Some notes regarding the Halke family from which I am descended. I have really only started looking at this family since a holiday in Kent in Sept. 2014, so my research so far is limited. In time I plan to have a few pages on this website about the family which should make it easier to follow what I have found about them. The documents (wills etc.) will also be better linked into my tree i.e. with links from the pages of all those involved (e.g. beneficiaries and executors of wills, not just testators).

I think this page is now up-to-date following a holiday in Kent in July 2015 – but there is lots to add to this website as a result of that holiday. In particular, many Halke wills, which I have started transcribing. Also some photos, a few of gravestones, more of churches and villages where events took place, some others e.g. Bircholt Manor House.  I also looked at ‘the old book of Wye’ and will be adding some information from that, relating to rates paid by Halkes and other references to the family. All this will take me months at least.

What I have added I have added quite quickly, as I have had several people contact me re the Halke family; consequently there may well be some broken links and out-of-date notes on my tree. Hopefully nothing that will cause too much confusion – if you would like something clarified, please ask; if not but you can spare a moment to tell me of something wrong I would appreciate it.

In time I will tidy / add properly the cryptic or even missing references to sources for Halke events on my tree, many links for which the evidence is not obvious may be due to information in wills and this not currently shown.

In the meantime, if you are interested in a particular conclusion I have made or piece of information I may have do challenge / ask.

My link to the Halkes

Prebendary Thomas Becon is generally believed to have come from a quite humble background.

His ordination and position in the church enabled his children and grandchildren to make ‘good’ marriages. This includes that of his grandson Thomas, my 8 x great grandfather, who married Jane ‘Hawke’ in 1624/5.

Jane was baptised there in 1608/9, daughter of Mr William Hawke ‘of Bircholt’.

Although Jane’s surname was spelt Hawke at both her marriage and baptism, an alternative, and it would seem older, spelling is Halke or Halk.

The name

Like probably all surnames Hawke was spelt in various ways. At the time of Jane, Halke, Hawke and Hauke seem to have been the most common, but Halk seems the earliest. Hasted refers on more than one occasion to ‘Halke, or Hawke as they were usually called’ – I think he means their name was pronounced ‘Hawk’, i.e. the ‘l’ was silent.

These variations do not all show up in a single search, with soundex or with wildcards, unless the latter make the name so general that many other names are shown too, so a number of searches are needed to locate the family. But doing so shows that this family have left far more documentation than most of my ancestors.

The name has sometimes been spelt with an ‘s’ on the end; this variant occurs most often in PRs, so it seems to be a misunderstanding by the clergy who recorded the event, whilst wills etc. have no ‘s’, but in at least one line the version with ‘s’ seems to have been used frequently, including in a will. An ‘s’ on the end also occurs in some indexes in place of the ‘e’, through transcriber’s error.

My Halke direct ancestors

The few documents I have seen so far point pretty conclusively to the above William’s father being Sampson. An ‘inquisition post mortem’ for an earlier William who held property including Bircholt manner and advowson and who died in 1558 mentions 4 sons including a Sampson. A Chancery Court case in 1563 refers to the same will, and shows that William’s father was Richard. Beyond that I am not certain, but I think that Richard was probably the son of that name of a John who died leaving a will in 1492.

… and cousins

A fairly close relationship with Richard of Hastingleigh seems probable, as Richard appointed my ancestor, William of Bircholt (that is, William c.1575-1642) as his executor, describing him as ‘Cosen’. Whilst this does not necessarily mean ‘first cousin’, Richard’s father was John, and William’s father Sampson did have a brother John. Although not mentioned in the Inquistion Post Mortem that followed William’s death he was still living, as his brother Richard referred to him in his will written in 1578. I think it probable that Richard’s father John and William’s father Sampson were brothers, so making Richard and his executor William first cousins.

West Halks in Kingsnorth Parish

From Hasted we learn of a Halk family having lived in Kingsnoth, now Kingsnorth, near Ashford. They occupied the manor of West Halks [now Westhawk Farm], a place now of much interest due to it having previously been a Roman settlement.

But were these Halks in Kingsnoth the ancestors of my ancestors, i.e. of the above Sampson, William, Richard and John?

Hasted wrote:

WEST HALKS, usually called West Hawks, is a manor, situated near the western bounds of this parish, being held of the manor of Kenardington; it formerly was the residence of a family of the name of Halk, who bore on their seals a fess, between three bawks, and sometimes only one, and were of no contemptible account, as appears by old pedigrees and writings, in which they are represented as gentlemen for above three hundred years. Sampson de Halk, gent. died possessed of this manor about the year 1360, and held besides much other land at Petham and the adjoining parishes; but about the latter end of king Henry VI.’s reign [1471], this manor had passed from this family into that of Taylor, in which name it continued till the latter end of king Henry VII. when it was alienated to Clerc, whose descendant Humphry Clerke, esq. about the end of queen Elizabeth’s reign, passed it away to Robert Honywood, esq, of Charing, who settled it on his fourth son by his second marriage Colonel Honywood.

(Hasted, Edward ‘Parishes: Kingsnoth’, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7 (1798), pp. 583-592. On the British History Online website. Date accessed: 16 October 2014.)

Not only does the name Sampson suggest a link, but the land held in Petham does too. When John Halke of Wye died in 1492 he left land in Petham to his son Christopher, thus starting a long line of Halkes living in that parish. An additional Thomas appears to have lived there, who I have been unable to link to the descendants of Christopher. I suspect he is the Thomas to whom the Rev. John left a bequest, describing him as a ‘kinsman’, so it seems not all Halkes found in Petham descend from Christopher the son of John.

But there is a third, and I think the strongest reason, for believing there is a link between my Halke ancestors and the Kingsnoth family.

The advowson of Bircholt

Hasted, in his section on Bircholt Parish notes that the Halke family of Kingsnorth had held the advowson of Bircholt (i.e. the right to present a member of the clergy to that particular living) and shows that in 1617 the patron was William Halke, gent. of Bircholt.

He notes: 

… in king Henry IV.’s reign [1399-1413], as appears by several antient court-rolls, Richard Halke, or Hawke as they were usually called, of West Halks, in Kingsnoth, was the proprietor of it; in whose descendants it continued down to William Halke, who resided here in the reign of queen Elizabeth. He left an only daughter and heir Joane, who married Hamon Handville, of Ulcombe, and thereby entitled him to the possession of this manor.

Hasted’s comments about William Halke and his daughter are not entirely correct. William, father of the Joan who married Hamon Handville actually died a couple of weeks before Elizabeth became queen, and whilst Joan was his only daughter he left a number of sons so the advowson passing to the Handvilles was not inevitable. I think Hasted may have confused this William (senior) with his grandson, the William (junior) who was a patron in 1617, presumably having acquired the advowson on the death of his father Sampson near the end of Elizabeth’s reign and holding it until his death in 1641/2. Hasted seems to imply a simpler move of the advowson away from the Halkes than was the case. The reason the advowson passed to the Handvilles appears in the will of Richard, brother of Sampson. It was he who inherited it from his father William senior, but he died childless and specified that it should go to his brother Sampson for his lifetime and then to Sampson’s son William and his heirs male. He further specified that if William (junior) died without heirs male it should go to his (Richard’s) nephew Sampson Handville and his heirs male.

It does appear true that William junior’s male line died out, with Norton, his last surviving son being buried the same day as him. Norton was the only son to have a son of his own, but he had died in infancy a couple of years earlier.

Although William senior mentions the advowson in his will of 1558 Richard was accused by one Giles Evenett of having obtained it by underhand means in a Court of Chancery case of 1563. In his reply Richard says that his grandfather, also Richard (senior), was seased of the manor and advowson of Bircholt and

by good and Lawfull assurannce and conveyannce in the Lawe assured and conveyed the saide mannor of Bircheholt wth thappurtenance whatsoev[e]r to his sonne Willm Hawke father to the saide Deffendannte

Hence it appears that Richard senior’s not mentioning it in his will was due to his having already passed it on.

The significance of West Halks (or not)

Hasted’s entry for Kingsnoth Parish also notes:

… close to the western boundary of the parish is the manor-house of West Halks, which has been a large antient building, most probably of some consequence in former times, as there appears to have been a causeway once from it, wide enough for a carriage, which led through the courtlodge farm towards Shadoxhurst …

However, the Roman settlement was there because it was where two important Roman roads crossed; I wonder if the size of the causeway was due not to the importance of the manor-house but to it having been an important Roman road.


If it is right that my Halke ancestors were descended from the West Halks family then from Hasted’s article it appears they were armigerous – or at least displayed arms (or am I wrong to think that a symbol on a seal represents a coat of arms?).

Arms do not, as is so often erroneously supposed, belong to those with a particular surname, but the legitimate male descendants of a particular person. Thus finding several families using the same arms should mean that they are related. That this is the case cannot be safely assumed, though. In the past people have desired to be armigerous, and have imagined links to others with the same name without evidence.

Despite some abuse of the system, I think that probably in most cases those using the same arms are related, and so it is worth noting the Halkes using the same arms.

Hasted notes the Halkes of West Halks having on their seals ‘a fess, between three bawks [almost certainly a typo for hawks], and sometimes only one’.

This is in accord with a more detailed description provided in an article on Coats of Arms in Kent Churches  as being on a monument in Faversham Parish Church to the family of the Rev. Richard Halke who was vicar there in the late C18th and early C19th (collected by the Rev. Carus Vale Collier and published in Archaeologia Cantiana, vol. 22, p.186ff– Hawke monument p.201):

Gules, a fess between three hawks close or.
Crest. – An arm embowed in armour, the hand holding a battle-axe in bend, for Halke.

I believe the description means the coat of arms has a red background, with a horizonal band between 3 hawks with their wings closed, the hawks and I think also the band coloured gold.
A crest matching the description above is shown for a Halke lineage here on on this website.

A Thomas Halke of Petham was buried under a table tomb in the churchyard there, which Hasted notes has ‘arms, A fess, between three hawks.’

However, it is not clear that the Halke family were using these arms legitimately. There is no entry for any Halke or Hawke family in either ‘The Visitation of Kent, 1619’ or ‘A Visitation of the County of Kent, 1663-1668’. If the Halkes did not really have the right to use arms, and were using the arms of another Halke / Hawke family, they may not have all been related to each other.

Between West Halks and Richard or John

Hasted’s entry for Kingsnoth is not only of interest, it is frustrating. What were those ‘old pedigrees and writings’ which showed the family ‘as gentlemen for above three hundred years’? Sometimes Hasted provides more information in footnotes, but not in this case. Some google searches including of some books recording genealogies linked to heralds’ visitations have not yet yielded fruit, and a search on the name in the SOG catalogue has not helped either.

Since West Hawks is described as a manor Hasted may be referring to old manorial documents. I will look at the Manorial Documents Register, and see if any records are shown as surviving for West Hawks when the Halkes appear to have been there. The MDR card index, viewable on microfilm at TNA, is now being put online. Better, the online version will not only include updates to the card index but the data is being updated and a lot of work done to discover records missing from the card index. Work on Kent has only just begun (as I write this in Oct 2015), so I will probably not wait but look at the m/film, but will look again once Kent is online (possibly not till 2017 or 8).

Neither of the wills of my probable ancestors, Richard, who died 1547 nor John, died 1492, allow the family to be extended further back. Between the Sampson mentioned by Hasted and my ancestor with the name there was at least one, probably two other Sampsons.

With the earlier I am only guessing he was a member of this Kentish family due to his name; as Sampson Halke he is recorded in documents related to an expedition in 1387, part of the Hundred Years War.

The other was of Wye, and so that there is some link to the Halkes on this website is more certain. All that I know of him at present is from a will he left in 1488. Surely he must have been a close relation but it is not clear how. He is not mentioned in the will of John of 1492 (which I would expect if he were a son of John – John left bequests to grandchildren, children of his children who predeceased him), and although Sampson does mention a son named John it seems unlikely that this was the John who died in 1492. John (d. 1492) had widespread property, Sampson appears to have had nothing outside Wye. I think most likely Sampson was John’s younger brother, but the relationship could have been more distant.

The link with Wye (hardly surprising, it is an adjoining parish to Brabourne) suggests I may be descended from one Thomas Rose who left a will in 1527. His daughter Agnes married William Halke and her two sons are mentioned in the will.

My latest thinking is that it probably was an ancestor of mine, my ancestor Sampson’s father William, who was married to Agnes Rose, and I now think I am probably descended from Agnes (and there was no subsequent wife, as I had at first suspected).

Thomas Rose’s will was the first pre-reformation one I looked at, making it particularly interesting to me. Will transcription now added, also those of Thomas’s father and son.

Name origins and relations

The Kingsnorth Parish website states that West Halks took its name from the Halks family. I will try to find out if a local historian has good evidence for this, because the ‘de’ in Sampson’s name (above) does suggest a locative surname, and the early date suggests to me the family may have acquired the name from the place.

I guess we would need evidence either that West Halks had some other name when the Halkes family were first there, or that the name of the place pre-dates fixed surnames to be sure one way or the other.

Were Halkes present at West Halks before the above Sampson? It’s a pity that Hasted does not even show which period the 300 years he refers to covered.

One source a little earlier is the lay subsidy – this suggests to me two places with the name Halke in Kent, and that the surname derives from one or both of these.

More to be added about this soon(ish).

Branches on this website at present unlinked

I have not attempted to extract by any means all of the Halkes etc. who could well be related to my line, I started with only those most likely to be closely related, plus the Rev. Richard Halke’s family, since he was vicar of Faversham when other ancestors were there, and is so of particular interest, but now this seems to have grown to any who wills etc. suggest were related and a few others in the same parishes.

Unattached branches – links given to ‘head’ of the branch:

Sampson d. 1488 – of Wye

I think it likely that the Rev. Christopher, Vicar of Bircholt in the mid-C16th, was the grandson of Sampson and have now linked him as such. He was probably quite closely related to those who had the gift of the living. Richard (d. 1546) left a bequest for Christopher the priest to say masses for his soul. His son William d.1558 named a son Christopher – possibly named after the Christopher I think was his (William’s) uncle but that Christopher was clearly not a priest. A John Halke of Wye who died in 1518 left a son Christopher, who appears to have been aged under 18. That would make that Christopher, for whom there appears to be no other possible evidence in the Wye area, about the right age to be the priest. And Sampson (d. 1488) mentioned a son John in his will, who I think was probably the same John who was Christopher’s father.

Thomas of Petham but for whom I have found no link to show he descended from Christopher (d. 1515) who was the ancestor of most Petham Halkes.  I wondered if the Thomas was descended from the son Thomas, a merchant of Canterbury, brother of  John of Hastingleigh mentioned below; however he seems to have had only the one son who survived infancy, Michael who became Rector of Upminster. It now seems that  after he was deprived of his living he lived in London and in his will he mentions no children, leaving everything to his cousins the Rev. John Halke (who succeeded him as Rector of Upminster) and William Halke, a London merchant.

Richard of Hastingleigh, with sons Abraham and William.

Both the above Richard of Hastingleigh and Thomas of Petham, probably the one above, were left bequests in the will of the Rev. John Halke. This suggest they might be fairly closely related to him but so far I have not worked out how they could be, other than by a non-Halke link, which is entirely possible.

William and Frances and their family are still not attached to my main tree, but are now linked to the above Richard of Hastingleigh.

Now attached (previously shown as unattached):

John, of Hastingleigh, father of Richard of Hastingleigh who appointed my ancestor William as his executor – I now think he was probably the John who was brother of my ancestor Sampson.

Thomas of Petham and John, of Petham, who wills suggest were both descended from Christopher Halke, brother to my 12 x great grandfather Richard, and who was left land in Garlinge in Petham parish by his father John.

Richard, grandfather of William, of Hastingleigh, was probably the grandson of my 12 s great grandfather Richard, mentioned in the latter’s will as son of John.

Not a Halke, but I have also added John Rose, father of Thomas of Wye whose daughter Agnes married a William Halke; I suspect this William Halke was my ancestor William, and they are now linked as such; if I am wrong about this then this should be an unattached branch.

I show William the father of Sampson as also the father of Joan who married Hamon Handville; although William does not mention any daughters in his will his son Richard does mention his (Richard’s) sister Joan Handville and hence I am now confident about this link.

The famous

William Harvey

Of most interest to me is that a nephew of Richard Halke of Hastingleigh. Richard’s sister Joan married Thomas Harvey, and the eldest of their large family was William Harvey, the eminent physician.

It is possible that William Harvey’s father, Thomas, was also a cousin through having a Halke grandmother. Thomas was of Folkestone, and before marrying Joan Halke was married to Joan Jenkins, with whom he had a daughter Julian.

I am sure he must be related to the family shown in these tree constructed for 2 seventeenth century visitations:

Jenkin of Folkestone in 1619 Visitation (of most relevance to the Harvey family)

Jenkin of Folkestone in 1663-68 Visitation

Surely the marriage of a Thomas Harvey to a Julian Jenkin (shown in the 1619 tree) cannot be a co-incidence? I think these may be the grandparents of William Harvey. (It could be that this is William’s father and his first wife, with an error in her Christian name somewhere, but the number of generations by 1619 suggests to me it is more likely to have been his grandparents).

Julian Jenkin’s parents are shown as William Jenkin and Julian Haulte or Haulke. Unfortunately both trees show a blank space instead of her father’s name!


Those interested in the Royal family might be interested to know that it seems Prince Charles’ wife is descended from William Harvey’s brother Daniel (details on the Hastingleigh website). It seems that John and Amie are Camilla’s 12 x great grandparents. The closest I think I could be related to Camilla is if, as suggested above, my ancestor William of Bircholt (died 1558) was (as I now think probable) the father John (husband of Amie).

That would make William (d. 1558) Camilla’s 13 x gt grandfather, but he is my 11  x great grandfather, so I reckon that makes Camilla my 12th cousin twice removed!



All Halke wills that I have transcribed so far are now on this website, though most only in draft form (checking to do, probate statements to add etc.). They are all linked to from the testator but (mostly) not yet from others involved.

A list of those I have transcribed and those I have and plan to transcribe can be seen on this page. (A few others are on my ‘to do’ list for my next visit to Kent).


So far I have only transcribed and added one. I hope to add one more soon; the only other I have seen so far is too poor a print to be very readable. See list here.

Court of Chancery

At the time of writing I have only added the bill from one case – but will be adding more, all of which will be linked to from this page.


I have a few other documents relating to the Halke family for which I am seeking permission to publish on this site.


Having a bit more money than most people (and than most of my ancestors) the Halke family have left more documents regarding different aspects of their lives. More wills, more disputes in the Court of Chancery (or of the Duchy of Lancaster), and, very useful from a genealogical point of view, the deaths of a few was followed by an inquisition post mortem. A range of other documents of various types also refer to members of the Halke family. Besides the genealogical information (who was related to whom, how, ages etc.) contained in some items, they help to bring the people on the tree to life, which means I am interested in the documents that do not contain genealogical information as well as those that do.

I have started looking at these for those I believe to relate to my direct ancestors and those I suspect maybe relatively close relations. I am / will be transcribing them and adding to this tree (where copyright allows) but completing this task will take some time. I hope I will be able to join together the above branches; I have looked at just a few of these documents while writing this page and have already been able to reduce the number of separate sections.

Most of the relevant wills were proved at Diocesan or Archdeaconry level in Canterbury Diocese. I saw and obtained copies of most (but not all) of the relevant wills and a few  other doccuments on holiday in Kent in 2015; the rest will have to wait for a future visit.

Parishes and records

Unfortunately a number of the parishes in which my Halkes and their likely close relations lived are just outside the area of East Kent parishes images of whose PRs are on FMP.

Hawke / Halke seems to have been one of the names of interest to Tyler, and entries from his notebooks can be found on Ancestry (but curiously he doesn’t seem to have recorded the Brabourne Hawkes; perhaps his interest arose after he had viewed the PRs for that parish).

FMP = FindMyPast; details of KFHS CDs can be found here (most are now on FMP).

Bircholt – church fell into ruin in C16th. Items listed in inventory of 1552, Hasted says in ruins by 1578. Clearly some family events could have taken place there but no registers or transcripts, nor any other parish records, seem to survive.

Brabourne – some transcribed data on KFHS CD 23, from 1558 (bapt and bur), 1564 (marrs); (‘some’ – quite a few entries illegible / partly illegible to the transcriber, and mistakes, although looking at the microfilm images of the PRs some of these entries are very clear); not on FMP

Elmstedon FMP; not on a KFHS CD (as at 20 Sep 2014)

Hastingleighon FMP – but only from 1730 (PRs only survive from 1730, though BTs from 1563) (on KFHS CD 17 but only from C19th). A lot of useful information on the Hastingleigh website.

Pethamon FMP; on KFHS CD 33

SmeethPR images not on FMP; KFHS CD 31

Walthamon FMP; KFHS CD 34

Wyeon FMP; KFHS CD 23

Sellindge (Hart) – PR images not on FMP; KFHS CD 31

Completing research

As mentioned at the top of this page I have photos and other info. to add. I have also seen a number of Court of Chancery cases and some other similar documents relating to the family, and a few IPMs. In time I will varioulsy look at or finish looking at and transcribing these and will add them to this site.

Future research

That may extend the tree …

Looking at Latin wills

There were Halkes in a neighbouring parish where my Halkes were, i.e. in Aldington. I have copies of the wills. Those I can read do not mention Halke cousins in Wye, but do the earliest ones? I don’t know, they are in Latin so I can’t readily read! (can you help?)

Battle Abbey documents

Before the reformation most of Wye was held by Battle Abbey, hence reference in will of Sampson (d. 1488). There are surviving documents (cited in books about Wye); some of the documents might provide information about the family. I gather most of the documents relating to Battle Abbey and its holdings are now in the US, but there are copies in the East Sussex Record Office.

Exploring the lives of the Halkes on this tree …

Miscellaneous documents

I have a number of documents to look at which relate to the Halkes here, mostly in Kent (at the KHLC or CCA) or at Kew (TNA).


Halke or Hawke — 1 Comment

  1. My ancestors were Halke. My great grandfather was William Alfred Spicer Halke, but he dropped the Halke when he left Kent, therefore all descendants are Spicer.
    My 5th great grandfather was George Halke born in Saltwood Kent in 1723.

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