The Name and Family of Barham

by Sydney Pay Barham

Chapter Eleven


James, the elder son of Thomas Barham resided at Barham Court Teston. Some time before 1540 he married Mary, the second daughter of Sir Goddard Oxenbridge, of Brede Place, near the village of Brede in Sussex. Sir Goddard is a more interesting character than his son in law. His tomb and effigy, which bear the date 1537, are to be seen in the Oxenbridge chapel in the parish church of Brede. He died in 1531. gruesome legend attaches to this gentleman. He is alleged to have been devourer of infants, who, when at length he was overpowered by the outraged villagers, was sawn in half with a wooden saw at a spot still called the Groaning Bridge. The tale appears to be one of a number that was circulated by smugglers in order to scare away the curious from Brede Place, which when it fell on evil days became a convenient hiding place for contraband goods, since it stood on what was formerly a tidal creek.

Another of Sir Goddard's daughters, so sister-in-law to James Barham of Teston, became lady in waiting to Catherine Parr, the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII, and was later governess to the Princess Elizabeth.

Sir Goddard's second wife, the mother of Mary, and mother-in-law of James Barham, had been formerly married to John Pelham, of the illustrious family of the Pelhams of Loughton, near Lewes, and possessed as her dower, the manor of Bivelham, which we will hear of again in connection with the Barhams of Wadhurst.

The marriage between James and Mary was not the first alliance between the Barhams and Oxenbridges, for a pedigree of the latter family records that Anne, daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Oxenbridge (died 1512), married her second husband, Eustace Barham of Teston. I know nothing more of this Eustace.

Only one incident in the career of James Barham is recorded in history, and that is a creditable one. He was one of the many gentlemen who came to the help of John Stroud, a preacher of the gospel at Cranbrook. The story is told by William Tarbutt in his Annals of Cranbrook Church. John Stroud had been Vicar of Yalding, where he gave offence to certain of his parishioners by the manner of his preaching, which appears to have been of a Puritan complexion. He had trouble with the Bishop of Rochester, and about 1575 he gave up living at Yalding, and came to Cranbrook as assistant preacher to Richard Fletcher, the first protestant vicar of the parish. Here also he encountered opposition from a section of the parishioners who were sufficiently influential to prevail upon the Archbishop of Canter­bury to suspend his licence to preach. There was widespread support for the cause of John Stroud, and petitions for the removal of the suspension were signed by the ministers of several of the neighbouring parishes, and by many of the landowners of west Kent, among whom Tarbutt enumerates Barham of Teston, who must have been James Barham with whom we are concerned.The petitioners were successful, and John Stroud was allowed to continue his preaching at Cranbrook until 1582, when he was cut off by the plague.

James and Mary Barham had three sons, Thomas, James and Henry, and three daughters. He died intestate in 1584, and was buried at Teston, his eldest son Thomas being granted administration of the estate a year later.

With this Thomas we reach the last male heir of the Barhams of Barham Court in Teston. He had been born in 1542, and in 1577, he had married Anne, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Heron of Croyden. His only surviving child, an heiress also named Anne, was baptised in the Church at Teston on 26th February 1578. We have now reached the period when the newly instituted parish registers make it possible to give more accurate dates, but the dating for the historian has been complicated by the reform of the calendar, which was carried out in l752. Before that reform the year was reckoned to begin on the Lady Day, 25th March, so that dates falling between 1st January and that day were assigned to the previous year. Thus the date of Anne's baptism which was registered as 26th February 1578 would in our reckoning be 26th February 1579. To avoid misunderstanding, the date can be written as above, 26th February, 1578-9.

Thomas Barham died in London on 21st February 1616-7, possessed of a considerable estate, the greater part of which was held of Sir Henry Baker of Sissinghurst, as of his manors at Teston, West Barming and Yalding, with150 acres of Woodland at Ditton held of the Royal Manor of Boxley. I have already mentioned that the manors acquired by Sir John Baker made him and his successors feudal overlords of the Teston family, but feudal ties were growing of less significance. Thomas Barham's estates were passed at his death to his daughter Anne. By his will he left small annuities to his two brothers - £30 per year upon lands at Yalding to James, who was buried at that village in 1630, and £20 per year to Henry. The will made no mention of any nephews, and it is probable that both James and Henry were without male heirs.

In 1618 Henry Barham brought an action against the husband of Anne, claiming a life interest in the lands at Yalding and Brenchley, under a lease alleged to have been granted in 1565 by Henry Neville, Lord Abergevenny, ‘in regard of divers years faithful service done under the said lord by James Barham, father of the os client.'I do not know what was the outcome of this action, or the nature of the services rendered by James Barham to Henry Neville, who was the ancestor of the present Marquis of Abergevenny of Erich Castle.

Anne Barham, sometime before the death of her father had been married to Sir Oliver Botelor of Sharnebrook in Bedfordshire. The Bottelors, or Butlers, derived their name from an ancestor, who had been cup bearer to King John. Sir Oliver and the Lady Anne, his wife, took possession of Barham Court in Teston on the death of Thomas Barham. With the death of Anne on 1639, the house passed finally from the de Berham, or Barham family, who held it continuously for over four centuries.

Sir William Bottelor, Anne's son was created a Baronet by Charles I, and suffered for his loyalty to the King in the struggle with parliament. He was imprisoned for a time by the Roundheads, and his house at Barham Court was broken open and plundered. He raised a regiment for the Royalist Cause, and died fighting for the King at Cropredy Bridge in 1644. Barham Court remained in the possession of the Bottelors until 1772, when it passed by by will to a member of the Bouverie family, descended from a Flemish pro­testant who had sought refuge in England during the reign of Elizabeth I.

This family, which owns much of Folkestone, is now represented by the Earl of Radnor. Hasted states that the old name of Barham Court had been displaced in his day by that of Teston House, but there is no doubt that the original name remains in use at the present time. Perhaps the survival of the old title is due to the fact that towards the close of the eighteenth century the house had become the residence of an admiral, Sir Charles Middleton. In 1805, the year of Trafalgar, Sir Charles had been made first Lord of the admiralty at the age of 80 years. He has been credited with much of the strategy that lead to Nelson's victory. At the same time he was raised to the Peerage, and assumed the title of Lord Barham, from the name of his house, although he had no claim to Barham blood.

Lord Barham was one of the sponsors of the project of a Weald of Kent canal, to link the Medway and the Rother, a project which came to naught. He died in 1813, and his title is now extinct, but it was perpetuated in a succession of battleships, the last of which, H.M.S.Barham, was sunk in the last war (1939-45).

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