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     Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 73 - 1959 page 174
More Notes on Kentish Roads. By F. C. Elliston-Erwood, F.S.A.  continued

Endorsed.    Sealed and Delivered by the within named John Corbett (being first duly stamped) in the presence of Thomas Billopp  Mr. John Corbett and the Trustees of the New Cross Turnpike Contract for widening Deptford Bridge. Dated. 11th May 1789


These accounts copied verbatim et literatim from the original book are of interest in many ways. Primarily they illustrate the methods of road maintenance in the pre-turnpike era. The Maidstone-Cranbrook road which passes through Staplehurst was not made a turnpike road till 1759 so in these accounts there are no entries of contributions to any Turnpike Trust on account of Statute Duty, the whole of which was therefore available for local purposes. The full range of statutory obligations, due from every adult resident in the Parish, is found recorded whether it be personal labour or supply of materials for repair and upkeep. These services belong probably to the early manorial custom but were given the sanction of law by the Act 3 P & M.c. 8. (1555) and they continued to be enforceable to the General Highway Act of 5/6 Wm.IV.c.50 (1835) when they were abolished. Long before that date however these duties had been converted by consent into money payments with no 

personal labour or supply and cartage of material. Staplehurst accounts illustrate this slow transition very fully. tip to 1742 they show each individuals. contribution either in labour or material or both, as well as a money payment to make up the full contribution. In 1743 all entries are specifically entered as ‘money’. After that date the revenue is obtained from a definite assessment though details are absent, the entries recording names and amounts. By 1755 the assessment is given as granted and assessed by Quarter Sessions and the value of each holding is given. Besides their obvious purpose these accounts record the names of all adult residents and their contributions give some idea of their social standing.
   Highway Surveyors were chosen by the Justices of the Peace from a submitted list of eligible persons when the yearly accounts were produced for the Justice’s approval, the selected persons being indicated by an asterisk. Service was compulsory and penalties were inflicted for failure to serve and for neglect of duty, regardless of whether the chosen officers were knowledgeable in the matter of road upkeep.
   There is not a great deal of topographical information to be gathered from these accounts. Iden Bridge is a small arch over a little stream flowing from Iden Park under the highway at the foot of the hill about

Page 174

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