See also Farrant Family Tree.
The following notes on the FARRANT family at Leigh are taken from Lawrence Biddle’s book and other sources.
Listings of births, marriages and deaths/burials and other references are contained in the separate document FARRANT FAMILY OF LEIGH and filed in the Leigh Archives.
From the parish registers of Leigh, there have been Farrants living in Leigh (and Leigh Hollanden/Hildenborough) from the 1590s but they were here before that as the ‘Porcupine’ was in the ownership of Edward Farrant in 1579. The name Farrant appears with regularity in parish registers, but it is not easy to link up the various branches of the family from the 1590s down to the last appearance in Leigh Parish Registers of a William Farrant who is buried at Leigh in 1837. The use of the names William and James as well as Richard, John and Thomas through the generations makes it difficult through parish registers alone to be accurate with the Family Tree, given separately, and it is as close as I can make it and open to correction as further evidence becomes available. With no ages at death until the 1813+ parish registers, again it is not possible to be accurate as to when various family members died. So far I have traced only three Wills pre 1858 (via ancestry.com), although there may be other Wills via other Courts pre-1858, but a visit to Kent Archives would be required. Also I have not looked at records held at the Kent Archives in Maidstone, except at the on-line catalogue which gives three Leigh and area ‘Farrants’, but there might well be more information on land tenure in particular.
The earliest record we have at Leigh is of the occupation of what is known as Porcupine House. The Porcupine was next to East Lodge at the entrance to the village from Hildenborough: the Porcupine was the crest of the Sidney family of Penshurst and part of Leigh formed part of Penshurst landholdings. In 1579 the Porcupine was in the ownership of Edward Farrant who was liable to repair 13 feet of the Churchyard boundary. Because this house and land are mentioned in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Leigh Hollanden 29 April 1647 as being owned by a Richard Farrant, we can link the two men as being related. On the death of Richard Farrant (we assume Richard buried at Leigh on 22 October 1646) who held this property as copyhold to the Manor of Leigh Hollanden for a yearly rent of 7d, the messuage and land passed under the custom of gavelkind to his four sons in equal shares – his four sons named as Thomas, William, Richard and Godfrey. However, only Godfrey appears as baptized at Leigh in 1641: this could be because the original registers are illegible or that they were baptized elsewhere. There is a Richard and a William and a Thomas married and with children at Leigh in the following generation who are more than likely to be the above named sons of Richard, but we do not know when they were born or where without widening the research. We do know that two sons born about the right time with the names Richard and Thomas of James Farrant and his wife, Denise died young enabling us to discount that particular line of descent.
According to Lawrence Biddle, the four sons all sold their shares to the Lord of the Manor although we do not have a date, but it appears that it was in the possession of Abraham Harrison of Hall Place when he died in 1717, passing Porcupine and 5 acres of land to his son, James Harrison.
Other property in the 18th and 19th century in the possession of the Farrant family and which formed part of the copyhold of the Manor of West Leigh consisted of four cottages with gardens and orchards, one of which, called Brights, was the home of James Farrant and on his death of his son William Farrant.
When we refer to Brights, we are referring to cottages that used to be where The Square is today as well as the property beyond them, which in 1872 consisted of three cottages, but may well have been a single house at an earlier date. A hundred years earlier, in 1781, Brights was the property of James Farrant, the Parish Clerk: in 1781 the property was mortgaged to Robert Burgess (who would marry Sarah Farrant in 1785). When James Farrant died in 1791, the property passed to his widow, Ester Farrant, and then his son, William Farrant (b.1770-d.1837). William (by his Will of 1837) pass the property to his housekeeper, Sarah Nott, and subsequently to his sons William Farrant and James Farrant (sons of William and Sarah Nott). The property of Brights remained in the ownership of the Farrant family until 1868, when it was sold to Thomas Baily and together with three of the six cottages adjoining, formed part of the property bought by Samuel Morley in 1870. The other 3 cottages had been given by Sarah Harbroe (née Farrant) by her Will to her sister Mary Saint, who had them pulled down in 1841 and replaced by 4 cottages. In her Will Mary Saint gave these 4 cottages to her daughter Emily Catherine May for life, and after her death to her grandson, Allan May. Allan sold them in 1889 to Samuel Hope Morley. (The Schedule of Title Deeds document held in the Hall Place file in Leigh Archives gives a list of documents relating to ‘Brights’).
Samuel Hope Morley pulled down Brights and the 7 cottages and built The Square to the design of Sir Ernest George and Peto
Lawrence Biddle does not say in his text which member of the Farrant family sold it to Thomas F Baily in 1868, but gives the following reference West Leigh Manor Rolls. De Lisle MSS K.A. U1745 M48. However, it would be safe to assume either William or James Farrant named above.
Also it is noted that in the 1841 tithe schedule, cottages listed as 75, 76, 77 – cottages and gardens which are next to the beerhouse (occupier: Waite) show no occupier, but the owner is given as Sarah Harbroe (daughter of James Farrant). These cottages were part of The Square (and of Brights).
Both James Farrant (d. 1791) and his father, William Farrant (d.1770) were Parish Clerks of Leigh. Biddle says James Farrant had become Parish Clerk of Leigh on the death of his father, William Farrant in 1770. According to records at Maidstone, a William Farrant acquired his Parish Clerk licence in 1729, so he held that role for nearly 40 years.
As can be seen above, we do know a little about the descendants of James Farrant and his wife Hester: their first child was born and buried, unbaptized, in 1760: following this, they had four further children: one son, William, bapt. 21 June 1770, and three daughters Sarah bapt 1762; Eliza bapt 1772; and Mary bapt 1775. It was Sarah Farrant at aged 23 who would marry on 16 October 1785 Robert Burgess of Hall Place, then aged 60. On the death of Robert Burgess, Sarah continued to live at Hall Place and married as her second husband James Harbroe of Sundridge. She was able to increase the size of the Hall Place Estate by the purchase in the Children bankruptcy of Lower Street Farm (which the Children family had owned since the 14th century), together with part of Reams Farm and Little Lucy’s both in Lower Street, and from another branch of the Children family Leigh Cottage (now The Woods). When James Harbroe died in 1820, Sarah decided to sell Hall Place; the purchaser was the family of Farmer Baily.
James Farrant’s other daughters made successful marriages – to members of the Saint family of Groombridge (for further information on the Saint family, see Leigh Archives):
Mary Farrant, his youngest daughter, when aged 19 married William Saint (William Saint, born in 1773, was the son of Gideon Saint, who was one of a Huguenot family formerly of St Lo in France). They lived at The Woods, Leigh. Their only child, Emily Catherine Saint, would marry Thomas May, Vicar of Leigh in 1825. They would have nine children. (See May Family Tree). Under the Will of James Harbroe who died in 1820, Hollanden Farm, now Great Forge Farm in Riding Lane, then in the occupation of George London, was given absolutely to Emily Catherine Saint if she should attain the age of 25. Of course, by then she was wife of Thomas May, making Thomas May a sizeable landowner in the area.
Elizabeth Farrant also married a Saint, John Saint, the brother of William Saint above.
The following are abstracts from WILLS available to view in full via Ancestry.com.
Will of Anne Farrant of Leigh (W1 on Family Tree)
Probate 22 August 1749
John Farrant son of my nephew William Farrant (£5)
Anne Farrant, the same and other items
James Farrant Jnr £5
Edward Farrant £2
William Farrant Jnr £2
I give to child that shall be born of the wife of John Farrant my nephew sum of £5 when full age
James Farrant nephew my bedstead
Cousin Elizabeth Farrant teaspoons
3 nephews William, James and John Farrant, effects, goods, land, bills etc and also appoint them executors.
Her mark, in presence of James Wilbore, Anne Wirking
Will of William Farrant (cordwainer) (W2 on family tree)
Probate 10 Feb 1775 (Will made 26 July 1770) (He was buried 9.9.1770)
Lands, messuages, tenements etc to SON, James Farrant and heirs
Gift to son William Farrant of 1 shiling a week
To two other sons, John Farrant £3 money and Edward Farrant £5 money
Made James Farrant, executive.
William Farrant signs. Witnesses: Wm Crandall, Thos Golding, Thos Scoones
Will of William Farrant, painter and glazier, of 84 Upper Rathbone Place, London (W3 on family tree)(Date 7 July 1832; proved 13 June 1837)
Of William Farrant of 48 Upper Rathbone Place .. painter and glazier.
To housekeeper Sarah Nott, daughter of John and Mary Nott late of Chelsea, all freehold messuages or tenements and premises and grounds in parish Leigh in possession of Hy Wheatley and his son William Wheatley and … and … as tenants to me .. to hold for her natural life. After decease give said messuages etc to my two illegitimate sons now residing with me begotten of said Sarah Nott and known by names of William Farrant and James Farrant and their sons and assigns for ever as tenants in common and not as joint tenants. All residue of estate to Sarah Nott and assigns; Sarah Nott appointed executrix.
Joyce Field (November 2015)