The Name and Family of Barham

by Sydney Pay Barham

Chapter Twenty Two


We must now return to Wadhurst where as I have already said John Barham of Faircrouch, the second owner of Brookland and Verage forges, died in 1583, leaving a family of six sons and three daughters. In accordance with what seems to have been the family custom, the eldest son inherited the principal part of the estate, the second son received the iron works, and the junior members were expected to seek their fortunes elsewhere, with some financial provisions. So we find that John's eldest son, who had been born in 1559, and given the now traditional name of Nicholas, inherited 'Browns' and all the other lands purchased by his grandfather from his illustrious namesake, Nicholas of Chillington Manor. He made affinity with the Courthope family by marrying the daughter of the first George Courthope of Wylie, and thus became the brother in law of John Barham of the junior line of Bivelham and Snape. There was but one child of the marriage, a daughter Anne. Nicholas lived to an advanced age and was buried at Wadhurst on the 13th Feb. 1644-45, as Mr. Nicholas Barham of Lambkin Corner.

Lambkin or Lambkin Corner, which is not marked on modern maps, lay about a mile north west of the town of Wadhurst, so far as I can ascertain. There is no memorial either in stone or iron in the parish church to this man. Hasted, in his account of Meopham in the 'Survey of Kent', shows a faints light on the fate of Anne, Nicholas Barham's only child. In 1606 she was married to a gentleman named Haslim, of Meopham Court, who died in 1628, leaving her with a twelve year old son, who had been christened Barham. A year or two later, Anne took a second husband, a Capt. Courthope of Northfleet, not Wylie. To secure the future of Anne and Barham Haslim, her son, her father and Frances Courthope leased the manor and parsonage of Meopham from the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury, to be held during the lifetime of the mother and son. But then came the Civil War and the Deans and Chapters ceased to exist for the time being. The sequestered lands were surveyed to the Government in 1649 and it was found that the manor house and its appertainces were let at the "yearly rent of £36, with the entertainment made to the receiver, £2 yearly; and a further sum of £100 every seventh year, which premises were worth, besides the improved value of £200:16:6d, and that the lessee was bound to repair the buildings and the chancel of the parish church. One wonders whether Anne and her son Barham, if they were still alive, were allowed to continue in the peaceful occupation of the manor and parsonage of Meopham, but the curtain falls on their future. The findings of the Commonwealth Surveyor throw some light on the relative value of money in those days.

As I have said, the forges at Brookland and Verage were left by John Barham of Faircrouch to his second son, John. The terms of the bequest were peculiar. John Was to receive £30 to make up the £100 promised, all lands in Frant, and certain of the freehold and copyhold lands in Wadhurst, including Bartley Mill, with the tools and implements belonging to the Brookland forge. The executor, who was Thomas Barham of Boughton Monchelsea was to have the Verage forge, and all the Verage lands except at Underwater and Bartley Mills for five years from the testators decease. This John the younger was not to get full possession of the forges until about 1588, but he was dead, and his will proved by 1591, his ownership must have been very brief, and in fact he may never had resided upon his Wadhurst property, for he is known as John Barham of Maidstone. Perhaps he had been attracted to the county town by the fame of his kinsman, the Queen's Sergeant.

Elizabeth, John Barham's wife, was the daughter of David Willard, a noted ironmaster, who operated furnaces and forges in the Tonbridge and Rotherfield districts. In company with other ironmasters, he erected a furnace at Brede, in East Sussex, in spite of the opposition of the townspeople of Hastings, Winchelsea, and Rye, who were anxious about the possible curtailment of the supply of timber for export.

At his untimely death, John Barham of Maidstone left his widow three younger children and a fourth unborn. John, his only son, afterwards known as John Barham of Shoesmiths, was three years old at the time of his father's death. The three other children were girls - Alice, Elizabeth, and Margaret all born in Maidstone, and baptized in the church of All Saint's of that town.

By his will, John Barham of Maidstone left £100 to each of his three daughters and to his son all the houses, lands, and woods he owned in Kent and Sussex. These included "two houses in the town of Maidstone, in one of which I now dwell." He bequeathed 40/- to the poor of Maidstone, 20/- to the poor of Tonbridge, and 20/- to the poor of Wadhurst. He left his brother in law, Edmund Willard, who was his executor, the residue of all his goods and chattels and stock of iron, coal, (i.e. charcoal), sows (iron ingots) etc., with the behest that he should pay his debts and legacies and employ the surplus towards "the advancement in living and honest Godly and virtuous bring up " of his children. The boy John was to be under the guardianship of his uncle Edmund until he was 24. Elizabeth, John Barham's widow, married again, to a gentleman of Sellinge in Kent named Henry Hart. The daughters appear to have accompanied her to Sellinge and to have found husbands in the neighbourhood. There seems to be a reference to this John Barham and his bequest in the memorandum reproduced in Maidstone records, which says that "John Barham, late of Maidstone, yeoman, deceased," at or about the time of his going into France with Sir John Leverton, which was about nine years past, " did make his last will and testament in writing and amongst diverse other legacies to give and bequeath to the poor of Maidstone, the aforesaid sum of good and lawful money of England, to be paid within a certain time of his death, which money, the day of writing hereof" (which was the 24th day of June 1598), was not paid by the executors". If the two Johns were in fact one and the same I surmise that there was some dispute as to the amount of the legacy -£2 or £5, and that the executors hesitated to pay. They must have agreed eventually to pay the larger sum, for a list of gifts to the town and poor drawn up in 1618 includes the item, "By Barham - £5:5:10d."

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