Goathams at Salter’s Platt

[adminnote] more research to do / list of movement to marshy areas to add here  [/adminnote]

Two leases of land at Mystole in Chartham to Goathams exist, dated 1596 and 1614. The leases were between the owners of the land, the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral and “John Gotham husbandman of Eastry” (in 1596) and “Richard Goatham husbandman of Chislett” (in 1614).

The leases are held in the Canterbury Cathedral Archives Centre where I have seen and attempted to transcribe the 1614 lease. I hope on my next visit to the archives to see and transcribe the other.

The leasees

John Gotham of Eastry

I know of no Goatham links with Eastry – I need to see Eastry PRs to see if I can learn anything from them.  In 1568 one John Goatham had a son Samuell baptised in Chartham – I don’t know what became of John, the KFHS transcripst for Chartham do not include his burial. Was this “John of Eastry”? Possibly, but I think it more likely it was one of the sons of Richard Gotham, who had children baptised in Chartham between 1566 and  1581 (at least).

Two of Richard’s sons, baptised in 1566 and 1568, were called John, not as commonly the second being given the name as the first had died, since both were still living when Richard wrote his will (1585)! I believe one John moved to Burmarsh, and that the other was the John who died in 1611 at which time he was “of Herne”. It is this latter who I think was the John of Eastry who leased the land.

Richard Gotham of Chislett

About Richard

Richard married in Canterbury in 1613, and had children baptised in Herne between 1615 and 1633 – the baptisms of some referring to him as “of Chislett”.  Date of death not (yet) known, no will known.

Link to John

If I have correctly identified John, then I believe Richard was his brother or his son.

Richard, John’s brother:  John had a brother Richard born in 1577 who only lived for a few days, but it is clear from John’s father’s will that there was another Richard who survived. He could have been born between the last known child of Richard and Cicely and Richard’s death, i.e. 1582 – 1585, or Richard may have married Cicely as a widower and had a son Richard by his first marriage. If born in the 1580s he would be the right age to have married in 1613 and had children as above. If born in the 1560s or earlier it would clearly have been possible but less likely, and also perhaps less likely that aged over 50 he was taking on this extra land.   Both John (d. 1611) and his brother John (d. 1622) entrusted their brother Richard with the task of overseeing the execution of their wills so he was clearly still alive.

Richard, John’s son:  I have yet to find the baptism of John’s children – I have not looked at the Herne PRs early enough, or of course they may have been baptised elsewhere. From John’s will, made in 1611 and referring to his son Richard receiving his inheritance on reaching the age of 21, it is apparent not only that he had a son called Richard but that he was born after 1590. It would need to have been soon after if he was the Richard marrying in 1613. If he was old enough, it seems more likely that farming the land at Salter’s Platt would have passed from father to son.

Richard senior

The 1614 lease refers to work done improving the land, particularly by the erection of a barn by “Richard Gotham deceased”. I’m sure this must be John’s father, Richard. He died in 1585 but his wife, Cicely, lived until 1596, so I guess that the family continued to farm it under the agreement that Richard had until Cicely died.

The land

The area is described in the 1614 lease as

lyinge in Chartam aforesaid
called Salters Platt
to the kinges highewaie and mysoole greene towards the East and south
to the lands now or late of John Parkenham towards the west and north

Mystole was a hamlet / area within Chartham parish, to the south west of Chartham village, due south of Shalmsford Street – Mystole House and Mystole Park Farm can be seen on OS Landranger Map 179. However, I don’t know where the green was, nor which road is being referred to.

On the downs or near the river?

These (the contemporary House and Farm) are on the downs, and as there is a mention of John Parkenham’s land rather than the River Stour to the north and west this may suggest that Salter’s Platt was on the downs. However, with land holdings small,  it is possible that the land was at the foot of the downs, land which would presumably have been subject to regular flooding. I wondered if the term “platt” would help, but my small-ish dictionary, placenames book and even the OED (online) seem to lack a definition.  My book on surnames, however, offers two: ‘plot, patch’ (Old English) or ‘level ground, footbridge’ (Old French) – so not a lot of help if it’s being used in the Old English sense. The plot of land Salter had could, presumably, have been on the downs or by the river.

I have a copy of an old (1888) OS map of Canterbury and Ashford – this shows an area called “Deanery” but as this is north of Shalmsford Street either the area known as Mystole has changed (which seems quite possible – over 4 centuries Shalmsford Street may have grown up and Mystole shrunken) or, equally possible, the Dean and Chapter may own more than one plot of land in Chartham.

If I don’t find out before them, I also hope  on my next visit to the Canterbury Archives that I may find that they have a map of exactly where this land was.  (I understand the Cathedral still owns land in Chartham)

Understanding where the land was should enable us to have more understanding of the work done by the Goathams in inclosing and farming the land.

The lease

The parts of the 1614 lease I find particularly interesting are its reference to “Richard Gotham deceased” who had improved the land by erecting a barn, and the requirement on Richard to inclose and fence the land.

Inclosing the land

From the OED

Variant form of enclose v., being the legal and statutory form, in reference to the enclosing of common and waste lands; …

So was Salter’s Platt previously common or waste land?

I intend to learn more about inclosing land and what it is likely to have meant in Salter’s Platt, and what  type of farming might have taken place there when the Goathams were there.

In the meantime, some speculation:

As Richard senior’s sons and his (brother?) John’s son moved away, they all moved to or close to marshy areas.

[adminnote]list them here[/adminnote]

Why was this, when there was so much non-marshy farmland nearer? Several possibilities spring to mind. Land may have been hard to acquire but as new farmland was still being reclaimed from marshland then it might have been easier to obtain. The early death of so many from malaria in the marshes may also have increased the availability – fewer would have left sons to take over. The profits to be made from raising sheep on the marshes may also have been attractive.

Or was there more to it – had the younger family members learnt from their fathers not just the skills for farming this kind of land, but also how to drain and reclaim it. Were they descended from Dutchmen brought across to England because they possessed the skills needed? This could be the truth behind 2 different stories I have heard from other Goathams / Goatham descendants that the Goathams came from the Low Countries (I will write more about these stories on another page).

A picture in Stone in Oxney Church of the ‘innings’ (inclosures) around Romney Marsh show that while a large area was inclosed by Roman times, more land was still being inclosed into the C17th.

I’m sure I read somewhere recently about upset caused by flooding of the Stour and a Cardinal bringing across Dutchmen. I will try to work out what I was reading and if my memory is correct and it is relevant I will add notes here.


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