This page includes the wills of William Swan of Southfleet (1534), his son Thomas Swan of Southfleet, and his son William Swan of Southfleet. William already owned land at Hartley, possibly the Middle Farm holding, Thomas Swan added to it in 1541 when he bought a 131 acre block of land and woodland from Nicholas and Mary Ballard, then the lord of the manor. He and his wife Joyce gave the Middle Farm and Stocks Farm holding to Robert Gens of Southfleet in 1545 (it looks like a marriage settlement, as it mentions a Dorothy Swan and Robert's wife was called Dorothy).
At the time of his death Thomas still owned land in Hartley but it is uncertain where and his will is not very detailed on this point. His son William's will does not mention Hartley at all, even though he was named as an adjoining landowner in a 1633 deed.
William Swan (1534) unusually left the majority of his estate to his younger son Thomas. He evidently anticipated trouble from his eldest son William, as he warned his bequest to William would be voided if he contested the will (a little reminiscent of the will in John Grisham's "The Testament").
Will of William Swan of Southfleet 1534
"In the name of God, Amen. The 22nd day of March in the year of Our Lord 1533.... I William Swanne the elder of Southflete in county of Kent, esquire, being sick in body, and in perfect and good same? remembrance, thanks be to Almighty God, make and ordain this my present testament and last will in manner and form following..."
He leaves his soul to God, St Mary and the heavenly company, body to be buried in the chapel of St Thomas in Southfleet Church.
To the churchwardens of Southfleet for tithes forgot, 3s 4d. For repairs to the same church 6s 8d. He leaves to the church a streamer - "stained cloth" with the image of St Anthony and his (WS's) coat of arms, cost 4s. "To every of the three beam lights in said church, half a quarter of barley." He bequeaths to the chapel of St Thomas in the same church "two altar cloths one above another by with, and two curtains to the saint, all of stained cloth, with the pictures in them to be stained of the Resurrection of our Lord, with images of St George, St Nicholas, St Anne, St Gregory, partly with the ??????? of mine arms in certain places, therein to be set."
To parish church of Swanscombe for repairs, 6s 8d. Also a streamer with the image of St Holford and WS's arms, worth 4s.
To parish church of Northfleet for repairs, 6s 8d. Also a streamer with the image of St Vucumber and WS's arms, worth 4s.
"Item I bequeath to the reparations of every of the churches of Longefelde (Longfield), Hartley, Rydley (Ridley), and Fawkham, 20d."
To repairs of the church of Wolcusted in Surrey, 6s 8d. Also a streamer of stained cloth with the image of the 4 Evangelists and WS's arms, worth 4s.
Executors to spend 40s on deeds of charity to priest's clerk and poor people, on his forthfare (funeral) day, month's day and year's day. He also sets up an annual obit for 20 years of 20 shillings from his land at Hook, Southfleet, for the health of his, his parents, his friends and all Christian souls to be prayed for. With power for churchwardens to distrain for non-payment. The obit and the chantry he plans to be set up should be registered and written in the mass book of Southfleet Church. His heir to find a secular priest to say mass for 2 years at the altar of St Thomas in Southfleet church for the souls of him, his parents, his friends and all Christian people.
To each of his two sons and three daughters' children - 40s. To each of granddaughters who are living - 20s. Male children to receive bequest at the age of 20, women children at 16.
To Alice Skinner - 40s so that she will always be ruled by the advice of his son Thomas and daughter Alice, and enough household implements to furnish a bed chamber, including a pewter saucer, dish, platter, lattern candlestick.
To every one of his godchildren living at the time of his death - 12d.
To Joan Parker, 20s if guided by her father Henry Parker and his son Thomas Swanne on her marriage, and a black gown on WS's decease.
"I will that Johane my wife shall have during her life, two sufficient and honest chambers well and sufficiently garnished and furnished with double bedding...". She to be allowed to take what she likes from his house at Hoke, Southfleet. She is to be kept by WS's heir with meat and drink etc, along with her maid for her life, and he is to pay her £5 per year for clothing or whatever else she likes. He charges his heirs "on my blessing to see her tenderly and lovingly kept". Alternatively she can move to house called St Richards by church gate in Southfleet if she prefers in which case household stuff she chooses to be brought to her there and annuity paid.
To son William Swan, the paying off of his debts, also 2 bushels of wheat and 2 of malt to be delivered to him weekly between this and St Edwards day, 3 acres of wheat growing at Combys, 5 quarters of barley, 3 horses called nags, 2 steers, 1 cow and 10 tegs called ewe tegs to be delivered one month after his decease.
To repairs of four highways in Southfleet, Northfleet and Swanscombe where most necessary, 5 marks.
Son Thomas Swan shall dwell at mansion house at Hoke, Southfleet and maintain the following people there: William Posyer, Richard Swanne, Alice Skinner, Margaret Parker, Geoffrey the Innocent and Joan Parker. He to be left unbequeathed household goods to finance this.
To Prioress of Dartford for one dirge and mass, 3s 4d. To every of her sisters, 12d.
To John Pikett, 13s 4d.
To Elizabeth Welshe, daughter of William Welshe for her marriage, 13s 4d.
To Robert Brownynge of Gravesend, 5 marks in discharge of William Posier. To Ann Posier his (WS's) daughter, 40s.
To his daughter Martha Parker, her full marriage money and £3 extra.
To his daughter Alice Swan, her debts to be paid and a bequest of £10, his heir also to keep her in meat and drink, while she remains unmarried. Heir to help her in all other things she needs and "to a good marriage".
Remainder of goods and chattels to be left to son Thomas Swan, he to be executor. Overseers to be Master Wildbore, priest of Newstoke? in Strood, John Beer of Stratford gentleman, Nicholas German and Henry Godfrey, first two to get 20s above their expenses, other two to get 13s 4d.
"This is the last will of me, the said William Swanne the elder made and declared the day and year above written, as touching and concernig the disposition of all my manors, lands, tenements, pastures, lease, meadows, marshes, rents, woods, hereditaments and other possessions whatsoever they be in the parishes of Southfleet, Northfleet, Swanscombe, Stone, Gravesend, Longfield, Hartley, Kingsdown, Shorne, Cliffe, Cobham, Luddesdowne, Meopham, Ridley, Ash, Horton, Fawkham, Shipbourne and Penshurst in the said county of Kent. And also in the parishes of Bletchingley and Wulcusted in the said county of Surrey, or in any other parishes, places or hamlets within the said shires of Kent and Surrey. And also in Herefordshire and in the Marches of Wales, or in any other shires within the realm of England. In which all and singular the premises with the appurtenances, divers persons aswell jointly or severally with me as other wise now standen and been seised to the use of this my last will."
Manor at Swanscombe called Combys, excepting a meadow in Swanscombe which has always gone with his house at Hook in Southfleet and lands at Swanscombe until debts and bequests etc paid, and all his land in Shipbourne, also estate in Northfleet called Hasills? except a house called Alexanders and other land in Swanscombe, to go to William Swan his eldest son as tenant for life to Thomas Swan his youngest son. After William's death land to go to his male heirs, or if none to Thomas Swan and his male heirs.
"And moreover I will that all my said feoffees seised of and in all my other manors, lands, tenements, woods, meadows, marshes and hereditaments with the appurtenances at Hoke in Southfleet, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Stone, Gravesend, Longfield,Hartley, Kingsdown, Shorne, Cliffe, Cobham, Luddesdowne, Meopham, Ridley, Ash, Horton, Fawkham, Shipbourne and Penshurst in the said county of Kent. And also in the parishes of Wulcusted and Bletchingley in the said county of Surrey,and before not assigned, ?????, in this my present will to the said William my eldest son in form abovesaid (except only a little tenement hereafter assigned to Agnes White, widow, for term of her life). Immediately after my decease shall stand and be seised thereof to the use of the said Thomas my son, and of the next eldest heir male of the body of the same Thomas lawfully begotten, forever. After Thomas's death they are to go to his male heirs, or if none to WS's eldest son William Swan and his male heirs. However William not to cut great timber or "letting fall of houses". If no male heir of William or Thomas, then to the male heirs of his daughter Anne and her husband William Posier. If they have no male heir then the lands are to go to WS's daughters Alice, Martha and Anne and their heirs equally. If they don't have any heirs then his feoffees shall enfeoffe other honest people of Southfleet and Northfleet in the lands. They are to use £20 of the profits per year for 20 years to pay 2 honest secular priests. One to run a free school in the church of Southfleet. He will teach Latin and Grammar to as many scholars and poor children as shall come. This priest to receive 20 marks per year and must not charge any pupils, and to sing, say and teach for the good of his (WS's) soul. The other priest to receive 10 marks per year. The rest of the income to be spent on acts of charity such as poor maidens' marriages and repairs for to the church of Southfleet. After 20 years the feoffees to hold land to the use of the heirs of his eldest son William Swan the elder forever. Parson of Southfleet and churchwardens to receive 6s 8d for their trouble.
Lands and woods at Meopham and Ridley to go to the use of Nicholas German and his heirs forever in satisfaction of money he owes him.
Agnes Whitte widow to be allowed to live in her tenement for the rest of her life, and she to be allowed to pasture one cow and one sow and to have one load of wood delivered to her, and her house to be kept in repair. After her death tenement to go to Thomas his son to be held as above.
If his eldest son William Swan is not content with his inheritance and causes trouble for Thomas his brother, then his will is that all gifts to William be void, and Thomas will not be liable for any of William's debts. If this is the case William's share to go to Thomas, then for want of male heir to William and Anne Posier, then for want of male heir to daughters Alice, Martha and Anne.
If the male heirs of his children be "advanced in marriage" to a wife, then feoffees to make "such a competent and reasonable jointure or jointures of such manors, lands etc.... as shall be thought necessary for advancement in marriage...". Such land so given to them to be held on the same entail as above. Heirs can exchange their land for land of equal value with the consent of the feoffees, such new lands to be held on the same entail. Couple of other provisions.
Witnesses: Thomas Swan, John Thorneton, Nicholas Germyn, Henry Godfrey, William Parker, John Moppis, Thomas Drakes, Elys Whitte and others
Proved at London 6 July 1534 by Thomas Swan executor.
Will of Thomas Swan of Southfleet (1570)
Reference: CKS DRb/PW9
"This is the last will of me the said Thomas Swan, concerning the disposition of all my manors, lands, tenements, pastures, lands, meadows, marshes, rent, woods, hereditaments, and all other possessions whatsoever they be within the parishes of Southfleete, Northeflete, Swanscombe, Stone, Gravesende, Longfylde, Hartley, Kingsdowne, Shore, Cobham, Ludsden [...................], Rydley, Ashe, Horton, Fawkham, St Margarettes, and Darrante............... also within the parish of Bleaschinglye and Godstone in Surrey............ (the ms is torn here but there appears to be no specific instructions about the Hartley property)..... All my other manors etc. I give to William my eldest son, to remain to him and his"
Will also mentions Joyce his wife.
Dated 16 December 1565
Will of Sir William Swan of Southfleet (1619)
Reference: TNA PROB 11/133
In the name of God, Amen. The 10th day of February in the Year of Our Lord 1618.
He leaves his soul to God. "And I appoint my body to be buried without any solemnity or mourning than blacks for those of mine own family, in my chapel in the church of Southfleet ... Amongst mine ancestors there. And I will that £40 shall be allowed upon a small monument there at the discretion of my executrix and overseers...."
To poor of Southfleet, the income of an annual rentcharge of 20 shillings issuing from a tenement and land he owns in Stonewood in Stone parish. Also £2 for the parish of Swanscombe to buy standing stock for the poor.
To daughter Meriel Swan, £1,000 to be paid on the earlier of when she marries or when she turns 18. But only £500 if she marries before 18 without her mother's consent (brothers George and William would then share the other £500). If she dies before she is 18 then George and William her brothers will inherit her share.
To second son George Swan, £1,000 to be paid when he is 21. Whereas he has made George joint purchaser with his elder brother Thomas, of Beteshams Farm in Southfleet, his will is that George sell his share to Thomas for £500.
To youngest son William Swan, £1,000 when he is 21.
If George or William dies before they are 21 then the other inherits their share. If both die, then £1,000 to go to Meriel their sister after her marriage and the remainder to his eldest son Thomas. If executrix does not pay the above bequests to his children, then she will be liable at the rate of 8%.
To son Thomas Swan, household plate when he is of age.
To wife Meriel, remainder of his personal estate.
He appoints his wife Dame Meriel Swan as executrix, and friends Bishop of Rochester and Sir George Wright and Sir Humphrey May, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
He leaves all his real property to eldest son Thomas Swan and his heirs, with remainder to son George Swan and his heirs, with remainder to son William Swan and his heirs. However his lands in Surrey will go to wife Meriel Swan for her life, or until she remarries. Provisions for her to hold the estate until heirs come of age, and to use some of the income for the children's maintenance.
To each servant with him at the time of his death, half year's additional wages. Kinsman Thomas Birkett who is currently a servant with him to get £10 and a suit from his apparel.