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                                            The Simmons Family of Staplehurst

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The Simmons family appear in the Staplehurst register from the earliest entries. The name has many variants. The earliest form is Symons but also includes Symonds, Simons, and Simmonds. I record the name as it appears in the register.

This is a large family spanning many centuries, it has been a lot of work and there is bound to be mistakes. If you find any, please let me know.

 

Margery Symon c1520
One of the earliest records in the register is the marriage of Margery Symon to Wyllyam Asten on 26 January 1544/45. They were said to be ‘yong folkes’. There is no indication of Margery’s parentage but she may be related to Thomas the blacksmith who died in 1549. Margery had at least 2 sons Percyval and Simon, both died as infants. I then lost track of them.

Elizabeth Symonds c1520 - 1569
Elizabeth is probably a sister of Margery above. Elizabeth married Roger Denner in Staplehurst on 11 February 1548/9. Roger is also recorded as Fenner and Venner. Elizabeth was buried 24 April 1569 along with her new born daughter Agnes.

Thomas Symons d 1549
The only record of Thomas we have is his burial on 12 June 1549. The register notes that he was a ‘smythe an old man’. I would surmise that Thomas is the father of Dorothy, Thomas and William that follow. Note that the assumed sons Thomas and William were also blacksmiths.

Julyan Symons, widow, married William Underwood on 14 October 1549. Note that the assumed son Thomas named one daughter Julyan.

Andrew Symon c1545
The only mention of Andrew Symon is a baptism of a son John Symon on 07 August 1575. There is a record of an Andrew Simons marrying Thomasine (surname not given) in Goudhurst on 26 October 1571.

Dorothy Symon c1550 - 1579

Dorothy Symon had an illegitimate daughter, Agnes, baptised on 14 September 1578. A month later she married George Hawkins. The couple married by license at St. Margaret’s Canterbury. The marriage license dated 14 October 1578 stated that George was from Staplehurst and that Dorothy was from the same parish. She is noted as a virgin, a term used to describe a young maiden.

We can only surmise that George was the father of Agnes and that the marriage took place in Canterbury away from the village where people would know of the ‘baseborn’ child.
Dorothy, the wife of George Hawkins, was buried on 16 February 1578/9 just 4 months after the marriage. The child Agnes did not survive. She was buried on 08 April 1579 and noted as the daughter of Dorethe Symon.

I would also surmise that Dorothy is the sister of Thomas and William.

Thomas Symon c1520
Thomas is probably the son of Thomas Symons and Julyan. He was probably born between 1515 and 1520.

  
 

Note the gap between the baptism of Stephen and the burial of John and baptism of Julyan. It is likely that Thomas’s first wife died and that he married again. If this is so then the marriage recorded on 03 May 1551 is his and that his second wife was Florans Chesman.  

A burial has not been identified for Thomas and his wife.

William Symons c1525 - 1594
William Symons was a blacksmith. He married Elisabeth Reve in Staplehurst on 18 May 1550. They were noted as ‘yong folkes’.  William and Elizabeth had 10 children, 6 of whom died in infancy. Only one son appears to have survived both his parents.

  
 

 Elyzabeathe Symon, “ye wyffe of wyllyam Symon ye smythe” was buried on 16 December 1590.
Wyllyam Symon “an auncient householder” was buried on 02 January 1593/4. William would have been near 70 years of age which was an exceptional age to reach in this period. 

William Symons left a will (reference PRC 17/49/123) dated 10 November 1593 and proved 11 February 1593/3. At that time, he had one surviving son, Thomas who inherited the bulk of his estate. He also made provision for the children of his deceased son John and John’s widow Joan.
To the 6 children of John Simons, my son, deceased, namely, William, Thomas, John, Anne, Mary, and Catherine, £5 each when 12, to be invested for them. The children are to receive their money when 21 or married.
To Joan, widow of my said son John Simons, an annuity of 20 shillings a year to be paid from profits of a lease which I gave Mr. Edward Moore, Knight, until the youngest of the 6 children is 12.
To William Simons, “son of my son Thomas Simons”, he leaves 10 shillings with which “his father will buy him 2 lambs”.
The residue of his estate goes to his son Thomas Simons who is also executor. Overseer : Robert Peerson.
Son Thomas Simons is to inherit all his lands in the ‘den of Henhurst in parish of Staplehurst which I bought of George Newenham’, and all other lands in Staplehurst.
Witnesses: John Grinsted, John Sharpe, John Frenche, Peter Parris.

We also see in the will of Gilbert Fagge dated 1573 (PRC 17/41/319), a reference to his sister-in-law, Joan Simon and father-in-law William Symon. We know that Gilbert married Margete Symons in 1570, daughter of William Symon, the smith. (Margete died in childbirth in 1571.  The Joan referred to in the youngest daughter of William.  

In the Will of John Pyckynden, dated 24 April 1564, it states ‘I will the messuage that William Symon now dwelith in to John Hopper and his heirs’.

John Symon 1556 - before 1593
Jhon (John), son of William Symon and Elizabeth Reve, was baptised on 22 July 1556. Unusually, the register notes the godparents as Jhon Batterst and William Symon and godmother is Elizabeth Gunnying.
John had an unnamed illegitimate son by Elizabeth Mayny who was baptised on 26 October 1578.  There is no reference to what became of Elizabeth or the child.
John’s father, William Symon, refers to John’s widow as Joan in 1593. I have not found a marriage for John.

   
 

We know that John died before 1593 when his father’s will mentioned him as deceased. He was not buried in Staplehurst.

The will of William Symons refers to six children of John:

The register does include a baptisms of an unnamed child baptised on 12 September 1585. There is also a burial of a daughter of John named Constance on 01 November 1587.

I would surmise that John was living in a neighbouring village after 1587.

William Symons 1584
William Symons was baptised in Staplehurst on 22 May 1584. He is the son of John Symon.
William married Elizabeth Durkin in Staplehurst on 09 April 1604. They had one know child. Elizabeth Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on the 07 February 1607/8. 

There is no further record for this family.

Thomas Symon 1565 - 1635
Thomas Symon, son of William Symon and Elizabeth Reve, was baptised on 13 May 1565.
Thomas inherited the bulk of his father’s estate in 1593 which included property in Henhurst Den. At this stage, Thomas only had one son, William, who would have been 18 months old. William was left by his grandfather William 10 shillings with which “his father will buy him 2 lambs”. A sentimental touch or the first step in building Williams’ own household?
Thomas was first married Elizabeth Bassock in Staplehurst on 03 May 1591. Elizabeth is probably the daughter of Edward Bassock who was baptised on 14 December 1567. I have not found a burial for Elizabeth but at some stage Thomas married for a second time to Isabell, probably around 1602. A marriage to Isabel has not been found but she is named in Thomas’s will.

  

Thomas is known to have fathered the following children.

Isabel Symons, wife of Thomas, was licensed as a midwife on 04 July 1622. 

Thomas Symons was buried on 31 March 1635 and was noted as a householder.
Isabel, widow of Thomas, was buried on 08 February 1638/9. 

Thomas left a will dated 07 March 1635/6 (reference PRC 17/60/140). The will confirms that Thomas was a blacksmith in Staplehurst. He had also accumulated other property including two mills (one for malt and one for oatmeal) which he leaves to his youngest son Thomas.
To his wife Isabel he leaves all his goods, chattels and moveable goods for her life and after his death his 3 sons, William, Mickell (Michael), and Thomas, to share equally.
To his daughter Elizabeth wife of Henry Hudson, he leaves a broad loom that is the occupation of the husband and now in his possession. She also gets £6 and 10s.
To his daughter Agnes wife of John Edwards he leaves £5 that John owes Thomas as well as a further £7.
To the 4 children of Henry Hudson he leaves £4 to be divided equally – Isabel, John, Thomas and Peter when 22.
To the 2 children of John Edwards, Joane and John he leaves £2 when 22.
To the 5 children of his son Mickell, Thomas, Mickell, Ann, Elizabeth and John, he leaves £5 when 22.
He makes Thomas Simons, his youngest son, the sole executor and John Edmitt of Frittenden his overseer.
The remainder of his estate, including lands and tenements, is to be divided equally between his 3 sons William, Mickell and Thomas after the decease of his wife. During her lifetime, Isabel has all the profits from his property.
The will is witnessed by Samuel Viney, John Woodden, and Edward Dends. Thomas could not write and signed with his mark.

We have no record of when Isabel died.

William Symons 1592 - 1657
William Simons is the son of Thomas Symons and Elizabeth Bassock. He was baptised on 25 June 1592.
William married Susan Bennett on 29 November 1628. No children have been identified from this marriage.
Susannah Simonds, wife of William Simmonds, was buried on 12 June 1637.

There is a burial of William Simmonds on 04 December 1657 ‘a very ancient poor man’.

Michael Symons  1594 - 1667
Michael  is the son of Thomas Symons and Elizabeth Bassock and was baptised on 01 September 1594. He is variously recorded as Symons, Simons, Symonds and Simmons.

  

Michael Simons married Parnell Medhurst on 10 July 1621 in Staplehurst.

Michael and Parnell had the following children baptised in Staplehurst.

Michael appears to have then moved to Leeds where he was resident in 1636 when he provided a marriage bond for his brother Thomas.  Michael and Parnell had 3 further children baptised in Leeds. 

In 1636, Michael’s father Thomas willed to the children of Michael named as Thomas, Michael, Ann, Elizabeth and John, £5 to be equally divided. (reference PRC17/69/140). Michael inherited a share of his father’s estate which was broadly divided between the 3 sons.

Michael was buried in Leeds on 11 May 1667. He left a will dated 07 May 1667 (reference PRC 16/279). It states that Michael Simmons of Leeds was a yeoman.
It is a simple will with (unusually) numbered items

      1)      Request a Christian Burial.
      2)      To his oldest son Michael he gives all his wearing apparel both woollen & linen plus one shilling in money.
      3)      To his daughter Ann, one pair of fine sheets & to her husband John BUSSES? His large bible & one shilling in money.
      4)      To Henry WEST who married his daughter Elizabeth, one shilling in money.
      5)      To his two sons John & Steven, he leaves the residue of his goods and chattels after the payment of his debts. They are 
            also to be executors of his will.

 Michael signed with a mark which resembles a large S with the lower arch being squared. Also looks very shaky.

 Witnesses are Edmond Collinson; Thomas Hislenden; Ed Silden


Thomas Symons 1601 - ?
Thomas Symons is the son of Thomas Symons and Elizabeth Bassock. He was baptised in Staplehurst on 15 March 1600/01

Thomas Symons of Staplehurst, husbandman of about 30 was licensed to marry at St Margaret’s Canterbury. The licence was dated 17 May 1636. Thomas was to marry Sarah Mayhow (Mayo) of Staplehurst, virgin of about 26 whose parents were both dead and she was now under the governance of her uncle Abraham Mayo who consented to the marriage. A marriage bond is provided by Michael Symons of Leeds, husbandman. (Michael is Thomas’s brother).

   

Thomas and Sarah had the following known children.

There are no burial records between 1643 and 1653 for Staplehurst and they are not complete until 1664. Marriage and baptisms are also incomplete during this period. Thomas and Sarah may have had further children.

There is not a burial for Thomas Simmons. There is a burial for Sarah Simons on 06 May 1679. This may or may not be Thomas’s wife. 

It is also possible that Sarah died and Thomas remarried.  See the next Thomas.

Thomas Simonds d1658
Who is this Thomas? Is he possibly the same Thomas baptised in 1601 that is recorded above? Did Thomas’s wife Sarah die and did Thomas marry again to Annie?  Or is this another individual?
The reason I suspect it is the same Thomas is the Thomas baptised in 1601 was left two mills one of which was a malt mill. Thomas who died in 1658 is described as a maulster.

Thomas was married to Annie. He is recorded as a maulster.
The couple had twin unnamed children baptised in Staplehurst. One child was baptised on 20 January 1655/56 and the other the next day which included the note “another child of the parties (Thomas Simonds maulster and Annie), the two children being twins.” Both the children and their mother Ann were buried on 26 January 1655/6. 

Thomas Simmonds, maulster, was buried on 23 July 1658. 

On 08 March 1658/9 John Hartnop, a broadweaver, married Widow Simonds. There is no indication of her first name, but it is likely to be the widow of Thomas.

William Simmons 1637
William is probably the son of Thomas Simmons and Sarah Mayo who was baptised 26 March 1637.

There is a marriage license for William Simmons dated 09 April 1663. He was said to be a widower of Staplehurst and a yeoman. His bride was Ann Standen of Staplehurst, a virgin aged 26 whose parents are dead. They were license to marry at Cranbrook or Marden. John Standen of Staplehurst, a blacksmith, provided the marriage bond. They married in Cranbrook on 20 April 1663.

Although William was described as a widower when he married Ann Standen, we have no record of a previous marriage.

   

William and Ann certainly had a difficult time trying to raise a family.

 I have not found a burial for William or his wife Ann.

Thomas Simmons 1638 - 1694
Thomas Simmons is probably the son of Thomas Simons and Sarah Mayo. He was baptised on 30 Dec 1638 in Staplehurst.

   
Thomas and Jane had the following children baptised in Staplehurst parish church.

 Thomas Simmons was buried on 10 February 1693/4.  I have not found a burial for Thomas’s wife Jane.


Thomas Simmons c1680 – c1713
The parentage of Thomas is uncertain. He may well be the son of Thomas and Elizabeth.

There is a marriage license for Thomas Simmons dated 03 October 1701. He is said to be a yeoman, bachelor of Staplehurst. He married Elizabeth Buckhurst of Headcorn, a spinster.  The license was for them to marry at Headcorn, Langley or East Sutton. They married in Langley on 14 October 1701.

   

The following children were baptised in Staplehurst, children of Thomas & Elizabeth Simmons. .

There is a possibility that this is the Thomas Simmons who is recorded as a member and a deacon of the Baptist Church of Smarden who died in 21 June 1755 aged 76.

 

William Simons 1680 - 1709
It is uncertain who the parents of William are.  He may well be the son of Thomas and Jane Simons who was born on 06 April 1680 and baptised in Staplehurst on 23 October 1681.
William married Margery Church at the Sissinghurst Chapel in Cranbrook on 29 August 1706.  William Simonds was said to be of Staplehurst and Margery was from Cranbrook. While there is no mention of a previous marriage, William may have been a widower.
There is a burial on 15 December 1703 of ‘ye wife of Goodman Simmons’.
Margery Simmonds, wife of ‘Goodman Simmonds’, was buried on 10 May 1707 in Staplehurst.
William married again to Patience Allen on 02 May 1709 at Headcorn. William Symmons was said to be a widower of Staplehurst and Patience Allen was a widow of Headcorn. 
William was then buried a few months later on 04 September 1709 identified as ‘Goodman Simmonds’. 

Patience married again almost immediately. She married Thomas Bills on 23 October 1709 in Staplehurst. Patience died the 08 September 1723. 

There is no record of children of William Simons.

William Simmonds  c1680
It is uncertain who the parents of William are. See William above. Which of these two Williams is the son of Thomas and Jane Simmons is unknown. Their son was born on 06 April 1680 and baptised in Staplehurst on 23 October 1681.
William Simmonds of Staplehurst married Elizabeth Mason on 06 Oct 1717 in Staplehurst. They were both said to be of Staplehurst. The couple had one child baptised in Staplehurst.
William son of William and Elizabeth was born 23 November 1718 and baptised on 30 January 1718/18. 

There is no further record in Staplehurst for this family; presumably they left the parish.

William SYMONS c1570 – 1614
It is not clear where William fits into the family line. It is probable that he was from Marden. There is a will of William Symondes, a yeoman of Marden, dated 1602.
He refers to his godson William Simmonds, son of William Simmonds of Staplehurst. There is a William Symons baptised in Marden on 24 March 1570/1, the son of Oliver Symons – this may well be the same William particularly as he names one son Oliver which is not a common name in the family line in Staplehurst. 

From Williams’ will, we know he was married to Margaret.  I found his marriage in Marden on 21 January 1594/5 to Margaret Hall.

There is a burial of Faythe,”ye wyffe of wyllyam Symon ye yonger” on 05 November 1593 – it is possible that this was a first marriage.
 

   
 

William is known to have had the following children.

In 1596 William was a church warden at the Staplehurst parish church. He signs the register with an ‘X’ indicating he could not write.
William Symons was buried in Staplehurst on 17 January 1613/14. He was said to be a householder. William left a will (reference PRC 17/57/280) dated January 1613/14. He is identified as William Simons of Staplehurst.
He leaves to his 4 surviving children £20 a piece to be paid when they are 21. They are Thomas, Oliver, Edward and Elizabeth. He allows the same for the baby his wife is carrying (this is William who was born 2 months after the death of William).
His wife is named as Margaret and she gets his property called Dunberry and all his goods and chattels for her lifetime. If she marries again, she must put up a bond to ensure the children get their legacies. After her death this is divided among the children. 

Margaret Symons, widow of William, married again to John Harnden. There is a marriage license dated 12 April 1614 for the couple to marry at St Mary’s Bredmans Church in Canterbury. John Harnden was a clothier of Staplehurst and Margaret was said to be a widow of the same parish.

Thomas Symons 1598 - 1623
Thomas Symons is the son of William Symons and Margaret; he was baptised in Staplehurst on 03 September 1598.

A marriage licence dated 16 August 1619 permits Thomas Symons of Staplehurst, husbandman of about 21 years of age to marry Agnes Darbey of Sellinge. Agnes was a maiden of 22 and the daughter of Jeffery Darbey, late of Cranbrook, deceased. The licence was for St. Margaret’s Canterbury.

   
 

 Thomas appears to have died very young. He was buried on 17 February 1622/3; he would have been just 24 years old.

 There is no record of what happened to his widow Agnes.

William SYMONS c1650
There is a marriage license for William Symons of Staplehurst, gentleman. He was said to be a bachelor of 25 years of age. He married Elizabeth Moore of Marden who was a 23 year old spinster. The license, dated 30 November 1675, stated the marriage was to take place in Staplehurst, Marden or Little Chart. Allegations were made by Robert Hartly of Cranbrook, clothier and Richard Hartly of precincts Canterbury, a brasier.

The couple married in Marden on the 13 December 1675. 

It is probable that he is the son of Edward and Anne Simons of Marden. Edward is referred to as Mr. in the Marden register which implies someone likely to have the title of gentleman.

William and Elizabeth appear to have settled in Marden where there are 5 children baptised to the couple.

Thomas? Simmons c1655
Solid facts about this link in the family line are few. First we have a period when the registers are disrupted during the commonwealth and then I am fairly certain this family were non conformist. We should treat this link as speculative.

Thomas (even his first name is uncertain although it is probably correct) is likely to be the son of Edward and Fridswith Simmons. There are two parallel lines in Staplehurst at this time. One line descends from the early blacksmiths in Staplehurst while the other is more closely related to the Marden line and they were farmers and property owners. It is for this reason that I speculate that Thomas was the son of Edward.

We know that he married Elizabeth.

We know that Elizabeth was a widow living in Staplehurst when she made her will in 1722 (reference PRC17 84/57). She died in 1725 and was buried in Frittenden on 02 December 1725. An inventory of her goods was recorded which indicates that by 1725 she was living in Frittenden (reference PRC11 77/214). If I were to hazard a guess, I would suggest that Elizabeth had left Staplehurst sometime after 1722 to live with her son Thomas in Frittenden.
From her will we know that she had 3 surviving sons Thomas Simmons of Frittenden, Edward Simmons, and John Simmons. She had two daughters one of whom may have already been dead.
The will is dated simply 1722 and probate is January 1725. Elizabeth is stated to be a widow of Staplehurst.  Elizabeth was buried in Frittenden on 02 December 1725.
She leaves a silver spoon to her granddaughter Susan Chaxfield as well as all her wearing apparel and £10 when she attains 21 years of age. We know that Susanna Simmonds of Staplehurst married Solomon Chaxfield of Staplehurst at Langley on the 11 April 1705. This would be Elizabeth’s daughter. The granddaughter was not baptised in Staplehurst or Langley. Susanna is the only grandchild to receive money which may imply her parents were dead.
Another silver spoon is left to granddaughter Elizabeth Furner. I have not found a marriage for Simmons / Furner nor a baptism for granddaughter Elizabeth so I do not have a name for the daughter but I would not be surprised to find it was Elizabeth.
To her grandsons Thomas and Edward Simmons, sons of her son Edward Simmons, she leaves each of them a silver spoon.
Her son Thomas is to have a gold ring and her best bed coverlet.
The balance of her goods, after payment of debts and funeral expenses, is to be divided equally between her loving sons John Simmons, Thomas Simmons, Edward Simmons, and John Furner (her son-in-law). 
Her executor is her son Thomas Simmons of Frittenden.
I speculate that the Edward Simmons is the same Edward who married Ann Bridgland. The dates fit well together. 

The inventory is dated 11 December 1725 and tells us that Elizabeth was a widow. The inventory is signed by Henry Simmons and John Jennings. Henry is likely to be the brother-in-law of Elizabeth. The total value of the goods and chattels comes to £72/16/9. The inventory covers her chamber, her parlour, and the hall. This appears to be a very small cottage and may be a part of a house. The hall and the parlour contain kettle, skillet and other cooking utensils. The largest single item is a debt likely to be recovered of £30.  There is a note at the bottom of the inventory that states that Thomas Simmons is the executor.  

Based on the information from the will we can build a picture of the family.

   
 

The lack of baptismal records means that I conclude that Elizabeth and her husband were none conformist.

 The children of Thomas and Elizabeth seem to be:

There is a burial of Thomas Simmonds was buried on 11 October 1717, which may be the husband of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Simmons was buried in Frittenden on 02 Dec 1725. In 1722 when she made out her will, she was a widow and living in Staplehurst. Her inventory indicates she was living in Frittenden at the time of her death, possibly with her son Thomas.

It must be stressed that this ‘link’ contains a great deal of speculation and should be treated as such.

Edward Simmons c1605
I believe Edward to be the son of William and Margaret Symons. He is variously referred to a Simmons, Simonds, Simmonds and Simons.  A baptism has not been found for Edward but he is mentioned in his father’s will dated 1614. He was born before 1611 and probably between 1604 and 1606. Edward was married to Fridswid (or Freeswith) about 1635 but a marriage record has not been found to date.

 

 Edward and Freeswith had the following children noted in the Staplehurst register.

 There were probably more children but the register is weak for this period. See Thomas born c1655 as a possible son.

Edward was left property by his father William. He also appears to have leased additional land. Between 1647 and 1661, Edward is shown as paying Poor Rates on a significant size farm in Staplehurst. In 1647, he is paying on a rental value of £47, in 1656 it is on a value of £50 and in 1659 this drops to £36. There was more than one property involved. 

Burial records for Edward and his wife have not been found.

William SYMONS 1614 - 1644

William Simons or Symons was the son William and Margaret Symons and the brother of Edward above.  He was baptised in Staplehurst on 10 March 1613/14.

William was married to Elizabeth but a marriage record has not been found.

   

There was just one child registered although Williams’ will makes it clear there were further children

William’s burial is not recorded in the register but we can estimate he died in 1644. William left a will (reference PRC 16/244/6) which was not registered and is not dated. Probate was granted on 17 December 1644. He probably died a few months prior to this.  

The will states that William was a yeoman of Staplehurst. He request to be buried in Staplehurst churchyard and refers to a long ‘infirmitie’.
He leaves ‘my half part of house & lands called Dunbery Lands’ to his son Edward Simons when 21. To his daughter, Elizabeth, he leaves threescore pounds when twenty one. He makes his brother Edward Simons overseer and his wife Elizabeth executor. He leaves the residue of his goods and chattels to his wife Elizabeth. It is interesting that William signed the will with his mark that looks like an inverted W, while his brother, who was also a witness, signed with a mark that looks like an E lying face down. 

Neither of the children, Edward or Elizabeth is recorded in the register but during this period there are very few entries.

Henry Simmons c1645 - 1696

The parentage of Henry is not known. It may be that he was the son of Edward and Fridswith, but no baptism was found.
There is a marriage licence dated 03 October 1667 which authorises Henry to marry at St. Margaret’s Canterbury. He was to marry Elizabeth Underhill of Frittenden, a 26 year old maiden. Her parents were said to be dead.
Henry Simmons of Staplehurst was said to be a cordwainer and a bachelor. Bonds were provided by Daniel Phillpott of Staplehurst, clothworker and Henry Phillpotts of Canterbury, glover. 

I have found no children of this marriage. There is a burial in Staplehurst of Henry Simmons of Headcorn on 07 November 1696 which may be the same Henry.

 Edward Simmons 1683 - 1735
I have not found a baptismal record for Edward; his parentage is unknown. Edward married Ann Bridgeland in Frittenden on 06 July 1714. Ann is probably the daughter of Thomas and Hannah Bridgeland who was baptised in Staplehurst on 12 October 1693. I am confident that there is a relationship between this Edward and the Edward who married Fridswith but have been unable to prove this.

Edward and Ann's first son, Thomas, was baptised in Frittenden on 11 April 1715, but by 1717 when their second son, Edward, was born they were living in Staplehurst. The children of this couple are:

There is a monumental inscription at the All Saints Parish Church in Staplehurst that tells us that Edward died on the 5 November 1735 at 52 years of age. Edward was buried on 11 November 1735.

Ann, Edward’s widow, died 29 July 1768 aged 75 years having survived Edward by thirty three years. She was buried in Staplehurst on 23 July 1768. 

The family were farming people. The first Land Tax records found for Staplehurst are for the years1756 and 1759. There is then a large gap until 1780.  In both 1756 and 1759, Ann, who was by then a widow, is recorded as a tenant of Mr. Hoare. Annual rent is £60 per year which implies it was a large farm. We cannot be one hundred percent certain which property this is as the records only identify the land owner and the tenant, but it is almost certainly Fullers Farm which was located on the east side of the Turnpike Road (Cranbrook Road) and later became known as Iden Manor Farm. The Hoare family owned this property from the late 1700’s.

The Poor Rate Assessments show Edward in 1720 as assessed with a land value of £40 which is then shown as £30 in 1725. By 1730, Edward was assessed on two parcels of land at £30 and £5. By 1755, the assessment was £42.

No will has been found for Edward. His estate would have passed to his wife and children. Ann continued to lease the property until her eldest son Thomas took over the lease. Thomas was the tenant in the same property in 1780.

Edward Simmons’s male line continued in Staplehurst from 1716 to until the early 1900s. During these 175 years, and seven generations, they played a major role in the farming community of Staplehurst.

Thomas Simmons 1715 - 1793
Thomas Simmons, the son of Edward and Ann Simmons, was born in Frittenden, Kent and baptised 11 April 1715.

Thomas Simmons married Elizabeth Usborne on 08 October 1778. This was a late marriage, he was 63 years old and Elizabeth was 34. From the marriage license, we know it was the first marriage for both of them. There is no record of any children being born to the couple and Thomas’s will confirms this.
The marriage license states that Thomas was a yeoman. Elizabeth was the daughter of William Usborne. The Usborne family were ‘well to do’ and leading members of the village at that time. The license shows a marriage bond was put up by John Usborne of Maidstone defined as a gentleman.

The Kent Poll Book for 1754 shows a list of freeholders in Staplehurst which does not include any Simmons. However, Thomas’s future father in law, William Usborne is shown as a freeholder. The 1790 Kent Poll Book shows Thomas as a freeholder in Staplehurst with a house and land.
In the Land Tax Records of 1756 and 1759, Thomas’s widowed mother is the tenant of a large farm where the freeholder was Mr. Hoare. The property is identified as Fullers Farm, later called Iden Manor Farm. It is assumed that Thomas lived with his widowed mother and ran the farm on her behalf until he came of age. Thomas is also shown as the joint tenant of another property owned by Mr. Bryant Fausett. By comparing tax records throughout the years, it can be deduced that this property is Fullers House Farm, which is situated on the west side of the Turnpike Road and opposite the Fullers Farm previously mentioned, combined with Iden and Waller Farm which is south east of Fullers House Farm.
The next tax records in 1780 show Thomas is also now the tenant of Fullers Farm, owned by Mr. Hoare, his mother having died in 1768. Also Thomas is now shown as the owner and occupier of Fullers House Farm (including Iden and Waller). On top of this, Thomas is also the tenant farmer of Chittenden Farm which lies just south of Fullers House Farm. He is now farming a huge track of land in the southern section of the village of Staplehurst.
In 1789, Thomas adds to his holdings with a smaller farm leased from Mr. John Beard which he buys the freehold of in 1793. In 1790 he acquires the freehold of another property (which his will states to be 30 acres) which he rents to George Waters. One further addition is shown in the tax records of 1793 which looks like a further small farm leased from Mr. Philcox which appears to be next to Mr. Beard’s property. I’m not sure where these are.

As was expected of the ‘gentlemen’ of the parish, Thomas and his brother Edward performed duties as overseers of the poor in 1754.

Thomas died on the 2nd August 1793 and we do know that by this time he was well established and left an extensive estate. His monumental inscription describes him as a ‘Gent of the Parish, universally esteemed and regretted’.

From his will, we can establish further information about Thomas. We know Thomas had two brothers, one sister and many nephews and nieces although no children of his own. He was a farmer and a gentleman and his wife was from a well to do family.
Thomas's will dated 16 July 1791, clearly defines his requests and is very good for verifying the family tree. He left several major bequests, most with charges against them to ensure all his nieces and nephews benefited.
To Elizabeth, his wife he left all his goods and chattels etc in his dwelling house Fullers House in Staplehurst. She was to have the chaise and horse, the best cow and £500 in stocks, which had been left to her by her late uncle Edward Usborne. She was also to benefit from the interest and profit from a £1000 investment Thomas had made around 1791 in Tolls on the Turnpike Road from Maidstone to Tubstake. Tubstake is not on the modern road map but found on an old map to be on what is the A229 today just south of Cranbrook but north of Hawkhurst. During her lifetime, she was to have Fullers House Farm and the three associated cottages in what is now known as ‘The Quarter’. When Elizabeth died, the £1000 investment on the Tolls was to go to his nephew John Simmons, son of his brother John. However, there were charges against this equating to £500 which was left to his other nieces and nephews.

Fullers House Farm in Staplehurst was also left to his nephew John Simmons, son of his brother John with the provision that Elizabeth should have use of the property until her death. The property was left to Edward Simmons (son of his brother Edward) and his heirs in the event that John did not survive Elizabeth, which is what happened. Elizabeth survived until November 1822 while John was buried in June 1819 and Edward died a few months before Elizabeth in February 1822.
To his nephew Edward Simmons, son of his brother Edward, Thomas left a house and land of 32 acres referred to as the ‘Cott’ in Shirley Moor, Woodchurch, Kent. There were also charges against this bequest equating to roughly £1000.
Two estates were left as tenants in common to his nephews John Simmons and William Spong (husband of Ann Simmons, daughter of his brother John). The one estate was Iden and Waller in Staplehurst which we previously mentioned. It is now noted as 64 acres. The other was known as the ‘Isle of Dogs’ in Beddenden and Benenden. Charges against the two estates equated to £400 plus an annuity of £10 per year for his brother John.
To his nephews Peter Tuff and Thomas Tuff, sons of his sister Mary, he left an estate of 30 acres (unnamed) in Staplehurst as tenants in common. George Waters occupied the estate. No charges were made against this.
Also noted was a request that his great nephew, Thomas Simmons, son of his nephew Edward Simmons, should have the lease of the farm belonging to Henry Hoare called Chittenden.
There were numerous other small requests to various nieces and nephews but the residue of his estate was passed to his nephews John Simmons and William Spong to be shared equally.
Thomas provided well for his relatives, made provision for the poor of Staplehurst, and ensured his tenants and his servants were well rewarded. 

Thomas’s wife, Elizabeth Usborne, outlived Thomas by 29 years. She was buried along side Thomas in All Saints Church Staplehurst on the 02 December 1822. She also left a detailed will benefiting many of her relatives but also many named poor of Staplehurst. For instance, she left 12 pounds and 12 shillings per year to May Waller daughter of Thomas Waller, a labourer in Staplehurst to 'keep her out of the Parish Workhouse'. After the many small bequests to friends, relatives, servants and the poor, the bulk of her estate went to her nephew Thomas Simmons.
 

Edward Simmons 1717 - 1796
Edward Simmons, the second son of Edward and Ann Simmons, was baptised at All Saints Church, Staplehurst on the 13 March 1716/17. Edward married Sarah Newman on 08 August 1838. Sarah was the daughter of James and Elizabeth Newman and was baptised in Staplehurst on 11 January 1712/13.

 

Edward and Sarah Newman had eight children, one of whom died as an infant. 

  1. Thomas Simmons was the first born child of Edward and Sarah and he was baptised at All Saints Church in Staplehurst 29 October 1739. We know that Thomas survived Edward and he is mentioned in his late Uncle Thomas’s will but we have no further record of Thomas and must assume he left the parish.
  2. The second son, Edward Simmons, was born in 1742. A baptism has not been found. Edward married Mary Beslee on the 15 April 1771 in Staplehurst.
  3. Sarah Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on 15 August 1744. She is mentioned in her uncles will as Sarah Attwood. She married Benjamin Attwood on 15 May 1777 in Cranbrook.
  4. John Simmons was baptised on 20 June 1746 at Staplehurst. He married Martha Croucher on 22 January 1768 in Staplehurst and was at that time a resident in Frittenden. John died in 1816 at 69 years of age and was buried in Staplehurst on 27 February 1816 but was noted as living in Frittenden.
  5. Ann Simmons was baptised on 18 September 1748 but died before she reached 2 years of age and was buried on 14 July 1750.
  6. Elizabeth Simmons was baptised at All Saints Church in Staplehurst on the 06 May 1750. Elizabeth married Richard Bayly 11 December 1772 in Staplehurst. Elizabeth was buried 19 May 1810.
  7. James Simmons was born in 1751 in Staplehurst although a baptism for him has not been found. Note that there appears to be gaps in the 1751 register.
  8. Henry Simmons was baptised at All Saints Church in Staplehurst on the 20 March 1754. He married Hannah Usborne of Ulcombe, Kent on 03 May 1786 in Ulcombe. Henry was buried on 27 May 1815 in Staplehurst.

 There are a few references to Edward in the archives. For instance, Jake Chapman was the leader of Staplehurst Congregational non-conformist church in Staplehurst. There is a copy of his records in the Centre for Kentish Studies, which includes everything from baptism records to what he planted in his garden. In December 1755, he records what he obtained for the goods of Master Payles (presumably left to the church) and that Mr. E. Simmons bought the new wagon for twenty shillings. There are several references to his ‘niece Simmons’ such as in July 1787 ' I had a nice fowl from my niece Simmons May the Lord bless her'. There is also a reference dated 15 May 1792 'died a son of Mrs. Edward Simmons'. There is no corresponding reference in the parish records.

In 1754 and 1765, Edward served as Overseer of the Poor in Staplehurst. 

In the Staplehurst Land Tax 1759 assessment, Edward is indicated to be a tenant of Mr. Johnson’s heirs with a rent of £40 per annum, yet in the 1756 assessment there is no mention of Edward. This is a fairly large rent (compared to village house rents of one to four pounds) and it is assumed to be a farm but there is no reference to place other than it is in the Northborough, Cranbrook Hundred. Anita Thompson has indicated that this is Lovehurst Farm. Edward was also shown in the 1759 Land Tax to own a house which he rented to Widow Cook for two pounds and 2 pence per year.
In the Poll Book for 1790, Edward is resident in Staplehurst but owns property in Headcorn which is leased to a Mr. Hooker. The property that Edward was a tenant of in 1759 was, by 1780, owned by St. Batholomews Hospital. The rent remained at £40 per year until 1785 when it became £75 pounds a year. Such a huge increase implies that more land must have been added to the tenancy and it is believed that Love Farm was then included. In 1795, Edward’s two sons, John and Henry, are shown as the tenants. Edward died in 1796 and we could assume his sons took over, as he would have been nearly 80 years old. 

Edward’s wife Sarah died 14 May 1774 and was buried in Staplehurst on 18 May 1774..  Edward remarried in 1779 to Susan Hills of Pluckley on 20 July 1779 by licence. Susan is mentioned in Edward’s brother Thomas’s will.  

Edward was buried at All Saints Church, Staplehurst on the 19 February 1796 aged 79 years. His monument inscription states ''In memory of Edward Simmons of this Parish departed this life Feb 14th 1796 aged 79 years. In memory of Sarah Wife of Edward Simmons of this Parish departed this life May the 14th 1774 aged 64 years. Left Issue five sons and two daughters. Thomas, Edward, John, James, Henry, Sarah and Elizabeth.''

The parish register implies that Edward was living in Cranbrook at the time of his death.

No will has been found. 

I have not identified what became of Susan, Edward’s second wife. There is no record of her burial or a re-marriage in Staplehurst.

Mary Simmons 1720 - 1760 (alias Mary Tuff)
Mary Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst Kent on 1 January 1719, the daughter of Edward Simmons and Ann Bridgland. She married Peter Tuff in 1740 in Rye Sussex. Peter Tuff was born in Brighton Sussex in 1711.

he couple settled in Staplehurst and had the following children.

Mary’s brother leaves to his nephews Peter Tuff and Thomas Tuff property to be owned as tenants in common consisting of 30 acres in Staplehurst which is occupied by George Waters but is unnamed. He also leaves the nephews substantial sums of money plus all his wearing apparel.

Thomas’s nieces, daughters of his sister Mary, are named as Ann Farmer, Mary Wilkinson, Sarah Reeve, and Elizabeth Pearce. He leaves them each substantial sums of money most of which is related to charges against property which will not be paid until his wife Elizabeth has died. Sarah Reeve is likely to have been widowed early as Thomas adds to his original will at a later date a sum of five pounds to buy clothes for herself and her children. Another addition gives Ann Farmer five pounds immediately after his death. 

Mary Tuff (formerly Simmons), wife of Peter, was buried in Staplehurst on 25 August 1760. 

In 1773 Peter married again. There is a marriage license dated 12 March 1773. Peter was said to be a widower of Staplehurst. His bride was Martha Ledger, a spinster of Detling. The license was to marry at Staplehurst or Detling. They did not marry in Staplehurst. 

Peter Tuff was buried in Staplehurst on 06 April 1781. He was 70 years old. 

Martha Tuff, widow of Peter, was buried in Staplehurst on 05 November 1786.


John Simmons 1722 - 1796
John Simmons was born in Staplehurst in 1722 and baptised at All Saints Church in Staplehurst on 28 December 1722; the son of Edward Simmons and Ann Bridgeland. John was only 13 when his father died.

John married Ann Barton on the 07 Feb 1758 in Staplehurst. The parish entry notes that Ann was a minor and she married with her mother’s consent. Ann was the daughter of Anna Barton, a widow. The marriage license stated that John was a shop keeper and tallow chandler.

John and Ann had the following children.

 In the Staplehurst Land Tax assessments for 1756 and 1759, John is a tenant of Mrs. Aulife (or Ciulife) with a rent of £34 which implies a farm. This was in the North Borough of Staplehurst. John’s brother, Thomas, left him an annuity of £10 per year which he only enjoyed for 3 years before his death. Generally, you get the impression he led a comfortable life. In the 1780 Land Tax records, John is found living in a property owned by Mrs. Austin and rented for £2 which implies a house. As this property is later (in 1793) owned and occupied by Mrs. Simmons (believed to be Elizabeth Simmons widow of Thomas Simmons), it is thought to be a cottage on the east side of The Quarter. 

Ann Simmons, the wife of John, was buried in Staplehurst on 04 May 1783. She was 45 years old. 

John was buried in Staplehurst on 27 August 1796. He was 74 years old.
 

Edward Simmons 1742 - 1822
Edward Simmons was born in Staplehurst in 1742, the son of Edward Simmons and Sarah Newman. A baptism has not been found for Edward.
Edward Simmons married Mary Beslee at All Saints Church in Staplehurst on 15 April 1771.

  

Edward and Mary Simmons had eight children, seven of which survived. 

  1. Thomas Simmons was the eldest child of Edward and Mary. He was baptised in Staplehurst on 01 January 1772.  He married Sarah Day, daughter of John and Mary Day of Marden, on 11 November 1793 at Hunton by license. Sarah was said to be of Hunton. She is often referred to as Sally.
  2. Mary Simmons was baptised on 26 November 1773 at All Saints parish church in Staplehurst. Mary married Stephen Thwaites in Staplehurst on 22 August 1793. He was resident in Staplehurst and was a ‘Tallow Chandler’ and farmer. In his original will, Mary’s father left her five hundred pounds but in a later codicil he revoked this. He states that he had advanced and loaned Stephen various sums equating to three hundred and twenty pounds which Stephen had declined to provide security for. He, therefore, instructs his executors to invest one hundred and eighty pounds and the interest to be paid to Mary while the principle would be shared amongst her children when they reach twenty one years of age. He instructs Mary’s inheritance should be independent of her husband’s money.
  3. Edward Simmons was baptised on the 29 March 1796 in Staplehurst. We know he was alive in 1822 when his father died. While he was to receive an equal share of his father’s estate after the death of his mother, he was not provided for similarly to William and John during his mother’s lifetime. It is, therefore, assumed that he was independent and out of the parish by 1822. In the 1832 Electors Records for Kent, Edward is the owner and occupier of Cott Farm in Woodchurch, which was bequeathed to his father by Thomas Simmons (1715 – 1793). There is a record of his marriage in Woodchurch on 22 January 1808 to Philidelphia Merls from Tenterden.
  4. John Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on 27 October 1779. He married Lucy Boorman, a widow, on 25 October 1813. They had five children: Louisa 1814, Thomas 1815, Sarah 1817, Edward 1819 who died as an infant, and Elizabeth 1820. John was at various times described as a publican, an inn keeper, an ale house keeper and a victualler. He died in 1831 and no will has been found. His widowed wife, Lucy, is found on the 1851 Census living near the railway station and is shown as a ‘grocer’ despite being 70 years old. John would have benefited from his father’s will equally with his brothers if he had survived his mother but he had benefited from interest during her lifetime.
  5. Elizabeth Simmons was baptised on 08 August 1781. She died as an infant and was buried 19 February 1782.
  6. Edward and Mary had another daughter which they again named Elizabeth who was baptised on 13 June 1783. She married Thomas Watts in 1824, a farmer from Sutton Valance, Kent. Edward asked his executors to invest four hundred pounds and to pay Elizabeth the interest from this money and the principle would go to her children when they were twenty one years old. He also ‘forgave’ Elizabeth and her husband Thomas for money he had advanced or loaned to them.
  7. Sarah Newman Simmons was born in Staplehurst on 10 August 1785. She married on 27 January 1807 in Staplehurst to William Gilbert a farmer from Hunton, Kent. Her father made her a straight forward bequest of five hundred pounds which probably shows more confidence in her husband than her sisters’ husbands.
  8. William Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on 08 February 1788. He never married and lived to be 83 years old in 1871. In the 1841 Census, he is found living with his 91 year old mother in The Quarter, Staplehurst. In 1851 he is living at Chart Sutton; a retired farmer. In 1861 he is now 73 years old and back in Staplehurst living at Words Cottage near Brattle Farm and said to be a householder and a fund holder. In 1871, now 83 years old, he is living at Ashhurst Farm and said to be ‘living on interest of money’. He died 2 months later and is buried at All Saints Parish Church.  His monument reads 'Sacred to the memory of William Simmons of this parish who died June 6 1871 aged 83 years.’ The funds he is stated to be living on are from his father’s estate of which he had equal share with his brothers.

Edward lived to be 81 years of age and was buried at All Saints Church in Staplehurst on 16 February 1822. His monument inscription reads 'Sacred to the memory of Edward Simmons who died Feb. 11 1822 aged 81 years. Also Mary his wife who died July 25 1841 aged 91 years. Left issue 4 sons and 3 daughters viz. Thomas, Edward, John, William, Mary, Elizabeth and Sarah.'
His wife survived him by 19 years and was buried beside him on 30 July 1841.

As Edward outlived his cousin John Simmons who was in line to be the main beneficiary of his uncle Thomas Simmons (b. 1715) on the death of Thomas’s wife Elizabeth. However, Edward died nine months before his aunt Elizabeth and it was his heirs who benefited. Even so, at the time of Thomas’s death in 1793, Edward had inherited substantial amounts of money and an estate in Woodchurch with 32 acres which members of his family continued to live on until sometime after 1832.
Piecing together information from his will, Edward leased a property which he occupied in Staplehurst and Marden, the name is unknown. He owned outright the Woodchurch estate and he was due to inherit the Fullers House Farm.
Edward left all of his property to his wife in her lifetime with instructions that after her death the entire estate would be divided between his four sons. He left each of his three daughters five hundred pounds although it appears by subsequent changes that he gave his daughters Mary and Elizabeth part of the inheritance during his lifetime.
His wife, Mary, survived him by 19 years and lived to reach 91 years of age. She was buried in Staplehurst in 1841.
The Apportionment of the Rent Charge in lieu of Tithes 1838 documents Mary as the owner of Fullers House Farm which was said to be 48 acres. Her son, Thomas Simmons senior is the occupier of Fullers House Farm while Mary and her other unmarried son William live in one of the smaller cottages in The Quarter (now known as 17 The Quarter) which belonged to Fullers House Farm. This property her deceased husband Edward inherited from his uncle, Thomas Simmons (b 1715).

An interesting item, written by Anita Thompson of Brattle Farm for an article on Staplehurst Crime and Punishment in the Eighteenth Century, states ‘Staplehurst had its smugglers, too, of which the best known was Thomas Beasley at Great Wadd, who was related to the Simmons family. This farm legendarily had an underground stable below the barn in which to hide the horses needed to fetch goods from the coast. Various Simmons’ farmed at Knoxbridge, Chittenden and Iden, forming a ring of protection around him. Farmers knew not to show surprise when their horses were sweaty and tired in the mornings. The horses were trained to return home alone, so as not to incriminate a handler.’

James Simmons 1751 - 1821
James Simmons is the son of Edward Simmons and Sarah Newman. He was born in 1751 but there is not a record of his baptism in the Staplehurst register. It needs to be noted that the 1751 entries in the Staplehurst register appear to have large gaps. 

James married Sarah Williams in Cranbrook on 29 November 1786. Sarah is probably the daughter of John and Sarah Williams of Cranbrook who was baptised in Cranbrook on 25 November 1753.

  

James and Sarah had five children baptised in Staplehurst.

Sarah Simmons, wife of James, was buried in Staplehurst on 29 July 1817 at 64 years of age. 

James died in 1821 at 70 years of age and was buried in Staplehurst on 29 June 1821. He does not appear to have left a will.


Henry Simmons 1754 - 1815
Henry Simmons was baptised at All Saints Church in Staplehurst on the 20 March 1754; the son of Edward Simmons and Sarah Newman. He married Hannah Usborne of Ulcombe, Kent on 03 May 1786 in Ulcombe


There are six children of this marriage baptised in Staplehurst.

There is no further reference to the surviving children of Henry and Hannah found in Staplehurst and it is presumed they left the parish. This is substantiated by the fact that when Henry died in 1815, he was living in Hawkhurst. Henry left a will in which he bequeathed all his goods to his wife Hannah including part of his inheritance from his Uncle Thomas which was delayed until the death of Thomas’s wife Elizabeth. This would have amounted to two hundred and twenty pounds. The will does not mention his children.

I have had contact from a descendent of Henry’s daughter Elizabeth. She tells me that Elizabeth married George Butler on 27 November 1820 at St. Margaret’s Church in Wychling Parish. George and Elizabeth had a daughter Harriet baptised in Linton on 28 November 1824 and a daughter Caroline also baptised in Linton. There were other children born in England Thomas, George and Mary Ann for which a baptism has not yet been found.  The family immigrated to America before 1840. In 1840 the family is found in Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. There were two further children born in America: William Henry and James.

Elizabeth died on 01 April 1871; her husband George had died 26 March 1859.

 Henry was buried in Staplehurst on 27 May 1815. He was said to be of Hawkhurst.


John Simmons 1759 - 1819

John Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on 07 Sep 1759, the son of John Simmons and Ann Barton.
John Simmons of Staplehurst married Elizabeth Pankhurst of Cranbrook on 12 August 1777 at Cranbrook. Elizabeth was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Pankhurst and was baptised in Cranbrook on the 30 May 1753.

  

 

John and Elizabeth had the following children baptised in Staplehurst.

 John was buried in Staplehurst on 27 July 1819 at 60 years of age. Elizabeth died the following year and was buried on 29 May 1820 aged 65 years.

Thomas Simmons 1771 - 1847
Thomas was baptised on the 01 Jan 1772 at All Saints parish church in Staplehurst. His parents are Edward Simmons and Mary Beslee.
Thomas married Sarah Day of Hunton on 11 November 1793 at Hunton by license. Sarah is also known as Sally and she was the daughter of John and Mary Day of Marden. Thomas and Sally had seven children, all of whom survived Thomas.

    

  1. Sally Day Simmons was born on 14 February 1794 and baptised at All Saints in Staplehurst on the 07 March 1794. We know from her fathers will that she married Thomas Hope but there is no record of this taking place in Staplehurst. We know they had a son George and a daughter Annie who at age 22 was a visitor at Fullers House at the time of the 1851 census. Annie was born in Frittenden where the couple had a farm.
  2. Thomas Simmons was born in Staplehurst on the 20 May 1795 and baptised on the 26 June 1795.
  3. Edward Simmons was born in Staplehurst on the 01 October 1796 and baptised on 18 November 1796.
  4. John Day Simmons was born in Staplehurst on the 14 June 1799 and baptised in Staplehurst on 28 July 1799. He married Ann Taylor in Woodchurch, Kent on the 28 April 1823.
  5. William Simmons was born in Staplehurst on the 24 March 1803 and baptised on the 13 May 1803.
  6. Elizabeth Simmons was born the 11 August 1805 in Staplehurst and baptised in Staplehurst on 02 October 1805. She married Stephen Tompkin on the 05 October 1824 at All Saints parish church Staplehurst. Stephen was said to be a widower of Boughton Monchelsea. His father-in-law obviously thought highly of him as he was made an executor of his will.
  7. Mary Ann Simmons was born 07 August 1809 and baptised in Staplehurst on 06 October 1809. She married John Hall of Maidstone in Staplehurst on the 03 January 1831. We find her in Thomas’s will where she is said to be the wife of John Hall.

 There are many references to Thomas in the archives and he is sometimes referred to as Thomas Simmons Senior and his son as Thomas Simmons Junior.

We know that his great uncle, Thomas Simmons (born 1715) bequeathed to him the lease of the farm (owned by Henry Hoare) called Chittenden Farm. It is likely that Thomas senior lived there for some time but we know that by 1841, his son Thomas junior was living at Chittenden Farm and Thomas senior was living at Fullers House Farm.  Mary Simmons, the widow of Thomas, was the owner of Fuller House Farm until her death in July 1841 but was living in a cottage in The Quarter which was part of the Fuller House Farm estate.
The Poor Rate Assessments of 1837 show Thomas senior was living at Fullers House which was said to be 39 acres. He is also shown as occupying ‘Fullers’ which is a separate estate of 79 acres on the east side of the main road which is situated where Iden Manor now stands. Henry Hoare is the owner of this property. At this time, his mother, Mary, was living in a cottage opposite Fullers House which was also said to be owned by Thomas senior. However, the Tithe Apportionments of 1837 make it clear that Mary was the owner of Fullers House.
In the 1841 Census, Thomas senior and his wife Sarah are living in Fullers House with three servants.
When Thomas’s father, Edward, died in 1822 he left a considerable estate which was left for the use of his wife Mary and 2 of his sons (John and William) during the lifetime of his wife. After the death of his wife, the property was bequeathed equally to his four sons including Thomas with provision for his daughters. Therefore, Thomas did not benefit from his father’s will until after his mother’s death in 1841.  However, he had inherited directly from his great uncle Thomas the lease of Chittenden Farm. He also managed a large portion of the Hoare estate. It would be fair to assume that Thomas Simmons was a fairly wealthy farmer living a comfortable life in Staplehurst.
Thomas senior was buried at All Saints parish church in Staplehurst on the 02 February 1847. He died in Fullers House. His monument inscription at All Saints Church reads ‘Sacred to the memory of Thomas Simmons of this parish who died Jan 27th 1847 aged 75 years. Also Sarah his wife who died Nov 1st 1853 aged 78 years. They had issue 7 children viz. Sarah, Thomas, Edward, John, William, Elizabeth, and Mary Ann.’

Thomas left a will dated 8 Dec 1837.
He left his wife, during her lifetime, ‘one sixth part of my household furniture, plate, linen & things as she shall require’.  He then directed that the remainder of his estate should be sold and the proceeds to be divided between his seven children making allowance for his wife during her lifetime.
Sally survived her husband by almost 7 years. In the 1851 census she is found still living at Fullers House with one servant but now the house has been split into four households. I have yet to establish if the house had been sold prior to 1851 and then split or if the Simmons family were still owners. 

Edward Simmons 1776 - 1840
Edward Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on 29 March 1776, the son of Edward Simmons and Mary Beslee. Edward married Philadelphia Merls of Tenterden on 22 January 1808 in Woodchurch.
Edward and his wife settled in Woodchurch. He was listed as the owner and occupant of Cott Farm in Woodchurch at the time of the 1832 Electors register. This farm was left to Edward’s grandfather by Thomas Simmons (1715-1793).
Edward was probably already resident at the farm when he married in 1808.

Edward was probably already resident at the farm when he married in 1808.

Edward was buried in Woodchurch on 13 January 1840; he was 42 years old. It is stated that Edward was a curate.

John Simmons 1779 – 1831
John Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on 27 October 1779, the son of Edward Simmons and Mary Beslee.
John married Lucy Boorman on 21 October 1813 in Staplehurst. John was a bachelor of 34 years of age.
Lucy was the widow of John Boorman. She had been born Lucy Whore or Woore in Frittenden in 1781. She married John Boorman, a widower of Staplehurst and an innkeeper, on 31 March 1806. They had one child, John Boorman, born 10 February 1807 and baptised on 02 April. Lucy’s husband, John Boorman, was buried in Staplehurst on 26 January 1810, aged 35 years. In 1813, Lucy then married John Simmons.

   

John and Lucy Simmons had the following children baptised in Staplehurst.

 John Simmons was buried in Staplehurst on 20 July 1831. John would have benefited from his father’s will equally with his brothers if he had survived his mother but he had benefited from interest during her lifetime.
His widowed wife, Lucy, is found on the 1851 census living near the railway station and is shown as a ‘grocer’ despite being 70 years old.
Lucy Simmons was buried in Staplehurst on 07 November 1864 at 86 years of age. She was noted as resident of West Malling.

 William Simmons 1788 – 1871
William Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on 08 February 1788, the son of Edward Simmons and Mary Beslee.
William never married.  In the 1841 Census, he is found living with his 91 year old mother in The Quarter, Staplehurst. In 1851 he is living at Chart Sutton; a retired farmer. Next door to William is the widow Elizabeth Watts. This is William’s sister who married Thomas Watts.
In 1861 he is now 73 years old and back in Staplehurst living at Words Cottage near Brattle Farm and said to be a householder and a fund holder. By 1871, now 83 years old, he is living at Ashhurst Farm and said to be ‘living on interest of money’.
William died 2 months later and was buried at All Saints Parish Church in Staplehurst on 14 June 1871. His monument reads 'Sacred to the memory of William Simmons of this parish who died June 6 1871 aged 83 years.’
The funds he is stated to be living on are from his father’s estate of which he had equal share with his brothers.

Thomas Simmons 1795 – 1865
Thomas was born in Staplehurst on the 20 May 1795 and baptised on 26 June. His parents were Thomas Simmons and Sarah (Sally) Day.
In many of the documents from this period, Thomas is shown as Thomas junior and his father as Thomas senior. Two years before Thomas was born, his father had inherited the lease of Chittenden Farm from his great Uncle. It is, therefore, likely that Thomas junior grew up at Chittenden Farm.
We know from census records that Thomas married Harriet but this was not in Staplehurst. Harriet was born around 1803 in Cranbrook, Kent.  The couple appear to have had only one child, Amelia, born around 1827. Her place of birth is given as Cranbrook. Amelia married Daniel Coveney.
In the 1841 Census, Thomas junior was living with his wife Harriet at Chittenden Farm while Thomas senior was at Fullers House. Whether the lease remained in his father’s name or whether at some stage he had formally taken over the lease, we are not sure. The 1851 Census shows Thomas and Harriet living still at Chittenden Farm with a live in house servant. Thomas is shown as 55 years old and a farmer of 180 acres employing 5 labourers. By 1861, he is employing 6 labourers and 3 boys on the farm of 190 acres. There is one female house servant and a young lad of 16 also shown as a servant living with them.
Thomas died the 14 April 1865. The informant on the death certificate is Amelia Conveney, his married daughter who was living in Leeds, Kent. Thomas is buried at All Saints parish church in Staplehurst. The monument inscription states ‘In memory of Thomas Simmons who died April 14th 1865 aged 69 leaving a widow and one daughter. Also of Harriet wife of the above who died August 10 1882 aged 79 years.’
Harriet survived Thomas by 17 years. In the 1881 census she is living with her daughter Amelia and son-in-law Daniel Coveney at Broomfield. Harriet was 77 years old and said to have landed property.

Edward Simmons 1796 - 1877
Edward Simmons was born on the 1 October 1796, the son of Thomas Simmons and Sarah (Sally) Day. He was baptised at All Saints parish church in Staplehurst on the 18 November 1796. Edward married Elizabeth, also from Staplehurst, but no record of their marriage has been found. Based on the birth of their first child, it is assumed the marriage took place around 1819.

    

 

Edward and Elizabeth had 14 children! Only five of the children survived the parents.

  1. Elizabeth, their first child, was baptised on 09 January 1820 in Staplehurst. Elizabeth died aged 22 of consumption. She was buried in Staplehurst on 08 July 1842. Note that she is not shown as living with her family in the 1841 census. She may have been in a hospital of some sort. Her death certificate shows she died in Staplehurst and her father was present at the death.  There is a baptism of Emily Simmons on 02 July 1842, daughter of Elizabeth a single woman. Emily was buried 03 December 1842 aged 1. It is probable that Emily is Elizabeth’s daughter and her pregnancy is probably why she is absent from Staplehurst at the time of the 1841 census.
  2. Mary was the second child. She was baptised in Staplehurst 01 April 1821. She married Richard Carly and we know they had one daughter Elizabeth Carly born in 1855. She died in 1856 at the age of 35. She was buried at All Saints parish church in Staplehurst on 19 July 1856.
  3. Sally Day Simmons was born in Chart Sutton, Kent 1823 and baptised in the Staplehurst parish church on 12 January 1823. She is shown living with her parents in Staplehurst in 1841 but died 07 April 1843. Her death certificate shows she also died of consumption at 20 years of age. Her father was present at her death.
  4. Edward Thomas Simmons was born in Chart Sutton in 1824 and baptised at the parish church in Staplehurst on the 29 August 1824. He was buried in Staplehurst on 12 April 1856 just 32 years old. In the 1851 census, he is shown living with his parents at Iden Farm, Staplehurst, 26 years old and unmarried.
  5. William Simmons was born in 1826 in Chart Sutton, Kent. He was baptised in Staplehurst on the 07 May 1826. In the 1841 census, William at 15 is living with his parents. In 1851 William aged 24 is living with his uncle (William Simmons) in Hunton acting as his clerk. By 1871 William at 45 years of age is married to Ellen Jane and living in Frittenden Parish at Knoxbridge farming 80 acres. There are no children present. In 1881 William and his wife are living at 11 Marsham Street in Maidstone, Kent. He is now 55 years old and a ‘retired farmer’.  living with his wife Ellen Jane, 54 years old and born in Staplehurst. He died in 1892.
  6. Matilda was born in 1827 in Chart Sutton, Kent and baptised in Staplehurst on the 22 July 1827. She is not living with her parents at the time of the 1841 census when she would have been only 14 and not expected to be married. We know she survived her father but have not found a marriage or death record for Matilda.
  7. Eliza Simmons was born in Chart Sutton in 1828 and baptise on the 12 October 1828 in Staplehurst. At 12 years old, she was living with her parents at Iden Farm but had left home by 1851.  She died, aged 27, in 1856 and is buried in Staplehurst although the parish record indicates she was living in Brighthelmstone, Sussex (Brighton).  She never married.
  8. John Simmons was baptised on the 26 April 1833. He married Caroline Barnes from Wye, probably in 1853, but not in Staplehurst.
  9. Agnes Simmons was born in 1833 in Staplehurst and baptised there on the 26 April 1833. ( From this information, we can assume that her father Edward Simmons, returned to Staplehurst sometime between  late 1829 and early 1833.) In 1851, she was living with her parents, unmarried and 20 years old. Agnes married George Willsher in Lambeth on the 30 June 1853. He was said to be an Attorney’s Clerk. She died six months later in January 1854.
  10. Henry James Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on the 6 of April 1834 but died just before his 5 birthday in 1839.
  11. Nicholas Charles Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on the 8 May 1836. In the 1861 Census, Nicholas aged 25 is married to Catharine and living with his parents at Iden Farm and said to be an assistant farmer.
  12. Jane Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on the 24 June 1838.
  13. Stephen Simons was baptised in Staplehurst on the 24 of June 1838. He is the twin of Jane Simmons. Stephen was mentally handicapped, probably due to problems at birth as a result of being a twin. The 1871 census records him as ‘imbecile from birth’. He lived to be 41 years of age and worked on his fathers farm. His death certificate states cause of death as ‘idiotcy, 41 years’.
  14. Caroline was born on 25 July 1840 and baptised in Staplehurst on the 11 October 1840. Caroline married William Harris and in 1861 the couple were living in Lewisham with a one year old daughter Caroline E. Harris. Caroline died on 19 August 1869 at 29 years old and was buried in Staplehurst on 25 August 1869. Her daughter Caroline was living with her grandparents, Edward and Elizabeth Simmons in the 1871 census.  

Edward was a farmer. For the years 1823 to 1829, he was farming in Chart Sutton. By 1833 he had returned to Staplehurst and was farming Iden Farm which was owned by Henry Hoare.

In the Poor Rate Assessments dated June 1840, Iden Farm is shown as occupied by Edward Simmons but owned by Henry Hoare. It is said to be 53 acres with a gross estimated rental of 60 pounds. As a reminder, Thomas Simmons (1715 – 1793) owned Iden and Waller and bequeathed it to his nephews John Simmons and William Spong. At that time, it was said to be 64 acres.  The Tithe Map of 1838 indicates 62 acres.

The census from 1841 through 1871 show Edward and his family living at Iden Farm. In 1871, he is 74 years old and said to be farming 134 acres. By this time only his wife Elizabeth, now 72, and his ‘imbecile’ son Stephen are living at home. 

Edward’s wife Elizabeth died 10 December 1875 at 77 years of age. She was buried in Staplehurst on 15 December 1875. Edward died 18 months later on 12 August 1877 at 81 years of age. He was buried in Staplehurst on 17 August 1877. 

Edward and Elizabeth had 14 children but only 5 survived the parents. 

The family monument at All Saints Parish Church in Staplehurst is inscribed : ‘In affectionate remembrance of Elizabeth the beloved wife of Edward Simmons late of Iden in this Parish who died Dec. 10 1875 aged 77 years. Also of the above named Edward Simmons who died August 12 1877 in the 81st year of his age. Also in memory of the deceased children of the above who died as follows: - Henry James Jan. 21st 1839. Aged 5 years. Elizabeth July 7th 1842. Aged 22 years. Sally-Day April 7th 1843. Aged 20 years. Agnes Jan. 17th 1854. Aged 23 years. Edward Thos. April 12th 1856. Aged 31 years. Mary-Ann July 14th 1856. Aged 35 years. Eliza Oct 10th 1856. Aged 28 years. John April 16th 1864. Aged 32 years. Caroline August 19th 1869. Aged 29 years. Left issue 3 sons and 2 daughters viz. William, Matilda, Nicholas, Jane and Stephen.’

John Day Simmons 1799 – 1874
John Day Simmons was born in Staplehurst on the 14 June 1799 and baptised in Staplehurst on 28 July 1799. He is the on of Thomas Simmons and Sarah Day. He married Ann Taylor in Woodchurch, Kent on the 28 April 1823.

   


John and Ann had the following children baptised in Staplehurst. In each case John was said to be a farmer.

The 1841 census has John, aged 40, living at Knoxbridge Farm, Staplehurst with his wife and children Ellen and Fanny. He is said to be a farmer.  The Poor Rate Assessment for 1840 shows that Henry Hoare owned Knoxbridge Farm (27 acres) and John was the occupier. By 1851, John, aged 51, and his family are now said to be farming 130 acres. In 1861, still at Knoxbridge, he is farming 140 acres employing 6 men and 2 boys.

John’s wife Ann was buried in Staplehurst on 24 January 1865. She was 61 years old.

John, now a widower leaves the farm in Knoxbridge and by 1871 is found in Cranbrook on a 16 acre farm called Mount Pleasant. He was 71 years old. 

John died in 1874.

William Simmons 1803
William Simmons was born in Staplehurst on the 24 March 1803 and baptised on the 13 May 1803, the son of Thomas Simmons and Sally Day. In 1851 he is working as a farm steward in Hunton. He is married to Mary Elizabeth aged 30 born in Dover and has a son Thomas Franklin Simmons aged 10 who was born Maidstone. 

In 1851 William aged 47 is working as a steward in Hunton. Living with him is his wife Mary Elizabeth aged 30 and born in Dover and their son Thomas Franklin Simmons aged 10 born Maidstone. Also in the household is William’s nephew William aged 24 working as a clerk for his uncle and John Hall ‘brother’ aged 41 working as assistant to the steward. He was born in Aylesford. John Hall is assumed to be William’s brother- in-law. 

John Simmons 1832 - 1864
John Simmons was baptised on the 26 April 1833. He is the son of Edward and Elizabeth Simmons. In the 1851 census, John was 19 unmarried and living with his parents at Iden Farm. He married Caroline Barnes from Wye, probably in 1853, but not in Staplehurst.

    

In 1854, when his son John Edward was born, John is said to be a labourer. By 1857, when his next son, Edward Thomas was born, John is said to be a farmer. The 1861 census records John as an 'assistant farmer' living in Staplehurst Village. It is assumed that he is still working with his father at Iden Farm. He is now married to Caroline who was born in Wye.

John and Caroline had four children.

 The second son Edward is married and living in Staplehurst in 1881 working as an agricultural labourer. Edward is still there in 1891 living at Lovehurst Cottage with his family and working as a Groom and Gardener.

John was buried in Staplehurst on 22 April 1864 at just 32 years of age. He left his widow with 5 young children under 10 years of age.

 In 1871, his widow Caroline is still living in the village with her 4 of her 5 children: Edward 13, Emily 12, Henry 10 and Elizabeth 7.  They are obviously having a difficult time; Caroline is working as a charwoman.
Son John is not seen on the 1871 census but appears again in 1881 when he is married and living in Hastings working as a grocer. His mother is living with him and his wife Emily 20, and his daughter Emily 5 months. 
Son Henry is found in the 1881 census in Dover Castle barracks, Kent. He is a gunner R. A. aged 20. He is thought to have died in 1883.  

By 1901, all of this family have left Staplehurst.

Nicholas Charles Simmons 1836
Nicholas Charles Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on the 8 May 1836, the son of Edward and Elizabeth Simmons. In the 1861 Census, Nicholas aged 25 is married to Catharine and living with his parents at Iden Farm and said to be an assistant farmer. By 1871, he is no longer in Staplehurst but is found again in 1881 living in Hastings and now said to be a Corn and Fruit merchant. He has 5 sons : Thomas ( born 1863 in Yalding), Edward (born 1866 in Nettshead ), Harry (born 1868 in Nettshead, Charles (born 1871 in Hunton), and William (born 1879 Hunton).

Edward Thomas Simmons 1857 - 1933
Edward Thomas Simmons was baptised in Staplehurst on 23 September 1857, the son of John and Caroline. Edward married Harriet Farmer in Staplehurst on 28 February 1880. Edward was a 22 year old bachelor, son of John deceased. Harriet was the 22 year old daughter of Robert and Jane Farmer.

     
 

 Harriet Simmons, wife of Edward, died at Highgate in Hawkhurst on 08 November 1917. She was buried in Staplehurst on 13 November 1917 aged 59 years.

Edward Thomas Simmons died on 08 December 1933 and was buried in Staplehurst on 13 December 1933 aged 76 years. He was said to be of Ockley Road in Hawkhurst.

James Simmons c1790
James and his wife Sarah appear in Staplehurst around 1815. Where they were from and where they went is unknown. The couple had two children baptised in Staplehurst.

James Simmons 1813
Who is James? Possibly he is the son of James and Sarah Simmons above. They do not appear to originate from Staplehurst and possibly settled here sometime between 1813 when James was born in Sussex and 1815 when William was baptised in Staplehurst.
James is married to Charity who was born in Frittenden about 1814.
In the 1861 census, they are living at Pile Barn Cottage in Staplehurst. James is an agricultural labourer born Staplehurst about 1813. There are 3 children living with them born in Staplehurst. John is 20 and an agricultural labourer, Harriet is 15 and a scholar, and William is 11 years old and a scholar.

     
 
 

James and Charity had the following known children.

In 1841, the family was living at Cuckold Corner in Staplehurst. James was 25 years old and an agricultural labourer. Charity was 25. Also present was Sarah 8 years old and John 9 months.

In 1851, James and his family are living in Staplehurst. He is 38 years old and his place of birth is given as Beckley Sussex. Charity is 36 and born in Frittenden. John 10, Harriet 5 and William 1 were all born in Staplehurst.

In the 1861 census, the family is living at Pile Barn Cottage in Staplehurst. James is an agricultural labourer and said to be born in Staplehurst about 1813. There are 3 children living with them born in Staplehurst. John is 20 and an agricultural labourer, Harriet is 15 and a scholar, and William is 11 years old and a scholar.

In the 1871 census Charity is shown as a widow, 53 years old  and a nurse born Frittenden. She is living with Benjamin Link’s family in Bell Lane and probably a nurse to his wife and 7 day old son. Son William is working as a farm servant at Little Pagehurst. Son John, an agricultural labourer, is married to 28 year old Alice J. born Nuthurst, Sussex. They are living at White’s Cottage Staplehurst.

John Simmons 1840
John is the son of James and Charity Simmons. He was baptised in Staplehurst on 04 October 1840. John married Alice Bristow on 19 October 1862 in Staplehurst. John was said to be a bachelor of full age, a labourer, and resident in Staplehurst. His father is given as James, a labourer. Alice Bristow was of full age and a spinster resident in Staplehurst. Her father is given as Henry, a labourer. Witness to the marriage was John’s sister Harriet and William Mitchell.

In the 1891 census, John is a widower aged 50 and a general labourer living with his father-in-law, Henry Bristow in Worth Sussex.

William Simmons 1823 - 1893
William Simmons was born in Cranbrook about 1823. He was married to Ann Barns, daughter of Samuel Barnes. She was born in Staplehurst about 1824.

   

 The couple are known to have had the following children.

Note that William and Ann did not have their children baptised in Staplehurst. It is likely that they were non conformist.

In 1851, William and his wife Ann are living at Knoxbridge, Staplehurst. William is 28, a farm labourer born in Cranbrook. Ann is 27 and born Staplehurst. Daughter Mary Ann is one.

In 1861 William is living at Pile Farm Staplehurst. He is a 38 year old agricultural labourer born in Cranbrook. In the household is his wife Ann 37 born in Staplehurst, and his daughters Mary Ann 11 and Ellen Jane 4; both born in Staplehurst. Son John aged 9 is living with his grandparents Samuel and Ann Barnes in Knoxbridge, Staplehurst.

William died on 05 January 1893, aged 70, at Cotton Farm Staplehurst. Ann, William's widow, died on 06 May 1900 aged 76 years in the County Lunatic Asylum.