The Commissions for Building Fifty New Churches: The Minute Books, 1711-27, A Calendar. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1986.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by London Record Society. All rights reserved.
THE COMMISSIONS FOR BUILDING FIFTY NEW CHURCHES
MINUTES OF THE COMMISSIONERS, 1711-18
1a. [p. iii] 'The Rt Honble Ld Bishop of Bristol, Lord Privy Seal, his abstract of what business lies before the Rt Honble and Honble Commissioners appointed by Her Majesty for building Churches etc. Vizt
1. Jennings reported what passed at Lambeth House, upon opening the commission, on Friday, 28 September: commission was opened and read; Commissioners present chose Mr Thos Rous their Secretary, adjourning till Wednesday, 3 October 1711 to the Banqueting House, Whitehall.
4. Secretary to write to Minister, churchwardens and vestrymen of the following parishes, according to the draft proposed by Dean of Canterbury and Dr Moss: St Andrew Holborn, St Ann Westminster, St Botolph Aldgate, St Botolph Aldersgate, St Clement Danes, St Giles Cripplegate, St James Clerkenwell, St Sepulchre, St Giles in the Fields, St Martin in the Fields, St Mary Magdalen Bermondsey, St Paul Shadwell, St James Westminster, St Leonard Shoreditch, St Margaret Westminster, St Olave Southwark, St Saviour Southwark, St Mary Whitechapel, Deptford, and St Dunstan Stepney. To the following chapels: New chapel in St Margaret Westminster, St George's chapel in St Andrew Holborn, Hatton Garden chapel, and King Street chapel near St James Westminster, and St Mary le Strand.
5. 'The Commissioners appointed by Her Majesty, pursuant to a late Act of Parliament (entitled etc.) being desirous to proceed in so pious and useful a work with all possible expedition, have thought fit hereby to request that you would inform them concerning the number and condition of your inhabitants, that so they may the better be enabled to judge, what new church or churches will be necessary to be erected in your parish.
You are also desired to inform them of proper places for the sites of the said church or churches, and for church yards, and also for houses for the habitation of the respective ministers; and lastly, whether there be in your parish any chapel or chapels fit to be made parish churches.
The Commissioners . . . do desire you with all convenient speed to lay before them the constitution, state and condition of St George's Chapel; and whether the same may be fit to be made a parochial church; and what terms you shall propose proper for that purpose; as also what place may be found commodious for a church yard, and for the habitation of the minister.'
4-6. Sir C. Wren, Stanhope, Annesley, Smalridge, Bertie, Archer, Vanbrugh, Sir R. Hoare, Jennings, Mr Wren, Mosse, Isham, Sir R. Raymond, Sherlock, Mr Hy Hoare and Bulstrode, and all other Commissioners that attend (any three being a quorum), appointed as a committee to prepare instructions for the Surveyors, consider proposals already received, and receive any further proposals from parishes, and report.
7,8. Sir R. Hoare and the two present sheriffs of London and Middlesex to apply to the East India Company, to know their interest in the chapel, and desire their concurrence that it be made a parochial church.
9. The rest of the Committee's resolutions relating to Stepney to be recommitted; the Committee to consider the recent act of Parliament relating to the division of the parish after the death of the present incumbent.
1,2. Bishop of London reported that Lady Russell agreed to sell the piece of ground mentioned in the representation of the trustees of St George's chapel for a church yard; she would desire Mr Hoskins, one of this Commission, to treat with any that the Commissioners should appoint. Also that she has some old houses in the parish of St Giles, of which the leases are nearly expired, which she had deferred renewing, thinking to pull them down and erect a place for public worship. Being since informed that there were new churches to be built in that parish, she would suspend renewing the leases till she knew whether the Commissioners thought it a proper site for a new church.
4. Agreed with the Committee that a letter should be written to the Principal and Fellows of Brasenose College Oxford, signifying the division intended to be made of the parish of Stepney, and to desire their concurrence.
7. Dean of Canterbury to draft letter to parishes that have not made returns to the letter of 4 October, desiring them to make their returns to the Committee by 9 November; otherwise the Commissioners will proceed without them.
10,11. Resolved that Great Lincoln's Inn Square is a proper site for one of the new churches in St Giles in the Fields parish, provided there be no church yard, nor burials in the church, nor a ring of bells. Notice of the resolution to be given to the inhabitants, and to the Society of Lincoln's Inn.
13,14. Representation of the trustees of King Street Chapel, St James Westminster, to be laid before Archbishop of Canterbury by Freind, Bulstrode and Hoskins, to know his opinion and the nature of the trust.
4. The site proposed by Archer, at the low end of the Minories on Little Tower Hill, is a proper site for one of the two new churches in the parish of St Botolph Aldgate; Archer to ascertain of John Jefferys, Esq., of Sheen, Surrey, what he demands.
5. Read Committee's resolution relating to the site proposed for a church, etc. in Harefields, Bethnal Green; resolved that if there were no greater objections than what has already been made, there ought to be a church there erected for Bethnal Green hamlet.
10. (fn. 1) Resolved that Westfield in Limehouse hamlet is a proper site for a church and minister's house, unless a more convenient site can be proposed nearer the centre of the hamlet.
5,6. A debate arising about the two sites for churches, etc., proposed by the inhabitants of Limehouse, resolved that Rigby's Garden ground ought to be preferred before West's Field (the proprietor making convenient approaches), if it can be had on reasonable terms.
8-10. (2.) A solicitor ought to be appointed to enquire into the interests of such sites as the Commissioners wish to purchase, and to make abstracts of deeds, in order to lay them before some of the Commissioners. Simon Beckley to be appointed Solicitor for the purposes mentioned. Messrs Jennings, Box and Annesley to inspect such titles as the Solicitor prepares for them.
11. Also agreed with the Committee that the sites proposed for churches and ministers' houses, to be taken out of St Olave Southwark, are proper; the former is in Stoney Lane and Unicorn Yard; the latter in Horsleydown Lane.
13. To the districts proposed by Rev. Dr Bray for the middle parish in St Botolph Aldgate there ought to be added all the houses on both sides the way from the north side of Trinity Minories to Whitechapel Street and all the south side of Whitechapel from Aldgate to the Bars.
14,15. The new church in Lambeth parish ought to be erected within the Liberty of Stockwell, on the ground offered gratis by Sir John Thornicroft. Robt Nelson, Esq., to return the Commissioners' thanks to Sir John for his generous offer.
17. The site proposed at the Maypole in the Strand is a proper site for a new church for the parish of St Mary le Strand; the district commonly called the Savoy Ward (part of St Clement Danes parish) ought to be added to the parish of St Mary le Strand.
18. Read Hawksmoor's report that the approaches for coaches from Harefields to Bethnal Green may be made convenient; resolved that the new church for Bethnal Green ought to be erected in Crossfields by Hare Street.
2. All that part of St Saviour Southwark parish known as the Borough Liberty, and part of Clink Liberty beginning at Deadman's place on the south, and all the east side of Stoney Street toward the Thames ought to be continued to the mother church.
5. The site proposed in Pye Garden on the south side of Maiden Lane is a proper site for a second church, etc. within the said parish; its district ought to consist of the remaining part of the parish, lying south-west of Maiden Lane.
7. When they make their report to the Queen and Parliament, they will represent how convenient it will be to add some part of St Giles Cripplegate parish, lying contiguous to St Alphage, to that parish, which is very small.
10. The parish of St Sepulchre should be divided into two by a line drawn from [blank's] house in Long Lane through the centre of the lane and thence across Smithfield on the north side of the sheep pens and down the middle of Check Lane to Fleet Ditch.
2,3. Read petition of Wm Richardson, clerk, relating to a chapel in St Jones's [sic], in St James Clerkenwell parish. Dickinson to report thereon, and discourse Dr Carr, the proprietor, about his demand.
6,7. Read petitions of several inhabitants of Limehouse that a church be built on Westfield; and of others that Rigby's Garden be chosen. Heard the petitioners. Resolved that, for the reasons offered in and upon the petition for Westfield, the order relating to erecting a church in Rigby's Garden be revoked, and that the church ought to be erected in Westfield.
9,10. Disagreed to the Committee's resolution relating to the district for the new parish of St Clement Danes. The churchwardens of the liberties within the parish to attend the Committee on Friday next, to inform them about the division of the parish.
3. Read Archbishop of Canterbury's letter relating to King Street chapel. His Grace having been a great benefactor and unwilling that the chapel should be made parochial, resolved that it should not be made parochial.
Whereas by your Majesty's commission . . . bearing date the 21st day of September 1711 . . . the Commissioners therein named are directed, authorized and commanded to enquire and inform themselves, in what parishes in and about the Cities of London and Westminster, fifty new churches except one for Greenwich were most necessary to be built, and of proper places for the sites of the respective new churches, and, also, a cemetery or church yard for each of the said churches, for the burial of Christian people, to be purchased; and also what chapels in the respective parishes aforesaid are fit to be made parish churches, and to ascertain the several houses, lands, tenements and hereditaments, and bonds and limits which may be fit to be made distinct parishes: and to enquire and inform themselves by the best means they could of the value of such lands, tenements and houses, and of the respective estates and interests therein as they, or any five or more of them, should think necessary to be purchased for the said sites and cemeteries, and for the houses for the habitations for the respective ministers, and that they, or any five or more of them, do on or before the 24th day of December 1711 report or certify to your Majesty, in writing under their hands and seals, such matters and things as should appear to them upon their inquiries aforesaid with their opinions thereupon, to the end such further directions might be given thereupon, as might be pursuant to your Majesty's intentions . . .
Your Commissioners have had frequent meetings and consultations; and have caused schemes and plans of the several parishes, and of sites for churches to be drawn and laid before them; the delineation of which by proper and skilful persons hath taken up much time and they have made diligent enquiries and informed themselves by the best means they could of the several matters aforesaid; but they do with all humility represent to your Majesty that they have not with their utmost industry and application been able within the time laid down for the purposes aforesaid to lay before your Majesty a representation of all those facts which it is necessary for your Majesty to be fully informed, in order to the putting in execution your pious intentions for completing a work which tends so much to the honour of God, to the spiritual welfare of your subjects, to the interest of the Established Church, and to the glory of your Majesty's reign: But from what progress they have already made, they are humbly of opinion that if farther time were given them, for the purposes aforesaid, they should then be able fully and satisfactorily to answer your Majesty's expectations: And they do think it a duty incumbent upon them, humbly to represent to your Majesty that one great obstruction they found in carrying on this pious good work was the want of power to contract with the several proprietors of lands, proper for sites for churches and cemeteries, and for houses for the habitations of the respective ministers, which defect of power the Commissioners do conceive hath created a backwardness in several of the proprietors, either to lay before the Commissioners their titles, whereby it might appear what estates and interests the respective proprietors had in [the sites] . . . or even so much as to treat with the Commissioners about the sale or purchase thereof. All which matters are . . . humbly submitted to your Majesty . . .' 18 December 1711.