The Name and Family of Barham

by Sydney Pay Barham

Chapter Nineteen


Nicholas, the eldest son of John and Thomasine Barham, inherited his father's original estate of Woodland and Butts, but not the two forges of Brookland and Verage, which together with Bartley Mill fell 'to the lot of the second son - John. There seems to have been a family tradition that when there are two or more sons, the ironworks should go to the second, as if there was something slightly undignified about an industrial vocation. The younger sons, if any, went away to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Thus Thomas, the third son of the elder John, migrated to Boughton Monchelsea in Kent, and there founded a family. I shall have more to say about him and his brother John, the second ironmaster in subsequent sections. Now I must return to Nicholas, the elder son and heir.

Nicholas resided at the paternal mansion of ' Great Butts'. When Parliament granted the Queen a subsidy in 1571, he was assessed for the purpose on lands at Cowsley Wood, of an annual value of £8. Let me remind the rea­der again that the present value of money cannot be applied to figures such as these. He died sometime before 1599, leaving two sons, John and Nicholas. John, the elder of the two brothers inherited 'Great Butts', and had as his son and heir a third Nicholas. This Nicholas linked himself with a distant kinsman of Bivelham and Snape, and with the Courthopes of Wylie, by marrying Mary, the daughter John Barham of Bivelham and Mary Courthope. The lady was a widow, and the marriage took place in St. Clement’s Hastings in 1615. John, the only son of this marriage, died in 1697, aged 80 years, leaving as his heir yet another John, who remained at 'Great Butts' until 1713, when he sold what was left of his inheritance, lived henceforth in obscurity, and died in 1732, aged 75. Obscurity here probably signifies poverty, for the fortunes of the Wadhurst Barhams were fading during the 18th century. Emily Lower wrote that the mansion of 'Great Butts' disappeared, and had been replaced by a miserable little house. As I have never been close to the modern house I cannot say whether this description still applies, but the appearance of the neat white gate and drive do not suggest abject poverty.

I will round off this section by setting down what little information I possess about the two younger sons of the first ironmaster. The fourth son of John and Thomasine Barham, Richard, of Lamberhurst Mill and Watering­bury, was a clothier by trade. It is odd that he should have adopted this form of livelihood, for the clothiers and ironmasters were rivals in their demand for fuel and water-power, and there was hostility between them. I imagine that it was in Wateringbury that Richard set up in business as a clothier. He obtained his property in Lamberhurst in 1579, when he purchased Lamberhurst Mill, together with a place called 'Whiskets' from his Younger Robert, to whom his father had bequeathed them. He also possessed lands and tenements in Maidstone, but these he sold to his brother John. About 1582 he married the daughter of maltster of Woldram in Kent. Richard Barham died in 1602. His descendants were still living at 'Whiskets Farm' in 1715. 'Whiskets and 'Whiskets Wood' lie to the south of the village of Lamberhurst, in that portion of the parish that was formerly reckoned to the County of Sussex.

Robert, the fifth and youngest son of the ironmaster was last heard of in a will proved in 1595. I do not know what became of him after he sold his inheritance in Lamberhurst to his brother. Mr. FitzGerald-Uniacke is unable to trace any of his descendants.

From these obscure gentlemen, I will now return to the more interesting stories of their brothers, John and Thomas.

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