This place is not mentioned in the Conqueror's Survey,
but a church at Walworth is there noticed; whence it seems
probable, that at the re-building of that church upon a new site it
was surrounded with houses, which obtained the appellation of
Neweton, as it is called in all the most ancient records. It was
afterwards spelt Newenton, and Newington. There is little doubt
but that it received its additional name from the butts placed there
for archers to shoot at. The first record, in which it is written
Newington Butts, is dated 1558 (fn. 1) . In Henry VIII.'s time butts
were set up in the fields near London by authority. There are
two patents printed at large in Wood's Bowman's Glory; the
one of James I. and the other of Charles I. by which those monarchs
ordained that the butts, which had been destroyed in consequence of
the inclosures, should be restored as they were in the reign of
Henry VIII. (fn. 2) .
Situation, boundaries, extent, &c.
Newington Butts lies in the eastern division of Brixton hundred,
at the distance of about a mile from London Bridge. It is bounded
by the parish of Lambeth on the west; by that of St. George,
Southwark, on the east and north; and by Camberwell on the
south. The parish is of very small extent. The land, which is not
covered with houses, consists of little more than three hundred
acres, about a third part of which is occupied by market gardeners.
The remainder is for the most part pasture; the soil, sand and gravel. The parish is assessed 907l. 1s. 8d. to the land-tax, which
is at the rate of 1s. 2d. in the pound.
Manor of Walworth.
The only manor in this parish is that of Walworth, now a hamlet to Newington, and the birth-place probably of the celebrated
citizen who bore its name. King Edmund gave this manor to his
jester Nithardus, who in the reign of St. Edward, being about to
make a pilgrimage to Rome, obtained a licence from that monarch
to give it to the church of Canterbury (fn. 3) . This manor in Doomsday
Book, called Waleorde, is said to have been held in the time of
William the Conqueror by Bainardus of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to have been appropriated to the support of the monks.*****
It had been valued at 30s. and at 20s. but was then worth 3l.
and in 1291 was taxed at 10l. It now belongs to the dean and
chapter of Canterbury.
In the reign of Henry III. the Queen's goldsmith held an acre
of land in Newington by the service of rendering a gallon of honey
to the King (fn. 4) .
It seems probable, as was before observed, that the church belonging to this parish has been removed from Walworth to its present site since the Conquest. Newington church appears to have
been originally a very small structure; Sir Hugh Brawne added a
north aisle about the year 1600. In the year 1704, several hundred
pounds were expended in repairing and ornamenting the church,
unfortunately to very little purpose, for in the month of July 1720,
the congregation having been very much alarmed by a sudden
crack in the wall during the time of divine service, it was found
necessary upon a survey, that the whole building, except the tower,
should be taken down. The dimensions of the old church being
only 43 feet from east to west, and 54 from north and south, it was
determined to increase the new structure to 62 and 58. The tower,
a low square building of flint and stone, was left standing. The expences of the re-building were estimated at 926l. for which sum a
brief was obtained. The new church was opened on the 26th of
March 1721. Being found inadequate to the increased number of
inhabitants, an act of parliament was obtained during the last session for rebuilding it upon a larger scale. The workmen began
to take down the old tower on the 19th of June, and the architect
is under a contract to complete the new church by Midsummer
1793. The estimate of the expence amounts to 2,500l. The
length of the intended structure is to be 87 feet, the breadth 58
as before. It is to be built of brick, in the modern style, without
detached aisles, and to have spacious galleries for the accommodation of a numerous congregation. At the west end is to be a turret
Tombs and monuments.
Having examined the church a few days before the workmen
began to take it down, I shall speak of the tombs and monuments
as they were then situated.
In the chancel were the monuments of James Reading, Esq. who
died in 1694, and of Mr. Richard Day, who died in 1784; and
flat stones to the memory of William Taswell, who died in 1731,
and Nathaniel Hough, D. D. who died in 1737, both rectors of this
parish; of James Taswell, who died in 1710; James Tracy, Esq.
who died in 1773; and Adam Hayes, Esq. one of Lord Anson's
companions in his voyage round the world, who died in 1785.
In the north aisle was the monument of Sir Hugh Brawne, Knt.
who died in 1614, and the tomb of Mrs. Sarah Crawford, who died
in 1766, and Mrs. Martha Crawford, who died in 1786.
Against the pillars of the nave were the monuments of Thomas
Inwen, Esq. who died in 1743, and Mr. Richard Boulton, who
died in 1750. On the floor, flat stones to the memory of Margaret wife of William Allen, Esq. of Antigua; and Mr. George Powell,
who died in 1704. The Editor of Aubrey's Antiquities of Surrey
says, that the latter was called King of the Gipsies, and that he died
in very flourishing circumstances.
In the south aisle was a tablet to the memory of Capt. Waghorn,
a naval officer, who escaped from the Royal George at the time of
the fatal catastrophe which happened to that ship. He died in 1787.
At the west end was the tomb of William Davy, Esq. serjeant at
law, whose professional abilities are well remembered; he died in
1786. Under the belfry was the tomb of Mr. William Dale, furgeon, who died in 1718.
Churchyard. Monument of William Allen.
The church-yard was enlarged by act of parliament 29 Geo. II.
The most conspicuous monument there is that of William Allen, who
was killed by the soldiers in St. George's Fields in the year 1768.
The inscription asserts that he was "inhumanly murdered on the
10th of May by Scottish detachments from the army." There are
also some verses and texts of scripture, which seem to be applied
with a very unjustifiable spirit of rancour, as an excuse for which
it must be admitted that the monument was erected during the
height of party rage, and in the first transports of resentment by parents who had lost an only son. The account of the riots which
took place in St. George's Fields in 1768, and the circumstances of
this transaction are detailed in many of the publications of that time.
It appears that Allen was illegally killed, whether he was concerned in the riots or not, as he was shot apart from the mob at a time
when he might, if necessary, have been apprehended and brought to
justice. The acquittal of the soldier who was tried for his murder,
made a great clamour at the time, though it appears that the weight
of evidence preponderated much in his favour, and proved to the
satisfaction of the jury that he was not the person who fired the
The church-yard contains also, among others, the tombs of the
following persons:—Mrs. Emblem Richardson, governess of a boarding-school, who died in 1743; William White, Gent. of the Inner
Temple, who died in 1769; Capt. John Diddear, who died in 1773;
Benjamin, son of Timothy Bennet, M. D. who died in 1773; Barnabas Mayor, fellow and one of the directors of the society of artists
of Great Britain, who died in 1774; James Abernithy, Esq. who
died in 1781; the Reverend James Hassel, rector of North Rungton, Norfolk, who died in 1781; Leversidge Brandon, who
died in 1785; Mary, relict of Captain Peter Guerin, who died
in 1785; Sibella, wife of Benjamin Batley, Esq. who died in
1787; Elizabeth, wife of Captain Magnus Henderson, who died
in 1790; Clarissa, wife of Captain Robert Rayne, in the military service of the East-India Company, who died in 1791; and
John Robson, Esq. who died the same year.
The church of Newington Butts, which is dedicated to St. Mary,
is in the peculiar jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The advowson of the rectory belonged to that see till the time
of Archbishop Cranmer, who gave it to Henry VIII. (fn. 4) It was
granted by him (fn. 5) , and confirmed by Edward VI. (fn. 6) to Nicholas,
Bishop of Worcester and his successors, to whom it still belongs.
In King John's reign the rectory was valued at eight marks (fn. 7) ; in
1291 at twenty-two marks (fn. 8) . It was presented to the commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of ecclesiastical benefices,
that the rectory of Newington Butts was worth about IIIl. per
annum, and that Mr. Thomas Wadsworth the rector, who officiated
there and received the profits, was placed there by the Lord Protector (fn. 9) . In the King's books the rectory is valued at 16l. per
The parsonage-house, which is built of wood, appears to be very
ancient; it is surrounded by a moat, which has four bridges.
Rectors. Tobias Crispe.
Tobias Crispe, presented by the lessees under the Bishop of
Worcester in 1627, enjoyed this living only a few months; being
removed on account of a simoniacal contract (fn. 10) . He was author
of some volumes of sermons, to one of which his portrait is prefixed.
Thomas Wadsworth above-mentioned wrote several tracts, which
were collected after his death, and published with his portrait, under the title of Wadsworth's Remains.
Nicholas Lloyd, instituted in 1673 (fn. 11) , was author of a historical,
geographical, and poetical dictionary. He died in 1680, leaving
behind him several unpublished MSS. consisting principally of
commentaries and translations (fn. 12) .
Edward Stillingfleet, presented to this rectory by his father the
Bishop of Worcester in 1698, kept it only a few months, having
made an exchange with Dr. Taswell for some preserment in Norfolk. Mr. Stillingfleet was bred to the study of physic, and was
professor of that science in Gresham College (fn. 13) .
William Taswell, who succeeded Mr. Stillingfleet, has inserted in
the parish register much useful information concerning the glebe
land, tithes, and other emoluments of the church, and some notes
relating to his predecessors and the state of the parish. He is
supposed to have been the author of an anonymous pamphlet,
written to contradict the exaggerated account of a cure performed
at Newington, by Roger Grant, an oculist, on a boy born blind.
In Grant's narrative Dr. Taswell is falsely said to have been present at the operation, and his name was without his authority or
knowledge subjoined to a certificate of the case.
The present rector of Newington is the Right Reverend Samuel Horsley, Bishop of St. David's, well known for his many
learned writings in defence of the doctrines of the Church of
The parish register begins in 1561, but is very imperfect till
about the year 1670, from which time it appears to have been accurately kept.
Comparative state of population.
||Average of Baptisms.
||Average of Burials.
The increase of population does not appear so great, by the above
comparative average, as it has really been; a circumstance which is
to be attributed to the number of diffenters in this parish. Doctor
Taswell calculated the houses at only 660 in the beginning of
the century; they are now about 1800 in number. The presbyterian
diffenters have a meeting-house here, but no burial ground.
In 1625, four hundred and five persons died of the plague here
in the months of July and August.
At the beginning of one of the register books is the following
licence to eat flesh, which is of a more limited nature than any which
I have observed elsewhere:
Licence to eat flesh.
"I James Fludd, Doctor in Divinity, and Parson of the church
of St. Marie Newington in Surrey, do give license unto Mrs.
Ann Jones of Newington, the wyfe of Evan Jones, Gentleman,
being notoriously sicke, to eate flesh this time of Lent, during the
time of sickness onlye, according to lawe in that case provided;
videlicet, in the 5th of Eliz. chap. 5. and 1 Jacob. chap. 29. provided alwaies that duringe the time of her sicknesse she eate no
beise, veale, porke, mutton, or bacon. In witness whereof we
have hereunto set our hands and seal. Dated the 8th of March
Instances of longevity.
The following instances of longevity occur in the parish register.
"Edward Allen, aged 107 years and upwards, buried Jan. 20,
|"Sarah Wood, aged 101, Mary Ralf, aged 100,
||buried April 5th, 1701.
Christopher Coward, aged 102, buried Dec. 16, 1703.
Widow Jeweller, aged 106, buried Aug. 30, 1706."
Mr. Simmons, in the year 1611, left to the poor of this parish,
a farm at West Tilbury, which now produces 18l. 16s. 8d. per
annum. Mr. Humphrey Williams gave some houses in Kent-street,
for the maintenance of four poor widows; they now produce 22l. 10 s.
per annum. Mr. Henry Smith gave 10l. per annum to the poor;
the estate out of which this benefaction is paid, having been lately advantageously exchanged with the Duke of Dorset, it is expected
to be considerably augmented. Mr. Robert Hidson, in 1675, left Il.
per annum to two blind widows. Mrs. Atkinson left the interest of
1,600l. South-Sea stock, which amounts to 48l. 3s. 6d. to be divided between six old maids. Four pounds per annum have been
left to the poor by Mr. Marshal, Mr. Canon, and Mr. Mason. A
few other legacies have been bequeathed by various persons, particularly 40l. by John Hacket, with this singular condition, that
his bones should not be removed till the day of judgment; and 50l.
by Thomas Barge, to clothe and educate children.
Besides these benefactions, the parish is also possessed of some estates
of considerable value, particularly Walworth common, which was inclosed by act of parliament, and is worth about 300l. per annum; and
the Elephant and Castle, and King and Queen inns, both of which
were purchased by the parish, and produce 110l. per annum.
The Drapers' alms-houses, founded by Mr. John Walter in 1651,
are situated in this parish, which has the privilege of appointing
six of its own parishioners. They receive five shillings each
monthly, and half a chaldron of coals, to which the parish officers
add a weekly pension, as they see fit. The remainder are appointed
by the Drapers' company. The statutes of these alms-houses are
printed at large in Aubrey's Antiquities of Surrey (fn. 15) .
A part of the Fishmongers' alms-houses is also in this parish; but
they have no other connection with it.
Hospital of St. Catherine.
There was formerly an hospital of our Lady and St. Catherine,
at Newington, which continued till Feburary 1551, when their
proctor, William Cleybrooke, had a licence to beg (fn. 16) .
In the year 1755, on the 30th of September, there was so great
a flood at Newington, that the people could not pass from the church
on foot, but were obliged to be conveyed in boats "to the pinfolds near St. George's in Southwark (fn. 17) ."
In the beginning of the last century there was a theatre in this
parish, at which the Lord Admiral's and the Lord Chamberlain's
servants performed (fn. 18) .