The Name and Family of Barham

by Sydney Pay Barham

Chapter Fifteen


John, the younger son of Richard Barham, was the ancestor of the Barhams whose chief place of residence was Snape in Wadhurst. Snape, which was probably the manor house of Bivelham, is situated in a secluded valley, about a mile and a quarter to the South-west of the parish church. At a short distance from Snape is another old house called Scragoak, which also was the home of members of the family, presumably descended, like those of Snape from John of Bivelham. Lands which afterwards formed part of the Snape estate were confirmed in the possession of John Barham in 1480.

William Barham, probably John's son, was admitted to the possession of the same lands in 1522, and his son and heir, probably another John, was admitted to them in 1579. The second John Barham, who succeeded to the land in 1579, formed an important connection by marrying Mary, the daughter of George Courthope. This Courthope, whose home was at Wylie, near the town of Wadhurst, but within the borders of the parish of Ticehurst, was a member of a family, Kentish in origin, which was well distributed in both Kent and Sussex. Some of the Courthopes were to be found at this time at Cranbrook where they were the clothiers, and resided in a large house at Goddards Green, then known as 'Wards'. The tomb of Alexander Courthope, who died in 1608, is still to be seen in the churchya rd at Cranbrook, and the worn figures of his sixteen children can faintly be discerned upon it. His grand­son Peter, as a portrait of the Parliament of the Civil War, purchased the estate of Danning, near Hurstpierpoint in Sussex, confiscated from a Royalist nobleman, and his descendants under the name of Campion live there still.

A branch of this family to which George Courthope belonged had resided in Wadhurst for some time, and they had acquired the Wylie estate by marriage in1513. Courthopes have remained at Wylie until this day, the last male of the line, Lord Courthope of Wylie having died in 1955. Pedigrees and papers in the possession of this family contain much information about the Barhams of Wadhurst, which was employed by Mr FitzGerald-Uniacke for his article. The Courthope arms, three stars with wavy rays, surrounding a fess, or horizontal band, appear on some of the Barham monuments, where one might have expected to find the family's own arms. Has there perhaps a doubt in some minds as to the right to display the ancient arms of the de Berhams, even with the difference? It is a fact that no arms or pedigrees of the Barhams living in Wadhurst appear in the Heraldic Visitations of Sussex in 1530, and 1683-84, the only one whose results I have been able to consult. On the other hand the younger members, who migrated to Maidstone, and else­where in Kent, had successful careers there, did not hesitate to display their own coats of arms, for some time before their kinsmen followed their example.

John Barham and Mary Courthope had more than one son, but the youngest, David is the only one of whom I know anything. There is however a memorial slab in the Parish church which displays no less than six shields with the Courthope Stars, which bears the date 1617, and the initials W.B., for William Barham, perhaps an elder brother of David. A daughter Mary married into the senior line of the Wadhurst Barhams in 1615.

David Barham was a minor, aged 16, in 1597, the year presumably of his father's death, and was under the guardianship of his maternal uncle, William Courthope. His portion of the estate included Snape, of which he built the older part of the existing house in 1617. He became churchwarden of the parish church in 1621, and the following year he married Helen, daughter of William Fowl, of Lightlands in the neighbouring parish of Frant. The Fowls were ironmasters, and owned a furnace and residence at Riverhall, just within the boundaries of Wadhurst. Later on they became further intermarried with the new Barhams. David Barham died possessed of Snape on 18th February 1643-44, and is buried in the south aisle of the parish church, under a decorative iron slab, which bears the arms of the Courthopes, his mother's family. The same slab carries the initials A.B., and the date, 1688, commemorating his daughter-in-law Anne. One other initial in the church bearing the Courthope arms has the initials I. B., and the date 1657; it is for John Barham, otherwise unknown, possibly a brother of David.

David Barham had two sons, William and David, and at least one daughter Helen, spelt Hellen on her memorial. She became the wife of Joseph Dunmoll, and died in 1651. The Dunmolls, who had other links with the Barhams, were a local family of some standing, with memorials in the parish church. On the north stall of the chancel there is a marble effigy of Mary Dunmoll who died in the same year as Helen.

William Barham, the elder son of the first David, succeeded to his father’s freehold land in Wadhurst and Ticehurst. David Barham junior, who had been baptised in Wadhurst in 1629, was a minor at the time of his father's death, but was presented as heir to his copyhold lands at a court of the manor of Bivelham in 1644, his elder brother William being appointed guardian during his minority. As David, the second, inherited Snape, it appears that this house was on the copyhold part of the manor, which by custom fell to the younger son, copyhold being a somewhat inferior form of tenure to freehold. David Barham junior had a son Thomas and a daughter Anne. Anne, who died unmarried in 1675, at the early age of twenty is described in the Wadhurst burial register as "Anne, daughter of Mr. David and Anne Barham of Snape". This girl has an iron memorial slab, bearing two shields, one with the arms of the Wadhurst Barhams, and the other with an unidentified coat-of-arms. The latter may be that of her mother's the name of which is unknown. The date of the death of the younger David is not known, and he has no memorial, which is more surprising, as the initials of his wife, A.B., and the year of her death 1688, appear on the memorial of her father-in-law, the elder David, who died more than 40 years before. The clouded end to the younger David may be due to the fact that he got into difficulties, presumably financial, for in 1680 he surrendered his lands in Bivelham and Snape to his first cousin, William Barham, of Scragoak.

This William Barham is not to be confused with his namesake, the William who was David's elder brother and guardian, and about whom nothing further is known. As he was first cousin to the younger David, he must have been a son of a brother of the first David. He died on the 6th November 1701, aged 80 years, and so he will have been born in 1621. The date and age are to be read on his memorial of cast iron, which describes him as Mr. William Barham, of Scragoak; the memorial, a large one, occupies a place of honour on the north side of the chancel, facing the altar. As well as the inscrip­tion, it bears two decorated shields; each displaying the original Barham arms, three bears, without the difference of a fess, fleur de lis, and martlets. A photograph of William Barham's memorial will be found in “Foot­paths of the Kent-Sussex border”, by J.Braddock, opposite page 29, and a view of the house of Scragoak in "Wealdan Iron" page 289.

William Barham was a man of substance. The existing house of Scragoak bears the date 1678, although a part may be older, so that the owner rebuilt or extended it in that year. It is not certain that William was married. Another memorial in the parish church bears the initials N.B., and the date 1658. It is said in the Wadhurst Church guide to mark the interment of Mary Barham of Scragoak. This memorial is adorned with five shields, each displaying the Courthope stars, which suggests that Mary Barham was the Descendant of John Barham and Mary Courthope. If she was not William’s wife, she may have been his sister.

We must return to the unfortunate David Barham, who had been obliged to surrender his estate to his cousin William in 1680. He had a son Thomas, of whom we know nothing except that he had sons, of whom the eldest, named William, was born in 1691, and had Mr. William Barham of Scragoak as his Godfather. Mr. William, wishing to restore the fortunes of his namesake, made a will in 1697, bearing then 67 years of age and presumably childless, by which he settled the lost lands of Snape on his Godson and kinsman, William Barham, the first son of Thomas, son of his kinsman David Barham, late of Snape, deceased. William, the legatee was still a minor at his benefactor's death, and did not come into his inheritance until 1712, but he was unable to maintain it. In 1721, after a mere nine years of owner­ship, he surrendered Snape and other lands to John Dunmoll, a distant kinsman by marriage. William Barham lived on until 1764, and died without issue. Neither he nor his father have any memorial in the parish church, unless it be the initials W.B. which have been cut on the grave slab of the first David Barham.

Thus the house of Snape passed out of the hands of the Barhams probably after a century or more of possession, and it is probable that Scragoak was lost also. In an article on the ironworks of Sussex, published in Vol. II of Sussex Archaeological Collections, the antiquarian Mark Anthony Lower says that the 'Snape-Scragoak' line of the Barhams terminated with Nicholas Barham, who died in the parish workhouse in 1788, aged 82 years. He adds that the representative of these once distinguished families living at Wadhurst at the time of writing, (1849), was Nicholas Barham, a wheelwright. FitzGerald-Uniacke, writing in 1913 says that Henry Barham, of Stonegate in Ticehurst, was the third son of Nicholas Barham, of 'Whitegates', in Wadhurst, claiming to be a direct descendant of Thomas, a younger brother of the last William Barham to own Snape. Mr. Straker, in his book 'Wealdan Iron', published in 1931, refers to the Messrs. Barham as the owners of a blacksmith's forge at 'Stonegate', Ticehurst, and it is interesting to note that the possession of' Snape returned to a bearer of the family name in 1885, when the house and estate were purchased as a residence by the late Sir George Barham, but its tenure has again proved impermanent, for Snape and its dependant family have recently been sold by Sir George’s grandson. The family had ceased to live in the house, which had been occupied for some time by an institution.

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