Stocks Farm - Hartley-Kent

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Stocks Farm

Stocks Farm

The present building was built in the late 18th century, but there has been a farm of this name at the junction of Church Road and Manor Lane for at least 500 years.   

Stocks Farm was first mentioned in 1451, when a John Cotyer of "le Stokke" was witness to a document.  The Cotyers were prominent Hartley landowners and other members of the family owned Woodins, Mintmakers and Middle Farm.   

The next time we hear of it for certain is in 1576 in an inquisition post mortem; these were enquiries made by a jury of local people to find out whether anything was owed to the Crown when a significant landowner died.  It found that "Stockhill Farm" with 20 acres of land belonged to Robert Gens of Southfleet, who also counted Middle Farm among his possessions.    The tenant then was Henry Ashdown and he enjoyed a net annual income of 30 shillings after he paid the lord of the manor the 8s 4d quit rent.   

It is uncertain when Robert acquired Stocks Farm, but he was certainly a landowner in Hartley in 1545.  It looks like he married a Dorothy Swan of Southfleet (d 1575) and her father Thomas gave him land at Hartley and Southfleet as part of a marriage settlement (Robert's will calls Thomas's son William his "brother").

Robert left Stocks Farm to his third son Nicholas Gens (b 1564).  In 1633 a conveyance of land bordering Stocks Farm named James Gens as the owner.  It is uncertain how he was related to Nicholas.  Shortly after John Edwards of Ridley (d 1667) became the owner.  Certainly by the 1650s John had moved to Hartley.  He was already the owner in 1642 when he settled all disputes with Alexander Skeath “from the beginning of the world until the day of the date of the said recited obligations.”.  The upshot of this was that Mr Skeath would remain as tenant until Michaelmas 1643.

At this time Stocks Farm also probably contained part of the land which later became the Hartley Wood Corner holding.  The 1642 agreement mentions two houses.  John Edwards split off Hartley Wood Corner in 1658 when he gave it to his eldest son Peter (b Ridley 1636).  Stocks Farm he left in his will to his younger son John (b Ridley 1642).   Stocks Farm was called “Great Stockhill Farm” in the 1660s.   

John Edwards died in 1667 and left Stocks Farm to his younger son John Edwards (b 1642).  In the next twenty years the farm changed hands a number of times, not all conveyances are known.  A few months after John senior’s death, John Edwards and his wife Eleanor sold it to John Round of Dartford, but in 1681 it was a John Miller who sold Stocks Farm to George Gifford of Fawkham.  By then the farm had ceased to be part of the manor of Hartley, simply by not paying the annual quitrents.  George's son Thomas fought off an attempt by the owners in 1702 to claim back rent.

It would remain in the Gifford family for over a hundred years.  George quickly conveyed it in 1683 to his son Thomas as part of a marriage settlement.  Thomas Gifford died in 1704.  He left Stocks Farm to a trustee on behalf of his daughter Margaret Petley and went to elaborate lengths in his will to make sure her husband John Petley wouldn’t get his hands on her money.  This was necessary in an era where the income of married women’s property was the property of her husband while he was living.  Thomas got round this by appointing a trustee to be the nominal owner of Stocks Farm, who could then pay Margaret direct.  After Margaret, the farm went to her daughter Jane Petley in accordance with her grandfather’s will.

The farm was up for auction at Dartford in July 1798.  The house is said to be “new built”, it appears that Stocks Farm was rebuilt about 1797-1798, the farm had its rateable value (that is the rent it would get per year) lifted from £12 to £22 in 1798.  The buyer was William Smith who let it out to Joseph Mepham who was already the tenant of the neighbouring Hartley Wood Corner holding.

Map showing extent of Stocks Farm in 1844

William in turn sold it to William Bensted of Hartley Court in 1807.  A century later Smallowners Limited became the new owners.

Over the years Stocks farm has seen many tenants: Edward Kidder (1744-1751), Thomas Fielder (1751-1762), James Meddams (1762-1772), John Johnson (1772-1797), Joseph Mepham (1799-1807).  For many years in the middle of the last century David and Sarah Wellard lived here.  In 1925 Rev Bancks received a letter from Edward Wellard, the youngest of their 15 children.  He said that his farther had been a farm labourer to Mr Bensted, and that the family had moved away from Hartley in 1861.  The next tenants were the septuagenerian John and Ann Ware.  Ann was a well known figure at Church, for she wore a striking long scarlet cloak in winter, which came out the day the schoolchildren switched to their winter red cloaks.  She like many others wore pattens (overshoes) which were left in the porch during the service.  In 1892 Henry Outred lived here, he was by trade a carrier - the earliest known example of public transport at Hartley.

In this century William Lockwood (1867-1942) and his wife Ellen owned Stocks Farm from 1912 to 1942, a fact recorded on their grave in Fawkham Churchyard.  He was an architect, while his wife was a poultry keeper.  The land belonging to the house was by now just 2 acres.  The remainder of the farm was bought in 1927 by a Mr R Hales of Parsonage Cottage, Church Road, for a building speculation (according to the Ministry of Agriculture) but continued to run it as a fruit and poultry farm.  When Mr Lockwood died in 1942, he left most of his £2,500 estate to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the war effort.   

The article below by Tom Iddison excellently describes the history of Stocks Farm from the late 1930s.  The house was last sold in 2013 for £715,000 – a far cry from the £41 the whole farm cost in the 17th century!

Stocks Farm, Church Road

A copy of an article in preparation by my husband Tom, shortly before his death (and presumably unfinished), giving his memoirs of Stocks Farm from the time in 1938 when we moved opposite and lived there for 42 years.

I have enjoyed reading the articles by Peter Mayer, acquainting us with the results of his time consuming research into the histories of some of the older residential properties in the village.  We are much indebted to him.  So far none has interested me more than that in the October issue relating to Stocks Farm.

Our first home after our marriage in 1938 was on land immediately adjacent to the land owned by Mr Lockwood opposite his home at Stocks Farm House.  At that time the land was scrub orchard, and on summer evenings he would cross the road to release his little terrier for its nightly exercise.

Some of the farm buildings were used for domestic use, for keeping a few chickens.  Commercial egg production had ceased.  Mrs Lockwood was bedridden and after her death in 1942 the house with its gardens, a barn on the west side of Church Road, together with a large barn, stockyard, farm buildings and orchard on the east side were sold in 1943 to Mr Hubert Gladdish, who lived there with his wife, son, and daughter.

After a short period the farm buildings were extended and brought into use for commercial fruit bottling, initially of home grown rhubarb.  Later of fruit from very large cans.  Each morning the bus from Gravesend and Longfield, destination Hartley Church, would disgorge half a dozen or so chattering ladies at the Stocks Hill bus stop, and collect them again about 5.30pm.  The business lasted until canned fruit came back into the shops, some years after the war ended.

Our house was one of a pair built in 1937/8 by William Sale on part of a plot of land acquired from Small Owners by Mr Pentland of Barncroft, who was still living there.  Mr Bradford was living in a similar property at Nairobi at the Manor Lane - Church Road junction, north of Stocks Farm land; and south of Stocks Farm house was yet a third Small Owners property owned by Mr Owen Barfield, and let to Mr Goodwin and family.  He operated as a smallholding.  When Mr Bradford died, Nairobi was acquired by Mr Freeguard.

Mr and Mrs Gladdish went to Ash to become licensees of The Swan, and Stocks Farm split up with the house and land west of Church Road going to Mr and Mrs Neary; and the farm buildings to the east to Mr Freeguard, who went into egg production in quite a big way.  For a time he kept pigs, and also had a joint operation with a market gardener, growing chrysanthemums.  A final venture was to let the farm buildings for lorry repair and storage.  This ceased as the result of action by the planning authority.

In May 1968, following the widening of Church Road, the farm buildings on the east side were demolished and burned.  The barn on the west side adjoining the roadside pond had already been demolished and burned in association with the road widening.

In early Spring 1969, a bungalow was being erected on the site of the east side barns, and a few months later Mr Freeguard vacated and sold Nairobi, and together with his housekeeper Miss Williams, took up residence in the new bungalow "The Garth".  At some time in the late 1950s Mr Freeguard sold part of his Stocks Farm land, which had been given planning permission for Mr Gladdish's son as an agricultural worker, to Mr Stubbs, a Dartford plumber, who built a detached dwelling by direct labour - "Cranbrook".

In mid 1944 when the V2 flying bombs were frequent, barrage balloons were sited south and east of London to intercept them.  I remember two sites in Hartley, one adjoining the footpath that crossed Rectory Meadow at the bottom of Hoselands Hill, and the other behind Stocks Farm house, approached from the landway between the farmhouse and Westfield.

T H Iddison
Source Documents

Feet of Fine 1545
Reference: TNA CP25/2 23/146 (Hillary 36 Henry VIII, 1545)

Feet of fines were fictitious court cases to record evidence of a conveyance.  As it appears Robert's wife was called Dorothy, my guess is that this is a marriage settlement where Thomas is granting land to Robert Gens on their marriage.

Between William Adye, plaintiff, and Thomas Swan gentleman and Jocasa his wife, Robert Gense and Dorothy Swan, deforciants, concerning 5 messuages, 5 gardens, 5 orchards, 140 acres of land and 14 acres of wood with the appurtenances in Southflete and Hartley.  Consideration
Inquisition Post Mortem of Robert Gens, 1576

Inquisitions post mortem were undertaken by a local jury when a substantial landowner died to see if any dues were payable to the crown.  The jury said that Stocks Farm was gavelkind tenure.  This meant that if he hadn't left a will it would have been divided between all his sons, but as he did leave a will it went to son Nicholas.

Inquisition held at Maidstone, 20th March 18 Elizabeth (1576) before Jasper Heale, escheator of the lady Queen in the said county.... to inquire after the death of Robert Gens yeoman deceased, by the oaths of Thomas Reynolds etc.... who, sworn in and charged say on their oaths that the said Robert Gens...... long before his deathand on the day of his death was seized in his demesne as of fee of and in (1 messuage and 8 acres in Southfleet where he lived; 3 cottages and 4 acres in Southfleet).  And also of and in 1 messuage or tenement called Stockhill with 20 acres of arable land in the parish of Hartley in the said county of Kent, now or recently in the occupation of Henry Ashedowne.  And of and in one field called Northfelde containing an estimated 80 acres of land, furze and heath in the parish of Hartley, formerly being parcel of the manor of Hartley. And of and in one other tenement with 30 acres of land, arable land and 20 acres of furze and heath in the said parish of Hartley, in which tenement William Heywarde lives.... (also lands at Stockhill in Oxted, Surrey).... being so seized thereof he died so seized.  And further the said jurors say on their oaths ..... that the said messuage called Stockhill with the appurtenances in the parish of Hartley aforesaid is held of, and on the day on which Robert Gens died was held of Richard Colepeper esq.  as of the said manor of Hartley in socage for fealty and a rent of 8s 4d.  And it is worth 30s annually in all revenues besides expenses.  And that the said tenement in Hartley with the appurtenances held by William Heywarde aforesaid is held of the said Richard Colepeper esq. as of his said manor of Hartley in socage for fealty and a rent of 20s 10d and is worth £4 pa. in all revenues besides expenses.  Which all and singular premises seized above were and from the time when memory of man runneth not to the contrary, always were of the nature and tenure of gavelkind and partiable between heirs male of the said Robert Gens, according to the custom of the county of Kent.  And further they say on their oaths that the said field called Northfelde in the parish of Hartley aforesaid is held in chief from the said lady Queen for a 100th part of a knight's fee, and is valued at 50s pa. in all revenues besides expenses..... And they further say that the said Robert Gens died on 24th November last (1575).  And that James Gens, Nicholas Gens, and Edward Gens are his sons and heirs for all the said lands etc. expressed and declared to be of the nature of gavelkind..... And that James Gens is sole son and heir for all the others.

Will of Robert Gens, yeoman 1576


In the name of God, Amen. The twentieth of November 1575. I Robert Gens of Southfleet in the county of Kent, yeoman, being whole of body and of good and perfect memory (thanks be to God) do make and ordain this my present testament and last will, in manner and form following: That is to say, first of all I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God, my only Saviour and Redeemer. And my body to be buried in the parish Church of Southfleete aforesaid, next unto my wife. Item I give and bequeath to my son James my land at Southay called Stockee[..]. Item I give and bequeath to my son James all my lands and tenements in Southflete aforesaid. Also I bequeath to my son Nicholas all my lands and tenements, being in the parish of Harteley in the county of Kent aforesaid. Also I give and bequeath to my son Edward all the residue of my lands and tenements being in the county of Surrey aforesaid. And if it happen any of my said sons to decease without any issue of their bodies lawfully begotten. Then I will that the lands of him so deceased shall descend to the next brother. Item I give and bequeath to my said son James all my household stuff, now being in my dwelling house at Redstrete. Also I will that all the residue of my goods movable and immovable, I will shall be equally divided between my sons Nicholas and Edward towards their bringing up at school. And to remain in the hands of James Launce and Thomas Walter, whom I make my executors. And my brother William Swan and James Crypes my overseers. Also I will to the parish Church of Southflete the sum of 6s 8d. Witness of this present will: John Filotine? (S), Martyn Hadlow (X), Thomas Shirwood (X) with others.

Proved 2 June 1576.

Feet of Fine May/June 1642

PRO CP25/2 443 (Trinity 18 Charles I, 1642)

Between John Edwards, plaintiff, and Alexander Skeath and Marian his wife, and Dorothy Tenth widow, deforciants, of 2 messuages, 1 barn, 1 stable, 1 garden, 2 orchards, 16 acres of land, 3 acres of meadow, 8 acres of pasture, and 3 acres of wood with the appurtenances in Hartley.  Consideration £81.

Arbitration Award 12 November 1642 (KAO U47/11 E27)

To all Christian people to whom this present writing of award indented shall come.  Thomas Walter of Darent, James Hawes of the same, Thomas Funer of East Mallinge and John Nordash of Cobham in the county of Kent, gentlemen, send greetings in our Lord God everlasting.  Whereas certain controversies have been had, moved, depending between Alexander Skeath of Hartley in the said county of Kent, yeoman, and John Edwards of Ridley in the said county yeoman; for pacifying, ordering and ending whereof they the said Alexander Skeath and John Edwards have bound themselves either to the other in two several obligation of the several sums of £20, bearing dated the 9th day of this instant November, with condition to stand to, abide, perform, fulfil and keep the order, rule, final determination and judgement of the said Thomas Walter, James Hawes, Thomas Furner and John Nordash indifferently elected, named and chosen by the mutual consent and earnest request [................] said parties to arbitrate, order, rule, finally determine and judge of all and all manner of actions, debts, bills, bonds, specialities, controversies, discords, variance, strifes, debates, claims and demands whatsoever, which now are or heretofore have been between the said Alexander Skeath and John Edwards from the beginning of the world until the day of the date of the said recited obligations.  So that the said arbitrators delver up their award in writing under their hands and seals, on or before the 19th day of this instant November.

Now know ye, that the said Thomas Walter, James Hawes, Thomas Funer and John Nordash, as well for the ordering, ruling and ending of all variances, discords and controversies whatsoever between the said Alexander Skeath and John Edwards.  As also for their future peace and quietness, taking upon them the charge of the said award and having heard the allegations of both the said parties, do by these presents arbitrate, award, order, deem and judge of and concerning the premisses in manner following, viz:

That the said Alexander Skeath or his assignee or assignees shall hold and enjoy all that one messuage or tenement, wherein he the said Alexander Skeath now dwelleth, with the orchard and one parcel of meadow land to the said orchard adjoining, two parcels of arable land and one parcel of pasture land, to the said messuage belonging.  And also all that messuage or tenement with the close and orchard thereunto belonging in the occupation of John Gardner, together also with one bay of and in the barn near adjoining to the said messuage in the occupation of the said John Gardner, during and unto the feast of St Michael the Archangel next ensuing the date hereof.  And that the said Alexander Skeath, his assignee or assignees shall therefore during the said term pay or cause to be paid unto the said John Edwards or his assigns the sum of £10 of lawful money of England in manner following (viz) the sum of £5 on the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary next coming, and the like sum of £5 on the said feast of St Michael the Archangel.  And shall keep and maintain the said messuage and barn well and sufficiently repaired and amended during the said term.  And also that he the said Alexander Skeath nor his assignee or assignees shall not plough, dig, break up or sow with any corn or grain whatsoever the abovesaid two parcels of meadow or pasture land, or any part or parcel of them during the said term.  And that the said John Edwards or his assignee or assignees shall pay or cause to be paid unto the said Alexander Skeath or his assigns [...............] the date hereof the sum of 11 shillings of lawful English money.  And lastly they the said Alexander Skeath and John Edwards shall on the day of the date hereof seal and definer (?) either to other one good and sufficent general release of all actions and causes of actions whatsoever, which now are or heretofore have been had, moved or depending between the said parties from the beginning of the world until the day of the date of the said recited obligations.

In witness whereof the said arbitrators to this their award have set their hands and seals the 12th day of November in the 18th year of the reign of our sovereign lord King Charles of England etc., and in the year of Our Lord 1642.

Thomas Walter (S) James Hawes (S) John Nordash (S) Thomas Furner (S)

Read, signed, published and sealed by the above named Thomas Walter and James Haues in the presence of John Woodland (S)

Read, signed, published and sealed by the above named Thomas Furner in the presence of William Gyer (S).
Will of John Edwards of Hartley, 1667 (KAO DRb/PW34)

(it is uncertain whether this is the John Edwards above)

He leaves his soul to Almighty God.
To poor of Hartley: 10 shillings at his burial.
To George Eves, minister: 20 shillings to preach a sermon at his funeral.
To John his son, of Dartford: his land at Hartley, with reversion to executrices, and annuity of £5 to any widow)
To his two daughters, ie. Dennis Alchin widow, and Annis Kettle, wife of Francis Kettle of Stone (executrices): lease of 2 pot? houses at Milton next Gravesend.
To grandson, Barnaby Alchin: £5
To Dorothy Goldsmith of Boxley widow, beloved sister: £5
To Matthew? Goldsmyth, beloved kinswoman, daughter of his sister: £5
To all godchildren: 5 shillings each.
To Denise and Annis, executors: the remainder of his personal goods.
To George Eves, overseer: 20 shillings for his pains.

John Edwards (X)
29 August 1664

Children of John and Denise, christened at Ridley
Denise Edwards 2.4.1626
Ann Edwards 9.6.1633
Peter Edwards 7.7.1636
John Edwards 11.4.1642
Feet of Fine 1667
Reference: TNA CP25/2 671 (Michaelmas 19 Charles II, 1667)

Between John Round, plaintiff, and John Edwards and Eleanor his wife, deforciants, of 1 messuage, 1 barn, 1 stable, 1 garden, 15 acres of land, 1 acre of meadow, 2 acres of pasture and 1 acre of wood with the appurtenances in Hartley.  Consideration £41.

John Round of Dartford died in 1682.  In his will he leaves all land in Kent not otherwise devised to his nephews Samuel Round of London, linendraper, and John Round of London, parker “towards the performance of this my will”.  This may mean they had to dispose of the land to pay the many legacies in the will.
Feet of Fine: Miller to Gifford, 1681
Reference: TNA CP25/2 *** (Hillary 32 & 33 Charles II, 1681)

Between George Gifford esq, plaintiff, and John Miller and Margaret            his wife, deforciants, concerning 1 messuage, 1 barn, 1 stable,            1 garden, 1 orchard, 20 acres of land and 2 acres of wood with the            appurtenances in Hartley.  Consideration £100.
(Stocks            Farm)
Ayloffe v Gifford 1702 Court Case
Reference: TNA C6 368/38
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).  Thomas Gifford must have won the case because Stocks Farm does not appear of the only surviving manor roll from 1780-1836.

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.

f2. Sworn 25 June 1702

The answer of George Gifford to the bill of complaint.......

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.
Kentish Gazette 6 July 1798

KENT: To be sold by auction, by Mr Johnson, at the Rose Inn, at Dartford, on Saturday, the 14th of July 1798, at three o’clock -

A valuable and desirable freehold estate called Stock Hill Farm, in the occupation of the proprietor; situate in the parish of Hartley, 5 miles from Dartford and 6 from Gravesend; comprising a new brick-built dwelling house, a large barn, stable, etc, with 19 acres of arable land, in a high state of cultivation, 1 acre of woodland, a garden and orchard well planted with fruit trees, and lying near the house

Green Field (5a 2r 0p)
Two Acre Field (4a 2r 0p)
Five Acre Field (6a)
Wood Field (2a)
Orchard Field (1a)
Woodland (1a)
Orchard, garden and barnyard (1a)

Acres 21a 0r 0p

May be viewed by applying to Mr Treadwell, Black Lion, Hartley; and particulars had at the place of sale ; Ship, Green Street Green; Queen’s Head, Northfleet; and of the auctioneer, Gravesend.

Land Tax Redemption 1799
Reference:TNA IR 24/84 (70,558)

Land tax dates back to the c17th, but in 1798 the government in an effort to raise money, allowed people to permanently buy off their liability to the tax.  Land Tax was finally abolished in 1963.

Certificate of John Tasker and Christopher Chapman, two fo the commissioners for the land tax for the county of Kent, that the farm consisting of a messuage or tenement, barn, stable, and about 21 acres of land, situate in the parish of Hartley in the said county of Kent, late in the occupation of William Smith and now of Joseph Mepham, are charged with Land Tax to the amount of £2 of which said premises William Smith is seized of in fee simple.

Also certificate of a contract dated 13 March 1799, whereby Richard Glode, knight, and John Cator, esquire, two of the commissioners appointed for the purposes of the said acts for the county of Kent, certified that they had contracted with William Smith for the redemption by him of £2 land tax, charged upon a farm consisting of a messuage or tenement, barn, stable, and about 21 acres of land, situate in the parish of Hartley in the said county of Kent, late in the occupation of William Smith and now of Joseph Mepham, and of which said premises the said William Smith is seized in fee simple.

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