The Environs of London: Volume 1, County of Surrey. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1792.
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The name of Sutton, i.e. South-town, is common to many places in all parts of England. This village is situated upon the road to Reigate, about eleven miles from Westminster-bridge. The parish lies in the hundred of Wallington, and is bounded by Carshalton towards the east; Mordon towards the north; towards the west, by Cheam; and to the south, by Banstead. The cultivated land is principally arable; the proportion of meadow being very small; the downs and commons are extensive. The downs adjoin those of Banstead, and are grazed by sheep. The mutton is noted for its small size and fine flavour. The inhabitants have a right of turning out their cattle upon Sutton and Bonhill commons in this parish, during a certain part of the year. Near the turnpike-gate, on the road to Carshalton, is a very large chalk-pit, which produces a variety of extraneous fossils. A rock of chalk extends through the greater part of the parish, being covered with a fine mould, in some places six feet deep. The soil to the north of the village is a strong clay, between which and the chalky lands there runs a narrow vein of sand. Sutton is assessed 179 l. 14s. to the land-tax, which this year (1792) is at the rate of 2s. in the pound.
The manor belonged formerly to St. Peter's Abbey at Chertsey. In Doomsday-book it is said to contain 15 ploughlands, and to have been valued in the reign of Edward the Confessor at 20 l. and at the time of the survey at 15 l. After the suppression of monasteries it was granted to Sir Nicholas Carew (fn. 1). Having been forfeited by his attainder it reverted to the crown, but was restored to his son by Queen Mary (fn. 2). It afterwards came into the Darcy family, having been bequeathed probably by Sir Francis Carew to the issue of his brother-in-law Sir Arthur Darcy. From the Darcys it passed to Sir Richard Mason, whose daughter and co-heir, Dorothy, brought it to her husband Sir William Brownlow, who died in 1700. It was purchased in the year 1720 by the Cliffe family (fn. 3). Henry Cliffe, Esq. died in 1761, leaving one daughter, on whom the manor and estate were entailed, and who, in the year 1785, married Thomas Hatch, Esq. of New Windsor, now lord of the manor in right of his wife.
It appears that there was formerly a manor in this parish (fn. 4) distinct from that of the Abbot of Chertsey, valued in the reign of King John at eight marks, and then held by Gilbert Basset (fn. 5). The manor, which was granted in the reign of Edward III. by Sir Simon de Codyngton to Richard Cok and William Hardegrey (fn. 6), and by them aliened to Sir Simon St. Michael, with remainder to Ralph Codyngton (fn. 7), was held under Chertsey Abbey.
The record of Doomsday speaks of two churches in this parish: there is now one only, which is a small structure dedicated to St. Nicholas, consisting of a nave and chancel. At the west-end was a wooden tower, which has been lately taken down and rebuilt of brick.
On the outside of a north window of the nave is the following mutilated inscription cut in stone: + PRI. PUR WILL. EM FOUL .. ALICIE MAT: ILLI. S. It appears to be a mixture of French and Latin, and may be rendered "Pray for William Foul and Alice his mother." They probably were considerable benefactors towards the re-building of the church. Some of the letters of this inscription are in the Saxon character; it has been printed very erroneously by Aubrey (fn. 8).
On the north wall of the chancel is a handsome monument to the memory of Dorothy, daughter of Sir Richard Mason and wife of Sir William Brownlow, who died in 1700; and on the south wall that of Sarah wife of Joseph Glover, rector of this parish, who died in 1629. Within the rails of the communion table are the tombs of Henry Wyche and George Roberts, both rectors of this place. The former died in 1678, the latter in 1686.
On the south wall of the church is a handsome monument of white marble to the memory of William Earl Talbot, son of the lord chancellor, and high steward of his Majesty's household, who died in 1782, and was interred at this place in the same vault with his mother.
"In memory of Isaac Littlebury, whose liberal education, travels abroad, skill in divers languages, knowledge of history and conversation with eminent men, rendered him a lover of public liberty and good order, which he endeavoured to promote by publishing several eminent books. He was, through the course of his life, just, open, modest, generous, mild, beneficent, frugal. He died the 30th of April 1710, in his 53d year."
Isaac Littlebury is said to have been the son of "Mr. Thomas Littlebury, the famous bookseller in Little Britain, eminent for his skill in languages (fn. 9)." He is best known as the translator of Herodotus; what his other publications were I have not been able to learn, nor any thing further of his history.
In the church-yard is a sarcophagus of white marble (almost overgrown with ivy) to the memory of Cecil, daughter and heir of Charles Matthews, Esq. of Castle Menyche in the county of Glamorgan, wife of Charles Talbot, Esq. barrister at law, (afterwards lord high chancellor of England,) and mother of William Earl Talbot. She died at this place in the 28th year of her age, in the year 1720.
At the south-east corner of the church-yard is a large mausoleum, built in the year 1777 by James Gibson, Esq. of London, for the interment of his family. There are also the tombs of James Ramsay, rector, who died in 1745; Lewis Cholmley, Esq. who died in 1753, and others of his family; James Sanxay, the late rector, who died in 1766; and Edmund Wilcox, Esq. who died in 1767.
Sutton is a rectory in the diocese of Winchester, and in the deanery of Ewell. The advowson, which has been generally annexed to the manor, is now vested in the Reverend Giles Hatch, the present incumbent. In 1291 it was taxed at 20 marks; in the King's books it is valued at 16 l. 18 s. 4 d. per annum.
William Stephens, who was instituted to this rectory in 1686, distinguished himself as a political writer in opposition to the court. He preached before the Lord Mayor on the 30th of January 1694, and before the House of Commons upon the same occasion in 1700. Both these sermons are in print (fn. 10). In preaching before the House of Commons he omitted the prayer for the King and Royal Family (fn. 11), and took the liberty of suggesting the impropriety of continuing the observance of the day, which was considered as such an insult to the House, that a vote of censure was passed upon him. An anonymous writer published some very severe strictures both upon the preacher and his sermon, which Stephens is said to have sold to a bookseller for 25 l. (fn. 12) In the year 1707 he published a pamphlet, called "A Letter to the Author of the Memorial of the Church of England," containing many severe reflections upon Secretary Harley and the Duke of Marlborough. He was indicted in the Court of Queen's Bench for writing this pamphlet, and was sentenced to pay a fine of 100 marks, to stand twice in the pillory, once at Charing-cross, and once at the Royal Exchange, and to find sureties for his good behaviour for twelve months. The ignominious part of his sentence was at length remitted, but not till he had been taken to a public-house at Charing-cross, whence he saw the pillory erected, and the multitudes of people who were assembled to be witnesses of his disgrace (fn. 13).
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This parish receives 2 l. per annum out of Mr. Smith's charity. Robert Holmes, Esq. gave 200 l. for poor widows and housekeepers. Mrs. Elizabeth Stephens gave 200 l. for the same purpose, and 200 l. towards beautifying the church and keeping the footpaths in repair. Mrs. E. Gibson gave 500 l. to purchase shoes and stockings for the poor; and Mr. Williams, 200 l. in the year 1791 for educating children. The parish receives 10 l. every third year for repairing the highways, being the benefaction of Mr. Wilford.