Farnborough, Kent Genealogy

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Guide to Farnborough, Kent ancestry, family history, and genealogy: parish register transcripts, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

Farnborough, Kent
Farnborough St Giles the Abbot Kent.jpg
Farnborough St Giles the Abbot Kent
Type Chapelry (England)
Civil Jurisdictions
Hundred Ruxley
County Kent, England Genealogy
Poor Law Union Bromley
Registration District Bromley
Records begin
Parish registers: 1558; For more records see Chelsfield
Bishop's Transcripts: 1719
Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions
Rural Deanery None
Diocese Pre-1845 - Rochester; Post-1844 - None
Province Canterbury
Legal Jurisdictions
Probate Court Pre-1845 - Courts of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) and Archdeaconry of Rochester; Post-1844 - Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury
Location of Archive
Kent History and Library Centre

Parish History[edit | edit source]

FARNBOROUGH, a chapelry, in the parish of Chelsfield, union of Bromley, hundred of Ruxley, lathe of Sutton-at-Hone, W division of Kent, 4¼ miles SE by S from Bromley. Samuel A. Lewis,A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), pp. 213-216.

As may be seen from the parish history Farnborough had in reality been a parish much earlier than this gazetteer suggests.

Farnborough, Kent, should not be confused with the better known Farnborough, Hampshire Genealogy and from places of the same name in Berkshire and Warwickshire. It is a village on the high road to Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Hastings, 14 miles from London.

Farnborough Church existed before 1070, perhaps as a wooden structure, which had either fallen down or was considered of no value when the Domesday Survey was made in 1085.

Farnborough’s original paper Register in which, apart from the required entries, information was recorded of the change of Kings and Rectors and other interesting facts, is still in existence. The first entry of this kind is a change of Rector, recorded in 1576:

‘Septembris 18, 1576, Gulielmo Gybbins, sepulto, Rector ecclesiae Chelsfield et Farnborough, cur. Successit Georgeius Smith, Artium Mr. Collegii Alsol. Oxon, socius 300 Aetatis do caturiae natus’.

This states, in Latin, that in 1576 William Gibbins, the previous Rector had died and had been succeeded by George Smith, Master of Arts of All Souls, Oxford, aged 30 years. At this time, Farnborough Parish and Chelsfield Parish constituted a Combined Benefice, a long-standing arrangement which continued almost to the end of the 19th century. This meant that the revenues of both parishes were paid to the same priest, who was Rector of both Parishes, each having its own Registers, Churchwardens and Parish Officers. As Farnborough was the poorer of the two parishes, the Rectors spent most of their time in Chelsfield, some having left not even a signature in the Parish Registers, the parish work being left to the Curate they had appointed.

Lord Hardwick’s Act of 1753 saw the introduction of an official book of marriage forms. Farnborough partially complied with the act but the existing Marriage Register was ruled up in the same way as the official forms, and continued to be used. The official book was obtained somewhat later than officially required.

In 1938, the part of the Parish to the south of Shire Lane was detached to form, along with part of the Parishes of Chelsfield and Knockholt, the new Parish of Green Street Green. This was probably the first change in the boundaries of the Parish since it came into being.

After the Second World War, the Parish began to grow in numbers. New housing developments were established and by the 1950s it was recognized that an additional place of worship was needed to serve the increasing number of parishioners now resident on ‘the other side of the Parish’, cut off by the bypass. On Sunday 22nd June, 1958 ‘The New Hall Church’, situated in Leamington Avenue, was opened and dedicated.

Ten years later the Hall was re-named St. Nicholas’ Church Hall.

See Edward Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2 (1797), pp. 46-53 at British History Online and Kent Churches website

Resources[edit | edit source]

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

See Bromley Registration district

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Farnborough St Giles the Abbot is an Ancient parish church. Farnborough is in the poor law union of Bromley and, ecclesiastically, was in the diocese of Canterbury [from 1860 to 1905 when it was returned to the diocese of Rochester], in the archdeaconry of Maidstone and in the deanery of Dartford. The church is named for St. Giles with registers commencing 1558.

The church was built in the 17th century, and included in the parish was the Bromley Union Workhouse. The site of the workhouse infirmary later became Farnborough Hospital. This was replaced in the early part of the 21st century by a modern hospital named Princess Royal University Hospital.

Farnborough parish registers of christenings, marriages and burials are available online for the following years:

FS BTs = England, Kent, Bishop's Transcripts (FamilySearch) - free[1]
FS PRs = England, Kent, Parish Registers (FamilySearch) - free[2]
IGI = International Genealogical Index (FamilySearch) - free[3]
KOPC = Kent Online Parish Clerks - free[4]
PALL = Pallot's Marriage Index (Ancestry) - (£)[5]
Farnborough Online Parish Records


Indexes Images Indexes Images Indexes Images
FS BTs 1719-1856 1719-1856 1719-1856
FS PRs 1558-1802, 1813-1876 1558-1875 1558-1802, 1813-1876
IGI 1558-1812 1559-1800
IGI 1813-1875 1801-1875
KOPC 2006-2007
1813-1850, 2006-2007

Bromley Archive Catalogue has holdings of Farnborough Composite register 1558-1747 P/144/1/1 Farnborough Baptism Register and Marriage Register 1749-1812 P/144/1/2 has deposited parish records for later periods.These are held at Bromley Local Studies Library Telephone High Street Bromley, BR1 1EX: 020 8461 7170 Fax: 020 8466 7860
e-mail: localstudies.library@bromley.gov.uk

Land Tax[edit | edit source]

Non-Conformists (All other Religions)[edit | edit source]

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Census returns for Farnborough 1841-1891.

FamilySearch Records includes collections of census indexes which can be searched online for free. In addition FamilySearch Centres offer free access to images of the England and Wales Census through Family History Center Portal Computers here have access to the Family History Centre Portal page which gives free access to premium family history software and websites that generally charge for subscriptions.

Images of the census for 1841-1891 can be viewed in census collections at Ancestry (fee payable) or Find My Past (fee payable).

The 1851 census of England and Wales attempted to identify religious places of worship in addition to the household survey census returns.

Poor Law Unions[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Kent Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Maps are a visual look at the locations in England. Gazetteers contain brief summaries about a place.

Local Family History Centre[edit | edit source]

Orpington Family History Centre, Kent is within the London Borough of Bromley, located adjacent to Orpington Station and on major bus routes through the borough.

Levi Boswell[edit | edit source]

Levi Boswell was known as the "The Gypsy King" and his death in Farnborough in 1924 lead to an extraordinary gathering of thousands of mourners and hearse drawn by six horses. 'Boswell' is among the most common gypsy surnames in England.

The Times of 8th May 1924 wrote:-
"The death has occurred at Farnborough, Kent, of Levi Boswell, the head of the Boswell tribe of Romanies, who have relatives in all parts of the world. His widow, Urania Boswell, known as the Gypsy Queen, is a descendent of the original Gypsy Lee. For 300 years the two great Romany tribes, the Boswells and Lees, have intermarried. Levi Boswell was formerly a widely known horse dealer, but for some years he had been living in retirement in a Farnborough cottage. The funeral at Farnborough this afternoon will be attended by Gypsies from all over the country."

The funeral was also reported in The District Times, on 9 May 1924:
"The passing of a Gipsy king – Death of Levi Boswell – Yesterday's funeral pageant
The passing of a great Gypsy King, Levi Boswell (whose spouse is allied to the famous Lee family, and is popularly known as 'the Gypsy Queen') occurred on Thursday of last week, at the age of 77 years. The great Boswell was known to every horse fair and fete in the country. As a horse dealer he was without an equal, and his aid was sought by many in search of a horse if not a kingdom – and they could always rely upon Boswell for a square deal. Then, what of his herds of donkeys – and such donkeys they were. The young people tested their capabilities by the thousands in every quarter of the country at fetes, shows and fairs.
Levi Boswell had acquired the property which he occupied at Willow Walk, Tugmutton Green, Farnborough, and here the family (and donkeys) thrived. Now, alas, there is a widowed Gypsy Queen, and all that remained of the famous Boswell was committed to mother earth at Farnborough churchyard yesterday (Thursday) afternoon. There was an attendance of nearly a thousand people, many of whom came from various parts of the country, and there was a large percentage of the Gypsy tribe amongst them…"

Urania Boswell died on 24 April 1933 aged 82 years at 7 Willow Walk, Farnborough. On the death certificate she was the "widow of Levi Boswell, horse dealer". The cause of death was "carcinoma of stomach and degenerative myocarditis". The informant was "Mary Ann Georgina Costin, daughter, 7 Willow Walk, Farnborough." This was her daughter, Georgina Boswell.
A full report appeared in The Kentish Times, on 28 April 1933:
"Queen of the Gypsies dies – forecast her own passing – "Death bird" sign for Gypsy Lee

Outside the tiny bungalow at Farnborough, where for the last 40 years she had spent nearly six months in every year and where now she lies in her coffin, 'Gypsy Lee's' brother told a Kentish Times representative of his sister's passing. Even while he was talking some of her relatives arrived and entered the door to gaze for the last time upon her, as she lay, framed in white, with a bunch of flowers on her breast, with the peaceful smile of death on her old, wrinkled face. It was a queen, lying in state, for Mrs. Urania Boswell, widow of the late Mr. Levi Boswell, had been, since her husband's death, the accepted leader of the great clan of Lees and Boswells, almost the last great families of the Romany tribe.

It was like a scene from a Borrow novel, to stand within those walls, hung round with faded photographs of the late queen and her family, with the spotless, polished brass work round the fireplace, and to hear her brother, now the last remaining member of her many brothers and sisters, talking to another of her relatives in the quaint Gypsy tongue, unintelligible to all 'outsiders'. Outside was the group of cottages and bungalows that formed the encampment, an old caravan that still seemed to bear the dust of its many miles of travel, a battered old trap in which she once rode often, a few hens scratching in the dust, her favorite cat still as a statue. It was as though one had been transported back through the years.

Grave of Levi and Urania Boswell Farnborough Kent.jpg

And her brother, Mr. Job Lee, "Joby Lee", well known to all the sporting fraternity throughout the country', as he described himself, a gnarled figure of a man, tough as oak, despite his 70 years, with knotted hands that spoke eloquently of many hard fights in his boxing booth, and mahogany face that told as no words could have done of years spent in the open air, told in simple words of days and nights spent in ceaseless watching at his sister's bedside during the last weeks of her life. Gypsy Lee, who was 81 years of age, was the daughter of the equally famous Gypsy Lee of Brighton, and like her parent she had a nation wide reputation as a palmist and fortune teller. Among her patrons were people from all classes of society, from the poorest to the greatest in the land. Lords and dukes were not ashamed to listen to her advice, and throughout the district she was a familiar figure … She owned property in many places, and spent six months of the year at Ramsgate, where she had a home, Margate, and other resorts. The other six months were spent as a rule in her cottage at Willow Walk, Farnborough.

Her husband, Mr. Levi Boswell, the king of his clan, died in 1924 and the magnificence of his funeral at Farnborough is still remembered. The traditional cortege with black horses and outriders, and the following of hundreds of his 'subjects' will be repeated today (Friday) at Mrs. Boswell's funeral. She leaves three sons, Herbert, Kenza, and Levi Boswell, and a daughter, who are also well known, though the daughter is at present lying ill in hospital. One of the sons is a well known figure at Blackheath with his donkeys.

Like all her family, Mrs. Boswell was an expert horsewoman, and she used to drive and break horses for her husband. She met with many accidents from time to time, and some 40 years ago when the wheel of a trap in which she was driving broke she fell and was dragged for a long distance by the runaway horse. Seven years later when driving a mule she was again thrown, and her face was badly cut, but she walked nearly half a mile to Farnborough hospital, bleeding profusely. Scarcely had she recovered from this accident when a branch of a tree under which she was sheltering fell on her.
Three weeks ago she had a fall just outside her door, and when a milkman arrived to deliver there he found her lying unconscious. He roused the family, and she was got into bed, and she never got up again. For the last fortnight her brother was with her, and during the last few days of her life he sat by her side night and day, never sleeping and hardly moving away to change his clothes.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 'England, Kent, Bishop's Transcripts, 1560-1911,' FamilySearch, accessed 11 November 2013.
  2. 'England, Kent, Parish Registers, 1538-1911,' FamilySearch, accessed 13 November 2013.
  3. Hugh Wallis, 'IGI Batch Numbers for Kent, England,' IGI Batch Numbers, accessed 15 November 2013.
  4. Kent Online Parish Clerks, accessed 20 November 2013.
  5. Pallot's Marriage and Birth Indexes, Guide to Parishes.