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Home: Surnames: Chowning Family Genealogy Forum

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Re: The will of Martha Chowning -- Wortham, Kent 1640
Posted by: Judith Voran (ID *****4487) Date: February 17, 2006 at 19:54:52
In Reply to: Re: The will of Martha Chowning -- Wortham, Kent 1640 by Darroll of 568

As far as the surname Chowning is concerned, I found information on the possible Chevening connection on Connie Burkhead's website at I want to thank Connie for her willingness to let me use her material with attribution.

I'm taking this as outline information and trying to verify it. It seems possible that the de Chevenings could have been Norman (because of the "de" prefix), but since the first mention of Adam de Chevening is in 1199 he surely didn't come with William the Conquerer. Perhaps an ancestor of his or a later arrival from the Continent. However, see the origin of the name Chevening below.

I also found another website that states that Adam de Chevening came from France and fought at the Battle of Hastings. This seems to be misinformation since the Battle of Hastings was in 1066 and the first mention of Adam de Chevening was in 1199 -- a difference of 133 years.

The change in the form of the name as shown on Connie's website is de Chivenning, de Chevening, de Chevenyng, Chunnyng, Chevening. By the early 1600's a variation of the name is Chowning in the 6th generation. From then on there are various spellings of this form of the name. Given the fact that the name of the village is spelled Wrotham (I misspelled it in my previous message) and today's pronunciation is "rutum"; and the pronunciation of Chevening is more like "chevning" with a long "e", I can see that Chevening could morph to Chowning prounced as Chewning over 6 generations.(The use of Chunnyng in the mid to late 1300's is interesting.) Dropping the "e" in the spelling is no problem. My husband's maternal line is Edgecomb, variously spelled Edgecombe, Edgecomb, and Edgcom.

As to the history of Chevening town and manor I have a very interesting and informative book that I purchased at the Maidstone, Kent research center entitled "The History of the Parish of Chevening" published by the Chevening Parish History Group in 1999.

The earliest records of the area of Chevening:

“....[Chevening] first mentioned mentioned in the records in 766, when it was the site of the battle with Offa. In various charters between 785 and 822 different parcels of land were ceded to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the Mercian kings Offa, Chenille and Ceowulf. The area, including Shoreham to the north, Seal to the east, Chevening to the west and stretching into the forest of Andredsweald to the south, became known as the manor of Otford.

Chevening land lay along the western border of the Manor of Otford. In the later Saxon times another east-west track had developed along the southern slopes of the Downs, along the route now called the Pilgrim’s Way...

The name Chevening means either ‘Cefn’s people,’ derived from the Saxon name of the first family to settle in the area, or ‘the people of the ridge’ in the pre-Roman Celtic tongue; either suggests an ancient origin.” p. 22-23

"The de Crevequeurs were the first recorded tenants of Chevening, in 1171, owing one knight's fee for land they had acquired from :Haimo, the steward." As part of the victorious Norman army they had other lands in Kent, including Leeds Castle. Although de Crevequerers are noted in various records there is no suggestion that the family ever resided in the manor; the steward would have been sent to collect the revenue from the servants. It is assumed that this is Chevening I." p. 34

"Just over 20 years later in 1199, some of the land was subinfeudated (sub-let) to Adam of Chevening for half a knight's fee. He was one of the Justices of the great assize of King John and "he possessed and resided in the manor during the reign of Henry III !1216 - 1232). He was the first resident Lord of the Manor. The remains of an old house can be seen in the cellars and some of the rooms of the present Chevening House, which must therefore be the site of the first manor. This we presume is Chevening II. With a resident Lord of the Manor the community grew and the church and glebe lands were established in the hamlet. p. 34

Adam de Chevening's arms were Aregent an eagle displayed vert.

"This manor was split into several parts; the main part we have called Chevening II. The earliest mention of the manor of Chevening II in existing records are of Adam de Chevening who held the manor from 1199 to 1216, and the de Chevening family in the 14th century when several de Chevenings for half a knight's fee. In 1432 the possession of the manor passed to the De la Pole family and afterwards through several hands until it was bought by John Lennard in 1551 for £ 420. p. 78

"The Lennard family owned Chevening House from 1540 until 1717. Although some members of the family lived at Knole and at Hurstmonceaux Castle. Most of them are buried at Chevening and lie in the vaults beneath the chantry floor [of St. Botolph's Church.] The fine alabaster tomb in the south-east corner of the chantry commemorates John Lennard and his wife Elizabeth who died in 1591 and 1585 respectively. The Latin inscription records that he was appointed by the diplomas of four powers to various offices of state, and that he died in his 82nd year "Custos Brevium of the Common Pleas." [I think this means that he was the "caretaker" of the Court of Common Pleas" which was the court in which common law cases were brought.] Although on his tomb he is shown wearing armor he was in fact a successful lawyer in Lincoln's Inn." p. 65.

This doesn't mention that John Lennard/Leonard was German. But it seems clear that John Lennard/Leonard didn't purchase Chevening from the Chevenings, rather he purchased it from the De La Poles.

Still a lot of research to do. Right now, I think there may have been at least three Adam de Chevenings. Sir Adam de Chevening who had to have been over 21 in 1199 to have received Chevening from the de Crevequers, another Sir Adam de Chevening between the first and the one known to have been born in 1241 from a deposition, and possibly a fourth, son of the third.

Judy Voran

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