Laslett family history
Thomas and Elizabeth Lasslett of Brook Farm
Thomas was baptised on 10 January 1746 at Hoath. He was the third child of William and Mary Lasslett of Chislet (page 32). Thomas married Elizabeth Gibbs at Chislet on 11 October 1769. Both bride and groom were recorded as being "of this parish" with Thomas's name being recorded as "Lacey".
He settled in Whitstable and lived there until 1778 when he moved to the neighbouring Parish of Swalecliffe a half mile or so to the East.
In May 1778 Thomas is mentioned in the Swalecliffe Churchwarden's Account Book as one of the ratepayers of the Parish and also for checking the Churchwarden's accounts. As the record for that year states "for Brook Farm substitute Thos Laslett" we assume this to indicate that Thomas purchased the farm in 1778. The rate of 13/6d made Brook Farm the third largest in the Parish. There were only seven ratepayers in the Parish for a total rate income of £17/13/6d. Thomas appears thereafter regularly as a ratepayer and for signing off accounts.
Brook farm was right in the village of Swalecliffe and it appears to have consisted of three fields totalling 15 acres. They were Brookfield, Bridgefield and Kitchenfield. In 1806 Thomas was rated an additional £3 for a cottage so we can only assume he acquired a cottage for his newly married son and daughter-in-law. This may be the single story cottage on the brook bank near Thomas's two story brick farm house.
The cottage was demolished in 1966 but Thomas's house is still standing. It is a two-story brick structure built like a traditional Kentish 'hall house' and stands on the main road through Swalecliffe. Although it is built in this 'style' we have not ascertained the antiquity of the structure.
Ralph Arnold in A Yeoman of Kent describes a typical Kentish yeoman's dwelling-house as "dating generally from the second half of the fifteenth or from the first half of the sixteenth century," it "had been an oblong, timber-framed building consisting of a high central hall or communal living-room extending right up to the raftered roof and flanked at either end by smaller apartments arranged one above the other in two storeys, the rooms at the 'dais end' of the hall being reserved for the farmer and his wife and those at the other end for the children and servants. The whole building was covered by a single, steep-pitched roof. Yeoman's House at Sole Street (Cobham), as restored and reconstructed, affords a good example of what this sort of 'hall house' must have looked like, with the two-storeyed ends overhanging so that the upper part of the hall itself appears recessed between them. Many of the earlier yeoman's houses must have been altered in Elizabethan times, when chimneys and fireplaces were introduced, when glass was fitted into the tall hall windows (which had originally been designed both to let in light and to let out the smoke from the central hearth), and when the halls themselves were often divided up by the introduction of an intermediate floor.
From 1801 to 1808 Thomas was Overseer of the Poor for the Parish of Swalecliffe, the last four years jointly with his son William.
The Overseers were unpaid parochial officers whose office dates back to the Elizabethan Poor Law legislation. It was the Overseers' job to find and expend funds for relief of such of the parish inhabitants as were helpless, infirm or past work. Under the general supervision of the County Magistrates, the Overseers raised the money they needed by levying and collecting a Poor Rate, based on the rateable value of the whole parish.
The payments made by the Overseers covered not only the old, the sick, the destitute and the young of the parish but also strangers passing through the parish who fell into one or more of the categories. Needless to say indigent strangers were not generally welcome in the villages of England.
Thomas was Churchwarden of Swalecliffe Parish from 21 June 1804 to 11 June 1807. A record of his disbursements as Churchwarden taken from the Churchwarden's Account Book appears on page ?.
Thomas was buried in St John the Baptist Swalecliffe Cemetery on 16 March 1809. His Will dated 6 March 1809 was granted Probate 15 April 1809. A copy appears on page 228. Elizabeth was buried in St John the Baptist Swalecliffe Cemetery on 1 May 1807.
Family of Thomas and Elizabeth Lasslett
WILLIAM - baptised at Herne on 17 November 1775. Married Mary Wacher at Swalecliffe on 21 May 1804 who appears to have died about 1805. On 16 October 1806 married Mary Ann Rayner. Took over father's farm. William died on 29 October 1835 and was buried in Swalecliffe. It is thought that Mary died in 1839.
See chapter William Lasslett of Rayham and Brook Farms and his wives Mary and Mary Ann on page 54.
ELIZABETH - baptised 10 May 1772 at Chislet. Mentioned in father's Will
in 1809. Married Thomas Richardson at Swalecliffe on 29 October 1805 by Banns.
Elizabeth died in 1836/7 as a codicil to her will was made in March 1836
and the will was proved in September 1837. Her nephew ‘William Laslett
the Younger of Swalecliffe’ is named as one of the Executors of the
Elizabeth Richardson – born c.1810. Married William Olive, a mariner and oyster dredger, at Whitstable in 1832.
Hannah Richardson – born c.1813. Married David Harris a farmer c.1836/7.
MARY - buried at Swalecliffe on 28 February 1799.