Parishes: Otham

Pages 513-519

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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THE next parish southward from Bersted is Otham, which although it is situated within the hundred of Eyhorne, is yet within the civil jurisdiction of the mayor and corporation of the town and parish of Maidstone. This jurisdiction, as the charter expresses it, extends only to the cognizance and determination of actions and replevins, and to no other purpose whatsoever.

THIS PARISH is much covered with woods, especially in the western part of it. Towards the north it is bounded from Bersted by the Lenham rivulet, which here turns a mill, called Otham mill. The soil is in the southern part of it poor, consisting of a loose red earth, intermixed with small gravelly stones; towards the north-west towards Willington-street and Maidstone, it partakes of the quarry-stone, where it is much more sertile, and is kindly for fruit and hops, of which latter there are several plantations. In the northern part, the soil is fertile, consisting of a fine loam, the land letting from 20 to 30s. an acre, and near the rivers the meadows are very good. Near the middle of the parish is Gore-court, a low modernized building, almost surrounded by woods, and at no great distance northward the parsonage, a modern fashed building, beyond which the church stands; at the back of Gorecourt, about half a mile distance, in a more open country, is Otham-street, and beyond it the manor of Stoneacre.

OTHAM was given by William the Conqueror to his half-brother Odo, bishop of Baieux, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in the survey of Domesday:

Goisfrid de Ros holds of the bishop (of Baieux) Oteham. It was taxed at one suling, and one yoke. The arable land is two carucates and an half. In demesne there is one, and nine villeins, with three borderers, having one carucate There is a church, and two servants, and one mill of five shillings, and three acres of meadow. Wood for the pannage of eight hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth four pounds, when he received it three pounds, now four pounds. Alwin held it of king Edward.

On the bishop's disgrace soon after the taking of the above-mentioned survey, this, among the rest of his estates, came into the hands of the crown, and appears to have been held by a family, who took their name from hence.

Peter de Otham held this estate as one knight's see, in the reign of king Henry III. as appears by the Testa de Nevil, and it seems that he held it in sergeantry; his daughter and heir Loretta carried it in marriage to William de Valoyns, whose family was possessed of large estates in the eastern parts of this county.

William de Valoigns is mentioned in the Testa de Nevil to have paid aid for lands at Petham, Ashsord, and Otham, in the 20th year of king Henry III. and died possessed of Otham in the 10th year of Edward I. His wife Loretta survived him, and possessed this estate, which she afterwards gave to her two sons, Walter and Robert de Valoigns, by the description of the manor of Otham, with the advowson of the church, and in the iter of J. de Berewick and his associates, anno 21 Edward I. she produced the deed of this gift, which is recorded in that iter at length. (fn. 1) They held it in the next reign of Edward II. as one knight's see, of the honor of Albermarle; but in the 20th year of king Edward III. it was partly alienated from this family, for Isabel, widow of Walter de Valoigns, Richard Colyn, and master Nicholas de Sandwich, then paid respective aid for it.

Nicholas de Sandwich appears to have died in possession of this manor in 1370, anno 45 Edward III. being then rector of this parish. He lies buried in this church, being a younger son of the Sandwich's, of Sandwich, in this county, and bore for his arms, Or, on a chief dancette, azure, a mullet, argent, for difference. After which it passed into the family of Fremingham; and John, son of Sir Ralph de Fremingham, of Lose, died in the 12th year of Henry IV. possessed, among other premises, of the manor and advowson of the church of Otham, and leaving no issue, he devised this estate by will to seoffees, who next year, assigned it over according to the directions of it to John, son of Reginald de Pimpe, and his heirs male, with remainder to Roger Isle, as being the nearest of blood to him. His descendant Reginald died possessed of them in the 23d year of Henry VIII. After which this manor and the advowson came into the possession of Sir Henry Isley, who soon afterwards conveyed them to Thomas Hendley, esq. of Coursehorne, in Cranbrooke, whose ancestor was Walter Hendley, esq. of that place, who married first the daughter of John Hales, baron of the exchequer, by whose second wife the Hendleys of Wales are descended. They bore for their arms, Pale, bendy, azure and gules, eight martlets, three, two, and three, or. His descendant, John Hendley, esq. possessed them at the restoration of king Charles II. He married Priscilla, daughter of Thomas Fludd, esq. of Gore court, in this parish, by whom he had Bowyer Hendley, esq. sheriff in 1702, and his grandson William Henley, esq. of Gore-court, is now entitled to the see of them.

GORE-COURT is a seat in this parish, which with lands here, called Colyns, alias Old-hole, (no doubt, called Colyns, from Richard Colyn, who was owner of Otham manor in the reign of Edward III. as beforementioned, and perhaps now usually known by the name of Otham-hole), was once esteemed part of the manor of Otham, and seems to have had the same owners, till they came into the possession of Sir Henry Isley, in the reign of king Henry VIII. who alienated them to Thomas Astrey, and he, in the 3d year of king Edward VI. conveyed them by deed and fine to Walter Hendley, esq. and Thomas Hendley, esq. his son, the former of whom, the next year, released the whole of it to the latter, and he, that year, sold this estate to Ralph Buffkin, by deed and fine. He bore for his arms, Or, a chevron, between three helmets, azure, and in his descendants this estate remained till the reign of king James I. when it was alienated to Mr. Nathaniel Powel, of Ewehurst, in Sussex, who soon afterwards conveyed it to Thomas Fludd, esq. descended from David Fludd, or de Fluctibus, of Salop, and bore for his arms, Vert, a chevron, between three grissins heads erased, argent. He resided here, and by Catherine his wife, daughter of Lewin Buffkin, esq. of this parish, left two sons, Thomas, and Lewin, who was M. D. Thomas Fludd, esq. the eldest son, succeeded him in this seat, and was sheriff in 1652. He left two sons, Alabaster and Thomas, and a daughter Priscilla, married to John Hendley, esq. of this parish.

Alabaster Fludd, esq. his eldest son, was of Gorecourt, whose great-grandson, Peter Fludd, to satisfy incumbrances, conveyed it in trust to Mr. Benjamin Howel, gent. who about the year 1712, passed it away by sale to Bowyer Hendley, esq. of this parish, sheriff in 1702 as before-mentioned. He died possessed of it in 1742, leaving two sons, William and Walter, and four daughters, of whom Anne, the youngest, married the Rev. Samuel Horne, rector of this parish.

William Henley, the eldest son, above-mentioned, altered the spelling of his name, leaving out the letter d in it. He resided at Gore-court, where he died in 1757, and was buried with his ancestors here, leaving one son William, and several daughters. William Henley, esq. the son, afterwards resided here, and married a foreign lady, Dorothy Hannah Louisa Harriot, said to be countess of Berghausen, in Germany, naturalized by act in 1781. She died s. p. in 1793. A commission of lunacy has been some years since taken out against Mr. Henley, the committee, in which is the Rev. Mr. Horne, his brother in-law, who is now, as such, in the possession of the manor of Otham, Gore-court, and his other estates in this county.

STONEACRE is a manor in the eastern part of this parish, which for some centuries was the seat of the family of Elys, or Ellis, as they afterwards spelt their name, a branch of which was likewise seated at Kennington, in the eastern part of this county. John Ellys possessed this seat, and resided here in the reign of king Edward II. as appears by the deeds relating to it. His descendant John Elys, esq. died in 1467, and lies buried in this church. He bore for his arms, Or, on a cross sable, five crescents argent, as they were painted on glass in the window next his pew in the church, and in a window at Stoneacre. In whose descendants it continued till it was at length alienated by Mr. George Ellis, about the year 1710, to Mr. George Waterman, whose heirs, about the year 1735, conveyed it by sale to William Horsemonden Turner, esq. of Harrietsham, since which it has passed in like manner as Harrietsham already described before, together with his other estates in this county, down to William Baldwin, esq. of Harrietsham-place, the present owner of it.


THOMAS HENDLEY, ESQ. youngest son of Gervas Hendley, esq. of Coursehorne, gave a house and land, now let at 4l. per annum, to the poor of this parish, vested in the minister and churchwardens. He died in 1590, and lies buried in the chancel of this church.

The poor constantly relieved here are about twelve, and casually six.

OTHAM is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Sutton.

The church is dedicated to St. Nicholas, in it are monuments for the Hendleys, of this parish, and one for Lewin Buffkin, esq. of Gore-court; and a memorial for John Elys, of Stoneacre. This church, from the earliest account of time, has ever been considered as an appendage to the manor of Otham, and as such is now in the patronage of William Henley, esq. of Gore-court.

It is valued in the king's books at 9l. 17s. 3½d. and the yearly tenths at 19s. 8¾d.

In 1578, the communicants here were ninety-two. In 1640, it was valued at forty-five pounds per annum. Communicants one hundred and twenty-one.

King Edward II. in his 19th year, confirmed to the rectory of Otham, four acres of land in this parish, for a chantry.

Church of Otham.

Or by whom presented.
Nicholas de Sandwich, obt. 1370. (fn. 2)
Peter Hensle, May 7, 1567.
John Brome, S. T. P. March 10, 1595, obt. 1625.
William Hude, A. M. Nov. 18. 1625, obt. 1630.
Thomas Wilson, B. A. 1630, suspended 1635, restored 1639, obt. 1651. (fn. 3)
John Davis, obt. July 11, 1677. (fn. 4)
Mathias Rutton, Nov. 6, 1677, obt. Aug. 12, 1701. (fn. 5)
William Simmonds, A. M. Feb. 13, 1701, resig. 1727. (fn. 6)
Samuel Horne, June 27, 1727, obt. Aug. 18, 1768. (fn. 7)
William Horne, A. M. 1769, the present rector.


  • 1. Plac. Jur. & Assisis. See Harris's Hist of Kent, p. 231.
  • 2. He lies buried in this church.
  • 3. He was presented by Mr. George Swinnock, who had purchased the next presentation to it, and wrote his life. He was a zealous puritan, and was suspended by the high commission, for dilapidations of his parsonage, and other matters. He died about 1651. See Newton's History of Maidstone, p. 132.
  • 4. Newton's History of Maidstone, p. 68. He was also curate of Maidstone, where he lies buried.
  • 5. He lies buried in this church.
  • 6. He was likewise dean of Battle.
  • 7. He lies buried in this church, having had several children; one of whom, Dr. George Horne was president of Magdalen college, in Oxford, afterwards dean of Canterbury, and then bishop of Norwich, who died in 1792, and lies buried at Eltham; and another is the Rev. Wm. Horne, who succeeded him in this rectory, and is likewise rector of Brede, in Sussex.