The earliest Sacketts

The earliest recorded Sackett discovered so far is William Saket of Southborough, St Peter in Thanet, who, in 1317, was one of a number of tenants of the Abbot of St Augustine.

The tenants refused to recognize a court convened by the abbot on 8 October 1317 to hear charges of lawbreaking. Each of the men was fined ten shillings and each was to supply a horse or cow as surety for payment.

A regular biannual court of the King's lathe of St Augustine had been held for centuries and, although the abbot had the right to convene a special court, this was not approved by the tenants. Their action in refusing to recognize the court was vindicated when Ralph, Abbot of St Augustine and his bailiff Michael Baskerville [were] summoned before the Justices of Eyre to answer for unlawfully distraining from each of several tenants of the abbot either a horse or a cow as surety for fines imposed upon them.[1]

The Justices determined that the horses and cows must be returned to their owners and the fines were cancelled.

In the following year, 1318, William Sackett was included in a list of borsholders of Southborough, St Peter in Thanet.[2]

The duties of a borsholder, or constable, included:

  • ensuring the upkeep of means of punishment such as stocks and a cage
  • inspecting alehouses and suppressing gaming-houses
  • apprenticing pauper children
  • supervising the settlement or removal of itinerant strangers and beggars
  • seeing to the welfare of the poor
  • collecting the county rate and acting as agent for the collection of special national taxes
  • managing the parish economy
  • supervising the military arms supply and the provision of training for the local militia
  • convening parish meetings
  • assisting the churchwarden in presenting those parishioners who did not attend church regularly
  • caring for the parish bull
  • helping at shipwrecks

Not surprisingly, in view of the wide-ranging and onerous nature of these duties, the position of constable was not welcomed by parishioners whose turn it was to be appointed and there was a widespread practice of paying someone else to do the job.

In 1327, William (presumably the same William) and John Saket "were assessed for considerable sums" on the subsidy roll of the Ringslow Hundred.[3] (A Hundred was a subdivision of a County or Shire, having its own Court.)

In 1444, John Sakett, making his will on St Thomas's Day, bequeathed £5 for three ornamental altar cloths for the altars of St James the Apostle, St Mary of Pity, and St Margaret, all in the church of St Peter in Thanet (tres pallas pro dicta Ecclesia pres tribus Altaribus).[3]

These Sacketts have not yet been linked to the trees. Researchers among the English branch of the family are working on the translation of a number of wills of other 15th and 16th century Sacketts and this may establish more links.

The earliest Sacketts who can be linked to present day descendants are William Sackett of Jordan Down in St John's, Thanet (c1520–1572) (tree 1) and Thomas Sackett the elder of St Peter in Thanet (c1530–1596) (tree 7).

William was a yeoman farmer and was of sufficient means to leave tenements and sizeable lands to his wife and to each of his three sons as well as making bequests to his daughters, grandchildren, and his servant. Thomas, although described in his will as a labourer, was also able to pass a tenement and land, albeit on a more modest scale, to his elder son, also Thomas. His younger son, George was compensated with a money bequest of £12 and various chattels.

These two Thomases, elder and younger, were respectively grandfather and father of Simon Sackett the colonist who was to emigrate to America in 1631.

1. David Oliver, Late Mediaeval Thanet and the Cinque Ports, published by the author (1997).
2. James Bird, The Story of Broadstairs and St Peter's, Lanes, East Kent.
3. Archaeologia Cantiana, Kent Archaeological Society, Kent.