The Environs of London: Volume 4, Counties of Herts, Essex and Kent. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1796.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
This village lies in the hundred of Blackheath, at the distance of six miles from London, and one from Greenwich. The parish is bounded by Eltham; the extraparochial hamlet of Mottingham; Bromley; Lewisham; Charlton, and the extraparochial hamlet of Kidbrook. It contains about 1060 acres of land, of which about 520 are arable, about 460 meadow and pasture, and about 80 woodland; there is no common. The soil, in the upper part of the parish, towards Bromley, is a stiff clay; in other parts, gravel. This parish pays the sum of 177l. to the land-tax, which is at the rate of about 2s. in the pound.
The manor of Lee was held of Edward the Confessor by Alwin. William the Conqueror gave it to his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Baieux and Earl of Kent; of whom it was held by Walter de Douay (fn. 1). In the reign of Edward I. it was the property of John de Banquel, or Bankwell, who, in the year 1302, had a charter of free-warren in all his lands at Lee, Lewisham, and Bromley (fn. 2).
In the year 1387, Sir Richard Stury and Robert Bankwell granted the manors of Lee, and of Bankers and Shrofholt, (in Lee,) which they possessed by an infeoffment from William, son and heir of Thomas de Bankwell, to Richard Dudlie and James Vanel; which Richard and James, the same year, conveyed them to Sir Richard Stury and his heirs (fn. 3). They appear to have been in possession of the Stury family as late as the year 1452 (fn. 4); soon after which they became the property of Richard Widville, Lord Rivers (fn. 5), who was beheaded at Banbury in 1469. His son Anthony, Earl Rivers, shared the same fate at Pomfret, in 1483, being succeeded by his younger brother Richard, who died in 1491, seised of the manors of Lee, Lee-Shrosholt, and Bankers (fn. 6); which he devised, by will, to his nephew Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset (fn. 7). In 1511, Thomas Marquis of Dorset (son of the former) granted these manors to King Henry VIII. in exchange for lands in Leicestershire (fn. 8). Various leases of houses and lands, parcel of these manors, were granted from time to time by the Crown (fn. 9); Queen Elizabeth, in 1597, granted the site of the manor of Lee to Bryan Annesley and John Wildgoose (his son-in-law) for life (fn. 10). The manors of Lee, &c. were granted for a term of years to Thomas Lord Buckhurst, whose grandson, Richard Earl of Dorset, surrendered his interest in them to James I. (fn. 11) King Charles, anno 1641, granted the fee-simple of these manors, subject to a rent of 871. 10s. 2d. to Ralph Freeman, Esq. (fn. 12), afterward a Knight; and, in 1633, Lord Mayor of London. Joan, only daughter and heir of Sir Ralph Freeman, married Sir George Sondes, K. B. afterwards created Earl of Feversham; who had issue by her two daughters. Mary, the eldest, married Lewis Duras, Marquis of Blanquefort; who, by virtue of a remainder in the patent, succeeded to the title of Earl of Feversham, and was, in right of his wife, proprietor of these manors. On his death, without issue, in 1711, they devolved to Lewis Watson, Earl of Rockingham, who married Catherine, the other daughter and coheir of George Earl of Feversham. Thomas, the second Earl of Rockingham, having no issue, devised these manors to the Hon. Lewis Monson, second son of John Lord Monson (by Margaret, youngest daughter of Lewis Earl of Rockingham); which Lewis Monson (who, pursuant to the will of the Earl of Rockingham, has taken the name and arms of Watson) was, in 1760, created Lord Sondes, and is the present proprietor of the manor of Lee, with its appendant manors of Lee-Shrofholt (or, as it is now called, Shrawfield) and Bankers.
There were certain lands also called Little Bankers and Great Hatchfield, partly in this parish and partly in Lewisham, which, having passed to the Crown with the manors above mentioned, were, in 1543, granted to Henry Byrd, and continued for some time in his family (fn. 13). They have for many years passed with the manor of Catford in Lewisham.
Lee-place, an ancient mansion in this village, has belonged, for more than a century, to the family of Boone. It is now the property of Charles Boone, Esq. and in the occupation of Benjamin Harrison, Esq. The Dowager Lady Dacre has a villa at this place, which was the seat of her father Sir Thomas Fludyer, Knt. Sir John Call, Bart. occupies a house, which was the property and residence of the late Thomas Lucas, Esq. It now belongs to John Julius Angerstein, Esq. in right of his wife (relict of Mr. Lucas). The Papillon family have long had a seat here, now the property of David Papillon, Esq.
The parish church, dedicated to St. Margaret, is an ancient building of flint and stones, consisting of a nave and chancel. At the west end is a low tower, the upper part of which has been rebuilt with brick, and is roofed over with red tiles. In the last century it was in agitation (as appears by papers now extant) to rebuild this church, which was then represented to be in a state too ruinous to admit of repair. The measure has been again agitated during the incumbency of the present rector, but no steps have as yet been taken for that purpose.
One the south wall of the chancel is an inscription (fn. 14) to the memory of Nicholas Ansley, or Annesley, Esq. who died in 1593: above is an upright figure (in brass) of the deceased, in armour, kneeling at a desk. On the north side of the chancel is a handsome monument of marble and alabaster, supported by Corinthian columns, to the memory of Bryan Annesley, Esq. (fn. 15) (ion of Nicholas), Gentleman Pensioner to Queen Elizabeth, who died in 1604; and his wife Audrey, (daughter of Robert Tirrell, Esq. of Burbrooke,) who died in 1591. On the floor is the tomb of Abraham Sherman, rector, (who, in 1636, rebuilt the parsonage-house,) ob. 1654. In the nave are the tombs of Elizabeth Couhyll (with a small figure in brass of the deceased), 1513; and — Wethered, 1697.
In the church-yard are the tombs of Averine, relict of Thomas Foxall, and wife of Edward Broome, Esq. 1644; Thomas Foxall, the younger, 1647; Elizabeth, his wife, daughter of Sir William Gargany, Knt. 1650; Mary, their daughter, wife of Christopher Taylor, 1685; Mr. John Crutchley, 1727; William Crutchley, 1727; Thomas, his son, 1739; Coleman Crutchley, 1744; Jeremiah Crutchley, Esq. (fn. 16), 1752; Lewis Loton, Gent. 1731; the Hon. Joseph Pilgrim, Chief Judge of the Common Pleas in the Island of Barbadoes, 1733; Benjamin James of Peckham, Gent. 1740; Benjamin James of Roehampton (Surrey), Gent. 1773; William James, rector of Ash in Kent, 1779; Mr. Thomas Allen of Peckham, 1741; Edmund Halley, LL.D. (fn. 17), 1742; Margaret Halley, his eldest daughter, 1743; Catherine, his youngest daughter, wife of Henry Price, 1765; Mr. Walter Treadway, 1746; Susanna, his sister, wife of the Rev. Richard Clarke, 1764; Mr. Thomas. Treadway, 1780; William Pate (fn. 18), 1746; William Collier, surgeon, 1747; Thomas Boone, Esq. 1748; Charles, only son of Charles Boone, Esq. and Harriot (æt. 13), 1786; Arnold Warren, Esq. 1748; Arnold Warren, jun. 1749; Captain Thomas Limeburner, of the Royal Navy, 1750; John Ashley, Esq. 1751; Thomas Western, Esq. (son of Thomas Western of the County of Devon, by Alice Coward), 1755; Peter Copeland, Esq. 1756; Anne, wife of Thomas Lucas, merchant, 1756; Thomas Lucas, Esq. 1784; Thomas Lucas Wheeler, Esq. Captain in the 100th regiment of foot, 1792; Edward Barnard, merchant, 1760; Hester Susanna, wife of Patrick Lynch, Esq. of Barbadoes, 1763; Francis Macklay, Esq. Clerk of the House of Peers, 1763; Edward Stafford, 1763; Sarah, his wife, 1745; Clement Bellamy, merchant, who married Susanna, his daughter, 1748; Mary, wife of William James, daughter of Clement Bellamy, 1773; William James, Esq. F.R.A.S. 1786; Thomas Negus, D. D. rector of Rotherhithe, 1765; Elizabeth, his wife, daughter of Samuel Ekins, Esq. 1753; Rosee, wife of Robert Salusbury, Esq. 1765; Ann Jennings of Greenwich, aged 90, 1766; "Vaux of Greenwich," 1767; John Hosier, Barbary merchant, 1767; Sir Samuel Fludyer, Bart. (fn. 19), 1768; Jane, his first wife (fn. 20), 1757; Sir Thomas Fludyer (fn. 21), Knt. 1769; Mary, his wife, daughter of Sir George Champion, 1761; Peter White, Esq. aged 90, 1770; Charles Devon, Esq. 1772; Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson, 1773; Alice, her daughter, wife of Jeremiah Crutchley, Esq. 1777; Charles Leslie, Esq. 1775; Stephens Markinfield, Esq. 1776; Thomas Spencer (fn. 22), 1776; Francis Buxton, Esq. 1778; Mrs. Elizabeth Bennett, aged 90, 1778; Mary, wife of Thomas Hopkins, Esq. 1780; Jane, relict of John Bythesea, Esq. of Trowbridge, Wilts, 1782; William Bythesea, Esq. of Greenwich, 1795; James Hewett Hagar, Esq. 1784; Lieut. Col. Roper (only brother of Lord Dacre), 1788; Barbara, relict of Edmund Newland, Esq. (his aunt), 1790; Trevor Charles Roper, Lord Dacre (fn. 23), 1794; Miss Louisa Chessell (fn. 24), 1791; Walter Griffin, Esq. 1792; Mr. William Tinker, aged 92, 1793; George Butler, Esq. 1794; William Parsons, the late celebrated comedian (fn. 25), 1795; and Jane, window of Richard Eyans, Esq. (daughter of Thomas Etherington, Esq. by —Mitchell), the date not visible.
Lee is a rectory, in the diocese of Rochester, and in the deanery of Dartford. The advowson was held with the manor till the year 1641, when Charles I. granted the latter to Sir Ralph Freeman, reserving the patronage of the rectory to the Crown, in which it is still vested (fn. 26). In 1287, this rectory was taxed at ten marks (fn. 27). In 1650, being then stated to have fifteen acres of glebe, it was valued at 701. (fn. 28) In the King's books it is rated at 3l. 11s. 8d.
|Average of Baptisms.||Average of Burials.|
|1680–9||2 9/10||4 9/10|
In 1603, there were seven burials; in 1625, seven; in 1665, two only are entered. The collections at the monthly fasts during the last great plague, from August 1665, to May 1666, are entered in the register; the largest sum collected was 1l. 10s. 10d.; the smallest 5s. 6d.
The Rt Hon. the Lady Phillipa Dowager Mohun, buried Mar. 2, 1714–5." Daughter of Arthur Earl of Anglesey, and widow of Charles Lord Mohun, who was killed in a duel with the Duke of Hamilton (which was fatal also to the Duke) in 1712.
Mrs Margaret Hewes, from Eltham, buried Oct. 15, 1719." It is not improbable that this was the same Mrs. Margaret Hewes (fn. 29), or Hughes, was a vocal actress of some eminence, and mistress to Prince Rupert (fn. 30).
Dr Edmund Halley, of East Greenwich, buried Jan. 20, 1741–2. He was Doctor of Law, Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford, Astronomer Royal at Greenwich, Honorary Member of the Academy of Sciences, and Vice President of the Royal Society."
This eminent aftronomer was born at Haggerston, in the parish of St. Leonard, Shoreditch. He was educated at Queen's College in Oxford, where, at an early age, he distinguished himself in his favourite science, by publishing, when only nineteen years of age, a treatise on the direct and geometrical method of finding the aphelia and eccentricity of comets. Soon afterwards he went to St. Helena, for the purpose of observing the stars near the South Pole. In 1682, he began (being then resident at Islington) to observe the motions of the moon, to which, during the remainder of his life, his observations were chiefly directed, with a view towards ascertaining the longitude at sea. In 1698 and 1699, he made two voyages as captain of the Paramour Pink, for the purpose of making observations on the variation of the compass. In his last voyage he traversed the Atlantic Ocean, and on his return published the result of his observations in a general chart. In 1702, he made another voyage to observe the course of the tides in the British channel, of which he published a map. In 1703, he became Savilian Professor at Oxford; in 1713, Secretary of the Royal Society; and in 1719, succeeded Flamsteed as Astronomer Royal at Greenwich, where he died on the 14th of January 1741–2. Besides the publications already mentioned, Dr. Halley was author also of the Theory of the Variation of the Magnetical Compass; tables showing the value of annuities for lives (1692); translations of Apollonius's Geometrical Works, and numerous papers in the Philosophical Transactions. His astronomical tables were published in 1752. Dr. Halley was the first who discovered the method of measuring heights by the barometer (fn. 31).
"Mr William Parsons (the comedian), from St. Mary's, Lambeth, buried Feb. 15, 1795." This excellent comedian was the son of a builder in Bow-lane. He was born Feb. 29, 1736, and educated at St. Paul's school; being intended for an architect, he was placed as a pupil with Sir Henry Cheere (fn. 32); but his inclinations strongly leading him to the stage, he quitted the study of that art and made his first appearance at the little Theatre in the Haymarket, in the part of Kent in King Lear, in 1756 (fn. 33), but it was not till some years after that he established himself on the London stage. He had an engagement for a short time at York, whence he removed to Edinburgh, where he remained till he had acquired so much same that Garrick was induced to invite him to Drury-lane Theatre, where he made his first appearance in Filch in the Beggars' Opera, Sept. 21, 1763. After the secession of Yates he succeeded to most of his characters, and established himself a same which may vie with any of his contemporaries or predecessors. His features were so truly comic, and his power of exciting laughter so irresistible, that his brother performers have frequently found it extremely difficult to preserve sufficient gravity to do justice to their own parts. Among a great variety of characters, in which he shone without a competitor, may be mentioned, as perhaps some of the most striking, Corbaccio in the Fox; Forefight in Love for Love; Moneytrap in the Confederacy; Don Manuel in She Would and She Would Not; Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer, and Dogberry. His last performance was Sir Fretful Plagiary in the Critic (in which also he much excelled), Jan. 19, 1795. He had long been troubled with an asthmatic complaint, which in the latter part of his life rendered his appearance on the stage less frequent; and his attacks were so sudden that the public were often disappointed of seeing him, even when his name was announced in the bills. He died, after a short confinement, on the 3d of February.
Harris says, that Samuel Purchas resided at Lee, and there wrote a great part of that collection of travels which is called his Pilgrim (fn. 34).
This parish has a right of sending one boy to the school at Blackheath, founded in 1656 by Abraham Colfe, vicar of Lewisham (fn. 35).
In the year 1683, Charles Boone, Esq., and Mary his wife, founded an alms-house with a chapel adjoining, and a school-house, for six poor persons, and a school-mistress, endowing it with lands and rents, then producing 57l. per annum. The Founders committed the care of this charity to the Merchant Taylors' Company, appointing the annual income to be thus disposed of: To a chaplain, 10l.; to a clerk, 2l.; to the school-mistress, 9l.; to the pensioners, 15l. 12s. (being is. a-week each); for fuel, 4l. 10s.; for clothing, 4l. 10s.; books and other necessaries for the children, and books for the chapel, 2l. The remainder to be used for repairs, or, if more than wanted for that purpose, to go towards augmenting the allowances of the chaplain, clerk, school-mistress, and pensioners. The Founders gave also the sum of 100l. to the Merchant Taylors, for the purpose of defraying the expences of an annual visitation of the alms-houses on the first Thursday in July. Rules and ordinances for this charity were made to the following purport: The rector of Lee to be chaplain, or, on his refusal, the vicar of Lewisham: prayers to be read in the chapel twice a-week; the clerk to be the parish clerk of Lee, or, on his refusal, the parish clerk of Lewisham; the school-mistress to be fifty years of age at the least, a parishioner of Lee or Greenwich: she is to teach twelve children (presented by the rector and church-wardens of Lee) to read, or, if girls, to sew, knit, and mark; the boys to continue in the school till eleven years of age, the girls till twelve; the pensioners to be men or women chosen from among the poorest people of Lee, such as have lived orderly, and supported themselves by honest labour in their younger days, and can say the Lord's Prayer, Creed, and Ten Commandments, or are willing to learn them within two months after their admission. If such persons cannot be found in Lee, they are to be chosen from Lewisham, or if there should be none there thus qualified, from Greenwich. The present revenue of this charity is 73l. per annum; the chaplain's salary is now 12l.; the mistress's, 9l. (with 2l. 2s. for fuel); the clerk's, 4l.; the pensioners have 2s. per week each, besides a small allowance of fuel and clothes, as directed by the Founders.
The alms-house stands in the village, at the corner of the road which leads up to the church. Over the door are the Founders' arms (fn. 36).
Henry Lane, who died in 1593, gave a rent-charge of 6s. 8d. per annum (on lands in Bexley) to the poor of this parish. William Hattecliffe, Esq. in 1620, gave a fourth part of certain lands and tenements in Greenwich, and an eighth part of certain other tenements (fn. 37), (which shares now produce 24l. 8s. 9d. per annum,) to the poor of Lee. This, by a decree of Chancery passed in 1622, is directed to be distributed in sums of 10s. Abraham Colfe, vicar of Lewisham, gave the sum of 8s. 8d. per annum, to purchase two sweet penny loaves, weekly, for two of the poorest and godliest inhabitants of this parish.