THE next parish southward from Bersted is Otham,
which although it is situated within the hundred of Eyhorne, is yet within the civil jurisdiction of the mayor
and corporation of the town and parish of Maidstone.
This jurisdiction, as the charter expresses it, extends
only to the cognizance and determination of actions
and replevins, and to no other purpose whatsoever.
THIS PARISH is much covered with woods, especially in the western part of it. Towards the north it
is bounded from Bersted by the Lenham rivulet, which
here turns a mill, called Otham mill. The soil is in
the southern part of it poor, consisting of a loose red
earth, intermixed with small gravelly stones; towards
the north-west towards Willington-street and Maidstone, it partakes of the quarry-stone, where it is much
more sertile, and is kindly for fruit and hops, of which
latter there are several plantations. In the northern
part, the soil is fertile, consisting of a fine loam, the
land letting from 20 to 30s. an acre, and near the
rivers the meadows are very good. Near the middle
of the parish is Gore-court, a low modernized building,
almost surrounded by woods, and at no great distance
northward the parsonage, a modern fashed building,
beyond which the church stands; at the back of Gorecourt, about half a mile distance, in a more open
country, is Otham-street, and beyond it the manor of
OTHAM was given by William the Conqueror to his
half-brother Odo, bishop of Baieux, under the general
title of whose lands it is thus entered in the survey of
Goisfrid de Ros holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Oteham.
It was taxed at one suling, and one yoke. The arable
land is two carucates and an half. In demesne there is
one, and nine villeins, with three borderers, having one
carucate There is a church, and two servants, and one
mill of five shillings, and three acres of meadow. Wood
for the pannage of eight hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth four pounds, when he
received it three pounds, now four pounds. Alwin held
it of king Edward.
On the bishop's disgrace soon after the taking of the
above-mentioned survey, this, among the rest of his
estates, came into the hands of the crown, and appears
to have been held by a family, who took their name
Peter de Otham held this estate as one knight's see,
in the reign of king Henry III. as appears by the Testa
de Nevil, and it seems that he held it in sergeantry;
his daughter and heir Loretta carried it in marriage to
William de Valoyns, whose family was possessed of
large estates in the eastern parts of this county.
William de Valoigns is mentioned in the Testa de
Nevil to have paid aid for lands at Petham, Ashsord,
and Otham, in the 20th year of king Henry III. and
died possessed of Otham in the 10th year of Edward I.
His wife Loretta survived him, and possessed this estate,
which she afterwards gave to her two sons, Walter and
Robert de Valoigns, by the description of the manor
of Otham, with the advowson of the church, and in
the iter of J. de Berewick and his associates, anno 21
Edward I. she produced the deed of this gift, which is
recorded in that iter at length. (fn. 1) They held it in the
next reign of Edward II. as one knight's see, of the
honor of Albermarle; but in the 20th year of king
Edward III. it was partly alienated from this family, for
Isabel, widow of Walter de Valoigns, Richard Colyn,
and master Nicholas de Sandwich, then paid respective
aid for it.
Nicholas de Sandwich appears to have died in possession of this manor in 1370, anno 45 Edward III.
being then rector of this parish. He lies buried in
this church, being a younger son of the Sandwich's, of
Sandwich, in this county, and bore for his arms, Or,
on a chief dancette, azure, a mullet, argent, for difference. After which it passed into the family of Fremingham; and John, son of Sir Ralph de Fremingham, of Lose, died in the 12th year of Henry IV.
possessed, among other premises, of the manor and advowson of the church of Otham, and leaving no issue,
he devised this estate by will to seoffees, who next year,
assigned it over according to the directions of it to
John, son of Reginald de Pimpe, and his heirs male,
with remainder to Roger Isle, as being the nearest of
blood to him. His descendant Reginald died possessed
of them in the 23d year of Henry VIII. After which
this manor and the advowson came into the possession
of Sir Henry Isley, who soon afterwards conveyed
them to Thomas Hendley, esq. of Coursehorne, in
Cranbrooke, whose ancestor was Walter Hendley, esq.
of that place, who married first the daughter of John
Hales, baron of the exchequer, by whose second wife
the Hendleys of Wales are descended. They bore for
their arms, Pale, bendy, azure and gules, eight martlets,
three, two, and three, or. His descendant, John Hendley, esq. possessed them at the restoration of king
Charles II. He married Priscilla, daughter of Thomas
Fludd, esq. of Gore court, in this parish, by whom he
had Bowyer Hendley, esq. sheriff in 1702, and his
grandson William Henley, esq. of Gore-court, is now
entitled to the see of them.
GORE-COURT is a seat in this parish, which with
lands here, called Colyns, alias Old-hole, (no doubt,
called Colyns, from Richard Colyn, who was owner of
Otham manor in the reign of Edward III. as beforementioned, and perhaps now usually known by the name
of Otham-hole), was once esteemed part of the manor
of Otham, and seems to have had the same owners,
till they came into the possession of Sir Henry Isley, in
the reign of king Henry VIII. who alienated them to
Thomas Astrey, and he, in the 3d year of king Edward VI. conveyed them by deed and fine to Walter
Hendley, esq. and Thomas Hendley, esq. his son, the
former of whom, the next year, released the whole of
it to the latter, and he, that year, sold this estate to
Ralph Buffkin, by deed and fine. He bore for his
arms, Or, a chevron, between three helmets, azure, and
in his descendants this estate remained till the reign of
king James I. when it was alienated to Mr. Nathaniel
Powel, of Ewehurst, in Sussex, who soon afterwards
conveyed it to Thomas Fludd, esq. descended from
David Fludd, or de Fluctibus, of Salop, and bore for
his arms, Vert, a chevron, between three grissins heads
erased, argent. He resided here, and by Catherine his
wife, daughter of Lewin Buffkin, esq. of this parish,
left two sons, Thomas, and Lewin, who was M. D.
Thomas Fludd, esq. the eldest son, succeeded him in
this seat, and was sheriff in 1652. He left two sons,
Alabaster and Thomas, and a daughter Priscilla, married to John Hendley, esq. of this parish.
Alabaster Fludd, esq. his eldest son, was of Gorecourt, whose great-grandson, Peter Fludd, to satisfy
incumbrances, conveyed it in trust to Mr. Benjamin
Howel, gent. who about the year 1712, passed it away
by sale to Bowyer Hendley, esq. of this parish, sheriff
in 1702 as before-mentioned. He died possessed of it
in 1742, leaving two sons, William and Walter, and
four daughters, of whom Anne, the youngest, married the Rev. Samuel Horne, rector of this parish.
William Henley, the eldest son, above-mentioned,
altered the spelling of his name, leaving out the letter
d in it. He resided at Gore-court, where he died in
1757, and was buried with his ancestors here, leaving
one son William, and several daughters. William
Henley, esq. the son, afterwards resided here, and married a foreign lady, Dorothy Hannah Louisa Harriot,
said to be countess of Berghausen, in Germany,
naturalized by act in 1781. She died s. p. in 1793.
A commission of lunacy has been some years since
taken out against Mr. Henley, the committee, in which
is the Rev. Mr. Horne, his brother in-law, who is
now, as such, in the possession of the manor of Otham,
Gore-court, and his other estates in this county.
STONEACRE is a manor in the eastern part of this
parish, which for some centuries was the seat of the
family of Elys, or Ellis, as they afterwards spelt their
name, a branch of which was likewise seated at Kennington, in the eastern part of this county. John Ellys
possessed this seat, and resided here in the reign of king
Edward II. as appears by the deeds relating to it. His
descendant John Elys, esq. died in 1467, and lies buried in this church. He bore for his arms, Or, on a
cross sable, five crescents argent, as they were painted
on glass in the window next his pew in the church, and
in a window at Stoneacre. In whose descendants it
continued till it was at length alienated by Mr. George
Ellis, about the year 1710, to Mr. George Waterman,
whose heirs, about the year 1735, conveyed it by sale
to William Horsemonden Turner, esq. of Harrietsham,
since which it has passed in like manner as Harrietsham
already described before, together with his other
estates in this county, down to William Baldwin, esq.
of Harrietsham-place, the present owner of it.
THOMAS HENDLEY, ESQ. youngest son of Gervas Hendley, esq. of Coursehorne, gave a house and land, now let at
4l. per annum, to the poor of this parish, vested in the minister and churchwardens. He died in 1590, and lies buried in
the chancel of this church.
The poor constantly relieved here are about twelve, and
OTHAM is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of
The church is dedicated to St. Nicholas, in it are
monuments for the Hendleys, of this parish, and one
for Lewin Buffkin, esq. of Gore-court; and a memorial for John Elys, of Stoneacre. This church, from
the earliest account of time, has ever been considered
as an appendage to the manor of Otham, and as such
is now in the patronage of William Henley, esq. of
It is valued in the king's books at 9l. 17s. 3½d.
and the yearly tenths at 19s. 8¾d.
In 1578, the communicants here were ninety-two.
In 1640, it was valued at forty-five pounds per annum.
Communicants one hundred and twenty-one.
King Edward II. in his 19th year, confirmed to the
rectory of Otham, four acres of land in this parish, for
Church of Otham.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Nicholas de Sandwich, obt.
1370. (fn. 2) |
|Peter Hensle, May 7, 1567.|
|John Brome, S. T. P. March
10, 1595, obt. 1625.|
|William Hude, A. M. Nov. 18.
1625, obt. 1630.|
|Thomas Wilson, B. A. 1630, suspended 1635, restored 1639,
obt. 1651. (fn. 3) |
|John Davis, obt. July 11,
1677. (fn. 4) |
|Mathias Rutton, Nov. 6, 1677,
obt. Aug. 12, 1701. (fn. 5) |
|William Simmonds, A. M. Feb.
13, 1701, resig. 1727. (fn. 6) |
|Samuel Horne, June 27, 1727,
obt. Aug. 18, 1768. (fn. 7) |
|William Horne, A. M. 1769, the