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Farrier, Blacksmith & Pilcher

Clement Pilcher was a Farrier in Eythorne. He died in 1807 leaving his estate primarily to his wife Jane (nee Holton) with the residue of the estate being split equally between his six children (Jane, James, Ann, Sarah , Clement and Thomas) upon her death. The executors to his will were people of some status – Robert Finnis of Popeshall (died 1/5/1807 aged 93) and Peter Harnett the Elder of Lydden Court – suggesting Clement himself was of some import in the community.
It was requested that any debts owed to Clement Pilcher deceased were to be sent to his son Clement. This son, who was born about 1778 in Eythorne, was also a Farrier He died in 1867 having lived for 90 years and he was well respected in the community. He married Miss Mary Fagg of Dover in October 1807. Mary pre-deceased Clement, and was 78 years old at her death on 21/3/1859. They only had one child, Elizabeth Pilcher, 1816-1884 who was born in Goodnestone. It was said of Mary on her death that she died “after 22 years of affliction born with Christian fortitude and resignation”.
In the Tithe Award Schedule signed April 1845 (but carried out in the 1830s and 1840s), Clement Pilcher is shown (see figure) as owning a piece of land with house and garden (occupied by Thomas Allwood and another), denoted as parcel 228 in the schedule. In the will of John Pain of Popeshall of 1821, in a list of his “possessions” providing income, Clement Pilcher is stated to occupy a “piece of arable land containing about four acres called Shooters Hill”. This may be parcel 125 or 123 in the Tithe Schedule (see figure later). By 1840 parcel 123 is still in the possession of a Pain (Richard) but is now occupied by Isaac Pierce and Richard Paine (sic). Parcel 125 is occupied by a Pilcher (James, see next)

Clement and Jane’s other son, James, was a Blacksmith in Eythorne. The Forge was more or less opposite the Crown Inn and is the one that persisted in living memory. James also had other land interests as identified Tithe Map of 1845. Specifically he occupied:

  • Plot 195, The Street Upper Eythorne. House, Forge, Yard, Garden, Pasture and Buildings. Land owned by Peter Lane Fector
  • Plot 196, The Street Upper Eythorne. Pasture. Land owned by Peter Lane Fector
  • Plot 125, Chapel Hill Eythorne, approximately opposite the Baptist Chapel. Bank Piece. Arable 3.3.25. Owned by the Heirs of James Lambert. (and adjacent to plot 123 owned by Richard Pain).
  • Plot 142 (The Down, 1.3.19 ) and Plot 143 (Chalk Pit Down, 3.2.25). Situated between the angle of Wigmore Lane and Sandwich Road. Owned by Rev James Minet Sayer.

The position of the Forge and buildings (Plots 195 and 196) are shown in the attached second figure.
In James’ will of 1840 he bequeathed all his money (less expenses) to his wife Elizabeth and requested that the stock in trade and business be carried on for her maintenance as long as she shall live. Upon her death everything was to be split equally between the ten children of James and Elizabeth. They had two sons, Clement and Peter James, and eight daughters. It was Peter James (born Eythorne 1817) and the daughter Jane that were appointed as executors. James died shortly after his last will and testament was written at the age of 71. At the wills proving in 8th April 1841, Jane’s name is given as Jane Ansell since she had married George Ansell (who was said to be a widower then) on 17/4/1833 at Ss Peter and Paul. However by 1841 Jane was now a widow.

In Melville’s 1858 Directory of Kent, the blacksmith in Eythorne is given as Elizabeth Pilcher and the farrier as Clement. Elizabeth died in 1860 (at the age of 91) and shares a grave with her husband James in Ss Peter & Paul. Tragically there is another name on the grave monument and that is that of their son Clement. He died also in 1860 at the age of 59 by committing suicide by jumping down a well. At the inquest (at the Crown Inn) he was said to be in a state of “temporary insanity” and had been “depressed lately and in low spirits”. It was further said that he was unmarried and had “rather eccentric habits”.
Peter James Pilcher continued on the blacksmith concern for a while after his mother’s death but in September 1862 it was announced in the press that the “old established freehold forge, dwelling house, garden, grounds and building in possession of Mr Peter James Pilcher, Eythorne” were up for auction. Although Peter James had married Mary Gordon (b 1819) and had children (e.g. Cullen Pilcher, born Eythorne abt 1850, and probably three other boys and two girls) it would seem that the sale ended the Pilcher family’s involvement in being the Upper Eythorne blacksmith. Peter James died in 1878 aged 64.
The forge and associated buildings eventually became derelict and were demolished in the early 1970s.

Vince Croud

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