Any realignment of existing roads in the turnpiking process, or laying out of new stretches of road, would alter the extent of any lands where the bounds include ’the king’s highway’.

The sixteenth century landscape as described in the Survey is further obscured by the railway that cuts through Sherivescourte. The M20 motorway and the High Speed rail line divide Harrietsham, forcing the diversion of pre-existing roads. Seynctling Okemere, in St Mary Cray, is engulfed by suburban housing and industrial estates.

Reconstructing the landscape in the marshland areas in particular is not easy. The shoreline was changing frequently in the medieval and early modern periods, and has changed since, due to flooding, or reclamation of land. The course of the River Stour has altered over time. New drainage channels or sewers were dug, and flood defences were constructed. At Chislet, along the Stour and the Wantsum, a large area was newly inned or enclosed in the late sixteenth century. 40 The bounds of Sheryuesmarshe in Chislet include ‘a common Watercorse or newe Seware there called the Newe Cutt.’

Map showing

© Kent Archaeological Society

The Chislet Valley showing drainage and flood
defences along the Wantsum

Part of Urnhammesmarshe seems to have been an island cut off at high tide:

‘A salte marshe called Vrnhamesmarshe Lyenge in vpchurche/ besyde Sytingborne in the Countie of kennt, To a streame or Ryver called the Mydwaye or Medwaye leadinge and runninge in the tyme of the fludde from Quynboroughe in the same Countie to Rochester in the Countie aforesaid, toward the West, Northe, and East: To a Cricke or streeme leadinge or Ronnynge in the lieke tyme of the fludde to halstowe in the same Countie, toward the East And To an other Cricke or streame there, toward the Sowthe:’

Elsewhere the defences broke down and the sea encroached. ‘The peece of marshelande aforesaid called Bynwalmarshe (lyeinge in Highewade otherwayes called Iwade in the Countie of Kent aforesaid) throughe an exceeding great highe tide Dryven (as it is supposed) into that Extraordinary Course by means of the wynde comminge in a verie blusteringe and tempestuous sorte out of the West northe west was, betweene the houres of ix of the clocke in the forenoone and iii of the clocke in the afternoone in the Firste of November 1570 then Weddensdaye emonge diverse other marshes in the Countie of Kent whollye surrounded.’ 41

Boundaries may have changed. The manor of Paddlesworth extended over the parishes of Leybourne, Birling, East Malling, Luddesdown and Paddlesworth itself. The parish of Paddlesworth no longer exists, however, having been subsumed into the neighbouring parish of Snodland. 42

Even at the time the Survey was carried out, the bank known as Mildred’s mark, or St Mildred’s Lynch, which divided the manors and parishes of Minster in Thanet and Monkton, and formed part of the bounds of Sheryvescourte, was ‘at this present tyme in theese partes soo overgrowen withe busshes and other trees as the same Waie or marke is shortlie like to growe owte of mans memorie.’ 43

Other landmarks survive, however. In Thurnham, the bounds of ‘a peece of lande called Thornham feeld’ include ‘the churche yard of the parishe of Thornham aforesaid … toward the East.… to certaine landes called greate honnye hill … in Thornham aforesaid … toward The Sowthe… And to a foote pathe or footewaye leadinge from the church of Thornham aforesaid to Detlinge in the Countie of kennt aforesaid, towarde the Northe.’

The church, Honey Hill and the footpath still exist.

In Marleghe in Harrietsham and Lenham ‘the kinges highewaye lyenge vnder the Downe’ which forms the northern boundary of the thirty acre field called Sowthdowne is the ancient trackway known as the Pilgrims’ Way.

Research with large scale maps such as the Tithe maps and aerial surveys and fieldwork might reveal the existence of hedgerows, banks and ditches marking some of these bounds, especially if they are coterminus with the boundaries of demesnes, manors or parishes. It might prove possible to reconstruct the sixteenth century landscape, with its fields, footpaths and farmhouses.


Nearly thirty houses were described in the Survey, often with associated outbuildings, barns and stables. Some were large and complex buildings. At Sheryvescourte in Minster in Thanet there was

'A newe hawle withe a Chymneye: over the said hawle is one lofte or chamber withe a Chymneye: on the Sowthe parte or syde of the same hawle ar towe lowe chambers: over the said towe chambers, is one other chamber. There is also in the said Sowthe parte, an entrie: on the West parte of the said entrie, is a perloure on the West parte of the said parloure, is one lowe chamber: over the same perlor and lowe chamber, is one other fayre chamber. There is also on the Sowthe syde or parte of the same hawle, one other olde hawle: On the Sowthe syde or parte of the said olde hawle, is one lowe chamber: over the said chamber, is also one other chamber. In the west parte of the same olde hawle, is a kychin: and a newe maltinge howse, withe a fayre chamber over the same.'

Many of the houses described followed the pattern of a late medieval ‘yeoman’ house, with a central hall open to the roof and a two storied block of chambers at each end. At Browne's Tenement in Lenham,

‘In and belonginge unto the messuage or tenemente aforesaid, is firste a hawle: On the Sowthe syde of the same hawle ar towe little Chambers: over those towe chambers ar towe other little chambers: On the Northe syde of the same hawle ar towe other little Chambers: over those towe chambers ar towe other little chambers.’

At Frendes in Little Chart,

‘In and belonginge unto one of the messuages or tenementes aforesaid, is first a hawle: In the East syde of the said hawle ar towe little Chambers: over the said towe Chambers ar towe other Chambers. In the West syde of the same messuage or tenemente ar towe other little Chambers: over the said towe Chambers, is one other Chamber.’

This style probably emerged around 1400, and continued in use up to about 1530. It is suggested that perhaps as many as 15,000 houses of this type may have been built in Kent. Each parish in Kent may have had between ten and thirty houses of this style and period. Surviving houses of this type are found all over the county, but are most densely concentrated to the south east of Maidstone, one of the wealthiest regions of the county. Since this is where the greater part of the Wotton lands lie, it is unsurprising that these houses should be found on their estates . 44

A typical house of the period with a with a central hall and wings at each end
©Denis Anstey

A typical house of the period with a central hall
with wings at each end

Kitchens were often referred to. Before brick hearths and chimney stacks, kitchens were in buildings set apart from the main house. Where surviving detached kitchens have been identified in Sussex, they are fairly substantial buildings. (The less substantial of course are less likely to have survived.) They ‘typically measured 7.9 - 11.6 m (26' - 38') long by 5.2 - 6.4 m (17' -21') wide [and were] two storeyed with at least one, and usually two upper chambers.’ The additional chambers, it is suggested were used for storage or perhaps sleeping accommodation for servants. 45

The kitchens mentioned in the Wotton Survey were of precisely this type. At Mynchincourte in Shadoxhurst

‘There is also appertayninge vnto the Scite or Mansion howse of the same manoure, one ketchin, sentrallye sett of and from the Scite or Mansyon howse aforesaid: In the East end of whiche ketchyn is one lowe chambre: over the said Chambre is one other Chambre.’

At Brookes Tenement in Charing,

‘On the East syde of the said messuage or tenemente is a kitchen tiled severallie sett of and from/ the messuage or tenemente aforesaid: In the same kitchen ar towe lowe Chambers: over thoose towe Chambers is one other Chamber: In the said kitchen is also an hoste/ and an oven.’

One authority on vernacular architecture has suggested that ‘In both appearance and area of accommodation these structures closely resemble small houses.’ It is suggested that many buildings standing close to late medieval houses which have been thought to be separate dwellings were in fact detached kitchens. The descriptions of these kitchens in the Survey may help to identify any which still exist. 46

W G Hoskins proposed the idea of a ‘Great Rebuilding’ of rural England in the early modern period. He suggested that ‘between the accession of Elizabeth I and the outbreak of the Civil War there occurred in England a revolution in the housing of a considerable part of the population.’ Due to rising incomes, especially in the agricultural sector, people were able either to build new houses or to improve their existing ones. Brick chimney stacks began to be added to houses. Thatched roofs were replaced with tile. 47

Hoskins’ theories have been disputed subsequently. 48 While the Great Rebuilding is still recognised as a phenomenon which took place, it is now thought that it started earlier and continued longer than had previously been thought to be the case. The Great Rebuilding may have started as early as the late 15th century in the better-off parts of southern and eastern England. What, if anything, can the Wotton Survey contribute to the debate?

Most of the houses described were thatched, but some, such as Burscombe and Wardones, both in Egerton, were tiled. Chimneys were a significant enough feature to be mentioned. At Wryhalfeyoke in Lenham, for example, 

‘In and belonginge vnto the messuage or tenemennt aforesaid, is first a hawle with a chymneye: On the northe side of the said hawle ar towe little chambers: over the said towe little chambers is one lofte or chamber. On the Sowthe side of the said hawle is a parler withe a chimneye and one little chamber: Over the hawle parler and little chamber aforesaid, ar three little chambers, wherof that chamber that is over the said parler, hathe in it also a chimneye.’

Elsewhere, such as at Mynchincourte in Shadoxhurst, there seem to have been no chimneys:

‘In and belonginge vnto the scite or mansyon howse of the Manoure of Mynchyncourte … is first a hawle In the East ende of the said hawle is one lowe Chambre: over the said Chambre is one other Chambre: On the west ende of the same hawle ar towe lowe Chambres: over the said towe Chambres is one other Chamber.’

Houses built in the early fifteenth century were no doubt in need of some improvement by the time the Survey was carried out. Some houses had already undergone rebuilding or alteration before the sixteenth century. Chilton, in Sittingbourne, is one such house. When surveyed in 1994 it was believed to have originally been an aisled hall dating from c.1290. By the time of the Survey it had been substantially altered and extended. There was

‘a hawle withe a Chymneye: On the Sowthe west syde of the same hawle is a Parlor with a Chymneye And towe other lowe Chambers or Roomes called a larder and a mylkehowse: over the same parloure ar towe other chambers, wherof thone Chamber hathe a Chymneye: And over the other towe lowe Chambers or Roomes ar three other chambers: On the said Sowthe west syde of the same hawle is also a gallerie: On the west syde of the said hawle is a little buttrie and a bakehowse: On the Northe syde of the same hawle is a kitchen
withe a Chymneye: on the Northe syde of the said kitchen is abrewhowse and an hoste to make malte in: over the same Brewhowse is one other chamber: Over the Porche thoroughe whiche ye maye goo, if ye goo into the said hawle, is a Chamber withe a Chymneye.’

Further alterations were carried out at later dates. At Chilton and
elsewhere, the Survey may reveal a stage in the history of a house that
would not otherwise be known. 49

In only two of the houses was any description of the contents or fixtures and fittings given. At Browne’s Tenement in Lenham:

‘In the hawle aforesaid, a longe table: aboute three partes of the same/ hawle, Benches: and nyne shettinge wyndowes: In the kitchen an oven and an hoste to make malte in: in one of the fower severall Roomes aforesaid a malte Queerne To moste of the Dores of the chambers and Roomes aforesaid, dores, lockes and keyes.’

‘Shetting’ was an archaic form of ‘shutting’; the windows, in other words, were made to be opened and closed. Eight ‘shetting windows’ are mentioned at Bourne’s Tenement, also in Lenham. These items evidently belonged to Thomas Wotton, rather than the tenant. Since the names of the tenants or ’fermours’ are known, it might be possible to identify probate inventories which would show how the various rooms and outbuildings were furnished and used, and whether there had been any alteration to the buildings after the Survey.

From the descriptions of the houses and associated buildings, it is possible to determine which way each house faced. Brookes Tenement, for example, with chambers to the north and south of the hall and the kitchen to the east, must have faced west. This information about the orientation of the buildings may help to identify them where they survive, or survive much altered, under different names.

Outbuildings were also described. Nearly every house had its associated barns and stables. At Seynctling Okemere, in St Mary Cray, Thomas Wotton had a barn of eight bays, which ‘conteyneth by Estimacion in bredthe thirtie Foote, in lengthe fowerskore foote.’ The Survey did not record whether this barn was thatched or tiled. At Wardones, the house, kitchen and a ‘fayrebarne‘ were all tiled, while a stable, another barn, and a lodge were thatched. At Mayes Tenement in Lenham, the bakehouse, barn and stable were all tiled.

As well as the usual barns and stables, the Survey recorded many rooms or buildings used for food processing or industrial purposes, either in or near to the main dwelling house. At Bourne’s Tenement there were ‘a buttrie and a mylkehowse’ and ’a Smoke lofte to drie bakon.’ Bourne’s tenement also had a smith’s forge. At Wryhalfyoke there was a cheesehouse. At Browne’s Tenement there was ‘a Bakehowse and an hoste to make malte in.’ Archeleyes in Harrietsham also had an ‘hoste to drie malte in.’

At Cobbeshole in Eynsford there was a ‘Tylehoste’ or tile kiln. The house, barn and stable at Cobbeshole were tiled, but the ‘howse to sett cartes in’ was thatched. Possibly the process of tiling the buildings was underway at the time the Survey was carried out.

The chimneys recorded in the Survey must have required a substantial quantity of bricks. There is however no reference to brick making in the Survey. Brick making at this time did not require any permanent structures. Land where brick earth was dug was restored to its previous condition when the work was finished. So if brick making was not taking place at the time the Survey was carried out, or not taking place on Wotton lands, there need not be any record of it in the Survey.

There were, and are, many streams and rivers to the south east of Maidstone, and water mills are mentioned in several places in the Survey. There was a wheat mill and a malt mill at Boughton Malherbe. On the manor of Fyll, in Egerton, there were also ‘towe Corne mylles: that is to saye, a wheate mylle and a malte myll.’ Most of the mills would have been for grinding corn, but at Fyll there was also ‘a fullinge myll: that is to saye, a thicker and a wassher.’ Fulling was a stage in the process of making woollen cloth, when the woven but as yet undyed cloth was beaten and scoured in a vat of water with fuller’s earth, a clay which contained certain minerals. The purpose of the process was to remove impurities in the wool so it would take a dye better, and to make it thicker. Woollen cloth making was a major industry in sixteenth century Kent and the Medway Valley was an important source of fuller’s earth.

There were also two watermills on the River Cray in the manor of Seynctling Okemere in St Mary Cray. Seynctling Okemere contained the only urban area in the Survey:

‘In the East parte of the peece of lande aforesaid called the Markett place of Saincte Marie Craye is one longe tyled howse, meete for bouchers to laye and sell fleshe in: Wherin are xij severall stages or Roomes: in the Sowthe parte of the said peece of lande is one other tiled howse apte for the lieke purpose.’


Thirty one of the manors or tenements were said to have been occupied by someone other than Thomas Wotton. The names of the occupiers, and their status or occupations, are given in the Survey. Sometimes the same name appears more than once. Assuming these are the same people occupying more than one property, and not two people of the same name, there were twenty six different ‘fermours’ or occupiers of land. Three were gentlemen. Four practised a trade - ‘pailemaker’, smith, wheelwright, shoemaker. Twelve were husbandmen and five were ‘yemen’.

The meaning of ‘husbandman’ and ‘yeman’ or ‘yeoman,’ and the differnece between them is unclear. It is suggested that husbandmen were small to medium sized farmers, either freeholders or tenant farmers. Their farms were probably worked by family labour and produced little if any surplus for the market. 50 Robert Spice, husbandman, occupied Burscombe, which was about ninety acres. Richard Adam, another husbandman, occupied the demesne lands of Wardones, over two hundred acres. Two hundred acres was a substantial farm. The occupier of even a ninety acre farm was more than a ‘small to medium sized farmer’ but rather verging on the yeomanry.

The meaning of ‘yeman’ or yeoman at this time was complex and changing. It is usually understood to mean a substantial, well to do farmer, of some standing in his community. As described by Lambarde, ‘the yeomanry is nowhere more free and jolly than in this shire [Kent]. . . In this their estate they please themselves, and joy exceedingly, insomuch as a man may find sundry yeomen (although otherwise for wealth comparable with many of the gentle sort) that will not yet for all that change their condition, nor desire to be apparailed with the titles of gentry.’ 51

The earlier meaning of yeoman, which was becoming obsolete in the sixteenth century, was servant or retainer. Thomas Wotton’s servants Christopher Gatis, Christopher Clement alias Arnold and William Dymmynge were described as ‘yemen’, so in the Survey the word was being used in both senses - a servant and a well to do farmer.

The Wotton lands need not have been the only lands occupied and farmed by these husbandmen and yemen. It was common for yeomen at least to lease or rent lands from a variety of landlords, in addition to any freehold land they might own. It is also possible that they rented or sublet some of the Wotton lands they held to others.

The Survey does not indicate by what tenure these ‘fermours’ held their lands. However, it does describe the tenure by which the Wottons held their lands. Land could be held either directly from the sovereign, as a tenant in chief, or in capite , or as a subtenant of the tenant in chief. This was known as socage tenure. The Wotton lands were mix of both types of tenure. The demesne lands of Holmyll, for example, were held in capite , while Mynchincourte was held by socage tenure. It was important for Thomas Wotton to know which of his lands were held directly of the Queen, as lands held in capite were customarily regarded as not being subject to gavelkind.


The manor had never been such a strong institution in Kent as in other parts of England. Labour services had never been so onerous as in some Midland counties. By the sixteenth century, ‘the Kentish manor was usually a geographically dispersed jigsaw, its main function increasingly limited to extorting minor seigneurial dues from tenants.’ 52

Nevertheless, the Survey reveals a complex array of rents, dues and services issuing out of the Wotton lands. Land changed hands frequently in the active land market of the mid-Tudor period, tenements were assembled then dispersed, often in piecemeal fashion. Keeping track of what was owed, and to whom, required close attention to detail.

The obligations are scrupulously recorded and paid, down to one farthing due to the manor of Lenham issuing out of six acres of land held by Thomas Wotton in a field called Snagboldane. The farthing is payable in lieu of ‘the yerelye custome or service of and in the Earinge or plowinge of thre feete and half a foote of lande… and by the yerelye custome or service of & in the reapinge of towe feete of wheate’ on the demesne lands of Lenham. 53

In the Anglo Saxon and early medieval periods, when the manorial system was emerging, these services were of real importance in guaranteeing a workforce for the lord of the manor. By the sixteenth century their value was minimal, their significance purely symbolic.

Services related to agriculture, or money payments in lieu, were the most common obligations, but some of the Wotton lands bore more unusual charges. Two pieces of land called Eastyokes, part of the manor of Wardones in Egerton, were charged with replacing three of the bell ropes at Egerton church whenever they became worn. The ‘owner Fermoure or occupier’ of Eastyokes was entitled to have the old ropes. The manor of Marleghe was liable for ‘Blaunch rent’. According to Elton, this was a levy raised by Henry IV on the marriage of his daughter Blanche in 1403. 54

The manor of Boughton Malherbe was subordinate to the manor of Ospringe, and therefore part of the Honour of Peverel. The Honour of Peverel consisted of 162 manors in Kent, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and elsewhere. It was one of eight honours or baronies established in the reign of William I. They were responsible for providing men for the defence of Dover. By the time of Henry VIII the requirement to provide men had been commuted to a money payment known as ‘castle ward’ for the maintenance and repair of Dover Castle. The tenure of the lands of the Honour of Peverel had become confused and the rents decayed. Henry ordered enquiries into the tenure of the manors and their liability to pay castle ward. Legislation in the 14th and 15th years of his reign, and again in the 32nd year, attempted to make collection of the castle ward rents more efficient. 55


The Survey recorded when and how the Wottons acquired their lands. While the Wottons established themselves as landowners in Kent primarily by marriage and inheritance, they also acquired a substantial amount of land by purchase.

Evidently the family had kept records over generations; details were given of the purchase of land by Robert Corby in the 1390s, twenty years or more before his daughter Joane married the first Nicholas Wotton;

‘The towe peeces of Lande aforesaid called the hill and little Ewewell weare purchased of John Roper and Thomas Ickham by Robert Corbey of bocton aforesaid Esquier, As by a deede of gifte of the said John Roper and Thomas Ikham therof made dated in the xixth daye of Marche in the xvith yere of the reigne of the late Prince of famous memorye kinge Richarde the Seconde.’

Nicholas the Lord Mayor purchased Frithes in the sixth year of Henry IV (1404/5). Robert purchased Brooke, Hockingstone and Daunceleaze in the eleventh year of Henry VII (1495/6).

There was at least one instance of the Wottons’ recording keeping being inadequate, however:

'Howe the manoure of Sherivescourte … came into the handes and possession of the Wottons, ys yet somewhat vncertaine vnto the said Thomas Wotton. But for as moche as the same Thomas Wotton hathe not yet founde anye deede or writinge of the gifte graunt or Sale of the manoure of Sherivescourte aforesaid, geven grannted or sold vnto anye of the Wottons. And for as moche as Nicholas wotton … greate granndfather of the said Thomas wotton was … in the daie of his deathe beinge the ix th daie of Aprill in the xx th yere of the Reigne of the late kinge of noble memorye kinge Edward the fourthe, seased of the manoure of Sherivescourte aforesaid … the presumption and likelyhoode is greate that the manoure of Sherivescourte aforesaid … did descend and come vnto the said Nicholas wooton as vnto the sonne and heire of Nicholas Wotton late Citizen Draper and mayre of london: whiche Nicholas wotton by semblable presumption and likelyhood had and held the manoure of Sheryvescourte aforesaid and the seuerall peeces of lande afore rehersed, percelles of the Demeane landes of the manoure of Sherivescourte aforesaid in the right of Johane his wife theonlie Daughter and heire of Robert Corbye/ late of bocton malherbe aforesaid Esquier.'

Hasted agreed, and in fact had a little more information:

‘The family of Corbie became possessed of this estate; one of whom, Robert de Corbie, died possessed of it in the 39th year of king Edward III [1365/6], whose son Robert Corbie, esq. of Boughton Malherb, leaving a sole daughter and heir Joane, she carried it in marriage to Sir Nicholas Wotton.’ 56

The largest acquisitions appear to have been made by Sir Edward Wotton, Thomas’s father, in the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. In 1548 alone he purchased separate parcels of land which together amounted to about seven hundred acres. Some of Sir Edward’s purchases were very small. In 1536, for example, he bought a plot of land in Harrietsham that was only just over an acre. 57

All land was theoretically held by the king, and granted out by the king to others (and hence could be forfeit to the king in certain circumstances.) Strictly speaking, the only way for land to be transferred from one individual to another would be for the king to take the land back into his own hands, then grant it out again to the new owner. Over the centuries, however, the legal profession had developed a number of procedures to circumvent this requirement. 58 The Wottons used a number of these in their acquisition of land.

One of these procedures was conveyance of property by a final concord, or fine. Technically, this was a settlement of a property dispute, but was in reality a collusion between buyer and seller to obtain a legal record of the transfer of the property. The buyer and seller agreed a price. The buyer then sued the seller, claiming the property rightfully belonged to him. When the matter came before the court, the parties agreed to settle the matter out of court, then returned to the court to have the agreement confirmed. The ‘final concord’ or ‘fine’ was the written record of the agreement, and was the new owner‘s evidence of title to the land. The document was divided into three, each party taking one part, the third part, from the foot of the document, being the court’s record - hence the term ‘feet of fines’.

‘The peeces of Lande aforesaid called Doddesdane, Martynesdane, hokeswoodde, Swattelmere and Coppnettes crofte, [in Lenham] were purchased of william partriche by Thomas wotton of bocton malherbe in the Countie of kennt Esquier, As by a fyne withe due forme & order of lawe therof knowledged by the said william Partriche in the Octavis of Saincte hillary in the Sixte yere of the reigne of the late … kinge Edward the Sixte.’ In other words, between 20th and 26th January, 1553.

The recovery was another legal subterfuge used to transfer land. In this case, the prospective purchaser would claim in the courts that he had been forcibly ejected from his land and was seeking to recover it from the man who had wrongfully seized it. This procedure was sometimes used to circumvent an entail.

Kennerden in Egerton ‘for the Somme of fourtie pounde [was] purchased of Anthonye Philpott by the said Thomas wotton: As by a recoverie withe Due forme and order of lawe, therof passed againste and suffred by, the said Anthonye Philpott in a terme called Easter terme in the seconde and thirde yere of the Reigne of Philippe and Marie.’

The deed of gift was another means of transferring property. Despite the name, money did change hands in the transaction. Gibbes tenement was ‘purchased of Roberte Elviston and Richard Burgeoist then feoffes of John Gibbe by Edward Wotton then Esquier father of the sayde Thomas Wotton: As by a deede of gifte of the said Robert Elviston and Richard Burgeoist therof made, dated the firste daye of October in the tenthe yere of the Reigne of the late kinge … henrie the Eighte.’

Thomas Wotton would have been aware of the importance of being able to prove title, and how easily, even so, a landowner could be deprived of his lands. In the thirteenth century one of the Wotton manors, Colbredge, had been part of the extensive estates of Juliana de Leybourne, Countess of Huntingdon. These estates had reverted to the king in the reign of Edward III. He had enfeoffed them with the intention that, by his will, the profits of the estates should benefit three religious houses.

In the next reign, however, there were protracted disputes between the feoffees and the king (or, given that the king was a minor at his accession, his council), as Richard II apparently attempted to keep the estates in his own hands, and subsequently to grant them to his favourite, Simon Burley. 59 The fact that one of the feoffees was Simon Sudbury, the Archbishop and Chancellor who was a particular target of the rebels in 1381, raises questions as to how altruistic the feoffees actually were in their handling of the estates. However, Thomas Wotton, given his knowledge of his estates dating back to the reign of Richard II, may well have been aware of the dispute.

The lands known as Beadles, in Thurnham, ‘By reason of the conviction of the said henrie (whiche for Divers reasons was attainted at Tonbridge … in the 14th Daye of June in the 29th yere of the Reigne of the late kinge … the Sixte [1451]) were seased into the handes and possession/of the said late kinge.’

The attainting was possibly in connection with the Jack Cade rebellion, which took place in the summer of 1450. Thomas Wotton had seen men with whom he himself was personally acquainted lose their estates by forfeiture, following the Wyatt rebellion of 1554, just a few years before the Survey was carried out.


Thomas Wotton’s father Edward was one of the gentlemen of Kent who acquired former monastic lands following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII. The manor of Colbredge, and associated marshland pastures and other lands, had belonged to the ‘college of owre blessed ladye saincte Marye the Virgin and of Sancte Stephan Prothomartyr within the palace of Westminster.’ Fyll had belonged to the hospital of Saint Jacob in Thanington, near Canterbury. Sir Edward did not receive most of these lands directly from the Crown, but from a number of purchases on the local land market in the last years of Henry VIII and the reign of Edward VI. 60

It was of benefit to the Crown to have local men with court connections acquiring these lands. Because of its strategically important location, between London and the Continent, the loyalty of Kent was crucial to the security and stability of the country. As well as bringing in much needed revenue, the redistribution of monastic lands to upwardly mobile and ambitious men in the county helped to secure their allegiance to the Crown.

As long as Mary was on the throne, there was a chance that the former monastic lands might be returned to the church. Even after the accession of Elizabeth, landowners did not dismiss the possibility - a reasonable approach, given how quickly things had changed, and changed again, over the previous twenty five years or so. Archeleyes Tenement was measured on 4th November 1559, just two weeks short of the first anniversary of Elizabeth’s accession. Archeleyes was held of the manor of Holmyll in Harrietsham, which had been part of the lands of the Friars Preachers of the Priory of King’s Langley in Hertfordshire.

‘If ever at anye tyme hereafter the manoure of holmyll aforesaid be by acte of parlement taken and evicted owte of the possession of the heires and assignes of the said Thomas Wotton, and restored unto the said late Dissolved priorie or howse of langeleye: And that then by the same acte it be provided that all suche Landes and Renntes as afore the Dissolution of the said late Priorie or howse of Langleye were holden of and paid unto the manoure of holmyll aforesaid should againe of the same manoure be holden, suche and the lieke tenure, Sute and Rennt: it maye yet by this said note appere by what tenure Sute and Rennt, and of Whom, and of what manoure the peece of lande aforesaid called Waterlane was holden:'


The Wottons, and no doubt other landowners, had personal experience of the inconveniences that could arise from the division of lands by gavelkind. Thomas Wotton’s estates included about thirteen acres of land in Lenham called Goldhurdefeelde and Lee Wood. Six acres had been purchased by Edward Wotton in 1534. The remainder had previously been purchased by Robert Wotton about 1510, from Gregorie Ogan, and Elizabeth his wife, John Humfreye and Dorothea his wife, John Turle and Alice his wife, Gregorie Peers and Agnes his wife, John Geffreye and Thomasine his wife, and John Cheeseman and Cicile his wife. Dorothea, Alice, Agnes, Thomasine and Cicile were almost certainly the daughters or sisters of the previous owner, who had inherited the land between them.

Edward Wotton purchased a tenement called Frendes in Little Chart, and other pieces of land, between 1545 and 1547. The land was bought from Richard, Henry and John Frend, William James and Catherin his wife, and Thomas Lorkin. Again, these are probably the heirs of the former owner. Investigation of wills, or manorial records if they survive, might confirm this.

The greatest difficulties were caused by the inheritance of Robert Wotton’s wife Anne. Her brother, Sir Edward Belknap, was a substantial landowner, with estates in Warwickshire as well as Kent. His lands in Kent included the manors of Ringwould in east Kent and Seynctling Okemere at St Mary Cray. When he died in 1521, his estates passed to his three sisters, Elizabeth, Anne and Mary. 61 Ringwould and Seynctling Okemere were each divided into three parts.

The Wottons and the Belknaps.

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In 1548, ‘twoo partes of the manoure of Ryngewoolde …were purchased by Edward Wotton knight of Anthonye Cooke knight, one of the cousyns and heires of Edward Belknappe knight, and of Anne his wife; and of Marie Danet wydowe, one of the Sisters and heires of the said Edward Belknappe … As by a fyne withe due forme and order of lawe thereof.’ 62

Anthony Cooke was actually Edward Belknap’s great nephew, grandson of Elizabeth and heir to her share of the Belknap lands; ‘cousyn’ here is used to mean kinsman.

By the time Thomas Wotton inherited his father’s estates, the third share of the Belknap lands had passed to Leonard Danett, grandson of Mary Belknap. In 1558 Thomas purchased Leonard’s one third share of Seyntling Okemere. 63 When the manor was surveyed in 1562, Anthony Cooke still held his share. He and Thomas Wotton each had ‘a mansion or dwelling house’ in St Mary Cray. Anthony Cooke’s barn stood next to Thomas Wotton’s. The orchard was divided between the two of them. Thomas Wotton owned two parts of the market place and Anthony Cooke one part.

In order to secure the division, Thomas Wotton had brought ‘a writt of particion … agaynste the said Sir Anthonye Cooke, by force of whiche Writte John Tufton esquier sherive of the Countie of kennt aforesaid withe Due forme and order of lawe, that is to saye by the Othes and veredicte of xii good and lawfull men did make appointe and assigne the division particon and lymytacion afore expressed: As by the Exemplification of the said particion Dated at Westmynster the xi Daie of Maye in the fourthe yere of the Reigne of owre sovereigne ladye Elizabeth.’ The Survey had in fact been carried out a week earlier, on 4 May. 64

Thomas Wotton evidently felt a lasting sense of grievance against Anthony Cooke, because of the Belknap inheritance or some other cause. In 1574 he wrote ‘If Sir Anthony Cooke were eyther the man that afore the Lorde he ought to be, or afore the worlde wolde seeme to be, in so great age [Cooke was seventy in 1574], in so blessed dayes, in Sutes farre from lawe, farther from equitie, he wolde never doo as he dothe.’ 65

Thomas appears to have been on better terms with Leonard Dannet, the third heir, but some matters relating to the inheritance were still unresolved between them in 1580, and Thomas seems to have been considering legal action:

‘Right sorie wolde I be that between us two (in nature neere Kynsmen, by nombre of yeres now olde men), and suche thinge sholde arise as sholde be moche unfyt for every of us in age considered by hym selfe severallye, more unfyt for bothe of use in nature considered together jointly. The thing that ye deteyne from mee ys a parte of that that by graunt ye conveyed unto my late good uncle. Unto this thing I doo moche desire that without sute, in a quyet sorte, I mae be agayne restored. And hereunto I praye you about the myddle of the next terme let me have your reasonable answer.’ 66

Hasted records only the Wottons’ ownership of the manor of Seyntling Okemere. Further research may establish how and when Anthony Cooke’s share was acquired by the Wottons and the manor unified. 67

The Survey only reveals a snapshot of the Wotton estates as they were about 1560. Their extent and composition was constantly changing, as they sold land as well as purchasing it. The Feet of Fines record sales of land by Sir Edward; seven acres of land in Rainham in 1530/1; eight acres of meadow and two hundred acres of marshland in Lower Halstow and Iwade in 1539/40. 68

Some of the lands surveyed by Thomas Wotton were sold subsequently, the sales noted in the Survey. Eight pieces of land in Iwade, for example, had been sold to Myldred Taylor. The manor of Ringwould was sold to Sir Thomas Edolphe. The sums for which the lands were sold are sometimes given, but the dates of the transactions are not. Further research in the Feet of Fines and elsewhere might reveal more about the Wottons’ dealings in land.

The Survey is a rich resource for place name scholars. Archaic forms of place names such as Bocton for Boughton and Hedcrone for Headcorn were used. Urnhammesmarshe and Smeeden hammes in Goldenham in Headcorn seem to support Gelling’s suggested definitions of ‘land hemmed in by water… river meadow.’ 69 Many farms, fields, woodland, pasture and marsh were recorded by name, and their locations described. Many of these may be previously unknown names.

Other pace names recorded in the Survey may help in tracing the evolution of the spelling of known place names, or identifying location of lost places. Teinctefield was a piece of land belonging to Brown’s Tenement in Lenham. It may perhaps be identified with the twelfth and thirteenth century Tengefald, Teningefeld. Wallenberg identifies these with the present day Timbold Hill, in the north of the parish. However, the bounds given for Brown’s Tenement suggest that it was further south, nearer to the Pilgrims’ Way. 70 Further study of sources for Lenham may reveal whether Teinctefield, Teningefeld and Timbold Hill are all the same place, or whether they are different places with similar names.

Study of the Survey alongside later surveys or rentals or other sources such as tithe maps may reveal whether field boundaries and field names survived over long periods.


The Wottons amassed a large estate, but much of the land came from other large estates that had been broken up by death, such as the Belknap estates, or by the dissolution of the monasteries. Many manors came to the Wottons through marriage. The manor of Boughton Malherbe itself was in the Wottons’ possession for a little over two hundred years, from the marriage of Nicholas Wotton to Joane Corby in 1416 to the death of Thomas Wotton in 1630. Research into the ownership of other manors would reveal whether this was a long or short time by Kentish standards.

Over time the Wotton estates in turn were dispersed, by sale in the lifetimes of members of the family, and by the ending of the male line in 1630. Research has been carried out into the land market in Kent at various dates; study of the previous and subsequent ownership of the Wotton manors and tenements may reveal how frequently lands changed hands through sale and purchase, and how often ownership was transmitted via the female line, through marriage or inheritance.

The Wotton Survey was carried out during a period of transition in England. Politics, religion, economy and society were all changing. While Thomas Wotton and his servants were walking the fields with their measuring rods, Elizabeth succeeded Mary on the throne and England became irreversibly Protestant. Many traditional and feudal customs were still being observed, the performance of services or payment of rents in lieu being carefully recorded. Other customs were dying out or being abolished or ameliorated by legislation. The landscape was changing to meet the needs of the growing population. The yeomanry was emerging as the class which would dominate the local economies and communities of Kent for the next century and a half. All of these can be observed in the Wotton Survey; it provides a record of the continuing process by which England was transformed from a medieval country into a modern one.


Part I  :    Introduction and Methodology

Part II :    The Wotton Family

Part III:    The Survey

Transcript of the Wotton Survey


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1. Christopher Dyer, assessing the legacy of W.G. Hoskins, ‘Vernacular Architecture and Landscape History’, Vernacular Architecture, 37 (2006), pp. 24-32.

2. C.W. Chalklin, Seventeenth Century Kent (1965), p.2; Patricia Hyde & Michael Zell, ‘Governing the County’, Early Modern Kent 1540-1640 (2000), p. 7.

3. William Lambarde, A Perambulation of Kent (1576)

4. Joan Thirsk, ‘Agriculture in Kent, 1540-1640‘, Michael Zell (ed.) Early Modern Kent 1540-1640 (2000) p. 75.

5. Michael Zell, ’Landholding and the land Market’, Early Modern Kent 1540- 1640 (2000), p.65.

6. Edward Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent : Volume 5 (1798), pp. 397-415,; The Wotton Survey BL Add Ms 42,715, henceforward Survey , passim. See Part II of this Introduction for more extensive discussion of the Wotton family.

7. Peter Clark, English Provincial Society from the Reformation to the Revolution: Religion, politics and society in Kent, 1500-1640 (1977), p.7; Chalklin, op. cit ., p.50; Alan Everitt, The Community of Kent and the Great Rebellion, 1640-60 , (1966) p.34.

8. Survey .

9. Felix Hull ‘The Custumal of Kent’ Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. LXXII (1958) pp. 148-159.

10. Lambarde, op. cit .

11. Charles Sandys, Consuetudines Kanciae, a history of gavelkind and other remarkable customs in the County of Kent (1851) p.281 See also Thomas Robinson, The Common Law of Kent, or, The Customs of Gavelkind (2nd edn. 1788)

12. Lambarde, op. cit .

13. Everitt, op. cit ., p.35.

14. J.H. Baker, An Introduction to English Legal History (2002) p.248

15. Baker, op. cit ., p.252; Calendar of Close Rolls, Henry IV: volume 3: 1405- 1409 (1931), pp. 359-362.

16. Charles I. Elton, The Tenures of Kent (1867) p.381 The date is presumably Old Style; Roper died in late March or early April 1524. No such will appears in the National Archives’ index to PCC Wills.

17. Nicholas Wotton Inquisition Post Mortem, Survey p. 70; Will of Robert Wotton, TNA PROB 11/21

18. E. W. Ives ‘The Genesis of the Statute of Uses’ The English Historical Review , Vol. 82, No. 325 (Oct., 1967), p.690.

19. Hasted, op. cit ., Vol. 1 (1797), pp. 311-321; Survey p.8.

20. Clark, op.cit ., pp.78-80, 424.

21. Elton, op. cit ., passim .

22. Survey , p.9.

23. Zell, ’Landholding and the Land Market’, op. cit . p. 41

24. Survey , p. 9;

25. Elton, op. cit ., p.380.

26. Survey , p.444.

27. Survey p.452; Hasted op. cit ., Vol. 4 (1798), pp. 471-473; CKS U24 E18.

28. Survey p.184.

29. Survey p.256.

30. Survey p.136.

31. Chalklin, op. cit ., p.10.

32. M. D. Nightingale, quoted in Alan R. H. Baker, ‘Field Systems in the Vale of Holmesdale’, Agricultural History Review , xiv (1966)

33. Thirsk, ‘Agriculture in Kent, 1540-1640‘, op. cit ., p.80.

34. Survey , p.430, and elsewhere.

35. Will of Thomas Wotton TNA PROB 11/70.

36. Peter Brandon, The Kent and Sussex Weald (2003) p.156. Will of Thomas Wotton TNA PROB 11/70. Francis Bacon wrote in his Essays, Civil and Moral ‘Even as you may see in coppice woods; if you leave your staddles too thick, you shall never have clean underwood, but shrubs and bushes.’

37. Alan Everitt, Continuity and Colonization: The Evolution of Kentish Settlement (1986) p.27; Peter Brandon & Brian Short, The South East from A.D.1000 , (1990) p.56.

38. Thirsk, ‘Agriculture in Kent, 1540-1640‘, op. cit ., p.78.

39. Joan Thirsk, Alternative agriculture: a history from the Black Death to the present day , (1997) p.136.

40. Eileen Bowler, ‘For the better Defence of low and marshy Grounds': A Survey of the Work of the Sewer Commissions for north and east Kent, 1531-1930 Alec Detsicas & Nigel Yates (eds) Studies in Modern Kentish History (1983).

41. BL Add. Ms. 42,715


43. Hasted, op. cit ., Vol. 10 (1800), pp. 264-294; Survey p.497.

44. Sarah Pearson, The Medieval Houses of Kent - An Historical Analysis (1994) pp. 8, 9; Anthony Quiney, Kent Houses (1993) pp. 138, 142.

45. David & Barbara Martin ‘Detached Kitchens in Eastern-Sussex: A re-assessment of the evidence’, Vernacular Architecture 29 (1998), 85-91

46. Ibid .

47. W. G. Hoskins ‘The Rebuilding of Rural England, 1570–1640’, Past and Present , 4 (1953 )

48. Matthew H. Johnson, ‘Rethinking the Great Rebuilding’, Oxford Journal of Archaeology , Vol. 12, (1993) pp.117-125.

49. Pearson, op. cit .  Subsequent work on Chilton suggests that the house may be even older than was originally thought. See Sarah Pearson, Vernacular Architecture , forthcoming. I am grateful to Dr Pearson for reading and commenting on this section of the Introduction.

50. Zell, ’Landholding and the Land Market’, op. cit ., p. 69.

51. Jacqueline Bower, 'The Kent Yeoman in the Seventeenth Century', Arch. Cant ., cxiv (1994) pp.149-163; Lambarde, op. cit .

52. Clark, op. cit ., p.7.

53. Survey p.552

54. Elton, op. cit ., p.284.

55. Hasted, op. cit . Vol.. 9 (1800), pp. 475-548; Elton op. cit . p.76.

56. Hasted, op. cit . Vol. 10 (1800), pp. 264-294.

57. Zell, ’Landholding and the Land Market’, op. cit ., p. 65; Survey p. 540.


59. C. J. Given-Wilson, ‘Richard II and His Grandfather's Will’, The English Historical Review , Vol. 93, (1978), pp. 320-337.

60. Zell, ’Landholding and the Land Market’, op. cit ., p. 65; Michael Zell, ‘The Mid-Tudor Market in Crown Land in Kent’, Arch. Cant ., xcvii (1981).

61. Will of Edward Belknap TNA PROB 11/20.

62 Survey p.519.

63. Michael Zell (ed.) Kent Feet of Fines Philip & Mary Part 2 KAS Kent Records New Series Vol. 4 (2007).

64. Survey p.359.

65. G. Eland (ed.), Thomas Wotton’s Letter-Book 1574-1586 (1960) p.1.

66 Ibid ., p. 34.

67. Hasted, op. cit ., Vol. 2 (1797), pp. 112-125

68. Michael Zell (ed.), Kent Feet of Fines Henry VIII, KAS Kent Records New Series Vol. 2 (1998).

69. Margaret Gelling, Place Names in the Landscape (1984), p.41

70. J. K. Wallenberg, Kentish Place-Names (Uppsala, 1931), p.191; J. K. Wallenberg, The Place-Names of Kent , (Uppsala 1934) p. 227.

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