The beginning of any family is always a very difficult place to arrive at. For me it was with my interest in the Gransden family which started with a memory of my Great Grandmother. I only recall meeting her once when I was about five years old. The memories are fleeting and elusive but the two things that come clearly to mind are the difficulty I had explaining to my teacher who I was going to see and a sense of a woman in a dark dress.

When I was trying to explain to my teacher the trip I was going on I remember having trouble telling my teacher. I was hardly able to grasp the concept that my mother had a mother let alone that I was going to see my mother’s mother’s mother.

My memories of that meeting are confined to an old woman who wore a dark dress and gave me 50 cents, I think, to go down to the local shop to buy some lollies with while the adults talked. Years later my mother shared a similar memory with me about her grandmother from when she had been young.

My Great Grandmother was the widow of Robert Gransden and my mothers memories of her Grandmother and the stories that she used to tell me about visiting her Grandmother stayed with me into adulthood as a concept of a fun childhood that seemed to be both part of the present and part of rural NSW. However, the origin of my interaction with the Gransden matriarch and the origins of the family are two very different things.

There are two towns called Gransden in Cambridgeshire. Great Gransden and Little Gransden. The Gransden Towns are believed to have first been mentioned in AD 973 when the land of Grantedene was endowed to Thorney Abbey by Æthelwold of Winchester1. Great Gransden was also mentioned in the Doomseday book of 1086. At that time the village of Great Gransden had 33 houses, which was quite a large number with 24 villagers 8 small holders and one priest.2 A copy of the page can be seen here The Doomesday book was the great survey of land requested by William the Connquerer and completed in 1086. The Domesday survey was done to assess how much land and livestock each landholder had and therefore what taxes they had been liable for under Edward the Confessor.

Finding the origins of the family are not as easy as finding the origins of a town by the same name. Whilst it may seem logical to assume that the family would come from the town this is not in fact the case. By the 1500’s there were approximately six different families in England with the surname Gransden. Of these only one was in Cambridgeshire and it was not in Great or Little Gransden. It was about 25 kilometres away from Upper Gransden so it is very possible that the family originated from one of the Gransden towns at one time, however unlikely as this family is only present in the later half of the 1500’s. The other five families were all located in Kent with Stanstead as the central point, these five families all have information that can be traced back to the early 1500’s.3

According to one of the many family histories that can be bought showing a crest of arms the word Gransden is of Scandinavian origin meaning someone who once lived near a spruce valley. With Gran meaning spruce in Old Norse and and dene meaning valley in Old English.

Whatever the origins of the meaning of the word Gransden based on the concentrations of population it is more likely that the family, at least, originated in Kent than in Cambridgeshire. It is possible that two families started using the name around the same time but it is much more likely based on population spreads that all Gransdens are part of the one family4.

A number of variations of the name Gransden can be found before the 1500’s such as Gransdene, Grandisone and Grayneson but at this stage there is no connection between these names and the Gransden families that survive today.

Aside from parish records showing baptisms, marriages and births one of the earliest mentions of a person going under the name of Gransden is of John Gransden of Wrotham, Yeoman, who was to appear at Gaol Delivery to prosecute and give evidence against Richard Holland also of Wrotham, labourer, charged with feloniously taking, a silver cup, a girdle, a dagger, a pair of white yarn stockings and two dead conies belonging to the said John and a green cloth jerkyn, a fustian doublet, a pair of ash colloured cloth britches, a knife, a felt hat with a double ‘Cipris’ belonging to Henry Gransden and a pair of gloves, two falling bands, a pair of green yarn stockings belonging to Richard Earnes, all from the house of the said John, in Wrotham 1625. The same year Richard Holland of Wrotham was found not guilty of stealing a French green tunic worth 12d., a doublet worth 8d., a pair of garters worth 8d., a pair of stockings worth 4d. and a hat worth 12d., and a knife worth 2d. from Henry Gransden6.

So when do we have records for our Gransden family?
The first confirmed records we have are for this family are a John Gransden who married Elizabeth Haslen on Wednesday the 5th of January 1687 in Meopham in the county of Kent, England7. Meopham is a small village about six kilometres south west of Rochester. Meopham pronounced Mepham has a written history back to AD 774 when a charter was drawn up giving to St Andrew’s Church of Rochester land that bordered upon Meopham8.

Meopham was next referenced in a charter of King Athelstan where land in the area of Meopham is donated to Ealdulph to hold for his life and for his Heirs to hold in perpetuity. From Ealdulph the property became a part of the property of Canterbury Diocese9.

By 1086 Meopham was a large town within the Hundred of Tolentreu. A Hundred is a subdivision of a town or county with its own’ Parish Council. Originally this probably involved 100 families and was used for Military Defence. It was introduced by King Alfred. By the Middle Ages a Hundred was part of the legal system. At the top was the County with its Sheriff. Within each County was a Hundred a subdivision of the county containing a number of townships. Each Hundred had its own Bailiff who reported to the County Sheriff. Within each County there was a Township which had its own Constable. The Constable reported to the Hundred Baliff at the Hundred Court which was held approximately once per month. Smaller groups within the legal system then included an Incorporated Borough which had a Mayor and bailiffs and a Manor or Seignerurial Borough which dealt with local customs and disputes between tenants. Below that there was a Tithing which was a group of approximately 10 male Villeins who lived in close proximity and within a manor, a collection of houses or cottages. The Chief tithing man would then answer to the manorial court10.

By the time of the Domesday Report in 1086 Meopham in the Hundred of Tolentreu was very large with a total of 113 Households. The Value of Meopham was £26.9 and contained  25 villagers, 71 smallholders and 17 slaves. In terms of land Meopham contained 30 plough-lands land for 4 lord’s plough teams and 25 men’s plough teams. In terms of other resources Meopham also contained 16 acres of meadowland, 20 acres of woodland, 20 swine render, a measure of the value of land, and a church11. The 17 slaves mentioned in the Domesday Book probably means the ministers of servants of the church12

When John Gransden married Elizabeth Haslen he was marrying well. The Haslen’s were a relatively well off family who had been in Meopham for a  a number of generations. Richard Haslen the father of Elizabeth Haslen was noted in the index to his Will as Gentleman13. The term Gentleman at this time did not just mean someone who is polite and courteous, it also refers to a person who has through his ancestry been a holder of arms, as in heraldry. A Gentleman is one of noble blood with a rank above that of a Yeoman and below that of a Squire, this is the first rank of the gentry14.

Haslen/ Hasling- Visitation of Kent 1619

Haslen/ Hasling- Visitation of Kent 1619

Henry Haslen, father of Richard Haslen was one of the Church Wardens for the local Church St John the Baptist15. He held this position for a period from at least 1612 to 1629. He may not have held it for the whole of that time but as it appears he was the Vicars Warden he may have held this position with no break. A Henry Haslin also held the position of Church Warden again in sometime around 1650.16 Churchwardens were lay officials who were in charge of the routine running and maintenance of parish churches in perpetuity. Commonly known as fabric wardens before the sixteenth century, the majority of them were elected to their positions by other members of the laity (a body of people not in orders as opposed to the clergy). They often served a single term and in Meopahm they were elected and could serve multiple terms one year after the other. Henry Haslen however, was the Vicar Mr Pigott’s Warden and could hold this job for a number of years without election. The primary job of wardens was to procure and disburse funds for the maintenance of the parish church and other parish buildings. Being in charge of looking after money and the church fabric were not their only responsibilities. Before the Elizabethan poor laws they were also the parish officials primarily responsible for offering aid and assistance to the poor and to destitute travellers17.

St John the Baptist Church Meopham

St John the Baptist Church Meopham

The Haslens were active in Meopham for some years holding positions of relative wealth. Henry Haslen had married Ann Barham who was a descendent of the Barhams of Kent and East Sussex. According to the Kentish Historican and Genealogist Philpot, of the Visitation of Kent in 1619 and Sussex 1633, the Barhams of Kent and East Sussex were descendants of the Robert de Berham, son of Richard Fitz-Urse, and brother of Reginald, leader of the Knights who disposed of the Archbishop Thomas Beckett18 Whilst there is still not enough evidence to prove that this is in fact the case the lineage of the Barham’s certainly stretch back some considerable way they were a family of both wealth and influence in the 16th and 17th Centuries19.

Armorial Device used by one of the early Barham family members.

Armorial Device used by one of the early Barham family members.

Elizabeth Haslen married John Gransden at the age of 19. She was the only child of Henry and Elizabeth Haslen that was known to have reached adulthood. It was very common during the 17th century for children to die quite young and in 1665 over the period from July to September the Haslen’s buried four of their five childre. One older child had died in 1660. In 1665 Plague hit London and the Medway Towns of Kent, including Meopham were hit hard. It is probable that this is how the children of Henry and Elizabeth Haslem died. Leonard Gales of Seven Oakes described the arrival of plague in his memoirs of 1687.

“my mother fell sick, and about six days after died … after her burial, we were one whole week, and a great many people frequented our house, … but at the week’s end, in two days, fell sick my father, my eldest brother, my sister and my self; and in three days after this my two younger brothers, Edward and John, fell sick, … they charged us to keep in, and set such a strong watch over us, … and in the sixth day after they were taken, three of them dyed … and were all buried in one grave …”20

The Great Plague devastated London and the nearby area’s including Kent. The plague was carried by fleas and spread like wild fire on the back of rats through the slums and over crowded streets of London. As spring turned into a long hot summer the conditions for carrying the illness only increased and more and more people died. Nobles left the city of London and moved out to the Country and the Court moved to Hampton Court rather than stay in London and risk the disease. By June the streets were clogged with people desperate to get out of the city and the death rate in London was around 1000 people per day. Cats and dogs were thought to be the carriers of the plague and were killed in huge numbers. This of course just made the conditions worse as it meant that there were even more rats with their cargo of fleas. By August the number of people dyeing each day in London and the surrounding areas was estimated to be around 6000 people per day. When a person caught the plague the inhabitants of their house were locked into the house for a period of forty days after the last person either recovered or died. Given the timing of the deaths of the Haslen children and the number that died, it is almost certainly this plague that devastated the Haslen family21

Elizabeth herself was born a few years after the death of her siblings in 1668 along with one other brother George who was born in 1667. At this stage there is nothing further known about George Haslen.

John Gransden was born about 1662. John’s Grandfather is likely to have been Thomas Gransden who lived in Meopham a generation before John Gransden. However as the registry books for the Meopham area were occasionally patchy it has been extremely difficult to figure out exactly who John Gransden’s father is. Thomas was married to Joan Gransden at Meopham on the 29th of November in 1606 and had a number of children by the names of Joan (15th of November 1607), Thomas (11 February 1609), John 9th of March 1617), Nicholas two birth dates given and none given for the second daughter Elizabeth so one of the dates is likely to have been one for Elizabeth and the other for Nicholas (21st February 1620 and 12th of September 1626) and William (23rd of March 1627). In the next generation in the location of Meopham it seems that the only Gransden to be having children is Thomas, the eldest son who had a child Thomas in 1646, Parnell on the twenty-sixth of March 1649, William on the 20th of March 1652 and finally Richard on the 4th of March 1656. John’s Birth is likely to have been between 1657 and 1662 making this Thomas the most likely father for our John Gransden22.

Thomas Gransden was a Husbandmen also known as a farmer. Husbandmen were tenant farmers, so they farmed for the local lord or similar. A Husbandman was a specific rank, lower than the rank of Gentleman discussed above, in general the rank of Husbandman suggests that the individual was a freeman who as well as farming for the local lord may also have been a shopkeeper, a trader or a skilled worker of some type23.

In Kent inheritance did not follow the law of primogenitor- where the bulk of an estate or land was inherited by the eldest son. The custom of Gavelkind existed where all land was divided equally between all a man’s sons if a man died intestate. This meant that all family members had an interest in keeping the land healthy and maintaining it through crop rotation and adding manure to the soil24. For this reason Kent gained a reputation for fertile soil and good crops even in poor years. In particular the region around Rochester was known for its hops and fruit, particularly cherries, wheat and barley. The custom of Gavelkind probably explains why Thomas Gransden gave additional money to his younger sons if they withdrew their interest in his main property see the Will of Thomas Gransden in the Appendix 1 at the end of this section.

As well as records of births deaths and marriages there are other fleeting glimpses of these Gransden families in Meopham. In 1663 not long after John Gransden would have been born Widow Gransden or Granndson, no first name given, was noted on the Mannorial Rent Rolls as holding one messuage and an orchard at Colversole Green in Meopham in the occupation of Thomas Grannsdon by the yearly rent of 6d25. A messuage comes from the Old French and means a house and all of its outbuildings26 This is the equivalent of approximately £89.30 today.27

The Court House in Meopham as it is today. It is now separated into flats and was considerably updated in the 19th century.

The Court House in Meopham as it is today. It is now separated into flats and was considerably updated in the 19th century.

John Gransden and Elizabeth Gransden nee Haslen and their parents lived in turbulent times. The probable year of John’s birth was around the time of the Restoration of the Monarchy. Charles the second was returned to the throne in 1660 after his father was deposed and beheaded in 164928. This would have had a huge impact on the Gransden and Haslen families. We in fact know that Elizabeth Haslen’s grandmother Ann Haslen nee Barham lost her hold on the lands that the Haslen family had farmed for years during the Civil War29. She later regained them in part during the early stages of the restoration but had to pay much higher rents for them. In the end these lands eventually passed back to the Church and were held by other families. The Court of Meopham, the home of Ann Haslen was  held by the Haslen family from 1595 to 1642, part of that time was under Henry Haslen and from 1630 onwards under Francis Courthopp, Ann Haslen nee Barham’s second husband. Before the Restoration John Haslen became tenant of the Court and Demesnes including 650 acres and the Parsonage at £30 6s. 8d. Per annum from 1642 onwards the Haslen family and their associates lost control of these lands and they passed onto a series of other inhabitants30. The house still stands but went through considerable changes in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In 1673 from the Hearth Tax Roll we again have a glimpse of at least one of the Gransdens. This time it is the Widow Gransden in a new dwelling with only one hearth. The Hearth Tax was introduced around 1673 until 1688 a tax collector had to count the Hearths or fireplaces of every room of every house to enforce a Hearth Tax of 2/- on every fireplace. This tax was extremely unpopular not least because it meant the invasion of privacy as tax collectors had to enter every household. Shortly after the tax was abolished another tax was introduced wherein every house above that of a cottage was taxed 3/- and every window was taxed if the number of windows in a building was above nine. This tax was the reason for a large number of windows being bricked up whilst the tax was in force31. The Widow Gransden noted in the Hearth Tax Roll is likely to have been Thomas the Younger’s widow rather than Thomas the Senior’s widow who would have been extremely old by this time. Whilst this was not unheard of it would be extremely unusual for anyone to live to the ripe old age of around 90 that she would have been if she was the wife of Thomas the Senior.

Life expectancy for children during the Restoration years was low. There were a huge number of childhood diseases that were common including mumps, whooping cough, scarlet fever and German measles to name just a few. The work was hard for both adults and children and even for those who were comfortably well off. On top of that in the year 1666 Fire broke out in London. In a bakery in Pudding Lane during the small hours of Sunday the 2nd of September a baker called Thomas Fariner was woken up by the smell of smoke. The Great Fire of London burned for four days and destroyed large area’s of the city. The Fire Fighters of the day included the King, Charles the Second and his brother James later to be James the Second. But no matter how hard the fire fighters tried even with the militia joining in they were unable to stop the progress of the Fire. Houses, Churches, the great St Paul’s Cathedral were all destroyed. Almost 436 acres lay burned including 13,200 houses, shops, inns and tippling houses. The General Post Office was gone and the goal and Newgate plus nearly all the food markets. The impact of the fire would have been felt all over England and in fact lead to some people immigrating to America. An area as close as Meopham would have experienced a huge rise in the poor and needy trying to find a way to make a living and to obtain food. London took years to recover from the Great Fire and the effects of the Fire following on close after the Great Plague would have been the world that both John and Elizabeth would have grown up in32.

John and Elizabeth had one child, Richard, that can be traced and Elizabeth may well have had an illegitimate child or the child, a son was more likely to  have been born after John died. The entry in the Parish Register is “A son of Elizabeth wife of John Gransden was born May the 22nd 169633. From 1680 until 1743 there are virtually no death records remaining in the Meopham Burial’s register. It is probable that the reason that the child is attributed to Elizabeth, wife of John Gransden is because John Gransden did not live to see his child born. It is also probable that as the name of the child was never put into the register the child was either still born or died before it could be baptised. Richard the son of John and Elizabeth that was known to survive was baptised on 29th of October 1688.

1688 was another difficult year in England. In the early part of the year James the Seconds wife Mary of Modena gave birth to a child. James was a Catholic King and the general unrest caused by having a Catholic Monarch on the throne caused the nobles to appeal to William of Orange and his Wife Mary the daughter of James the Second by his first and non-Catholic wife to come and rule in the place of James the Second. William and Mary landed with an army in Devon and James fled abroad. By February 1689 parliament had declared James’ flight as an act of abdication and William and Mary were crowned King and Queen of England34. The Reign of William and Mary also meant significant changes to the way that the country was run as it was at this time that parliament gained the ascendancy and began the system that we are familiar with today where a Parliament meets each year and cannot be dissolved by the Reigning Royalty.35

Very little more is known about the Gransden family in Meopham now. Nothing is known about when either John or Elizabeth died. As mentioned earlier it is probable that John died around 1696 but whether Elizabeth stayed in the area or married again is not known. The Parish records for Meopham shed no further light on this family. What more is known is now about Richard. He married Anne Drew on the 27th of October 1717. Anne Drew had, like Richard, been born in Meopham and probably spent the majority of her early life in the area. Anne was born to William Drew and Ann Aylord. Ann Drew was one of at least six children, she was baptised on the 27th of August 1689.36 Ann’s other siblings included; William, Thomas, another William, John and Elizabeth Drew. The children were roughly spaced every two years with the youngest being Ann with a four year gap between her and her next sister Elizabeth.

Richard Gransden was a Carpenter and possibly an undertaker as can be seen by his gravestone when he died on the 13th of March 1760.37 Children were usually apprenticed for seven years with their apprenticeship ending at the age of 24 however an apprenticeship could last longer depending upon the age at which the apprentice was taken. In many cases there was no minimum age for an apprentice but an apprentice’s term did not end before the apprentice reached the age of 24.38 This long apprenticeship period may well be why Richard Gransden did not marry until he was around 29 years of age, an unusual age for his earlier family members but not an unusual age for marriage when taking on an apprenticeship. Richard’s tomb stone suggests that he was a good carpenter and that he utilised his craft well becoming well off enough to be able to afford a tomb stone. This was fairly unusual in this family whose fortunes were on the low side rather than the high side. Richard’s tomb stone as seen below was significant enough in design and quality that it was noted in a book in 1896 as being a typical tombstone for the era and craft.39

FIG. 56.—AT COBHAM, KENT.   Vincent, W. T. 1896. In Search of Gravestones Old and Curious.

Vincent, W. T. 1896. In Search of Gravestones Old and Curious.

To Richard Gransden, carpenter,
 died 13th March, 1760.”
This one may serve as a fair sample of all the trade memorials to which carpenters have been, before all classes of mechanics, the most prone. The carvings bear the same strong resemblance to each other that we find in other series of gravestones, but have occasional variations, as in the following specimen, which mixes up somewhat grotesquely the emblems of death and eternity with the mundane instruments of skill and labour, including therein a coffin lid to shew maybe that the man, besides being a carpenter, was also an undertaker.40

Richard Gransden A photo of the same grave stone taken January 2014. Cobham, Kent.

Richard Gransden
A photo of the same grave stone taken January 2014. Cobham, Kent.

Richard with his wife Anne moved first to Rochester where they had their first child and then to Cobham where they continued to have their own family. Richard and Anne’s first child William was born on the 1st of February 1718, he was christened on the 18th of February at St Nicholas of Myra in Rochester.41 Rochester was the place that James the Second had spent his last night in England before he was replaced by his daughter Mary and her Husband William of Orange.

The Carpentry profession was one that paid relatively poorly in general and was more what we would describe today as a builder rather than a carpenter with joiners being the more skilled and higher paid craftsmen. Richard did not belong to the Carpenters Guild as far as can be told currently, at least his name does not appear in any of their apprentice books.42 Journeymen carpenters would have needed to move to be near whichever building site they were working on. It is likely that it was this need to be near his workplace that meant that Richard moved to Rochester.

By the 20th of January 1720 Richard and Anne had moved to Cobham as this was where their second son Richard was baptised in the Church of St Mary Magdelene, Cobham, Kent. Richard and Anne were never to move out of Cobham with Richard dying in 1760 and Anne following him in 1775. The four generations of the earliest Gransdens that we have records for had all lived and died within less than 10 kilometres of each other over a period of just less than 200 years. The next two hundred years would separate the Gransden families that had lived in such a limited space for so many years out around the world.

  1. Great Gransden (accessed 22nd March 2014)
  2. Open Domesday, Great Gransden (Accessed 23rd march 2014).
  3. National Archives: Search for Gransden
  4. Name Distribution of Gransden Familieis (accessed 22nd March 2013)
  5. QM/SRc/1602/177  23 Sept. 1602 (accessed 22nd March 2014)
  6.  QM/SI/1604/2/16  22 Sept 1603 (accessed 22nd Marcdh 2014)
  7. Meopham Parish Register, Baptisms 5 Jan 1687 (accessed 23rd March 2014)
  8. Goulding-Bird, C. H. 2012. The History of Meopham: A Kentish Village from Saxon Times. Fonthill Media Ltd, Published in Associated with Meopham Historical Society. Originally published 1934 revised and updated for the 2012 edition: 22-23
  9. Ibid: 23-24
  10. Mortimer, I. 2009. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the fourteenth Century. Vintage Books, London, UK:215-233.
  11. (Accessed 23rd March 2014)
  12. Opcit Goulding-Bird:33
  13. Haslin; (Haslen), Richard (Meopham, co. Kent); gentleman – ref. VH 96/4577 – date: 19 Nov. 1680
  14. Selden, J. 1672. Titles of Honour. Part II Chap VIII. (accessed 23rd March 2014)
  15. Opcit Golding-Bird: 171.
  16. Ibid: 170-171.
  17. University of York. 2006. Church Wardens’ Accounts. BORTHWICK INSTITUTE FOR ARCHIVES, UNIVERSITY OF YORK, HESLINGTON,YORK,YO105DD (Accessed 23rd March 2014)
  18. Barham Booklet (Accessed 23rd March 2014)
  19. Clark, N. 1960. The Barhams of Kent and Sussex (this transcription 1990) (Accessed 3rd March 2014)
  20. Kent City Council. 2014. Tudor and Stewart Kent, Disease. (Accessed 23rd of March 2014)
  21. Ross, D. (Ed.) The London Plague of 1665. Britain Express (accessed 25th March 2014)
  22. Opcit City Ark Parish Records (Accessed 26th March 2014)
  23. Opcit Mortimer, I: 42.
  24. Jessup, F. W. 1987. A History of Kent. Phillimore & Co Ltd, Chichester, Sussex, England: 40-14
  25. Carley, J. 2003. Jim Carley’s Meopham. The Bindery, Rochester Kent. 2003
  26. (Accessed 26th March 2014)
  27. Lawrence H. Officer and Samuel H. Williamson, “Purchasing Power of British Pounds from 1270 to Present,” MeasuringWorth, 2014. (Accessed 26th March 2014)
  28. The History Learning Site © 2000-2013 (accessed 24th March 2014)
  29. ‘Parishes: Meopham’, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3 (1797), pp. 356-367. URL: Date accessed: 22 February 2008.
  30. Opcit Golding-Bird: 137-138.
  31. Opcit Golding Bird 203 and 291-293.
  32. Picard, L. 2003. Restoration London: Everyday Life in London 1660-1670. Weidenfeld & Nicolson History, England, UK
  33. Opcit City Ark Parish Records (Accessed 25th March 2014)
  34. James 2 1633-1701 (Accessed 26th March 2014)
  35. William III and Mary II (Accessed 26th March 2014)
  36. Opcit City Ark Parish Records
  37. Vincent, W. T. 1896. In Search of Gravestones Old and Curious. (Accessed 26th of March 2014)
  38. Curtis, H. Education and Apprenticeship. Nicoll, A. (Ed) 1965. Shakespeare in his Own Age. : 53-73 (Accessed 26th March 2014
  39. Vincent, W. T. 1896. In Search of Gravestones Old and Curious. (Accessed 26th of March 2014)
  40. Ibid.
  41. Opcit City Ark Parish Records
  42. London Lives. 2010. Carpenters Company.




Will of Thomas Gransden”, Lambeth Palace Library, London, England, Catalogue Reference VH96/4411 and VH98/1/34V.


Testator: Thomas Gransden, husbandman of Meopham, Kent County, England

Date: 28th day of January in the 7th year of the reign of King Charles (1632)

Intended Burial Location: Churchyard in Meopham

Wife: Joane Gransden

Eldest Son: Thomas Gransden

Second Son: John Gransden

Third Son: Nicholas Gransden

Youngest Son: William Gransden

Eldest Daughter: Joane Gransden

Other Daughter: Elizabeth Gransden

Friend: Thomas Lane

Friend: Nicholas Taylor


Bequeath to eldest son Thomas Gransden: All household items, and land in Meopham after the death of his mother, Joane Gransden.

Bequeath to second son John Gransden: 5 shillings at the age of 24 years, 4 pounds paid nine years after the death of his mother from the profits from the land in Meopham.

Bequeath to third son Nicholas Gransden: 5 shillings at the age of 24 years, 4 pounds paid thirteen(?) years after the death of his mother from the profits from the land in Meopham.

Bequeath to youngest son William Gransden: 5 shillings at the age of 24 years, 4 pounds paid fifteen years after the death of his mother from the profits from the land in Meopham.

Bequeath to daughter Joane Gransden: 5 shillings at the age of 24 years, 4 pounds paid three years after the death of her mother from the profits from the land in Meopham.

Bequeath to daughter Elizabeth Gransden: 5 shillings at the age of 24 years, 4 pounds paid three years after the death of his wife from the profits from his land.

Bequeath to wife Joane Gransden: Residue of the estate, and the land in Meopham during her natural life then to their son Thomas Gransden

Executor/Executrix: Wife, Joane Gransden


Transcriber Notes:

1. The text was transcribed as close as possible to the original spelling and notation. Letters or words that are uncertain are contained in parenthesis () with the best guess as to the letters included. Words contained in brackets <> are the transcribers interpretation of the word using modern spelling or other transcriber comments.

2. The estimated value of the monetary bequeaths are determined from Lawrence H. Officer, “Purchasing Power of British Pounds from 1264 to 2007.”, 2008, see This estimate is based on the retail price index, and is therefore an estimate based on the purchasing power of the money. The approximate average exchange rate in 2007 was about 1.9 U.S. dollars to the U.K. pound sterling.

1632 Bequeath 2007 U.K. Equivalent 2007 U.S. Equivalent

5 shillings £ 31.82 $ 60.46

4 pounds £ 509.12 $ 967.33

3. Based on the above evaluation of the monetary amounts, in addition to the land bequeathed to his eldest son and the personal effects given to his wife and son, Thomas Gransden bequeathed to his children the total of £21 5s which equals about £2,704.71 (or $5,138.95). This was a modest estate.




In the name of god Amen the eight & Twenties dahe of Januarie in the Seaventh yeare of the Reigne of or <our> Sovereiyne Lord Charles by the grace of god kinge of England Scotland France & Ireland defender of the Fayth & (p?) I Thomas Gransden of Meopham in the Countie of Kent husbandman sicke in bodie but of pfect <perfect> minde & remembrance thankes be onto Almightie god herefore doe make & appoynte this my last will & testament in mann and forme followeinge vid first & principally I give & bequeath my soule into he hand of Almightie god my Master and of Jesus Christ my redeemer by whose pe(t)ious Death (only?) I hope to be saved & my bodie to be buried wh(n) <within> the chruche yarde of Meopham aforesayd

Item I will, give unto eaech of my Children the sume of (vs) shillinge to be well and truly payed unto eache of them as they shall severally accomplishe the age of xxiiij years by myne executrix hereafter named except unto my Eldest sonne Thomas Gransden to whome I give & will my execatrix shall (have) all the wood (worle) house hold (stuffe) now (standeinghe) (or) comonly used in my Hall house the residue of all my goodes I give unto Joane my welbeloved wife whome I make sole executrix of this my prsent <present> last will & testament & I doe nominnate & appoynt my good freinds & neighbours Thomas Lane & Nicholas Taylor (hearen) to be the (Oversbers?) of this my sayd last <these are crossed out in the original document> of this my sayd last will & testament

This is the last will & Testament of mee Thomas Granseen aforesayd as (toucheinge?) the (devestinge?) & dispesenise of my lande & (tendurate?) sort lyeing & beinghe in Meopham aforesayd I will & give my dwellinge house Barchad & other lande unto Joane my wife (dureinge) the time of her naturall life & after she death & decease of my sayd wife unto Thomas Gransden my Eldest Sonne & unto his sonnes forever Item my minde & will is that Joane my Eldest daughter shall have the sume of Fower poundes of currant Englishe money to be <crossed out in original document> well & truly sayed unto her out of she proffitts of my aforesayd house & Lande by my sayd sonne Thomas wth in <within> the time of three years next after the death & decease of (Anny) aforesd the wife and is the same maye yearely (tarifs) & (be) (Land) Item I will & give unto Elizabeth my other daughter the (stume) <sum> of like fower poundes to be (beqeceist) payed unto her out of the proffitte of my sayd house & Lande & by my sayd sonne Thomas & whin <within> the three next yeares comeinge after payement made unto Joane my daughter aforesayd & my minde & will it shall y_ my Sayd (studed?) shall refuse or fayle to paye other of the sayd sonnes in manner abougt sayd that then it shall & maye be lawefull for both or other of my sayd daughters beinge (rusatyfied) & oupayed as aforesayd & wh- the time before (limitted) to enter upon & take the proffitte of my house & lande untill she or her be fully satisfied

Item I will & give unto John Gransden my second sonne the summe of fower poundes to be well & truly payed unto him whin <within> Nine yeares next after the death of my said wife & the same to be payd out of the proffitte of my lande but upon condition that my sayd sonne John shall release unto my sayd sonne Thomas all his right & title in all &singular the Land I now hav & occupied & enioye <enjoy> & (wl) otherwise

Item I will & give unto Nicholas my third sonne the sume of fower poundes to be payed him when (threetns) <thirteen> years after the death of my sayd wife & she same to be likewise (tended) & (roysed) out of my lande & upon condition that my sayd sonne Nicholas shall release unto my aforesayd sonne Thomas all his right & title & unto all & singular my aforesayd lande

Item I will & give unto William my youngest sonne the summe of <crossed out in document> of Fower poundes to be likewise payed him when fifteene years next after the death of my aforesaid wife & (the) some to be levied & raysed <raised> out of my lande & upon condition that the sayd William shall release unto my sonne Thomas all his right & title & unto all & singular my aforesayde lande

In wittnes whereof I have hereunto sett my hand & seale the daye & yeare above written & published it to be my last will & testament in the prsents of Sealed & Delivered in the (ptath) of :

Tho: Pigott Thomas Land his mark Nicholas Taylor his mark


Thomas Gransden his mark

<The following text in Latin in a different handwriting.> Probatium sunt tunoi testamentum duodorimo die morfis Aprilis Anno Dm. 1632. Coram magro Richardo Hall Facra Thrologie profostbri Suruogato (by) aorni Mayz font Adro by Joanne Gransden retse et exerutorum brice in & noi testamento morate de bene ye wit imat salno inro b(o).

© Tina Bean 2014


Beginnings — 8 Comments

  1. I was just doing a web search for the origin of the gransden name and found this site
    my father passed in 1993 his name is
    Clinton ray gransden
    we have lived here in alabama usa sense the late 1960’s
    he was raised in Michigan usa

      • Hi my maiden name was Barbara Gransden daughter of Reuben Gransden and Dorothy Freer I lived I. Punchbowk nsw my father was born in Cambellego Nsw and mother born in Temora nsw I have one sister Judith

        • Hi Judith,
          thank you for your comment. I will contact you privately. I know of Reuben and Dorothy and even have you on my personal family history. I will contact you on your email address. Thank you for contacting me.

    • My dad,Charles Victor Gransden, was son of a Thomas Gransden. They last lived in Edenville and Gladwin County Muchigan.i don’t know a lot about my grandpa ,Thomas Granden, he passed away when my dad was a preteen. I do know his family were from England. My only brother was named Thomas and he had just one son and his name is Thomas( my nephew). My nephew Thomas is in his 40s and does not have a son so he’s the last if my dad’s Gransden family. My dad had two brothers but neither had sons. I’ve enjoyed reading this history.

      • Thanks, I am pleased to hear that you enjoyed reading this history. Please feel free to contact me about specifics at any time.

  2. I came across your website while searching the web for links to my surname. My Grandfather George Gransden was from Rochester, Kent. Would be exciting to find links. Ben. Kent, UK.

  3. My husband is named Gransden, the only family here in texas with that name. One side of his family is from Germany. Thank you for all this information, he really wants to figure out more about his ancestry.

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