were destroyed. An exemplification of the charters
was obtained in the reign of George III.
I promised before I closed this paper to refer to the
Skeets family, who were influential clothiers in Tenterden during the
seventeenth century, and carried on business for three generations at
Westcross. By the kindness of the widow of the late Mr. Talbot, formerly
of Tenterden, I have seen the lecture he delivered and the memorandum he
made respecting this family. James Skeets was Mayor of Tenterden in
1643, and on two other occasions. There are entries in old waste books
shewing the extent of the business he carried on. The factory business
was not then known, and the making of cloth was a domestic employment.
John Tylden was another influential clothier at that time in Tenterden,
and carried on business as you enter Tenterden from Cranbrook. The cloth
made was despatched to London, and to the neighbouring fairs. Most of
the leading clothiers were also graziers; the Skeets held Morgue under
the Colepepers. The leading shopkeeper at this time was Susan Butler;
she was a general dealer, and
had a well-stocked shop.
By the end of the eighteenth century the manufacture of
iron and cloth in the Weald had ceased; the former trade was transferred
to Merthyr Tydvil, Aberdare, etc., and the latter to Leeds, Bradford,
etc.; and as to the land, its original and peculiar tenures had been
converted or abolished.
From its earliest history we rarely meet with personal
servitude in this locality, and when we do it is of the mildest form;
the reason is obvious. It was first known as a forest, and it was the
last portion of the shire that was brought into cultivation, and this
was effected when civilization was making rapid advances, when
Kent, encouraging the brave,
Distinguished well the brother from the slave."
The inhabitants of the Weald were amongst the earliest and
foremost to expose the errors of the Romish Church, notwithstanding the
sanguinary laws passed against the Lollards; and with the aid of the
Flemish clothiers, they fostered