THE ROBERTSBRIDGE PROJECT
References to People
WIRG Bulletin References to Robertsbridge & Salehurst.
Series 1 No 10 1976 P27
SALEHURST. There were great iron and steel works at Robertsbridge Abbey, already mentioned. In 1623, Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, assigned a lease of Udiham iron-house, in the manor of Robertsbridge, to John Culpeper and Henry English, with power to dig for iron in any of his lordship’s lands in Salehurst, Ewhurst, Watlinge, and Watlington. In 1707, Elizabeth, Countess-dowager of Leicester, and John Sidney, her son, Earl of Leicester, leased the Robertsbridge Furnace for eleven years, to Thomas Snepp, sen., and Thomas Snepp, the younger, his son and heir. The cannon cast at Robertsbridge were floated down the Rother to Rye. In order to effect this, there were put into the river “shuts”, a contrivance something in the nature of locks. When the bed of the Rother from Rye to Bodiham was cleansed, a few years ago, several of the remains of these “shuts” were brought to light, and removed.
Series 1 No 13 1978 P24
"The Carrier’s Accounts of Robert Knight", Jeremy Hodgkinson
Part 1: Introduction
In Sussex Archaeological Collections 46 (1903), there was published an abridged transcript of these accounts. Their editor, W. Powell Breach, made his selection to illustrate one of the more routine aspects of the iron trade. Straker made use of these accounts as did W. H. Hills in his History of East Grinstead2, and it is to the former that we owe most for their interpretation.
One of the observations he makes concerns the coal which was brought to the furnace on the return trip from Woolwich. Straker dismisses this as being merely for the drying of moulds. But Malcolm, in his Compendium of Modern Husbandry, states that coal was used experimentally by Rabys at Felbridge Water in their “extensive furnaces”. In 1764 Mr Rose Fuller was writing to the Board of Ordnance that he was unable to manufacture iron ordnance at £14 per ton, the price paid by the Board, using charcoal. By that time, according to Straker, Churchill and Co., the Midland iron founders, had tried using coal at Robertsbridge Furnace; so there is a case for disbelieving Straker in this matter. Incidentally, the chaldron of coal that is regularly mentioned amounted to between 1 and 2 tons; also a hutch of mine approximates to 3 tons of iron ore.
Series 1 No 16 1979 P7
(List of employees at Robertsbridge - List 8)
| ||Name||Province||Place of birth||Years in|
| 121) ||Cardo Boyle||Normandy ||Newcastell ||25 ||English
|| 122) ||Gwillam Brisboye ||Normandy ||Grisoldes ||27 ||French
|| 123) ||John Langleys|
|Normandy ||Haucort ||18 ||French
|| 124) ||Thomas Dogyn ||Normandy ||Compenfelde ||20 ||French
|| 125) ||Philpott Mettell ||Normandy ||Beaufold|
|| 126) ||Giles Gillett|
|Normandy ||Gile Fountenayes ||37 ||English
|| 127) ||Robert bows ||Beauface ||Hownwell ||29 ||French
|| 128) ||Jamys Cacherie|
alias de Mergeyes
|Bewface ||Canvey ||20 ||French
|| 129) ||Joachim Clachoo|
|Normandy ||Harbfilde ||8 ||
|| 130) ||Adrian Dogyn ||Normandy ||Compenfeld|| ||
The Robertsbridge forge book for 1546 (East Sussex Record Office, Accession 1745) proves this list to be employees of Sir William Sidney. In the case of 125, Page’s list has Beauford as place of birth, presumably a printer’s error.
Series 1 No 16 1979 P 11
Hugh Marchant was the name of a finer at Robertsbridge forge. Numbers 231 and 241 have names similar to two colliers employed by Hugh Collins around 1550. It will also be noticed that three of these workers bear the name Collyer or a variant. Number 233 may be identical with 17 and possibly also 37.
Series 1 No 16 1979 P 13
An account of several of the iron works in Sussex, and the state of them, in the autumn of 1787.
Robertsbridge (blast furnace) owned by Mr Bourne standing and possibly may work again in case of war.
Robertsbridge Forge owned by Mr Bourne producing 50tons a year in 1787 (probably supplied by Panningridge BF – about 8 miles away TQ 687174)
Series 1 No 2 1971 P6 (Salehurst)
….. there are six (seven in fact) cast-iron gravestones in Salehurst Church belonging to members of this family (Peckham ) who died between 1679 and 1713. (Details later in Series 2)
Bulletins Series 2, 1981-2011 - (search on Salehurst)
Second Series No 5 1985 P 41
References to Ironworks in Records at the Sussex Record Offices Brian Phillips:
Ep II/5/13 f.68 1629 “Mr Henry English hath two Iron Works in Salehurst.”
Second Series No 8 1988 P29
(Cast iron graves at Salehurst church)
Salehurst TQ 7424
1. 1661 Mary Peckham, vestry to south of tower 55-56cm x 168cm.
HERE LYETH THE BODY OF MARY W / IFE • OF • WILLIAM / PECKHAM WHO DY / ED • MARCH • 12 / 1661 / AETATlS SVIE /
One of AEATIS SVIE series; 4cm letters within recessed bands; inscription starts part way down slab. 2cm wide recessed lines down sides.
The omitted T of aetatis is inserted. The C is reversd, M and A of Mary are linked. Each A has a top bar and ‘v’ cross bar.
2. 1662 Thomas Peckham, vestry to south of tower 55-56cm x 168cm.
HERE LYETH THE / BODY OF THOMAS PECKH / AM WHO DYED / MAY THE 31 / 1662 / AETATlS SVIE 54 / T C
Slab in the AEATIS SVIE series.
The slab is as that of Mary Peckham, 1661, but for the words of the inscription. The C is reversed, the ‘omitted T of aetatis has been inserted. Below are the letters T C (with C reversed) which also appear on the slab to the Holland children, 1664, at Wadhurst, No.17.
3. 1679 William Peckham, under tower 62cm x 173.5cm.
HERE • LYETH • THE / BODY • OF WILLIAM / M • PECKHAM • WH / O • DIED • APRIL • THE / 5 • 1679 • aged • 75 YE / ARS • AND • 11 MONT
Fine 5.5cm letters in recessed bands. A with ‘v’ cross bar but no top bar; H and E linked; round stops. Inscription starts 42cm down the slab. Planklines.
4. 1689 Mary Peckham, under tower 63cm x 169cm.
(HERE) • LIETH • THE • B / ODY • OF • MARY • PEC / KHAM • DAVGHTR / R • OF • WILL • BY • MA / RTHA • PECKHAM / WHO • DIED • APRI / LL • 21 • 1689 • AGED / 1• YEARE • & • 5 • MONTS
The top right corner has been covered by masonry. The S of MONTS extends further to the right than any of the bands above. Fine 6cm letters in recessed bands 7cm wide and 0.8cm apart. Each A with top bay and ‘v’ cross bar. Flat top to figure 8. Plain edges. ‘Mud crazing’.
5. 1712 Lucy Stevens, under tower to south of west door 35.5cm x 75.5cm.
HERE • LYETH • BV / RIED • THE • BODY • OF / LUCY • THE • DAVGH / TER • OF • JONATHAN / STEVENS • AND • A: / BIGARLL • HIS • WIFE • / WHO • DECEASED / NOVEMBER • THE / 16 • 1711 • AGED • / 27 WEEKS
A very small slab. Very neat 3.2cm letters in recessed 4.1cm bands. Diamond stops. Well shaped numerals. Each A with top bay and ‘v’ cross bar. N reversed, T and H linked. Planklines.
Lucy’s sister Ann died 14 months later (aged 3 years 10 months) and is buried nearby under stone.
6. 1712 Silvester Peckham, under tower 55cm x 170cm x 2cm.
HERE • LYETH • / BVRIED • THE • BO / DY • OF • SILVESTE / PECKHAM • WHO / DEPARTED • THIS / LIFE • THE • 17 DAY / OF • MARCH • IN • Y / YEARE • OF • OVR / LORD • 1712 • AG / ED • 65 • YEARS / AND 6 MONTH / S AND 3 WEEKS
Fine well formed letters in 5.9cm recessed bands 1.3cm apart. Each A with top bar and ‘v’ cross bar; each N reversed; a small capital E within the cup of Y for YE; diamond stops. Recessed 1.3cm side lines. A very fine slab.
7. 1713 Eleaner Peckham, under tower 60cm x 169cm.
HERE / LIETH • THE BODY • OF ELE / ANER • PECKHAM • WH / O • DIED • IANVARY • THE / 24 • IN • THE • YEAR • 1713 • / AGED • 72 • YEARS • AND / 10 • MONTHS
Fine well formed 5.5cm letters in recessed bands of 7cm, 1.2cm apart. Each with top bar and ‘v’ cross bar. R with curved tail. Linked letters H and E. The T in ‘LIETH’ is omitted and inserted above. There is no room for the final upright of H in ‘WHO’. First and last lines centred.
The Peckham family commemorated in six of the seven slabs at Salehurst held the Iridge Furnace (TQ 749277) from the late 17th century. They were related by marriage to the Braban family of Wadhurst.
All the Salehurst slabs were formerly in the nave but were removed at the 1861 restoration and placed at the west door under the tower.
Second Series No 12 1992 P32
Straker, again relying on Thorpe, identified ‘Farrett Holloway’, a gunfounder of Salehurst and the purchaser of wood from Lord Montague in 1711, as a probable tenant of Robertsbridge Furnace and Forge. Although the gunfounder was called Jarrett Holloway, the commodity underwood rather than timber, and the works in question more likely to have been Beech Furnace in Battle (since the sale referred to Great and Little Beech Woods) than Robertsbridge, the entry does serve to underline the significance of fuel to the industry, and the amount which can be missed by ignoring the documentation of underwood sales. Most Wealden estates were heavily wooded but few more so than Battle, and similar sales should be recorded in the series of steward’s accounts for the estate which runs from 1674-1734 at the Huntington (BA Vols 6-10, ESRO microfilm XA 3/12,13 and 16), and from 1757-1800 at Lewes (ESRO BAT 2751-2756).
Second Series No 12 1992 P33
(Section from Wealden Iron in California - A recent foray at the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. C. Whittick)
Also preserved is an agreement of 1623 by which the Earl of Leicester granted timber, underwood, an iron-house, the right to dig mine and several rights of way to Henry English of Salehurst, to whom Thomas Culpeper’s 21-year lease of Robertsbridge Furnace and Forge had been assigned (BA vol 71). English released the option of a further 21 years which the original lease of 1609 had contained.
When Webster purchased the estate, the counterpart of a 1707 lease of the furnace to Thomas Snepp of Battle and his son Thomas Snepp was passed to him, and is now at San Marino, BA vol 71, f15; my calendar entry appears as Appendix 1. The term of the lease was eleven years, and the document’s transfer may indicate that the Snepps were still holding over, seven years after it had expired, when the estate was sold in 1725. The history of the Robertsbridge sites after Webster’s purchase will be discussed in the next section.
(contd P 35 - 38)
Thomas Webster bought the Robertsbridge estate in 1725 and for 12 years the furnace and forge at the abbey were kept in hand and run by the estate. There are accounts for this period (BA vols 4, 8, 10 and 11), accounts for repairs to the furnace (vol 4), details of production for 1734 to 1736 (vol 11), and in Volume 13 orders, accounts for repairs to lighters and a boat, orders for iron and a plan for a double crane. The enterprise was flourishing sufficiently in 1733 to persuade Webster to take a seven-year lease of Etchingham Forge at £30 a year, which included rights in the extensive demesne woodlands there, which the lessors had in hand (BA vol 61).
We cannot tell what became of the Etchingham lease; within a year, Webster’s policy seems to have changed, and Robertsbridge Furnace was put out on a five-and-a-half-year lease to William Harrison, William Jewkes and George Jewkes, London founders and ironmongers. Webster had sold them the gun tackle and wrought iron tools at £20 a ton, and cast plates and other ironwork at £6, and agreed to take them back at the end of the term at the same rates. The lease also contains interesting covenants about supplies of underwood and mine (BA vol 72). The forge at Robertsbridge was let to William and George Jewkes in 1737, and it is clear from the terms of the lease that Webster had kept it, and Beech Furnace, in hand until then. The documents mention two sheds used as boring houses on either side of the forge, and contain provision for the division of the warehouse and the use by the tenants of the Rother Navigation and Webster’s craft (BA vol 72). In 1737, the furnace was again let to Harrison and the Jewkes brothers from 1740, when the existing lease was set to expire, at the same rent of £50; perhaps the tenants required security, or perhaps a new contract provided a means of formalising the agreement to close Beech Furnace, which has been mentioned above (BA vol 72); we know Webster’s work there had proved unreliable in the past (Cleere & Crossley, p.204).
The leases of both furnace and forge expired on 25 March 1747, and on 10 December the previous year a further seven-year term was granted to the Jewkes brothers at a rent of £100 on essentially the same terms, except that the tenants undertook to spend a further £100 on repairs to the furnace, which was ‘much out of repair and in a decayed and ruinous condition’, in the course of the first year (BA vol 71 f24).
Among the most interesting material relating to the iron industry at San Marino is the correspondence produced when the estate re-let the Robertsbridge works in 1754; the Battle attorney George Worge acted on behalf of Sir Whistler Webster (BA vol 24). John Churchill of Hints in Staffordshire wrote to Sir Whistler on 14 November 1753, having heard from John Botton of Duffield in Derbyshire that he had a furnace and forge to let. Churchill gave the London addresses of the landlords of two of his Staffordshire forges, in case a reference was required, and asked for details of the rent, the capacity of the furnace and forge, the availability and price of wood and mine and the size of the local cord. Webster had already heard from a Mr. Cotton, and declined to treat with Churchill. An un-named author, perhaps the steward, drafted a letter for Worge to write to Cotton, which provides an excellent summary of the workings of the Wealden industry in the middle of the eighteenth century; it is printed as Appendix 1. On 20 November details were also sent to Thomas Braxton at Titchfield in Hampshire, but by January Sir Whistler was forced to address Churchill again, negotiations with the other interested parties having fallen through. Although a seven-year lease to Churchill bears the date 16 March 1754, Webster and his tenant were still in correspondence over two months later, trying to establish the ownership of the equipment, what repairs should be undertaken by the outgoing tenant, and whether the coal-house was necessary at all. Churchill could not be persuaded to visit Sussex until June, but insisted that the works be let with bellows, hammer and anvil, and that the second finery, demolished by Mr Jewkes in order to build an air-furnace, should be re-instated.
In 1760, Churchill and Webster agreed to share the cost of adding a parlour, chamber and lean-to to the forgeman’s house at Robertsbridge. (BA vol 71, f29). The work was to be executed under the direction of Churchill and, although no lease survives, seems to suggest that the parties intended to renew their agreement when it expired the following year. A new partnership entered the Robertsbridge works at Lady Day 1768; William Polhill of Hastings, William Polhill of Rye and James Bourne of Salehurst, all described as ironmongers, took a lease for eighteen months, still at the same annual rent of £100, on 21 March (BA vol 71, f30). Henry Bourne of Robertsbridge, the son of the last tenant, gave evidence in a highway case at Lewes assizes in 1821 in which he described his father’s business and Stephen Goodsall, a former team labourer, told the jury how he had often taken loads of guns to Maidstone over the disputed road (ESRO ALF 9/9). But apart from the stewards’ accounts of the Battle Abbey estate, from which it would be possible both to fill the gaps of this narrative of the Robertsbridge works and to continue it, no further documents relating directly to the estate’s involvement in the Wealden industry have been found at the Huntington.
I have attempted to describe those documents at the Huntington which shed light on the activities of three families – Browne, Sidney and Webster – as entrepreneurs of the Wealden iron industry. As is always the case, documents from a single source never tell the whole story, and I have several times been driven to refer to material in other repositories to construct a narrative, which I hope has made what I have written a little more interesting than a mere list. As an archivist, my interest is more in how and why documents have been kept, and in the reasons for the administrative divisions and dispersals to which they were subjected, than in one of the many subjects of enquiry for which they can be of assistance. Historians of any aspect of the past will always gain a deeper understanding of their subject and, at a more practical level, always be led more directly to further caches of documents, if the concerns which beset the lawyers and stewards who created and controlled the documents they study are constantly kept in mind.
Second Series No 12 1992 P 44 (contd from above)
Appendix I - Selected Material from the Huntington Collection BA Vol 71 (Phillipps 9936)
f15 Counterpart lease for 11 years from 29 Sep 1707 at £10 for 6 years and £20 for 5 years; 1 July 1707
Elizabeth [Sidney], widow of Robert [Sidney] earl of Leicester, and John [Sidney] earl of Leicester, to Thomas Snepp the elder of Battle, yeoman, and his eldest son and heir Thomas Snepp
Furnace or ironworks called Robertsbridge Furnace in Salehurst, and the furnace house, smith’s forge and buildings usually held with it
he furnace pond and bays, with liberty of penning up the water and letting it down, to operate the furnace or to repair the bays, dams and floodgates
The brick-kiln near the furnace, with liberty of digging clay in the usual places to make brick and tile reserving the fish in the pond and liberty of fishing, and to draw out the water to take the fish, except when the furnace is working, or within two months before; right of entry to survey for repairs
The rent to be paid to Elizabeth for life, thereafter to John; TS and TS to maintain, the landlords allowing rough timber; TS and TS may use all the usual ways across the landlords’ estate; TS and TS may bring all such stock to the furnace necessary for its blowing and working before the beginning of the term; they may take the rise and spray of all the timber to be cut by the landlords, for use at the furnace
W: Charles Olmieres, George Hooper
Counterpart lease for 7 years from 25 Mar 1747 at £100, 10 Dec 1746 Thomas Webster of Battle Abbey bt to William Jukes and George Jukes of London, founders and ironmongers
The furnace for working and making iron called Robertsbridge Furnace in Salehurst, with the founder’s house, bildings and workhouses belonging to it, and the great pond called The Furnace Pond
The forge for making and working iron called Robertsbridge Forge in Salehurst, with the house called The Forgeman’s House, its orchard, two sheds on either side of the forge now used as boring-houses, a house called The Ironhouse and a moiety of a building now used as a storehouse for coals, together with the use of the water in the cut out of the River Rother to the forge
All coalplaces, places to lay cinders, floodgates, bays, banks, sluices and waterlays all now occupied by WJ and GJ ...
reserving the fish in the cut and ponds, with the right to fish them, and to draw the water from the cut to take the fish and fill TW’s stews; the cinders to be made at the furnace and forge; WJ and GJ to repair, TW providing sufficient rough timber within 40 days of notice in writing, which is not to extend to repairing or renewing the water-wheels, bellows or utensils used at the ironworks; if TW fail to provide the timber, WJ and GJ may purchase it and deduct the sum from the rent; WJ and GJ may take loam, sand and clay for moulding and casting from the places which it has been taken in the past; WJ and GJ to have three months beyond the term to remove their stock; TW will take from WJ and GJ at the end of the term all the gun tackle, tools of wrought iron, cast plates and other iron things, and pay for them at £10 a ton for gun tackle and wrought iron tools, and £6 a ton for the rest
If TW cut any underwood of 16 years’ growth on his estates within 14 miles of the ironworks, he shall give notice to WJ and GJ by 24 Aug, and sell it to them at 7s the cord plus cutting costs; if TW decides not to cut in any year, he is to give WJ and GJ notice by 24 June to enable them to make alternative provision; by prior arrangement, WJ and GJ may agree with any of the copyhold tenants of any of TW’s manors to draw mine on their land for use at the furnace or forge, to be accounted for at the rate of one load of mine for two cords of wood
WJ and GJ to take all the wood which TW cuts, and pay for it half in May and half in November annually; all the goods and merchandise made at the ironworks shall be carried by the navigation of the River Rother which belongs to TW, WJ and GJ paying the usual freight for its carriage by TW’s barges and small craft, he reserving the entire property and management of the river
If, by the dryness of the season, WJ and GJ require water for the furnace pond, TW will, on application, draw up to 5 feet from his pond called The New Pond, according to the marks on the shaft which draws up the gate of the sluice.
Whereas the furnace is much out of repair and in a decayed and ruinous condition, WJ and GJ agree to expend £100 on repairs before 25 Mar 1748, TW providing rough timber only.
W: William Cranston, Henry Penfold
Surrendered lease for 7 years from 25 Mar 1754 at £100, 16 Mar 1754
Whistler Webster of Battle Abbey bt to John Churchill of Hints, Staffordshire, ironmaster
Robertsbridge Furnace and forge as above (except that the forge pond is described as in Salehurst and Ewhurst, and two houses called the forgeman’s houses are mentioned), all late in the occupation of George Jukes
Terms and conditions as above, except that the payments for timber to be in July and January; JC may sink minepits in the demenes of Robertsbridge manor, but in woods only in the years in which they have been cut, paying WW 1s a load; WW covenants not to sell hop-poles during the term to other than his tenants
W: John Churchill the younger, George Worge
Endorsed: covenant by JC to surrender two pairs of furnace-bellows, a pair of smith’s bellows, four pairs of forge bellows, a pair of smith’s bellows and a forge-hammer at the end of the term, being the property of WW, who paid and allowed the late tenant for them
Agreement, 5 Jan 1760
John Churchill has represented to Whistler Webster bt that it would be greatly to the advantage of Robertsbridge Furnace to have an addition to the forgeman’s house and has proposed to build a parlour 18 or 20 feet square, a chamber over it and a chimney and leanto to the parlour; they agree that if JC undertakes the building, WW shall pay half the costs when the work is complete, which is to be executed under the direction of JC
W: George Worge, Joseph Acton
Counterpart lease for one and a half years from 25 Mar 1768 at £100; 21 Mar 1768
Whistler Webster of Battle Abbey bt to William Polhill of Hastings, ironmonger, David Guy of Rye, ironmonger, and James Bourne of Salehurst, ironmaster
The furnace for working and making iron called Robertsbridge Furnace in Salehurst, with the founder’s house, buildings and workhouses belonging to it, and the great pond called The Furnace Pond
The forge for making and working iron called Robertsbridge Forge in Salehurst and Ewhurst, with two houses called The Forgeman’s Houses, the orchard, two sheds on either side of the forge now used as boring-houses, a house called The Ironhouse and a building now or lately used as a storehouse for coals, together with the use of the water in the cut out of the River Rother to the forge
All coalplaces, places to lay cinders, floodgates, bays, banks, sluices and waterlays
WW covenants to repair the hammer wheel, the fall belonging to the forge, and the furnace wheel gut as soon as possible, and to provide an anvil block; lessees may take loam, sand and clay for moulding and casting from the places from which it has been taken in the past; lessees may have 3 months after the expiration of the term to remove
their stock; WW to sell lessees 800 cords of wood in specified woods in Ewhurst, Salehurst and Battle at 7s a cord, 16d a cord for cutting and 20s per 100 cords for setting; WW to sell all the wood cut in 1767 in Well Head and Chance Stream Woods at 7s a cord, and the coal now being made in the woods, allowing 2 cords of wood for every load of coal, the lessees meeting the cost of coaling; lessees may sink minepits in the demesnes of Robertsbridge manor, but in woods only in the years in which they have been cut, paying WW 1s a load; at the end of the term, the lessees will leave two pairs of furnace bellows, two pairs of smiths’ bellows, 4 pairs of forge bellows and a forge hammer, the property of WW, in good condition; all the merchandise made at the furnace to be carried by the Rother Navigation to Scotts Float or Rye Harbour by WW’s craft, the lessees paying the usual rates
If, by the dryness of the season, the lessees require water for the furnace pond, TW will, on application, draw up so much water from his pond called The New Pond as can be reasonably used without injuring the fish in it
Executed by WP only
W: John Furner, Charles Nairn
Vol 71 (now boxed)
Counterpart lease for 7 years from 1 May 1623 for £700, 27-9-1623
Robert [Sidney] earl of Leicester, John Locherson of London esq, Kenrick Parrey and Thomas Beare of London gents, to John Culpeper of Astwood, Worcestershire, esq, and Henry English of Salehurst, yeoman
Recites: sale of wood and underwood and lease of an iron forge for 21 years from 1 May 1609 at £240, Roger earl of Rutland and his wife Elizabeth, both deceased, to Thomas Culpeper of Wigsell [in Salehurst] esq, deceased, 30 May 1609, the interest in which is now vested in HE [followed by an erasure], and the reversion in RS as cousin and heir of ES; since the decease of the earl and countess, Richard earl of Clanricard and Lady Frances countess of C, in her right, have evicted RS from Udiam Farm and its lands, since when it has been conveyed by them, the earl of Essex and RS to JL, KP and TB in trust for RS; now RS and his trustees have sold HE for £700:
All the timber and dottard trees of oak, elm, ash and beech on the woods belonging to Udiam Farm called Cotterells, Calcottes, Wimbletottes, Hallowe Whale, Lampfeild, The Upper and Lower Parts of Welland Wood, Holland Wood, The Boviers Shawes, Stocke Wood, Great Morgey Wood with the shaws in the fields adjoining it, and Little Morgey Wood, to be felled within 7 years from 1 May 1623 [details follow of the number of trees and how they are to be chosen]
The underwood following: that part of Welland Wood left unfelled last year, Little Morgey Wood and the shaws adjoining, the little wood of 6a which is part of the farm occupied by Alexander Randall, The High Lid Wood or shaw which is of the oldest growth, the lower part of The Frenchmans Wood otherwise the Forgemans Wood, to be cut within a year
The underwood in The Deadmans Wood, The Park Wood, that part of Clynes which is occupied by George Petitt of John Petitt, to be cut whithin two years
The underwood in the woods part of a manor of Robertsbridge copyhold tenement late Nicholas Tufton kt in Northiam, leaving the copyhold tenants sufficient for their botes, The Wellhead Wood and the Curtens Wood, to be cut within 3 years
The underwood in Great Morgey Wood, Lower Timber Wood, Stocke Wood and Badlands Wood, to be felled within 4 years
The underwood in Wimbletotts, Colecottes, Coterelles, The Winders otherwise Winditch Wood, the residue of Clynes and Fowle Brook Wood, to be cut within 5 years
The underwood in Andrewes Wood and The Maynardes Wood, to be cut within 6 years
The iron House at Udiam, and, if it is not demised, a small piece of land near it of quarter acre, surrounded with water
The right to dig 800 loads of iron mine on Udiam Farm and on all the land of RS and his trustees in Salehurst, Ewhurst, Warding and Whatlington, as granted to TC by the lease of 1609
The right to carry iron, coal, timber and other necessaries to the forge by a watercourse from the forge to Udiam Oak or Udiam Pell in Ewhurst, and by another watercourse from Redland in Salehurst to the forge, and to the iron house over any of the demesne of Robertsbridge manor and of Udiam Farm
RS and trustees release JC and HE from all covenants in the lease of 1609 except those concerning the payment of rent; RS to save JC and HE harmless from tithes on the woods; HE may take wood from Robertsbridge demesne necessary for repairs to the forge, furnace, ironworks, houses, wheels, floodgates, bellows, bays, sluices, bridges and watercourses; HE to be responsible for assigning wood to the leaseholders of Robertsbridge demesnes for their firebote etc, first within their own shaws and then, if necessary, within the woods sold to him; RS provisionally assigns such part of HE’s rent to JC as shall compensate him for any damages he may sustain by virtue of the sum of £2000 in which he is bound, on RS’s behalf, to Lettice [Sidney], countess of Leicester; HE covenants to leave at least 4000 standells growing for timber at the end of the term; HE and JC release the option for a further 21-year lease at £240 granted to TC by the lease of 1609
Endorsed: declaration by HE that he takes no benefit against JL, KB and TP from the covenants in the lease except as regards Udiam Farm W: Ralph Whitfeld, Wiliam Mott, Richard Mascall, Thomas Russell Endorsed: the ironworks at Robertsbridge
Vol 72 (now boxed)
Counterpart lease for nine and a half years from 29 Sep 1737 at £20, 5 Sep 1737
Thomas Webster of Battle Abbey bt to William Jukes and George Jukes of London, founders and ironmongers
The forge for making and working iron called Robertsbridge Forge in Salehurst, two sheds on either side of the forge now used as boring-houses, a house called The Ironhouse and a moiety of a building now used as a storehouse for coals, to be divided from the other moiety at TW’s expense and reserved for his own use, together with the use of the water in the cut out of the River Rother to the forge, coal-places and places now used to lay mine and cinder, all late in TW’s occupation, with the use of the Rother navigation for their own merchandise only
reserving the fish in the cut and ponds, with the right to fish them, and to draw the water from the cut to take the fish and fill TW’s stews; the cinders to be made at the furnace and forge; WJ and GJ agree to pay TW a sum amounting to half of whatever they pay the boatman, and one-sixth of any sum they spend on the provision of their own craft by reason of the lack of TW’s craft; WJ and GJ to repair, TW providing sufficient rough timber within 40 days of notice in writing; if TW fail to provide the timber, WJ and GJ may purchase it and deduct the sum from the rent; WJ and GJ to have three months beyond the term to remove their stock
W: John Johnson, John Vaughan, scrivener in Lombard Street.
Counterpart lease for 7 years from 25 Mar 1740 at £50, 5 Sep 1737
Thomas Webster of Battle Abbey bt to William Harrison, William Jukes and George Jukes of London, founders and ironmongers
The furnace for working and making iron called Robertsbridge Furnace in Salehurst, with the ironhouses, workhouses, workmen’s houses, coalplaces and places to lay mine and cinder, with the use of the Rother navigation for their own merchandise only
all occupied by William Harrison of London, founder, WJ and GJ by lease from TW
reserving the fish in the ponds and rivers, with the right to fish them, and all cinders to be made at the furnace; lessees to repair, TW providing sufficient rough timber within 40 days of notice in writing, which is not to extend to repairing or renewing the water-wheels, bellows or utensils used at the ironworks; if TW fail to provide the timber, WJ and GJ may purchase it and deduct the sum from the rent; WJ and GJ agree to pay TW a sum amounting to half of whatever they pay the boatman, and one-sixth of any sum they spend on the provision of their own craft by reason of the lack of TW’s craft; WJ and GJ to repair, TW providing sufficient rough timber within 40 days of notice in writing; if TW fail to provide the timber, WJ and GJ may purchase it and deduct the sum from the rent; WJ and GJ may take loam, sand and clay for moulding and casting from the places from which it has been taken in the past; WJ and GJ to have three months beyond the term to remove their stock; TW will take back from the lessees at the end of the term all the gun tackle, tools of wrought iron, cast plates and other iron things, at £20 a ton for gun tackle and wrought iron tools, and £6 a ton for the rest;
If TW cut any underwood of 16 years’ growth on his estates in Sussex, he shall give notice to the lessees by 24 Jun, and sell it to them at 6s the cord plus an allowance in lieu of cutting costs, together with the topwood of the timber felled in the same places; WJ and GJ agree to take all the wood which TW cuts on his estates in Sussex, and pay for it half in May and half in November annually; by prior arrangement, WJ and GJ may agree with any of the copyhold tenants of any of TW’s manors to draw mine on their land for use at the furnace, to be accounted for at the rate of one load of mine for two cords of wood
TW covenants not to allow Beech Furnace [in Battle], which he holds by lease for the life of Richard Hay esq, to be used as a furnace, WJ and GJ paying an annual fee of £12 as consideration; he may lease it for any other purpose
W: John Johnson, John Vaughan, scrivener in Lombard Street
Vol 72 (now boxed)
Counterpart lease for five and a half years from 29 Sep 1734 at £50, 29 Aug 1734
Thomas Webster of Battle Abbey bt to William Harrison, William Jukes and George Jukes of London, founders and ironmongers
The furnace for working and making iron called Robertsbridge Furnace in Salehurst, with the ironhouses, workhouses, workmen’s houses, coalplaces and places to lay mine and cinder lately occupied by TW
reserving the fish in the ponds and rivers, with the right to fish them, and all cinders to be made at the furance; lessees to repair, TW providing sufficient rough timber within 40 days of notice in writing, which is not to extend to repairing or renewing the water-wheels, bellows or utensils used at the ironworks; if TW fail to provide the timber, WJ and GJ may purchase it and deduct the sum for the rent; WJ and GJ may take loam, sand and clay for moulding and casting from the places from which it has been taken in the past; WJ and GJ to have three months beyond the term to remove their stock; TW will take back from the lessees at the end of the term all the gun tackle, tools of wrought iron, cast plates and other iron things, which he has sold them at £20 a ton for gun tackle and wrought iron tools, and £6 a ton for the rest, at the same rates
If TW cut any underwood of 16 years’ growth on his estates in Sussex, he shall give notice to the lessees by 24 Jan, and sell it to them at 6s the cord plus an allowance in lieu of cutting costs; WJ and GJ agree to take all the wood which TW cuts on his estates in Sussex, and pay for it half in May and half in November annually; by prior arrangement, WJ and GJ may agree with any of the copyhold tenants of any of TW’s manors to draw mine on their land for use at the furnace, to be accounted for at the rate of one load of mine for two cords of wood
Endorsed: agreement that the topwood from the timber felled in the woods from which the underwood is to be taken by the lessees shall be taken by them on the same terms
W: H Moore, Benjamin Manning, scrivener in Cornhill
(End of Refs to Robertsbridge)
Second Series No 16 1996 P 19
‘Dutch’ Labourers at Salehurst in 1566-1568
It is well known that the Sidneys brought German steel workers to England in 1564 to produce steel at their Robertsbridge ironworks and at Boxhurst in Kent (these were often referred to as ‘Dutch’). Rhys Jenkins listed the names he had found in the Sidney papers at Penshurst as: John Frolycke, John Bowde, Gervase Krisker (or Brisker), Harman Bowde, William Folycke, Peter Kriskar, Adolp Zincke, John Ferderbecker (Federbeck), John Cromer, Jacob Scult, John Bearmane, Roquis Smorde (Rocus Smede), Semper van Loue, Harman Crine, Pete of Breckerfillde, Henericks, Corte, Powle and John Quakenberge (brough). According to Schubert at least fifty- five steel makers, some accompanied by their wives and children, came from Germany between 1565 and 1566 and were in England for less than a decade, leaving no traces, either in records or in parish registers. I suggest that Schubert was mistaken in this last statement, for there are two ‘Dutch’ labourers recorded in the Calendar of Assize Records for Sussex in July 1567 and March 1568, Pantellus Hacker and Harman Skryver, who could now be added to the list of those found by Rhys Jenkins.4 The entries in the Calendar, numbered by J. S. Cockburn, for these two, together with the entry for a Francis Damaske, whose case is linked to Hacker’s by having the same jury at the Winter Assizes at East Grinstead in 1568, are:
East Grinstead. July 1567.
212. Gaol Prisoners ... Pantellus Hacker
227. Hacker (or Acor), Pantellus, of Salehurst, a ‘Dutch’ labourer, indicted for felonious killing. By an inquisition held at Salehurst, 13 Nov. 1566, before William Playfair, coroner, on the body of Harman Skryver of Salehurst, a ‘Dutch’ labourer, the jury ... found that on 3 Nov. About 5 p.m. Skryver came to a ‘colehouse’ in Salehurst where some ‘Dutchmen’ were drinking and drank there with Hacker. They quarrelled, and Hacker stabbed him with a dagger (12d.), inflicting injuries from which he died on 9 Nov.
Found not guilty at the Winter Assizes 1568.
East Grinstead. March 1568
239. Gaol Prisoners [inc.] Pantellus Hacker, Francis Damaske
260. Trial Jury for Francis Damaske, Pantellus Hacker, Anthony Hewashe, John Dickard, Peter Debuse, Peter Jonas, John Arthur, Robert Buse, John Pepper, Richard Ockenden, Thomas Cripps, Roger Michell, John Astone, William Forde.
[Endorsed] Each juryman is bound to appear at the next assizes or in Star Chamber, if required, for acquitting Pantellus Hacker.
261. Damaske, Francis, of Salehurst, labourer, indicted for felonious killing. By an inquisition held at Robertsbridge Abbey in Salehurst parish, on 26 Dec. 1567, before William Playfair, coroner, on the body of Nicholas Cowper of Salehurst, labourer, the jury ... found that on 25 Dec. Damaske assaulted Cowper with a meat knife (1d.) giving him a blow on the neck from which he died on 26 Dec.
J.S. Cockburn, in his Introduction to his Calendar of Assize Records, when discussing how a Trial Jury was constituted and behaved, explained that it consisted of freeholders and that each jury had to hear several cases before returning any verdicts. The presumption that all jurymen were freeholders could be challenged if an alien were among them, and an alien, arraigned for a felony, could challenge the jury on the ground that it did not include an alien. Linguistic affinity with the accused was not insisted on and aliens of any nationality were considered adequate. He quotes no. 227 and no. 260 in the Sussex Calendar as an example of a jury with aliens in it.
There would appear to have been at least four aliens on the jury: Anthony Hewashe (or Hoyse or Huashe), taxed as a servant of John Ashburnham in Foxearle Hundred in 1550, taxed with his wife at Ardingly in 1563 and in Buttinghill Hundred in 1572;6 Peter Debuse (or Debewe), taxed in ‘Marsfield’ in the Hundred of Rushmonden in 1572;7 John Arthur (or Artor), taxed in the Hundred of Danehill Sheffield in 1560, with his wife at Slaugham in Buttinghill in 1563 and in Hartfield in 1576, when he paid 10s.;8 Robert Buse, who, with his two sons, was taxed as an alien at ‘Bawcombe’ in Buttinghill in 1576.9 It is possible that all four men were working at Salehurst at the Sidneys’ steelworks at the time that both killings took place, explaining why they were called to the jury.
Francis Damaske is not described as an alien, but the court could have assigned his case to Hacker’s jury, either because he was in fact an alien or because he and Hacker were the only two men charged with murder in March 1568. Damaske could have been of French origin or, possibly, from his name, from Damascus, where he might have been connected with working with steel. Juries who acquitted suspects ‘contrary to the evidence’ were fined or bound over to appear at subsequent assizes or Star Chamber, though there is no evidence that these men actually appeared at Star Chamber.10 During these March Assizes two other juries were bound, one in £40 and the other in £20 each juror, to appear at the next Assizes or, in the meantime, in Star Chamber. There is nothing further in the Calendar to indicate what happened to the jury or to Hacker and Damaske when they were released from prison.
Notes and references
Second Series No 22 2002 P33
Robertsbridge Furnace and Forge were always occupied together. Thomas Westerne the London ironmonger and gunfounder was their occupant in 1692, but like Ashburnham Furnace they were void in the 1700s. Thomas Snepp was tenant from 1713 to 1727, followed by Thomas Webster until 1737 and then ‘occupiers’ until 1755.
Search for Robertsbridge in Series 2
Second Series No 4 1984 P 14
The circumstances in which women were liable to tax are unclear. Widows were occasionally taxed, but if this was during the remainder of a year for which their husbands had been under contract, why was Jane Bine taxed in three successive years (Robertsbridge 1549-51)?
Workers at Robertsbridge Forge appear in both Staple and Robertsbridge hundreds:
Second Series No 4 1984 P 27
Wekes also supplied hammers to Robertsbridge Forge from Darvell Furnace in this hundred (Ref 6)
Second Series No 4 1984 P 31
In 1541 ‘Saxbeche’ and Woddye each supplied 21 tons of sows to Robertsbridge Forge, before the furnace there was operational,
Second Series No 4 1984 P 34
They had recruited William Duggyn from Sir William Sidney (at Robertsbridge Forge, 1549) and Obery Russell from parson Levett (37). (To work at Socknersh Furnace)
Second Series No 4 1984 P 45
Later references to Brisball occur at Robertsbridge in 1546 (ESRO, Accession 1745, unlisted), transferred to the Archdeacon (Sir John Sherief – at Sheffield or Worth?) in 1547 (U 1475, B 10/1), working for Robert Woodman in 1551, and finally at Cowden in 1560 (Subsidy rolls). A future collier at Robertsbridge was Francis Hawkes (U 1475, B 7/1), whilst Maryon was possibly Marin Renoult, who came from Bouelles and in 1526 appointed his brother Tassin as his procurator to wind up his affairs in France (Archives Departementales Seine-Maritime, 2 EP 14/318, 9 Sept 1526).
(contd p 46)
and Gyllam Fortell was the William Hatto alias Fewterell who had been hammerman at Robertsbridge (1543-51) and later was at Sheffield (1560) and Horsted Keynes (1572).
Ref 11 Both the Robertsbridge steelworks accounts and the Sidney Glamorgan accounts refer in 1567 to money owing to Huggette – or ‘Huget’ (D. W. Crossley, ed. Sidney ironworks accounts (1975), pp231, 239) and in 1571 and 1572 he was recorded as ‘Hewgate Fownder’ among Frenchmen paying the subsidy at Cleobury Mortimer (E 179. 167/44, 50).
Second Series No 4 1984 P 56
The inclusion of a miner among John Baker’s servants in 1543 and the fact that Woddy had been a supplier of pig iron to Robertsbridge Forge in 154114 indicates that we should be looking for two furnaces in Isenhurst at this time. Baker acquired the manor of Isenhurst in 1544 and the fact that Old Mill Furnace lay just within its bounds at the extreme north of the hundred points to this as the Baker furnace.15 As explained under Hawksborough hundred, the fact that Woddy here in 1543 and John Saxpes in 1549 under Warbleton both employed the same worker, Robert Caron, and the fact that each supplied the same amount of iron to Robertsbridge (21 tons) indicates that they were working the same furnace, or that they were partners in some way.
Second Series No 4 1984 P 56
……… as well as the sole alien returned for Tandridge itself, Hugh Merchant (1576), since he was a former finer at Robertsbridge and Abinger forges.
Second Series No 14 1994 P 34
company, managed by the Millington family, ran. James Bourne had taken over Robertsbridge Furnace.]
Second Series No 16 1996 P 8
The reference to the tenancy of the forge in the Wartling roll indicates that it lay within the manor, possibly close to the source of ore, but there is no indication that it was on Adam Creppe’s land. Mention of a Ralph Faber (i.e. smith) of Werthe (or Worge), in Brightling, in an undated Robertsbridge Abbey rental of about 1290, may also refer to Kenne.5 Further grants exist to Ralph the Smith, and to Ralph, the son of John the Smith, both of Werth, the latter of a tenement, Tumblond, formerly held by John of the Mill, in Brightling.6 Both properties formed part of the manor of Robertsbridge. Adjacent to the Worge property is the site which subsequently became Glazier’s Forge, in operation before 1548, a demesne of the manor of Burgehurst.
Second Series No 17 1997 P15
Contd P 16
|Forge||Occupier||Dates||BF Furnace||Robertsbridge||W. & G. Jukes||1737-54||Robertsbridge
|| ||J. Churchill||1754-68||Robertsbridge/Darwell
|| ||J. Bourne||1768-92||Robertsbridge/?Darwell
‘The Ironhouse’ at Robertsbridge is mentioned in a lease of 1737.12 The purchase of the lease of the forge and furnace at Robertsbridge in 1768, by James Bourne, William Polhill and David Guy, the last two being ironmongers, suggests that an attempt was being made to focus production at the works on a wholesale outlet, perhaps in Rye.
Details of production at Wealden forges in this period are very scarce. In correspondence prior to the leasing of Robertsbridge Forge in 1754, its output was said to be about seventeen hundredweight of bar iron a week, although no hint is given of the market for it.
Contd p 20
Sir Whistler Webster’s steward referred to some 3,000 acres of the Battle Abbey estate woods which had always been used for charcoal for the two Robertsbridge works, implying that they could continue to be so used. This figure falls somewhat short of Cleere and Crossley’s estimate of 4,000 acres for a furnace and forge. However, other woods were available to the occupiers, as in March 1763 when James Bourne, on behalf of John Churchill, paid Thomas Hussey for 195 cords of coppice wood.
Contd p 21
It also seems likely that tenants of forges had to take pains to ensure that, when they entered into a lease, a full set of tackle was included. Churchill made it clear that he expected Robertsbridge Forge to be in a good state of repair when he took it over.
Contd P 21
The Jukes brothers’ conversion of the second finery at Robertsbridge Forge into a reverberatory furnace can be related more to the casting of shot, but it is of some interest that John Churchill wished the second finery to be reinstated.
Second Series No 20 2000 P43
Powell is more of a mystery; he was a lawyer based at Ewhurst, wealthy enough to buy Bodiam Castle in the 1640s and a baronetcy for his family in the Restoration. It is unknown where his works were; it seems likely he operated from the area round Ewhurst, including furnaces at Robertsbridge, Brede and Beckley. Possibly he was the ‘frontman’ for the ironfounders based in that part rather than an ironmaster himself. Further research is needed into this important figure (Mr Powell).
Second Series No 21 2001 P 30
Jeremy’s Note: Re Sussex Advertiser sale of woodland around Beech Furnace Monday June 6 1757
4. Beech Furnace went out of use by 1740 as a condition of the lease of Robertsbridge Furnace to William Harrison and the Jukes brothers; WIRG, Wealden Iron, 2nd series 12 (1992), 54. This item confirms that it was still standing seventeen years later.
Second Series No 23 2003 P25
Christopher Whittick, of East Sussex Record Office, drew attention to his work on protestant ‘martyrs’ in Sussex, and the identification of Trew with John Trew of Hellingly, a member of a puritan sect, who lost his ears in the Marian persecution, and was possibly the son of John Trew the ironfounder at Robertsbridge (and Panningridge) in the 1540s, and who had two sons of the same names. Another Trew (True), Richard, it transpires, was ironfounder at Vauxhall Furnace, Tonbridge.11 All, it seems, were regular petitioners of government.
Note: 12 (p26) Some doubt must remain about which John Trew is which. He described himself as a very old man when offering his services to the government in the 1580s. He could conceivably have been working in Robertsbridge in the 1540s.
Second Series No 28 2008 P21
Cast iron Gravestone
Mark Ripley Ltd, High Street, Robertsbridge, East Sussex TQ 7323
1688, JOHN BAKER, 76 x 167cm
HERE LYETH THE BODY OF
JOHN BAKER LATE OF
STONELANDS ESQ TO WHOSE
MEMORY THIS MONUMENT OF
…. …. WAS ERECTED
….…. 11[?]TH 1688 IN
…. …. …. HIS AGE &
…. …. …. SEVEN
Rectangular plate with bevelled edges; incised Roman capitals; above is a shield bearing the arms of Baker – a castle between three keys palewise – cast in bas relief within a circular border. It seems likely that this graveslab was formerly on an altar tomb in Mayfield churchyard. A marble monument to John Baker is on the south-east wall of the chancel inside Mayfield church. Two iron memorial plates to children of John Baker lie covered by the south stalls of the chancel.
Second Series No 29 2009 P 19
In 1734, Harrison entered into a joint lease of Robertsbridge Furnace, Sussex, with William and George Jukes (Whittick, 1992, 54-5, 52, 53), although they had been associated with founding at the furnace since at least 1730, possibly in connection with the partnership that existed between Harrison, Jukes, Hussey, Gott and Legas at that time.21 The Jukes brothers were also ironmongers, with a yard in All Hallows Lane, off Thames Street, London, where they carried on a trade in pig and bar iron (Hodgkinson, 1993: 105-6).
Contd P 23
William and George Jukes may have been scions of an ironworking family from the west Midlands. They were ironmongers, based in Thames Street, London, with a wide sphere of interests (Hodgkinson, 1993: 105-6). In 1734, they took a joint lease of Robertsbridge Furnace with William Harrison, renewing it for seven years in 1740. On their own, they leased Robertsbridge Forge from 1737 until 1747, adding the furnace for a further seven years, although William Jukes died in 1749. He, like Harrison, lived in Bromley, Kent, and was one of the partnership that included Harrison, Hussey, Legas and Samuel Gott.
Contd p 29
Other suppliers of ordnance to the government were John Fuller, who operated Heathfield Furnace and whose family had been supplying the Board of Ordnance since before the beginning of the century, William and George Jukes, at Robertsbridge, with whom Harrison held a joint lease, and the Rev. Philip Sone and his son, at Sowley Furnace, near Lymington, Hampshire.
The clerk at Robertsbridge in the 1730s recommended having all the coppice cut by the beginning of February, and moved out of the woods before the spring to avoid damage to the new growth (Hodgkinson, 1995: 11). Cattell (1973: 143-4) has shown how the woodland in the vicinity of Hawksden Forge was cut in rotation during the years 1741-6 and 1747-53 with no revisiting within the period except in the case of Hawksden Park Wood, the much greater acreage of which could sustain limited coppicing in successive years.
Second Series No 29 2009 P 42
…. but upon Mr Jukes’s takeing his refused Guns he declared we should have them alternately and the next year Mr Jukes had the wood, so that it is now our turne to have the next felling according to the justices proposal which upon my mentioning they seemed to have no objection to
I cannot say what wood there is fellable upon that Estate nor what scheme Mr Jukes may have for securing them for Robertsbridge but conclude he wil not lose them for want of applycation, which occasions you this trouble to desire (If they fall in your way before they returne into the Country).
Contd P 55
[P.S.] I hear Mr Jukes has orderd them to go upon 32 Prs. at Robertsbridge directly by which I conclude his Warrts. are not recall’d
Second Series Vol 30 2010 P 12
Workers and members of the Collins family were also brought in to offer their expertise and empirical knowledge at the Sidney ironworks at Robertsbridge Abbey in the late 1530s (Hodgkinson 2008: 67). As Crossley (1975: 5-6) has noted, “it was significantly the Collins – Alexander and John, iron masters at Socknersh, who supervised construction at Robertsbridge and Panningridge.” Alexander and John Collins junior, were in charge of building at both sites. Their involvement with the day-to-day running of the forge at Robertsbridge is evident. In 1542-3, the hammerman is identified as Bartholomew Collins, younger son of John Collins senior. For most of the same period, Alexander was founder (Crossley 1975: 51).
Clearly, the Collins family (John senior and his sons) were key figures in the Wealden Iron industry. From the mid-1520s onwards, they divided their time between four main iron producing sites: Socknersh, Robertsbridge, Panningridge and Burwash. This is perhaps a reflection of the accelerated growth that took place in the early- to mid-16th century; as Hodgkinson (2008: 7) reminds us, “the Weald was the principal iron producing region in Britain” at that time.
However, there is also a mention of the purchase of new hursts for the hammer at Robertsbridge Forge in 1554, including three from Mr. Weekes of Battle at Darvel furnace (Crossley 1975: 114).
Contd P 23
The Sidney family had substantial iron and steel workings, including those mentioned at Robertsbridge and Panningridge.
Second Series Vol 30 2010 P30
Schubert identified the Buxted founder, Charles [Pulleyn], as supplying a pot to Robertsbridge in 1548, and it is likely that many founders produced such objects without being specifically described as pot founders.
Second Series Vol 30 2010 P 38
So far we have been concerned with the conversion of potential energy in water into useful work: a second approach to the problem is suggested by the records of wheel-bellows systems being operated by man-power alone. In 1744 Fuller alluded to this: “ … both Mr. Crowleys furnaces are blown out for want of water… they tread the wheel att Waldron, Robertsbridge and Beckley, which is an excessive charge … ”. (Crossley and Saville, 1991, 188)
© Wealden Iron Research Group 2014