Nonington and Cromwell’s Commission in Kent of 1655-57

A commission was established by Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth to control and punish anti-Cromwell and anti-Parliament land-owners in Kent. One of the commission’s leading members was Major John Boys of Fredville who had served on earlier Parliamentary Committees for Kent from at least 1643, as had his father, Sir Edward Boys of Fredville. Sir Edward had become Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports  and Governor of Dover Castle from 1642 and had initially held the castle for King Charles I, but that same year he went over to the Parliamentarians and continued to hold the strategically important castle, known for centuries as the Gateway to England, for Parliament until his death in 1646 when he was succeeded in the posts of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Governor of Dover Castle by his eldest son, Major John Boys, who held these positions until 1648.
Edward Boys of Bettshanger, who died in 1649, and his son John were kinsmen to the Boys’ of Fredville and also Parliamentarians. John Boys of Bettshanger served as a member of the “Long Parliament” of 1640 to 1660.
Other members of the extended Boys family, notably Sir John Boys of Bonnington and Christopher Boys of Uffington, both in Goodnestone parish, were ardent Royalists, which shows how the Civil War really did divide families.

Some of the prominent gentry from Nonington and neighbouring parishes were listed as suspect persons by Cromwell’s Commission in Kent of 1655 to 1657 and required to bring particulars of their estates or security for their peaceable demeanour to the Committee.

Those listed were:

Lt. Col., Sir John Boys of Bonnington and Christopher Boys of Uffington, both in Goodnestone parish.

Jeremy Gay, gentleman, of St. Paules, near Canterbury, and the tenant of the Holt Street estate in Nonington parish owned by Major John Boys of Fredville, a staunch Parliamentarian.

Colonels Anthony and Francis Hammond of St. Alban’s Court, Nonington, were listed as being amongst the leaders of the Kentish Revolt of 1648.

Sir Thomas Peyton of Knowlton Court, which adjoined St. Alban’s Court to the east and Fredville to the west, was recorded as the Lieutenant General of the Insurrectionist troops during the ill fated Kentish Revolt. He had been elected Member of Parliament for Sandwich in November of 1640 and sat in the “Long Parliament”  until he  was disabled from sitting in 1644 for supporting the King. Sir Thomas subsequently became one of the six key members of The Action Party, a group of radicals dedicated to bringing down the government during the Protectorate of  1653 to 1659 when Oliver Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth and restoring the monarchy under Charles II. The group tried on various occasions to instigate uprisings in support of King Charles II, none of which had any lasting success. After the Restoration, Peyton was elected MP for Kent from 1661 to 1679 in the “Cavalier Parliament”.
Also named was William Swanne of Knowlton, a  son of  Cicilia, the widow of Sir William Swanne [Swan] of Hoopes at Southfleet in Kent who Sir Thomas had married as his second wife in January of 1648 [1649]. Presumably William aided and abetted his step-father in his anti-Parliamentarian activities.