The Name and Family of Barham

by Sydney Pay Barham

Chapter Twenty Five


John Barham, the second, had been born in 1617 and was consequently a young man of 23 when, at the death of his father in 1640, he became the owner of the house and estate of Shoesmiths, and the forges and mill. He extended his activities by purchasing a furnace near Scragoak, which was to be known as Scragoak, or Snape Furnace. Although situated near the two residences of the Barhams of Bivelham there is no evidence that they owned or operated this furnace, which was in the possession of the Maunser family when John Barham acquired it. A Christopher Maunser had married a Mildred Barham in 1526, both otherwise unknown. John Barham's marriage, which took place in the year preceding his father's death, was very much an inter-family affair. The bride was Elizabeth, the young daughter of his kinsman and contemporary, Nicholas Barham of 'Great Butts', and his wife Mary, who was herself a member of the family of Barhams of Bivelham and Snape. The marriage however did not prove to be fruitful, for it produced only four children, of whom 2 died in infancy.

The first child was born in 1641 but did not survive his first year. The second boy, also named John, was born in 1642 or 43. The date is uncertain because baptismal registers were laxly kept during the Civil War. This son lived to be the heir. A daughter was born in 1645, but she did not long survive her second birthday. In 1648, a second daughter was on the way, but before her birth John Barham was seized with a sudden illness, and died on the 5th Dec. at age 31, after being the owner of Shoesmiths and forges for less than nine years. His untimely fate recalls that of his grandfather, John Barham of Maidstone. Sickness prostrated John Barham before he had drawn up his last testament. On the day before his death, he made what was called an uncapatory will, that is he made a verbal statement of his dispositions in the presence of witnesses. He gave his wife to hold his estate until his son reached the age of 21, and thereafter to enjoy one third of it for the rest of her life. To each of his brothers Stephen, Nicholas, and William, he left £20, and the same sum to each of his two sisters, after his son became 21. To each of his servants he bequeathed 20/-, and to his goodwife Sharp, who tended him in his sickness, 10/-. He directed his wife to see to the upbringing of his brother William, for he was still only 19. There was no provision for his daughter Elizabeth, for she was not born until some months after her father's death.

There is a singular fact that John Barham, the second of Shoesmiths, is the only son of the ironmasters of his family to have a memorial of cast iron in the parish church. It lies on the south side of the chancel, opposite the memorial of William Barham of Scragoak, and is one on the most elaborate of its kind. Its inscription in raised letters reads:

"Here Lieth the Body of John Barham, of Shoesmiths, Gent., Who died the Fifth Day of December 1648."

I conject that "T.G." were the initials of the artist who designed the memorial. On a raised plate beneath the inscription are the Barham Arms, on a shield, surmounted by a helmet bearing the crest of a stork in the reeds. The arms are those claimed by Nicholas Barham of Chillington, and Robert of Boughton Monchelsea, at the Visitations of Kent, for it is the ancient three bears supplemented by the fess, fluer-de-lis and martlets. This appears to be the first occasion on which a member of the family in Wadhurst has made public display of the coat of arms on a memorial.

In 1653 John Barham's widow gave his children a stepfather by marrying Gregory Dyne, a gentleman of Wadhurst. We may pause to consider these domestic happenings against the background of English history. John Barham came into his inheritance in the year that saw the summoning of the Long Parliament. During his brief tenure of Shoesmiths the first part of the Civil War had been fought, and Parliament had won. As he lay dying, Charles I was in captivity, and a few weeks after hi9s death, the King was beheaded in Whitehall. To all appearance the Barhams of Wadhurst played no part in the struggle between King and Parliament, and their activities had never included the casting of ordnance. Did they secretly incline to the side of Parliament? I do not know, but it appears that their allies the Courthopes did. George Courthope sat in two of the Commonwealth Parliaments, in 1656, as one of the two members for the County of Sussex, and in 1659, as one of the two representatives for East Grinstead. His distant kinsman Peter Courthope of Cranbrook enjoyed the favour of Parliament, and was able to acquire the sequestrated estate of Danning in Hurstpierpoint on easy terms.

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