An inventory from 1560 of the goods of Richard Creake, yeoman, of Kettingden (Kittington) in Nonington, Kent.

The Kreke, Creke ect. family were what become known as yeoman. These were well-to-do farmers and small land-owners often owning land in their own right and often renting additional land from larger land-owners as well as small plots from  neighbours in their home and nearby parishes.   The yeoman of Kent were thought to be especially prosperous, and this prosperity was referred to in a popular rhyme of the late 16th century:-

“A Knight of Cales,

And a Gentleman of Wales,  

And a Laird of the North Country,

A Yeoman of Kent with his yearly rent

Will buy them out – all three.”

[The knight referred to was one of the sixty persons knighted after the attack and sack of Cadiz in Spain on 21st June, 1596, by forces commanded the Queen Elizabeth I’s favorite, the Earl of Essex. Cadiz at this time was “vulgarly” pronounced Cales].

The following inventory made on the death of Richard Creake of Kettenton (Kittington) gives a good insight into the daily life of a yeoman’s family. They had a fairly varied diet which included meat, fish, eggs, and dairy produce and brewed their own beer and ale for daily consumption as the water was often not safe to drink. They were mixed farmers, rearing livestock and  poultry  and growing cereals. They also grew hemp and flax from which they produced yarn to weave into cloth, presumably for their own use.

The inclusion of armour and weapons in the inventory are in part the result of the Statute of Winchester enacted by Edward I in 1285, a part of which stated:

  “It is likewise commanded that every man have in his house arms for keeping the peace in accordance with the ancient assize; namely that every man between fifteen years and sixty be assessed and sworn to arms according to the amount of his lands and, of his chattels; that is to say,

  • for fifteen pounds of land, and, forty marks worth of chattels, a hauberk, a helmet of iron, a sword, a knife and a horse;
  • for ten pounds worth of land and, twenty marks worth of chattels, a haubergeon, a helmet, a sword and a knife; for a hundred shillings worth of land, a doublet,4 a helmet of iron, a sword and a knife;
  • for forty shillings worth of land and over, up to a hundred shillings worth, a sword, a bow, arrows and a knife;
  • and he who has less than forty shillings worth of land shall be sworn to have scythes. gisarrnes, knives and other small weapons;
  • he who has less than twenty marks in chattels, swords, knives and other small weapons.
  • And all others who can do so shall have bows and arrows outside the forests and within them bows and bolts.And that the view of arms be made twice a year. And in each hundred and liberty let two constables be chosen to make the view of arms and the aforesaid constables shall, when the justices assigned to this come to the district, present before them the defaults they have found in arms, in watch-keeping and in highways; and present also people who harbour strangers in upland vills for whom they are not willing to answer. And the justices assigned shall present again to the king in each parliament and the king will provide a remedy therefore. And from henceforth let sheriffs and bailiffs, whether bailiffs of liberties or not, whether of greater or less authority, who have a bailiwick or forester’s office, in fee or otherwise, take good care to follow the cry with the district, and, according to their degree, keep horses and arms to do this with; and if there is any who does not do it, let the defaults be presented by the constables to the justices assigned, and then afterwards by them to the king as aforesaid. And the king commands and forbids, for the honour of holy church, a fair or market to be held henceforth in a churchyard”.

The Statute of Winchester laid down the principle laws of policing in England until the passing of the Metropolitan Police Act in 1829.

A supply of trained fighting men was also important to English monarchs and in order to provide trained archers for service in the King’s armies laws were introduced from the 13th century onwards regarding the compulsory possession longbows and arrows and practising with them. Most men preferred other pursuits such as football and gambling which proved detrimental to their practicing archery and in 1511  “An Act concerning Shooting in Long Bows,” was introduced prohibiting certain sports and other pursuits which diverted men from practicing archery even though by then the importance of the bow was declining. This law provided that “All sorts of men under the age of 40 Years shall have bows and arrows” and practice using them.  The various laws compelling the practise of archery continued to be enacted until the reign of Charles I (1633).

The household was well equipped, for the time, with furniture, fittings and household and kitchen utensils. The family would have had live in servants and labourers who had to be fed, so the kitchen would have been busy.

The farm itself was well equipped with carts, ploughs and other agricultural tools and equipment.

THE INUENTAIRE OF Richard Creake of the parishe of Nonnyngton comprysyd and made by John Castle Andrewe Gardyner and Robarte Colman the xij [12th] daye of November in the yeer of oure lord god MVClX [1560].

Imprimis, a purse, a girdle and monnye-42s

Item, hys apparel, iii cotts, one clock, I doublet of worsted, ii jerkyns, ii payr of hose, iii shirts, ii payr of sheets, a capp-50s

Item, a payr of sheets, ii table clothes, ii towels-20s

Item, iii bedsteds, ii fether beds, v traunces, vi pillows, ii payr of sheets, viii underclothes, iii coverlets, one carpet, a blanket, a quilt, a paynted tester (canopy), ii cusshons-£4 9s 4d

Item, iii chests, one counter table, one olde cubborde, a cradle-15s

Item, xii pounds of lynnen yarn-6s

Item, a quarter and a half of lams woll, a hamper, -ii f-?-cers-2s 8d

Item, one Almayne rynet (German helmet) a javalyn (javelin), ii bylles (presumably fighting bill hooks), a sheaf of arroes [but no bow recorded], a sworde, a shred coverlet, ii old paynted clothes (painted cloth wall hangings-much cheaper than tapestry-shows a fairly wealthy household with a large area of walls-a fairly high status building-probably the old Kettingden/Kittington farmhouse)-10s

Item, a gallon of butter, xvi chesses-8s

Item, 320 fete of borde (wooden boards for building)-10s 8d

Item, a lynnen whele (spinning wheel for linen thread), a wollen wollen (sic) whele (spinning wheel for woollen thread), ii payr of cardes (for carding wool before spinning), ii fork combes (either for personal use or processing wool?), iii chest baylys, iii olde bordes-4s 4d

Item, of sickkelles and hokes and other olde yrne (iron-farm tools)-6s 8d

Item, the best cubborde, a fourme (form or bench), ii stoles (stools), a matt-11s 4d

Item, ii brasse pottes, ii stoppens-8s

Item, iii kettles, one pann-3s 4d

Item, of pewter Vii platters, viii pewter dishes, iiii sausers, I pewter pott, a buntyn (coarse cloth bag/sack-made from bunting?) [of] salte, vi spones of pewter-12s

Item iiii candlesticks, a chafing dishe, a skimmer, a drypinge pann-2s4d

(A chafing dish (from the Old French chauffer, “to make warm”) is a kind of portable grate raised on a tripod, originally heated with charcoal in a brazier, and used for foods that require gentle cooking, away from the “fierce” heat of direct flames.)

Item, woddyshe (wooden) trenchers, cups and crucs (crocks or dishes)-10s

Item, iiii trayes, xii booles (bowls)-5s

Item, ii tryvetts, a grydirne, ii payr of pot hangers, a fyer rake, a spytt, a payr of pot hokes-4s

Item, iii stonds, one yelyng tonne (vat for fermenting wort for beer),  xii tubs, ii hundrich (hundred weights?) of herrynge and witing-4s 8d

Item wheat sowen upon the grounde vij acres-£3 15s

Item of pease and tars [tares-vetch. From the mid-13th century onwards vetches were  widely grown for cutting and drying for winter feed for livestock. It grows best on lighter loamy soils] by estimacion lxxvj (?cps) -£1 5s 4d

Item one loade of haye-6s 4d

Item iij horss(es) a carte wt  shodde wheles and carte harness a couer (small cart?) with shode wheles-£7

Item a plough with the apparrells three harrowes a Roole (rol or rollerl)-8s

Item two bacon hogs  iiij lywar hoggs-£1 4s

Item xiiij hennes (possibly pullets-less than a year old) twoo capons (castrated cockerel-castration makes them fattened more quickly for eating)  twoo cockes ffyve chickens (possibly hens more than a year old)-8s 2d.

[Poultry was important and very valuable. Cocks, hens, and eggs were often the specified form of payment for manorial rents].

Item three kyene (kine-cows-presumably milch cows) one hayffer (heiffer-a cow who has not yet had her first calf)
one weyninge (weaning) calfe-£5 4s 4d

Item of whethers (male sheep, usually castrated) xxviij-£5 14s [28 wethers valued at approx. 4s 1d each].

Item xxij Ewes-£3 4s 4d [22 ewes valued at approx. 3s each].

Item xv tags (teggs-ewes in their second year before their first shearing) £1 15s [15 tegs valued at approx. 2s 4d each].

[Total of 61 sheep with a total value of £10 13s 4d. By the 15th century Sandwich had declined as a port for the exporting of wool, but many Flemish weavers and wool processors had arrived in the town as refugees fleeing from the continuous wars in the Low Countries. The Flemish spun yarn and wove cloth in Sandwich, and many of the old weavers houses still survive there. They accounted for a large part of the town’s population and in 1575 the authorities relocated 100 or so families to Canterbury. To ensure a sufficient supply of yarn the Flemish turned to spinners in the hinterland around Sandwich where in some parishes as many as half of surviving household inventories list spinning wheels].  

Item a busshell a fan the wattles of the folde the hogge troffe wth other blockes and stocks and implements forgotten by us the prysers-9s 4d


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