The Seven Hundreds

Pages 88-90

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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ADJOINING to the two last described hundreds eastward, lies the district commonly known by the name of the Seven Hundreds, so connected from their being comprehended under the jurisdiction of one court, held within some part of them, and to which the Whole district is amenable. They have been from antient time part of the possessions of the crown, and were for a great length of time kept in the king's own hands. These hundreds were, those of Cranbrooke, Barkley, Blackborne, Tenterden, Rovenden, Selbrittenden, and Barnefield, Comprehending the rest of the lath of Scray remaining undescribed; but Tenterden being in king Henry VI.'s reign made a corporation and hundred of itself, and annexed as a limb to the port of Rye, became exempt from the jurisdiction of the court of these hundreds, and within that of the cinque ports; so that they are now but six hundreds, though they still retain their original name of Seven.

To collect the revenues and profits accruing from them to the crown, the king from time to time appointed a bailiff, who likewise exercised the jurisdiction of the crown as lord over them, holding his courts regularly for that purpose within the bounds of them; in which state they continued till the lordship or bailiwick of them was granted away at times to different persons. In the 15th of king Charles I.'s reign, John Henden, esq. had by letters patent a grant of the office of bailiff of them. In latter times, Sir John Norris, of Hemsted, had a grant of it, and his widow lady Norris, was the last who had one of it, the profits being so small as hardly to answer the trouble of collecting them; and the office has since been held at pleasure. Thomas Hallett Hodges is the present bailiff of them.

There is a court leet belonging to these hundreds, kept at any place within them at the will of the lord; and a court baron, usually called the three weeks court, where pleas were held for any sum under forty shillings, which was usually kept at Cranbrooke. At the former of these courts, the inhabitants of the hundreds are bound, on having warning given them, to perform suit and service, and the constables and other officers are elected for them.

The lord is entitled to estrays throughout the whole district, the pound for which is at Wachenden, in Biddenden, by appointment of the bailiff.