On 26th June 1460 the Earl of Warwick accompanied by the future Edward IV landed at Sandwich with a force of 2000 men. By the time they reached London the army numbered 40 000. With the army was Sir Thomas Kiriel (Crioll) a major landowner in East Kent and Lord of the Manor of Great Mongeham. Also joining the army was William Crayford of Great Mongeham, a member of the minor gentry.

After the battle of Northampton Crayford was made knight bannerette by Edward “for his eminent services performed there and at different times before”. The following year Kiriel was taken and beheaded on the battlefield of St. Albans. Thus the fortunes of two families were changed by the Wars of the Roses and the story of the Crayfords of Great Mongeham began.

His son was Guy Crayford, who married a daughter of John Moynings (or Monins). His son, John, is the first name to appear on the family tree which appears in The Visitation of Kent taken in the years 1619 –1621. His son, anotherJohn, was an usher to the Privy Chamber of Henry VIII

Crayford Arms

This is the original coat of arms awarded in 1460. Additions were made as more titles came to the Crayfords. The Visitation indicates that the three figures on the chevron are falcon heads, but Hasted states ‘Or, on a chevron, sable, three eagle heads, erased, argent. Philipott says……… that he does it to rectify a mistake, which ……. has crept into our Heraldic Visitations of Kent, in which the paternal coat of this family is represented, as being Upon a chevron, three falcon heads, erased’

Although the Crayfords became major landowners in Great Mongeham, they were not Lords of the Manor. At least from the time of the Domesday Book the eastern part of Great Mongeham was a separate manor held by the Crioll family. The manor house was Fogges Court which was on Clarkes Hill, just behind Church cottages. The western part of the village was in the manor of Adisham. As a result of Henry VIII’s dissolution of St. Augustine’s monastery in 1538 it was annexed to the revenue of the crown. Henry the Eighth granted it to the dean and chapter of Christ-church Canterbury; they conveyed it by lease to John Fropehunt, who sold it to someone called Gibbs, and by the year 1659 the lease belonged to the family of Crayford.

In 1594 (the ‘36th yeare of the rayne of Queen Elizabeth’) John Baker sold Watling Manor in ‘Ripple, Walmor Deale Mongeham & Sholden’ to William Crayford and his son Edward. In 1648 his grandson, William, together with John Cooley of ‘Casalton’ in Surrey purchased the Manor of Hull in Sholden for £562/2/9.

The Crayfords were quite aggressive in their accumulation of land. In 1601 a dispute over land was taken to the House of Lords. The ‘Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the High Court of Parliament were this Day informed’ (1st December) that William Crayford, had procured the arrest of William Vaughan, Servant to the Earl of Shrewsbury, and he was committed to the Prison of Newgate, ‘where he yet remaineth’. The Lords ordered that the pair of them, together with those involved in the arrest should appear before them the following day. William Crayford was brought into the House by the Serjeant at Arms, together with the Keeper of Newgate, and one Millington, an Attorney, the Under Sheriff of Middlesex, and ‘another Person that was Fellow Bailiff with Crayford’ Those involved in the arrest declared that they ‘knew not the said Vaughan to be a Man privileged by the Parliament at the Time of his Arrest’ The Lords considered that Crayford had ‘very maliciously, and upon unnecessary Suits (that did not concern himself), prosecuted the serving and laying of sundry Executions upon William Vaughan’, so they ordered, That he should be committed to the Prison of The Fleet.

On the 18th December, William Crayford, ‘of Mongeham, in Kent, Gentleman’, was brought before the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, , to answer an Information made against him, that he had ‘procured and suborned his Son, William Crayford, to lay sundry Executions and Outlawries on William Vaughan, Gentleman, Servant to the Earl of Shrewsbury’. Crayford protested that he was guiltless, and that his son had not received any direction from him. The Court ordered that the ‘Examination and Determining of the Controversies and Suits’ be referred to the Earl of Worcester, the Bishop of London, and Lord Cobham; and that Crayford and Vaughan should enter into ‘good and sufficient Bonds, each to other’.

They were back in court the next day, with William Crayford claiming that ‘it sufficed not for William Vaughan alone to be bound, because his Heirs, or some other claiming by and from him, might trouble and molest him’. William Vaughan naturally made a similar counterclaim. The Lords decreed that they should enter into a bond with sufficient surety for themselves and their heirs, and if they refused to enter into the bond they would be committed into ‘close prison’.

The judgement (a copy of which hangs in the Village Hall)was in favour of the Crayfords,because the “ssaide landes and tenementes and that yt seemeth verry probable unto us that the same landes and tenementes are parcell and doe belonge and of auncient tyme have bene parcell and belongings to the Mannor of Watlinge in Ryple as parte of the Demesnes of the saide Manner and that the same are not nor never were any parte of the Inheritance of the said William Vaughan or any of his Auncestorsy”.

One of the fields in dispute was “Blakenhill”, which appears on later maps as Black Hill.

Other Great Mongeham Crayfords of the Early Modern period seem to have been involved in legal disputes, and shady practices, although I have not been able to link them with the family tree.

In 1593 several ships were wrecked on the “Goodwins, the North sands head, the South sand Head, and sandwich Bay.” Assistance was given by boats from Deal, Walmer, and other nearby ports. The boats also helped to save the cargoes. Instead of being paid for their services in money, they were paid in kind according to a “devysion between the merchants and them.” naturally, some of the goods were concealed and many were carried to Upper Deal, Sholden and Mongeham, to be disposed of. It seems that all classes were involved in this business. One William Butteres, of Mongeham, deposed to carrying 3 cakes of wax and half a dozen kettles from Henry Clement’s house to a Mrs Crayford.

Thomas Crayford of Great Mongeham seemed to have had a feud with John Austen of Cottenton (Cottington). On 24th November, 1601,Thomas shot “ducke at Sholden and malard” with a gun “chardged with powder and haylshott”. On 20th November, 1601, John Austen, yeoman, Richard Coxe and James Wicke, husbandmen, all of Northbourne, at Sholden, assaulted Thomas Crayford, gent., and stole ‘a muskett’ worth 40s. belonging to him.

The Mongeham Crayford Memorial
The Crayford Memorial

On the 7th December John Austen made his confession ‘regarding an affray near Sandwich, arising out of the shooting of wild fowl by Mr. Thomas Crayford’. Thomas Crayford appeared on the 10th December to give evidence. At a later session it was decided that the penalty for taking the musket was a 6s 8d fine for John Austen and 2s 6d each for the others. The stated value of stolen property does not necessarily reflect their true value; the musket was valued at 40s, since a higher value would have made the crime a capital offence. The feuding seems to have continues, as ‘on 12th July, 1602 Thomas Crayford of Great Mongeham, gent., and Stephen Abbott of the same, husbandman, at Sholden, assaulted John Austen of Northbourne, yeoman, and Thomas Crayford beat him on the head and arms with a staff, 12 feet long, two inches thick, worth 12d., so that blood flowed.’ Was this feud ever resolved? Will we ever know.

The Crayford residence was known as Stonehall, apparently a brick and flint building with a facade of Caen stone. Hasted says that although it was not a modern building, it was of no great antiquity, so was probably late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. Hasted also says that the mansion was the residence of the Crayford family for ‘many descents’ so if it was built by the first Edward, whose son, William, was born mid 16th century, it would have passed through three descents before the last William, who was born in 1609 and who was the last Crayford to live in Great Mongeham.

He is ‘Will’ in the inscription above taken from a memorial in St. Martin’s Church, which also lists his brothers George, Richard and John and sister Anne. His mother , Anne, was the sister of Mary Hayward, who married Sir Warham St. Leger, Sheriff of Kent. William married Ursula, daughter of Rev. Daniel Horsmanden rector of Purleigh. Daniel’s grandmother was Ursula, daughter of Sir Warham St. Leger. Daniel’s grandfather, also Daniel, was removed by Parliament in 1643 as Cavalier Minister at Ulcombe.

Although some of the estate was inherited by his nephew, Edward, son of his brother, George, his widow, Ursula, inherited the mansion. She later married Nordash Rand from Ripple, in 1677. Nordash had Stonehall pulled down, presumably to save on the upkeep of two residences. When he died in 1721 he left everything to his wife. On her death in 1725, Ursula left the bulk of the remaining estate (which included 80 acres of pasture and another 70 acres in the occupation of William Paramor, and a cottage in the hands of John Bayly) to her daughter, Ursula, and it passed from her to her niece, Mary Morrice (nee Chadwick), wife of William Morrice of Betteshanger. [1] Thus, after more than two centuries, there were no more Crayfords in Great Mongeham.

Inscription on a memorial in St. Martin’s Church, Great Mongeham


A summary of entries in the Court Rolls for the Manor of Adisham for the century from 1674 to 1792 gives an account of subsequent events.

‘In 1683, at North Court, Mr. Norris Rann of Mongeham was presented for not entering land at Tilmanstone, but rent was paid by Wood at 8s 11d for lands late Crayford’s and he paid the same amount for Nordash rand in 1685. In the list of tenants to be summoned for that year is ‘Mr. Rand late Sir Wm. Crayford’s heirs.’ At South Court in 1682 and in 1683 John Wood late Crayford paid rent at 8d a year. In 1685 presentment was made there of Wm. Crayford’s death, and that the lands had come to Nordash Rand in right of his wife. Rand paid the respective rents due to the two Courts till 1715; he is styled ‘Major Rand’ in 1708. In 1718 the same presentment was made in both places that Nordash rand and Ursula his wife had alienated the land held of the Manors to Robert Furnese bart., and John Wood was tenant. R.F. paid at the two courts till 1731. In 1734 his death was presented at North Court, and that he held lands belonging to Burvill Farm at rent 3s11d and 5 hens, and lands at Upton at 1s4d a year.’

It was Nordash Rand who ordered the demolishing of Stonehall, no doubt to avoid paying tax on the property.