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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Eltham lies in the hundred of Blackheath, at the distance of eight miles from London, on the road to Maidstone. The parish is bounded by Woolwich, Plumsted, and the extraparochial hamlet of Kidbrook, on the north; by Bexley on the east and south east; by Chislehurst on the south; by the extraparochial hamlet of Mottingham, on the south-west, and by Lee on the west. It contains about 2880 acres: of which about 360 are woodland; about 60 waste; about three fifths of the cultivated land are arable (fn. 1). The soil near the town is principally gravel; in the more distant parts of the parish (towards Shooter's Hill on the north, and towards Chislehurst on the south), clay. The quota paid to the land-tax is 443l. 19s. which is at the rate of 1s. 9d. in the pound. This place had formerly a market on Tuesdays, and two fairs; one at the festival of the Holy Trinity, and the other at that of St. Peter and St. Paul; both of which have been long discontinued (fn. 2).
An ancient coin was found here in 1751, which would not be worthy of mention, but as it occasioned the publication of some conjectures by Mr. Clarke, of Baliol College, who endeavoured to prove it to be a coin of Richard I., and an answer by G. North, M. A. F. A. S. who contended that it was a piece of base money, called a Peny-yard penny.
The manor of Eltham was, in the time of Edward the Confessor, held under the Crown by Alwold. William the Conqueror gave it to his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Baieux and Earl of Kent, under whom it was held by Haimo, sheriff of the county (fn. 3). About four years after the survey of Doomsday was taken, Odo fell into disgrace, and all his estates were confiscated (fn. 4). This manor belonged afterwards partly to the Crown and partly to the Mandevilles. King Edward I. gave his moiety of Eltham to John de Vesci (fn. 5), who afterwards obtained, in exchange for other lands, Walter de Mandeville's share (fn. 6). William de Vesci, his son and successor, was a baron of great note, and much in the King's confidence. He died in 1297, having settled this manor, together with most of his estates, on his natural son, William de Vesci, who was slain in battle at Strivelin in Scotland, anno 1314 (fn. 7). Leaving no issue, the manor of Eltham with other estates, devolved (pursuant to his father's settlement) on Sir Gilbert de Aton, as his right heir (fn. 8). Sir Gilbert granted the manor of Eltham Mandeville to Geoffrey le Scrope, of Masham (fn. 9), who, in 1318, procured a confirmation of it from the Crown (fn. 10). Soon afterwards he gave it to Queen Isabel (fn. 11). In 1444, the manor of Eltham was granted to Robert Dauson, for seven years (fn. 12); in 1522, by King Henry VIII. to Sir Henry Guildford, for forty years (fn. 13). King Edward VI. anno 1550, granted the manor of Eltham, which had fallen into his hands by the death of Sir Thomas Speke (fn. 14), to Sir John Gates, for life (fn. 15). He enjoyed it but a short time, being executed for high treason in 1553. William Cromer, Esq. held the manor of Eltham in 1568 (fn. 16). Lord Cobham had a lease of it in 1592 (fn. 17). In Charles the First's reign the lease was in the Earl of Dorset's hands. After the death of that monarch the manor was seized by the Parliament, and having been valued (fn. 18), was sold with the manor-house (Eltham palace), and a great part of the demesne lands, to Nathaniel Rich, Esq. of Eltham (fn. 19). After the Restoration, Sir John Shaw, having purchased a subsisting term of this manor, procured a renewal of the lease in 1663. The lease having been several times renewed, is now vested in his descendant Sir John Gregory Shaw, Bart. to whom it has been renewed for eight years from April 1796, and again for seven years from 1804. The manor of Eltham extends over the whole of this parish, the hamlet of Mottingham, and a part of Chislehurst. The tenants of this manor have had various grants of privileges and exemptions (fn. 20).
The Kings of England had a palace at Eltham at a very early period, a moiety of the manor having remained in the Crown till granted away by Edward I. to John de Vesci. Henry the Third, in the year 1270, kept a public Christmas at his palace of Eltham, being accompanied by the Queen, and all the great men of the realm (fn. 21). Anthony Bec, Bishop of Durham, and Patriarch of Jerusalem, bestowed great cost, we are told, on the buildings at this place, and died there on the 28th of March 1311 (fn. 22), having, as it is said, some time before given Eltham-house to Edward the Second, or, as some say, to Queen Isabel, reserving only a life-interest for himself (fn. 23). Edward frequently resided here. In 1315, his Queen was brought to bed of a son in this palace, called, from that circumstance, John of Eltham (fn. 24). Edward the Third held a Parliament at Eltham in 1329, and again in 1375, when the Commons petitioned him to make his grandson Richard, Prince of Wales (fn. 25). In 1364, he gave a magnificent entertainment here to John King of France. Lionel (son of Edward III.), being regent during his father's absence, kept a public Christmas here in 1347 (fn. 26). Richard II. kept his Christmas at Eltham in 1384, 1385, and 1386 (fn. 27). The last-mentioned year he gave a sumptuous entertainment to Leo King of Armenia (fn. 28). Henry IV. kept his Christmas here in 1405; at which time the Duke of York was accused of an intention of breaking into the palace by scaling the walls, for the purpose of murdering the King (fn. 29). Henry kept his Christmas at Eltham again in 1409 and in 1412; he was residing there when he was seized with the sickness which occasioned his death (fn. 30). Henry V. kept his Christmas at this palace in 1414 (fn. 31); as did his successor Henry VI. with much splendor, in 1429 (fn. 32). Edward IV. bestowed much charge upon the repairs of this palace (fn. 33). Here his daughter Bridget (who became a nun at Dartford) was born in 1480 (fn. 34), and baptized in the chapel of the palace by the Bishop of Chichester. In 1483, the King kept his Christmas here with most magnificent entertainments, two thousand persons being fed daily at his expence (fn. 35). Henry VII. built the front of this palace towards the moat, and frequently resided here (fn. 36). Henry VIII. preferring the situation of Greenwich, came seldom to Eltham. He kept his Whitsuntide here in 1515 (fn. 37), and his Christmas in 1526, with few attendants, on account of the plague (fn. 38); it was called therefore the still Christmas. King Edward VI. on the death of Sir Thomas Speke, made Sir John Gates keeper of Eltham palace and park (fn. 39). He was beheaded in 1553. Queen Elizabeth spent a few days at Eltham in 1559 (fn. 40). Sir Christopher Hatton was keeper of the palace in her reign (fn. 41); and after him Lord Cobham, who had a grant of that office in 1592 (fn. 42). King James was at Eltham in 1612 (fn. 43). I have not been able to find that it was visited by any of the Royal Family at a later period. The palace was, during the civil war, for some time in the occupation of Robert Earl of Essex, the parliamentary general, who died there Sep. 13, 1646 (fn. 44), and was buried in Westminster Abbey. After the death of Charles I. the manor-house was surveyed (fn. 45), and valued at 2754l. for the materials. It was sold with the manor to Nathaniel Rich, Esq. After the Restoration, the palace, with its appurtenances, reverted to the Crown. It is included in Sir J. G. Shaw's lease, and the site is now occupied as a farm. The manor-lodge in the great park, is now the manerial residence.
The principal buildings now remaining on the site of the palace are, the great hall, where the Parliaments were held, and the public entertainments given (now used as a barn); and some of the offices. The hall is 100 feet in length, 36 in breadth, and 55 in height. It has a wooden roof, wrought with Gothic ornaments.
A ground plan of part of the ancient palace of Eltham, as taken in 1509, was engraved for Hasted's History of Kent. A view of the palace was published upon a very small scale, by Stent, in 1650. There are several prints of it in its present ruinous state.
The ordinances for the establishment of the Royal Household, which contain precedents for the government of the King's house to this day, were made at Eltham in 1526 (fn. 46).
The great park at Eltham contained 596 acres, according to the survey taken in 1649; Patrick Maule, Esq. Groom of the Bedchamber, was then Ranger and Master of the Game. The little or middle park contained 333 acres; Horne, alias Lee park, in Eltham and Lee, 336 acres. The deer in all these parks had been destroyed by the soldiery and common people. In the three parks, 3700 trees had been marked for the Navy (fn. 47). A book called the Mysteries of the Good Old Cause, published in 1660, says, "Sir Thomas Walsingham had the Honour of Eltham given him, which was the Earl of Dorset's, and the middle park, which was Mr. White's; he has cut down 5000l. worth of timber, and hath scarcely left a tree to make a gibbet." Sir Theodore Mayerne, physician to the King, had been for many years chief ranger and master of the game of Horne park, and resided in the lodge (now a farm-house) during the reign of Charles the First; before 1649 he had removed to Chelsea; and left an underkeeper in the lodge; as is stated in the survey (fn. 48).
The manor of Henle, or Henleys, was, in the early part of Edward the Third's reign, the property of John de Henley; who dying without issue, it was given by William de Brantingham, his feoffee, to the King; and has been annexed ever since to the manor of Eltham (fn. 49).
The manor of West-Horne, being part of the ancient demesnes of the Crown, was inclosed by King Edward the Third (fn. 50); since which time it has been called Horne-park, alias Lee-park. It is included in Sir J. G. Shaw's lease.
Corbye-hall, in this parish, was, at an early period, the property of a family of that name (fn. 51). In the reign of Edward VI. it was in the Crown, and was included in the grant to Sir John Gates (fn. 52); it was afterward granted, with the manor, &c. to Lord Cobham (fn. 53); and is now a part of Sir J. G. Shaw's estate.
The manors of East-Horne and Well-hall (or Well-hawe) were, in the year 1100, the property of Jordan de Briset (fn. 54). In the reign of Edward I. Matthew de Hegham held this estate (fn. 55). In 1346, it was the property of John de Pulteney (fn. 56). In 1386, Thomas Conduyt, clerk, brother and heir of Nicholas Conduyt, citizen of London, deceased, granted the manors of East-Horne and Well-hawe to Gilbert Purneys, Esq. and his heirs (fn. 57). In 1432, John Foxholes, clerk, released to William Basket, citizen of London, all right in these manors, lately the property of Margery, relict of Nicholas Sernefelde (fn. 58). Soon afterwards (probably by purchase) they came to John Tattersall, who died in 1446, leaving two daughters coheirs (fn. 59). Margery married John Roper, Esq. who, in her right, became possessed of these manors; John, his eldest son, who succeeded him in this estate, was Attorney-General to Henry VIII. From him it descended to Edward Roper, Esq. whose daughter, Elizabeth, married Edward Henshaw, Esq.; and on the death of her brothers without issue, became sole heir to her father. Mr. Henshaw left three daughters; Catherine, married to William Strickland, Esq.; Elizabeth, to Sir Edward Dering, Bart.; and the third daughter, to Sir Rowland Wynne, Bart. These coheirs sold the manors of East-Horne and Wellhall, about the year 1733, to Sir Gregory Page; by whom they were bequeathed to Sir Gregory Page Turner, Bart. who is the present proprietor.
At Well-hall was formerly one of the celebrated pictures of Sir Thomas More's family; which was removed into Yorkshire by Sir Rowland Wynne, in 1731. Sir Thomas More's amiable daughter, Margaret, married William Roper, Esq. Prothonotary of the King's Bench, and proprietor of Well-hall.
Park-place-farm, which had been the seat of Mrs. Sarah Nunn, was purchased of Lord Harry Pawlet, (afterwards Duke of Bolton,) who married her daughter, by Sir William James. It is now the property of his widow, and in the occupation of Sir Benjamin Hammet.
At Southend, a hamlet of Eltham, (about a mile from the village, on the road to Maidstone,) is an ancient seat, which was the property of Sir William Wythens, High-Sheriff of the county in 1610; from him it descended to Sir Francis Wythens, Knt. Serjeant at Law, who died in 1704 (fn. 60). It soon afterwards became the property of Sir Comport Fitch, Bart.; whose daughter and sole heir, Alice, married Sir John Barker, Bart. Sir John Fitch Barker, Bart. dying without issue, in 1766, left it to Robert Nassau, Esq. (fn. 61) It was sold a few years ago by George Nassau, Esq. to Joseph Warner, Esq. the present proprietor, who resides there.
Sir Anthony Vandyke had a summer residence at Eltham (fn. 62).
John Philipott, Somerset Herald, who collected the materials for the Survey of Kent, and is said to have written it (fn. 63), was of Eltham; as was his son Thomas, who published that work, and assumed the merit of it to himself. That eccentric character John Lilbourn, who offended all parties, being pilloried by one, and shut up in the Tower by another; who had been a captain in the Parliamentary army, and was taken prisoner at the battle of Brentford; at last turned Quaker, and settled at Eltham; where he held forth to his brethren of that persuasion (fn. 64). He died at this place, Aug. 28, 1657 (fn. 65). His corpse was removed to the Quakers' meeting in Aldersgate-street, where there was some disturbance about putting a velvet pall over his coffin, which the Quakers would not suffer. He was interred in the burial-ground near Moorfields, the funeral being attended by an immense concourse of people (fn. 66). Dr. James Sherard, an eminent physician in the early part of the present century, formed a botanical graden at Eltham; in which he was assisted by Dillenius, who spent much of his time here (fn. 67); and published a catalogue of Dr. Sherard's plants, in two volumes, in folio, under the title of Hortus Elthamensis. A new edition of it was published at Leyden, in 1775, with the Linnæan names. Dr. Sherard died at Eltham, Feb. 12, 1738–9 (fn. 68). His house is now in the tenure of John Dorington, Esq. Some of the exotics planted by Dr. Sherard still remain, among which is a fine cedar of Lebanus, close to the house: its girth, at three feet from the ground, is nine feet.
On the east wall of the chancel are the monuments of Richard Peter, vicar, 1748; and Peter Pinnell, D. D. vicar of Eltham, and prebendary of Rochester (fn. 69), 1783. On the north wall is one to the memory of Ann, wife of Richard Owen, D. D. vicar, 1653, and some of his children (fn. 70); there are inscribed achievements also to the memory of "Susanna, widow of John Philipott (fn. 71), Somerset Herald, designed Norroy, daughter and sole heir of William Glover, Esq. by Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Henry Herlackenden, Esq." 1664; and Thomas Trenchfield (fn. 72), 1670. On the floor is the tomb of John, son of Edmund Colleton of Milverton, Somersetshire, 1635.
In the nave are the tombs of Katherine, wife of John Bowles, merchant, 1670; Mr. Phineas Bowles, 1718; Rebecca Lady Henley, his daughter, 1743; Charles Bowles, Gent. 1727; Elizabeth de Bert, widow (no date); Elizabeth de Bert, her daughter, aged 95, 1759; Henry Smith, Gent. 1757; Elizabeth, his wife, greatgrandaughter of Mrs. de Bert, 1750; Nicholas Smith, Esq. 1718; Reverend Clement Hobson, 67 years vicar, aged 91, 1725; Mrs. Ann Peake, 1742; and Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Smith, and wife of Calverley Bewicke, Esq. 1762.
At the east end of the south aisle, which was enlarged in 1766, are the monuments of Robert Bright, 1785; and Joseph Middleditch, merchant, 1788. On the south wall are those of Mrs. Amy Barton (fn. 73), relict of George Cooke, merchant, and wife of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Barton, prebendary of Westminster, 1738 (erected by her brother Andrew Osborne); Elizabeth Dodson, 1749; and Elizabeth, daughter of Anthony Hodges, Esq. and wife of Godschall Johnson, Esq. (fn. 74), 1788. At the west end is a monument in memory of John Cox, Gent. 1721; John Cox, 1766; Anne, wife of George Cradock (fn. 75), daughter of John Cox, 1772; and Gilbert Burton, 1785. On the floor are the tombs of George Cooke, merchant, 1699; John Stanyan, Esq. 1714; and Mrs. Susan Stanyan, his daughter, aged 93, 1762.
The north aisle was built in 1667, by Sir John Shaw, Bart. who had a faculty for that purpose. Whilst the vault was digging under this aisle, the roof of the nave fell in, June 24, 1667; after this accident, it was rebuilt, new pewed, and a new pulpit was given, all at the expence of Sir John Shaw. In this aisle is the monument of Mr. John Parker of Frenches near Ryegate, 1720.
There were formerly memorials in this church for Thomas Pierle, 1369; John Pasley, yeoman—porter to Henry VIII. 1509; Margery, wife of John Roper, Esq. daughter and coheir of John Tattersall (fn. 76), 1518; John Morton, son and heir of Margaret Morton, (who had been the wife of Thomas Squiers,) no date; and Margery, wife of Edward Isam of Walmer, Esq. (daughter of John Fletcher, Esq. (no date) (fn. 77).
In the churchyard are the tombs of Richard Savill, 1729; Samuel Savill, Esq. 1745; Benjamin Tilden, merchant, 1752; Grace, wife of William Fauquier, Esq. 1754; William Fauquier, Esq. 1788; Tilman Henckell, Esq. 1761; Captain Leonard Pattison, 1764; Martha, wife of John Henderson, Esq. 1765; Mrs. Eliza Cadell, 1785; Mr. John Latham, 1788; Felicia, more than 52 years the wife of Philip Burton, Esq. 1791; Philip Burton, Esq. (fn. 78), 1792; and George Horne, D. D. Bishop of Norwich (fn. 79), 1792.
The church of Eltham, which is in the diocese of Rochester, and in the deanery of Dartford, was given by William Earl of Gloucester to the abbot and convent of Keynsham (in Somersetshire); to whom, in 1242, the rectory was appropriated. After the dissolution of that convent, it was granted to Sir John Henley; who left three daughters, coheirs (fn. 80). Helen, who married Thomas Colepepper, Esq. had this rectory, which was sold, about the year 1550, to William Roper, Esq. of Well-hall. Mr. Roper, reserving the advowson of the vicarage, gave the rectory to the Provost and Fellows of Oriel College, Oxford, on condition that they should grant, from time to time, a lease for three lives or 21 years, to his heirs of the family of Roper; they paying a rent of 14l. per annum, and a fine of 100l. at each renewal. The Ropers having neglected to renew according to these conditions, the College granted a lease of the rectory to Christopher Comport, Gent.; whose only daughter and heir married Sir Thomas Fitch. Alice, daughter and heir of Sir Comport Fitch, Bart. (who died in 1720), married Sir John Barker, Bart.; whose son, Sir John Fitch Barker, dying without issue, in 1766, left his interest in this rectory to Robert Nassau, Esq. (fn. 81) The lease was purchased of the Nassaus by Mr. John Green, who is the present lessee. The rectory of Eltham was valued at twenty marks per annum, in 1287.
The vicarage was rated, anno 1287, at 100 shillings; in 1650, it was valued at 27l. 5s. per annum. In the King's books it is among the discharged livings, the clear yearly value being stated at 32l. 8s. In 1734, it was augmented by Queen Anne's bounty, Sir Gregory Page contributing 100l. towards that purpose.
John Foord, who was vicar of Eltham from 1597 to 1627, has inserted many useful notes in the register relating to the vicarage (fn. 82), for the benefit of his successors.
Richard Owen, instituted to this vicarage in 1636, was turned out by the Parliament in 1653 (fn. 83). After the Restoration he had the living of St. Mary Cray, but it does not appear that he ever recovered the possession of Eltham; Clement Hobson, who succeeded Mr. Overton in 1658, enjoying it till his death in 1725. Dr. Owen was buried at Eltham, Jan. 22, 1682–3. He translated most of Juvenal's Satires, and published some controversial tracts (fn. 84).
There was formerly a perpetual chantry in this parish, in the gift of the Crown, which, with the chantry-priest's house, was granted by Henry VIII. anno 1528, to Robert Burste, clerk (fn. 85).
|Average of Baptisms.||Average of Burials.|
|1630–9||20 2/5||20 1/10|
|1680–9||25 1/2||27 1/10|
|1730–9||27 9/10||35 3/10|
In 1603, there were 52 burials, 17 persons dying of the plague, among whom was the vicar's son; in 1625, there were 61 burials; in 1665, 44: thirty-two persons died of the plague that year. In 1666, there were 28 burials.
"A man-child of John Grace, born, baptized by the midwife of necessity (fn. 86), and buried the 19th of Jany 1605."
"Mr. Ambrose Gurney was buried the 23d of May 1621, in the chancel, at 11 of the clock at night, because of his infirmity: Mrs. Elizabeth Gurney was buried in the chancel, the 20th day of August 1623, by her husband, in the night, because of her infirmity."
In 1623, Mr. Foord, the vicar, in his zeal against popery, has thus recorded a fatal accident, which is mentioned by some of the historians of that time (fn. 87): "Let this be a pitiful remembrance to all posteritie, that in the year of our Lord 1623, the 26th day of October, in the 21st year of King James his reign, there lay a French Embassador in the Blacke Friers in London, who being at masse the same Sabbath-day in the afternoone, with a multitude of blind ignorant people, there fell (in the chapel in his house) a gallery in the said chapel, that crushed to death fourscore and sixteen souls, besides a great multitude that had their arms and legs broken, so much was God offended with their detestable idolatrie."
"Patrick, fil. Magistri Maule, equitis, sepult. May 7, 1639; Stephanus, fil. Th. Maule, Arm. bapt. Mar. 18, 1647–8, sepult. Mar.29, 1649; Maria, fil. Th. Maule, equiti bapt. Mar. 29, 1649; sepult. July 2, 1649."
"Johannes Shaw, Eq. Aurat. et Domina Brigetta Nedham, relicta Roberti Nedham, Vicecomitis Kilmurrey, conjunct. matrimonio Jun. 24, 1663." Sir John Shaw was created a baronet in 1665, as a mark of the Royal favour for his having lent large sums of money to the King during his exile, when there was little prospect of repayment. He was appointed also one of the farmers of the Customs (fn. 88). Sir John Shaw died in London in 1679–80. His corpse was carried through the city with great funeral pomp (fn. 89), and he was buried at Eltham, March 6th. "Bridget Countess of Kilmurrey, widow of Sr John Shaw, buried July 11, 1696."
"Elizabeth (fn. 90), daughter of Sr John Shaw, Bart, baptized Feb. 26, 1688–9; William (fn. 91), his son, Feb. 27, 1689–90; Margery (fn. 92), wife of Sr John Shaw, buried Aug. 29, 1690;—William (fn. 93), son of Sr John Shaw, baptized, Dec. 7, 1696; Catherine (fn. 94), his daughter, Dec. 17, 1697; Paggen (fn. 95), July 7, 1700; Mary, baptized May 30, 1701, buried Mar. 22, 1766; Rebecca (fn. 96), baptized Nov. 28, 1702. Peter (fn. 97), Jan. 27, 1703–4; Jane, Apl 12, 1708; Anne (fn. 98), July 13, 1709; Sr John Shaw, Bart, buried Dec. 21, 1721; the Lady Peake, (mother of his first wife,) Jan. 23, 1723–4; Dame Sarah Shaw (fn. 99), his widow, Jan. 12, 1742–3."
"John, son of Sr John Shaw, Bart, born Nov. 11, 1728; Peter Delmé, Esq. and Anna Maria, daughter of Sr John Shaw, married July 2, 1737; Sr John Shaw, Bart, buried Mar. 13, 1739; Dame Anna Maria Shaw (fn. 100), Dec. 10, 1755."
"Elizabeth Lady Shaw (fn. 101), buried Feb. 12, 1750–1; John Gregory, born July 25, 1756; John Barnardiston, son of Sr John Shaw, born Aug. 26, 1757; buried Dec. 10; John Kenward, Dec. 22, 1758; Sr John Shaw, Bart, buried June 26, 1779, in his 51st year; Dame Martha Shaw (fn. 102), Nov. 4, 1794."
"Theodosia, daughter of Sr John Gregory Shaw, Bart, and the Hon. Theodosia Margaret (fn. 103), buried Feb. 8, 1785; Theodosia Martha, June 20, 1794."
"Thomas Fitch, Knt and Bart, buried Sep. 19, 1688; William, son of the Lady Anne Fitch, Sep. 30, 1689; Thomas, son of Sr Comport Fitch, Bart, June 3, 1712; Dame Anne, relict of Sr Comport, April 29, 1737; Sr William Fitch, Bart (fn. 104), June 19, 1736."
"Thomas Dogget, buried Sep. 25, 1721." A comic actor of great eminence. He was a native of Dublin, where he made his first appearance upon the stage. Not finding the success he expected, he came over to England, where he soon established himself on the London theatres. He was for some time joint-manager of Drury-lane with Wilks and Cibber; but retired in disgust, both from the management and the stage, in 1712, upon Booth's being admitted to a share. The last time of his acting was in the Wanton Wife, for Mrs. Porter's benefit, the 28th of April in that year. It is probable that he had a residence at Eltham, where his wife, Mary Dogget, was buried Nov. 8, 1712. It is said that he afterwards married a lady of large fortune. Cibber, in his Apology, says, that Dogget was the most an original, and the strictest observer of nature, of all his contemporaries; he borrowed from none of them; his manner was his own; he was a pattern to others, whose greatest merit was, that they sometimes tolerably imitated him. In dressing a character to the greatest advantage, he was remarkably skilful; the least article of whatever habit he wore seemed, in some degree, to speak and mark the different humour he presented: he could be extremely ridiculous, without stepping into the least impropriety. His greatest success was in characters of low life. In songs, and particular dances of humour, he had no competitor. Congreve was a great admirer of him, and found his account in the characters he expressly wrote for him. In those of Fondlewife, in the Old Batchelor, and Ben in Love for Love, no author and actor could be more obliged to their mutual masterly performances (fn. 105). Dogget wrote the Country Wake, a comedy, since altered to a farce, which has been frequently revived, called Hob in the Well. For many years before his death he gave yearly, on the first of August, (being the anniversary of George the First's accession,) a coat and silver badge to be rowed for by six watermen; and, by his will, left a sum of money for the purpose of perpetuating the custom (fn. 106).
"Lady Pollet (fn. 107), buried June 8, 1764."
"Deborah Lady Hudson (fn. 108), relict of Sr Charles Hudson, Bart, buried Jan. 8, 1780."
"Sr William James, Bart, buried Dec. 22, 1783." This brave officer (who resided at Park-place-farm in this parish) had for some time the command of the Company's marine forces in the East Indies, where he particularly distinguished himself by the taking of Severndroog Castle on the coast of Malabar, April 2, 1755. Lady James has erected a triangular tower on Shooter's-hill, about forty-five feet high, in memory of this event. It consists of three floors: on each of the upper stories is a room, with two closets adjoining, neatly fitted up. The vestibule, at the entrance, is ornamented with armour and trophies taken at Severndroog Castle. On the front of the building is an appropriate inscription (fn. 109). This tower commands a very extensive and beautiful prospect of the metropolis, Greenwich, Woolwich, the river Thames, and the adjacent counties of Kent, Surrey, and Essex. Sir William James was created a baronet in 1778. Sir Edward William James, his only son, was buried at Eltham, Nov. 24, 1792, in the 18th year of his age.
"The Rt Revd George Horne, D. D. Ld Bishop of Norwich, died Jany 17, aged 62 years, buried Jany 26, 1792." This amiable and learned prelate was a native of Otham in Kent. He was educated at University College, whence he was elected a Fellow of Magdalen, in 1750. In 1768, he was elected President of the latter college; in 1781, was made Dean of Canterbury; and in 1789, promoted to the See of Norwich. His principal work was a Commentary on the Psalms, in two volumes quarto, published in 1776. He was author also of Considerations on the Life and Death of John the Baptist; a Letter to Adam Smith; Letters on Infidelity; a Letter to Doctor Priestley; Observations on the Case of the Protestant Dissenters; and the letters marked Z. in the Olla Podrida. Dr. Horne was much admired as a preacher, as his epitaph justly says, "in the university, in the city, and in the country parish." Two volumes of his sermons are in print, besides several single discourses, preached upon public occasions. A life of Bishop Horne has been published by the Rev. Mr. Jones of Neyland.
"John Pennard, aged 100, buried Nov. 15, 1727; Margaret Harrod, widow, aged 95, Sep. 9, 1728; Catherine Castleman, widow, aged 98, Dec. 18, 1728; Elizabeth Mason, aged 94, Mar. 9, 1746–7; Sarah Small, aged 96, April 12, 1749; Mary Smith, widow, aged 95, July 6, 1786; Mrs. Catherine Pittman, widow, aged 96, June 27, 1790."
The schoolhouse at Eltham was built in 1634 (fn. 110); but it does not appear that there was any endowment for a school, till Mrs. Elizabeth Leggatt, widow, anno 1714, left lands, now 18l. per annum, for that purpose: in this school sixteen boys are now taught.
Thomas Philipott, anno 1680, founded an alms-house at this place for six poor persons (four of whom are to be of this parish, and two of Chislehurst); and gave lands (now 31l. per annum) for its support (fn. 111).
|Date.||Donors Names.||Present Value.||Use.|
|1492.||King Henry VII.||Lands, now 56l. 9s. per annum,||To the poor inhabitants for the payment of fifteenths.|
|1509.||John Passey,||Lands, lately let at 60l. 10s. per ann. (fn. 112),||One mark to pay the fine called head-silver, 1 mark for masses, requiems, &c. the remainder left to the disposal of his wife Agnes; the whole applied from time immemorial to the use of the poor.|
|1583.||Thomas Roper, Esq. and his son William,||Lands in exchange, now 8l. per ann.||Poor.|
|1620.||Henry Keightley (fn. 113),||12d. per ann.||Twelve poor persons.|
|1624.||Thomasine Sampson,||Lands, now 14l. per ann.||Apprenticing children, and for the poor, in moieties.|
|1656.||Abraham Colfe,||8s. 8d. per ann.||To purchase two penny loaves, weekly, of sweet wheaten bread, for two of the godliest and poorest inhabitants.|
|1671.||Nicholas Hayley,||Lands, lately let at 10l. per ann.||Poor.|
|1707.||Dame Sarah Pritchard,||2l. 10s. per ann.||Ten poor widows or maids.|
|1733.||Mary Clapham, widow,||100l. 3 per cent.||Coals for twenty poor housekeepers.|
|1751.||William Smith, Esq.||200l. 3 per cent.||To purchase religious books and coals.|
|1754.||Dorothy Smith, widow,||100l. 3 per cent.||The same purpose.|
|1779.||William Hewitt,||50l. 3 per cent.||Residue of the interest, after keeping Robert Street's tombstone in repair, to buy bread for the poor.|
|1787.||John Wall,||80l. 5 per cent.||A chaldron of coals for six poor widows, to be purchased April 11, the residue in money.|
|Unkn.||Richard Slyan,||12s. per ann.||Bread.|
At the north-east extremity of this parish lies Shooter's-hill, over which is the high road from London to Dover. The beautiful prospect from this hill and Lady James's tower have been already mentioned (fn. 114). Not far from the tower is erected one of the telegraphs, which communicates between London and Dover. On the top of the hill is a mineral spring, an account of which was published by William Godbid, in 1673. Shooter's-hill was formerly a place much dreaded by travellers; the steepness and narrowness of the roads, and the harbour which the neighbouring coppices afforded to the robbers, rendering it a very fit place for their depredations. Shakespeare makes it the scene of Falstaffe's, and his companions' robberies, in Henry IV. Measures had been taken for improving the highway on this hill, so early as Richard the Second's time (fn. 115), but they proved ineffectual; and it was not till the year 1739 that any very material improvement was made, when a road of easier ascent, and of great width, was laid out at some distance from the old one (fn. 116).
King Henry VIII. is said to have visited Shooter's-hill on May-day 1511, with his Queen Katherine; when he was met by 200 archers, clad in green, with a captain at their head personating Robin Hood: after exhibiting their skill in archery, they entertained the Royal party with venison and wine, in booths decorated with pageants (fn. 117).
Modingham, or Mottingham, is an extraparochial hamlet, adjoining to this parish and Chislehurst; to both which it has been supposed to belong. The inhabitants served parish-offices at Chislehurst in the last century; but, for the most part, they frequent Eltham church, and christen and bury there. The number of houses in this hamlet is 17. The inhabitants of Mottingham enjoy the same privileges as those of Eltham; this hamlet having been included in the grants referred to in p. 397. The great tithes of Mottingham were given by Ansgot, Chamberlain to William Rufus, to the priory of St. Andrew at Rochester (fn. 118); on the dissolution of which, they were granted to the Dean and Chapter of that place. In 1639, they were leased for twenty years to Nicholas Buckeridge, at the rent of 5l. per annum (fn. 119). They are now in the tenure of Robert Dinely, Esq. This hamlet has been attached to the manor of Eltham ever since the reign of Edward I.; at an earlier period it seems to have belonged to Lewisham (fn. 120).
Thomas Banquel, who died in 1361, was seised of certain lands in the hamlet of Mottingham (fn. 121) (late Legh's). This estate was, in 1445, the property of Robert Cheseman; who, by his marriage with Joan, daughter of Benjamin Cavell, obtained also certain other lands, which had long been in possession of the Cavells (fn. 122). Alice, daughter and heir of Thomas Cheseman, Esq. a descendant of the said Robert, married Robert Stoddard, Esq.; whose son George, in 1560, rebuilt the ancient mansion called Mottingham-place, which, with the lands belonging to it, continued in that family till the death of Nicholas Stoddard, Esq. (in 1765); who dying unmarried and intestate, a long litigation ensued in the court of Chancery. At length this estate was adjudged to William Bowerman, Esq. of the Isle of Wight. It was purchased a few years ago by Robert Dynely, Esq. the present proprietor, who has repaired and modernized the house.
Fairy-hill within the precincts of this hamlet, which was the villa of the late Earl Bathurst when Lord High Chancellor of England, has since been in the successive occupation of Henry Hoare, Esq.; General Morrison; and John Randall, Esq. It was sold a few months ago to — Naylor, Esq. who is fitting it up for his own residence.
"On the 4th of August 1585, betimes in the morning, in the hamlet of Mottingham, in the parish of Eltham, the ground began to sink in a field belonging to Sir Percival Hart, so much that three great elm-trees were swallowed into the pit; and before ten of the clock no part of them could be seen. The compass of the hole was about 80 yards, and it was suddenly filled with water." This is Fuller's narrative (fn. 123); Philipott adds, that "a sounding line of fifty fathoms could hardly find or feel any bottom; and that at ten yards distance another piece of ground sunk in like manner, near the highway, and so nigh a dwellinghouse, that the inhabitants were greatly terrified therewith (fn. 124). The spot where this accident is said to have happened, is near the road leading to Fairy-hill; it presents now only a slight inequality of surface, and is supposed to have been occasioned by the falling in of what had, at some remote period, been a chalk-pit.