The Name and Family of Barham

by Sydney Pay Barham

Chapter Twenty


There were in succession five owners of the forges of Brookland and Verage, all of them who bore the name of John. I say owners rather than operators, as it is by no means certain that the present John, son of the first iron master took any active part in the work or management of the forges. He is described in his will as "..Of the town of Wadhurst, Yeoman..., “ yeoman being usually taken to imply a farmer who owns his own land but who is somewhat below the rank of gentleman.

John Barham succeeded to the possession of the two forges under the will of his father, which was proved in 1555, but in a list of the owners of the ironworks drawn up in 1547, he is shown as having two forges, in other men's hand, probably he leased them. He also inherited Browns and all the other lands that were purchased by his father from Nicholas Barham of Chillington Manor. Faircrouch, where he had his residence is not far from the present Wadhurst Railway Station. John Barham's estates were considerable, for at the subsidy voted to Elizabeth in her first year (1558-59), he was assessed on lands of an annual value of £15, whereas his elder brother's lands at Woodland and Butts were assessed at £8 only in the subsidy of 1571, at which, by the way, this John Barham was a 'Cessor' presumably an assessor.

John of Faircrouch married Alice, the daughter of Richard Istead, of 'The Moat', Mayfield. This was apparently a marriage into another ironmaster's family, as one or two forges stood in the name of Istead in the 1574 list of ironworks. John and Alice had a large family, six sons, Nicholas, John, Thomas, Richard, William, and Arthur; and three daughters, Dorothy, Alice, and Johanne. He died in 1583 as his will was signed and proved in that year.

As we run lightly over these dates we forget the revolutionary nature of the years they denote. Within the space of twenty years, England had been successively Catholic, but in revolt of the Pope under Henry VIII, Protestant under Edward VI, Catholic and obedient to the Pope under Mary, and finally Protestant under Elizabeth I. There is no sign that John, or any other of his kin refused to follow the tide. They were not of the stuff of which martyrs are made, yet at Warbleden, barely ten miles from Wadhurst as the crow flies there was an Ironmaster who died for the reformed faith under Queen Mary. Richard Woodman was burnt at the stake at Lewes in 1557. John Barham may very well have known him.

Under John Barham's will, 'Browns' and his other lands in Wadhurst went to Nicholas, his eldest son; but John, his second son, inherited the two forges. Before passing to the next generation however I must denote a little space to Thomas, the younger brother of John Barham of Faircrouch

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