THIS place in old charters is called Hulviz, Wolwiche, Wollewic, &c. I can find nothing satisfactory relating to its etymology.
Quantity of land, and how occupiéd.
Woolwich lies on the banks of the Thames, within the hundred
of Blackheath, and at the distance of nine miles from London. The
parish is bounded on the north by the river Thames, except in that
part where it extends on the opposite side of the river into Essex,
being there bounded by Barking, and Barking-creek which separates
it from Eastham. On the south and west, Woolwich is bounded by
Eltham and Charlton, and on the east by Plumstead. The parish of
Woolwich contains about 650 acres of land (fn. 1) , of which about 380 are
marsh on the Essex coast (fn. 2) , 50 marsh on the Kentish side of the
river, about 40 acres of arable, 10 occupied by a market gardener; 50 waste, and the remainder upland pasture (fn. 3) . The soil,
except in the marshes, is principally gravel. At the east end of the
town is a chalk-pit, which has a stratum abounding with the same
extraneous fossils as that at Charlton. This parish pays the sum
of 465l. 14s. 8d. which is at the rate of about 1s. 2d. in the
Woolwich has a weekly market on Friday. The market-place
was changed within the present century: the gunwharf formerly
occupied the spot where the market is now held (fn. 3) . Sir William
Pritchard gave the old market-house (where the cage now is) for the
use of the poor (fn. 4) .
Manor of Woolwich, or Southall in Woolwich.
The whole of this parish has been decreed to be within the Royal
manor of Eltham (fn. 5) : but the principal estate, which is now the property of Captain Bowater, was, at a very early period, considered
as a manor, and called the manor of Wulewiche; afterwards the
manor of Southall in Woolwich. It is supposed to have been that
estate which is described in the record of Doomsday as the property of Haimo the sheriff (fn. 6) . Henry the Second, about the year
1160, gave the manors of Woolwich and Modingham to the church
of St. John the Baptist in England (fn. 7) . Whether this is to be considered
as the estate here described, or as that manerial right which now attaches to the manor of Eltham, I am not certain. Whichever it was, it
did not long continue the property of that church. Eltham, with
its appurtenances of Woolwich, &c. became vested in the Crown,
and this estate passed through various lay hands. Gilbert de Ma
risco held this estate, then called the Manor of Woolwich, in the
early part of Edward the First's reign (fn. 8) . In the year 1324, the
manor of Woolwich belonged to Sabina de Windlesore, or Windfor (fn. 9) . Sir John Pulteney became possessed of it before 1327 (fn. 10) ;
the next year, Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford, executed a
deed, by which he conveyed to the said Sir John all his right and
interest in this estate, by the name of the Manor of Southall, in
Woolwich (fn. 11) . Sir John Pulteney died seised of it in 1349 (fn. 12) . In 1374
and 1375, Thomas de Charlton and John Revell quitted all claim
in this manor to Nicholas Lovayne, Aubrey de Vere, and others (fn. 13) .
About the year 1400, it became the property of William Chichele,
youngest brother of Archbishop Chichele (fn. 14) . It was inherited by John
Chichele, (son of William,) and given by him in marriage with his
daughter Agnes, to John Tatterfall (fn. 15) , whose daughter and coheir Anne
married Sir Ralph Hastings, brother of Lord Willoughby. Sir Ralph,
by his will (fn. 16) , bearing date 1495, bequeathed his manor in Woolwich to
his wife, to be disposed of at her will. Philipott tells us that, prior
to this period, (in the reign of Edward IV.) it was sold to the
Boughtons of Burwash-court: it is probable he had seen some
deed in which the Boughtons were trustees. I know not what
became of it immediately after Lady Hastings's death. Philipott
says, that the Boughtons sold it to the Heywoods, by which, it is
supposed, he meant the Heydons; who were afterwards possessed of
it, though not by sale from the Boughton family. Sir Christopher
Heydon was in possession of it in 1575 (fn. 17) . About the latter end
of Queen Elizabeth's reign, it was sold to Sir Nicholas Gilbourne (fn. 19) , of whose descendants it was purchased by Richard
Bowater, Esq., ancestor of Edward Bowater Esq., the present proprietor.
Manor of Jeffrys.
An estate in this parish, called the Manor of Jeffrys, was, in
the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign, the property of Henry
Cheney (fn. 20) . This manor is not now known; but is supposed to be
included within Mr. Bowater's estate.
Estates in the marshes.
An estate in the marshes, on the Essex side of the water, (but
within this parish, and in the county of Kent,) consisting of about
100 acres, formerly belonged to the abbey of St. Mary de Graces,
near the Tower, (being parcel of their manor of Poplar (fn. 21) ,) which
manor had belonged to Sir John Pulteney (fn. 22) . These lands, which
had been leased, in the reign of Henry VIII. to John Danyell, were
granted, anno 1542, to Thomas Eaglesfield (fn. 23) ; and again, in 1558,
to Thomas Palmer and Andrew Castell (fn. 24) .
The monastery of Stratford Langthorne had an estate of about 50
acres called Wyck lands, in these marshes, which was granted, in 1541,
to Sir Roger Cholmley (fn. 25) . The tithes of these lands belonged to the
monks of Bermondsey, having been given to them by William de
Eltham (fn. 26) .
In 1541, King Henry VIII. granted a capital messuage, with a
garden and wharf belonging to it, in Woolwich, to Sir Martin
Bowes (fn. 27) ; who, in 1543, conveyed it to Edward Boughton (fn. 28) . In
1545, it was conveyed by the latter to Sir Edward Dymock (fn. 29) ; in
1548, from Dymock to Thomas Stanley (fn. 30) ; in 1558, from Stanley
to John Robinson (fn. 31) ; and in 1560, from the latter again to Sir
Martin Bowes (fn. 32) , and his heirs. By the description of this house in
the last grant, it seems to have stood near the river, upon some part
of the site of the present dockyard.
The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen (fn. 33) , is a brick
building, consisting of a chancel, nave, and two aisles. At the west
end is a plain square tower. The inside is fitted up in the Grecian
style, having galleries on the north, south, and west sides, supported by pillars of the Ionic order. It was rebuilt between the
years 1733 and 1740, pursuant to an Act of Parliament, by which
it was included among the fifty new churches to be erected under
the Acts of the ninth and tenth of Queen Anne, and the sum of
3000l. directed to be allowed towards the rebuilding, out of the
funds raised by the said acts (fn. 34) .
In the chancel are the monuments of Daniel Wiseman (fn. 35) , Esq.
1739; and Mr. Joel Barnard, attorney at law, 1758. In other
parts of the church are inscribed atchievements in memory of Capt.
Richard Leake (fn. 36) , Master-gunner of England, (father of Sir John
Leake the celebrated naval officer,) 1696; Mr. Edward Alford (fn. 37) ,
1701; and Robert Smith, Esq. 1714 (fn. 38) .
In the old church were the tombs of John Colin, 1397; and
William Prene, rector, who founded a chapel and built the belfry,
ob. 1464 (fn. 39) .
Tombs in the church-yard.
In the churchyard are the tombs of Mr. Jacob Fletcher, 1661;
Richard Leving, 1668; John Leving, Esq. 1672; John Leving,
jun. Esq. 1734; Mary, his wife, daughter of John Watts, 1735;
William Needham, Gent. 1733; Mary his wife, daughter of John
Leving, Esq.; William Morland, Esq. 1755; Alice, his wife,
daughter of John Leving, Esq.; Richard Morland, Esq. 1777;
Mr. William Acworth, 1671; Avice, his wife, 1643; Mr. John
Acworth, 1690; Mr. William Hussey, 1714; William Hussey, his
son, Solicitor for the City of London, 1776; John Smith, Esq.
(son of Robert), 1730; Anne, wife of Capt. John Melledge, 1741;
Horatio Horsnell, Esq. 1741; Mr. John Henslow, 1742; Capt.
James Cuthbert, 1742; Mr. John Legg, 1744; Mr. Adam Hume,
1745; Samuel Remnant, Esq. 1752; Sarah, his daughter, wife of
Jeremiah Redwood, 1785; Jeremiah Redwood, Esq. 1776; Hon.
Capt. Edward Wills, 1756; Mr. Henry Thompson, surgeon, 1759;
Mary, relict of the Rev. Dr. Barker, vicar of Adderbury, Oxford,
1760; Lieut. Thomas Sanders of the Royal Artillery, 1766;
Simeon Hill, Esq. 1769; Joseph Harris, Esq. master shipwright at
Chatham, 1773; Sarah, wife of Lieut. Col. Hislop, 1773; Col.
Hislop, 1779; George Gibson, Esq. Lieut. in the Artillery, 1775;
Benjamin Allen, Esq. 1775; Andrew Schalch, Esq. 1776; William Jones, Esq. 1779; Austen Mills, Esq. 1779; John Holmes,
Gent. 1780; Lieut. William Coleman of the Royal Artillery, 1780;
Lieut. Gen. George Williamson (fn. 40) , 1781; Captain Robert Hall,
killed by an accident on board his ship the Bridgwater, 1781;
Mary, wife of Lieut. William Role, 1783; Anne, wife of Captain
David Vans of the Royal Artillery, 1784; Edward Taylor, surgeon, 1784; Mr. Andrew Doe, aged 96, 1784; Captain Samuel
Tovey of the Royal Artillery, 1785; Elizabeth, wife of the Rev.
Daniel Turner, M. A. 1786; Mary, relict of the Rev. Mr. Fletcher,
1786; Mary, wife of Lieut. Gen. Cleveland, 1788; Lieut. Joseph
William Goreham of the Royal Artillery, (son of Col. Goreham,
Lieut. Governor of Placentia,) 1788; George Bickerton, surgeon,
1789; Catherine, wife of William Soley, Esq. 1789; John Nelson,
Esq. 1793; and C. S. Dowdeswell, Captain in the Royal Artillery,
Woolwich is a rectory, in the diocese of Rochester, and in the
deanery of Dartford. Henry I. gave this church to the Bishop of
Rochester, and the priory of St. Andrew at that place (fn. 41) . Bishop
Gundulph, when he separated his own maintenance from that of
the monks, gave them this church, with the free disposal of the
vicarage (fn. 42) ; but his successor, Gilbert de Glanville resumed it to
himself (fn. 43) , allowing the monks only their ancient pension of 7s. per
annum (fn. 44) . Since this time, the advowson has been vested in the
bishops of Rochester. The rectory of Woolwich was rated, in
1287, at ten marks per annum (fn. 45) ; in the King's books it is rated at
7l. 12s. 6d. In 1650, it was valued at 55l. per annum (fn. 46) . The
glebe lands consist of about twenty acres of pasture, lying within a
Rectors, Thomas Lindsay.
Thomas Lindsay, instituted to this rectory in 1692, was made
Bishop of Killaloe in 1695; translated to Raphoe in 1713, and to
the Primacy of Ireland the same year. He published a sermon preached
at a county feast. Philip Stubbs, who succeeded him as rector of
Woolwich, in 1695, published numerous single discourses. He
resigned this living in 1699, and was afterwards chaplain of Greenwich Hospital, and Archdeacon of St. Alban's.
The present rector is George Andrew Thomas, M. A. who succeeded the late Sir Peter Rivers Gay (fn. 47) , Bart. in 1791.
There are six meeting-houses in Woolwich, one belonging to
the Presbyterians, two to the Anabaptists; two to the disciples of Mr.
Whitfield, and one to those of Mr. Wesley.
The earliest date of the register of baptisms, burials, and marriages at Woolwich, now extant, is 1670.
Comparative state of population.
||Average of Baptisms.
||Average of Burials.
The great increase of population, which has been in a proportion
of nearly five to one within the last century, is to be attributed to
the proportionate increase of the dockyard and the warren, and the
augmentation of the artillery, who have their head-quarters at this
place. The present number of houses in the parish of Woolwich is
Extracts from the Register.
"Lady Judith Barkham, buried March 19, 1723–4."
John Kerr (fn. 47) , son of the Rt Honble Kerr Ld Bellenden and his
Lady, Elizabeth, born Aug. 22, 1751.
Mrs. Withers' school.
Mrs. Anne Withers, in 1754, founded a girls' school, and endowed it with 33l. per annum, as a salary for the mistress. Thirty
children are educated in this school.
Mrs. Wiseman's school.
Mrs. Mary Wiseman, by her will, bearing date 1758, left the
sum of 1000l. O. S. S. A. now 1750l. O. S. S. A. for the purpose of educating, clothing, and putting out apprentice, six boys,
sons of shipwrights who have served their apprenticeship in the
dockyard at Woolwich. At first there were not found a sufficient
number of boys, properly qualified, to fulfil the donor's bequest,
which occasioned the legacy to be augmented as above mentioned.
From the increase of the dockyard they became more numerous, and
the funds being adequate to it, eight boys are now educated, clothed,
This parish has a right of sending three boys to Blackheath school,
founded by Abraham Colfe, vicar of Lewisham.
Sir Martin Bowes's alms-house.
Sir Martin Bowes founded an alms-house in Woolwich for five
poor widows, and committed the care of it to the Goldsmiths'
Company (fn. 48) .
Nature and present Value.
||Sir Martin Bowes,
||7s. 11½d. per annum,
||Rev. Richard Sims,
||Sir Adam Newton,
||1l. per annum.
||Ten poor widows.
||Ab. Colfe, vicar of Lewisham,
||8s. 8d. per annum,
||Two sweet penny loaves, weekly, for two of the poorest and godliest inhabitants.
||An acre of marsh land, now let at about 2l. 10s. per ann. and the interest of 27l.
||Sir William Pritchard,
||The old market-house,
It is very uncertain when the dockyard at Woolwich was first
established. Bishop Gibson supposes it to have been the oldest in
the kingdom, having found that the great ship called Harry, Grace
de Dieu, was built there in 1512 (fn. 49) . It is possible, however, that
this ship might have been built, as others were before that time, by
contractors, at a private dock. The Royal dock, at this place,
if established in the early part of Henry VIII.'s reign, must
have been of very small extent; for it appears that, in 1546,
that Monarch purchased of Sir Edward Boughton, then proprietor
of the manor of Southall, two parcels of land at Woolwich called
Bowton's Docks, and two other parcels called Our Lady-hill and
Sand-hill (fn. 50) . The dockyard has since been considerably increased
from time to time, by the addition of several pieces of marsh-land,
held by Government under lease from the Bowater family (fn. 51) , being
parcel of the manor of Southall. This dockyard, which consists of
a narrow strip of land, by the river-side, five surlongs and eighteen
yards in length, contains two dry docks, two mast-ponds (fn. 52) ; a
smith's shop, with several forges for making anchors; a mouldloft; storehouses of various kinds; mast-houses; sheds for timber;
workshops for the different artificers; and houses for the officers
of the yard. This dockyard, like that at Deptford, has no Com
missioner, but is under the immediate inspection of the Navy Board.
The resident officers are, a clerk of the Checque; a storekeeper;
master-shipwright, and his assistants; clerk of the survey; master
attendant; surgeon, &c. The number of labourers and artificers,
exclusive of the ordinary and the convicts, is about 1140; the
peace-establishment is somewhat less (fn. 53) .
There is a ropewalk at Woolwich, about 400 yards in length,
under the direction of a clerk, for making cables of all dimensions
for the Navy.
The great ship called Harry, Grace de Dieu, already mentioned
as having been built at Woolwich in 1512, was accidentally burnt
there in 1554 (fn. 54) . Some account of the celebrated ship called the
Royal Sovereign, built at Woolwich in 1637 by Phineas Pett, has
been already given (fn. 55) . The ill-fated Royal George, lost at Portsmouth in the month of August 1782, with Admiral Kempenfelt
and the greater part of her crew, was built at this dock in 1751.
The gunwharf, or warren.
The gunwharf at Woolwich is of very ancient date; it formerly
occupied what is now the site of the market-place. When removed
to the warren, where it now is, it acquired thence the name by
which it is now called. The warren, at Woolwich, is the grand
depôt of the ordnance belonging to the Navy; the guns of most of
our men of war being laid up there in time of peace: there are also
mortars of all dimensions in great number, and immense stores of
shells and cannon-shot. Within this warren is a foundery for brass
canon; a laboratory (fn. 56) for making fireworks for the use of the Army
and Navy; and a repository for military machines, both for the land
and sea service (fn. 57) ; in which are also various models of bridges, forti
fications, &c. The academy for the education of young gentlemen (fn. 58) destined for the artillery or the engineers' service, is in the
warren, which is the head-quarters also of the regiment of Artillery; but, since the great increase of that regiment, the warren
(which contains between fifty and sixty acres) has been found very
insufficient for that purpose. A piece of ground, containing about
fifty acres, was taken on lease by Government (fn. 59) , of Mr. Bowater,
about twenty years ago, and spacious barracks built for the accommodation of the officers and privates of the regiment of Artillery,
for whom there was not room in the warren.
All ordnance, for the use of Government, as well the iron cannon
made by contractors at various places, as the brass cannon cast at
the foundery here, must be proved in Woolwich Warren. The chief
officers of the warren are, a storekeeper (fn. 60) , clerk of the Cheque,
clerk of the Survey, &c. The number of artificers and labourers
(exclusive of the convicts) employed in the various departments is
about 1500, including 300 boys. The making of canvas bags for
the use of the warren furnishes employment for a great number of
poor women in the town.
Two hulks are stationed in the river at Woolwich for the reception of convicts, who are employed in the most laborious offices
at the dockyard and warren, having proper persons to superintend
them, and take an account of their labour.