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II. OTFORD. (BROUGHTON MANOR)
David, the third son of Thomas and Joan, was the first of four bearers of that name. For clearer distinction they will be numbered one to four in this story and this David will be No.1. On the death of his father and mother he inherited all their lands in Knockholt, Brasted, Sundridge and Orpington, but he made his home in Otford. On 12th. December 1554 he purchased the ancient house of Broughtons in Otford (36) for 2231.16.0, 'tenure in capite, the lead, bells and other such mettall to be reserved'. (68). Broughtons was destined to become the home of the Kentish Polhills for nearly three hundred years.
The property had passed through many hands since it was first heard of in 1287, and its story has been told elsewhere by the present writer. Briefly, Broughtons became Royal property in 1542 for twelve years, during which time one who lived there was William Lambarde, father of the William who married Jane Multon, as already mentioned.
David I married Alice, third sister and heir of Francis Sandback of the Inner Temple and King's Bench, and impaled her arms with his own. (azure, a fess between three garbs or), (36). They had three daughters, Elizabeth, (who married Matthew Petley, of Downe, M. P.), Joan, (who married John Dawtrey of Moorhouse, Petworth, Sussex, Sergeant-at-arms), and Sarah, buried at Burwash 16.7.1610. Also two sons, George who died without issue, and John. (49)
Great things were planned for John. On 20 November 1571 his father executed a marriage settlement (A) with William Morse of Aylesford before trustees, Thomas Frane the Elder, of Tusely, and Thomas Fissherof Crayford to ether with William Morse, "in a consideration of a marriage to take place before next Christmas between John Polhill, son and heir of David Polhill, and Agnes Morse, daughter of William Morse: all
BROUGHTONS IN OTFORD.
Royal Patent of 10.7.1554 for sale to
Colwych, Clayton and Polhill
with other properties.
DAVID POLHILL bought BROUGHTONS only
from the others on 12.12.1554.
Photostat from a photo by R. Pearman
of a copy held by Mrs. D. M. Wright
former resident of Broughtons.
Agnes' lands and inheritance in Newchurch, Kent, to be conveyed to John Polhill and Agnes and their heirs; David Polhill to vest in the said trustees for the young couple and their heirs the farm and tenement called Broughtons and lands therewith, (here to fore William Lambarde's on lease, once George Harper's.)
The wedding took place the same day at Otford, in the presence of uncle Thomas of Shoreham, uncle George Multon, Matthew and Elizabeth Petley (brother-in-law and sister), Joan Dawtrety, sister, and cousins William and Jane Lambarde. Alas, the marriage was terminated untimely by the premature death of Agnes.
David I died in 1578 and lies buried in the chancel beneath the oldest known tomb in Otford Church. There is a square slab by the vestry door bearing the device of a shield inscribed ' David Polhill Ales his wife 1585'. The date is not in accord with the church registers which put it as 1578.
JOHN. THE LANDOWNER.
John., the only surviving son of David I, inherited Broughtons in Otford from his father and Planners (alias Palsters) from his grandfather Francis Sandbach. (36).
Planers or Planaz or Playnere was a manor, now extinct, lying on the right bank of the river Darent between what is now called the Home Farm and Shoreham Place. It comprised a manor house with stables, barns, dovehouse, orchard and gardens covering 2 acres; 15 acres of meadow and pasture, 40 acres of arable land, 20 acres of 'jenoper and gorsheground with coneyborough', a fulling mill with buildings, a tenterclose and land 3 acres. In the 14th century it was bought by the Passele family of Palstre in the Isle of Oxney, Romney Marsh, together with about 20 acres of woodland called the Palsters or Pawlsters between Otford and Highfield, Shoreham. The alternative name of Palsters was thereafter applied to what was formerly called Planers. The manor passed through many hands until it was purchased by Francis Sandbach in 1578 and willed to John Polhill. (A)
The adjoining manor of sepham, to the south by Twitton, was purchased by Francis Sandbach in 1547 and should have been conveyed to David I on his marriage with Alice Sandbach but was granted by Francis Sandbach on 20th November 1579 to Sir Christopher Wraye and Sir Thomas Gawdy for life, and afterwards to Edward Stoning. The late Mr. R. B. Polhill-Drabble suggests that Alice must have died during or prior to 1580 or otherwise Francis would have made the manor over to her by deed of gift. John Polhill made good the intention of his grandfather by purchasing Sepham or Upsepham for L720 from Edward Stoning in 1585. The purchase, including the farm of Goldhills is described as embracing, with appurtenances, 1 messuage, 2 barns, 1 garden, 1 orchard, 180 acres land, 8 acres mead, 12 acres pasture, 160 acres wood and 30 acres heath and furze in Shoreham and Otford. (A)
John proceeded to add to his possessions by a number of shrewd purchases. On March 10th 1592 he, described in the deed as 'yeoman', acquired The Coombs and Greenhill in Otford. (A). On June 10th 1602, in a deed filed in the Essex Record Office in which he is described as 'gentleman', he bought from Sampson Leonard of Knole for L270, lands in Otford described as Moorhope, The Mill, The Leape, Chearne Meadow, Warrens Mead, Dolling farmhouse, Cowpers, Borowes, Lames Marsh and Stockham Hill (B). On February 24, 1603 he bought more of Cowpers, Baker's Mead and Le Tenne Akers. (A).
In a survey made of Otford Manor in 1608, John is shown as owner of Land from Stumblegorough Hill (now Otford Mount) to Halstead, on both sides of the road (which, incidentally is nowhere described in the deeds as 'Pilgrims' Way'), as well as of the Mansion House, barn, stables and grounds of Broughtons, covering 95 acres. He paid 35/-a year to the Crown in lieu of military service (1/40th Knight's fee) and L10 at death. (A).
John also determined to make his Mansion House more impressive. In 1600 he reconstructed the front of the house. An inspired attempt to depict the appearance of the house at this time was made by Basil Lewin in 1928. (68)
After the brief period of marriage with Agnes Morse, John married Friswith, daughter of Robert Cawston of Orpington by whom he had a daughter Anne and two sons, David and John. Friswith died and was buried at Otford 23rd. November 1598, afterwhich John married Alice, daughter of Robert Holdsoll of Wrotham by whom there was no issue. (49). John himself died at Otford 22nd. September 1614.
The Inquisition Post Mortem (A) taken at Greenwich in December of that year declared him seized of:
The premises called Dunton Hill etc. in Otford are held of the king as of his manor of Otford by Knight's service and are worth L4 per annum. Plomers of the King similarly but infree socage by fealty at 17d. per ann. and worth per ann.13/4. Stockgates and riddens ditto at 18d. worth 6/8. Land in Coombe, Greenhill and 17dw. in Redbrooks at 10d. worth 10/-. Redbrooks ditto at 9d worth 10/-. Bushey Croft ditto at 4d. worth 16d. Manor or farm of Upsepham and Manor of Planers and lands in Shoreham and Halstead held of the King as of his manor of Otford by 1/8th knight's fee and worth yearly 4s/-. Broughtons by 1/40 knight's fee and worth L10.
I.P.M. 1614. JOHN POLHILL.
Manor and lands in Otford called Dunton Hill, Dunton Lands
and Darnetts 120 acres.
Messuage at Otford called Plomers als Plumers with 6ac.
land, 4ac. mead, 4ac. pasture.
Two parcels called Stockgates and Riddens also Clarkes
Sac. in Le Coombe
a parcel called Greenhill in Otford
7dw. in Redbrooks Meadow, Otford
3ac. in other meadow called Redbrooks
2ac. in bushye Croft als Peckham Logge als the Logge
Manor or farm of Upsepham in Shoreham
Messuage called Broughtons and divers lands
a cottage 1ac. Otford to Sevenoaks
another cottage and 1ac. Otford to Halstead
Manor of Planers als Palsters in Shoreham and Halstead
Fulling-mill and divers messuages and lands there and
other lands in Surrey.
John's daughter Anne, was three times married (49). First to Thomas Gilman, a mercer of London, without issue. Secondly to William Nutt, counsellor-at-law, leaving one son John. thirdly to Thomas Miller of Norton Court and Davington Hall, Faversham. He had been for 25 years Head Customer of Sandwich and the memoer ports thereof in Kent, viz:-Dover, Faversham, Milton, and Rochester. He was also Keeper of Rochester Castle. He went as envoy from Queen Elizabeth to Henry IV of France for which service he was granted an augmentation to his armorial bearings, "ermine, a fer de moline sable on a chief of the last, two wings conjoined, or." He was squire for the body of James I. They left one daughter born 1615 but a second daughter was buried with Anne in St. George's Canterbury in 1624.
The youngest son John was indentured to a harsh taskmaster in London, causing him to write an impassioned letter to his father as follows:-(A)
London, 16th. March 1602.
Lovinge Father, after my dutye in all humbleness beinge
remembered, may it please you to understand that the occasion of my boldness to trouble you at this tyme is to desyre you if it stand with your good lykinge to come to London to talk with my Mr. aboute my preferment so soon as convenyentlye you maye. If it be your busynes will nott afford you so much leysour as to come up, I beseche you to conveye your mynde to him by wrytinge. But my desyre is rather to have you come your selfe because then I hopes you maye draw him to that which otherwise would be let slypte for he is the strangest nature man that ever you knew. His mynd is so waveringe that what he intends to doe one daye he will contradickt the next. For some fortnyght since he determined to send me over and yesterdaye I understood he was otherwise determined and that I should nott doe this twelvemonthe and the party that towle it me I am aure had it from him. Therefore once more I besech you to consyder the longe tyme that I have bine as it were his slave as allso my yeares which me thinks doth nott agree with this searvice which heather to I have had. I had bine better prentise with a cobbler than to searve my all time heare as I do without preferment. My desyre is, Goodfather, to have you come to towne so sone as convenyentlye you may because the shipes will be redye about the beginninge of April and with all that it would please you to knowe the reasone why I should not goe, whether I am not fitt or whether he doth mistrust my neglygence or truth. I besech you to trye this unto him but I would not at anye hand he should knowe I wrote to you or knewe of your cominge, not havinge anyething else at this tyme to trouble you with all I numbly take my leave, committinge you whollye to the Electyon of thalmingntye.
yuor obedient son till death
His father's response must be conjectured from the fact that on the back of the boy's letter he pencilled particulars of certain lands which he had recently purchased from William Motte of Shoreham. (A). These properties do not appear in the I.P.M. so it may well be assumed that John was delivered from his unfair master in London and set up as a minor landowner near the parental roof. There is no further record of him.
DAVID II. THE LAWYER.
David II, the elder son of John and Friswith, was born in 1577. He entered into all his father's vast estates and married twice. Firstly to Margaret, daughter of Stephen Theobald of Seale. (49). On March 12th. 1600, his father entered into a marriage settlement with George Turnor of Lyngfyld, (Lingfield) Surrey and Thomas Theobalde als Tebolde of Seale in favour of David. (A).
"In consideration of a marriage between David, son of John Polhill, and Margarett, youngest daughter and one of the heirs of Steven Tebolde ESQ. of Seale, of all his lands called Plumers, Dunton Hills, Dunton Lands, Darnetts and Clarke Lands and all his lands att or near Dunton or elsewhere within the towne parish fields or hamlets of Otteford---except any held in capite to the following uses, viz:-
To John Polhill for life he paying 100 marks a year to David and Margarett at the church porch of Otteford.
Also enfeoffed the Manor or farm commonly called Upsepham in Shoreham and Otteford or either of them, except the manor messuage or farm called Palsters also Planers and one fulling-mill adjoining and lands usually occupied with the same now in occupation of John Hope, gent, and Richard Page,
To John Polhill for life and after to David and his heirs.
Signed and Sealed parties of 2nd. part only Seal of Thos. Theobald
("Tried and found trew" round a phoenix).
Witnesses Edward Mychell and Thomas Ratison.
The marriage daily took place on 19th May 1600 at St. Mary Overy (now Southwark Cathedral). He impaled her arms with his, vix:-gules, six cross crosslets fitchee, 5.2 and 1. or. Margaret bore him a son and heir, John, on 30th June 1605, and a daughter Nisel who married Thomas Courthope of Stodmarsh and left a son William, 1622. She died 23rd October 1606 and was buried at Otford.
In 1619 he married Anne, daughter of Robert Byng of Wrotham. (49). By her he had one son David, and five daughters, of whom one, Anne, married Mattthew Miller of Buckland, Surrey, and another Martha, married James Godden of Trottiscliffe. Anne died and was buried at Otford 16th. May 1640. David II outlived her until 27th May 1650 when he also was buried at Otford. David entered the inns of court and became a shrewd lawyer. Accounts of one or two of his personal cases have been preserved. In 1616 he was briefed by one Nicholas Chapman in a case versus a neighbour of his, John Wolfe. (68). Wolfe had "thrown a sledge at a braw hogg belonging to the plaintiff valued at 13/4, on the Sunday before Christmas last, and on Christmas Day he died." Wolfe wrote to his "verie good friends and loving neighbours wishing them long life and health. "I am a neighbour's child borne poore and not able to hold sutes with you" he wrote, obviously hoping something less sharp than the rigour of the law.
David had zeal to develop as a landed gentleman. In the family archives (A) are several deeds in which he had an interest. By one, dated 1st March 1609, his father John in a very shaky hand granted him, his sone and heir, "all and singular the manor or farm comonlie called Sepham alias Upsepham". This deed is sealed with the armorial bearings of Polhill in the first and fourth quarterings, of Buckland in the second and of Sandbach in the third--the same device which appears in the uppermost tracery of the window in Otford Church next the pulpit. Thepresence of the arms in this place, together with the small ventilation arch low down in the outside wall of the church is held to indicate the position of the burial place of the earliest members of the family in the northern part of the nave and chancel.
David invested his money in land. A series of deeds still available deals with a vast acreage in the yoke and a half of Twitton which formed part of Elizabeth's Daniel's (of Farningham) dowry on her marriage to Thomas (son of the Thomas Polhill and Anne Plumly of the brass strip in Shoreham Church). After successful legal action to establish her rights to this land she released it within a few dyas to her son Sir Thomas Polley of Wrotham, who promptly sold it to David II for L470. The major part of the Twitton lands has been held by the Kentish Polhills ever since.
But David II invested his money with care. Among the family papers is correspondence concerning a purchase he was contemplating:-(A)
"Goodman Goodhugh", he wrote in 1623, to a Shorehan worthy, ancestor to the Charity who married the Rev. Vincent Perronnet, vicar of Shoreham, "I acknowledge mye manye thanks unto you for your goodwill offered unto mee concerninge yor annaytie in George Gardener's lands, thoughe I never dealt for them whereof I doe nott repent mee, in that you offered to free the lands thereof yf I did deal for itt, soe I nowe I come to grove your honest true dealinge with the concerninge another mann with whom I ame to deal, Richard Kippes of Kemsinge who offereth to sell meadows and other lands of his, and for as mutche as I am advertised that you have some of his lands either mortgaged unto you or else some annuytie out of them, it causeth me thus to ide unto you to know the certayntie thereof, wherein I promysse to keepe all secrecye yf you see requrye itt, itt behoveth the buyer to bee carefull and everyeman must beware how hee depareth with his monye, for when annye man is deceved, bee his meanynge never so just, he is made a laughinge stocke to the comon sorte whereof I once agayne entreat you for our old acquayntance sake, sende mee by this bearer whom I send unto you for that purpose, two or three words on the backsyde of this my letter, what dealinge either is or hath beene betwixt you for monye or land in so doinge you will bynde mee beholdinge unto you and rest the lyke or anye other kyndnes.
yr. frende to comande
Goodhugh duly replied on the back of the letter
"I have a morgage of three parcelles of land, a mede of three acers and to parselles that lie in Shollhill".
There are further notes by David Polhill and the end of the transaction came on 18th May in the following year with an indenture between Richard Goodhewe of Tonbridge, yeoman, Richard Kippes of Kemsinge, yeoman, to sell to David Polhill, gentleman, for 90,3ac. Half Mead alais Manmead and 5ac arable called stubbs Crouche in Kemsing.
But if that transaction shews caution, what are we to make of the following letter which David was at such pains to keep? (A)
To David Polhill at his home in Otford. March 11 1629. Good Sir, Wee stayed too long at St. Mary Cray that wee could not reach London the same night and through our over great haste wee forgot that that principally concerned us and wee were ready to have come back for it, but that Mr. Morris and myself made no doubt but that my husband and I might rely upon your honest and just dealing with us, wee forgot to have your bond sealed to my husband for payment of the sevrnte pounds. Whereas my husband was very much moved but neyther Mr. Morris nor myselfe doe anything mistrust your payment and performance according to the agreement and bargaine made betwixt us, I have sent the bearer for the money you promised to sende. I pray you earnestly to send me forty pounds presently for speciall and urgent occasion and therefore I pray let me entreat you not to faile to sende it to me by this bearer, it is nothing to you to do it and it will doe mee a very great pleasure to have
tenne pounds at this time more than you promised mee. I have sent you herein enclosed the token agreed upon whereby you were to deliver the money and I have sent also by this bearer a receipt of L40 signed by my husband in the presence of Mr. Morris and my sister Death. I pray therefore let me entreat you to deliver the forty pounds to this bearer and hee shall deliver the receipt unto you and so with my husband's and mine own love and service remembered to you I take leave and rest
your loving friend
The Christians were of Otford and friends of David. Henry and Margerye Christian were witnesses to the deed of conveyance of the Twitton lands from Sir Thomas Polhill to David in October 1615.
David II achieved a position of importance in the county in that his support for worthy causes was actively sought. In the family papers is a letter dated 1625 in which
Edward Gilbourne writes "Good Mr. Polhill. Sir Thomas Walsingham, Sir Percival Hart intimate resolutions to concur with many other worthy gentlemen of the county to nominate Lord Burghesh, son of Sir Francis Fane (Earl of Westmoreland) and Sir Albertus Mourton, princ. secretary to the King, as Knights for the Shire, to attend election 2nd. May at 7 a.m., County Court, Pickenden Heath, with as many freeholders as he can procure."
In due course David's turn came and in 1638 and 1640 he was appointed Sheriff of the County of Kent. (45 and 49).
David was a good churchman. In the year 1640 when the condition of church affairs in Otford was under enquiry, three petitions were presented to Parliament by the inhabitants of Shoreham and Otford, (A). They estimated the values of the livings at L160 for Shoreham and L130 for Otford, but all that the Abbey of Westminster gave to the Rev. Emerson, vicar of both churches, was L24 with a dwelling. The Rev. Browne, who assisted the vicar received L20, voluntarily collected from the people of Otford. The parishioners described the vicar as "an honest and laborious minister, a preacher of God's word and one that liveth peaceably and quietly among his people." They asked that they be "freed from the burden of the L20 and that the parish of Otford may have a competent minister to undertake the charge of the ministry at Otford only."
The signatories included David, John and Edward Polhill. The first two named were probably the brothers but Edward is a mystery. He might have been the rector of Etchingham or his son, or possibly the son of Thomas and Faintnot Polhill, all of whom were alive at the time.
Despite the backing of the Polhills and of Sir Edward Dering the petitions failed in their object for it was 184 years before the Dean and Chapter of Westminster augmented the living by 200 per annum and not until 1878 that Otford parish was separated from Shoreham.
David II outlived both his sons and was succeeded by his grandson, David III.
THE SONS OF DAVID II.
David, the son of the second marriage died in 1644. John, the son of the first marriage (Margaret Theobald), born 30th June 1605, married Jane, daughter of John Porter of Lamberhurst on 27th December 1631. The marriage settlement, entered into on 21st November of the same year, declared:- (A).
1 "David Polhill, of Otford, gent.
2 John Polhill, gent, eldest son and heir.
3 John Porter of Lamberhurst, Esq.
In consideration of a marriage between John Polhill and Jane Porter, David gives to John and then to John and Jane and their heirs:-
(a) the moytie of one message, barn, garden and 32 ac. in Seavenoaks Weald in occupation of Robert Spilstead, sometime the lands of John Tottishurst, gent, decd.
(b) the moytie of all lands etc. called Dales Chawldwell and Goldlacke in Sevenoke.
John Porter promises to give L1530 to John Polhill. David will pay L1050. Out of the total L2580 John Polhill promises to expend L2500 on lands likely to yield the best profit, the same to be vested in John and Jane and their heirs.
Signed. David Polhill (armorial seal)
Witnesses Richard Porter
John Porter, junr.
The late Mr. R.B.Polhill-Drabble added a note to the original document:-"This John died in 26th November 1657, a few months before his father David and his will was proved by the relict Jane Polhill in May 1658 under the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell."
Although there are several deeds of purchase of lands by David II after the date of the wedding, none can be definitely assigned to the purpose of the marriage settlement. David had given evidence of an interest in Tonbridge when he bought the small manor of Hadlow (to the north-east of Tonbridge) in 1625 from the grandson of his father-in-law, Robert Byng. In 1633, according to Ireland, he bought the manor of Barden, adjoining the manor of Hadlow, once the property of Sir Andrew Judd, Lord Mayor of London. Hasted says that John was the purchaser, but until John's will comes to light it cannot be said whether this was one of the profitable lands vested in the young couple.
John and Jane were blessed with ten sons and four daughters. (14). David, the eldest son was born in 1633 and succeeded his grandfather David II. Thomas, the second son, succeeded his brother David on his untimely death in 1665. Robert, the third son, lived at Otford and was churchwarden of the parish church in 1697 when a large painting of the royal arms (William III.) was placed in the church. This painting became so grimed that it was taken down and for many years lay stored in the upper room of the Tower. It was restored by Professor Tristram and rehung in the church. The parochial church council had it again restored in 1955 and it now hangs in a good light in the south aisle in all its former brightness of colour. Robert died in 1699 and was buried on the south side of the altar of Otford Church. (63). John and six other sons died in infancy. Anne, the eldest daughter, born 16th April 1638, married George Petty and lived at Colet's Well at the corner of Otford Green, A stone to their memory is now on the outside wall of the Lady Chapel of Otford Church, stating that:-
"Here lyeth George Petty and Anne his wife
Who lived near 60 years without any strife.
Here both interred do lye
In sure hopes of a blessed eternity.
The said Anne was one of the daughters of John
Polhill of Otford, Esq. The said George Petty died
July 31 1719 aged 86. Anne died November 9th 1726
Here lied also Mr. Robert Petty, his oldest son who
died November 1st 1727 aged 66."
There is a monument in Wanstead Church, Essex, to their fifth son Daniel who married Mary, daughter of John Cooke of Worcestershire and died March 18th 1745 aged 74. They had one daughter who married the Rt. Hon George Lord Carpenter who erected a monument "to the memory to the best of parents".
One document only in the handwriting of David II remains in the family archives (A). It is a letter endorsed "Remember to look this over" and bears date 1655.
I see a letr from Captayne Bowles concerning a rent of viii/- p. ann. purchased by him and payable out of a certayne parcell of lands called Tilfields in Otteford. I confesse I have sutch a parcel of copy hold land called Milfields in Otteford wch. payeth yerelie 8/-, wyh rent I myselfe have for manye yeares payed as my copyhold rent, for the same parcel of lande to the Mannor of Otteford to sutche persons as have been receivers of the copyhold rents of the said manor, and
due to the Lord of the said mannor. There'es a rent, one Mr. Alcock lyvinge at Rochester who claymeth the rent as due unto hym by purchase also, by sutche title as he claymet by for certayne yeares behind due to hym sythence his purchase. For my part I ame driven unto a great strayte as not knowing what to doe, having payed all that can bee demaunded for the tyme past to one Arthur Squibb who was receivour of those copyhold rents, before either of their titles were in being, whose acquittances I can produce, menconynge the money received by hym was to the use of the Commonwealth, my request unto you is to acquaint Captayne Bowles with my condicon herein, and yf it may stande with yor good likinge to desire his favours so mutche unto mee, as to respitt his proceedings anye waye against mee untill this difference betwixt hym and Mr. Alcock be reconciled, they are gent lyvinge together and may if itt please God and then settle a quyett conclution betwixt themselves and others and this with my kynd love to you remembered as my true lovinge frende and kynsman.
I so rest yor David Polhill
the 15th. August 1655.
Tillfields is a group of 5 fields on the left hand side of the road about midway between Rye Lane and Telston Lane. There is a Deed of Sale in the archives dated 20th May 1619 recording the sale by Sir Thomas Polley of Wrotham to David Polhill of Otteford, gent, of a parcell called Tylefield, 12 acres, in Otford adjoining the lands of David called Darnetts. It is copyhold and "to be surrendered as such as the next court". One of the witnesses is Rd. Alcoke.
David II died the 27th May 1658.
DAVID III and THOMAS. (CHIPSTEAD PLACE.)
The two elder sons, David and Thomas, in turn succeeded to the inheritance of Grandfather David II.
David III was 26 years old when he succeeded in 1658 and within six months had purchased the extensive property of Chipstead Place, Sevenoaks, from Ralph Suckley (36). This spacious house in the parish of Chevening was surrounded by grounds of great beauty ornamented with fine timber. (12). David was appointed Sheriff of the County in 1662. His marriage with Martha May of Glyndbourne in 1665 lasted only a few months died the same year leaving all the estates to his brother Thomas.
Thomas was then living in Clapham, Surrey, where later generations of the senior line also settled down. On succeeding to the inheritance he moved to Otford and sold Chipstead House and three hundred acres of its land to Sir Nicholas Strode, but retaining the remainder of the Place. (11 and 36). Emboldened perhaps by the unexpected improvement in his fortunes he pressed his suit with Elizabeth, daughter and coheir to Henry Ireton, (Lord Lieut. of Ireland) by Bridget, daughter of Oliver Cromwell. The Ireton family came from Attenhorough in Hottinghamshire. (13 and 22) but are by tradition connected also with Clapham, Currey and Sepham, Farm, Shoreham, Kent (48). The union of a gentlemen of Kent with the daughter of such a pronounced Parliamentarian as Henry Ireton so soon after the subjugation of the county and the sack of Maidstone by General Fairfax, another of Cromwell's men, is inexplicable on normal grounds. Perhaps Thomas and Elizabeth were drawn towards each other by personal acquaintance at Otford or Clapham, and Cupid overrode all political feelings. Their union reflects the relief felt in the county on the death of Cromwell, and shown by the action of "all the people of Kent flocking to Dover in 1660 to greet King Charles II. It was held that not only the King but the old families and county gentry were restored". Be that it may, Elizabeth and Thomas were married in 1666 and the blood of the Independents, Cromwell and Ireton, mingled with that of the country gentry in the Polhills and the children that followed. (48).
There were five sons and two daughters, but only three sons survived infancy. Henry (1677-1753) died unmarried.
Charles, the youngest son, a citizen of London and a Merchant Taylor, spent the early part of his life in Smyrna. On his return to England, the influence of his brother David IV with Lord Townsend (Secretary of State) secured for him an appointment as Commissioner of Excise with offices in Bedford Row, St. Andrew Holborn. He fulfilled this office with much diligence and amassed a fortune of L24.000. (52). His marriage with Martha, daughter to Thomas Streatfeild of Sevenoaks was a happy one but childless. She died in May 1741/2 and was buried in velvet at Otford. He died at Bath on September 30th 1755. In his will he gave instructions for his body to be buried "in or near unto the body of my late wife in the parish church of Otford". There is however no record of his burial at Otford nor at St. Andrew's Holborn, but the monument which he ordered in his will was sculpted by Sir Henry Choere and erected in front of one of the windows of the chancel of Otford Church.
His will (Appendix B10) betrays some apprehension on Charles' part as to the attitude of the Otford authorities. He stipulates that L1000 is to be laid out in building a monument for my dear wife and me in Otford Church. If not done by his executors within two years of his death then L1000 to the Dean and chapter of Rochester, L600 for the monument and L400 for themselves). Failing then L1000 to the Bishop of Rochester for similar division and failing his L1000 to the Bishop of London".
His brother David IV had predeceased him in 1754, and so his nephew Charles administered the will in the manner plain to all visitors to Otford Church since that date. The monument is of brown and white marble. Standing on a large white marble sarcophagus is a full-sized figure dressed in a Roman toga, and leaning on a marble urn. Figures depicting Faith (reading from the Holy Bible), and Hope (with an anchor), are seated on either side of the sarcophagus. A medallion with a female face in profile is above. On a black marble slab below is inscribed:-
" To the memory of CHARLES POLHILL, Esq.
Youngest son of Thomas Polhill of this county, Esq, by
Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Ireton.
The early part of his life was spent in Smyrna in a steady application to business as a merchant. On his return to England he was appointed one of the Commissioners of Excise, which office he executed many years with diligence and integrity.
He was born October 3rd. 1679 and died September 30th 1755. He married Martha, daughter of Thomas Streatfeild of Sevenoaks in this county by whom he left no issue. Their life was a state of friendship and mutual affection. She died in May 1742 aged 55. To her memory and his own by his last will he ordered this monument to be erected."
DAVID IV. THE POLITICIAN.
The eldest son of Thomas and Bridget, David, was probably the most illustrious of his line. Born in 1674 he entered into his patrimony at the tender age of 9. His guardian during his minority was Henry Ireton, (son of his grandfather (A), but doubtless his uncle Robert Polhill, the Churchwarden, and Aunt Anne Petty, of Colet's Well, also watched over his youth.
Like many of the wealthy young men of his day, David embarked on the Grand Tour of Europe. While in Rome with his guardian in 1696, he had his portrait painted. (A). A copy in which he was dressed in armour was made to lend support to an application he made to his guardian (who was Gentleman of Horse to King William and Lt. Col. of the Royal Granadiers) to obtain for him a commission in the Army. His guardian did not approve of a career of this kind and suggested that he might be of more use to his country in another way. The original painting was detained by Madam Calindrini Perdiaux at Geneva. David describes here as "of great vertue and merit and of the best families in that city". Maybe the lady regarded David as also belonging to one of the best families, for she adhered to the picture and in spite of the utmost endeavours on the part of David to regain possession he was unsuccessful and it was not until 1755 that Lord Stanhope was instrumental in securing the picture and in restoring it to David two months before his death. One suspects an emotional reason for the retention of the portrait for so long a time from the letter which accompanied its return.
Madame Perdiaux Calindrini to Mr. David Polhill
"Happy as you are to make acquaintance after 56 years absence, and having many happy memories of our friendship. I am now weak but are glad the good God keeps my head and my reason. My husband died ten years ago. I have a family and live in the country. I hope you remember me without regrets. A thousand tender wishes on all the things that interest you."
Strangely enough the copy also of the painting fell into another lady's hands (name not disclosed), who took it away with her in 1698 one hundred miles into the country distant from London. Though often asked to return it she always refused. Soon after her death her brother gave it to David saying it was by her dying wish.
David's son Charles has endorsed the original account of the story of this picture to the effect that the copy passed eventually into the hands of his sister Elizabeth---but what happened to the original or the copy is now a mystery.
One other souvenir of David's visit to Rome has been preserved with much greater success. He brought back with him several stained glass panel pictures of the Apostles and other Scriptural subjects. These were placed at a later date in the East window of Otford Church in the form of a cross, and formed a notable feature of church decoration for many years. In 1940 the panels were shattered by a German bomb. The fragments were lovingly and painstakingly collected by the vicar, the Rev. A.E. Elder, and after the war were fitted together and replaced in the window with the additional of two small panels describing their history.
Some time after David's return to England he was offered the post of one of the Supernumerary Clerks to the Council, an occupation he was advised not to accept. (A). On February 12th. 1700 King William appointed him High Steward of the Honour of Otford. (36). About this time he was first sworn in as Justice of the Peace, and he determined henceforth to devote his life to public affairs.
In 1702 (September 3rd.) he married Elizabeth, daughter of John Trevor of Glynde, Sussex. She died untimely, without issue, in 1706. (14).
The background of European politics at this time was dark with perils. The Austrian dynasty which had occupied the Spanish throne for over 200 years had come to a childless end. A scramble for the vast and rich dominions ensued, in which King Louis XIV of France took a prominent part. Eventually, of the rival claimants to the throne, Philip, grandson of Louis XIV, was proclaimed King of Spain in May 1700. The consequent union of the powerful dominions of France and Spain completely upset the balance of power in Europe and threatened to destroy all the work for European independence which had been the policy of King William III. William was for an immediate alliance with Holland and war with France, but England was war weary. Only two years before, a Tory majority had been elected to Parliament pledged to peace. This Parliament had dismissed all William's Dutch Guards and reduced the standing army and navy to 7000 and 8000 men respectively. (32).
THE PETITION TO PARLIAMENT. (1,10,29,32,57, and 65)
Outside Parliament the country largely supported the King and were loud in protests at the lack of energy in granting supplies on the eve of an inevitable and momentous war. The Men of Kent and Kentish Men had on more than one occasion within the previous half-century showed bold determination to air their views on pressing questions of the day, and they made this the occasion to give a lead to the other counties. The freeholders of Kent met in great numbers at the Quarter Sessions held at Maidstone on 29th April 1701 and persuaded the Grand Jury to agree to present the following petition:- (1).
"We, the Gentlemen, Justices of the Peace, Grand Jury and other Freeholders, at the General Quarter Sessions at Maidstone in Kent, deeply concerned at the dangerous estate of this Kingdom, and of all Europe, and considering that the fate of us and of our Posterity depends on the Wisdom of our Representatives in Parliament, think ourselves bound in duty, humbly to lay before this Honourable House and Consequences in this Conjuncture, of your speedy resolutions and most sincere endeavour, to answer the Great Trust reposed in you by your country.
And in regard, that from the Experience of all Ages it is manifest, no Nation can be great or happy without Union; we hope no pretence whatever shall be able to create a Misunderstanding among ourselves, or the least Distrust of His Majesty, whose great actions, for their Nation are writ in the Hearts of his Subjects, and can never, without the blackest Ingratitude, be forgot.
We most humbly implore this Honourable House to have regard to the Voice of the People, that our Religion and Safety may be effectually provided for; that your Loyal Addresses may be turned into Bills of Supply; and that His Most Sacred Majesty, whose propitious and unblemished Reign over us we pray God long to continue, may be enable powerfully to assist His Allies before it is too late."
The Chairman of the Bench was William Colepeper, son of Sir Thomas Colepeper of Hollingbourne. He, together with the Deputy Lieutenants and 23 Justices signed at once. The freeholders vied with each other to add their signatures and within five hours the parchment was filled.
Five gentlemen were then elected to present the Petition:
- William Colepeper of Hollingbourne
Thomas Colepeper of Dover
David Polhill of Chipstead and Otford
William Hamilton of Chilston.
They travelled to London without delay and sought out the county representatives, Sir Thomas Hales and Thomas Meredith. They first met Sir Thomas Hales who took the petition away to study, but he betrayed the confidence of the five and showed the petition to other members of the House. This act annoyed the five exceedingly and they took the petition to Thomas Meredith who said he dared not touch it as the House was already in a ferment about it. The five perservered in their determination and Meredith at last consented to present it to the House on May 8th.
After half-an-hour the five were called to the bar of the House and asked to confirm that their hands were to the petition. They were then told to withdraw. Members came out and urged them to throw themselves upon the clemency of the House. They maintained that they were acting within their rights and refused to withdraw the petition or to apologise to the House. The debate went on for five hours and the House resolved that the petition was "scandalous, insolent and seditious, tending to destroy the Constitution of Parliament and to subvert the established government of the Realm," and ordered the five into the custody of the Sergeant-at-arms. He conducted them to the Castle Tavern in Fleet Street where they remained for three days, being visited by many citizens and influential members of the Whig party. Thomas Colepeper was permitted to return to Dover for two days on parole to comfort his wife. This so annoyed the Sargent-at-arms that the other four were removed under cover of night to Fox Court, Holborn. William Colepeper and Champneys were confined in a wretched garret: Polhill and Hamilton in a cellar so vile that they could hardly breathe. The Sergeant-at-Arms complained of their behaviour and said he feared attempts at rescue. They were accordingly removed to the Gate House at Westminster and thereafter well treated.
Broadsheets published at the time were, on the whole, decidedly unfavourable to the prisoners. A Man of Kent published "The Kentish Fable of the Lion and the Foxes:-the Homes of the Kentish Petitioners made manifest." Another wrote "Advice to the Kentish Longtails by the Wise Men of Gotham". One burst into rhyme, describing the characters of each in turn. About David Polhill he wrote:-
"P--------ll's the third in place but first in fame.
If riches can advance their Owner's name.
Empty, God knows, and destitute of brains
As any soul alive, without his gains.
Forward to Heighten things of no account
And magnify a mole-hill to a mount.
Else had he let some other fool declare
The Bench of Justices exceeding care.
Whether the House was influenced or not by the petition, it took steps to increase the army establishment to 10.000, and the navy to 30.000 men; a generous vote but still leaving the forces below standard in strength. William, however, was undoubtedly encouraged by the outburst of public opinion that he despatched a force to Holland and concluded a secret treaty with the Dutch to recover the Netherlands from the King of France.
This was not the end of the petitioners. A great wave of sympathy swept the country. An even more strongly worded petition was presented to the House. It is said to have been drafted by Daniel Defoe--a scurrilous pamphleteer of the time but better known to us as the author of 'Robinson Crusoe':-
"The Legion Paper
This memorial you are charged with in behalf by many thousands of the good people of England. There is neither Popish, Jacobite, Seditious, Court or Party interest concerned in it, but honesty and truth. You are commanded by 200.000 Englishmen to deliver it to the House of Commons and to inform them that it is no banter but serious truth and a serious regard to it is expected, nothing but justice and their duty is required, and it is required by them who have a right to require and a power to compel, viz:-the People of England.
We should have come to the House strong enough to oblige them to hear us, but we have avoided and tumults, not desiring to embroil, but to save our native country. If you refuse to communicate it to them you will find cause in a short time to repent it.
Thus, Gentlemen, you have your duty laid before you which it is hoped you will think of; but if you continue to neglect it you may expect to be treated according to the resentment of an injured nation. Englishmen are no more to be slaves to Parliament than to Kings. Our name is Legion and we are many."
The demands were of great significance in so far as they claimed the right of the people to control the proceedings of Parliament:-
1. The people had a perfect right to censure and direct.
2. The House of Commons had no separate right to suspend the laws of the land.
3. The House of Commons had no power to imprison any person except its own members.
This petition so alarmed the House that Parliament was prorogued and the prisoners released on 24th. June. The five became popular idols. The citizens of London called them 'The Five Kentish Worthies' and gave a magnificent banquet at Mercer's Hall. Portraits of the Five Worthies were drawn by the same hand that drew those of the Seven Bishops in King James' day. The return of the five to their homes in Kent partook of the nature of a triumphal procession. Five hundred horsemen escorted David Polhill from Blackheath to Otford. The others went to Rochester where the crowds were so great that all the inns could not entertain them. They entered Maidstone in triumph: bells rang, bonfires blazed and healths were drunk. The Grand Jury, of which twelve were Justices, publicly thanked them.
The Kentish Partitioners were national heroes. Their remonstrance was not without justification and their petition not without just cause.
Matters came to a head in September 1701, when King Louis acknowledged the son of the exiled King James II as King of England. All England was at last aroused: the Grand Alliance was forged and the war of the Spanish Succession ensued, and the brilliant campaigns of Marlborough won the day.
The success which attended David's first incursion into politics determined him upon a political career. He offered himself as one of the two candidates for the county seats in the Whig interest, but waived his claim in favour of the candidature of William Colepeper. He was unsuccessful in his candidature for Dover and Sandwich, where he was not so well known, but in 1708, on the death of Sir Stephen Lennard, he was elected without opposition for the County. In 1710 he was again a candidate for the county with Sir Thomas Palmer but the influence of the high tory, Dr. Henry Sacheverall, whose sermon the the 'Perils of the False Brethren' and campaign against dissenters and the Hanoverian succession were so strongly felt in Kent, that the Whigs were defeated and David nearly lost his life by the violence of party strife. (Appendix C).
On August 20th 1713 David married a second time. His bride was Gertrude, sister to Thomas Pelham-Holles (Duke of Newcastle), one of the leading Whig statesmen of the day. One suspects a match dictated by politics but it was destined to end with her death in the following year. (14). She was buried in linen in the parish church of Otford on April 3rd. 1714.
In 1715, one of the first appointments made by King George I was to make David a Sheriff of the county. "Wanting a man of courage, temper and friendship to his family" it was said, "he pitched upon David Polhill" (see Appendix C).
David was once again a candidate for a county seat in 1721; this time with Sir George Oxenden and Col. Fane; and in opposition to the Duke of Dorset. Feeling ran so high that all three Whigs withdrew their candidature. David was consoled by election for the pocket borough of Bramber in Sussex. In 1727 he was a successful candidate for the Borough of Rochester and he represented that city till the day of his death, except for one year, 1741. In that year, Admiral Vernon, fresh from his triumph in the capture of Porto Bello in the West Indies, was elected on a wave of popularity but he preferred to represent Ipswich and David was re-elected for Rochester during the next year.
Throughout this period he sat in Parliament under the ministry of Robert Walpole (until 1742) and afterwards under Pelham, Newcastle and Carteret. He never lived to see Pitt dominate the Commons.
During this Parliamentary period, David was appointed Keeper of the Records in the Tower. (36). This post carried great honour and responsibility and being an office of profit under the Crown, necessitated resignation of his seat in Parliament and reelection which he secured without opposition. David held the office from 1731 until his death in 1754. The White Tower, in the Inner Ward of the Tower of London had been one of the King's treasuries from the middle ages. (28). Betweem 1307 and 1327 Bishop Stapledon carried out a thorough overhaul of the records in the Treasury at Westminster and had them all conveyed to the Tower for cataloguing and arrangement. Many of the Chancery records remained there and when in the 15th century the depository in Chancery Lane became so full, additional records were taken to the Tower. In addition to historical documents there were the personal records of the Crown; Treaties, Homages, Papal bulls, Jewels, Plate and Books kept in the Treasury of the Wardrobe in the Chapel of St. John and the record room of the Wakefield Tower. All were transferred to the new Record Office (the P.R.O.) in Chancery Lane in 1858, with the sole exception of the Crown Jewels which are housed to this day in the Wakefield Tower. The evacuation of the Tower as a record room was hastened by the discovery of a powder magazine in a crypt adjoining the Chapel of St. John.
David IV's third marriage was celebrated in July 1719 to Elizabeth, daughter of John Borrett and Elizabeth Trevor of Shoreham. (14). She was a relation to his first wife and through her was transmitted the blood of John Hampden, the famous squire of Buckingham. (48). There were four sons: Charles, Thomas, Henry and John; and one daughter, Elizabeth. Only Charles bore a family so that the strain of Cromwell, and Ireton through the father and of Hampden through the mother was effective only in the son and heir, Charles Polhill.
David regained the family estate at Chipstead in 1771 by purchase from the widow and two daughters of William Emerton of the Temple who had completely rebuilt the house with 'pretty brick' during his possession. (36).
Another venture at housing was the attempt at building a larger house than Broughtons in Otford. David disliked the work when only partly completed and ordered the whole to be pulled down again. (36). The occupier of Bubblestone farm on the east side of Otford Green still occasionally turns up masonry when ploughing the soil.
During his lifetime David held 1173 acres in the county and Broughtons was first called a manor.
David lived full of years until the age of 80. He suffered a grievous loss in the death of his second son, Thomas, who was thrown from his horse on Westminster Bridge in August 1753. It so affected his health that he never recovered from the shock and died on the 15th January 1754. (Appendix C).
The memorial to David IV was erected on the wall of the south aisle of Otford Church. Backed by a slab of marble is a white marble bust from which David peers into the church, surrounded by cherubs, vases and scrolls. The inscription reads:-
"Near this place are deposited the remains of DAVID POLHILL of CHEAPSTEAD in this county, Esq, son of Thomas Polhill of Otford, Esq. by Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Ireton by Bridgett, daughter of Oliver Cromwell.
"He was ever active and steady in promoting the true interest of his Sovereign and defending the just liberties of the Subject both Civil and Religious with which laudable view he generously hazarded his own safety by being one of the Kentish Petitioners in the reign of King William III.
His humanity to his Dependents, Generosity to his Relations, Tenderness and Affection to his Family: Steadiness and Sincerity to his Friends: Added to his Benevolent Temper, Merited and Gained him a very general Approbation and Esteem.
He died (Member of Parliament for the City of Rochester and Keeper of Records in the Tower of London) January 15th. 1754 in the eightieth year of his Age.
He married three times. The first wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Trevor of Glynde in the co. of Sussex, Esq. The second, Gertrude, sister to the most noble Thomas Holles, Duke of Newcastle. Both of these died without issue. The third was Elizabeth, daughter of John Borrett of Shoreham in this county, Esq. by whom he had issue 4 sons and 1 daughter. His Widow and Surviving children Charles and Elizabeth have erected this Monument to his Memory."
This tribute to his character is no formality. In a letter written by his son Charles and which has survived is a memorial which rings true and with just as sincere devotion (Appendix C) as the more formal monument although devoid of the stylised Latinity regarded as appropriate to a dignified memorial. The earlies Hatchments which hang in Otford church are to the memories of David IV and his widow, Elizabeth, who outlived him and died 28th February 1785.
Charles, (to be called No. 1 to distinguish him from his grandson,) the only surviving son to David IV and Elizabeth Borrett, was born May 8th 1725. He was thus 29 when he succeeded his father. In December of the same year he married Tryphena Penelope, daughter of Sir John Shelley, 4th Baronet, of Michelgrove, Sussex. Their marriage came to a sad ending on 3rd July 1756 when she died in giving birth to a daughter, who was given the same Christian name as her mother.
Charles I contemplated parliamentary life, but owing, as he said, to ill health in youth was forced to refuse many requests that he should pursue the career that his father had so brilliantly adorned. (Appendix C). Immediately after his father's death Charles wrote to all of his father's friends who had expressed sympathy but none were able to promise him support in a candidature for the vacant seat of Rochester as their support had always">
already been successfully canvassed on behalf of Sir Nicholas Haddock of Wrotham, son of Admiral Haddock, M.P. for Rochester 1734 to 1746. Charles surrendered his interest to Haddock 'for the sake of peace and being desirous of coming to Parliament at some future vacancy elsewhere'. An attempt to secure nomination for Boroughbridge in Yorkshire failed and Charles devoted himself to the care and management of the vast family estates. He lived at Chipstead but had a town house in the parish of St. Andrew's Holborn.
A strange belief concerning the Shoreham property is revealed in the terms of an Indenture dated 28th July 1741.(A) regarding about 4 ac. land sold to Thomas Borrett for L160. The deed of sale conveys all rights except:-
Money, coin or treasure trove that may hereafter be found or discovered under all or in all or any part of the hereby granted and released ground, lands and premises: there being a tradition that one of the ancestors of the said Charles Polhill laid or concealed money or coin within or near adjoining to some part of the ground or land hereby granted and released.
There is no other record of this treasure nor information as to its recovery, although the fields have been well turned over since.
During the lifetime of Charles I the national zeal for roadmaking reached the Otford area and sometime between 1749 and 1769 the turnpike between Orpington and Riverhill demanded a new stretch of road between Knockholt Pound and Dunton Green. The name given to this road was Polhill; not because a long section happened to be hilly but because it was carved out of Polhill land. (B). The hostelry at the top of the hill was called 'Polhill Arms' and doubtless originally bore the sign of the family arms, but in recent days the sign has been repainted and now displays the arms of Polhill-Drabble.
In 1767 the road on the other side of the Darent valley between Dartford and Sevenoaks was out through Eynsford and Shoreham, where skeletons were found in the chalk cliffe on both sides of it. (36). Any association with the casualities of the Battles of Otford in the eighth and eleventh centuries has never been proved.
In 1791, Charles contracted with one John Osborn of Sevenoaks to remodel the ancient house of Broughton Manor. The specification for the work of alteration has not survived but there are sketches in existence which indicate that party of the old house was pulled down and rebuilt. (A).
The partitions between the old 'Pallers, kitchen, pantry, ale-cellar and brewhouse' were removed and the east wing converted into a large half-timbered hall with gabled end and musicians' gallery, with the original stone floor. This is the only part of the 1600 house to remain. A break in the vertical line of brickwork suggests that the portion nearest the highway was rebuilt in more modern style. The house, which was then let to Thomas Baker, has had many different occupiers since and has passed into new ownership, which, while faithfully preserving the old portion has introduced modern panelling into the newer part of the structure.
On April 3rd 1766 Charles married Patience, daughter to Thomas Haswell and had by her six sons and one daughter, of which only the eldest son, George, survived his parents. She died April 16th 1803.
Charles in correspondence with the Kentish historian Hasted in 1768 concerning the district and much of the information about Otford, Shoreham and Chipstead given by the historian is owed to Mr. Polhill.
Charles left considerable property in the district of Chipstead, Sepham, Palsters, Otford, Hadlow, Barden and Parkfields (between the village of Otford and the river Darent which he acquired in 1778). The only portion which he considered worthy of notice was Danefield "where the battle was fought between the Danes and the Saxons".
On his death there were three hatchments added to those of the family already hanging in Otford Church:-those of his two wives and of himself. A handsome memorial, the work of J. Bacon, Junr. R.A. was erected to his memory on the south wall of the sanctuary of Otford Church. On a tablet of white marble is depicted an urn and weeping willow, with a pelican feeding her young. There is a cross and book, open at the page for 1st. Corinthians chapter 15, verse 22:-
"As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive".
The inscription reads:-
"Sacred to the memory of CHARLES POLHILL, ESQ. who departed this life 23rd. July 1805 in the 81st year of his age. Whose Virtues both public and private entitled him to universal Respect and Affection. His MANNERS were gentle, affable and engaging, which with a native Simplicity set off to Advantage all the domestic and social Virtues by which his Character was adorned. He was humane, courteous and generous without ostentation. Though sincere and ardent in his profession and practice of religion he carefully avoided their open Display; Content
with the inward feeling of those PRINCIPLES which CHRISTIANITY inspires. With a Heart expanded by BENEVOLENCE he felt for the Happiness of all mankind; but more especially for the INTERESTS, LAWS, LIBERTIES, RIGHTS and PRIVILEGES of his native COUNTRY: which he ever zealously vindicated and maintained. The amiable and laudable CHARACTER is not delineated by the Hand of ADULATION but by that of AFFECTION, guided by TRUTH: and meant not for the Praise of the Dead so much as for Example of the Living and more especially of those who from FILIAL PIETY, AFFECTION, and REVERENCE mournfully erect this frail Memorial to the character of the best of FATHERS and the best of FRIENDS."
Charles I was succeeded by his eldest and only surviving son George, born 2nd March 1767, who lived at Chipstead until 1829 when he sold that estate to Frederick Perkins, the brewer, and moved to Sundridge (52). Thus ended the fluctuating periods of ownership by the Polhills of this fine house. Its subsequent history ended in 1930 when it was pulled down with the exception of one wing which was converted into a private house. (16). The enclosed garden was converted into a commercial nursery and the remainder of the gardens and land was developed into a housing estate looking on to the hamlet of Bessels Green. No Polhills were buried at Chevening while the family lived at Chipstead, but two or three members of the family were married or baptised there.
In 1830 he sold Broughton Manor to John Wreford of Dunton Green and so ended the ownership of that house and property which had been enjoyed by the family in unbroken sequence since 1554. (A).
On 26th June 1804 George married Mary, daughter of Robert Porteus of Southampton and grand-niece of the Rt. Rev. Bielby Porteus, Bishop of London. This famous cleric, renowned as a great scholar and poet was in the habit of spending the summer at Coombe Bank, Sundridge, the seat of the Argyll Campbell family (44). He fought corruption in the Church of England and roused the nation against the institution of slavery. He worked for the amelioration of the lot of the poorer clergy and gave away almost all that he had. When he died in 1806 he was laid to rest at his own request in the beautiful church of Sundridge. Bishop Porteus clearly exercised a great influence over the lives of George and Mary Polhill. Two of their children were give the christian name of Campbell (the Bishop's clan), and two of the sons were always">
ordained priests of the Church of England. Frederick Campbell was curate of Otford from 1836 to 1845 and afterwards of Hever, while Henry Western Onslow was rector of Illington in Norfolk from 1851 to 1861 and of Ashurst, Tunbridge Wells from 1861 to 1900. The third son George bequeathed L500 for the poor of Otford. Every year the interest on this sum is distributed by the Vicar and Churchwardens to deserving residents of Otford who attend church to receive the money. (Appendix B11). This charity is therefore of more value than a much older Polhill bequest of 20/- a year for the same purpose, which, according to a visitation return was in existence in 1807 but had died out by 1847. (Bagshaw's Directory of Kent).
George interested himself in the well-being of his tenants and in 1811 championed the cause of the people of Shoreham against the proposals of Sir William Stirling to construct a turnpike from east to west through the village. (A).
On his death on the 13th September 1839 a plain white marble tablet was erected by his widow on the north wall of the sanctuary of Otford Church. It was the work of John Bacon, R.A. and his pupil Samuel Manning. At the top of the tablet is an open book with a cross and laurels over. Beneath the inscription are the arms of the family in colour. On the dexter side are the quarterings of Polhill, Buckland, Sandbach and Theobald. On the sinister side are the arms of Porteus:- azure, a book or between in chief 2 mullets and in base a satire couped argent.
The inscription reads:-
"Sacred to the Memory of George Polhill. Esq. late of Sundridge and formerly of Chipstead Place in this county. (Son of the late Charles Polhill, Esq. of the same place) who departed this life on the 13th day of September 1839 aged 72 years and is buried in the vault beneath. He possessed the esteem and respect of the county as an active and independent magistrate. The simplicity of his manners, the warmth of his benevolence and general integrity of his character.
He was most affectionate, beloved of his family and universally respected among his friends and neighbours, both rich and poor. Yet though thus regarded justly among men he bowed as a sinner before God and hoped for pardon and salvation only through Him, who once suffered for sins, the just and the unjust."
His widow died the 21st February 1847. Her hatchment was added to the seven already in the church making eight altogether, and completing a set which forms a unique memorial to three generations of the Polhill family over a period of nearly one hundred years. Originally placed on the front of the gallery which formerly crossed the west end of Otford Church (37) they were transferred to the west wall when the gallery was demolished in 1863. The eight hatchments were restored to their original
brilliance of colour in 1955 at the expense of the family. They have been recorded by an historical society at Bath which has made a study of hatchments and has particulars of some 4000 still displayed in Britain of which the major number in any one county is 360 in the county of Kent.
CHARLES II (SUNRIDGE AND KING'S LYNN.)
The eldest son Charles, born 8th October 1805, succeeded his father George in September 1839. By contrast with his predecessors he lived a rather retired life, spending his time between Sundridge, Cambridge Torrace, London and King's Lynn. He married late in life, Sarah Stables, a widow, of King's Lynn. He died 3rd October 1874, a day or two before his 69th birthday, leaving two young daughters, Beatrice Mary and Elizabeth Mary. His anxiety for these young descendants is expressed in his long and carefully worded will in which he appointed trustees for the whole of his estates. After providing legacies for his widow, brothers and stepson, he instructed his trustees in great detail how he desired the estates to be administered for the benefit of his daughters and thereafter intail male. He provided that in the event of his daughters marrying, their husbands should within one year take steps to add the surname of Polhill to their own family surname and quarter the arms of Polhill with their own. He also directed that the trustees should have on trust all the pictures, minatures, silver-plate, books, coins, china and such other articles forming his 'collection' and to allow the same to devolve and remain as heirlooms. (Will at Somerset House, No. 754.)
His eldest daughter Beatrice, married Major Alfred George Streatfeild Beadwell who served in India, Egypt etc. and died September 1906. Their son Montgomery Polhill, born 1888 served in his father's regiment, the King's Own Scottish Borders and died in 1913. Their daughter, Beatrice Dorothy Polhill, born 1896, married in 1925 Ronald Campbell B.A. Daniel who after service in H.M.J. Centurion in the first World War and following an architectural career between the wars, was killed in action during the evacuation of Narvik in 1940. Their only son was born and died in July 1950.
His second daughter, Elizabeth, married Capt. Robert Brownell Drabble of Sundridge in 1890, who thereafter assumed the surname Polhill-Drabble and duly quartered his arms with those of the Polhill family. (14). He was a Barrister of the Inner Temple, Justice of the Peace for the County of Kent and a county councillor. They had four children, one son, Charles Robert Polhill (17.3.1899), and three daughters, Sybil Mary, Elizabeth May who died 4th May 1945 and was buried at Otford, and Joan Nisel who married Major Cuthbert Henry Liddell on 10th June 1929 and is now at Kineton, Warwickshire.
Major Liddell was son of John Liddel, late of Prudoe Hall, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Sherfield Manor, Basingstoke. He served with distinction with the 15th. the King's Hussars in both world wars.
Captain Robert Polhill-Drabble was died on April 14th. 1941 and was laid to rest with other members of the Polhill family in the private vault behind the east window of Otford parish church near to the resting place of many generations of past Polhills.
The only son, Charles Robert Polhill, served with distinction with the Coldstream Guards during the first world war and was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and leadership at La Flaque on 4th. November 1918. He gained his majority in 1939 and during the second world war served in the Ministry of Supply. He married Vera Mary Hargreaves, daughter of L.W. Griffith of Folkstone on 7th. April 1934. She died on St. George's Day 1957.
There are no surviving children to the descendants of Charles Polhill II, and, in default of any unforeseen happening, the end of the Kentish line of Polhills after five hundred years would appear to be one of the inevitable and regrettable occurrences of the twentieth century.<< Previous Next >>