Thomas Floyd snr
I am grateful to Thomas’s great granddaughter, Sue Collier, for so generously allowing us access to the family archive and for writing this and other items about the Floyd family, who played such a major part in Blackham village life.
Thomas Floyd was born in 1838 in Tudeley, Kent, the youngest of the nine children of William Floyd and Hannah Ware. His father was an agricultural labourer and so was Thomas in 1861, still living with his parents in Pembury. By 1871 he had moved to the Lodge Gate at Highfields in Blackham where he was the gardener. He married Charlotte Clifton of Wadhurst in 1872 and they had their first son William Henry in 1876 but sadly he died within a few months of birth. In 1881 Thomas had moved on and was living at Highfields Park Mansion as a farmer of 123 acres employing one labourer. Their second son Thomas (Tom) was born in 1884 and some time before 1891 the family had moved to Willetts Farm. Charlotte died in 1896 at the age of 55 leaving Thomas and his 11 year old son Tom. Gertrude Jeffery, the daughter of Charlotte’s sister Elizabeth and Adin Jeffery, came to live with
them as housekeeper. This was as much as the family knew of Thomas Floyd but it wasn’t until his grandson Cecil Floyd died in 2007 and the family home was prepared for sale that more details of Thomas Floyd’s life emerged revealing the extent of his business acumen and more of the role he had played in Blackham life. Much of the contents of Willetts Farm must
have come to Watch Oak and remained there thanks to a family who were reluctant to throw anything out. The house was a treasure trove of photographs, portraits, account books, school books, and all kinds of letters, deeds and plans – all over 100 years old, as well as a collection of personal items that spoke of his achievements. They revealed an intriguing man who had started life as an agricultural labourer and ended up a well-to-do farmer, a member of the local parish council and an owner of many properties. Thomas Floyd was elected as a councillor on the first Withyham Parish Council of 1894 coming a good second in the poll not far behind Viscount Sackville. The photograph of the council shows a somewhat larger than life character in the centre of the picture dressed in a light suit. Newspaper reports reveal he enjoyed social gatherings and by all accounts had a fine singing voice. He was not only a farmer but at some stage had started acquiring land and building houses in Blackham, including Watch Oak Villas, where he lived after retiring from farming. He also co-owned properties in Edenbridge and Groombridge with George West. Details of his property dealings will be covered via the link below. Thomas Floyd enjoyed ten years of retirement at Watch Oak Villa before he died in Dec 1922 at the age of 84 and was buried in Ashurst churchyard with his wife Charlotte.
Thomas and Charlotte
Above: Thomas in the front centre of a photograph of the first Withyham Parish Council and right: second in the vote
Thomas in the hop garden at Willetts
THE LATE MR FLOYD. It is with regret that we record the death of Mr Thomas Floyd of Watch Oak, Blackham which occurred on Saturday. The deceased gentleman was 84 years of age and was highly respected in the district having lived in the parish for upwards of 40 years. Mr Floyd came from Pembury and took the position of gardener and steward to the late Mr Richard Price Haigh, a post he had held until recently for the present occupier of the Highfields Park Estate, Col D P Haig. Mr Floyd was one of the first Councillors for Withyham Parish and was particularly fond of all kinds of sport. He farmed successfully for a number of years at Willetts Farm, Blackham and was a well-known attendant at most local markets. Being fond of music and singing, Mr Floyd would always contribute to the harmony at smoking concerts in the district. The late Mrs Floyd predeceased him some 25 years ago. Deceased leaves one son, for whom the deepest sympathy is felt. The funeral took place on Wednesday at St Martin’s Church, Ashurst. The Rector the Rev E Hayter Cox, conducted the service and those present at the
graveside were Mr Thomas Floyd (son), Miss Jeffrey (niece), Mr and Miss Floyd (nephew and niece), Mr and Miss Jeffrey (nephew and niece), Mr Eagleton (Penshurst), Mr Norman Langridge (representing the Hartfield choir), and Miss Scales. Others noticed were Col D P Haig (Highfields Park), Mr W Fred West (Groombridge), Mr Geo West (Park Corner), Mr T Ashby, Mr N Langridge (Hartfield), Mr H Ashby, Mr and Mrs Scales, Mr and Mrs Boreham, Mr F Harwood, Miss Scales, Mr W Ford, Mr E Crowhurst, Mr Chas Caffyn, Mr B Bashford, Mrs T Coomber, Miss Berry, Mrs Kestin, Mr G Covell and many others. Among the floral tributes were those from Tom and Gertie; Fred and Alice, Mr, Mrs and Miss Scales; Mr and Mrs Couchman; Clara, Harry and Girlie; Mrs Kestin and Family; Mr and Mrs Berry and family; the Members of Blackham Cricket Club; Adin, Bertha, Edie and Annie; Colonel and Mrs Haig and family (Highfields Park). The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr A Couchman and the bearers were tenants from the estate. Kent & Sussex Courier 22 December 1922
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