22 JUNE 1867, Page 13

W E have already, in speaking of the Cinque Ports, and

in our general history of Kentish affairs, referred to the import- ant part played by Sandwich. The first mention of it is in Eddius' Life of Wilfred, who landed here, after preaching among the Frisians, about the year 665. The town gradually rose as the old harbour of Rutupite became unavailable. When its site ceased to be insular we cannot tell ; no doubt the process was very gradual by which " the sands " in the midst of which it was built ceased to be covered at high tide by the sea. Perhaps the triumph of land over water at this point was secured by the great inundation in the reign of William Rufus, which drowned a great part of Flanders and the Low Countries, and produced a corresponding recession of the sea on the coast of England, thus creating, as it is believed, the so-called Goodwin Sands, which, like the low land around Sandwich, represent a retreat, and not an invasion of the sea. By about the year 1014 Sandwich had become one of the most important of English harbours. In Domesday Book it is said to have had, in the time of the Confessor, 307 " masura3 hospitatte," and at the time of the Survey, 383. " These," remarks Sir Henry Ellis, " imply a considerable popula- tion, which is not otherwise recorded, as well as that the town had increased." It is the most ancient of the Cinque Ports, and " all ports and creeks on the Kentish coast are (or were) members of it. The port was given by Canute to the monastery of Christ Church, Canterbury, but was afterwards exchanged by the monks for other lands. The borough, however, still remained their pro- perty. The haven began to be difficult of access about 1500. A large ship, belonging to Pope Paul IV., sunkatthe mouth of the har- bour, hastened its destruction, and by the middle of the next century it was quite closed." The town, however, was recruited during the same period by numerous French and Flemish exiles, " gentle and profitable strangers," as Archbishop Parker calls them, who wore many of them baize-workers, and who have the reputation of first introducing systematic market-gardening into England. The Flemish name of Polders is still given to reclaimed marshes to the west of the town. Hythe, another of the chief Cinque Porte, which, in Henry VLII.'s time, was still the usual departure port for Boulogne, became greatly narrowed in Elizabeth's time, and soon became all but closed. The place has now, to a certain degree, revived as the seat of a school for musketry practice. We have already referred to Romney and 1Vinchelsea in our notice of the Sussex members of the Cinque Port Confederacy. Gravesend, which is better known in modern times as a place of departure for shipping, is of most respectable antiquity. It appears in Domes- day Book as Graves-Ham, and in the Tentul Roffensis as Graves- Ande, and probably meant the home or dwelling of the Gerefa or Portreeve (the German Grave or Graf). Its importance rose with the acquisition of the sole right to the Ferry between that spot and London. It appears that as early as 1293 the watermen of the place had long possessed this monopoly, and were then ordered to take in future but one halfpenny of a person making the passage, as they did formerly, and not to exact fares hurtful to and against the will of the people. Towards the latter end of the next cen- tury Richard II. granted to the Abbot and Convent of St. Mary Graces, the then owners of the manor, that the inh;bitants of Gravesend and Milton should have the sole privilege of conveying passengers from hence to London, on condition that they should provide boats for that purpose, and carry all passengers either at 2d. per head, with their farthell or trusse, or let the hire of the whole boat at 4s. This legal grant is said to have been made in consequence of the great loss sustained by the place in this reign by an attack of the French. "These continued to be the prices charged till the year 1737, when the fare of a single person was raised to 6d., and this again to 9d. about the year 1750, when the open Tilt-Boats formerly uszd were discarded for larger boats, built with decks, but still retaining the former name." After the year 1770 these boats were again enlarged, and they were the forerunners of the Gravesend steamboats, which before the formation of the railway to that town constituted one of the most prominent features in the Thames traffic. The parishes of Gravesend and Milton were incorporated in the tenth of Queen Elizabeth, but the principal charter was granted by Charles L in 1632, when the chief officer, who had before been called the Port- reeve, assumed the title of Mayor, and a High Steward, and *Jurats, and Common-Councilmen were also constituted. We can but mention the docks and garrison of Sheerness, which occupy the north-west point of the Isle of Sheppey, the earliest work of defence there being Edward I[I.'s Castle of Queenborough, demo- lished in the time of the Commonwealth. As commanding the entrances of the Thames and the Medway, Sheerness could not fail to become a port of much importance. The dockyard covers sixty acres, and is surrounded by a stockade, and the storehouse will contain about 30,000 tons of naval stores. Deptford, which has now declined as a dockyard from the important place it held when Czar Peter studied shipbuilding there, was early a place of rendezvous for shipping in consequence of its creek of deep water (depe-ford), where the Ravensbourne joins the Thames. A guild or brotherhood of " shipmen and mariners of England," in- corporated here by Henry VIII., was the parent of the present Trinity Board, and two hospitals still remain here connected with that body. Erith was also an old shipbuilding establishment.

But we must turn away from these examples and memorials of the present and past significance of the boroughs and ports of Kent, and take a hasty glance at the history of the LAND. In Domesday Book the tenants-in-chief in Kent are no more than thirteen in number, the under-tenante, 212 ; the bordarii (cot- lagers), 3,118; the cotarii, 364 ; the villeins, 6,597 ; and the slaves, 1,148. Beyond that which King William kept in his own hands, the bishops, clergy, and monks held a good deal of the land of Kent after the Conquest. The great landowner was Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who had the Earldom of Kent bestowed upon him by the Conqueror, and whose possessions there were enormous. He was not satisfied, however, with these, but seized also several lordships belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury; but the King, on Lanfranc's complaint, ordered an assembly, especially of persons acquainted with the usages of Kent, on Pinenden Heath, under the presidency of the Bishop of Constance, and after much dispute judgment was given in favour of the Archbishop's right. The general palatine powers granted to Odo gave him additional influence in Kent, and we must look upon him as virtually supreme in that county during his prosperity at Court. Next to him in property among the laymen was Hugh de Montfort, son of the Norman Thurstan de Bastenbergh. He was usually styled " Hugh with the Beard," most of the Normans being closely shaved. He fought at the battle of Hastings, and was afterwards joined with William Fitz-Osberne and Bishop Odo in administering justice through the kingdom. He lost his life in a duel with Walcheline de Ferrers. Earl Eustace, of Boulogne (not the Earl Eustace we have already spoken of, but the father- in-law of King Stephen), had several manors. Some were also held in chief by Richard Fitz-Gilbert de Tonebrige (Tunbridge). According to Dugdale, he was the first in England of the great family of Clare, his father, surnamed Crispin, Earl of Brion, in Normandy, being a natural son of Richard I., Duke of Normandy. According to Odericus Vitas, when he was joined with William de Warren in the administration of justice through England he was called De Benefacta ; but towards the close of the Conqueror's reign he assumed the name of De Tone- brige, from his seat at Tunbrige, in Kent, the town and castle of which he had obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury, in exchange for the Castle of Brion, in Normandy. In Suffolk he seems to have had the name of Clare, from one of his lordships in that county, in which he fixed his residence. A larger landowner in Kent than either of these two last was, however, Hamo de Crevequee, or Creveceur, who was Sheriff of Kent in the reign of the Conqueror, and also Seneschal and Steward to the King. He continued Sheriff during his life, which was prolonged beyond the middle of the reign of Henry I. The successor of Bishop Odo in the Earldom of Kent was William de Ypres, a Fleming, who received the dignity from King Stephen in the sixth of his reign, as a reward for his great services to him in the contest with Matilda. In the same year the Earl shared in the disaster of Stephen at Lin- coln, escaping himself into Kent, which county he held with the Queen against Matilda, when the rest of the kingdom had submitted. The Earl is said to have made reparation for burning the Abbey of Wherwell, in Hampshire, by founding that of Boxley, in Kent, in. the year 1146. He is said to have built a town at Rye, and to have obtained several privileges for that town, with the other Cinque Porte. On the death of Stephen, however, the Earl was expelled, with the other Flemings, and assuming the monastic order, died in the Abbey of Laon, in Flanders, in 1162. The Derings, of Surrehden, in Kent, claim,—whether with justice or not we will

not pretend to say,—to be descended from a sister of this Earl William of Ypres. The next Earl of Kent (for we need not count the "young King" Henry's nomination of King Philip of France as Earl daring the reign of his father, Henry II.), was the well known Hubert de Burgh, whom Shake- speare would have immortalized, even if the great part which he actually played in the history of his times did not secure his name from danger of obscurity. We need hardly recall the important part which Kent played in this reign, especially when Earl Hubert held Dover Castle against all the efforts of Louis of France.

The earldom subsequently passed to Edmund of Woodstock, second son of Edward I., and then to his three children, the last of whom, Joan Plantagenet, the " Fair Maid of Kent," was the wife of the Black Prince, and mother of Richard II. The de- scendants of her first husband, Sir Thomas Holland, succeeded as Earls of Kent, till their male line was extinguished in the ninth of Henry IV. William Neville, second son of the first Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, was created Earl of Kent by Edward IV., and on his death without issue Edmund de Grey, Lord Hastings, was created Earl, and in his line the earldom continued till the death, in 1740, of Henry de Grey, thirteenth Earl (who had been created Duke of Kent by Queen Anne in 1710). in the reign of George III. the title of Duke of Kent was revived, in the person of the father of the present Queen.

Every one has read the famous tradition as to the preservation of the Kentish customs after the Norman Conquest, in consequence of their surprising and surrounding William at Swanscombe.

No chronicler refers to this story till long after the Conquest. The great hold possessed by the Church over the county of Kent after the Conquest is a much more likely cause,—joined to the peculiarly free character of its early social constitution,—for the preservation within its limits of certain old Saxon customs and laws of succession, which remained also in some other parts of Eng- land widely detached in locality from this county. By the cus- tom of gavel-kind,--one of those old usages thus preserved to a later time, —the lands were divided equally among the male child- ren at their father's death, the youngest keeping the " hearth." " The bodies of Kentish men were said to be free, and they might give and sell their lands without licence (which feudal holders could not do), saving unto their lords the rents and services due. They might sell their land at fifteen years of age, and it could not be escheated for felony." This is referred to in the old Kentish rhyme :— " The father to the bough, And the son to the plough."

This last privilege appears to be peculiar to Kent. A similarity in the law of partition of property with that prevailing in Kent gave its name of Kentish Town to a well-known suburb of London.

" The extent of land still remaining subject to this custom in Kent is uncertain. The lands of numerous proprietors were disgavelled by Acts of Parliament between the reigns of Henry VII. and James I., and much gavel-kind land belonging to the Church had, at an earlier period, been changed by special grant from the Crown into holdings by military tenure or knight's service. In spite of these changes, however, it is asserted that as much land is at present subject to the control of the custom as there was before the disgavelling statutes were made."