long standing. In 1437-8, a bad year, only 23 acres of
the Shorham demesnes could be leased, and those were taken up by various
persons for a short term at 8d. the acre.1 But in 1439 the
Shoreham demesnes were all let again, by court roll, at £3 per
annum, to four men who continued to hold them severally for some
time: John Sepham, John Reeve, butcher, Thomas Blakenham and Thomas
Lane.2 At the same time John Multon took up an acre of the
Otford demesne which lay next to property of his own for is. p.a. In
1440 an acre of North Field was rented at 6d. a year to Thomas Court,
whose own lands lay adjacent.3 Finally, in 1444, the whole
demesne of Otford (less Shoreham, which by now was considered separate)
was let to one Richard Clerk, clerk, for eight years at £15 6s. 8d.
p.a., on condition that the archbishop should maintain the buildings
belonging to the husbandry unless the farmer himself, his servants or
animals were responsible for the damage.4 Major leases like
this were made not by court roll but by private indenture between the
parties. Henceforward, the Otford demesnes, less the small pieces
previously leased off, were held by a single farmer, who took over the
whole stock, including the demense sheep, which was priced at
The farmer held the outer court of the manor, with buildings including
the "Baileychamber ". The palace remained to the
archbishop, to be used and coveted by the Tudors.5
The hidden strength of the early farmers, whose story does not concern
us here, is suggested as well by place-names as in any other way. There
is a Multon meadow in the demesne survey of 1515. Multons were again
farming the demesne in 1536, and George Multon,6 the
father-in-law of Lambarde, was by then styled "gentleman ".
As for the other first farmers, the one-inch O.S. map perpetuates
two of their names in Timberden Bottom and Sepham Farm. The latter is a
patronymic traceable back to the thirteenth century.
1 L.R., 863.
2 L.R., 865.
3 L.R., 868.
4 P.R.O. Ministers’ Accounts (S.C.6), 1129/1.
5 See a paper by the present writer in English
Historical Review, lxvii, 20.
6 Westminster Abbey Muniments, no.
14303 cf. Prerog. Court of Canterbury, Will Register "Thower"
quire 20 (will of Robert Multon of Otford, 1532).