Lathe (county subdivision)

A lathe (Old English "lǽð", Latin "lestus") formed an administrative country subdivision of the county of Kent, in England, from the Anglo-Saxon period until it fell entirely out of use in the early twentieth century.

There exists a widespread belief that lathes originally formed around the royal settlements of the Kingdom of Kent. By the late Saxon period they seem to have become purely administrative units, each of which contained several hundreds. [ [ Vision of Britain: Lathe] ]

By the late eleventh century the traditional area of West Kent comprised three lathes:
* Lathe of Aylesford
* Lathe of Milton
* Lathe of Sutton while East Kent comprised four lathes:
* Lathe of Borough
* Lathe of Eastry
* Lathe of Lympne
* Lathe of Wye [ [ Lathe] ]

Of these, Sutton-at-Hone and Milton sometimes ranked as half-lathes.J. E. A. Jolliffe, "The Hidation of Kent", in "English Historical Review", Vol. 44, No. 176 (Oct., 1929), pp. 612-618 [] ]

In the thirteenth century Kent had a total of five lathes:
* the lathes of Borough and Eastry merged to form the Lathe of Saint Augustine
* the lathe of Lympne underwent a name-change to become the Lathe of Shepway
* the lathes of Sutton, Milton and Wye merged and re-subdivided to form the Lathe of Scraye and the Lathe of Sutton-at-Hone
* the Lathe of Aylesford survived unchanged.

Etymologically, the word "lathe" may derive from a Germanic root meaning "land" or "landed possession", possibly connected with the Greek word "latron" ("payment").


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