The Environs of London: Volume 4, Counties of Herts, Essex and Kent. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1796.
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DEPTFORD, St. NICHOLAS.
Deptford lies in the hundred of Blackheath, at the distance of about four miles from London-bridge, near the high road from Canterbury to Dover: by an Act of Parliament, passed in 1730, the parish was divided into two; distinguished by the names of St. Nicholas, and St. Paul.
The parish of St. Nicholas, which includes the old town, is bounded by the river Thames, and by the new parish of Deptford, St. Paul. It is of very small extent; the land not built upon, does not exceed two or three acres.
Sir Thomas Wyat lay a night and a day, with his army, at this place, in 1553 (fn. 1).
In the year 1671, a great inundation happened at and near Deptford. About 700 sheep, with a great number of oxen, cows, &c. were destroyed in the marshes; the cables of ships at anchor were broken, and the water rose to the height of ten feet in the streets near the river; so that the inhabitants were obliged to retire, in boats, to the upper town. An account of it is extant, in a small pamphlet published at the time.
Sir Thomas Smith, who had been farmer of the customs to Queen Elizabeth, and was sent by James I. as his Ambassador to the court of Russia, in 1604, had a magnificent house at Deptford, which was burnt down on the 30th of January 1618. His travels into Russia are in print; but they are supposed not to have been written by himself (fn. 2). Cowley, the poet, was for some time an inhabitant of this place (fn. 3). The Gun-tavern is said to have been the residence of the Earl of Nottingham, Queen Elizabeth's Lord Admiral. His arms, with the order of the Garter, are carved in wood over the chimneypiece of a large dining-room.
The manor of Deptford, alias West Greenwich, was given by William the Conqueror to Gilbert de Magminot, or Maminot (fn. 4); whose great-grandson, Wakelin de Maminot, dying without issue in 1191, this manor fell to the share of his sister and coheir Alice, the wife of Geoffrey de Say (fn. 5), who gave it to the Knights Templars (fn. 6). His son Geoffrey recovered it, by giving the Templars the manor of Saddlescombe in Sussex in exchange (fn. 7). This Geoffrey having taken up arms against King John, his estates were seized and given to Peter de Cron (fn. 8). They were restored by Henry III. in 1223 (fn. 9); after which this manor continued in the family of Say, till the latter end of the fourteenth century (fn. 10). William de Say died feised of it in 1375 (fn. 11); leaving issue a son, who died in his minority, anno 1382 (fn. 12), and a daughter Elizabeth, who became his heir, and married, 1. John de Fallesley; 2. Sir William Heron, Knight. She died in 1402 (fn. 13), when Sir William Clinton, and others, representatives of William de Say, were found to be her heirs. In the year 1414, Sir John Philip, and his wife Alice, held the reversion of this manor; Sir William Philip, his brother, being his heir (fn. 14). Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, died seised of the manor of West Greenwich, anno 1425 (fn. 15); William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, in 1449 (fn. 16). The Duke's grandson, John Earl of Lincoln, who possessed this manor in his father's lifetime, was slain in battle at Stoke, near Newark upon Trent, anno 1487; and his estates became forfeited to the crown (fn. 17). King Henry VII. the next year, gave this manor to Oliver St. John (fn. 18); whose son John died seised of it in 1513 (fn. 19), when it was inherited by his eldest son of the same name, then eight years old. It reverted to the crown before the year 1538, when Richard Long was appointed steward by the King (fn. 20). In 1547, Sir Thomas Speke had a grant of that office for life (fn. 21). After the death of Charles I. it was seized by the Parliament. A survey of it was then taken; and it was sold, in 1650, by the trustees of forfeited estates, to Thomas Buckner, Esq. on behalf of himself, John Barksted, and others, creditors of the state (fn. 22). Since the Restoration this manor has been vested in the crown; and the stewardship of it has been held with that of Greenwich.
Sayes-court, being the mansion-house and site of the manor of West Greenwich, was, for many years, occupied by the family of Browne. Sir Richard Browne died there in 1604. Christopher Browne, Esq. (son of Sir Richard,) succeeded him in the custody of the said mansion-house and the demesne lands, being above 200 acres. When this estate was sold by the Parliament, they assigned the site of Sayes-court to the Brownes, with about 60 acres of land, as a compensation for their interest in the whole (fn. 23). After the Restoration, John Evelyn, Esquire, who had married Mary, the only daughter and heir of Sir Richard Browne the younger, obtained (anno 1663) a lease of Sayes-court and the demesne lands for 99 years (fn. 24). In 1726, the said estate was granted in fee to Francis Earl of Godolphin and others, in trust for Sir John Evelyn, Bart. (fn. 25); whose grandson, Sir Frederic Evelyn, Bart. is the present proprietor.
Sayes-court was the residence of Sir Richard Browne the elder and younger (fn. 26), and afterwards of Mr. Evelyn, son-in-law of the latter; a gentleman celebrated for his general knowledge and various accomplishments. He was particularly skilled in gardening, painting, engraving, architecture, and the science of medals; on all which, as well as on other subjects, he published treatises (fn. 27). Sir Richard Browne, being absent at the court of France, gave up Sayes-court to his son-in-law, who came to reside there in 1651. Being no friend to the then ruling powers (fn. 28), he spent his time in re tirement at this his favourite spot, studying the practical part of gardening, the culture of trees, and the propagation of timber; which he has treated of at large in his Sylva. His gardens at this place are said to have been the wonder and admiration of the greatest and most judicious men of his time; in the life of Lord Keeper Guildford, they are described as "most boscaresque, being, as it were, an examplar of his book of forest trees." What he most prided himself upon was a hedge of holly, which he thus describes, with a great degree of enthusiasm, in one of the later editions of his Sylva, published by himself, in 1704: "Is there under heaven a more glorious and refreshing object of the kind, than an impregnable hedge of about four hundred feet in length, nine feet high, and five in diameter; which I can shew in my now ruined garden at Sayes-court, (thanks to the Czar of Muscovy,) at any time of the year, glittering with its armed and varnished leaves; the taller standards, at orderly distances, blushing with their natural coral? It mocks the rudest assaults of the weather, beasts, or hedge-breakers—Et illum nemo impune lacessit (fn. 29)." It is said that Peter the Great, Czar of Muscovy, to whom Mr. Evelyn lent his place at Sayes-court whilst he was studying naval architecture in the adjoining dockyard, in 1698, used to amuse himself with being wheeled through this hedge in a wheelbarrow. Though the Royal tenant paid very little respect either to his landlord's trees or hedges, I think, by Mr. Evelyn's description of his holly, and the exulting manner in which he speaks of its being proof against the rudest hedge-breakers, that the Czar rather chose any other hedge than this for his amusement. In the Philosophical Transactions of the year 1683, there is a letter from Mr. Evelyn, giving an account, by desire of the Royal Society, of the damage done in his garden by the frost the preceding winter; but as his letter is dated the 14th of April, little is to be gathered from it, as it is most probable that the cork trees, and many others which he mentions as looking very suspiciously, recovered. He laments the damage done to his beautiful holly-hedge; but from the manner in which he speaks of it in 1704, it is evident that it was not materially injured. A tortoise, which had lived in his garden many winters, would, it is probable, have escaped, but was found dead, having been obstructed by a vine root from burying himself to his usual depth (fn. 30). There is not the least trace now, either of the house or gardens at Sayes-court; some of the garden walls only, with some brick piers, are remaining. The house was pulled down in 1728 or 1729, and the workhouse built on its site (fn. 31).
The old church of St. Nicholas consists of a chancel, nave, and two aisles. In the year 1630, this church was repaired and considerably enlarged; to which work the East-India Company, and Sir William Russel, were principal benefactors (fn. 32). In 1697, on account of the great increase of inhabitants, the whole church was pulled down, except the tower, (an ancient structure of flint and stone, which is still standing,) and rebuilt upon a larger scale. Isaac Loader, Esq. contributed 901l. towards the rebuilding and the ornaments. The architect performed his work so ill, that the church was obliged to undergo a thorough repair in 1716, at the expence of about 400l.; as is recorded on a tablet placed against the south wall, on the outside.
On the north wall of the chancel, within the recess for the altar, are the monuments of Edward Fenton, Esq. (fn. 33), 1603; the Hon. Henry Roger Boyle, eldest son of Richard Earl of Corke, (who died at a school in Deptford,) 1615; and George Shelvocke, Esq. (fn. 34), 1760. On the south wall (within the same recess) is that of Jane Edisbury (fn. 35), mother of Kenrick Edisbury, paymaster under Sir William Russell, Treasurer of the Navy, 1618. On the east wall of the chancel, to the north of the recess, are the monuments of Peter Pett, Esq. (fn. 36), 1652; Jonas Shish, Esq. (fn. 37), master shipwright to Charles II. 1680. John, his eldest son, master shipwright, 1686; Thomas, his third son, master shipwright at Woolwich, 1685; William Boulter (fn. 38), Esq. 1714; and Richard Wilkinson, his grandson, 1725. On the east wall, to the south of the recess, are the monuments of Sir Richard Browne, Knt. 1604, and others of his family (fn. 39); some children of John Evelyn (fn. 40), Esq.; Robert Castell (fn. 41), Gent. (a benefactor to the rebuilding of the church), 1698; and Thomas South, Esq. (fn. 42), 1732.
On the north wall of the chancel (the lower part) are the monuments of Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Wilshaw, Esq. 1709; Judith, daughter of Peter Fiot, Gent. of Guernsey, 1713; and Fisher Harding (fn. 43), master shipwright at Harwich. On the south wall, over the gallery, that of John Turner (fn. 44), Esq. captain of the York man of war, ("qui in utroque bello Batavico et contra prædones Algerinos strenuam navavarat operam,") ob. 1672; beneath the gallery are those of John Hughes (fn. 45), M. A. 1710, and Mrs. Mary Gransden, 1719. On the floor are the tombs of Mr. Thomas Loving, 1722; Capt. George Pomeroy, 1724; Capt. George Pomeroy, of the yacht Catherine, 1735; Sarah, his daughter (fn. 46), wife of Nicholas Roope, Gent. 1741; Mr. Robert Reynolds, 1742; William Reynolds, Esq. 1775; Capt. Thomas Willyams, of the Royal Navy (no date); Anne his wife, daughter of Capt. John Fox, 1742; Rachel, wife of John Rule, Esq. 1757; Mr. Roger Gastril, 1783; and Elizabeth, widow of Mr. Martin Ware, master shipwright of his Majesty's dock, 1795.
Upon a pillar on the south side of the chancel is the monument of Catherine, wife of Captain Francis Wivell, and daughter of Captain Christopher Gunman (fn. 47), 1713.
On the south wall of the south aisle, over the gallery, is the monument of Sir Richard Hughes, Bart. Commissioner of the Navy, 1779; underneath are the arms of the Trinity-house, and a monument to the memory of James Wall (fn. 48), Esq. 1759; Isaac Wall, Esq. 1796, &c. On the floor are the tombs of Richard Gibson, surgeon of the yard at Deptford, 1726; Mrs. Susanna Touril, 1727, and her daughter Mary, wife of James Wall, Esq. 1725. In one of the windows of this aisle are some coats of arms in stained glass (fn. 49). On the wall of the north aisle are monuments in memory of Mrs. Hannah Shish, widow, 1726; Francis Gasker, her son, 1743; William Hales (fn. 50), 1779; and Elizabeth, his wife, 1761. On the floor are the tombs of Capt. John Guy, 1696; and Mr. John Benbow (fn. 51) (son of John Benbow, Admiral of the White), 1708.
On a pillar of the nave is a tablet which commemorates the particulars of the benefaction of Isaac Loader, Esq. (fn. 52), High Sheriff of the county, who gave the sum of 901l. towards rebuilding and ornamenting the church.
Strype mentions memorials in this church for William Hawkins, Esq. (brother of Sir John Hawkins, Commissioner of the Navy), 1589; Thomas Wilshaw, 1672; Jane, relict of Capt. Robert Callis, and wife of Capt. Blake, 1677; Elizabeth, widow of Thomas Jekyl, 1678 (fn. 53); and Anthony Young, merchant, 1693.
Against the east wall of the chancel, on the outside, is a tablet in memory of Susanna, wife of Capt. George Shelvocke, 1711; near it is the tomb of her husband (fn. 54), who died in 1742. Against the north wall is the monument of John Addey, one of the King's master shipwrights, 1606. In the churchyard are the tombs of Sir Richard Browne, Bart. (fn. 55), 1683; Mary, daughter of Richard Basnett of Bangor, wife of Thomas Crumpe of Lidney (Glouc.), Gent. 1693; Frances, wife of John Richardson, surgeon, 1707; Mary, wife of Capt. Thomas Meads, daughter of Peter Garnett, 1709; Richard Thomas (fn. 56), Esq. 1715; Ursula, relict of Lieut. Thomas Brown, 1715; Edward Popley, master builder, 1728; Edward Ward, his grandson, commander in the East India Company's service, 1762; Richard Naish, Gent. 1733; Lieut. Thomas Russel, 1739; Capt. Abraham Mitchell, commander of a trading vessel, who died in 1745, in consequence of losing his leg in an engagement with a French privateer of considerable force (he defended his ship, which was richly laden, with such bravery and resolution, that the enemy was obliged to sheer off); Mr. Peter Bronsdon, 1745; Anne, his wife, daughter of Henry Shiffner, Esq. 1757; William Mills, Esq. 1753; Mary Eccles, widow, aged 90, 1762; Thomas Anguish, M. A. vicar, 1763; George Bowler, of Clifford's Inn, Gent. 1763; George Browne, Esq. 1783; Thomas Snell, Esq. clerk of the check to the dock-yard at Portsmouth, 1786; John Christopher Franck, surgeon, 1788; Edward Wood, Esq. surveyor of the dock-yard, 1790; Benjamin Hunter, Esq. master attendant in the dock-yard, 1791; Lieut. Joseph Clapp, of the Royal Navy, 1792; Roger Sturkey, surgeon, 1792; Benjamin Barnsley, Esq. 1792; Mr. Edward Currey, attorney, 1795; William Butler, Gent. 1796; John Wells, Esq. master of the wet dock at Rotherhithe; and Richard Brooke, bookseller, of London (the dates worn).
The rectory of St. Nicholas at West Greenwich, alias Deptford, was given by Juliana Countess of Norfolk (fn. 57) to the monks of Begham in Sussex (fn. 58), who had removed thither from Brockley in Deptford. In 1183, it was appropriated to the abbot and convent of Begham (fn. 59), since the dissolution of which house it has passed through the same hands as Brockley farm in the parish of Deptford, St. Paul (fn. 60), being now vested in John Drake, LL. D. and Thomas Drake Tirwhit, Esq. in right of their wives, who were daughters of the late William Wickham, Esq. of Garsington in the county of Oxford. They are also patrons of the vicarage. The rectory was rated at 15 marks in the year 1287 (fn. 61). It comprehends the great tithes of this parish, and that of St. Paul, except the manor of Hatcham, which belongs to the Camberwell impropriation (fn. 62).
The vicarage was rated, in 1287, at six marks and a half; in the King's books it is valued at 12l. 17s. 3½d.: in 1650, the vicarage (with the house and glebe) was valued at 60l. per annum (fn. 63). The vicarial tithes of the new parish were reserved to the vicar of St. Nicholas, under the act of parliament passed in 1730.
The patronage continued in the crown from the dissolution of monasteries till after the year 1630. In 1659, the advowson was vested in John Cutler, Esq. (fn. 64), who was created a baronet the next year; it has since passed through the same hands as the manor of Brockley and the great tithes.
Samuel Page, D. D. instituted to this vicarage about the year 1603, published some sermons and tracts in divinity (fn. 65); he was buried at Deptford, August 8, 1630. Thomas Mallory, who was appointed minister in 1644, and resigned in 1659, had the living of St. Michael, Crooked-lane, from which he was ejected by the Bartholomew Act. He published some sermons (fn. 66). Richard Holden, vicar from 1692 to 1700, published a sermon preached before the Trinity-house. The learned George Stanhope, D. D. dean of Canterbury, was vicar of this parish from the year 1700 till his death in 1728 (fn. 67). Thomas Anguish, vicar from 1737 to 1762, published three sermons; on the accession, on the rebellion of 1745, and on the earthquake. The present vicar is John Drake, LL. D. who succeeded William Worcester Wilson, D. D. in 1791.
|Average of Baptisms.||Average of Burials.|
|1600–9||42½||574/5 (fn. 68)|
|1620–9||77 9/10||104 7/10|
|Average of Baptisms.||Average of Burials.|
It appears that the population of this place has increased within two centuries, in a proportion of twenty to one, and it is observable that a considerable increase is to be noticed at a very early period; which is to be attributed to this cause, that in the statutes and proclamations against the erecting new buildings within a certain distance from London; market towns, and places used for building of ships, were excepted. It should be noticed that the burials are at some periods much increased by the number of persons who die on board the ships. The present number of houses in the parish of St. Nicholas, is about 1150, those in St. Paul about 2300; making together about 3450.
In the year 1603, there were 235 burials, the average of that period (not including that year) being about 38. In 1624, there were 125 burials; in 1625, 342; the average of that period (deducting those years) being 60. In 1636, there were 147 burials (65 persons dying of the plague). The next year eleven persons died of the plague, the number of burials was 109. In 1665, 374 persons died of the plague, the whole number of burials was 548. The next year (a circumstance which I have observed only in this parish and in Greenwich) was more fatal, 522 persons dying of the plague; the total number of burials was 715. The average number of burials of the period 1680–9, above ten years afterwards, was only 252.
"Phineas, son of Peter Pett, baptized Nov. 8, 1570." The family of Pett were eminent shipbuilders for several generations. Peter Pett (here mentioned) was master shipwright to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth (fn. 69). Phineas, whose baptism is here recorded, having been servant to the Lord Admiral, was taken into the service of Prince Henry in 1603 (fn. 70), as appears by the MS. of his own life, extracts from which have lately been published in the Archæologia. In 1606, he succeeded his brother Joseph as one of the master shipwrights in the navy (fn. 71). In 1609, there appears to have been a combination among his brother shipwrights to ruin him, by accusations of insufficiency and dishonesty, shewn in the building of a great ship then on the stocks. This matter came to a final hearing at Woolwich (where the ship was building), on the 8th of May that year, before the King in person, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, and the Lords of the Council, Mr. Pett during the whole trial attending on his knees (fn. 72). The event was much to his credit, and to the disgrace of his enemies. He was ever after honoured with the favour of the King, and of his successor Charles I. who, with various branches of the Royal Family, frequently honoured him with visits when they went to see the shipping at Woolwich. Among other marks of the Royal favour it appears that he had the disposal of two baronets' patents, one of which he sold for 700l. (fn. 73) Mr. Pett was employed to fit out the fleet which carried over the Princess Elizabeth after her marriage to the Palsgrave, in 1613, and accompanied the Lord Admiral in that voyage (fn. 74). In 1623, he went with Prince Charles to Spain; for his attendance on this voyage he was presented with a gold chain, valued at 104l. (fn. 75) In 1625, he fitted out the fleet which brought over Henrietta Maria, and attended the voyage (fn. 76). In 1637, he was employed to build a great ship at Woolwich, for the Navy. This ship, which was called the Sovereign of the Seas, was the largest which had been built in England (fn. 77). She was launched on the 14th of October (fn. 78). On the 6th of June following, the King and Queen, the Duchess of Chevreuse, the Duke and Duchess of Lenox, and several other Lords and Ladies, dined on board her at Greenhithe (fn. 79). Mr. Pett was the first master of the Shipwrights' Company, after their new charter of incorporation in 1612 (fn. 80); he is supposed to have died in 1647 (fn. 81).
"Mr. Peter Pett, one of the master shipwrights, buried Aug. 5, "1652." This Peter Pett I suppose to be the nephew of Phineas, who, though but slightly mentioned in his uncle's memoirs, appears to have been no less eminent in his profession, being the first inventor (as we learn from his epitaph (fn. 82)) of that useful ship of war, a frigate. His son Peter, baptized at Deptford, Oct. 31, 1630, was Advocate General for Charles II. in Ireland, and member of the House of Commons in that kingdom. He was knighted by the Duke of Ormond, the Lord Lieutenant. Sir Peter Pett published several political tracts, particularly, "A Discourse of the Growth of England in Trade and Populousness since the Reformation;"—On the Clerical Revenue; and the same asserted to be reasonable and necessary;"—Of the Number of the People of England, founded on the Poll Books and Bishops' Surveys;"—On the Necessity of future Public Taxes for the Support of Government and our Religion," &c. &c. (fn. 83)
"Edward Fenton, Armiger, post decennem ægritudinem sepelitur, Aug. 31, 1603." Capt. Edward Fenton, whose burial is here recorded, accompanied Sir Martin Frobisher on his second and third voyages. He had afterwards himself the command of an expedition for the discovery of the North-west Passage. Though he failed in the object of his voyage, he signalized his valour by defeating a Spanish squadron, and sinking the Vice Admiral's ship. He distinguished himself also in the celebrated action with the Armada, in which he was captain of the Admiral's ship. He spent the latter part of his life at Deptford (fn. 84), and lies buried in St. Nicholas's church; where there is a monument to his memory, with an inscription, which has been already given (fn. 85).
"Benjamin, son of Mr John Wells, Paymaster of his Majesty's Navy, baptized Aug. 18, 1616." John Wells, who was afterwards Treasurer of the Stores, distinguished himself as a mathematician; and published a treatise on shadows (fn. 86). He was buried at Deptford, Dec. 7, 1635. His son Benjamin was an eminent physician, and published a treatise on the gout (fn. 87).
"Anne, daughter of Sr William Russell (fn. 88), Treasurer of the Navy, baptized July 5, 1619; Gerrard, his son, June 13, 1620; Edward, June 8, 1621; Robert, Sep. 10, 1622; John, buried May 31, 1624.—Mr Edward Lukenor and Mrs Elizabeth Russell, (daughter of Sr William,) married Novr 1, 1633; Thomas Chichley, Gent, and Mrs Sarah Russell, married Aug. 13, 1635; John Bodville, Esq. and Mrs Anne Russell, married Sep. 11, 1638."
"Mr Ephraim Paget, buried Oct. 27, 1646."—Author of a description of the sundry sorts of Christians not subject to the Pope; and an account of the heresies of later times (fn. 89). He was rector of St. Edmund, Lombard-street.
"John, son of Mr John Evelyn, was baptized Jan. 26, 1654–5." This son of the celebrated Mr. Evelyn of Sayes-court inherited his father's literature and love of science. He translated Plutarch's Life of Alexander, Rapin on Gardens, and the History of the Grand Visiers: some of his poems are published in Dryden's Miscellanies (fn. 90). His son John, whose baptism is thus entered in the register, ("John, son of John Evelyn, Esq. grandson of John Evelyn, Esq. and greatgrandson of Sr Richard Browne, Bart, baptized Mar. 2, 1681–2,") was created a Baronet in 1713, and was grandfather of the present Sir Frederic Evelyn, Bart.—"George, son of Sir George Evelyn, "Knt, from Kew in Surrey, was buried Sep. 8, 1716."
"Rebecca, Sarah, and Rachel, daughters of Edward Rippinton, baptized Aug. 5, 1688. It appears that these children all lived, and that the mother recovered. "Richard, Ellis, and Samuel, children of John Powell, mariner, baptized Nov. 28, 1738." They were all buried Dec. 14.
"Capt. George Shelvocke, from Lombard-street, London, buried Dec. 4, 1742." See his epitaph, p. 369. A narrative of his voyage round the world was published by himself, anno 1726, in one volume in octavo; there is a later edition published by his son. Dame Catherine Calder, widow of Sr James Calder, Bart (fn. 91), from Northumberland, Nov. 6, 1776."
"Maudlin Augur, ætatis sue 106, buried Dec. 19, 1632; Katherine Perry, widow, of 110 years old, by her owne report, buried Dec. 12, 1676; Sarah Mayo, widow, being 102 years of age, from St Michael, Wood-street, London, buried Aug. 30, 1705. Elizabeth Wiborn, widow, buried in the hundred and first year of her age, Dec. 12, 1714. Margaret Browne, widow and pensioner, died in the 94th year of her age, and was buried from Butt-lane, Feb. 27, 1714–5; Mary Eden, widow, from Kingstreet, aged 98, buried Dec. 18, 1721."
The Society of the Trinity-house, founded by Sir Thomas Spert, Comptroller of the Navy to Henry VIII. was first established at this place, and incorporated by the name of "The Master, Warden, and Assistants of the Guild or Fraternity of the Most Glorious and Undivided Trinity, and of St. Clement, in the Parish of Deptford Strond, in the County of Kent." This Corporation consists of a Master, Deputy-master, 31 Elder Brethren, and an unlimited number of inferior members; out of whom the elder brethern are elected. Among these are always some of the great officers of state; the remainder are captains, either in the Royal Navy or of merchantmen. This Corporation having for its object the increase and encouragement of navigation, the good government of seamen, and the security of merchant-ships upon the coasts; is invested with the powers of examining the mathematical classes in Christ's Hospital; of examining and licensing masters of ships; appointing pilots, both for the Royal Navy and merchant-ships; settling the rates of pilotage; erecting, ordering, and maintaining light-houses, buoys, beacons, and other sea-marks, for the better security of ships; granting licences to seamen to row on the Thames, in time of peace, or when past service; licensing aliens to serve on board English ships; hearing and determining complaints of officers and seamen in the merchant service, subject to an appeal to the Admiralty. The revenue of the Corporation, which arises from tonnage, ballastage (fn. 92), beaconage, &c.; and from contingent benefactions, is applied (after defraying the expences of light-houses, &c.) to the relief of decayed seamen, their widows and orphans. The members of this corporation enjoy various privileges and immunities. The ancient hall at Deptford, where their meetings were formerly held, was pulled down about the year 1787 (fn. 93), and an elegant building erected for that purpose in London, near the Tower. The arms of this Corporation are, Arg. a cross G. between four ships of three masts, in full sail, proper.
There are two hospitals at Deptford belonging to the Corporation of the Trinity-house. The old hospital, of which there is a view, engraved by Gribelin, in 1701, was built in the reign of Henry VIII. It consisted originally of 21 apartments; but, being pulled down and rebuilt in 1788, the number was increased to 25. This hospital adjoins to the churchyard. The other, which is in Church-street, was built about the latter end of the last century. Sir Richard Browne, in 1672, gave the grouud, after the expiration of a short term; and Capt. William Maples, in 1680, gave 1300l. towards the building. This hospital consists of 56 apartments, forming a spacious quadrangle; in the centre of which is placed a statue of Capt. Maples. On the east side, opposite the entrance, is a plain building, which serves both for a chapel and a hall. Here the Brethren of the Trinity-house meet annually on Trinity Monday, and afterwards go to St. Nicholas's church, where they hear divine service and a sermon. The pensioners, in both hospitals, consist of decayed pilots and masters of ships, or their widows. The single men and widows receive about 18l. per annum; the married men about 28l.
Dr. Robert Breton, vicar, who died in 1672, left the sum of 400l. to endow a grammar-school in this parish for 24 children; a considerable part of this benefaction was lost; the remainder produces 6l. 16s. per annum; which is given as a salary to a master, who teaches six children of this parish, and as many of the parish of St. Paul, on Deptford Green. This school has no other endowment.
Mr. Robert Gransden gave the inheritance of a piece of ground in Butt-lane, for the purpose of building a school-house. His daughter, Mrs. Mary Gransden, who died in 1719, bequeathed 80l. towards the building. She gave also her farm of Plaistow, (near Halsted in Essex,) now let at about 40l. per annum, and the ground-rents of two tenements in London (since sold to the Bank for the sum of 1300l.), for its support. The school-house was built with Mrs. Gransden's legacy, and the contributions of other benefactors (fn. 94), amounting in the whole (including two other legacies (fn. 95); 100l. collected at a sermon, preached by Dr. Stanhope, and 100l. given by a friend who had some charitable legacies to dispose of at his own discretion) to about 740l. The school was opened May 28, 1723; since which time, some noble benefactions having been given for the education and apprenticing of children, (as may be seen in the table on the following page,) the trustees (fn. 96) are enabled to clothe and educate 50 boys, and the same number of girls; apprenticing them out as occasion may require. This school is for the joint benefit of both parishes. The school-house is in that of St. Paul.
The Royal Dock, which first gave consequence to Deptford, and gradually increased the population to its present extent, was first established by Henry VIII. about the beginning of his reign. The old store-house, which appears to have consisted originally only of the building on the north side of the quadrangle, was erected by him, in the year 1513, as appears by a date in the rigging-loft, on what was originally the front of the building. Above the date is a space, where, it is probable, the Royal arms were fixed, beneath a Gothic canopy of brick work. The initials H. R. in a cypher, accompany the date, which is in Arabic numerals, with the letters A. X. for Anno Christi. This store-house now forms a quadrangle, by the addition of buildings on the east, west, and south sides; a double front towards the north was added in 1721. There is a current tradition, for which no authority can be adduced, that this store-house was erected on the site of a monastery. A spacious store-house, being parallel to this just mentioned, and of the same length, having a fail-lost and rigging-loft, is now building, and nearly finished.
There is a long range also of smaller store-houses, built about the year 1780, under the direction of Sir Charles Middleton. The whole extent of the yard is about 31 acres. It has two wet docks, a double and a single one; and three slips; a bason, and two mastponds. It contains also, besides the buildings already mentioned, a large smith's shop, with about 20 forges for making anchors, &c.; mast-houses; sheds for timber; a mould-loft, various workshops, and houses for the officers (fn. 97).
The Cambridge of 80 guns, now a guardship; the Impregnable of 90 guns, and the Windsor Castle of 98 guns, both now in commission, were built in this yard. The Neptune of 98, is on the stocks. The number of artificers and labourers of all sorts, now in the yard, amount to about 1300; the peace-establishment is not much less. The riggers, &c. (called the ordinary) are about 140. This Dock-yard has no commissioner, but is under the immediate inspection of the Navy Board. The resident officers are, a clerk of the checque; storekeeper; master shipwright, and his assistants; clerk of the survey; master attendant; surgeon, &c. In the reigns of James I. and Charles I. the Treasurer of the Navy resided at Deptford.
On the 4th of April 1581, Queen Elizabeth visited Capt. Drake's ship called the Golden Hind. Her Majesty dined on board; and after dinner, conferred the honour of knighthood on the Captain. A prodigious concourse of people assembled on the occasion; and a wooden bridge, on which were a hundred persons, broke down, but no lives were lost (fn. 98). Sir Francis Drake's ship, when it became unfit for service, was laid up in this yard, where it remained many years; the cabin being, as it seems, turned into a banqueting-house: "We'll have our supper (says Sir Petronel Flash, in a comedy called Eastward-hoe, written by Ben Jonson and others) on board Sir Francis Drake's ship that hath compassed the world." It was at length broken up, and a chair made out of it for John Davis, Esq., who presented it to the University of Oxford (fn. 99).