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Author Topic: East and West Kent  (Read 29737 times)

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Offline peterchall

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East and West Kent
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2011, 12:22:03 »
The division of Kent is thought to date from the early years after the departure of the Romans, when England was settled by various peoples from the European mainland. While much of the county, including west Kent, was occupied by the Angles and Saxons, a race known as the Jutes had already made east Kent their home. They regarded themselves as a separate kingdom with their own laws and customs. The Jutes called themselves Kentings, and retained many of their customs until quite late into the Middle Ages. They were responsible for introducing the system of inheritance known as gavelkind, whereby all descendants of a deceased person shared the property and belongings equally. In Saxon law, the eldest child inherited.

The Saxons and Jutes, of course, have long been integrated, but the distinction is kept alive by the Association of the Men of Kent and Kentish Men. This organisation now seems to define a Kentish Man/Maid as a person living west of the Medway, and a Man/Maid-of-Kent as a person living east of the Medway.

However, this division by the Medway may be too simplistic because other sources suggest the boundary corresponds to the Diocese of Rochester. There was once a boundary stone at Rainham Mark that marked the division of Kent as defined by the Dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury and/or the West and East Kent Quarter Sessions. Presumably there were other markers as the dividing line went south.

The West Kent Quarter Sessions were based in Maidstone and consisted of the Lathe of Aylesford, the Lathe of Sutton-at-Hone and the lower division of the Lathe of Scray. Places in West Kent included Dartford, Gillingham (but NOT Rainham), Gravesend, Maidstone, Northfleet, Rochester, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, Swanley, Tonbridge, and towns that are now the London Boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, and Lewisham.

The East Kent Quarter Sessions were based in Canterbury and corresponded to the Diocese of Canterbury, consisting of the Lathe of St Augustine, the Lathe of Shepway, and the upper division of the Lathe of Scray.
The administrations of East and West Kent were merged in1814.

However, in his ‘History of Rochester’, F F Smith quotes the Rev Samuel Pegge, writing in 1735: “A Man of Kent and a Kentish Man is an expression often used but the explanation has been given in various ways. Some say that a Man of Kent is a term of high honour while a Kentish Man denotes but an ordinary person".

Source - various
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