The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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THIS PARISH, wholly within the Weald, lies at the confines of this county, adjoining to Sussex southward, from which it is parted by a stream of the Medway, which comes from one of its four principal heads, which rises at Gravely-hill in that county, whence directing its course eastward along the southern bounds of this parish, it joins the principal stream of it at Penshurst.
The parish of Cowden is but little known, being situated in a deep soil of clay, very wet and miry. The village, having the church on the east side, stands on a rise, though at a small distance only from the river, which here forms an elbow round the south side of it, where it turns a corn-mill; close to the river about a mile from hence is the Moat-farm, and about half a mile westward that now called the Wood, both described hereafter, and at a small distance from the latter is Cowden-furnace. A small quantity of land, and two houses in this parish, were in Kilburne's time, (fn. 1) reputed to lie within the hundred of Axstane, but more probably in that of Ruxley, as being perhaps a small part of the borough of Linkhill, parcel of that hundred. A fair is held here on the feast of St. Mary Magdalen, now on the second of August, for cattle and pedlary ware.
THE MANOR OF COWDEN, now called the manor of Lewisham, was antiently part of the possessions of Agnes de Montacute, who made a gift of all her demesne in Cuden, and in Hertfield, in Sussex, together with her capital messuage, and their appurtenances, to the prior and convent of Michelham, in Sussex, being a priory of Black Canons, founded by Gilbert de Aquila, in the beginning of the reign of king Henry III. to the Holy Trinity, (fn. 2) whose possessions in this place were augmented by the further donation of Sir Walter de Letton, and Gunnora his wife, who gave them all his land called Greggeslond, in Cuden, and he confirmed the grant of those possessions, which lay within his fee in Cuden, which they had of the gift of Agnes de Montecute, as above-mentioned, and that they should be for ever freed from the suit of court, which the land was accustomed to make at his court at Tiches; all which were confirmed to the prior and convent, by a charter of Inspeximus, granted by king Edward II. in the 14th year of his reign.
This priory was dissolved before the 29th year of king Henry VIII. and the possessions of it in this parish, among the rest of its estates, given up to the king, who the same year granted them to Thomas, lord Cromwell, and he soon afterwards exchanged them with the crown, from whence they were again exchanged by the name of the manor of Cawdeane, for other lands with William Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, in the 33d year of that reign. For the king, by Cromwell's advice, obtruded many of the estates, late belonging to the monasteries, upon the nobles and others, in exchange for their own lands, in order to bind them more firmly against the re-establishment of such houses, and of the papal power.
He died two years after, possessed of this estate, and was succeeded in it by his only son and heir Henry, on his father's decease, earl of Arundel, who conveyed this estate again to the crown, where it lay till the 3d and 4th year of king Philip and queen Mary, when the queen granted to Richard Sackvile and Thomas Winton, among other premises, the manor of Cowden, with its appurtenances, late belonging to the priory of Michelham, and parcel of the possessions of the earl of Arundel; and all lands, called Warefeld and Waremead, as they lay together at the southern part of the water, called Kentwater, in Cowden, late in the tenure of William Wickenden, whose ancestor Thomas Wickenden had given them to the priory; to hold in capite by knights service.
They seem to have joined in the sale of this estate to William Wickenden, whose grandson, in the reign of king Charles I. died possessed of it, leaving at his decease two sons, who divided this estate between them. One of them alienated his moiety to Ashdown, from which family it was bequeathed by will to Piggott, in which name it descended to Nicholas Piggott, from which name it passed to Mr. John Driver, who sold it to Henry Streatseild, esq. the present possessor.
The other moiety, which remained in the name of Wickenden, passed afterwards from thence into that of Bassett; the last of whom, Mr. Michael Bassett, left three daughters and coheirs, one of whom married Mr. John Burgess, and entitled him to it. Robert Burgess, esq. afterwards died possessed of it in 1794, and his widow Mrs. Sarah Burgess having re-married James Harbroc, esq. he is now become the owner of it.
COWDEN LEIGHTON is a manor here, which had antiently owners of the surname of Leighton, who were succeeded in the possession of it by the Cobhams, of Sterborough. (fn. 3)
Reginald, lord Cobham, in the 14th year of king Edward III. procured a grant of free-warren with in his lordship of Cowden Leighton, among others. (fn. 4) In whose descendants it continued down to Sir Thomas Cobham, who died possessed of it in the 11th year of king Edward IV. leaving an only daughter and heir, Anne, (fn. 5) who carried it in marriage to Sir Edward Borough, of Gainsborough, in Lincolnshire, whose descendant, Sir Thomas Borough, lord Burgh, having expended vast sums in the service of queen Elizabeth, was necessitated to alienate this manor to Henry Streatfeild, esq. and Richard Streatfeild his son, after whose deaths it was, by deed, and a recovery in the 15th year of king James, settled upon Thomas Streatfeild, the youngest of the three sons of Richard above-mentioned. He died possessed of it in 1628, without heirs male; so that his four daughters, Frances, married to Mr. John Shefferden, Jane, to Edward Taylor; Dorothy, to Edward Powel, and Anne, first to William Stanley, and secondly to Samuel Dillingham, became his coheirs, and they and their heirs at several times conveyed their respective interests in it by sale to Henry Streatfeild, esq. of Highstreet-house, in Chidingstone, eldest son of Richard, and great grandson of Richard first above-mentioned, by Henry his eldest son.
His descendant, Henry Streatfeild, esq. of Highstreet-house, in Chidingstone, died possessed of it in 1762, whose eldest son, Henry Streatfeild, esq. now of Highstreet house, is the present possessor of it.
There is a manor in this parish called ST. JOHN'S, alias the Manor of St. John of Jerusalem, most probably as having once belonged to the Knights of that order. This manor has for many years had the same owners as that of Stangrave, alias Eatonbridge, and as such it is now with the antient mansion of Crittenden, in the possession of Mrs. Sophia Streatfeild, the widow of Thomas Streatfeild, of Oxsted, esq. (fn. 6)
THE MOAT, alias COSINS, is a manor and antient seat in Cowden, situated near the banks of the river, which was for many generations owned by a family of the name of Cosin, or Cosins, most probably descended out of Norfolk, where this family was formerly of some eminence.
This estate continued so long in their possession, that they affixed their name to it; but in the 32d year of king Henry VI. William Cosin who gave for his arms, Azure, a lion rampant, gutte' de sang, crowned or, alienated it to William Hextal, William and Nicholas Gainsford. The former of whom, in the 5th year of king Edward IV. conveyed all his interest in it to William Gainsford, esq. descended of a family seated at Crowhurst, in Surry, before the Norman conquest, in which parish are the memorials of the interment of many of them; several of whom were sheriffs of that county, and justices of the peace, from the reign of king Henry VI.
Those of this name, owners of Cosins, were a younger branch of those at Crowhurst, and bore the same arms, Argent, a chevron gules, between three greybounds currant sable, collared or. (fn. 7) The descendants of William Gainsford continued possessors of it till the year 1720, when Thomas Gainsford, esq. died possessed of it; soon after which his heirs conveyed it by sale to Mr. John Woodgate, of Somerhill, in Tunbridge, whose son, the reverend Mr. Francis Woodgate, rector of Mountfield, in Sussex, is the present owner of it.
WAYSTRODE, otherwise called Westwood, and now most commonly THE WOOD, is an estate here, situated about half a mile north-westward from the church, which was formerly accounted a manor. It had antiently owners of the name of Waystrode, who continued in possession of it till the beginning of the reign of king Henry VI. and then it was alienated to May; from which name it was again sold, at the latter end of it, to Still; in whose descendants it continued to Mr. Richard Still, who resided here; his only daughter and heir carried it in marriage to Mr. Dyke, of Burwash, in Sussex, on whose death it descended to their only son and heir, Richard Still Dyke, esq. who married Mary, daughter of the Rev. Mr. George Jordan, of Burwash, who surviving her husband, is now by his will intitled to the present possession of it.
JOHN PELSETT gave by will in 1602, the sum of 20s. yearly, to be paid half yearly out of land, and to be distributed to the poor people of this parish, by the minister and churchwardens, for ever, vested in Mr. Cary Saunders, of Croydon, the owner of the estate, and of that annual profit.
EDWARD CRIPPS and EDWARD KNIGHT, RICHARD TURNER and THOMAS WICKENDEN, churchwardens and overseers of this parish, in 1665, for the sum of 50s. bought by deed made to them, and their successors for ever, an alms-house, now five cottages, inhabited by five poor families, who pay no rent, now vested in the parish officers above-mentioned.
Among other monuments and memorials in it, in the chancel, are memorials for the Knights, Harbys, and Aynscombes; on the south side is a memorial for Thomas Aynscombe, rector of this parish, obt. April 16, 1668; another for Edward Harby, L.L.B. rector of this parish, obt. May 22, 1761, æt. 61. (fn. 8)
This church is a rectory, the advowson of which was granted, among other premises, by king Edward VI. in his fourth year, to Ralph Fane, to hold in capite by knight's service, (fn. 9) in which name it remained in the 7th year of king James I. soon after which, it was alienated to Sir Robert Sidney, lord Sidney, of Penshurst, viscount Lisle, afterwards created earl of Leicester, in whose descendants it continued down to Josceline Sidney, earl of Leicester, who died possessed of it in 1743, without lawful issue, and by his will bequeathed it, among his other estates, to his natural daughter, Anne Sidney; but his two nieces (daughters and coheirs of colonel Thomas Sidney, his next elder brother, Mary, married to Sir Brownlow Sherard, bart. and Elizabeth, to William Perry, esq.) claimed his estates in this county, as his coheirs, by virtue of an entail created by the marriage settlement of Robert, earl of Leicester, father of the earl, in 1700; but after much litigation, a compromise was entered into in 1746, between them, which was confirmed by act of parliament, by which this advowson, among the other Kentish estates, was vested in Sir Brownlow Sherard and Wm. Perry, esq.
In the division of these estates, the advowson of this church was part of that moiety allotted to Sir Brownlow Sherard, who died without issue; after which his widow, in 1758, gave it, by her will, to Anne, widow of Sir William Yonge, bart. and knight of the Bath, for life, remainder to her eldest son, Sir George Yonge, bart. of Escot, in Devonshire, and they in 1770, joined in the sale of the patronage of this church to Thomas Harvey, esq. of Tunbridge, who died in 1779, and devised it by his will to his eldest son Thomas Harvey, esq. the present patron of it.
In the 15th year of king Edward I. this rectory was valued at fifteen marcs. (fn. 10)
By virtue of the commission of enquiry, taken by order of the state in 1650, issuing out of chancery, it was returned, that in Cowden there was a parsonage house and three acres of glebe land, which, with the tithes thereto belonging, were worth 83l. per annum, that Mr. Thomas Aynscombe was then incumbent, and the earl of Leicester patron.
It is valued in the king's books at 9l. 18s. 11½d. and the yearly tenths at 19s. 10¼d. (fn. 11)
Church Of Cowden.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Sidneys, Earls of Leicester||Thomas Jackson, A. M. obt. 1608.|
|Thomas Aynscombe, in 1650, obt. April 16, 1668. (fn. 12)|
|Thomas Cockman, obt. 1719.|
|William Egerton, LL.D. instit. Nov. 16, 1719. (fn. 13)|
|Edward Harby, LL. B. March 1737, obt. May 22, 1761. (fn. 14)|
|William Lloyd, 1761, obt. Jan. 1778.|
|John Francis, A. M. Jan. 21, 1778, resig. 1785. (fn. 15)|
|Thomas Harvey, LL.B. 1785. Present rector and patron.|