The Boys family, also de Bois & de Bosco, claimed descent from R. de Boys, or de Bosco, a companion of William the Conqueror who fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 who had been rewarded with gifts of land by the grateful King William. In 1357 John Boys was known to have held Bonnington in Goodnestone parish, part of the Manor of Wingham. In the following decades members of the family acquired land in and around Nonington parish.
A feet of fines of July of 1484 records William Boys as purchasing “The manors of Fredeuyle and Beauchamp’ and 2 messuages, 405 acres of land, 3 acres of wood and 76 shillings and 4 pence of rent and a rent of 8 cocks, 30 hens and 1 pair of gloves in Nonyngton’ and Godneston’ “. One of the messuages was the Esol manor house at the present Beauchamps site, while the other may have been on the site of the later Fredville mansions, although there is at present no known documentary evidence to confirm this and so the site of the other messuage remains unconfirmed.
Hasted, in his history of Kent, states that William Boys “removed thither” to Fredville and made it his main residence, but returned to Bonnington at some time before his death in 1507. However, in June, 1496, William Boys signed a land transfer document as “William Boys of the parish of Goodnyston” possibly indicating he had not moved to Fredville, but had remained at Bonnington. Further confirmation of this may be the gift he made in the year he died to the Church of Nonington of 40/- (£.2.00) towards buying a Antephonar (religious music book), which he signed William Boys of Goodnestone.
It had been thought that Holt Street Farm house was possibly the other messuage purchased in 1484, but a grant by Robert Suaneden to Thomas Nedysole (Nethersole) and others in 1486 indicates that the Holt Street estate was not part of the 1484 Fredeuyle and Beauchamps’ sale. Thomas is believed to have been the father or brother of the John Nethersole mentioned in the 1484 sale. Nethersoles, whose main residence was at Womenswold, appear in the records of several land sales in and around Nonington in the late 1400’s and early 1500’s. In the early 1500’s the Boys’ did acquire Holt Street and it became the residence of the eldest son.
It was also previously believed that Beauchamps’ had been separated from Fredeuyle at the time of, or shortly after, the sale but the 1501 Abbey of St. Alban’s manorial rent roll for Essesole, [previously Esol manor] records William Boys as holding Bechams (Beauchamps) then consisting of a messuage and some fifty acres of land from the Abbey for an annual payment of £2 2s 9d payable once a year at Michaelmas (29th September), but without suit of court (held in freehold).
The Boys’ sold Beauchamps at some time after 1501 as by 1555 it had passed into the possession of Edward Browne of Worde (Worth) juxta Sandwich, yeoman, who on 2nd March of that year conveyed it to Thomas Hamon of Nonnyngton, gentleman. By then it consisted of: “All that messuage or tenement called BEACHAM situated in Nonnyngton, with all barnes, houses and edifices, now in the occupation of Thomas Hamon and all…. rents, services, …ect…containing 50 acres”.
William Boys died in 1507 having, according to Hasted, returned to Bonnington just before his demise and was buried in Goodnestone Church. He had obviously been very astute at seeing which way the wind blew as his apparent lack of opposition to Richard III had not caused him any problems with the succeeding Henry VII, the first Tudor, and he continued to prosper under the new regime. He left five sons and three daughters.
John Boys, his eldest son, was born at Bonnington in the mid to late 1470’s and inherited Fredville, which was considered the “fairer”, from his father. He was the founder of the Fredville branch of the family and may have built the first house on the Fredville mansion site . Why Fredville was judged to be fairer was not made clear, possibly the estate provided a larger income. Thomas, the second son, was left the ancient family seat of Bonnington and served as Captain of Deal Castle.
John was born at Bonnington in the mid to late 1470’s . Over the years he continued to add to his holdings. In 1512 he acquired property in Sandwich and in 1528 bought a quarter of the manor of Soles along with 200 acres of land, 200 acres of pasture and 60 acres of woodland in Nonington and Barfreston for £40 from Thomas Norton.
He was one of the two members of Parliament for Sandwich at the time of his death in March of 1533. John’s death occurred half way through a Parliamentary session and it is not clear whether he died in London or Nonington as his death pre-dates the Nonington church register. He had entered municipal service in Sandwich in 1528, qualifying to stand for election to Parliament as a result of being a burgess of the borough. A near neighbour of John’s, Vincent Engham of Goodnestone, served in Parliament as M.P. for Sandwich at the same time.