The Commissions for Building Fifty New Churches: The Minute Books, 1711-27, A Calendar. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1986.
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THE COMMISSIONS FOR BUILDING FIFTY NEW CHURCHES
MINUTES OF THE COMMISSIONERS, 1711-18
Lambeth MS 2690
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
To enquire into what parishes the said churches, cemeteries and minister's houses are needed.
What chapels now in being may be converted into parish churches.
What limits to be fixed for the said new parishes.
In what part of those limits the churches are to be placed.
What houses, ground, etc. necessary to be purchased for that end.
What estates and interests are in the houses, grounds, etc., that are to be purchased for those ends.
To return an answer in writing by the 24th of December 1711 to Her Majesty; and a duplicate of the same to each House of Parliament.'
1b. [p. 1] 3 Oct. 1711, at Banqueting House, Whitehall
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.
2-3. Mr John Skeat to be Agent and Solicitor; Thos Crocker, Messenger; Thos Brookes, Doorkeeper; if hereafter occasion for another Messenger, Edward Stanley to be used.
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.
All which you are desired to signify under your hands, with all convenient speed, that the Commissioners may proceed accordingly.'
6. 'To the Minister and Trustees of St George's Chapel, etc.
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.'
2. [p. 2] 10 Oct. 1711
1, 2. Read representation from minister and churchwardens of Stepney. Churchwarden and parish clerk of St James Westminster delivered reasons why, at present, they could not make any return.
3. William Dickinson and Mr Nicholas Hawksmoor appointed Surveyors.
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.
All Commissioners present to have votes. Committee to meet in this place immediately after the Commissioners adjourn.
7. Messenger to give notice when and where the Committee to meet.
8. A conveniency to be made in this room for the Secretary to lock up books and papers for the Commissioners' use.
3. [p. 4] 17 Oct. 1711
Read minutes of Commissioners, 10 Oct. (2), and of Committee, 16 Oct. (479).
1. Read representation of St George's chapel, Ormond Street, St Andrew Holborn.
2. Resolved that St George's chapel is fit to be made a parochial church, being capable of holding about 2,000 people for Divine Service.
3,4. Bishop of London to apply to Lady Russell for a piece of ground near the chapel for a church yard, when made parochial.
5. Read resolutions of the Committee relating to erecting five new churches in Stepney parish.
6. Resolved that the chapel at Poplar is fit to be made a parochial church.
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.
10. Read the memorial of the minister and churchwardens of Deptford, relating to erecting a new parish church, and the Committee's resolutions thereon.
11. Resolved that one of the fifty new churches ought to be erected in Deptford.
4. [p. 6] 24 Oct. 1711
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.
3. Sir R. Hoare reported he had seen the Directors of the East India Company about Poplar chapel; they would reply in writing.
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.
5. Approved draft of such letter prepared by Dean of Canterbury.
6. Secretary to write and subscribe the said letter, and send it forthwith by the General Post.
7. Letter to be sent to Sir Nat. Curzon and John Kent, Esq., about the terms for church yard for St George's chapel, Ormond Street.
8. John Hoskins to be added to the Committee.
5. [p. 8] 31 Oct. 1711
1. Lord Privy Seal reported that the Lord Treasurer had promised to order £200 to be issued towards defraying incident charges about executing this Commission.
2,3. Read letter from secretary of East India Co. presented by Sir R. Hoare, about Poplar chapel. Consideration adjourned until reply received about Stepney from Brasenose College.
4. Dr Landon, minister of Poplar, attended; Sir R. Hoare to desire East India Co. directors for early reply about making the chapel parochial.
5. Committee empowered to treat with any persons, as required, for carrying on more speedily and effectually the purpose of this Commission, reporting the result.
6. Agreed with the Committee that one of the fifty new churches ought to be erected in Bishopsgate parish, including the precincts of Norton Folgate, the Old Artillery Ground and St Mary le Spittle.
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.
8. Secretary to provide one of the best and largest maps of the Cities of London and Westminster and suburbs thereof, to be hung in this room for the Commissioners' use.
6. [p. 10] 7 Nov. 1711
1. No church to be built at the end of Albemarle Street.
2-4. Dean and Chapter of Westminster thanked for offer of a free site.
5,6. Dean of Rochester and inhabitants of St Mary le Strand given leave to state in petition to the Queen that in Commissioners' opinion one of the new churches should be for their benefit.
7. Received letter from the Principal of Brasenose College.
8. Letter to Brasenose College states that churches are to be apportioned to population; hope that Parliament will provide for ministers' maintenance.
9. Resolved that new churches ought to be built in the following parishes, according to the numbers there allotted to each parish:
Sir C. Wren, Thos Archer, John Vanbrugh and Chr. Wren, Esquires, to view the sites agreed upon by the Surveyors, and report.
7. [p. 12] 14 Nov. 1711
Agreed with Committee that:
1. One of the new churches ought to be erected within St John Wapping parish.
2. Bow chapel in Stepney parish ought to be made a parochial church.
3. The hamlet of Bethnal Green in Stepney parish be made a parish, and a new church be erected there.
4. The hamlet of Limehouse in Stepney parish be made a parish, and a new church be erected there.
5. The hamlet of Upper Wapping be made a parish, and a new church be erected there.
6. The hamlet of Lower Wapping in Stepney parish be made a parish, and a new church be erected there.
7. The hamlet of Spitalfields in Stepney parish be divided into two districts or parishes, and two new churches be erected there.
8. Where cemeteries can conveniently be had, at some distance from the churches, they ought to be so appointed.
9. A new church ought to be erected in St Botolph Aldgate parish.
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.
12. Upon reconsidering the state of St Sepulchre parish, resolved that only one new church ought to be erected there, viz in that part without the Liberty.
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.
15. The first part of Lady Russell's answer, relating to a church yard for Ormond Street chapel, to be communicated to the trustees of the chapel.
16. The site of the Maypole in the Strand, proposed for a parish church for St Mary le Strand parish, to be recommitted.
17. Nelson to be added to the Committee.
8. [p. 15] 21 Nov. 1711
Agreed to the following resolutions of the Committee, reported by Smalridge:
1. That the parish of St James Westminster should be divided into four distinct parishes.
2. That the parish of St Martin's in the Fields should be divided into four distinct parishes.
3. Resolved, that the site proposed in Upper Wapping, next Ratcliff Highway, Cannon Street, etc., is a convenient site for a church, church yard and minister's house.
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.
6. The sites for churches, church yards and ministers' houses to be fixed upon before any districts of parishes be made; reserving liberty to alter such sites as required.
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.
7. Surveyors to enquire chiefly after ground to build ministers' houses on; unless they propose houses to be pulled down in order to erect new ones.
8. No site to be pitched upon for erecting a new church, where it will not admit that the church be placed east and west, without special reasons, to be particularly approved of by the Commissioners.
9. As many maps as can be got of the several parishes wherein new churches are to be built to be bought by the Secretary.
9. [p. 18] 28 Nov. 1711
Agreed with the Committee that:
1. The district formerly proposed for a parish by the trustees of St George's chapel, Ormond Street, is a proper district.
2. The demand made by Sir N. Curzon and John Kent, Esq. for the inheritance of the ground whereon St George's chapel stands is unreasonable.
3,4. Unless they propose more reasonable terms, the Commissioners will erect a new church in Red Lion Square, or elsewhere within the district. Mr Box to acquaint the said proprietors accordingly.
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.
7. Further agreed with the Committee that:
(1.) The Three Cups Inn, Holborn, is a proper site for a new church within the parish of St Andrew Holborn.
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.
12. Two acres of ground to be allowed for each church yard when so much can be obtained on reasonable terms.
The district proposed by the Committee for the lower parish within St Botolph Aldgate is proper.
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.
16. The gentlemen who appeared for the Liberty of Stockwell to procure the consent of all who have right of commonage there, that an act of Parliament may be obtained for erecting a church thereon.
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.
10. [p. 21] 1 Dec. 1711
Agreed with the Committee that:
1. Mr Watts' demand of £400 for two acres of ground for the site of a church, etc., in Upper Wapping is reasonable.
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.
3. The Tenterfields on the north side of Castle Street is a proper site for a church, etc. to be taken out of the parish of St Saviour.
4. Its district ought to be bounded by Bandy Leg Walk, Maiden Lane on the north and north-west, and on the north by the Bear Garden down Rope Alley, to be terminated by the Thames on the north.
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.
6. Mr Slaughter's demand of £300 for the site of a church, etc. in Hare alias Cross fields, Bethnal Green, as set out by Hawksmoor, is reasonable.
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.
8. Mr Smith's ground on Millbank, St Margaret Westminster parish, is a proper site for a church and minister's house for one of the new churches.
9. The site and district proposed by Hawksmoor for a church, etc., to be taken out of Bermondsey parish is proper.
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.
11. The two sites and districts proposed by Dickinson for the new parishes to be taken out of St Olave Southwark are proper.
12. Earl of Rochester to speak with Earl of Salisbury, to persuade him to set a moderate price on his ground, proposed for the site of a church, etc. in Bermondsey.
13. Hoskins to remind Archbishop of Canterbury of the written answer he promised, relating to King Street chapel, St James Westminster.
14. Dean of Carlisle and Annesley to draft report from the Commissioners to Queen and Parliament.
11. [p. 24] 5 Dec. 1711
1. Mr Willmers offered a site for a church, etc., called the Mermaid Brewhouse in White Cross Street, in St Giles Cripplegate, at £550.
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.
4,5. Read a second demand from Sir N. Curzon and John Kent, Esq., for the inheritance of the site of St George's chapel [Ormond Street]; the sum of £1,000 demanded is reasonable.
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.
8. Accepted Mr Kemp's demand for ground proposed for a house for minister of Bow and Old Ford.
12. [p. 26] 12 Dec. 1711
1-3. Received representation from St Saviour Southwark; and letter from Archbishop of Canterbury on King Street chapel.
4. Agreed with committee in two resolutions:
5. The case of the parishioners of Rotherhithe to be particularly represented to Queen and Parliament.
6. The chapel in Hatton Garden is not fit to be made a parochial church.
7,8. Bulstrode, accompanied by Hawksmoor, to enquire what ground or houses can be purchased about the chapel to make it a proper site for a church, with the several demands for the property.
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.
11. Read, the consent of freeholders of Common Green, Stockwell, Lambeth.
13. [p. 28] 17 Dec. 1711
1. Reported that pulling down some houses adjacent to Hatton Garden chapel might make it a proper site for parochial church and minister's house.
2. Bulstrode to enquire their demands of the proprietors, and ask Bishop of Ely his views and terms for his interest.
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.
4,5. Surveyors to enquire for three sites for churches, etc., within St James Westminster parish. Freind, Hoskins and Bulstrode, or either of them, to inform Archbishop.
6. Agreed with the Committee that:
The districts proposed by Hawksmoor in two plans before them, of St Giles in the Fields and St Paul Shadwell parishes, are proper for the division of the parishes.
7. Mr Rous's demand of £350 for site for church and minister's house for the parish to be taken out of Shadwell is reasonable.
8. Dean of Carlisle brought draft report to the Queen, which was unanimously agreed to.
The officers to bring their accounts of disbursements to the Committee on Friday, 21 December at 3 p.m.; Committee to distribute the £200 advanced towards incidental charges among the officers.
Copy of the report above mentioned [minute 8]:
'To the Queen's most excellent Majesty.
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.