KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY  -- RESEARCH   Studying and sharing Kent's past      Homepage

Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 89  1974  page 111
The Tithe Commutation Surveys in Kent  By Roger J.P. Kain, B.A., Ph.D.

are frequently portrayed using the conventional signs recommended by Dawson. Although tithe-free lands are usually described in the apportionments, they are not always recorded on the maps. The map of Goodnestone-next-Wingham, for example, shows only the few, scattered parcels of titheable land. Woodland is indicated by conventional symbols north of the Pilgrims’ Way in Chevening, but not to the south where it was tithe-free. Very rare are maps, like that of Standford, on which farm or estate boundaries are indicated. Occasionally, other features are portrayed on the tithe maps. Brickworks, for instance, are shown on the Frindsbury map.
   Lieutenant Dawson, the organiser of the tithe survey of England and Wales, put his faith in the ability of local country surveyors to produce suitable maps for commutation. All but one of the Kentish maps which bear the name of their surveyor were produced by men living in London or the county. The sole exception was the map of Woodchurch which was the work of J. McLachlan, of Stowmarket in Suffolk. Sixty-seven different surveyors are named on the Kent maps, but the vast majority of them produced just one or two plans of the parishes near their homes. Notable, however, are five surveyors who between them made a considerable contribution to the tithe survey of Kent. The districts in which they worked are indicated on Fig. 4. Of the five firms one in particular stands out. Thomas Thurston, of Ashford, produced at least 58 maps and worked in almost

all parts of the county. It must be admitted that not all his maps were original surveys. Most of the Romney and Walland marsh maps were revised from either the surveys of Thomas Hogben made in 1760—5 or N. and F. Giles’ surveys of 1812—13. Dawson inspected these maps himself and agreed with the landowners’ request that they could be used as a basis for commutation. Thurston made tracings of them at the six-chain scale and brought them up to date.34  Other maps were originally made for poor assessment purposes and, subsequently, adopted for tithe commutation. The commissions of the four other surveyors named on Fig. 4 show a much more restricted distribution. Frederick and Henry Drayson did most of their work in the Faversham area, but were also employed by some Wealden and north-west Kent landowners. Alexander Doull’s contracts were principally in north Kent while the tithe mapping of Small and Sons and John Adams was mainly restricted to east Kent.
   As already noted, in many parishes, landowners tried to save themselves some of the cost of a new survey by presenting assistant tithe commissioners with maps drawn originally for other purposes. T. S. Woolley criticised the inaccurate field boundaries on the infamous 1801 map of Tonge. A map of Otford made in 1816 showed that there were 2,852 acres of titheable land. At a commutation meeting in 1843,
   34  P.R.O. I.R.18/3774.

Page 111

Previous Page                  Back to Page listings               Next Page     

Back to Contents page   Back to Arch. Cant. List   Back to Publications On-line  Back to Research Page  Back to Homepage

Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382
© Kent Archaeological Society November 2003

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs.  Any errors noticed by other researchers will be to gratefully received so
 that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details to research@kentarchaeology.org.uk