Ayloffe v Gifford, 1702 (Whether Stocks Farm was part of Hartley Manor)
Cotyer v Stafford and Wytton, 1529 and 1532 (Deeds to Middle Farm)
Hickmott v Walter and Walter, 1639 (Conveyance of Hartley Manor Farm)
Middleton v White, 1560 (Lease of Hartley Manor Farm)
Peckham v Peckham, 1689 (ownership of Goldsmiths Farm)
Piggott v Pigott, 1691 (will dispute, ownership of Hartley Hill Cottage)
Snow and Maynard v Harlakenden, about 1539 (contract to buy timber in Hartley Wood)
Walter v Walter, 1657 (will of John Walter)
Young v Young, 1688 (will dispute, ownership of Fairby etc)
Mary Cotier v Robert Stafford and John Wytton 1529/31 and 1532/33
TNA C1 616/44 and C1 698/45
Summary and Background
The Cotyers were significant landowners in Hartley in the 15th century, as is evidenced in the will of Thomas Cotyer in 1473. A kinsman, Peter Cotyer of Dartford (d 1528), said in his will that he had purchased land at Hartley which he left to his daughter Mary Cotyer, however Mary said Peter had inherited it from his father Thomas (d 1504) who certainly owned some land in Hartley. Mary said the estate was a farm and 82 acres which is the historical extent of Middle Farm, and she is the inferred owner of Middle Farm as adjoining owner in a 1541 conveyance.
Mary launched cases twice but the facts are basically the same. She says that Robert Stafford of Dartford and John Wytton had possession of the deeds to the farm and would not give them to her (John is dropped as a defendant in the later case)
PRO C1 616/44 Bill of Complaint
Chancery Court Case during Sir Thomas More’s chancellorship (25 Oct 1529 to 16 May 1532)
To the Right Honourable Sir Thomas More, knight, lord chancellor of England
Sheweth now your lordship your oratrix Marie Cotier, heir of Thomas Cotier deceased. Where the same Thomas was seised in his demesne as of fee of and in 3 messuages and 80 acres of land in Hartly and Dertford in the county of Kent and so being thereof seised of the same after died by protestation seised. After and by whose death the right of the said messuage and 80 acres of land descended and of right ought to descent unto your said oratrix as cousin and heir unto the said Thomas, that is to say daughter and heir of Peter, son and heir of the said Thomas. So it is good lord that divers evidences, charters, muniments concerning the premises been comen to the hands and possession of [Robert] Stefford of Dertford aforesaid, yeoman, the certainty of which deeds, evidences, charters and muniments are unto your said oratrix unknown, ne whether they lie in bags or chests locked or sealed [........] your said oratrix hath oft and many times required the said evidences, he the said Robert hath hitherto them to deliver always refusen and yet doth against all right and good conscience. In consideration whereof please your said lordship, the premises tenderly considering, to grant the king’s most gracious writ of sub pena to be directed unto the said Robert Stefford, commanding him by the same personally to appear before your said lordship in the king’ most honourable court of Chancery at a certain day and upon a certain pain by your said lordship to be limited, there to answer the premises according to right and good conscience. And this for the love of God and in the way of charity and your said oratrix shall daily pray to God for the preservation of said lordship long to endure.
PRO C1 698/45 Bill of Complaint
To the right honourable Sir Thomas Audley knight, lord keeper of the great seal
In most humble wise sheweth and complaineth unto your good lordship your oratrix Marie Cotyer, daughter and heir of Peter Cotyar, son and heir of Thomas Cotyar, late of Dertford in the county of Kent. That where the same Thomas was seised in his demesne as of fee of and in 2 messuages in Dertford aforesaid. And also of a messuage and 82 acres of land in Hertley in the said county in his demesne as of fee, and so being thereof seised of the same estate thereof died by protestation seised. After whose death the right of the same messuages and 82 acres of land with their appurtenances descended of right swethe to defend unto your said oratrix as cosyn and heir unto the same Thomas, that is to say daughter and heir unto the same Peter, son and heir unto the said Thomas. So it is good lord, that divers evidences, charters and muniments concerning the premises been come to the hands and possession of Robert Stafford of Dertford aforesaid and to the hands and possession of John Wytton of London, the number and certainty of which said eveidences been unto your said oratrix unknown. And also whether the same evidences, charters and muniments be in bag sealed or chest enclosed, it is also unto your said oratrix unknown. And notwithstanding your said oratrix hath often and many times required the said Robert Stafford and John Wytton to deliver unto her the said evidences, charters and muniments, the which to do the same Stafford and Wytton hath hitherto always refused against all right and conscience, by reason whereof your said oratrix is without remedy by the course of the common law. In consideration whereof, the premises considered, it may please your lordship, to grant several writs of subpena to be directed unto the same Robert Stafford and John Wytton, commanding them by the same personally to apear before your lordship in the honourable court of the Chancery, at one certain day and under a certain pain in the same writ to be contained, and further then to abide such order as by your lordship shall be thought convenient. And your said oratrix shall daily pray for the prosperous estate of your lordship in honour long to continue.
Pledges of proesecution: John Doe, Richard Roe.
Lord Audley was keeper from 20 May 1532 to 26 January 1533 when he became Chancellor.
Middleton v White, c 1560
Reference: TNA C3 125/42
Summary and Background
In this case Mr White had leased Hartley Manor Farm to Mr Gardner in 1554. Mr Gardner had died and his widow Joan Gardner married William Middleton. The tenancy was only at will so Mr White ended it in about 1560, but Mr Middleton is suing for the value of the crops he had sown, which were a mixture of grain and fodder crops.
Bill of Complaint
To the Right Honourable Sir Nicholas Bacon, knight, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England.
In humble manner sheweth and declareth to your honourable lordship, your worship's humble orator, William Mydleton of Nusted in the county of Kent. That where one William Whit of Hartley in the county aforesaid was seized in his demesne as of fee of and in one messuage, a barn and a hundred acres of land with the appurtenances, set, lying and being in Hartlye aforesaid; and so being thereof seized about 6 years past did demise and to farm let to one John Gardner now deceased the same messuage, barn and other the premises to hold and occupy at the will and pleasure of the said Whit for the yearly rent of six pounds and for thirty shillings to be paid to the chief lord of the fee thereof and after the said Gardner, but one year past and more died. After whose death one Joan the late wife of the said Gardner and now the wife of your lordship's said orator, likewise by the assent, permission and sufferance of the said Whit, held and occupied the premises by the space of one half year or thereabouts and did sow with grain, that is to say, with wheat, barley, oats, beans, peas and tares - threescore acres of the premises or thereabouts. For after your lordship's said orator (.....?) married with the said Joan. And after sowed and placed the said grain being in several .... the barn aforesaid, parcel of the premises and after the said White entered into the premises; whereupon your said orator, for a convenient and reasonable time for the threshing and avoiding thereof agreed with the said Whit to make him reasonable recompense for the same; whereunto the same Whit assented and agreed and promised convenient time and liberty to your said orator for the same. Yet so it is Right Honourable Lord, that the same Whit being a man given to make trouble and unquietness, contrary to his said agreement and promise mde in that behalf hath taken, threshed out, spoiled, consumed and spent to his own use a great part of the corn and grain aforesaid, and will in no wise grant and suffer your said orator by himself, his servants or addignees to come or enter into the siad barn to thresh or take his said corn or grain. By reason whereof your said orator is enforced not only to lose or omit his season's in soiwng of grain, but also to his great charge to buy and provide other grain for the necessry and complete finding of his household and family to his great hinderance and islike to sustain the loss of the whole and remnant thereof very shortly, which ammounteth to the value of £40 and above, unless it may please your good lordship the premises considered, and for that your orator knoweth not the certainty of the said grain so already consumed by the said Whit nor the certain value thereof, to grant to him the Queen's Majesty's writ of subpoena to be directed to the said William Whit commanding him thereby personally to appear before your honourable lordship in the Queen's Highness's honourable court of chancery under a certain pain therein to be limited, at a day certain therein likewise to be prefixed, then and there to answer to the prmises and to abide therein such order and directions as your lordship's said orator according to his bounden duty shall pray to God for the prosperous success of your lordship's honour long to endure.
Snow and Maynard v Harlakenden (about 1539)
Richard Snow and Thomas Maynard plaintiffs say that Sir William Draper esq deceased, sold them 20 acres of wood in 2 parcels in Hartley for £13 6s 8d on 16 March 28 Henry VIII (1537), to be felled and carried away by 1 May 30 Henry VIII (1538). William Draper also agreed that if he died before then, his heirs would pay 13s 4d for each acre unfelled. The plaintiffs had cut 11 acres and planned to cut the rest when William Draper died and made his wife his executor. She has married Thomas Harelakynden, who refuses to pay, they request a subpoena. The defendants say far from owning them money, the plaintiffs' failure to remove all the wood in time activate a £10 penalty clause.
The outcome is not known, but in about 1540 the Harlakendens conveyed Hartley Manor to Nicholas Ballard.
Bill of Complaint
To the right honourable Sir Thomas Audeley knight, Lord Audeley of Walden and Lord Chancellor of England
In most humble wise sheweth and complaineth unto your good lordship, your daily orators Richard Snow and Thomas Maynard. That where William Draper esq deceased, the 16th day of March in the 28th year of our sovereign lord the king , bargained and sold unto the said Richard Snow and Thomas Maynard, two parcels of wood in Hartley in the county of Kent, containing by estimation 20 acres, for the sum of £13 6s 8d, unto the said Draper will and truly content and paid. The said 20 acres to be felled and carried away by the said Richard Snow and Thomas Maynard, by the first day of May, which should be in the 30th year of our said sovereign lord . And the said Wiliam Draper convenated, promised and [.....] to and with the said Richard Snow and Thomas Maynard that if it fortuned the said William Draper to die or depart this present world before the last day of the felling of the said wood, that he, his heirs and executors and assigns should come and pay the said Richard Snow and Thomas Maynard for every acre of the said wood so standing? not by them felled 13s 4d.
So it is, if it may please you good lordship that your said orators the first year next after the said ?deed [......] then made by the said William Draper, did fell and cut down 11 acres, parcel of the said 20 acres, and that had and carried away according unto the said bargain. And afore their next fall of the said wood, which should have been in the 30th year of our sovereign lord, the said William Draper died and made his wife his executrix, so that your said orators could not be permitted and suffered to fell the rest of the said 20 acres, that is to say nine acres, for that the said William Draper had no interest in the premises, but only for the life, so that the executrix of the said William Draper is bound both by law and conscience to content and pay unto your said orators £6, that is to say 13s 4d for every acre of the said nine acres was left standing, according to the promise and agreement of the said William Draper. And although your said orators have divers times required from his said executrix, then being widow, the said six pounds, while she was sole, denied to pay it. And after that Thomas Harelakynden had married the said Margery; they to pay denieth and yet doth, contrary to all right, equity and good conscience.
In consideration whereof, it should please your good lordship, the premises considered, to grant a writ of sub poena to be directed unto the said Harelakynden and Margery his wife, comanding them by the same, personally to appear before your good lordship in the king's high court of chancery, at a certain day and under a certain pain by your lordship to be limited; there to answer unto the premises and [......] to abide such decree and order as your lordship shall taken in that behalf. And your said orators shall daily pray to God for your estate long to endure.
Pledges of prosecution, John Boo of London and Richard Boo of the same, baker.
The answer of Thomas Harlakynden and Margaret his wife to the bill of complaint of Richard Snow and Thomas Maynard
The said Thomas Harlakynden and Margaret his wife say that the said bill of complaint is uncertain and insufficient in law and a great part of the matters therein contained feigned and untrue. Nevertheless for declaration of the truth, they say that teh said William Draper, named in the said bill of complaint, by indenture made between the same William on the one part, and the said complainants on the other part, which beareth the date the 16th day of March in the 28th year of the reign of our said sovereign lord the king, bargained and sold to the said complainants and their assigns, two parcels of wood containing by estimation 20 acres of wood being more or less, then standing and felled upon ground of the said William in Harteley mentioned in the said bill of complaint. Whereof of the one parcel containing 14 acres did lie together in the south end of Grete Harteley Wood, the other parcel did lie together on the north-west side of the said Grete Harteley Wood, containing by estimation 6 acres. Whereof ten acres was that that was felled at the date of the said indenture within the said 14 acres to be taken and felled by the said complainant or their assigns before the first day of May then next coming, to be carried away by [.....] day of May then come twelvemonth immediately after that ensuing and to be carried away by them or their assignees before the first [.....] next afterward. And the said William Draper covenanted and granted by the same indenture that if it fortune he the said William die or depart this world at any time after the said William should have received the last sum of £6 13s 4d and if the said last ten acres not fully felled, that the said William, his heirs and executors should restore unto the said complainants or their executors 13s 4d of the said parties, either of the said parties by the said intenture bound themselves, their heirs and executors [.........] sum of 40s sterling as by the same indenture more at large apeareth. And the said defendants also say that [.....] complainants and their assignees and deputies with the said wood that was felled at the time of making of the said indenture did fell [...........] the said William Draper about 14 acres and 7 dayworks of the said wood, and that there was not standing [.........] time of the decease of the said William Draper full 6 acres of wood. And further the said defendents say that the said complainants did not carry awy all the wood growing upon the said 10 acres of the said 14 acres, with that that was felled at the time [....] of the said indenture before the feast of All Saints' next ensuing the date of the said indenture, as they ought to have done, according to the said indenture. Wherefore the defendents suppost the said complainants hath forfeited the said £10 wherein they were bounden for the performance of the aforesaid covenants. And the said defendants say that they have been and will be ready to pay to the said complainants for every acre of the said wood that was standing at the time of the death of the said William Draper 13s 4d, so that the said complainants will pay unto them the said £10 forfeited as aforesaid. Without that, that the said William Draper made any such bargain and sale of the wood mentioned in the said bill of complaint, as by the same bill is surmised......
John Hickmott v Thomas Walter and others 1639
Reference: TNA C7/177/89
Summary and Background
In this case John Hickmott is suing the vendors of the 1633 conveyance of Hartley Manor Farm. However, in spite of the precautions taken to enrol a copy of the conveyance in Chancery, the Hickmotts faced the worst nightmare of buyers of freehold land in the days before land registration, that of claimed interests which come to light only after purchase but which might take priority. So he sued the Walters to say they had misrepresented the interest they were selling as they now learned about the interest of John Walter in the will John Walter senior of 1623. In reply Thomas Walter said the Hickmotts were the rightful owners and that any entail had been destroyed by a process called common recovery. The result of the case is not known but the Hickmotts and their descendants continued to enjoy possession until the 18th century so it must have ended happily for them.
The answer of Thomas Walter the elder, one of the defendants to the bill of complaint of the said John Hickmott and Joan his wife, as also of Thomas Walter and Francis Walter, infants, by the said Thomas Walter the elder, guardian, defendant to the said bill of complaint of John Hickmott and Joan his wife, complainants
22 February 1638 
All advantages […..] to the uncertainty and insufficiency of the said bill of complaint now and at all times hereafter to these defendants saved and reserved, they for full and perfect answer to so much of the said bill as doth concern them, the said defendants to make answer unto do say as followeth.
And first the said Thomas Walter the elder for himself saith this defendant being so much and able? [………………………………………………………………………………………………] That true it is that about the time in the bill mentioned Robert Walter in the bill and this defendant Thomas Walter the elder or one of them did for that purpose propound to the said complainant John Hickmott or to some other to his use, to bargain and sell to the said complainant. All that messuage or tenement wherein one Thomas Whitehead then or late dwelt some time called Daltons and also all and every the messuages, lands, woods, tenements and hereditaments with their appurtenances in the said bill particularly mentioned. And also all other the messuage, lands and hereditaments whatsoever of them the said Robert Walter and this defendant Thomas Walter the elder, situate, lying and being in Hartley in the county of Kent with all and singular their appurtenances.
And that the said Robert and this defendant Thomas the elder did affirm and undertake to the said complainant John Hickmott, that they the said Robert and this defendant Thomas the elder or one had a good and absolute, clear estate in [selling?..........] the said premises and had in himself or themselves good right and full power to bargain and sell the same and that all or every of the said premises were free and clear of and from all manner of incumbrances whatsoever had, made […..] by them the said Robert Walter and this defendant Thomas Walter the elder or any their ancestors. And this defendant further saith that the said complainant John Hickmott was to give for the said land and accordingly did give to them the said Robert Walter and this defendant Thomas Walter the elder for the said land the sum of £500 of lawful money of England and that thereupon the said Robert Walter and this defendant Thomas Walter the elder did by […..] bargain and sell bearing date in the said bill mentioned and enrolled in his Majesty’s High Court of Chancery bargain and sell to the said John Hickmott and Joan his wife and to the heirs of the said John Hickmott [….] said messuages, lands, tenements, woods and hereditaments and all other the premises aforesaid.
And this defendant Thomas Walter the elder further said that true it is that the said Robert Walter did in and by the said indenture [……] and sale covenant to and with the said complainant John Hickmott and his heirs in and by all things, according as is expressed and contained in the said indenture of bargain and sale unto which said indenture he this defendant [for] certainty in this behalf referreth himself and thereby may more at large appear.
And this defendant Thomas Walter the elder further saith that he believeth it to be true that the said complainant John [Hickmott by] force and virtue of the said indenture of bargain and sale into and upon the said premises entered and ought to be lawfully seized in his demesne as of fee to him the said John Hickmott and his heirs, of and in [….] lands, tenements, woods and hereditaments and other the bargained premises and to hold and enjoy the same accordingly.
And this defendant Thomas Walter the elder denieth that either he or the said Robert Walter to [……] knowledge hath or have made, granted or contrived unto any person or persons any lease or leases for divers or any years or terms or have or hath made any grant, bargain, sale, mortgage, charge or any estate or interest for years or for life or lives or any estate in fee farm or interest to any person or persons or any other estate whatsoever, or to any purpose or end whatsoever of bargained premises or any part thereof, otherwise than what the said Robert Walter and this defendant Thomas Walter the elder have made to the said complainants as aforesaid.
And this defendant Thomas Walter denieth that either he or the said Robert Walter to his this defendant’s knowledge have or hath before the making of the said indenture of bargain and sale to the said complainant acknowledged […..] or entered [….] statute or statutes, recognaisance or recognaisances, judgement or judgements to any person or persons for any sum or sums of money or debts whatsoever or that he this defendant or the said [………] defendant’s knowledge have or hath done or acknowledged any other assurance, act or thing whereby or by means whereof the said bargained premises or any part thereof are or may be hindered or encumbered or whereby the said complainant or the heirs of the said John Hickmott or any of them shall or may be evicted or dispossessed of the said bargained premises or any part thereof? [……..………….] enjoying the same or for or from having, receiving, levying or enjoying to his or their use of all and singular the rents, issues and profits thereof or of any part thereof, or that he this defendant Thomas Walter or Robert Walter to this defendant’s knowledge have or that mortgaged the said premises or any part thereof to any person or persons, for any sum or sums of money or for or under [……] or pretence whatsoever.
[…….] defendant Thomas Walter the elder saith that it may be that he hath given out in speeches that the said premises so purchased by the said complainant were by some will or […………] or deed in law made or [……………by] Thomas Walter, grandfather of him this defendant Thomas Walter the elder, entailed to one John Walter son of the said Thomas the grandfather and his heirs male […. ] Walter [……] remainder [……….] of such issue, then Robert Walter, third son of the said Thomas Walter the grandfather for term of his life and after his decease to his son, this defendant Thomas Walter the elder […..…..…………….] and to his eldest issue male and for want of such issue male then to the right heir of him this defendant Thomas Walter the elder forever.
But this defendant Thomas Walter the elder saith [……………] marriage with (blank in ms) his now wife levy, assign and suffer a recovery of the said lands so purchased by which the said estate tail to or touching Thomas Walter the younger […………………] elder and is cut off and determined so that the same doth not now remain of force. But this defendant Thomas Walter the elder saith [….] that he hath issue male, Thomas Walter his son [………..] also a daughter Frances Walter, which said son and daughter are the two other defendants to the said complainant’s bill of complaint.
And this defendant Thomas Walter the elder saith that [he] Thomas Walter the elder denieth that the said Thomas his son [……………] any estate tail for term of his life, with remainder over to his heirs males of or in the said bargained premises or any part thereof after the decease of him, this defendant Thomas Walter the elder or that he the said […………..] this defendant’s son doth claim the same by force and virtue of the said estate tail, so made by the said Thomas the grandfather [………] other estate tail at all.
And this defendant Thomas Walter the elder saith the true it is that the said Thomas Walter his son and likewise the said Frances his daughter are both yet under age and that [……………] chosen? him, this defendant Thomas Walter the [……….….] to them, the said Thomas Walter and Frances Walter his children but not to or for any such undue purpose, as in and by the said bill is pretended. And this defendant Thomas Walter […….….] acknowledge and confess that there is not [……….] estate tail of and in the said bargained premises or any part thereof, made, [……] settled, or executed, which is or ought to be of a [………………………………………..] or their said title.
And the said other defendant Thomas Walter and Frances Walter, the said infants, by the said Thomas Walter the elder, their guardian, do say that […………………………………] another estate by conveyance or assurance of the said bargained premises made, conveyed, granted, or executed to them the said infants or either of them, of or in the […………………..]
[The last 7 lines of the reply are missing in several places due to damage to the manuscript and what looks like water damage]
Bennett Walter v Thomas Walter and Ambrose Walter (1657)
TNA C6 135/185
The Walters were a substantial landowning family, who lived at Pennis House, Fawkham, but by the 1650s their landholdings had declined and John Walter has considerable debts. This case followed the death of John Walter in 1657. He made his will on 11 May 1657, died on the 16th and was buried at Fawkham on 18 May 1657. In his will he appointed his wife Bennett as executor and instructed her to sell his estate which he reckoned would fetch at least £1,900. Out of which she was to pay his debts of £1,000 and then £900 to be shared between their daughters Dorcas, Bennett and Alice. Any surplus was to be shared between his sons Thomas and Ambrose.
This will did not leave much to John's sons, and they were not happy about it. Thomas in particular claimed that his father had promised him land as part of a marriage settlement. They said "their said late father John Walter departed this life upon Saturday the 16th day of May last past, having by the extremity of the sickness whereof he then died, been deprived of his sense and memory for about a week before bis death." They claimed the will was published at midnight when John was not of "sound and disposing mind and memory". Bennett also claimed they had said the will wasn't properly witnessed.
It appears that Bennett prevailed because it is she who sold the Hartley and Ash lands for £665 on 17 August 1657 (although Thomas and Ambrose both admitted too that the estate would have to be sold). In Hartley these comprised about 2/3 of the Fairby Estate, but excluded the house itself and the land between Castle Hill and Fairby Lane, which the Walters had never owned. The will was proved in London on 10 June 1657 and there is no note to say that it had been invalidated in any way.
Bill of Complaint of Bennett Walter
In most humble manner complaining doth shew you good lordships your daily orator Bennett Walter widow, the executrix and relict of John Walter, late of Fawkham in the county of Kent, esquire deceased. That whereas your orator [….] late time. That is to say upon the 11th day of May last past lawfully sized in his demesne as of fee of diverse messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments, lying and being in Fawkham aforesaid and Farningham, Ash and Hartely [Hartley] and [….] yearly value of £200 a year besides all reprisals. And in a likewise at the same time possessed of a personal estate amounting to £400 at the least. And being so thereof seized and possessed and [ .....] ordain, declare and appoint his last will and testament in writing in these words following:
"In the name of God, Amen. I John Walter of Fawkham in the county of Kent esq. being sick and weak of body but of sound and perfect memory for [ ] This 11th day of May in the year of the Lord etc. , do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following. First and principally I give and bequeath my soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it and my body to be [...] whence it was taken to be decently buried according to the discretion of my executrix hereafter named, in full assurance of the free pardon of all my sins in the blood of Christ, and of a joyful resurrection of soul and body at the day of the just. And for that [ ] pleased the Lord to bless me withal in this my pilgrimage here on earth, make disposition thereof in manner and form following: First I give and bequeath to Mr Edward Archbold, minister of the parish where I do now dwell, the sum of 20(?)s [....] paid unto him the day of my burial to preach my funeral sermon. Also I do give and bequeath unto my beloved good wife Bennet whom I make my sole executrix my funeral expenses and gift? and legacy being discharged all my goods, chattels of household stuff and personal estate whatsoever, my debts excepted, which I have within the county of Kent aforesaid or elsewhere within this Commonwealth of England. And as for touching and concerning my lands I make disposition thereof [...] form following: And first my will, intent and meaning is I do hereby give and bequeath unto my said wife, my sole executrix: All that my farm in the tenure or occupation of John Nicholas, lying and being in Fawkham aforesaid and in [....] in the said county of Kent. And all that wood and woodland containing by estimation 20 acres more or less, lying and being in Fawkham aforesaid now in the tenure of me the said John Walter. And all that my wood, woodland containing by estimation 20 acres more or less adjoining to him the said John Nicholas, commonly called or known by the name of Chokes Feild and Chokes Wood, in the tenure of me John Walter [ ] and being in Fawkham aforesaid. And also all those my two tenements or cottages lying and being in Fawkham aforesaid, in the tenure or occupation of John Gardiner and Edward Carryer, their assignees. And all that my farm [...] ground thereunto belonging, situate, lying and being in the parishes of Ash and Hartely in the said county of Kent, late mortgaged to Edmond Tooke esq. and now in the occupation of me the said John Walter and of Robert French [....]. And all those my lands, arable and woodland now in the tenure or occupation of John Dawlton, his assignee or assignees, lying and being in Ash and Hartely aforesaid.. And also all those my lands, lying and being in the parish of Hartely aforesaid and in the tenure or occupation of Edward Best, his assignee or assignees. And all those my three pieces or parcels of land with the appurtenances, lying and being in Hartely aforesaid, in the tenure or occupation of the widow Crowherst, her assignee or assignees. [And] all those my lands and woodground, lying and being in Hartely aforesaid, now in the tenure or occupation of Leonard Carryer, and of me the said John Walter, our assignee or assignees. To sell as soon as possibly she can to pay my debts in the first place befing...] near as I can remember about £1,000, and to raise the sum of £900 more, to be equally divided between my three daughters, Dorcas, Bennett and Alice, share and share alike, within one year after my decease [...] can possibly be sold so soon. And my will, intent and meaning is that all the profits of the lands aforesaid which shall arise until sale of them or any of them can be made as aforesaid, shall be accounted for by my said wife and shall go to the said [ ]. And that if my said wife shall depart this life before she have made sale of all or any of the lands and tenements aforesaid, appointed for payment of my debts and daughters' portions as aforesaid. That then the executor or administrator of [my] wife shall have the same power to bargain and sell all and singular the premises, which shall then be unsold, for the uses and purposes aforesaid, as fully and amply as my said wife might have done if she had been living [….] further will, intent and meaning is that whereas I have appointed £100 a year as near as I can imagine to be sold as aforesaid for the payment of £1,000 debts and £900 portions for my said three daughters as aforesaid [....] the money upon sale of my said lands shall amount unto more than nineteen hundred pounds or to more than will pay my debts and my said legacies to my said three daughters. That then the overplus whatever it be, shall be equally divided [....] sons Thomas and Ambrose share and share alike. And whereas I receive about £300 owing to me by several persons abroad, my will, intent and meaning is that my said executrix as fast as she can recover or get in the same [...] about getting in the same, shall divide the same, share and share alike between my three daughters, their executors and administrators and assignees; and I do give the said debts to my said three daughters according to the further augmentation of the same [....] by me formerly given unto them. Also I do further give unto my said beloved wife Bennett in lieu and recompense of her dower, moiety and title of dower to any of the lands aforementioned to be sold as aforesaid and in further manifestation of the [....] love and affection which I do bear unto her, I do bear unto her, the remainder of all my messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments whatsoever for and during her natural life, not before disposed of to be sold as aforesaid and from and immediately after the date of [ ] I give and bequeath all the said remainder of my said lands and tenements whatsoever not disposed of to be sold as aforesaid, unto my said sons and to their heirs, share and share alike equally to be divided between them and their heirs [....] renounce, revoke and make void all former wills by me made and do make and ordain this my last will and testament, containing 2 sheets of paper whereunto I have respectively set my hand and seal the day and year aforesaid John [Walter....]"
by the said will be ready to be produced it doth and may appear. And you said oratrix doth further shew unto your good lordships, that after the making of the said last will and testament of him the said John Walter. That is to say upon the [....] day of May last past , departed this life, leaving your said oratrix his sole executrix, having appointed diverse lands to be sold by your said oratrix for the payment of £1,000 being the proper debts of him your said oratrix's husband [ ] and for the payment of £900 for portions from his said three daughters, as in and by the said recited will is more particularly set forth. And your said oratrix well hoped quietly to have sold the said lands and to have according to the [….] and discharged the said debts and ?mortgages, according to the trust reposed in her by her said deceased husband
But now so it is, may it please your good lordships, the said Thomas and Ambrose Walter, your said oratrix her sons, being coheirs [in] gavelkind, according to the custom of Kent, and perceiving their said father hath appointed £100 a year lands and tenements to see sold for payment of debts and paying of daughters' portions as aforesaid, as in the said will is particularly [....] hereby their estates will be far short of what they expected, do give out in speeches sometimes. That your said oratrix's husband did not make any such will and testament as is before expressed. And if any such will and testament were made, that the [....] was not of sound and disposing memory, when the same was made. And at other times that your oratrix hath no witnesses to prove the said will and that their said father never did read the same or heard the same read unto him. And therefore [....] and oppose the sale of the said lands and tenements, appointed to be sold for payment of debts and daughters' portions as aforesaid. Although they well know the said will was duly made and published by their said father as aforesaid. In tender consideration [of the] premises, and for that your oratrix hath no other way to prove the said will to enable your oratrix to sell the said lands for the uses aforesaid; nor to keep alive and preserve the testimony of [ ] invoking (?) and publishing of the said will, but before your honours in the High Court of Chancery. And to the end the said will may be established by decree of this court, and the witnesses to the same may be examined 'in perpetuam rei memoriam' [....] may be allowed at any trial, which shall be at the common law concerning the said will. And to the intent the said Thomas and Ambrose Walter may upon their several oaths, severally set forth whether their father was not seized and possessed as aforesaid [...] whether he did make the said recited will in manner and form as aforesaid, and if not the same what other will did he make. And whether he were of sound and disposing memory at the time of the making of the same. And why they or either of them do [ ] the performance of the same. And may likewise true answer make unto all and singular the parts of your said oratrix her bill. And your said oratrix may be therein relieved accordingly, as to your honours shall seem to stand with equity and good conscience]. May it please your good lordships, the premises considered, to grant unto your oratrix one or more writ or writs of subpoena to be directed to the....? said Thomas Walter and Ambrose Walter, commanding them and every one of them at a certain day and under a certain pain therein to be limited, personally to appear before you good lordships and further to stand to such order and decree, as to your good lordships shall seem to stand with equity and good conscience. And your said oratrix as in duty bounden shall humbly pray [.......]
The joint and several answers of Thomas Walter and Ambrose Walter gentlemen, defendants to the bill of complaint of Bennett Walter widow, complainant.
The said defendants, saving to themselves now and at all times hereafter all advantage and benefit of exception, to the uncertainties and other apparent defects and imperfections in the said bill of complaint, contained for answer unto so much thereof as doth in any wise materially concern them, these defendants or either of them to make answer unto, they do jointly and severally answer and say. That it may be true that John Walter deceased, in the said bill named, about the time in the said bill for that purpose mentioned, was seized in fee of the messuages, lands and tenements in the said bill particularly mentioned and expressed, being of such yearly value as is therein likewise mentioned, but subject to the payment of £30 pa to Mrs Dorothy Browne, widow, during her natural life, and to the payment of £12 pa for charitable uses, charged to be issuing out of the same by the last will of John Walter esq, deceased, late uncle of them these defendants, and subject to a recognisance or statute staple heretofore entered into by the said John Walter since deceased, unto John Robinson the elder of Gravesend in the county of Kent esquire, or unto some other for his use, or in trust for him of the penalty of £600 defeazanced for the payment of £300 with damages at a day yet to come, and some part of the said tenements was mortgaged unto and as these defendants believe was in the life time of the said John Walter forfeited by breach of the condition contained in the said indenture of mortgage unto Edmond Tooke esq, in the said bill also named. And it may be true that the said John Walter deceased, was at the time of his death possessed of a personal estate of the value of £600 or thereabouts, but that he made any such last will and testament, as in the said bill is set forth, or any other will they these defendants do not believe, or if such will as is at large set forth in and by the said bill were by their said late father John Walter, since deceased, assented unto, made or published, the same was assented unto, made and published at midnight and when he was not of sound and disposing mind and memory, for that he the said John Walter hath thereby made no provision at all for the maintenance of them these defendants, or either of them during the lifetime of their mother the complainant; neither hath he the said John Walter since deceased by the said pretended will made any provision for the indemnifying and saving harmless of this defendant Thomas Walter, against such bonds and engagements as he hath entered into by command of his said late father deceased, against which lands and engagements not above one week before the making of the said pretended will, he the said John Walter deceased faithfully promised him this defendant Thomas Walter, to defend and save him harmless; nor hath he the said John Walter deceased, thereby made any provision for, or directed the making of any present settlement of lands or tenements upon him this defendant, although not long before the making of the said pretended will, he had treated with several persons concerning a marriage for this defendant Thomas Walter, and had offered to settle lands of the clear yearly value of £130 upon him this defendant upon such marriage, by which way and means the debts and portions mentioned in the said pretended will might have been raised and paid, and this defendant might have had a subsistence of which he is now altogether left destitute; and this defendant would willingly take and accept [ ..]
settlement of £100 pa. parcel of his said late father's estate, and pay his debts and secure the said portions to the sisters of this defendant, which to do, or to give him this defendant Thomas Walter any security against the bonds and engagements by him entered into on the behalf and at the command of his said late father, which engagements to amount unto £500 principal money, or to settle any certain allowance for this defendant's maintenance, or to acquaint him with the debts or estate of his said late father; the said complainant though in a civil and dutiful way and manner requested, hath and doth deny to the great grief of this defendant. And the said defendants do jointly and severally say. That true it is that their said late father John Walter departed this life upon Saturday the 16th day of May last past, having by the extremity of the sickness whereof he then died, been deprived of his sense and memory for about a week before bis death. And the said defendants do jointly and severally deny that they or either of them hath or have given it out in speeches that they will hinder or oppose the sale of the lands for payment of the debts, if such authority as is therein now pretended to by the said complainant were by their said late father committed to her, the said complainant, when he was of sound and disposing mind and memory; but if at the time of the making of such pretended will and granting such pretended authority for sale of lands, the said late father of these defendants were not of sound and disposing mind and memory (as they these defendants do verily believe he was not) they these defendants do conceive under the good favour of your lordships that they have good cause to oppose the same, they being thereby disinherited of their birthright and left altogether unprovided for during the life of the complainant their mother. And without that, that any other matter or thing in the said bill of complaint contained, material or effectual in the law for these defendants or either of them, to answer unto and not herein and hereby confessed and avoided, traversed or denied is to the knowledge of these defendants or either of them true. All which matters and things these defendants are ready to aver, maintain and prove as this honourable court shall award. And humbly pray to be dismissed the same with their reasonable costs and charges in this behalf most wrongfully sustained.
Edmund Peckham v Reginald Peckham, 1689
Summary and Background
The complainant Edmund Peckham says his father, Reginald Peckham of Yalding (d 1675) left him an estate at Hartley and elsewhere in his will, but that his older brother Reginald contests the will. In his reply Reginald said his father had already settled the estate on him. The description of the estate at Hartley being 34 acres means this is very likely to be the Goldsmiths holding.
Reginald Peckham senior married Alice Fowler at Ash on 31 August 1648.
Reginald Peckham junior was christened at Ash on 19 June 1649. He is probably the Reginald buried at Wrotham on 24 December 1713. He had 2 children by his wife Dorothy christened at Ightham - Dorothy (1702) and Reginald (1703).
Edmund Peckham was christened at Ash on 30 June 1651. Edmund is probably the Edmund Peckham of St Pauls Cray, gentleman, buried at Wrotham on 11 January 1724.
The outcome is unclear. Goldsmiths was sold by Edmund Peckham and Reginald Peckham in 1723, which may suggest they had decided to share it.
Bill of Complaint of Edmund Peckham
Humbly complaineth sheweth to your lordships your daily orator Edmund Pekham of Wrotham... gent. That whereas heretofore, that is to say in or about the month of August.. 1674, Reginald Peckham the elder of Yalding in the parish of Wrotham, esquire, your orator's fa[ther] being seized in fee to him and his heirs of and in his house and lands called Hockinden in the parishes of St Mary Cray and North Cray... and in another house and of other lands in the parish of Hartly … containing by estimation 34 acres, and in another houser at Culversole Green.. Meopham... and in the inn called The Crown in Northfleet […....] the said Reginald designed to make necessary provision and settlement for the maintenance of your orator out of the said premises, as he had before out of other lands and tenements […..] upon Alice his wife, your orator's mother, and Reginald Peckham the younger... your orator's eldest brother. To which purpose your orator's said father, being of sound mind, memory and understanding, did on or about 26th August in the year aforesaid make his last will and testament in writing and thereof Sir Demetrius James, knight and your orator's said mother Alice his executors in words following:
In the name of God, Amen. I Reginald Peckham the elder of Yalding …. being of good and perfect memory, thanks be to God, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner following
- He leaves his soul to God.
- Inventory to be taken of his goods at Yalding. Alice to have life interest in them during her widowhood and may take them away if Reginald his son proves unkind to evict her. If he is kind to her then the goods go to him, provided he doesn't disturb her quiet continuing in the house. If he is unkind to her she can dispose of them as she wishes.
- To Alice for life house at Little Comp and 3 houses at Ightham, but to go to Reginald if he doesn't disturb her. To Reginald with reversion for want of heir to other sons in order of age.
- To Alice two coach houses.
- “Item I give and devise to my son Edmund. All my house and lands called Hockinden...And also all that house and lands in the parish of Hartley in the said county containing by estimation 34 acres more or less, now in the occupation of Richard Fermer, husbandman...” and the estates mentioned above at Meopham and Northfleet. With reversion to his eldest son and for want of heirs to 2nd, 3rd son etc, then to daughters if no son. Edmund may make a jointure of them to any wife he marries.
- Witnesses Thomas Tomlyn, John Tunbridge, Frances Cheesham, Anne Whiteguift.
And shortly after in or about … 1675, he the said Reginald Peckham being seized of the premises.. in manner aforesaid without having made any revocation of or alteration of the said will.. departed this life, your orator's said mother and said brother surviving. And your said orator's mother by herself in due form of law, proved the said will and took upon herself the burden and execution thereof. And your orator further sheweth that upon the death of your orator's said father, your orator entered into and possessed himself of all the said premises so devised... and well hoped that your orator and his posterity might safely and without any opposition from your orator's said elder brother, have continued to hold the same, the rather for your said orator's elder brother was much more plentifully provided for by the said will and by former settlements made for him by your orator's said father.
But now so it is... your orator's said elder brother …. being heir at law to you orator's said father, hath some hopes that all the witnesses to the said will may shortly die, and that he knows that if they should die, your orator hath in such case no ways or means to make out or prove the said will and your orator's title to the said lands bequeathed to your orator as aforesaid, whereby your orator's title to the said lands will be defeated for want of perpetuating the evidence of the said will and the due and fair execution thereof.
In tender consideration whereof and for the matter of the nature are properly receivable in this court, the rather for that most of the witnesses to the said will are now very old and not likely by the common cause of nature long to live...... May it please your lordships to grant unto your orator their majesties' most gracious writ of subpoena to him the said Reginald Peckham directed...
Reply of Reginald Peckham dated 22.1.1689
The answer of Reginald Peckham, esquire, eldest son of Reginald Peckham, late of Yaldham in the parish of Wrotham esquire deceased, to the bill of complaint of Edmund Peckham gentleman, complainant.
All advantage and benefit of exception to the manifold errors and imperfections of the said bill of complaint now and all times he makes himself and reserves unto [....], for a full and perfect answer thereunto or to so much thereof, as materially concerneth this defendant to make answer unto [.....] he doth know that Reginald Peckham his said late father was about the time for that purpose mentioned in the said bill of complaint, lawfully seised in fee to him and his heirs of some other lawful estate of inheritance of and in his house and lands commonly called Hockinden.....And of and in another house and lands in the said parish of Hartley in the said county.... But he doth not believe that he was seised in fee simple to him and his heirs of and in the inn called the Crowne in Northfleet... , nor of the lands thereunto used or some of them are copyhold. And this defendant further saith that he doth believe that his said father, having desired to make some provision for the maintenance of the complainant, he did about the time for that purpose mentioned make his will in writing to the purpose in the bill set forth and that he was of sound memory when he made the will and never revoked the same to this defendant’s knowledge, and made such executors as is set forth and named. And that after this defendant’s father’s death , the complainant entered into all the premises by the same will devised, and hath ever since quietly enjoyed the same without any interruption or hinderance of this defendant, or any claiming from under him, but ???? this defendant’s said father had any power to make any such settlement unto the complainant of all the premises mentioned to be settled as in the said bill and will is set forth, this defendant knoweth not ???? there was no surrender to this defendant’s [.....] knowledge made of the copyhold lands to the use of his will. And therefore for those lands he submitteth to the judgement of this honourable court. And this defendant said that all the messuages, and lands which this defendant hath in quiet possession were as this defendant is informed, settled upon him this defendant by his own said father as being his eldest son of his father and not by his father as is alleged, as this defendant takes it, for that this defendant’s said father had as this defendant takes it only an estate for life in his said messuages and lands, which this defendant as yet enjoyeth, and is in possession of. As also of all such messuages and land as this defendant’s mother enjoys out of his father’s or this defendant’s estate. Nevertheless to fulfil this defendant’s said father’s will and desire, this defendant to his mother hath confirmed those lands mentioned to be given her. And that also permitted the complainant to enjoy all his inn and lands devised, to him quietly without any interruption. And this defendant further saith that he doth believe that his said father was seised in fee at the time of his decease of the messuages and lands mentioned in the said bill to be given to the said complainant, having the inn and lands devised thereto belonging at Northfleete for the reasons aforesaid, and that he died so seised. And believes that he was at the time of publishing and declaring his said will of sound and perfect memory and understanding, and doth not know of any alteration or revocation thereof. And he this defendant is very willing that the said complainant do make probate of the said will in this honourable court. Without that any other matter, ???? or thing material or effectual in the said bill of complaint contained and not hereby or herein well and sufficiently answered, confessed or avoided, traduced or [.....] is true. All which matters and things this defendant is ready to aver, justify , maintain and prove as this honourable court shall and will award. And prayed to be here dismissed with his reasonable costs and charges in this behalf .....
Note Alice’s will probated 1693. No evidence of Reginald’s will being probated in London.
John Young v Anne Young (1688)
TNA C7 348/18
Summary and Background
What follows is only a summary of the case. Thomas Young of Fairby died in 1688. John said Thomas's will left the bulk of the estate to him and this was intentional because his brother Thomas was well provided for when he married. Thomas junior died before his his father and left Anne Young as his daughter. According to John, Anne claimed Thomas senior was not of sound mind when he made the will and therefore the estate should have descended by gavelkind which would mean she should share with John.
Bill of Complaint
Whereas Thomas Young was seized on 27 May last past (1688) of land in Hartly in gavelkind tenure, and of a considerable personal estate. Being of sound mind he desired the lands to come to the compainant and not by gavelkind, which would happen if there were no disposition by will or deed. So he prepared his will copy of which is included in this bill - His soul was commended to Almighty God; of his estate "such worldly estate as it hath pleased God of his infinite goodness to bestow upon me"- debts to be paid. He leaves 10s to his wife to buy a ring in remembrance of him. To Margaret, his daughter the wife of James Burrowes of Hartley, yeoman - £25 to be paid one year after his decease. To his grandchildren: Thomas Young, Margarett Young, James Burrowes, Thomas Burrowes, Elizabeth Burrowes, Margaret Burrowes, and Anne Young (the daughter of his son Thomas Young, deceased) - £25 as above. To the poor of Hartley - £2 to be distributed at his funeral. To John Young of Horton Kirby, his "loving son" - all his lands in Kent, and the remainder of his personal estate. John Young is appointed executor. Witnessed by Elizabeth Crowherst, Mary Wells, George Wells and Samuel Blune. Soon after this Thomas Young died and the complainant has entered into the property and paid the legacies as executor. But now Anne Young, as daughter to his only brother claims the land as coheir with him, and also claims a dividend of the personal estate. She alleged that Thomas Young senior was not of sound mind when he made the will. Whereas she well knows Thomas Young was of sound mind and had given instructions to attorney and he said he did not want the lands to be divided equally because Thomas Young junior had already been provided for in other lands. Witnesses were personally requested by Thomas Young himself. He asks for writ of subpoena to be directed to Anne Young.
Answer of Anne Young
She agrees Thomas Young had fee simple lands in Kent, but as daughter of his brother dying during his father's lifetime she is entitled to share with her uncle the lands and personal possessions. She says by her guardian Anne Ware (her natural mother), wife of John Ware that she did not know of the will being published or the instructions to the attorney. Whether he was of sound mind, it is up to the complainant to prove. (dated 28 June 1688)
Hannah Piggott v Nicholas Piggott 1691
Summary and Background
This is a will dispute relating to Hartley Hill Cottage, Church Road. Nicholas Piggott of Meopham had bought the house sometime before 1662. He died in 1687; his will left Hartley Hill Cottage and £150 to son Thomas. Thomas died on 20 January 1689, as widow she is therefore entitled to dower (a third) of Hartley Hill Cottage. But Nicholas's executor (his other son Nicholas) refuses to grant her this or pay the full cash bequest. Nicholas's reply was that the estate was subject to the Kent inheritance custom of gavelkind, so Thomas only had a life interest. As for the £150 there wasn't enough money in the estate to pay the same. It seems Nicholas prevailed, for it was he who sold Hartley House Cottage in 1693 to William Knight.
Bill of Complaint TNA C7 596/89
To the right honourable the lords commissioners for the custody of the great seal of England
Humbly complaining unto your lordships, your orator Hannah Piggott also Pickett, widow, the relict and administratrix of Thomas Piggott also Pickett, late of Sevenoaks?? in the county of Kent, baker. That Nicholas Pigott, late of Meopham in the said county of Kent, yeoman, father of your oratrix’s husband, being of sound mind and memory on or about the 3rd day of September which was in the year of our Lord God 1687 did make and declare his last will and testament in writing and executed the same in the presence of three credible witnesses who subscribed their names in the testator’s presence, by which will he gave unto his son Thomas and the then heir apparent of the said Nicholas, who was the husband of your oratrix Hannah. All his house outhouses and lands in the parishes of Hartley and Ash, which after his death came to your oratrix’s said husband, not only by the said will but, as your oratrix is advised, by descent there being no devise in reversion or remainder, and bequeathed likewise to your oratrix’s said husband the sum of £150 to be raised out of his lands in Meopham and Ridley, £50 thereof to be paid within 1 year after the said testator’s decease and £100 residue thereof within two years after his said decease. And of his said will nominated his second son Nicholas Pigott of Meopham aforesaid, yeoman, his sole executor, as in and by the said bill remaining (as your oratrix is informed) in the Peculiars or Register Court of Canterbury, may more fully appear, which said will after the death of the testator, which happened some small time after the making thereof, he the said Nicholas the son proved in common form and took upon him the burthen and execution thereof, and entered upon the said lands in Meopham and Ridley and received the rents and profits thereof, and ought to have paid to the said Thomas the husband of your oratrix, the said legacy of £150 in manner devised by the said will, and permitted your oratrix after the death of her said husband to have entered upon the one moiety or hand part of the said devised or descended house, outhouses, lands as her dower, because the same are of the tenure and nature of gavelkind, and according to the custom in the said county of Kent, her said husband being seized in fee thereof in his lifetime […………………………………] or should have paid one moiety or half part of the rent thereof to your oratrix according to equity.
But now so it is, may it please your lordships that the Nicholas Pigott the son and executor, being minded to deceive the said Thomas Pigott your oratrix’s said husband in his lifetime of the said legacy, and your oratrix since his death which happened about the 20th day of January which was in the year of our lord God 1689, your oratrix being his administratrix as by letters of administration in the form of law granted under the seal of the said Peculiars Court of Canterbury, may appear and which your oratrix is ready to produce, as this honourable court think fit, he the said Nicholas the son and executor doeth refuse to give possession to your oratrix of her said dower, or to pay the said legacy or what remaineth unpaid thereof, pretending he is heir at law to the said lands, and that your oratrix’s said husband was never seized, and that he hath a right in all or most part of the said legacy in respect to his distributing part of the personal estate of the said Thomas, the said late husband of your oratrix, he dying intestate. Although he the said Nicholas, the son and executor well knoweth that his brother the said Thomas died more in debt than his personal estate would discharge, and your oratrix is daily sued for such debts and hath no assets, other than the said legacy to discharge the intestate’s aid debts and is in a necessitous condition for want of the said moiety or half part of her husband’s estate, which she ought in equity to enjoy as her dower.
In tender consideration whereof and fore that your oratrix hath not remedy at law to recover the said legacy or her husband’s title to gain his said lands of which he was seized, nor can make out the same for want of sufficient evidence and of the defect [………………] of the said will, so the end therefore that the said Nicholas may answer the premises and show cause (if he can) why your oratrix should not be paid the said legacy of £150 or the remainder thereof, and receive her dower and arrears of dower out of the lands in the possession of the said Nicholas, which were the lands of the said Thomas, and your oratrix relieved according to equity.
May it please your lordships, the premises considered, to grant unto your said oratrix, their majesties’ most gracious writ of subpoena to be directed to the said Nicholas Piggott, the son, thereby commanding hima at a certain day and under a certain pain therein to be limited, personally to be and appear before your lordships in their majesty’s most High and Honourable Court of Chancery, then and there upon his corporal oath to make a true and perfect answer to all and singular the premises and further to stand to and abide such order and direction herein, as to your lordships shall be thought meet and agreeable to equity and good conscience. And your oratrix, as in duty bound shall daily pray etc.
Reply of Nicholas Piggot TNA C7 262/18
Sworn the 11th day of February 1690 (=1691) before me Richard Meek?
The answer of Nicholas Piggot, defendant, to the bill of complaint of Hannah Piggott complainant
The said defendant, saving to himself now and at all times hereafter all and all manner of advantages of exception to the insufficiency and imperfection in the said bill of complaint contained. For answer unto so much as he is advised is material for him to make answer unto, saith as followeth. That true it is Nicholas Piggott, father of him this defendant did make his last will and testament in writing and duly executed as he take it to the same effect as the said complainant hath alleged, to which he this defendant referreth himself. And this defendant further saith that he being a sole executor of the said will as by the said bill is set forth. True it is he this defendant in a short time after his father’s death did possess himself of his father’s personal estate which he could come by, being sufficient as he taketh it to pay and discharge all his debts and legacies, and he this defendant did in due course of law make probate of the said last will and testament of his said father, as it was just for him to do. But this defendant saith the lands in thes aid bill mentioned to be in Hartley and Ash are, as he doubteth not to prove, of the nature and tenure of gavelkind, according to the custom of Kent, and dividable between all brothers alike, and as he is informed, there was only an estate for life given to his son Thomas by the said recited will, neither doth the said bill of complaint pretend any further devise to him than for life, so as he the said Thomas was never entitled, as he this defendant is informed by his counsel, by the said will then to an estate for life in the whole. And there being no devise of the reversion thereof the same did upon the death of the defendant’s father, by the said custom of Kent descend as to one moiety thereof to him, this defendant, and to his heirs as well as the other moiety thereof, notwithstanding the said will did descend to the said Thomas this defendant’s brother and his heirs, he the said Nicholas the father leaving only him the said Thomas and him this defendant. So that, as this defendant is informed, the said complainant could by the custom of Kent and the said will or either of them claim no title of dower to more than a moiety of a moiety so long as she liveth sole and chaste, for that is the custom of gavelkind lands in Kent, as this defendant doubteth not to prove at law. And this defendant further saith as to the legacy of £150 given by the said will of this defendant’s father, he doth admit his said father left assets sufficient which have come to this defendant’s hands to pay and discharge the same, and accordingly this defendant did pay the sum of £100, part of the said legacy of £150 long since, as by acquittances for the same under the hand of his said brother ready to be produced doth and may appear. And he this defendant was ever ready to have paid the remaining £50 unto his said brother in case he had desired the same. But he this defendant saith his said brother did sojourn with him this defendant after his father’s death for about three-quarters of a year, which he this defendant is to out set out of the said £50. He this defendant never had any other satisfaction for or towards the same. And true it is he this defendant hath forborne to pay the remainder of the said £50, being about £40 as he this defendant taketh it and no more, the said debt being to him this defendant satisfied for the boarding of his said brother by the said complainant in regard he this defendant hath good cause to believe that his said brother died possessed of a considerable personal estate, besides the £40 owing by this defendant, which the said complaint hath had and received, so that upon a fair account this defendant’s part of his said brother’s personal estate vested in him this defendant by the statutes for settling intestate’s estates will amount to more than the said £40 as this defendant believes? However true it be this defendant saith he is willing to come to a just account with the said complainant for what is still unpaid of the said legacy of £150 given to the said complainant’s late husband as aforesaid, so as the said complainant will come to a just account with this defendant for the personal estate of her said husband, the said defendant’s brother, which this defendant hopeth will seem just to this honourable court in regard he this defendant is informed and hopeth to prove the said complaint doth wait and imperil her said husband’s estate; and this defendant further saith he hath reason to believe the said complainant is married, in regard he is informed, and is with child and this defendant’s brother hath been dead about 13 months and by the custom of Kent the said complainant is entitled to a moiety only of her husband’s land as long as she liveth chaste and unmarried. So that this defendant is advised if the defendant hath any legal title to recover dower of the lands in Hartley and Ash, or of any part thereof, given to her said husband by the said will or descended unto him as coheir in gavelkind of the same ought to be recovered at the common law and not in a court of equity where a title to such dower is not determinable, as he this defendant is informed and this defendant saith he doth admit the said complainant to be administratrix of the goods and chattels of her late husband, this defendant’s brother, and he doth deny he ever pretended his said brother was not entitled to the lands in question as aforesaid, but he saith he neither knew nor doth believe his said brother left not assets sufficient to pay all his debts besides the legacy In question as is untruly suggested by the said complainant. Without that any other matter, cause or thing whatsoever in the said bill of complaint mentioned material to charge this defendant with all and not hereby sufficiently answered unto, confessed or avoided, traversed or denied, is true in such sort, manner, and form as is before expressed. All which this defendant doth and will be ready to aver, maintain and prove as this honourable court shall award and humbly prays he be hence dismissed with his reasonable costs and charges in this behalf wrongfully sustained.
(signed George Gifford)
Joseph Ayloffe v Thomas Gifford 1702
Reference: TNA C6 368/38
Summary and Background
This is a dispute as to whether Stocks Farm was part of Hartley Manor. If so then the lord of manor wanted 40 years worth of quitrents (small annual rent paid by freehold owners to the lord of the manor, in the case of Stocks Farm this was claimed to be 5s 10d or 3s 4d per annum). Thomas Gifford must have won the case because Stocks Farm does not appear of the only surviving manor roll from 1780-1836.
Bill of Complaint
10 June 1702
To the right honourable Sir Nathan Wright, kt, lord keeper of the great seal of England
Humbly complaining sheweth unto your lordship, you orator Joseph Aylohe of Grays Inn in the county of Middx, esq, John Newdigate late of Grays Inn aforesaid and now of Inner Temple, London esq, and Stoughton Bird of the parish of St Andrews, Holborn in the county of Middx aforesaid, gent. That Sir Charles Sedley, late of Southfleet in the county of Kent, baronet, died seised amongst other his manors and lordships of a good estate of inheritance in fee simple of the manor or lordship of Hartly in the said county of Kent and of several demesne rents, chief rents, profits of court and other perquisites and profits to the amount of £100 pa. or thereabouts issuing out and payable by the several respective tenants of the said manor. In which said manor or lordship amongst other the tenants thereof, one George Gifford of Pennis in the parish of Fawkham... esq, having heretofore and about 41 or 42 years past purchased the inheritance of a certain messuage and lands within the said manor of Hartly, commonly called by the name of Stockhill and held of the said Sir Charles Sedley as of his said manor, by the yearly quit rent of 5s 10d and heriot of custom and relief. And being also seised of an estate of inheritance of and in 10 acres, parcel of amuth? great wood, theretofore purchased of one Bennett Walter and holden of the said Sir Charles Sedley as of his said manor of Hartly by the yearly quitrent of 3s 4d and by heriot custom and relief. And the said Sir Charles Sedley living a considerable distance from the said manor, and committing the care thereof and the receipt of the rents and profits to one George Etkins esq, his steward, and the custom and usage of the said manor being for the tenants thereof to pay their quitrents and other rents once a year, and that at the court holden for the said manor at Michaelmas, which the said steward for several years last past, neglecting to keep, the said Gifford has not paid any of the quitrents due for the said messuage and lands called Stockhill for the space of 40 years past, or any of the said quitrents for the said 10 acres of woodlands for the space of 40 years last....
Sir Charles had previously mortgaged the manor of Hartley for £1,000; in order to pay his debts he conveyed manor of Hartley, amongst others, to Ayloffe and Bird by deed of lease and release dated 13 and 14 September 1699, upon various trusts. Sir Charles died about August 1701, Stoughton Bird as executor proved will in Feb 1701. Orators then became entitled to manor and profits. They are therefore entitled to the quitrents....
But although your orators have several times and in the most amicable and obliging manner requested the said George Gifford to come to account for the said arrears and to pay the same, and he would pay them the accruing quitrents issuing out of the said premises by him held.... yet so it is... that the said George Gifford, having taken into his confederacy several persons to your orator unknown, whom yet when discovered your orators pray may be made parties to this bill, with intention to defeat and defraud your said orators as well of the said incurred as the said accruing quitrents issuing out of the said premises and in consequence as much as in him lies to subvert, invalidate and overthrow the several trusts....
knowing that Sir Charles knew his title to the quitrents and that the plaintiffs have no evidence in writing and are strangers, and taking advantage that quitrents have not been collected for 40 years by the neglect of Sir Charles’s steward to hold manor courts.....
...... he the said Gifford now pretends that the said messuage and lands called Stock Hill and the said 10 acres of woodland and premises are not within the said manor of Hartley. Or if they are .... yet they are not holden of the lords of the said manor by the quitrents of 5s 10d and 3s 4d or any other quitrents or any other services; but the same are holden independent of the said manor of Hartley and are not subject or liable to any quitrents or other rents and services whatsoever. Whereas he well knows the truth of the said premises to be as before set forth. That the said Gifford and those persons under whom he claims to have held the said messuage, lands, woodlands and premises subject to the several quitrents as aforesaid, and the same above 40 years were continually paid by the several and respective tenants and proprietors thereof to the lords of the said manor of Hartley then living without any dispute or interruption, and that the payments thereof were discontinued by reason of the neglect of the steward of the said manor and other the reasons aforesaid. And the said confederate Gifford was so very sensible thereof that notwithstanding the premises aforesaid, which he now makes, he the said Gifford lately offered to the said Sir Charles Sedley or his agent, and propose that he would pay all the arrears of the said quitrent issuing out that part of the premises called Stock Hill in case he the said Sir Charles Sedley would quit or remove his claim to the said rent issuing out of the said 10 acres of woodland. And for that purpose did prepare a paper or writing purporting an acquittance, all written with his own handwriting, and delivered the same to Sir Charles or his agent to be by him signed. But the said Sir Charles Sedley, knowing his title to both the said quitrents to be the same, refused to comply with such an unreasonable offer. Which paper or writing your orators have left with Mr John Tolson, their clerk, in this court, to the intent the said George Gifford may produce the same and answer thereto, and whether he did or did not write the same.... And the said confederates at other times confess as well the woodlands as other the said premises were for 50 years past held of the lords of the manor of Hartley and in particular of the said Sir Charles Sedley under the yearly reservation of the said quitrents of 5s 10d and 3s 4d. And pretend that the same Sir Charles for a good and valuable consideration did release and discharge to the said Gifford the several quitrents and arrears thereof. By means whereof they the said confederates insist that the said quitrents as well accruing as inturred? are released and extinguished. Whereas never any such release was given by or obtained of the said Sir Charles Sedley....
If the defendants produce anything it will only be receipts for quitrents. By such pretence they hope to defeat plaintiffs.
.... And the better to effect the same the said Gifford and his confederates by his order have privily or means has or have so intermixed the said premises or great part whereof with, or laid some parts thereof to other lands and so altered or changed the names and ancient fences and boundaries therefor, have privately sold, exchanged or disposed of several parts thereof dispersedly, that your orators cannot tell where properly to distrain for the said quitrents. And notwithstanding all your orators’ applications to him, he absolutely refuses to distow? the same.
In consideration that plaintiffs have no deeds and their witnesses who can ascertain the land called Stock Hill and distinguish it from the 10 acres of woodland from the other part of the Great Wood are over 80 and they are in danger of losing their witnesses, they ask court to get George Gifford to make answer.
The answer of George Gifford to the bill of complaint.......
Sworn 25 June 1702
Defendant says case is technically invalid. Never knew what estate Sir Charles had in Hartley or that quitrent of 5s 10d was ever paid.
.... And this defendant do doth deny that he holdeth or ever did hold 10 acres or any acres of woodland purchased from Bennet Walter..... But true it is that he this defendant about 33 or 34 years ago did purchase the inheritance of the said messuage and lands called Stock Hill of one Miller of Horton Kirby deceased, but whether or no he the said Miller or any other person did ever pay any such quitrent of 5s 10d...
General denial of each claim in the bill of complaint, including the right of the plaintiffs to collect quitrents. He emphatically denies offering to come to a compromise.
.... But true it is he receiving a letter from John Christmas gent., steward or agent to the said Sir Charles Sedley, dated 10 January 1700, wherein he did intimate to him this defendant that he did receive the 13th October 1668 the sum of £1 3s 4d for Sir Charles Sedley of John Edwards for 4 years’ quitrent due at Michaelmas then last past for a messuage and lands in Hartly called Great Stock Hill, he this defendant being altogether a stranger what title the said John Edwards had to the said lands and of whom the same were held, he the said defendant did write the acquittance in the said bill mentioned to shun trouble about a point he was altogether ignorant. Which note or acquittance did only concern the pretended or claimed quitrent for Stock Hill and not the quitrents of any other lands.
He says he did write to find out how many years quitrent was claimed of him. He denies ever saying that quitrents were due from any woodland in Hartley or that Sir Charles had discharged all quitrents on his land. He also denies allegations about moving boundaries, saying he never knew any quitrents to be paid from those lands. Begs to be discharged with costs, inflated he said by frivolous claims to make bill of complaint longer.