Parishes: Leyborne

Pages 496-508

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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EASTWARD from Ryarsh lies Leyborne, frequently, though corruptly written Laborne. It is called in old records, Leleburne, and Lilleborne, (fn. 1) and seems to have taken its name from the little brook or bourne which runs through this parish; lytlan signifying in old English, little or small, quasi Lytlanborne.

THE PARISH of Leyborne is situated both pleasant and healthy, it is in extent about a mile square, it lies low, the soil mostly fertile land. The Addington brook runs along the south and east sides of it, and near the latter turns a mill, called Leyborne mill; close to the southern boundary is the high road from Lon don through Wrotham to Maidstone, at the twentyninth mile stone of it, nearly opposite to Town Malling. Leyborne castle, and the church close to it, are situated in the eastern part of the parish, not far from the Brook; and the pleasant mansion and paddock grounds of the Grange about a mile from thence, at the western bounds of it, between which and the Brook southward there is some gentle hill and dale.

As an instance of the fertility of the soil of this parish for the hop-plant, a cottager who lived in Sir Henry Hawley's rents in it, had half an acre of land belonging to his cottage, which in the year 1784 produced a crop of forty-five hundred of hops, which he sold for one hundred and forty-five pounds, an extraordinary crop, and a fortune to the poor man.

This parish, with others, ought antiently to have contributed to the repair of the fifth pier of Rochester bridge. (fn. 2)

THIS PLACE in the reign of the Conqueror was part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux, and earl of Kent, the king's half-brother, under the general title of whose lands it is thus described in the record of Domesday.

Adam holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Leleburne. It was taxed at two sulings. The arable land is . . . . . In demesne there are three carucates, and sixteen villeins, with two borderers having seven carucates. There is a church and ten servants, and a mill of seven shillings, and twelve acres of meadow Wood for the pannage of fifty bogs. In the time of king Edward the Confesfor, it was worth eight pounds, when he received it seven pounds, now eight pounds. Richard de Tonebridge holds in his lowy what is worth twenty-four shillings. The king holds of the new gift of the bishop, what is worth twenty-four shillings and two-pence. Turgis held this manor of Earl Goduin.

On the disgrace of the bishop of Baieux, and the confiscation of all his estates, this of Leybourne came into the hands of the crown, and was probably soon afterwards granted to Sir William de Arsick.

How long it staid in this name, I do not find; but in the reign of king Richard I. it was in the possession of the family of Leyborne, who bore for their arms, Azure, six lions rampant, argent, sometimes three, two and one, and at others three and three, as they were painted in the windows of Newington church, near Sittingborne. About this time they erected a castellated mansion here, the ruins of which are still remaining.

Sir Roger de Leyborne, with many other Kentish knights, accompanied king Richard I. to the siege of Acon in Palestine, in the 3d year of his reign, anno 1191. He died before the 10th year of it, leaving a son Roger de Leyborne.

In the 36th year of the next reign of Henry III. he slew Ernulf de Mountency, at a meeting of the Round Table held at Walden, in Essex, his lance piercing his throat under his helmet, which wanted a collar; and as the lance had no socket on the point, it was supposed to be done purposely, in revenge of a broken leg Robert de Leyborne had received from Mounteney in a former tournament. (fn. 3)

On the king's recovery of his royal power by his victory at Evesham, in the 49th year of his reign, he had several important offices and lucrative grants conferred on him from time to time. Among others that of warden of the Five Ports. In the 50th year, having the guard of the sea-coasts in Kent against the inhabitants of the Cinque Ports, who then stood out against the king, he laid out large sums of his own money in that service; and the sheriff of this county was commanded to reimburse him out of the profits of it; and in the 52d year was once more sheriff of Kent for the first part of the year. (fn. 4) He died in the 56th year of that reign, leaving William de Leyborne his son and heir, who in the 14th year of the next reign had the honor of entertaining king Edward I. at his mansion here, on October 25, as appears by the patent rolls in the tower of that year. Next year he was stiled the king's admiral, and was made constable of the castle of Pevensey. After which he obtained a grant of the wardship and marriage of Geoffry, the son and heir of William de Say, deceased, who afterwards married Idonea his daughter. (fn. 5) In the 28th year of this reign Henry and Simon de Leyborne, two cadets of this family, attended the king into Scotland, and assisted at the famous siege of Carlaverock, in that kingdom; for which service they, with many other of the gentry of this county, received the honor of knighthood; having been summoned to parliament from the 27th of king Edward I. till the 3d year of Edward II. He died that year, leaving Juliana his grand-daughter, his heir, and Juliana, his own wife, surviving. But it appears by the escheat-rolls, that he had enseoffed his son, Thomas de Leyborne, in this manor, some time before his death, who died in his father's life-time, anno 35 Edward I. being possessed of it at the time of his death.

It appears by Cotton's Records, that there was an heir male left of this family; for John de Leyborne, received summons to parliament in the 14th, 17th, and 18th years of king Edward III. and he seems to have been the same John de Leyborne, who was appointed admiral of the northern seas in the 20th year of king Edward II.

Juliana de Leyborne, daughter and heir of Thomas de Leyborne, as also heir to her grandfather as abovementioned, became entitled to so large an inheritance in this county, that she was from thence usually stiled the Infanta of Kent; part of it was the manor and castle of Leyborne, which she carried in marriage, first to John, eldest son of John de Hastings, by Isabel, sister and at length coheir to Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke. (fn. 6) He died in the 18th year of king Edward II. leaving no issue by his wife Juliana before-mentioned, who survived him, and afterwards married Thomas le Blount, who likewise died without issue by her; and she again remarried with Sir William de Clinton, a younger brother of John de Clinton, of Maxtoke, ancestor to the lords Clinton and Say, the earls of Lincoln, and the present duke of Newcastle.

This marriage, in all probability, was the means of all his future honors and advancement: for in the course of the next year, he was made governor of Dovercastle, and warden of the cinque ports, and had afterwards summons to parliament among the barons of this realm, and was constituted admiral of the seas from the mouth of the Thames westward; and advancing still further in the king's favor, he was, by patent, in the 11th year of king Edward III. created earl of Huntingdon, in consideration of his acceptable services. In the 12th year of the same reign, he had another patent constituting him constable of Dover-castle, and in the 15th year was again made the king's admiral from the Thames westward. He died possessed of this manor and castle, and was buried in the church of the priory of Maxtoke, which he had founded, leaving Juliana his wife, surviving, by whom he had no issue. She died possessed of this manor and castle in her own right, in the 41st year of the same reign, and was buried, according to her will, on the south side of the church of St. Augustine's monastery near Canterbury.

On her death it escheated to the crown for want of heirs; for it appears by inquisition taken after it, in the 43d year of king Edward III. that there was then no one, who could make claim to her estates, either by direct or even collateral alliance.

After which the king, by his charter, in the 50th year of his reign, granted this manor and castle, with their appurtenances, and the advowson of the church of Leyborne, among other premises, to feoffees for the endowment of his newly founded Cistertian abbey, called St. Mary Graces, near the tower of London. These feoffees, after king Edward's death, in compliance with his will, conveyed them to the abbot and monks there, and their successors, for a term of years, and they granted their interest in it at a certain yearly rent to Sir Simon de Burley, knight of the garter, and warden of the five ports, who having forfeited it, with his life, for high treason, in the 10th year of king Richard II. that prince, in his 22d year, granted it to them in pure and perpetual alms for ever, for the performance of certain religious purposes therein mentioned, and he gave licence to the surviving feoffees of king Edward III. to release these premises to them and their successors for ever.

The manor and castle of Leyborne, together with the advowson of the church, remained part of the possessions of the above-mentioned monastery till the dissolution of it, in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when it was, together with the lands and revenues of it, surrendered into the king's hands.

King Henry VIII. by his letters patent, in his 31st year, under his great seal, granted and sold in exchange, among other premises, to Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, the manor of Leyborne, with its appurtenances, late parcel of the possessions of the abbey, excepting to the king all advowsons, presentations, &c. to the abbey belonging, and at any time past not appropriate, to hold by knight's service, and the yearly rent therein mentioned; and whereas the king was entitled by an act of parliament, to the tenths of the manor, lands, tenements, &c. he discharged the archbishop of them, and all other outgoings whatsoever, except the rent therein mentioned. Which grant was in consequence of an indenture made before, between the king and the archbishop, which was inrolled in the Augmentation office.

This estate did not remain long with the archbishop who within a few years afterwards was obliged to comply with the king's avaricious humour, and to pass it back again to him in the 37th year of his reign, who immediately afterwards granted the manor and castle, together with the advowson of the rectory, to Sir Edward North, chancellor of his court of Augmentation, and of his privy council, to hold in capite by knight's service.

In the 6th year of king Edward VI's reign, he alienated this manor, with its appurtenances, to Robert Gosnold, who in the 2d year of queen Elizabeth, passed away the manor and castle, with the advowson of the rectory, to Robert Godden, to hold beforementioned, and he by a fine levied in the 17th year of queen Elizabeth, settled them that year on Thomas Godden, his son and heir, who a few years afterwards passed them away by sale to Sir John Leveson, alias Lewson, of Whornes place, in Cookstone, whose son, Sir Richard Leveson, knight of the bath, of Trentham, in Staffordshire, in the reign of king James I. alienated them, (as he did all his other lands in this county to different persons) to Henry Clerke, serjeant at law, and recorder of Rochester, who died possessed of them about the time of king Charles I.'s death, and was succeeded by his son and heir, Sir Francis Clerke, who devised them by his will to his kinsman, Gilbert Clerke, esq. of Derbyshire, and he sold them to Captain William Saxby, of the Grange, in this parish, whence they passed by sale in 1724, to Francis Whit worth, esq. the youngest brother of Charles, lord Whitworth, and son of Richard Whitworth, esq. of Staffordshire, by Anne his wife, neice of Sir Oswald Moseley, of Cheshire, and bore for his arms, Argent, a bend sable in the sinister chief a garb gules. Lord Whitworth was the eldest of six sons. He was a very able statesman and negotiator, having been employed as ambassador, plenipotentiary and minister to the several courts of Europe, from the reign of king William to the time of his death, which happened in 1725. In consideration of his merits and services, he had been in 1720, created lord Whitworth, baron of Galway, in Ireland; but dying without male issue, the title became extinct. Francis Whitworth, esq. resided at the Grange, in this parish, and dying in 1742, was succeeded by his son and heir, Charles, afterwards Sir Cha. Whitworth, who was lieut. governor of Gravesend and Tilbury fort, and married Miss Shelley, by whom he had several children, of whom the eldest son, Sir Charles Whitworth, knight of the bath, is now envoy extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the court of Russia,. In 1776 he, together with his eldest son, who was the next in the entail, conveyed it (an act of parliament having been obtained for the purpose) by sale to James Hawley, M. D. and F. R. S. who was descended of a family which was originally of Somersetshire, and married Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Banks, esq. of Revesby, in Lincolnshire, by whom he had one son Henry, and a daughter Elizabeth, married to John Crawley, esq. of Bedfordshire. Dr. Hawley died in 1777, and was buried in a vault in Leyborne church, which he had built for himself and family; he bore for his arms, Vert, a saltier engrailed argent. He was succeeded in this estate by his son before-mentioned, Henry Hawley, esq. who on April 11, 1795, was created a baronet, and now resides at the Grange, in this parish, and is the present owner of the manor, castle, and advowson of the rectory of Leyborne. Sir Henry Hawley married first Dorothy, daughter and heir of John Ashwood, esq. of Salop, by whom he had a son Henry, and three daughters. She died in 1783, and was buried here, and he married secondly the eldest daughter of William Humffreys, esq. of Montgomery, by whom he has likewise one son and three daughters. The manor of Leyborne pays a fee farm to the crown of 1l. 19s. 8d. per annum. A court leet and court baron is held for it.

There are some remains of the antient buildings of Leyborne-castle existing at this time. The stone-work of the chief entrance, with great part of the circular towers on each side, and some other fragments of arches and walls are still in being; by the foundations remaining, and the traces of the ditch, this castle does not appear to have been very extensive. On the remains of it, many years ago, there has been built a dwelling-house, which seems to have been for some generations the habitation of a gentleman's family; one of whom, Thomas Golding, esq. kept his shrievalty for this county here in the year 1703, and bore for his arms, Argent, a cross voided between four lions passant, guardant gules; but it has for many years past been converted into a farm house.

THE GRANGE is a seat in this parish, which in the beginning of the reign of queen Elizabeth, was the estate and residence of Robert Quintin, alias Oliver, who was descended from Anselinus, or Anselmus de Quintin, who lived in the reign of king Edward III. His descendant, William Quintin, was of Seale, in this county, where he purchased lands called Hilks, in the beginning of king Henry VI's reign. His son Thomas was frequently stiled Thomas Quintin, son of Oliver, by which means his son John acquired the name of Quintin alias Oliver, by which name he called himself in his will, dated anno 32 Henry VIII. His descendant, Robert, transposed his name, calling himself Robert Oliver, alias Quintin, and possessed this seat, where he resided, as did his grandson Robert, who used the name of Oliver only, though in deeds and writings, he wrote the name of Quintin likewise. He bore for his arms, Ermine, on a fess gules, three lions rampant, or, and died in the reign of king Charles II. leaving Juliana his sole daughter and heir, who carried this seat in marriage to Edward Covert, of Sussex, by whose only daughter and heir it went, in like manner, to Mr. Henry Saxby, whose son Captain William Saxby resided in it, and was possessed likewise of the manor and castle of Leyborne, as has been already mentioned, which were, together with this seat, alienated in 1724, to Francis Whitworth, esq. who rebuilt the Grange, and greatly improved the adjoining grounds, of which he died possessed in the year 1742, and his only son and heir, Sir Charles Whitworth, together with his eldest son Charles, who was the next in the entail of it, passed away this seat, in 1776, with the whole of his property in this parish, by a conveyance in manner as before-mentioned, to James Hawley, M. D. whose only son, Sir Henry Hawley, bart. is the present proprietor of this seat, and resides in it.


The REV. EDWARD HOLME, vicar of the adjoining parish of Birling, in 1775, conveyed to trustees a piece of land in this parish, with the dwelling-house, school-room, and other buildings erected on it; and transferred 1000l. of four per cent. consolidated Bank annuities to them for the endowment of a school, for ten poor boys and as many girls of the parishes of Leyborne and Ryarsh, and five from each of the parishes of West and East Malling, to be recommended by the churchwardens of the respective parishes, and approved of by the trustees. The children to be instructed by the master of the school, in reading, writing, Latin, accounts, and other useful learning, and religious duties, according to the principles of the church of England, until they attained the age of fourteen years.

MR. JOHN PRICE was by the deed appointed master of the school, who was to be allowed thirty pounds per annum at the least; but if the revenue would allow of it, it is to be increased to a larger sum; and in case the scholars should be reduced to fifteen, the master is to be dismissed, unless it shall appear to the trustees, that such deficiency is not occasioned by his neglect or bad behaviour.

As often as one or more of the trustees should die, the survivors at their next general meeting were to appoint new ones in their room. The trustees were enjoined to meet in Birling church, on July the 1st yearly, to examine into the state of the school, and to make such rules and orders for the better government of it, as they should think proper.

THOMAS OLYVER gave in 1678 by will, for the benefit of the poor, payable out of houses and lands, the sum of six pounds yearly, vested in Sir Henry Hawley, bart. and now of that annual produce.

THOMAS GOLDING gave by will, year unknown, for the use of the poor on Christmas and Easter days, the annual sum of ten shillings, to be paid out of certain houses in St. Leonard's-street, in Malling, vested in Thomas Golding, and now of that annual produce.

LEYBORNE is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and deanry of Malling.

The church, which is a small building, stands in the south-east part of the parish. It is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul.

In the 20th year of king Edward III. the parson of Leyborne paid aid for a certain parcel of land, containing one hundred acres, belonging to this rectory, which Walter, parson of Leyborne, held in Leyborne of the earl of Huntingdon, and he of Margery Rivers, and she of the king.

The advowson of the church was antiently esteemed as an appendage to the manor of Leyborne, and as such was possessed by the abbey of St. Mary Grace, near the Tower, and was surrendered at the dissolution of that monastery, among the rest of the possessions of it, to king Henry VIII. in his 30th year.

After which the king granted the manor of Leyborne to the archbishop of Canterbury, but excepted the advowson of this church out of it, as has been already mentioned before, by which means it became separated from the manor, and became an advowson in gross, and though it afterwards was granted, with the manor, and possessed by the same owners from time to time, yet having been once separated, it could never afterwards be appendant to it again. Through the same chain of ownership in like manner as the manor and castle of Leyborne, this advowson came to Sir Cha. Whitworth, who in 1776 conveyed it, with the rest of his property in this parish, to James Hawley, M. D. whose son, Sir Henry Hawley, bart. of the Grange, is the present proprietor of it.

This rectory is valued in the king's books at 17l. 13s. 4d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 15s. 4d. (fn. 7)

The rector is entitled to the great and small tithe of this little parish without exception, the glebe belonging to the church is about two hundred acres, which together make the rectory of the value of about three hundred pounds per annum.

William, son and heir of Sir Roger de Leyborne, granted in perpetual alms to Peter, rector of this church, for the maintenance of one chaplain celebrating there for ever, all the land which Roger his father had of the gift of Ralph Ruffin, in Leyborne and Caumpes. with its appurtenances, excepting the meadow called Ruffins Mede, and he granted to this church, for the maintenance of the above-mentioned chaplains, five marcs annual rent, to be received out of his manor of Ridlehe, to hold to him for that purpose for ever.

At a place called Comp, lying mostly in Wrotham parish, there is a small house and barn-yard, with about one hundred and thirty acres of land, parcel of Leyborne rectory, esteemed to be within this parish, those of Ryarsh and Addington intervening; on part of it there are the ruins of an ancient building, supposed to have been a chapel of ease to the church of Leyborne.


PATRONS, Or by whom presented. RECTORS.
Family of Leyborne Peter, Temp. Edward I. (fn. 8)
Walter, in the 20th of king Edward III. (fn. 9)
William Milles, in 1493. (fn. 10)
Sir John Leveson William Drury, S. T. P. 1624. (fn. 11)
Sir Francis Clerke Nathaniel Hardy, S. T. P. obt. 28 May, 1670. (fn. 12)
Meric Head, esq. S. T. P. 1685, ob. 6 March, 1686. (fn. 13)
William Gotier.
Henry Ullock, S. T. P. obt. 20th June, 1706. (fn. 14)
Samuel Spateman.
Robert Hall.
Francis Whitworth, esq. Gerard Whitworth, obt. March 1727. (fn. 15)
Francis Hooper, S. T. P. inst. July 6, 1727.
Charles Whitworth, esq. George Burvill, A. M. 1758. Present rector.


  • 1. Text. Roff. p. 229. Reg. Roff. p. 479.
  • 2. Lambarde's Perambulations, p. 442.
  • 3. Rot. pat. ejus an. pt. i. Dugd. Bar. vol. ii. p. 13.
  • 4. Dugd. Bar. vol. ii. p. 14. Rot. Pat. anno 49, pt. 5. Ibid. 39. Ibid. anno 52 a terg. 4.
  • 5. Spelman's Glossary, p. 14. Dugd. Bar. vol. ii. p. 14.
  • 6. Philipot, p. 218. Dugd. Bar. vol. i, p. 576.
  • 7. There was a trial on this account, anno 26, 27 Car. II. in the Common Pleas, The king versus bishop of Rochester, and Sir Francis Clerke, related in Mod. Reports, vol. ii, p. 1.
  • 8. Reg. Roff. p. 474.
  • 9. Book of Aid of that year.
  • 10. Reg. Roff. p. 490. He died in 1497, and lies buried in the church of Town Malling.
  • 11. A dispensation passed in 1624, for him to hold this rectory, with that of Mestham in Surry. Rym. Fœd. vol. xviii. p. 660.
  • 12. Also dean of Rochester.
  • 13. Likewise rector of Ulcombe. He was eldest son of Sir Richard Head, bart. and was buried in the chancel of this church.
  • 14. He was installed dean of Rochester in 1689. He died, æt. 67, and lies buried in the chancel of this church.
  • 15. Fourth son of Richard Whitworth, esq. and brother to Charles, lord Whitworth, and Francis Whitworth, esq. the patron of this rectory