The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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THE TOWN AND PARISH OF MAIDSTONE.
Nennius, in his catalogue of the cities of Britain, tells us, this place was called by the Britons, Caer Meguiad, or as others have it, Megwad, no doubt corruptly for Medwag. Camden, (fn. 1) Burton, (fn. 2) Gale, and some few other historians, have supposed it to have been the Roman station, called by Antonine in his Itinerary, Vagniacœ; a name taken from the river here, at that time called Vaga; for this purpose they read the distances of the second iter of Antonine A Vallo ad portum Ritupis, as follows: A Londinio, Noviomago, M. P. X. Vagniacis, M. P. XVIII. Durobrovi M. P. IX. If this place was the Vagniacæ of the Romans, and the above numbers are right, it is situated much about the above distance from Keston, and not quite so much from Crayford, both which have been conjectured to have been the antient Noviomagus; the distance of it from Durobrovis, or Rochester, will ansswer tolerably well. The word Vagniacœ, is supposed by a learned etymologist, (fn. 3) to have been corrupt written in the Itinerary for Maduicœ, which is the same as Med-wœge in the Saxon, and Madüogüiso, in the British tongue; hence in process of time it can to be called Madis and ad Madum, (fn. 4) the river being called Mada and Madus. The Saxons afterwards called led it Medwegston and Medweaggeston; i.e. Maduiacis oppidum, according to Baxter; in English, Medway's town, which name is written, by contraction, in Domesday, Meddestane, as it is at present Maidstone.
THE PARISH of Maidstone is most advantageously situated near the banks of the river Medway, which directs its course through it, being navigable by the contrivance of locks here and for many miles higher up, as far as Tunbridge town. Over the river here there is an unsightly ancient stone bridge of seven arches, supposed to have been first erected by some of the archbishops, lords of the manor. It was repaired in king James I.'s reign by an assessment on the town and parish, but it still remains both narrow and inconvenient. The town is built on the two opposite hills, rising immediately from the banks of the river, but the principal part is on the eastern one, beyond which the hill rises still further to Pinenden heath, part of which is within this parish, which there joins to those of Boxley and Detling. The soil is exceedingly fertile, being in general a loam, thinly spread over an entire bed of quarry stone, commonly called Kentish rag-stone, excepting towards the eastern parts of it, where it becomes a deep sand; in the south east part of it, about Sheppard's-street and Gould's, there is some coppice wood, beyond which are the hamlets of Broadway, Willington-street, and part of Maginford, within the bounds of this parish. The meadows, on the banks of the Medway, are much subject to be flooded by the sudden risings of it, after heavy rains, to the height of several feet perpendicular, but which as suddenly subside. Above the town the course of the river, though it narrows considerably above the lock, just above the bridge, is yet beautiful, and retains a depth of water of near from twelve to fourteen feet; about a mile above the town, near the hamlets of Upper and Lower Tovil, the stream, which rises at Langley, having supplied a chain of mills, flows into the Medway; the former hamlet is situated on an eminence, commanding a pleasing view; the Ana baptists have, in this romantic and rocky situation, made a burial place for their fraternity. At a small distance higher up the river, though on the opposite bank, is the hamlet of Fant, the principal house of which, called Fant house, is the property of Mr. Fowle, who resides in it; and near it a pleasant seat, close to the river, which belongs to Robert Salmon, esq. of Eyhorne-street. In all this vicinity the banks of the river continue highly ornamented with spread ing oaks, while the country round wears an appearance equal to that of a garden, in its highest state of cultivation. The soil, not only adjoining the town, but throughout the neighbourhood of it, is remarkably kind for hops, orchards of fruit, and plantations of filberds, consequently those, especially of the former round it, are very large, and the crops of them abundant, owing to the peculiar nourishment and warmth afforded to the roots of the plants, from the fibres of them penetrating the crevices of the rock. Great part of the wealth and prosperity of Maidstone has arisen from the hop trade, most of the inhabitants of every degree having some hop ground, and many estates have been raised by them from this commodity, which is supposed to have been planted here about the time of the Reformation; sooner than in any other part of this county.
THE TOWN of Maidstone is pleasantly situated, about the middle of the county, thirty-five miles from London, and somewhat more from Dover. It is happily screened by the surrounding hills, arising from the beautiful vale, through which the Medway runs beneath. It is justly noticed for the dryness of its soil and its excellent water, and consequently for its healthiness, its ascent keeping it continually clean and dry. The state of this town, in queen Elizabeth's reign, may be known by the return made to her in the 8th year of it, of the several places in this county where there were any boats, shipping, &c. by which it appears, that there were then here a mayor and aldermen, houses inhabited, 294; landing places, 4; ships and hoys, 5; one of 30 tons, one of 32, one of 40, and one of 50; and persons wholly occupied in the trade of merchandize, 22; since which this town has been continually increasing in size, inhabitants, and wealth, owing to the introduction of the hop-plant, as has been already noticed, the several charters which have been granted to it, and the navigation of the river Medway; insomuch that the houses are now computed to be in number fifteen hundred, and the population of it is said to have increased at this time to upwards of six thousand inhabitants, near one half of which are non-conformists to the established church, both Presbyterians and Anabaptists, each of whom have their respective meeting houses of worship in the town, which dissension in matters of religion unhappily extends to politics, and from the heat of parties, destroys much of that social intercourse and harmony which would otherwise unite the inhabitants of this flourishing town. The principal parts of it stand on the side of a hill, declining towards the west and south; it extends about a mile from north to south, and not quite three quarters from east to west. It was new paved, lighted, and otherwise improved in 1792, in consequence of an act passed the year before for that purpose; though the buildings in it are in general antient, yet there are several handsome modern ones, inhabited by genteel families; and the spacious breadth of the High-street carries with it a grand and at the same time a lightsome and cheerful appearance. The town consists of four principal streets, which intersect each other at the market cross, having several smaller ones leading out of them. The cross, on the top of this building, which is an octagon, though the name still remains, has been some time since taken down. It is now used for a fishmarket, and was formerly called the Corn cross, hav ing been made use of as a corn market till the upper court-house was built for that purpose about the year 1608, by an assessment on the town.
On account of its convenient situation for transacting the public business of the county, it has long been reputed the county or shire town. Near the upper end of the High-street, which is remarkably spacious, leading down to the bridge, besides the upper court hall above mentioned, is a more modern one, a handsome building of stone and brick, built not many years ago at the joint expence of the corporation and the justices of the western division of the county; the former making use of it to transact their public business in, as the latter do whenever the public business of the county requires the use of it. In it are likewise held the assizes for the county, the general quarter sessions for the western parts of Kent, the county meetings for the choice of candidates, to represent the county in parliament, and every other public business relating to it; which right of the justices and inhabitants of the county, to hold their meetings, &c. in it, was settled at the building of it, by an indenture made between them and the corporation. The street, leading towards Coxheath and the Weald of Kent, is called Stone-street, a name which sufficiently proves the antiquity of this town, and its consequence in the time of the Romans. There are three principal conduits, which are supplied with excellent water, conveyed in pipes from a place called Rocky-hill, in the West Borough, on the opposite side of the Medway, at the charge of the corporation. These are placed very conveniently for the service of the inhabitants, one at the upper end of the High-street, near the market cross; a second lower down, being a high octagon stone building with a clock and dial, having a turret at the top of it, and what is called a fish-bell, which is always rung when any fish is brought to market; the third is placed at the lower end of the town. At a small distance from the south side of this street, about the middle of it, on an eminence close to the Medway, stands the church, the antient archiepiscopal palace, and the remains of the college, each forming conspicuous objects to the neighbouring country westward.
Adjoining to the last mentioned court-hall is the prison belonging to the corporation, formerly called the Brambles. (fn. 5) This prison appears to have belonged antiently to the archbishops of Canterbury, and continued so till archbishop Cranmer, in the 29th year of king Henry VIII. exchanged the prison house of this town with that king. (fn. 6) In king Charles I.'s reign it remained in the king's hands; for by his letters patent, in 1631, he granted the office of keeper of it, and the custody of all prisoners there, to John Collins for his life; who, by his will, in 1644, gave his patent of the king's gaol in Maidstone, with all the irons, implements, fees, and appurtenances to his son of the same name.
The public gaol of the western division of the county of Kent was formerly placed most inconveniently in the very middle of the town, to its great annoyance, where it remained till 1736, when on a petition of its inconvenient situation, near the market place, of its being much decayed, and that there was no gaol for debtors, an act was obtained for erecting another in the room of it, together with a bridewell, in another part of the town. This, after some intermission, was accomplished, and a capacious strong building of stone, with large outlets and conveniences for this purpose, has been erected near the out parts of the town, in East-lane, which has been lately still further strengthened and enlarged at a large expence, at the charge of the western division of the county.
THE MARKET, which was first granted to archbibishop Boniface, by king Henry III. in his 45th year, to be held weekly at his manor here, has been confirmed by the several charters to this town, and is now held weekly on a Thursday, for the sale of all kind of provisions, corn, and hops, toll free, with which the town and its neighbourhood for miles round is most plentifully supplied at a very reasonable rate. The mayor is clerk of the market, and when admitted into his office, is sworn duly to execute that part of it. King George II. by letters patent in 1751, granted to the corporation a market, to be held the second Tuesday in every month yearly, for the buying and selling of all manner of sheep and other cattle whatsoever, which continues to be so held at this time; and there is another market held likewise for the sale of hops yearly, at the time of Michaelmas.
THE FAIRS of this town are held four times yearly, viz. Feb. 13, May 12, June 20, and Oct. 27, for horses, bullocks, and other cattle, as well as for wares, haberdashery, and pedlary; but the last is by far the greatest of them, being resorted to by the country for many miles round. The principal part of these fairs is held on a piece of ground, on the bank of the Medway, called the meadow, though the High-street is covered with them likewise. The above piece of ground formerly belonged to the abbot and convent of Boxley, and on the dissolution of that house, coming to the crown, was granted by king Henry VIII. to Sir Thomas Wyatt, who in a great exchange of land, made by him with that king, in his 32d year, sold to him, among other estates in this parish, the piece of land called Caring, containing sixteen acres, and the profits of the fair yearly there, for standing upon it, in Maidstone. In the parliament of the 11th of king Henry VII. the custody of weights and measures, which were then renewed and appointed according to the standard in the exchequer, was com mitted to this town for the county of Kent, and they have continued to be preserved here to the present time.
There are two considerable manufactories of linen thread carried on in this town, a trade introduced here by the Walloons in the 11th year of queen Elizabeth's reign, at the time they fled from the persecution of the duke d'Alva, and took refuge in England. The Walloon families here in 1634, were about fifty, they are now quite worn out, though there are some names remaining, which seem to have derived their origin from them, though the persons that bear them are ignorant whence they had them. The only remembrance of these Walloons now left is the term which the common people give to the flax spun for the threadmen, which at this day they call Dutch work.
Besides which there has been within these few years a Distillery, erected and carried on here to a very large extent, by Mr. George Bishop, from which is produced the well-known Maidstone Geneva, being of such a magnitude, that no less than seven hundred hogs are kept from the surplus of the grains from it.
The navigation of the river Medway is of the greatest advantage to this town, as a considerable traffic is carried on by it from hence to Rochester, Chatham, and so on to London, and from the several large cornmills here abundance of meal and flour is shipped off for the use of those towns, the dock and navy there, as well as great quantities sent weekly to London. The fulling and paper mills in and near this town, of the latter of which, late Mr. Whatman's, at Boxley, is perhaps equal to any in the kingdom, send all their manufacture hither to be transported from hence by water to London. The vast quantities of timber brought hither from the Weald of Kent and its neighbourhood, by land carriage, as well as water, are conveyed from hence by the navigation of the Medway to the dock at Chatham, and other more distant parts. Besides which there are several large hoys, of fifty tons burthen and upwards, which sail weekly to and from London, for the convenience of this town and the adjacent country.
THERE WAS a family of good account, called, as well from their residence as birth here, by the surname of Maidstone, whose arms, as appears by a monument in Ulcombe church, were, Sable, a chevron between three cups covered argent, crowned, or. (fn. 7)
Ralph de Maidestan, dean of Hereford, was consecrated bishop of that see in 1234. He was born here, and is celebrated by M. Paris as a man of excellent learning and holiness of life. Having resigned his bishopric in 1239, and taken the habit of a Franciscan at Oxford, he retired to the convent of that order at Gloucester, where he died in 1245, and was there buried.
John de Maidestan was made dean of Lincoln, in 1275. (fn. 8)
Another Walter Maidston was made sub dean of Lincoln in 1329. (fn. 9)
Besides the above, William Maydeston was abbot of Faversham, and Walter de Maydestone was a monk of that abbey in 1367, and was afterwards admitted a monk of Christ-church, in Canterbury. Thomas de Maydestone was canon of Leeds in 1397, and Clement de Maydestone Priest was a transcriber of the Directorium Sacerdotum, as appears by his name at the end of it. (fn. 10)
In the heraldic visitation of the county of Kent, taken in 1619, is the pedigree of Fisher, of Maidstone, beginning with William Fisher, of this place, whose descendant and great grandson, Walter Fisher, was mayor of this town. They bore for their arms, Argent, on a chief gules, a dolphin argent.
Richard Lee, son of Richard Lee, of Delce, near Rochester, sheriff of Kent in 19th year of king Edward IV. son of Sir Richard Lee, lord-mayor of London, had a mansion in this town, where he resided. (fn. 11) Edward, his third son, was lord archbishop of York.
AMONG THE remarkable occurrences which have at times happened here, in the year 1648, during the time of the great rebellion, general Fairfax, with his whole strength, marched by order of the parliament towards Maidstone, in which there were at that time about one thousand horse and foot of the royalists, commanded by Sir John Mayney, when the general, with a strong force of ten thousand men, assaulted the town, and began to storm it. As this was no more than was expected, the streets and houses had been all lined by the royalists, who by this time amounted to near two thousand, Sir William Brockman having brought into the town about eight hundred men to their assistance, Fairfax met with such resolute opposition on every side, that he gained every street inch by inch, and the engagement lasted near five hours, till almost twelve at night; when the royalists, being quite overpowered by the numerous reserves that kept continually advancing, were forced to retreat into the church, where they were obliged to surrender on the best terms they could obtain for their own safety. Scarce any action during the civil war was more bravely fought than this; Fairfax prevailed by his superior numbers over the gallant few. Lord Clarendon says, it was a sharp encounter, very bravely fought with the general's whole strength, and the veteran soldiers confessed, that they had never met with the like desperate service during the war. (fn. 12)
On Friday, August 19, 1763, a most violent storm of wind and hail, accompanied with thunder and lightning, spread a general desolation over this parish, and the adjacent neighbourhood. It arose at sea off the coast of Sussex, and entering this county at Tunbridge, Wells, passed quite across it to Sheerness, being forty miles in length, and in breadth from two to four miles. Its line of direction was nearly from south-west-by-west to north-east-by-east.
The fury of it was such in those parishes over which it spread, about twenty-four in number, most of which were exceeding fertile, that almost the whole growth of hops, the plantation of which were very large, and contained in a great measure what is generally called the middle growth of Kent, the apples, filberts, corn, with whatever else was on the lands were entirely destroyed by it, insomuch that the farmer and the labourer were alike deprived of subsistence by this fatality. The damage done to the trees and buildings was as great in proportion; many barns and even houses were blown down, and scarce a pane of glass to the southward was left unbroken; and on that side of the High-street in the town of Maidstone, not only the glass, but the lead and frames of the windows were broken, and drove in by the violence and largeness of the hail, which beat as loud against the shutters, as the strongest blow of a thick club would have done. The hail indeed might rather be deemed pieces of ice, from its different irregular shapes; at Barming one piece was taken up in the form of an oyster, measuring nine inches round the edges, and some were taken up ten days after the storm, which then measured four inches and an half round. Great numbers of small birds were killed by it, as were several hares, pheasants and partridges, and the trees were every where stript of almost all their leaves. So general a desolation in this county had never been remembered, or ever related in history; and insupportable indeed would this calamity have been, had not the generosity of the gentry of this county in particular, and of the public in general relieved them in some measure from the ruin and misery they were by this fatality so deeply plunged in.
THE TOWN OF MAIDSTONE was antiently governed by a portreeve and twelve brethren, and continued so till king Edward VI. by his letters patent in his 3d year, newly INCORPORATED the town, by the stile and title of the mayor, jurats, and commonalty of the town of Maidstone, in the county of Kent.
These privileges were not long afterwards forfeited by the rebellion, first began in this town by Sir Thomas Wyatt, and other principal gentlemen of it, in the 1ft year of queen Mary, of whom Sir Henry and Thomas Isley, his brother, and Walter Mantle, esq. were executed here. (fn. 13)
In this state of disfranchisement the town remained till queen Elizabeth, by her letters patent, in her 2d year, again incorporated it by the stile and title of mayor and aldermen, and granted some other additional privileges, among which was a confirmation of their antient prescriptive right of sending two burgesses to parliament, the granting to the mayor the authority of a justice of the peace, and the exempting the townsmen from foreign sessions.
Some years after which several doubts arising, concerning the validity and meaning of the different parts of the last-mentioned letters patent, a third charter of incorporation was granted to this town by James I. by letters patent, in his 2d year, anno 1604, by the name and stile of the mayor, jurats, and commonalty of the king's town and parish of Maidstone, in which all the privileges of the former were confirmed, and new ones granted by it. After which a fourth charter was granted by the same king in his 17th year, anno 1619. King Charles II. by letters patent, in his 34th year, anno 1682, incorporated this town anew, by the like stile and title as the former; which charter was made use of in the government of this place till the revolution in 1688, after which it was entirely laid aside.
In the reign of king George II. this corporation being dissolved by the judgment of Ouster against its principal members, upon informations of quo warranto, a new charter was granted by the king by letters patent dated in his 21ft year, anno 1748; in which it is recited, that divers disputes having arisen of late within this town and corporation, and informations in nature of quo warranto having been prosecuted in the king's bench, and judgment of ouster obtained against all the acting jurats, so that the corporation was then dissolved, and the town incapable of enjoying their liberties and franchises. Therefore the king, for divers causes therein mentioned, upon the petition of the freemen, freeholders, and other inhabitants of the king's town and parish of Maidstone, granted, that the town and parish should be a free town and parish of itself; and that the inhabitants of it should be one body politic and corporate, by the name of the mayor, jurats, and commanalty of the king's town and parish of Maidstone, in the county of Kent, and by that name to have perpetual succession, and to acquire and hold lands, &c. and to alien them, and by the aforementioned name to plead and be impleaded; and that they and their successors might have a common seal, and might break, change, and new make the same at their liking; and that the town and parish, and the liberties and precincts thereof, should extend according to the former ancient boundaries; and that there should be thirteen inhabitants of the town and parish, who should be chosen jurats, one of whom should be chosen mayor of the king's town and parish of Maidstone, which jurats; not being in the office of mayor, should be assistants to him in every thing; and that there should be forty of the remaining principal inhabitants chosen common-councilmen, all of whom, viz. mayor, jurats, and common-councilmen, should have power, upon public summons, to make bye laws; and that the jurats should be elected by the mayor, jurats, and common-councilmen, duly assembled, and the common councilmen in like manner, with a fine at the discretion of the mayor, &c. for their refusal of those offices, any of whom should be removed by the mayor, &c. duly assembled, for any sufficient crime or notorious offence; and that the jurats should assemble on the 2d. day of November yearly, within the town, and then nominate two men, then being jurats, for the rest of the jurats and commonalty then present to elect one out of the two to be mayor; and that the person so chosen should take an oath before the then last mayor, or in his absence the two senior jurats then present, for the due execution of his office, and in case of his death, that a successor should be chosen in like manner; and that the mayor, in case of sickness or absence, should appoint one of the jurats a deputy mayor for the time aforesaid; and that the mayor and jurats should elect a recorder, to hold his office during their pleasure; and that he should have power to make a deputy recorder during his pleasure; and that the mayor, jurats, and common council should appoint one or two serjeants at mace, who should bear one or two gilt or silver maces, engraved with the king's arms, every where within the town and parish before the mayor. And whereas queen Elizabeth, by her letters patent, in her 2d year, granted to the mayor, &c. one market within the town on a Thursday weekly, with all tolls, customs, and other profits; and also four fairs in the town, one from noon on April 30th to noon on May 2d, another at noon on the eve of the feast of St. Edmund the king and martyr to noon on the morrow after the said feast, another at noon on the eve of the feast of St. Faith until the noon on the morrow of the said feast, and the other on the noon of the feast of the Purification until the noon of the morrow of the said feast, with all tolls, tributes, profits, &c. and a pye-powder court to be held in the same fairs and markets. And whereas king James, by his letters patent, in his 2d year, regranted and confirmed the markets and fairs, and other liberties and privileges granted as aforesaid; and by other letters patent in his 17th year, did ratify and confirm the said markets, fairs, courts of pye-powder, tributes, customs, tolls, &c. and further granted, that it should be lawful for the mayor to extend the market beyond the place called the Market-place, or to hold it in any other place within the town.
Therefore the king, being willing to shew further grace and favor to the mayor, &c. ratified and confirmed the said markets, fairs, courts, &c. and granted them to the mayor, &c. and their successors de novo; and that the mayor, jurats, and commonalty should nominate, elect, and admit any person or persons, being inhabitants of the town and parish, freemen of the same; and that the recorder, deputy recorder, jurats, common-councilmen, and freemen should severally make oath before the mayor and jurats for the due execution of their office, as had been accustomed.
And whereas queen Elizabeth, by her letters patent, did grant to the mayor and jurats and commonalty, full power to hold a court before the mayor in the town, from fourteen days to fourteen days, on a Tuesday, for pleas, as well of assise of novel disseisin, as other pleas, actions, suits, &c. concerning lands, &c. in the town and parish, although they should or should not exceed the sum of forty shillings, and did grant that the town and parish, and the liberties of the same should extend themselves by the water of Medway from East Farleigh bridge unto Hawkwood (a piece of land in the parish of Burham) as in the said letters patent more fully appeared; and whereas the water of Medway, between the said bridge and Hawkwood flowed by and through the town and parish of Maidstone, and by and through the several towns of East Farleigh, Barming, Loze, Boxley, Allington, and by certain streets called Milhale, (a hamlet in the parish of Aylesford) and Newhythe, in the parish of East Malling, in the county of Kent; and the town and parish of Maidstone extending itself promiscuously in, by, and through the town of Loze and Linton, and beyond, and also by the said towns of East Farleigh, Barming, and Boxley, and by the town of Otham, according to certain information given.
The king, intending to put into certainty, and to limit into what parish, towns, hamlets, &c. and how far the liberties and jurisdictions of the mayor, &c. of the town and parish should reach and extend, as to the hearing and determining pleas in the said court, granted and declared, that the liberties of the same, and the jurisdiction of the mayor, &c. should extend, only as to the cognizance and determination of actions and reple vins, and to no other intent and purpose, into, by, and through the said towns and parishes of East Barming, Loze, Boxley, Allington; Milhale, Newhythe, Linton, and Otham; and that for the better executing the said actions, they might make and execute all attachments and legal processes into and through all the said parishes, streets, &c. And whereas queen Elizabeth granted that the inhabitants of the town and parish should be exempted from serving on juries and inquisitions, except in the town of Maidstone; the king therefore granted and confirmed, that the said inhabitants should not be impanelled on any juries or inquisitions whatsoever, without the town and parish; and that the mayor and recorder, and three senior jurats, during their offices, should be justices of the peace within the town and parish, and that no justice of the county should in any wise intermeddle within the said town and parish; which mayor, recorder, and three jurats aforesaid should take an oath before the rest of the jurats for the due execution of their office; and the mayor, recorder, and three jurats as aforesaid, or any three of them, of whom the mayor and recorder to be two, should hear and determine all trespasses and misdemeanors within the town and parish, as the justices of the county were used to do, or any two or more of them can or may do, as well in and out of their sessions, by the king's commission, so that they nevertheless in no wife pretended to the determining of any treason or felony, or any other offence touching the loss of life or member, without the king's special mandate in that behalf. And that the mayor, jurats, and commonalty should receive all fines, forfeitures, and issue of jurors for non-appearance, and the like for trespasses, &c. before the said justices within the town and parish; and that the mayor for the time being should be coroner within the town and parish, and should make oath before the last mayor, or on his death, &c. before two or more of the jurats, of the due execution of his office, and that no coroner for the county town enter within the town and parish, &c. And he granted to the mayor, &c. all waifs, estreats, fines, forfeitures, goods and chattels of selons and sugitives, &c. before granted by the letters patent of queen Elizabeth, and to the mayor all return of writs, &c. within the town and parish; so that the sheriff, coroner, or escheator, or other the king's ministers in no wise intermeddle within the town and parish. And that the mayor, jurats, and commonalty should have and enjoy to their own proper use all wharsage, anchorage, and groundage of ships and vessels coming to the town and parish, and reasonable fees and wages for lading and unlading of merchandizes, goods, and chattels in the said ships and vessels there to be laded and unladed into or out of the same; and that they should have through the water as aforesaid, from East Farleigh bridge to Hawkwood, the privilege of keeping and preserving swans and signets, and a swan-mark, and the same to alter at their pleasure, and also all swans and signets through the waters, within the bounds and limits aforesaid, and the banks and ground of the same, building nests, breeding or frequenting, and not legally marked with the swan-mark aforesaid, and full power to pursue, retake, and bring back the swans and signets aforesaid, swimming or wandering by water and land out of the limits aforesaid, without hindrance of the king, his officers or ministers, or other persons whatsoever. And that the mayor, &c. for the better support of the charges of the town and parish aforesaid, or for other reasonable causes, or for the public good and benefit of the said town and parish, and of the inhabitants thereof, should from time to time make and assess reasonable taxes and assessments upon themselves and every inhabitant there, and levy the same by distress, or any other legal manner, as they, have heretofore been used and accustomed; and he likewise confirmed to them all lands, goods, liberties and franchises, as they had ever heretofore held, used and enjoyed the same, with a non obstante to all omissions, or other matter whatsoever; and that they should have the same sealed with the great seal, without see or reward, &c.
By the above charter the corporation act at this time, their exclusive jurisdiction as such extending over the town and parish of Maidstone, and on the river Medway from East Farleigh bridge to Hawkwood in Burham, in all matters whatsoever as within the same; and for the cognizance and determination of actions and replevins to the further extent of the towns and parishes of East Farleigh, Barming, Lose, Boxley, Allington, Linton, and Otham, and the hamlets of Milhale, in Aylesford, and Newhythe, in the parish of East Malling.
The mayor and jurats, and the recorder as steward, annually hold a court leet, or law day, formerly called the portmote, at which, among other business, the peace officers are chosen, viz. a high constable for the town and parish, and a borsholder for each of the three boroughs of Week, West-street, and Stone, into which this town and parish are divided.
This town and parish, with others in this neighbourhood, was antiently bound to contribute to the repair of the fifth pier of Rochester bridge. (fn. 14)
King James I. by letters patent, dated July 8, in his 21st year, created lady Elizabeth Finch, widow of Sir Moile Finch, bart. VISCOUNTESS MAIDSTONE, with limitation to her heirs male; and king Charles I. by letters parent, July 12, in his 4th year, conferred on her the title of Countess of Winchelsea to her and her heirs male, Earls of Winchelsea. She died in 1633, and was succeeded by Sir Tho. Finch, the second, but eldest surviving son, in her titles before mentioned, being the first earl of Winchelsea and viscount Maidstone, in whose descendants the titles continued down to John, the fifth earl of Winchelsea, viscount Maidstone, &c. who dying without issue in 1729, those titles descended to Daniel, second earl of Nottingham, son and heir of Sir Heneage Finch, son and heir of Sir Heneage, fourth son of Sir Moile Finch, bart. by Elizabeth his wife, who was created countess of Winchelsea, and viscountess Maidstone as has been already mentioned.
Daniel, earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham, was constituted lord lieutenant and custos rotulorum of this county, and afterwards was successively employed in different great offices of trust, being much esteemed for his learning and eminent abilities. He died in 1730, having been twice married; first, to Essex, daughter and coheir of Robert Rich, earl of Warwick, by whom he had one daughter; secondly, to Anne, only daughter of Christopher, viscount Hatton, by whom he had five sons and eight daughters, of whom the eldest son Daniel succeeded him in the titles of earl of Winchelsea, and Nottingham, viscount Maidstone, &c. and married first, Frances, daughter of Basil Fielding, earl of Denbigh, by whom he had one daughter, Charlotte, on whose death he married secondly, Mary, daughter and coheir of Sir Thomas Palmer, bart. of Wingham, by whom he had four daughters, Heneage, Essex, Hatton, and Augusta, and dying in 1769, æt. 81, without male issue, was succeeded in honors by his nephew, George Finch, esq. only son of the right hon. William Finch, second and next brother to Daniel, earl of Winchelsea, last mentioned by his second wife, Charlotte, second daughter of Thomas, earl of Pomfret.
The right hon. George Finch, above-mentioned, is the present earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham, viscount Maidstone, and baron Finch, of Daventry, and is at present unmarried. (fn. 15) He was in 1779 made lordlieutenant of Rutland. He bears for his arms quarterly, 1st and 4th, Argent, a chevron between three griffins passant, sable, for Finch—2d and 3d, Gules, three lions rampant, or, for Fitzherbert. For his crest: On a wreath a flying horse, argent, winged and ducally gorged, or. And for his supporters: on the right, a flying horse as the crest; and on the left, a griffin sable, ducally collared, or.
Fungus pæne albus, prona parte erinaceus; imbricated hydnum. (fn. 16)
It has been already mentioned, that this town was AN ANTIENT BOROUGH BY PRESCRIPTION, which privilege has since been confirmed by the several charters granted to it. The first account extant of the names of burgesses returned for it is in the 6th year of king Edward VI.
[Members of Parliament]
KING EDWARD VI.
|Years of the Reign, &c.||Names of the Burgesses in Parl.|
|Parliament at Westminster||WILLIAM WOTTON,|
|John Salwyne, (fn. 17)|
KING JAMES I.
|1st. At Westminster||Francis Fane, knt.|
|Laurence Washington, esq|
|12th. Ditto||Francis Fane,|
|Francis Barnham, knts.|
|18th. At Westminster||Francis Fane,|
|Francis Barnham, knts.|
|21st. Ditto||George Fane,|
|Francis Barnham, knts.|
KING CHARLES I.
|1st. At Westminster||Edward Maplesden,|
|Thomas Stanley, gents.|
|1st. Ditto||George Fane,|
|Francis Barnham, knts.|
|3d. Ditto||The same.|
|15th. Ditto||The same.|
|16th. Ditto||Francis Barnham,|
|Humphry Tufton, knts.|
KING CHARLES II.
KING JAMES II.
WILLIAM AND MARY.
|1st. At Westminster 1688||Sir Thomas Taylor, bart.|
|Caleb Banks, esq.|
|2d. Ditto 1690||Sir Thomas Taylor, bart.|
|Thomas Ryder, esq.|
|7th. At Westminster 1695||Sir Thomas Taylor, bart.|
|Sir John Banks, bart. (fn. 18)|
|10th. Ditto 1698||Sir Rob. Marsham, bart.|
|Thomas Blisse, esq.|
|12th. Ditto 1700||The same.|
|13th. Ditto 1701||Sir Rob. Marsham, bart.|
|Thomas Blisse, esq.|
|1st. At Westminster 1702||Hon. Heneage Finch,|
|Thomas Blisse, esq. (fn. 19)|
|4th. Ditto 1705||Sir Tho. Colepepyr, bart.|
|Thomas Blisse, esq.|
|7th. Ditto 1708||Sir Thomas Colepepyr,|
|Sir Rob. Marsham, barts.|
|9th. Ditto 1710||The same.|
|12th. Ditto 1713||Sir Rob. Marsham, bart.|
|Sir Samuel Ongley, knt.|
KING GEORGE I.
|1st. At Westminster 1714||Sir Robert Marsham, (fn. 20)|
|Sir Tho. Colepepyr, barts. (fn. 21)|
|7th. Ditto 1722||Sir Barnham Rider, knt.|
|Hon. John Finch,|
KING GEORGE II.
|1 st. At Westminster 1727||Hon John Finch,|
|Thomas Hope, esq.|
|7th. At Westminster 1734||Hon. John Finch.|
|William Horsmonden Turner, esq.|
|14th. Ditto 1741||Lord Guernsey, (fn. 22)|
|Hon. John Bligh, (fn. 23)|
|21st. Ditto 1747||Hon. Robert Fairfax,|
|William Horsmonden Turner, esq.|
|28th. Ditto 1754||Lord Guernsey, (fn. 24)|
|Gabriel Hanger, esq.|
KING GEORGE III.
|1st. At Westminster 1761||William Northey,|
|Rose Fuller, esqrs.|
|7th. Ditto 1768||Hon. Charles Marsham,|
|Edward Gregory, esq.|
|14th. Ditto 1774||Lord Guernsey, (fn. 25)|
|Sir Horace Mann.|
|20th. Ditto 1780||Sir Horace Mann,|
|Clement Taylor, esq.|
|24th. Ditto 1784||Gerard Noell Edwards, (fn. 26)|
|Clement Taylor, esqrs.|
|30th. Ditto 1790||Matthew Bloxham,|
|Clement Taylor, esqrs.|
|36th. Ditto 1796||Matthew Bloxham, esq.|
|General Oliver Delancy.|
THE RIGHT of electing burgesses is vested in the freemen, whether resident within the borough or not; and the house of commons, upon two several petitions, have by their votes, passed in 1701 and 1702, determined, that the right of election of burgesses for Maidstone is in the freemen, not receiving alms or charity.
The freedom of this corporation is obtained by birth, the eldest son being free of course, and the others on paying forty shillings fine. Strangers are likewise admitted by consent of the mayor and jurats, on payment of a fine.
MAIDSTONE was part of the antient possessions of the see of Canterbury, and remained so at the time of the conquest; and it is accordingly thus entered in the general survey of Domesday, under the title of the lands of the archbishop.
In Meddestan hundred the archbishop himself holds Meddestane. It was taxed at 10 sulings. The arable land is 30 carucates. In demesne there are 3 carucates. and 25 villeins with 21 borderers, having 25 carucates. There is a church and 10 servants, and five mills of 36 shillings and eight pence. There are two fisheries of 270 eels. There are 10 acres of pasture, Wood for the pannage of 30 hogs.
Of this manor three knights hold of the archbishop four fulings, and there they have three carucates and an half in demesne, and 32 villeins, with 10 borderers, having six carucates and 10 servants, and they have one mill of five shillings, and 13 acres of meadow, and two fisheries and an half of 180 eels, and two salt pits. Wood for the pannage of 23 hogs.
In the whole value, in the time of king Edward the Confessor, this manor was worth 14 pounds, when he received it 12 pounds, and now the demesne of the archbishop is worth 20 pounds. Of the knights 15 pounds 10 shillings. The monks of Canterbury have every year of two tenants of this manor 20 shillings.
The archbishops do not seem to have had a house of any note here till the reign of king John, in the 7th year of which, William de Cornhill is said to have given his seat in Maidstone to archbishop Stephen Langton, for a residence for him and his successors. (fn. 27) Soon after which this manor, with its appurtenances, was valued at 83l. 16s. 11d. per annum.
John Ufford, who came to the see of Canterbury in 1348, began to rebuild this palace; but he died soon afterwards, before he had received his pall, or was even consecrated, that he might rather be said only to make a preparation for it. He seems to have pulled the greatest part, if not the whole of it, down for this purpose; in which situation it laid during the few weeks continuance of his successor, archbishop Tho. Bradwardine. After which, Simon Islip, succeeding in 1349, to the archbishopric on his death, he sued the administrator of archbishop Ufford for dilapidations, part of which most probably arose from the unfinished condition this house was left in, and he recovered upwards of 1100l. after which the archbishop pulled down the ruinated palace at Wrotham in this neighbourhood, and conveying the materials hither, finished this at Maidstone with them. (fn. 28) Archbishop Courtney, who succeeded to the see in 1381, being the 5th year of king Richard II. built much at this palace, where he died in 1396, and was buried at Canterbury, though there is a cenotaph remaining for him in the great chancel of the church at Maidstone. From this time the palace of Maidstone, on account of its pleasant as well as convenient situation, became the consequent residence of the succeeding archbishops; and in the time of archbishop Chichele, king Henry VI. honoured this house with his presence, as appears by his writs, bearing date March 21, anno regni 16 apud manerium de Maydeston. (fn. 29) In the 31st year of the above reign, archbishop John Stafford died at this palace, to which he had resorted for the benefit of the air.
Archbishop Morton, among the rest of the palaces which he repaired, greatly augmented and beautified this at Maidstone, in 1486, which was then become much decayed and dilapidated; after which this manor and palace underwent no material alteration till archbishop Cranmer, by that great deed of exchange made with king Henry VIII. in the 29th year of that reign, granted, among other premises, to that king all this manor or lordship, with its appurtenances, the advowson and patronage of the college and church of our Lady at Maydestone, and the advowson, donation, &c. of the chantry founded in Maydestone by archbishop Arundel, and his prison house in Maydestone, together with all liberties, &c. and all other estates whatsoever belonging to him in this parish, excepting all advowsons and presentations, &c. not particularly mentioned and excepted. (fn. 30) These premises continued in the crown till king Edward VI. in his 4th year, granted this manor, with its appurtenances, the rectory, and several messuages, lands, and tenements in Madenstone, to Sir Thomas Wyatt, of Allington castle, to hold in capite by knights service; but he having in the 1st year of queen Mary, with other gentlemen of note in this county, raised a rebellion on their disgust to the queen's marriage, was taken prisoner; and being found guilty on his trial, was executed that year. On his attaint this manor, with the palace, rectory, and other premises, became confiscated to the crown, whence the palace, with other premises in this parish, was granted by queen Elizabeth to Sir John Astley, son of John Astley, esq. master of the queen's jewels; he resided here, and dying in 1639, was buried in this church. As he left no surviving issue, he bequeathed this mansion, with his other estates in this neighbourhood, to his kinsman, Sir Jacob Astley, who for his loyalty and eminent services to king Charles I. was in the 20th year of his reign, created baron Astley of Reading. He died at the palace at Maidstone in 1651, and was buried with his lady in this church, leaving by her one son, Isaac, who succeeded him in title and estate; and a daughter, Elizabeth, who married her kinsman, Sir Edw. Astley, of Melton.
Isaac lord Astley died in 1662, and was buried in Maidstone church, leaving two sons, Jacob, who succeeded him as his heir, and Francis, who died without issue. (fn. 31) Jacob lord Astley, dying in 1688, was buried in this church, and leaving no issue the barony became extinct, and this mansion came, among the rest of his entailed lands, to Sir Jacob Astley, bart. of Melton Constable, in Norfolk, son of Sir Edward above-mentioned, who continued owner of this seat till the 6th year of king George I. anno 1720, when he alienated it, with other estates in this neighbourhood, which descended to him on the death of Jacob lord Astley, to Sir Robert Marsham, bart. lord Romney, for which purpose an act passed that year; whose grandson, the Right Hon. Charles lord Romney, is the present possessor of them.
But the manor of Maidstone itself seems to have continued in the hands of the crown till Charles I. in his 4th year granted it in fee to the trustees of the lady Elizabeth Finch, viscountess Maidstone, whom he had that year created countess of Winchelsea, to be holden in soccage, and not in capite, and from her it came down to her direct descendant, Heneage, fourth earl of Winchelsea, (fn. 32) who, in 1720, alienated his interest in it, to Sir Robert Marsham, bart. lord Romney, whose grandson, the Right Hon. Charles lord Romney, is the present possessor of it.
The manor extends over the whole hundred, and is styled the hundred and manor of Maidstone. At the court leet and court baron, held annually for it, there are yearly chosen a constable for the hundred, and five borsholders, viz. one for each of the parishes or boroughs of Barming, Boxley, Detling, Linton, with the borough of Crockhurst, and one for the parishes of East Farleigh and Loose jointly.
THE MOTE was an antient seat in this parish, situated about a mile eastward from the town of Maidstone, and encircled with a pleasant park. It was formerly castellated, and in the reign of Henry III. was part of the possessions of the noted family of Leyborne. In the 51st year of which Roger de Leyborne obtained the grant of a market, to be held weekly at this place on a Tuesday, and a yearly fair for three days at the feast of St. Cross. (fn. 33)
After the Leybornes were extinct here, it was become the property of John de Shofford, from whom it acquired the name of the manor of Shofford, alias Le Mote. Ralph de Ditton afterwards possessed it, and in the 20th year of king Edward III. Bartholomew de Burghersh held it as one quarter of a knight's fee, which Ralph de Ditton before held in Shofford of the archbishop. He was a man of great eminence, being lord warden of the cinque ports, governor of Dover castle, &c. and died possessed of it in the 28th year of that reign, leaving Bartholomew, his eldest son, his heir, who was much esteemed by Edward III. who, on the institution of the order of the Garter, made choice of him as one of the knights companions of it. He resided here, after his father's death, in the 29th year of the above reign, (fn. 34) and died in the 43d year of it; some years after which the Mote came into the possession of the Widviles, or Woodvills, as they were vulgarly called, who removed from Grafton, in Northamptonshire, where they had been long settled, and resided here. John de Wydevill seems to have possessed this seat in the reign of Richard II. being sheriff of Northampton, and governor of the castle there. He died possessed of this estate, and is said to have been buried on the north side the chancel of Maidstone church, where his tomb still remains. His son, Richard de Wydevill succeeded him in those offices, and was afterwards made seneschall of Normandy, and constable of the tower of London, by king Henry VI. but having, without licence, married Jaquet de Luxembourg, daughter of Peter, earl of St. Paul, and widow of John duke of Bedford, he was fined one thousand pounds for that transgression, and for livery of her dower. Notwithstanding which, the king, in his 26th year, in recompence of his services, in the wars in France, created him a baron, by the title of lord of Rivers, Grafton, and De la Mote. (fn. 35) The former of which was not the name of any place, but of an antient family, once earls of Devonshire; in consequence of which this lord assumed, in an escutcheon of pretence, upon his own coat of arms, Argent, a fess and canton gules, the antient coat ascribed commonly to Baldwin Rivers, or de Ripariis, earl of Devonshire, in the reign of king Stephen, viz. Gules, a griffin segreant or.
Richard lord Rivers, continued firm to Henry VI. during the remainder of his reign; but after king Edward had obtained the crown, and had married Elizabeth his eldest daughter, widow of Sir John Grey of Groby, and made her his queen, he presently forgot all his former obligations to the house of Lancaster, and had great honours and trusts conferred on him by the king, who, in his 6th year, created him earl Rivers, and made him lord treasurer and high constable of England; two years after which, being at his seat at Graston, in Northampton, he was there surprized by the people, who had tumultuously assembled in favour of king Henry, and being seized by them, was carried to Northampton, and beheaded without any form of law. Among other figures of the nobility of the time was that of this earl, painted in a window, in Ashford church, kneeling on a cushion with his surcoat of arms, viz. of four coats, 1st and 4th, Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Rivers; 2d and 3d, a spread eagle; 2d and 3d, vaire, argent and azure. Behind him was the figure of his wife, the duchess of Bedford, likewise kneeling on a cushion, having on her gown, Gules, a lion rampant argent, and before him the figure of his son, the lord Scales, in a like posture, having on his surcoat, six escallops. (fn. 36)
Anthony, his eldest son, succeeded him in titles and estates, having in his father's life time, through the king's favour, married Elizabeth, sole daughter and heir of Thomas lord Scales, of Nucals; he was thereupon declared lord Scales, and as such, had, anno 3 Edward IV. summons to parliament, and in the 5th year of it was elected knight of the Garter; after which he had many honourable and lucrative posts conferred on him, being constituted governor of Calais, the tower of Ryesbank, and the castle of Guisnes, and captain general of the king's forces, both by sea and land; and in the 13th year of king Edward IV. upon the creation of prince Edward to be prince of Wales and earl of Chester, he was appointed his governor, and at the same time chief butler of England; (fn. 37) but on the death of king Edward, in 1483, this earl attending the young king out of Wales towards London, was entrapped by the dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham, at Northampton, and afterwards sent prisoner to the castle of sheriff Hutton; from whence they soon afterwards hurried him away to Pontefract, where he was beheaded as a traitor, not being suffered to speak to the people in his own vindication. Leaving no legitimate issue, Richard his brother succeeded him in honours and estates, the latter of which, however, king Richard did not suffer him to enjoy, but made a grant of this among the rest of the late earl's lands in this county, to Robert Brakenbury, esq. on whom he conferred the office of constable of the Tower, and other favours, for his good services to him. In this state the Mote remained till the accession of king Henry VII. when Richard earl Rivers was put in possession of it. Archbishop Morton, in the above reign of king Henry VII. appears to have been possessed of lands within the park here; for by a codicil to his last testament, in 1500, having willed to Tho. Morton, his nephew, all his manors and lands in the county of Kent, &c. he excepts certain lands within the park of the Mote, near Maidstone, and the mill, which he wills should remain to Christ church, and his successors, archbishops, for ever, on the conditions therein mentioned. (fn. 38) The earl died possessed of it in the 7th of that reign, without issue, having by his will appointed lord Tho. Gray, marquis Dorset, his nephew, his heir, to whom he gave all his lands whatsoever. He soon afterwards alienated this estate to Sir Henry Wyatt, of Alington castle, privy counsellor, who in the 15th year of king Henry VIII. procured his lands in this county to be disgavelled by an act, passed particularly for that purpose; after which this estate descended at length to his grandson, Sir Tho. Wyatt, who in the 1st year of queen Mary, having with other gentlemen of note in this county, raised a rebellion, on the pretence of the queen's marriage, was taken prisoner, and being found guilty of high treason, was executed that year. (fn. 39) On his attainder, the Mote, among the rest of his estates, became confiscated to the crown, whence it was granted next year by queen Mary to Hugh Warham, of Southampton, probably only for a term, for in the next reign of queen Elizabeth it appears to have been again in the hands of the crown, and that princess, in her 31st year, granted it to John Nicholas and John Dixon. (fn. 40) Soon after which it came into the possession of Sir William Rither, of London, who was third son of Edw. Rither, of Low Layton, in Essex, and served the office of lord-mayor in 1600. He repaired this seat, and bequeathed it to his daughter and coheir. the lady Susan, then the wife of Sir Thomas Cæsar, one of the barons of the exchequer. He was second son of Adelmare, an Italian, descended of the antient family of the Delmarii there, and was physician to queen Mary and queen Elizabeth; the latter of whom, for his great learning, gave him the name of Cæsar. He left three sons, Sir Julius Cæsar, master of the Rolls, Sir Thomas abovementioned, and Henry dean of Ely. The Cæsars bore for their arms, Argent, three roses gules, on a chief gules, three roses argent. (fn. 41) After the death of Sir Thomas Cæsar, his widow again carried this estate in marriage to Mr. Thomas Philipott, second son of Sir John Philipott, of Compton Wascelin, in Hampshire, whom she likewise survived, and afterwards, joining with her eldest son, by her first husband, Tho. Cæsar, esq. sold it in the beginning of the reign of king Charles I. to Sir Humphry Tuston, who, in 1641, was created a baronet, being the second son of Sir John Tufton, bart. of Hothfield, and next brother to Nicholas, first earl of Thanet. He bore for his arms, Sable, an eagle displayed ermine, within a bordure argent, with due difference. (fn. 42) He resided at times both here and at Bobbing place, at which latter seat he died in 1659, and was there buried, being succeeded by Sir John Tuston, bart. his eldest surviving son, who resided at the Mote; but though twice married, he left issue by neither of his wives, and dying in 1685, (fn. 43) was buried in Maidstone church. By his will he gave this seat and estate to his neice, Tuston Wray, one of the daughters of Sir William Wray, bart. of Ashby, in Lincolnshire, by Olimpia, his sister, and she alienated it to Sir John Marsham, of Whorne's-place, in Cookstone, bart. who removing to this seat of the Mote, died here in 1692, in which year he was sheriff of this county. His son and heir, Sir John Marsham, bart. dying without issue, a few years after his father, the title, with this seat, and the rest of his estates in this county, came to his uncle, Sir Robert Marsham, of Bushey hall, in Hertfordshire, who removing his residence into Kent, died possessed of the Mote, in 1703. His only son, Sir Robert Marsham, bart. was on June 25th, 1716, created a peer, by the title of lord Romney; he resided at the Mote, and died in 1724, leaving by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Sir Cloudesley Shovel, afterwards remarried to John lord Carmichael, on the death of his father, earl of Hyndford, an only son and heir, Robert, and two daughters, Elizabeth, married in 1741, to Sir Jacob Bouverie, afterwards created viscount Folkestone; and Harriott, who died unmarried at Boxley, in 1796; Robert the son, succeeding his father as lord Romney, was F.R.S. and LL.D. president of the Society of Arts, and a lieut. colonel of the western regiment of the militia of this county. In 1724, he married Priscilla, daughter and sole heir of Charles Pym, esq. of the island of St. Christopher, by whom he had ten children, of whom only six survived him, viz. two sons, the Hon. Charles Marsham, now lord Romney, and Jacob, LL.D. in holy orders, now of Aldington, near Maidstone, who married the only daughter of John Bullock, esq. of Caversfield, in Buckinghamshire; the four daughters were, Priscilla, Elizabeth, Frances, and Charlotte, the latter of whom married John Coker, esq. and died at the Mote, in 1794. Robert lord Romney died at the Mote, in 1793, and was succeeded by his only surviving son, the Hon. Charles Marsham, member for this county in three successive parliaments; who in 1776, married lady Frances Wyndham, sister of the earl of Egremont, since deceased, by whom he has one son, Charles, and three daughters, Francis, Harriet, and Amelia Charlotte. Lord Romney has lately pulled down the antient seat of the Mote, and has rebuilt it, though at no great distance, yet in a much more eligible situation, in the park, which is richly ornamented with the foilage of spreading oaks, of a large size, and commanding a most pleasing view of the neighbouring county. He now resides in it, and is the present lord lieutenant of this county. He bears for his arms, Argent, a lion passant in bend, gules, between two bendlets, azure; for his crest, on a wreath a lion's head erased, gules; and for his supporters, two lions azure, semee of cross croslets, gorged, with naval crowns, or.
At a small distance southward from the Mote park lies the MANOR of GOULDS, and an estate called SHEPWAY-COURT, both which formerly belonged to a family named Vinter, who resided at Vinters, in the adjoining parish of Boxley. Roger Vinter was one of the conservators of the peace for this county, in the 18th year of king Edward III. and then pos sessed these estates, and on his founding the chantry in Maidstone church, since called by the name of Gould's chantry, about the 40th year of king Edward III. he endowed it with the revenues of them, for the support of the priest performing divine offices there.
On the suppression of this chantry, in the reign of king Henry VIII. the manor of Goulds was granted to John Deuntley, to hold of the king in capite by knight's service. After which it passed into the name of Blague, and John Blague died possessed of it in the 5th year of king Edward VI. holding it by the like service. His descendant, Henry Blague, in the 20th year of queen Elizabeth, alienated the manor of Goulds, with its appurtenances, in Maidstone and Shefford, to Thomas Hendsley, alias Hendlebery, and Anne his wife. Thomas Hendsley was at that time likewise possessed of Shepye-court, in Maidstone, which had been granted by king Henry VIII. at the suppression of the chantry, to Sir Thomas Wyatt, of Allyngton, who in the 32d year of that reign, (fn. 44) had again exchanged it with that king.
One of Thomas Hendley's descendants passed away both these estates to Andrews; from which name they were sold to Sir Humphry Tufton, bart. afterwards of the Mote, as above-mentioned, since which they have passed in like manner as that seat to the right hon. Charles, lord Romney, who is the present possessor of both Goulds and Shepye-court.
BIGONS, alias DIGONS, was once a seat of some note in this parish, and was the residence of a family of the name of Mapelysden; one of which, Edward Mapelysden, of Digons, is mentioned in a deed of the 25th year of king Edward III's reign, and in his descendants it continued down to George Maplesden; and in the Visitation of Kent, anno 1619, is a pedigree of this family, which about this time separated into two branches, one of which settled at Rochester, and the other, being the younger, continued at Maidstone. A descendant of one of them remained at Shorne, near Rochester, within these few years, possessed of a good fortune, and was a justice of the peace for this county. They bore for their arms, Sable, a cross formee fitchee argent. But George Maplesden above-mentioned having engaged in the troubles stirred up by Sir Thomas Wyatt, in the 1st year of queen Mary, forfeited this seat to the crown, whence it was soon afterwards granted to Nicholas Barham, esq. afterwards serjeant-atlaw, the son of Richard Barham, of Wadhurst, in Sussex, descended of a branch of those of Berham-court, in Teston. He bore for his arms, Argent, three bears sable, muzzled or; on a fess gules, a fleur de lis, between two martlets of the second. (fn. 45) He much improved it with additional buildings. His son and heir, Arthur Barham, passed it away by sale to Henry Haule, descended from Thomas de Aula or Haule, of Wye, and bore for his arms, Or, on a saltier sable, five mullets, or. (fn. 46) He resided here, and married Jane, the second daughter of Richard Dering, esq. of Pluckley, by whom he had two sons, Henry and George; the former of whom possessed this seat on his father's death, and soon afterwards alienated it to Sir Francis Barnham, of Hollingbourne, (fn. 47) who improved it much. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sampson Lennard, esq. by whom he had several children; of whom Dacre, the eldest son, dying unmarried, Robert, his second son, became his heir, and alienated this house, soon after the death of king Charles I. to Walter Franklyn, who sold it to Mr. Beale, of London, as he did afterwards to Griffith Hatley, M. D. the fifth son of John Hatley, citizen of London, who was descended of a good family at Goldington, in Bedfordshire. His epitaph is remaining in the chancel of Maidstone church, and his arms, Azure, a sword in bend between two mullets pierced or. He died possessed of this house in 1710, since which it has continued in the same name and family to the present time, being now the property of James Hatley, esq. of Ipswich, in Suffolk.
JORDAN'S HALL, was once a seat of some note in this town, situated in Stone-street, and antiently afforded both name and residence to a family of that name. From the Jordan's it passed by sale to one of the family of Roper, of St. Dunstan's, near Canterbury, in which it continued till John Roper alienated it about the 36th year of king Henry VI. to Edward and William Brouch, of Bersted, who quickly after parted with their interest in it to Atwood, from which name it was sold to Peirce, and thence again to Cook, who soon afterwards conveyed it to Crooke, where after it had staid some short time it was passed by sale to Potkin, descended from those of that name at Sevenoke. Their arms were, Argent, on a fess between three talbots gules, three lozenges or.
From the Potkins, by a daughter and coheir, this house was carried in marriage to Virgo, who about the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign, fold it to Laurence Washington, esq. a justice of the peace, and register of the court of chancery, descended from the Washingtons, antiently of Washington, in Durham. He alienated it to Godwin, from whence it came by purchase to be the inheritance of Crispe, who about the beginning of king Charles I's reign, sold it to Smith. (fn. 48) One of which name, Jane Smith, in 1644, conveyed this house to Margaret Wood, by the description of a messuage, with outhouses, &c. called Jordan's-hall, with a garden in Maidstone, over against the dwelling-house of the lady Sackville, together with all the quit-rents belonging to it, out of certain tenements in Stone-street; since which this seat has not only lost its name, but from its being divided into small tenements of little account, has so dwindled into obscurity, that neither the scite of it, nor the proprietors can be traced at this time with any certainty.
SHALES-COURT is a manor in the southern part of this parish, which was antiently the inheritance of the noted family of Fremingham; one of whom, John de Fremingham, died possessed of it in the 23d year of king Edward III. His descendant John, son of Sir Ralph de Fremingham, of Loose, died in the 12th year of king Henry IV's reign, leaving no issue by Alice his wife, his feoffees assigned it over, according to the directions of his will, to John, son of Reginald de Pimpe, who died possessed of Shales manor in the 9th year of king Henry V. and in his descendants it continued down to Reginald de Pimpe, who died in the 23d year of king Henry VIII's reign. His heirs alienated it to Sir Thomas Wyatt, of Allyngton-castle, and privy-counsellor to king Henry VIII. who in the 32d year of that reign, (fn. 49) exchanged the manor and lordship of Shales-court, with the king, which was granted by king Edward VI. in his first year, to Sir Walter Hendley, serjeant-at-law, together with the manor of Oldborough, and other premises, situated in Oldborough and Maidstone, late parcel of the possessions of Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, to hold in capite by knight's service. (fn. 50) He died in the 6th year of that reign, leaving three daughters his coheirs, and on the division made between them of their inheritance, the manor of Shales-court seems to have been allotted to Elizabeth, the eldest daughter, widow of William Waller, esq. of Groombridge, but then the wife of George Fane, who died possessed of it in the 9th year of queen Elizabeth, and was buried at Brenchley, in this county.
On her death this manor descended to her son, by her first husband, Sir Walter Walier, who in the 17th year of the same reign, alienated it to Walter Hendley, of Coursehourne, in Cranbrooke, and Elizabeth his wife; (fn. 51) in whose descendants it continued till the reign of king Charles II. when it was in the possession of Sir Thomas Hendley, of Coursehourne. Soon after which it was alienated to Sir John Banks, bart. of Aylesford, who died in 1699, leaving two daughters his coheirs; one of whom, Elizabeth, marrying Heneage Finch, second son of Heneage, earl of Nottingham, he in her right, on the partition of her father's estates, became entitled to it, and was, in 1703, created baron of Guernsey, and in 1714, earl of Aylesford; and his great-grandson, the right hon. Heneage Finch, earl of Aylesford, is the present owner of this manor. The manor-house is in the occupation of Mr. Thomas Pope, and stands at the southern extremity of the town of Maidstone, at the south-west corner of the lane leading from Maidstone to Tovil.
CHILLINGSTON is a manor in this parish, the mansion of which was situated near St. Faith's-green, in this town. It was antiently part of the possessions of the eminent family of Cobham, of Cobham, in this county; one of which, John de Cobham, procured a charter of free-warren for this manor, among the rest of his lands in this county, in the 17th year of king Edward III. Soon after which it passed to the Maplesdens, of Digons, in this town, as appears by the court-rolls and deeds of this manor; in which name it continued till George Maplesden, having engaged in the rebellion stirred up by Sir Thomas Wyatt, in the 1st year of queen Mary, forfeited it, to the crown, whence it was soon afterwards granted to Sir Walter Hendley, who not long after alienated his interest in it to Nicholas Barham, esq. afterwards serjeant-at-law, whose son and heir, Arthur Barham, passed it away by sale to Henry Haule, of Digons above-mentioned, whose youngest grandson, George Haule, died about 1650, without issue, leaving his sister, Elizabeth, married to Sir Thomas Taylor, bart. his heir.
They joined in the sale of this estate of Chillington, for it had now lost the reputation of a manor, to Sir John Beale, bart. of Farningham, who left two daughters, his coheirs; (fn. 52) and on the partition of their inheritance, this estate fell to the share of Elizabeth, the youngest, married to William Emerton, esq. of Chipsted, and they joined in the sale of it to Robert Southgate, fruiterer, whose son of the same name resided in it, and afterwards, about the year 1746, passed it away by sale to David Fuller, of Maidstone, attorney-at-law, and he dying without issue devised it by his will to his widow, who at her decease in 1775, gave it to her rerelation, William Stacy, esq. now of Canterbury, and he is the present proprietor of this mansion, which, as well in size and other respects, retains many marks of its antient state.
THE MANOR OF EAST-LANE, so called from its situation in this town, was formerly part of the possessions of the priory of Leeds, and continued so till the dissolution of it in the reign of king Henry VIII. when the priory being surrendered with all its possessions into the king's hands, who by his dotation charter under his great seal in his 33d year, settled it on his new erected dean and chapter of Rochester, with whom it remains at this time.
THE PARK-HOUSE was a pleasant seat, situated near the east side of the road to Rochester, about half a mile northward from the town of Maidstone. The estate of it seems to have been formerly part of the possessions of the see of Canterbury, and to have been purchased of archbishop Cranmer, by king Henry VIII. at which time it was in the occupation of Sir Anthony Knevet, and afterwards by lease from the king, in his 34th year of William Smith, by the description of the land and pasture called Le Park, in this parish. When it was granted away from the crown I have not found, but in the reign of king Charles II. it was in the possession of Sir Thomas Taylor, bart. who resided here, being descended from those of Willsborough, whose ancestor was John Taylor, of the Homestall, in Shadoxhurst, which was their original residence, bearing for their arms, Argent, on a chief sable, two boars heads comped of the field. In 1664 he was created a baronet, and died next year, leaving one son, Sir Thomas Taylor, bart. who succeeded his father in this estate, and resided at Park-house. He married Alicia, sister and at length heir of Sir Thomas Colepepyr, bart. of Aylesford, but died without issue. (fn. 53) His heirs sold it about the year 1735 to James Calder, esq. whose ancestor, James Calder, of Muertown, in Scotland, was created a baronet of that kingdom in 1686. He resided here, and on the death of his father took upon him the title of baronet, and died in 1774, having married first, Alice, youngest daughter and coheir of admiral Hughes, by whom he left surviving Henry, the late baronet, of whom hereafter, and Robert, of the royal navy, who married the daughter of John Mitchell, esq. late M. P. for Boston, and a daughter Alithea, married to Robert Roddam, esq. admiral of the royal navy. He married secondly, Catherine, daughter of Wentworth Odiarne, esq. by whom he had no issue, she died in 1776. Sir Henry Calder, bart. the son, was a general in the army, He rebuilt this seat at no great distance, though within Boxley parish, in a much more eligible situation. He married first Elizabeth, youngest daughter and coheir of Augustine Earle, esq. of Heydon, in Norfolk, who died in 1786; and he married secondly the daughter of admiral Osborne, and died in 1792, leaving by his second wife an infant son, the present Sir Henry Calder, bart. to whom the inheritance of this seat now belongs.
GREAT BUCKLAND MANOR is situated on the other or western side of the river Medway, opposite the town of Maidstone, on the top of the hill. It is called so corruptly for Bocland, no doubt from the tenure of it. In the time of the Saxons such land was hereditary, and passed by deed, and was held by the Thanes, or nobler sort, and it has the addition of Great, to distinguish it from other parts of this estate, now in the possession of different owners; all which were antiently part of the demesnes of a family which took its name from hence.
Buckland was originally granted by Hubert Walter, archbishop of Canterbury, in the reign of king John, to Alan de Bocland, by the description of one yoke, and ten acres of land, with its appurtenances in Maidstone, to hold in frank-fee, and not in gavelkind, as they had been held before. His grandson, Walter de Boclaunde, held this estate in the 55th year of king Henry III. anno 1270. A nuper obiit was brought in the above year before the justices itinerant, by Alan de Boclaund, against his elder brother Walter, abovementioned, for a moiety of this estate, the tenure of the same having been changed by the archbishop, without the consent of the chapter of Canterbury. But this plea was over-ruled, and judgment passed for the defendant. (fn. 54) His descendant, John de Bocland, died pos sessed of it in the 3d year of king Edward III. and was succeeded in it by his son, Sir John de Bocland, a person of some note in that reign. In the reign of king Henry IV. Buckland was become part of the possessions of the college of St. Mary and All Saints, of Maidstone, founded by archbishop Courtney in the 19th year of king Richard II. where it continued till the dissolution of this house by the act of the first year of king Edward VI. when it came into the hands of the crown, and that king, in his 3d year granted the scite of this college, (fn. 55) and likewise certain lands and tenements, late parcel of the above college, called North and South Buckland (in the tenure of Thomas Smith, who, as appears by the Visitation of Kent, anno 1619, where there is a pedigree of him, bore for his arms, Barry of six, or and sable, in chief, three crosses pattee, fichee of the second) to Sir George Brooke, lord Cobham, to hold in capite by knights service.
His grandson Henry, lord Cobham, being attainted for treason in the 1st year of king James I. forfeited all his estates to the crown; two years after which an act passed for establishing the same in the crown, with a confirmation of all grants made by the king. But this estate of Buckland being settled in jointure upon the lady Frances, wife of the lord Cobham, was upon his death granted to her, and the reversion to Sir Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury, son of the famous William, lord Burleigh, by his second wife, who had married Elizabeth, sister of the above mentioned unfortunate lord Cobham.
Robert, earl of Salisbury, died in 1612, and was succeeded in titles and estate by William, his only son and heir, who, about the year 1618, alienated this estate to several persons; that part of it since called Great Buckland, with the manor, was sold to William Horsepoole, esq. descended from John Horsepoole, of Lei cestershire. They bore for their arms, Sable, on a chevron argent three lions heads erased. (fn. 56) He afterwards passed it away by sale to Thomas English, esq. of Sussex, who resided here, and bore for his arms, Sable, three lions passant, argent. His son, Thomas English, esq. possessed Great Buckland in the reign of king Charles II. about the latter end of which, he alienated it to Sir John Banks, bart. of Aylesford, who died in 1699, leaving two daughters his coheirs, viz. Elizabeth, married to Heneage Finch, second son of Heneage, earl of Nottingham; and Mary, married to John Savil, esq. of Methley, in Yorkshire.
On the division of the inheritance of whose two daughters and coheirs, this estate of Buckland, with others at Aylesford, and elsewhere in this neighbourhood, was allotted to Elizabeth the eldest, married to Heneage Finch, esq. who was in 1703 created baron of Guernsey, and in 1714, earl of Aylesford, in this county; and his great grandson, the right hon. Heneage Finch, earl of Aylesford, (fn. 57) is the present possessor of this manor.
ANOTHER PART of Buckland since known by the name of LITTLE BUCKLAND seems, about the latter end of the reign of king James I. to have come into the possession of Elizabeth viscountess Maidstone, and countess of Winchelsea, in whose descendants it continued till Heneage Finch, fourth earl of Winchelsea, (fn. 58) in 1720, alienated it to Sir Robert Marsham, bart. lord Romney, whose grandson, the right hon. Charles, lord Romney, (fn. 59) is the present possessor of it.
THERE is still another part of Buckland known likewise by the same name of LITTLE BUCKLAND, which in the reign of king Charles II. was become the property of John Fletcher, gent. who sold it to Chris topher Vane, lord Barnard, who died in 1723, leaving two sons, Gilbert, who succeeded him in title, and in his estates in the north of England; and William, who possessed his father's seat of Fairlawn, and the rest of his estates in this county, and was in 1720, created viscount Vane, of the kingdom of Ireland. He died at his seat at Fairlawn, in 1734, leaving an only son William, viscount Vane, who at his death in 1789, s. p. devised this, among his other estates, to David Papillon, esq. of Acrise, and he is the present owner of this estate.
At the western extremity of this parish, at no great distance from East Farleigh bridge, lies an estate, commonly called Halfway Oke, formerly accounted a manor, and known by the name of Half Yoke, which was antiently part of the possessions of the eminent family of Fremingham, and passed from thence, for want of heirs male, to the Pimpes, and from them to the Isleys, of Sundridge.
Sir Henry Isley possessed this manor in the reign of king Edward VI. and procured his lands in this county to be disgavelled by the act passed in the 2d and 3d year of it. Being concerned in the rebellion raised by Sir Thomas Wyatt, in the 1st year of queen Mary, he was attainted, and his lands became forfeited to the crown. In the reign of king Charles I. Andrew Videon, clerk of the papers of the king's bench, son of Andrew Videon, of Cliff, was possessed of Half Yoke, and resided at it. He was descended of a family of good antiquity and repute in this county, and was one among the many who suffered very much for his loyalty to king Charles I. and II. during the time of those troubles which he lived to survive, and Sir Edward Walker, knight of the garter, granted to him by patent, in 1664, the following coat of arms, Ermine, on a bend vert, three roses argent, barbed and seeded, (fn. 60) or.
After this name was extinct here, this estate became of but little account, and was no longer reputed a manor, and it seems to have been alienated to different persons; part of it passed into the name of French, from which it was sold to Mr. Fowle, of Fant, the present owner of it; another part of it, after some intermediate time, became the property of the Harris's, of East Farleigh, the last of whom Thomas Harris, gent. afterwards of East Barming, died unmarried in 1769, and by his will gave his part of this estate to Mrs. Mary Dorman, who is the present possessor of it.
THE HAMLET OF LUDDINGTON, antiently called Lodingford, from the ford over the river at it, is esteemed to be within the parish of Maidstone, although two other parishes intervene, viz. Linton and Loose. It lies near Style-bridge, in the high road to Marden and Staplehurst. The manor of it was lately in the possession of owners of the name of Piggott, in which it remained till Mrs. Mary Piggott marrying William Forster, D. D. intitled him jointly to her interest in it, which manor they continue to hold at this time.
ARCHBISHOP BONIFACE, about the year 1260, anno 45 king Henry III. built a college, or hospital for poor travellers, (fn. 61) in the West Borough, on the bank of the river Medway, opposite the town. It was dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, and was called THE HOSPITAL OF THE NEW WORK OF PRESTESHELLE, in Meydestane, (fn. 62) and in process of time THE NEWERK.