The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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THE HUNDRED OF LITTLEFIELD.
SOUTHWARD from Wrotham hundred lies the hundred of Littlefield, called in Domesday Littlefelle, and in some records, Leighfield.
This hundred takes its name from the smallness
of its extent, for it contains within its bounds only
the parish of
MEREWORTH, AND PART OF THE PARISH OF WEST PECKHAM.
And the churches of those parishes, and part of the parishes of HADLOW and EAST PECKHAM, the churches of which are in another hundred.
THIS HUNDRED, in the beginning of the reign of king Edward II. was in the possession of the crown, where it staid till that king, in his 15th year, granted it, by consent of parliament, among other estates of greater value, to Edmund, of Woodstock, his halfbrother, whom he at the same time made Earl of Kent. After the death of whose two sons, Joane their sister became their heir, (fn. 1) and her husband Sir Thomas Holand possessed this hundred in her right, who for her great beauty was called the fair maid of Kent, in whose right he was also earl of Kent. After his death she married Edward the black prince. She was succeeded in the possession of this hundred by Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, her son by her first husband, whose eldest son Thomas Holand, was afterwards created Duke of Surry, and continuing loyal to the cause of king Richard II. lost his life in a tumult at Cirencester, in the 1st year of king Henry IV. and was next year attainted in parliament. He died without issue, and his brother Edmund, earl of Kent, before the end of that year obtained, by virtue of an old entail, this hundred, among other estates, of which his brother had died possessed, and leaving no issue, his four sisters became his coheirs, and on the partition of his estates, this hundred was allotted to Joane, his fourth sister, duchess of York, who appears by the escheat rolls to have died without issue in the 12th year of king Henry VI. possessed of it.
Upon the partition of her inheritance among her sisters, Margaret, first wife of John, earl of Somerset, and afterwards of Thomas, duke of Clarence, became entitled to it. She died in the 18th year of that reign, leaving John, earl of Somerset, her son by her first husband, her next heir.
How the hundred of Littlefield passed afterwards I have not found, but in the reign of king Henry VIII. it was part of the possessions of the crown, (fn. 2) where it remained till king Edward VI. in the 4th year of his reign, granted it in fee to John Dudley, earl of Warwick, who was the next year created duke of Northumberland.
He, in the 7th year of that reign, sold it to the king, in exchange for other manors and lands.
This hundred seems to have remained in the crown till the 32d year of queen Elizabeth, who then granted the hundreds of Littlefield, alias Leighfield, and of Wachelston, alias Chadlington, to Sir Wm. Brooke, lord Cobham, whose son Henry, lord Cobham, in the first year of king James I. being accused with others of a conspiracy to kill the king, and subvert the government, was found guilty, and had judgment of death pronounced against him, though the sentence was afterwards, through the king's clemency superseded. Upon his attaint, this among the rest of his estates, became forfeited to the crown, and was confirmed to it by the act passed in the 3d year of king James for that purpose, since which this hundred has continued among the possessions of the crown, where it remains at present.