The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 10. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.
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THE PARISH OF ST. LAURENCE lies the next southward from that of St. Peter last described, taking its name from the saint to which the church is dedicated. The ville Ramsgate, within this parish, is within the liberty of the cinque ports; but the rest of the parish is within the hundred of Ringslow and jurisdiction of the justices of the county.
The VILLAGE OF ST. LAURENCE, having the church on an hill on the west side of it, is neat and small, being pleasantly situated in the south-east part of this parish, and commands one of the most extensive prospects in this island, as well towards the sea as the neighbouring parts of the county. This parish is about three miles from east to west, and two miles from north to south. The lands in it are more enclosed than the more northern parishes before-described. It is very populous, and has in it several small hamlets, or knots of houses, besides those particularly mentioned before; among which, in the western part of it, are Manston-green, and Spratingstreet; (fn. 1) on the northern, Hains, and Lymington; on the eastern, Hallicandane, and Herson; and towards the south, Great and Little Cliffsend, Chilson, Courtstairs; and adjoining to the sea, Pegwell, alias Courtis a small manor, usually stiled Pegwell, alias Courtstairs, and is an appendage to that of Sheriffs court, in Minster, as has been taken notice of before, in the description of that estate.
Adjoining is Courtstairs, alias Pegwell bay, where the inhabitants catch shrimps, lobsters, soles, mullets, &c. and a delicious flat-fish, called a prill, much sought after. At Pegwell there is a neat villa, lately erected by William Garrow, esq. for his occasional residence, and between this place and Ramsgate is another, called Belmont, an elegant building in the gothic taste, late the residence of Joseph Ruse, esq.
From this bay to a place called Cliffs-end, instead of chalk, the ground next the sea is a sort of blueish earth, somewhat like Fuller's earth; it is about sixteen feet above the sand, and in it are seen strata of culver and other fish shells, lying in a confused manner, one on the top of the other. This earth has been carried away frequently by people, as Fuller's earth, in great quantities, to dispose of as such; but on a trial it was found very deficient, and not partaking of any quality belonging to it.
By the return made by archbishop Parker, in 1563, to the privy council, it appears that there were then here ninety-eight housholds; but this place, owing to the prosperity of Ramsgate, has greatly increased for many years past, insomuch that in 1773, here were in this parish, including Ramsgate, which contains more than two thirds of the houses and inhabitants of the whole parish, 699 houses, and 2726 inhabitants; and in 1792 there were found 825 houses and 3601 inhabitants; which is a great increase for so short a space as nineteen years. (fn. 2) A fair is held here yearly, on August 10, for toys, pedlary, &c.
In this parish lived one Joy, who in king William's reign had such a reputation for very extraordinary strength of body, that he was called the English Sampson, and the strong man of Kent, and was taken notice of by the king, royal family, and the nobility, before whom he performed his feats. In 1699 his picture was engraved, and round it several representations of his performances, as pulling against an extraordinary strong horse, breaking a rope, which would bear thirty-five hundred weight, and lifting a weight of 2240lb. He was drowned in 1734.
In the month of March, 1764, between Ramsgate and Pegwell in this parish, a part of the cliff, seventy feet high, on the surface of which was a corn field, gave way for about twenty yards in length, and five yards in breadth, and fell into the sea.
The MANOR OF MANSTON, which is situated at the western boundary of this parish, was the seat and inheritance for many generations of a family of the same name, Richard de Manston, as appears by the rolls in the Pipe-office, was one of the Recognitores Magnœ Assisœ, an office of no small trust and importance, in the reign of king John. Sir William and Sir Roger Manston his brother, lie buried in the Grey Friars, in Canterbury. The effigies of Roger Manston, habited in his surcoat of arms, Gules, a fess, ermine, between three mullets, argent, (which arms are on the stone roof of the cloysters at Canterbury), and his spurs on, kneeling on a cushion, his hands joined and uplifted, his hair cut short, and having a bread, was formerly with the effigies of several other distinguished personages, in one of the windows of Ashford church. William Manston was sheriff in the 14th year of king Henry VI. and kept his shrievalty at this seat, whose son Nicholas Manston, esq. died in 1444, leaving one daughter Joane, who became his sole heir, and entitled her husband Thomas St. Nicholas, esq. of Thorne, in Minster, to the possession of this estate. Their great-grandson Roger St. Nicholas left an only daughter and heir Elizabeth, (fn. 3), who entitled her husband John Dynley, esq. of Charlton, in Worcestershire, to the possession of it; whose eldest son Henry afterwards alienated it about the middle of queen Elizabeth's reign, together with Powcies and Thorne, to John Roper, esq. of Linsted, afterwards created lord Teynham, and in his descendants this estate continued down to Henry, lord Teynham, who about the year 1709, by bargain and sale, inrolled in chancery, conveyed it by the description of Manson-court, and the scite of the manor of Manson, to Sir Henry Furnese, bart. of Waldershare, who died possessed of it in 1712; after which it came in like manner as Powcies, in Minster, before described, (fn. 4) to his granddaughter Anne, wife of John, viscount St. John, whose grandson George, viscount Bolingbroke, (his father having succeeded to that title) alienated it in 1790 to Mr. Gibbon Rammel, of Nash-court, and Messrs. Smith and Wotton, but it is now by sale become the property of Mr. Richard Brice.
The mansion has been for a long time converted into a farm-house. The remains of the chapel of it are very considerable, and being over run with ivy, make a very picturesque appearance, particularly on the north side.
OSSUNDEN GRANGE, as it is vulgarly called, the proper name of which is Ozengell, lies about a mile south-eastward from Manston-court, midway between that manor and the church of St. Laurence. This grange, or parsonage, consisting of the tithes of corn and grain of about one moiety of this parish, was part of the antient possessions of the abbot and convent of St. Augustine, and was early appropriated to the sacristy of that convent, with which it continued till the final dissolution of it in the 30th year of Henry VIII. when this estate, among the rest of the possessions of the monastery, came into the king's hands; where it did not stay long, for the king in his 33d year settled it by his dotation charter on his new-founded dean and chapter of Canterbury, part of whose inheritance it continues at this time.
NEWLAND GRANGE, usually called Newlands, and so named to distinguish it from Aldlond, or Oldland grange, in the adjoining parish of Minister, is situated about a mile northward from St. Laurence church It was part of the antient possessions likewise of the abbot and convent of St. Augustine, and was very early appropriated to the sacristy of that abbey. This grange, or parsonage, consisted of the tithes of corn and grain of the other moiety of this parish; and of 126 acres of land, according to the antient measurement of it, at the dissolution of the abbey in the 30th year of king Henry VIII.'s reign, when it came into the king's hands, where it remained till king Edward VI. in his first year granted it, among other premises, in exchange to archbishop Cranmer, (fn. 5) since which it has remained parcel of the possessions of that see, the archbishop being at this time entitled to it. It is demised on a beneficial lease, the present lessee being the widow of Mr. Gilbert Bedford, who is the occupier of it.
The MANORS OF UPPER and NETHER COURT, were so called from their respective situations in regard to each other; the name of the former is now almost forgotten, and there is only a faint tradition of the scite of it.
The manor of Upper Court was in early times the estate of a family, which took its name from their residence in this parish, whence it was called the manor of St. Laurence, alias Upper Court; and one of them, Robert de St. Laurence, held this manor in the reign of king Edward I. by knight's service, of the abbot of St. Augustine, as of his manor of Minster; from this family it not long afterwards passed into that of Criol, and in the 20th year of king Edward III. Sir John de Criol, held it in manner as above-mentioned; in which name it afterwards continued down to Sir John Criol, who held it in the beginning of king Henry VI.'s reign, and the arms of this family were formerly in one of the windows of this church. His son Sir Thomas Keriel, (for so he spelt his name) was K. G. a man of great note in the history of that time, for his valiant behaviour in the French wars, who was at length slain in the second battle of St. Albans, in the 38th year of king Henry VI. asserting the cause of the house of York; about which time, but probably before his death, this manor was alienated to John White, merchant, of Canterbury, afterwards knighted, who held it at his death in the 9th year of Edward IV. as did his descendant Robert White in the 12th year of king Henry VIII. From one of his descendants this manor passed by sale to Roger Bere, or Byer, as the name was sometimes spelt, who died possessed of it in the 4th and 5th of Philip and Mary, and was succeeded in it by his son John Byer, who in the very beginning of the next reign of queen Elizabeth, alienated it to Thomas Johnson, and he died possessed of of it in the 8th year of her reign, in which year Paul Johnson his son had livery of it. In whose descendants it continued till it was at length, about queen Anne's reign, sold to Edward Brooke, gent. of Nether-court, long before which the mansion of this manor had been demolished, though part of the ruins of the chapel belonging to it were then remaining; (fn. 6) but he being possessed of Nether-court adjoining, where he resided, and the mansion of Upper-court being demolished, the scite of it became forgotten, and the lands of the two manors so blended together, as to be with difficulty distinguished; since which they have continued in the same unity of possession, as may be further seen in the description of Nether-court, being now, both of them, the property of T. Garrett, esq.
The MANOR OF NETHER-COURT is situated about a quarter of a mile southward from the village of St. Laurence; it was antiently part of the possessions of the family of Sandwich, in which it continued in king Edward III.'s reign; being then held by Nicholas de Sandwich, of the abbot of St. Augustine. After this family was become extinct here, this manor came into the possession of that of Goshall, or Goshale, of Goshal, in Ash, with whom it remained till about king Henry IV.'s reign, when it was carried in marriage, by a female heir, to one of the family of St. Nicholas, one of whose descendants, Roger St. Nicholas, who died in 1484, leaving a sole daughter and heir Elizabeth, she entitled her husband John Dynley, of Charlton, in Worcestershire, to the possession of it, whose eldest son Henry afterwards alienated it to Maycott, from whom it was not long afterwards sold to Lucas, and he in the very beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, passed it away, with Upper-court before-mentioned, to Thomas Johnson, who bore for his arms, Quarterly, per fess indented, sable and or; in the first quarter, a pelican vulnerating itself, or; in whose descendants, residents at this manor, both of them continued down till they were, about queen Anne's reign, sold to Edward Brooke, gent. who rebuilt the mansion of Nether court; after which this manor became divided into moieties, one of which became vested in Mr. Mark-Sellers Garrett, and the other in the name of Moses, of whose two children John and Mary Moses, the latter of whom married T. Abbot, esq. of Ramsgate, this moiety was purchased by Mr. Mark Sellers Garrett above-mentioned, who thus became entitled to the entire fee of these manors, and died possessed of it in 1779; since which it is now become vested in Thomas Garrett, esq. who resides at Nether-court. A court baron is held for this manor.
CLYVESEND, or Cliffs-end, is a manor which takes its name from its situation, at the end of the chalk cliff, which continues from Ramsgate hither, lying at the south-west bounds of this parish,. and extending partly into that of Minster. This manor was antiently part of the possessions of the abbot and convent of St. Augustine, and was, with their other estates in this neighbourhood, in their own occupation; one of the monks of their convent residing here constantly for the management of it. In the 12th year of king Edward II.'s reign, anno 1318, one of them, Henry de Newenton, residing here, was, on a quarrel taking place between the abbot and his tenants of his manor of Minster, besieged by them in this manor-house, and then imprisoned for six days, and afterwards sold, says Thorne, to one Walter Capell, for four shillings. (fn. 7) In this state this manor continued till the dissolution of the monastery in the 30th year of Henry VIII. when it came into the king's hands. It is now the property of the right hon. earl Cowper.
The VILLE AND TOWN OF RAMSGATE, so called from the way here which leads to the sea, through the chalk cliff; the inhabitants, of which like those of other places, are fond of having it famous for its antiquity, and have fancied the name of it to have been derived from Romans gate, that is, from its being used as a port, or landing place, by the Romans; but besides, that its name was never so written in antient writings, it may well be doubted, whether during the time of the Romans frequenting this island, there was here any way or gate at all to the sea; and it seems plain, that it was dug first through the cliff, as the rest of the sea gates were in this little island, for the conveniency of the fishery, no Roman coins, &c. have been known ever to have been found here, as they have at Bradstow, where the Romans, if they had any at all, might have a station in this island.
The ville of Ramsgate, though in the parish of St. Laurence, yet maintains its own poor separately, notwithstanding which, it is assessed to the church in common with the rest of it; but the inhabitants have claimed the privilege of chusing one churchwarden from among themselves, and raising only a proportion of the churchcess. It is within the liberty of the cinque ports, being an antient member of the town and port of Sandwich, and within the jurisdiction of the justices of the same; but in king Henry VI.'s time, there being some dispute concerning it, (fn. 8) that king, to take away all controversy relating to it, united it by his letters patent to that town and port, within whose jurisdiction it still continues.
The mayor of Sandwich appoints a deputy, or constable here; and the inhabitants are allotted by the commissioners of that corporation, what proportion they shall pay towards the land tax, raised by that port. This ville, pleasantly situated in a vale of no larger extent than itself, was antiently a small poor fishing town, consisting of a few houses, and they poorly and meanly built, some of which are still remaining. Since the year 1688, through the successful trade which the inhabitants were concerned in to Russia and the East country, it began to be very much improved; the old houses were many of them raised and made more commodious dwellings, and abundance of new ones built, after the modern taste, still nearer to our own time. And since sea-bathing has been thought indispensably necessary, both to kill time and preserve health, Ramsgate has been much resorted to, during the summer season. It was originally built in the form of a cross; but some few years since, a new handsome street and other buildings have been added to it, and it has now many elegant and commodious houses in it, numbers of which are converted into lodgings, besides which here is an assembly room, several good inns, and other accommodations for the use of the company who resort hither. Warm salt-water baths have, on a very good construction, lately been completed; and a very neat chapel of ease has been erected in the centre of the new street, in consequence of an act passed in 1785; which chapel was consecrated by archbishop Moore, in 1791; at a small distance from it below, the Presbyterians have a good meeting-house; and at the lower part of the town the Anabaptists have another. By the authority of parliament likewise, this town has been well paved, lighted, watched, and otherwise improved, and a market established, which is well supplied with meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables. And in 1786, an act passed for establishing a court of requests in Ramsgate, and other parishes therein mentioned, for the recovery of small debts.
The poor state of this place in the reign of queen Elizabeth, may be seen from the return made in the year 1565, being the 8th of that reign, by the commissioners appointed for that purpose, of all the maritime places in this county; which was, that it was under the government of the town and port of Sandwich, and had in it houses inhabited twenty-five, boats and other vessels fourteen, from the burthen of three tons to sixteen; of men appertaining to these boats for carrying of grain and fishing, seventy; but how great must the increase of inhabitants and wealth of late years in this town appear, when even twenty years ago, (and great additions and improvements have been made to it since) the return was, of the houses in this town inhabited four hundred and fortythree, empty forty-four, inhabitants 1810.
The sea lyeth on the east side of our liberties, and on the south side from the sea towards the west, away called Thomas Tarye's way, leading by a close called Nynne close, and so leadeth by a close called Beysannts, and so down through Ellington, and so the way leadeth towards the south part of Ramesgate mill, and so down to a way that leadeth between Herstone and Ramesgate, and so on that way up the end of Jellyngham hill, and so on almost to the sea cliff, a way of six feet broad. (fn. 9)
ELLINGTON, about half a mile westward of the town of Ramsgate, and almost at the eastern boundary of the village of St. Laurence. It was formerly a gentleman's seat, being for many generations the residence of a family of the same name, several of whom lie buried in St. Laurence church; but the inscriptions on their tomb-stones, and on their plates of brass in it, have been long since obliterated and torn away. About the latter end of the reign of king Edward IV. this family was succeeded by that of Thatcher, a family of great antiquity in this island, as well as other parts of Kent; and after they were extinct here, this seat passed in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, into the name of Spracklyn, who bore for their arms, Sable, a saltier, ermine, between four leopards faces, or, several of whom lie buried in the chancel of St. Laurence church, where the inscriptions on their monuments and gravestones remain. In which family it continued down to Adam Spracklyn, esq. who resided here, but afterwards came to an unfortunate end; for having wasted his estate by his riotous living and frequent quarrels and disorderly behaviour, he became subject to outrageous fits of passion and ragings, in one of which having conceived a very great prejudice against his wife Catherine, daughter of Sir Robert Lewknor, of Acrise, he murdered her on the 11th of December, 1652; for which fact being apprehended, and Ellington being within the ville of Ramsgate, and consequently within the liberty of the cinque ports, and jurisdiction of the town and port of Sandwich, he was carried there and tried at the sessions of that town, when being found guilty and hung, his body was carried to St. Laurence church, and there buried near his wife. (fn. 10) After his death, his interest in this estate became vested in his son Mr. Spracklyn, of Peter house college, Cambridge; but the possession of it, by the incumbrances to which it was made subject by his father in his lifetime, seems to have come to Mr. Troward, in whose descendants it continued down to Mr. William Troward, (son of Edward) of Manston-green, who died possessed of it in 1767, intestate and without issue, upon which it came to his two nieces and heirs at law, Susan, wife of Robert Buck, mercer, of London; and Mary, the wife of Robert Gunsley Ayerst, clerk, of Canterbury, the two daughters of Sarah his sister, who married Alban Spencer, gent.
Mrs. Buck's moiety of this estate was settled on her husband in fee, who surviving her, devised it to sundry of his relations of his own name in Yorkshire, in tail, and they are now in the possession of it.
The PIER OF RAMSGATE lies at the eastern part of the town; it was at first made of timber, to make a harbour for the shipping, and desend the town against the ocean. It is not known when it was first made, but it must have been before king Henry VIII.'s time; for Leland, in his Itinerary, vol. vii. p. 137, says, "Ramsgate a iiij myles upward in Thanet, wher as is a smaul peere for shyppeis."
Before the present modern pier was built, this harbour was scare capable of receiving vessels of two hundred tons burthen at any state of the tide; but the foreign trade of the place having increased in the late wars, the inhabitants were desirous to have as much of their shipping as they could laid up at home, and fitted out here to promote the further trade and benefit of it; accordingly about the very beginning of king George I.'s reign, this pier was considerably enlarged, and the harbour thereby rendered more commodious. For the maintenance of this pier, orders and decrees have from time to time been made by the lord wardens of the cinque ports, by which the inhabitants were impowered to chuse pier wardens, to look after the repairs of it, and to collect such droits, or rates, as by these decrees and antient immemorial custom were payable for shipping and goods brought into it; one of these orders is dated in queen Elizabeth's reign, Henry Brooke, lord Cobham, being then lord warden; and the last of them in 1616, Edward, lord Zouch, being then in that office; but the title of them shews, that the rates then confirmed had been from time out of mind. (fn. 11)
The several schemes and attempts to have a new harbour made from Sandwich into the Downs, for the preserving of ships in distress, speedily fitting them for sea, and preserving the lives of numbers of the king's subjects, has been already fully mentioned be fore, in the account of Sandwich; the last of which was in 1783, when on an address from the house of commons, the king ordered a survey and estimate on this business to be forthwith made; but the great expence of it, at a time when the nation laboured under the heavy burthen of a war with both France and Spain, occasioned it to be then laid aside. This in 1744 brought forth a petition from several merchants and commanders of ships, and others, to the house of commons, in opposition to the plan then in agitation for making a commodious harbour from Sandwich into the Downs, for the reception and security of large merchant ships and men of war; setting forth, that a more convenient harbour might be made at or near Ramsgate, capable of containing a greater number of merchantmen, and ships of war of sixty or seventy guns, on account of the advantageous situation of the place and setting of the tides, where no back-water would be wanted, and there would be besides a saving to the public of several hundred thousand pounds.
But nothing appears to have been further done towards it, and the whole affair seems to have lain dormant, till the public was roused by a violent storm, which happened on Dec. 16, 1748, during which, a great number of vessels being driven from their anchors in the Downs, and being forced upon the southeast coast of the Isle of Thanet, several found safety in the little harbour of Ramsgate.
This seems at once to have opened the eyes of the public, and caused them to be turned upon Ramsgate, as a proper place for the reception of ships in distress from bad weather in the Downs; and the more so, as it was the opinion of a very able seaman and elder brother of the Trinity-house, Capt. Conway, that if an harbour was made here only for the reception of ships of two hundred tons and under, it would prevent nine-tenths of the damage in the Downs; as he supposed all such waiting for a wind to proceed westward, would take shelter in it. In consequence of which, another petition was presented in 1749, to the house by the merchants of London, owners and masters of ships; in favour likewise of the harbour here; and a counter-petition from the mayor, jurats, &c. of Sandwich, setting forth the great injury it would be, not only to the haven of Sandwich, but to the adjoining country, the marshes of which would by that means be drowned; upon which, after a thorough examination of the whole, the house resolved, that the merchants of London had fully proved the allegations of their petition, and a bill was ordered in, for enlarging and maintaining this harbour of Ramsgate; and likewise for preserving that of Sandwich, and for granting for this purpose the sum of two hundred pounds yearly, out of the profits and dues of Ramsgate harbour, towards amending and preserving that of Sandwich; which payment was a compromise to quiet the opposition made to this act by the mayor and corporation of Sandwich; the duties payable to this harbour being from all vessels passing through the Downs; which bill received the royal assent in the course of that session. Since which, some small intervals excepted, this pier has been carried on and new built, on a most magnificent construction, of stone, at the expence of several hundred thousand pounds; and notwithstanding the great care and attention which has been paid to the compleating of it, by the trustees, who have from time to time taken the advice and opinion of the most skilful seamen, pilots and engineers, to render this harbour as useful and adequate to the purpose it was at first intended for, yet much dispute has arisen, and the public clamour has been great of the inutility of it, and its being a work carried on solely for the purpose of self-interested views, and parliament has been applied to, to interfere in the management of it, though in vain.
However, this clamour seems of late to have in some measure subsided, and the apparent use and benefit of it seems to be at this time in general acknowledged. The pier has been built of Portland and Purbeck stone, and extends near eight hundred feet before it forms an angle, and is twenty six feet broad at the top, including the parapet; its depth increases gradually from eighteen to thirty-six feet; the south front is a poligon, its angles five on a side, each 150 feet, with octagons of sixty feet at the ends, and the entrance two hundred feet. But after this noble piece of masonry had been erected at so considerable an expence, the harbour, which contains forty-six acres in its area, as the work of the piers advanced, the space inclosed and the waters rendered more quiet, and in that respect more fit for the purposes of an harbour, became filled with filth, or mud, having no rivulet or back water to clear it out again. This increased so much, that had not some effectual remedy been found, the harbour would have in a few years been entirely filled up, and become a dry land, instead of a receptacle for shipping. The remedy proposed by Mr. Smeaton, the engineer, appointed to it by the trustees, was an artificial backwater by the means of sluices. This was effected in 1779, by forming a bason at the upper end of the harbour, by means of a cross wall, in which were six sluices, the operations of which were amazingly powerful, and they entirely cleared away the sullage from it down to the chalk, besides carrying out of the harbour's mouth great quantities of sand. From which time Ramsgate harbour began to put off its forlorn appearance of a repository of mud, which it had made for fifteen years before, and to give the public the greatest probability of its future utility, and its answering every purpose that it was at first designed for. A storehouse was erected contiguous to the bason for the reception of goods, that should be obliged occasionally to be put on shore, while the vessels were repairing; and a dock for occasionally repairing such vessels.
After the bason and cross-wall had been erected, it was found that this harbour became subjected to such a degree of agitation and inquietude, from the waters tumbling in in hard gales of wind, as to render it more eligible to vessels of burthen to submit to the risque of riding it out in the Downs, than come into this harbour in such an unquiet state.
This inconvenience too has been at length happily remedied, by an advanced pier of stone, which has been carried out from the east pier head to the length of near four hundred feet; which at the same time has rendered the approach into the harbour more safe and easy than it was before; insomuch that now all the difficulties seem to be removed that have occurred in the progress and execution of this long desired establishment; and the general opinion now appears to be, that this harbour, though an artificial one, is yet not improperly chosen.
To this account of improvements it may be added, that since the year 1792, a new light-house, built with stone, has been erected on the west head, with Argand lamps and reflectors, and a handsome house for the harbour master, with a new and elegant building for a warehouse. The old break-water at the east pier has been continued with a pier wall to the gateway by the cliff, by which a large piece of ground is inclosed, and forms a secure barrier to the pier, on the top of which is an elegant colonade, and a parade for walking. The bason wall has been widened, so as to form a wharf to admit goods being landed and shipped again, as it was before too narrow, and not deemed of sufficient strength. A house, built of stone, has been erected on the east head, which serves both as a watch-house, and at the same time to deposit hawsers in, to assist ships in distress, when coming in, and there were two alarm bells erected, one at the dock, the other at the east head, which are struck every hour, and in case of necessity are rung to alarm the town.
In the year 1791, in the month of January, there were one hundred and thirty sail of ships and vessels at one time in this harbour, driven in by stress of weather, among which were four West-Indiamen, richly laden, from 350 to 500 tons; and if we suppose that the whole, or the greatest part of these ships would have been riding in the Downs during the stormy weather, there can be no loss to judge what difficulties and dangers those must have experienced, who did ride it actually out there. Within this last year, as may be seen above, upwards of six hundred sail of ships and vessels have taken shelter in this harbour, of which above three hundred, (and the vessels in the Downs, have scarcely ever exceeded that number) were bound to and from the port of London. This is the evidence produced by Mr. Smeaton, in his printed Historical Report of Ramsgate Harbour, (from which great part of the above account is taken) to shew the saving of such a number of ships and vessels, of property to the amount of several hundred thousand pounds, and a great number of valuable lives, as the ships would otherwise have most likely been driven on the flats and rocks, and in all probability lost.
The acts which have passed for the making and preservation of this harbour, under which the trustees have acted, are the 22d of king George II. the 5th of George III. for enlarging the powers of the former, and the 33d of George III. which last repeals the two former acts, and besides enlarging and regulating the powers given in them, was passed principally for the reduction of one half of the duties then paid towards the support and carrying forward the works of it.
When this bill was brought forward in the house of commons, it was asserted, that there were then vested in the trustees for the use of this harbour 40,000l. in the 3 per cents.—10,000l. in the 4 per cents, besides a floating balance of 30,000l. in hand; the sum required to perfect the proposed works was 119, 000l.—and that in addition to the above, the trustees, &c. would have a surplus income, were even two-thirds of the duties reduced, of 1, 510l. yearly, besides annuities on lives of 1,100l. per annum more, which would soon fall in.
The duties payable to the maintenance of this harbour are lowered from six-pence per ton, on ships between twenty and three hundred tons, to one third; from two-pence per ton on larger ships to one penny; (ships to pay whether passing on the west or east side of the Goodwin Sands, which was not so before); duty on every chaldron of coals and every ton of stones from three-pence to three-pence halfpenny.
The sums received and paid on account of the harbour have been 492, 103l. 16s. 2¾d. and the sums expended to Midsummer, 1791, 450, 878l. 13s. 2¾d. Balance partly deposited in the bank of England, and part remaining in other hands, 41, 225l. 3s.
WILLIAM WALKER, by will in 1618, gave 40s. to be paid yearly out of certain tenements and lands, to be distributed to 20 poor people of this parish and the town of Ramsgate, and to be equally divided between them yearly, on Candlemas day; which premises are now vested in Jacob Sawkins and James Smith.
ALEXANDER LONG, by will in 1700, gave the annual sum of ten shillings, to be paid out of an estate at Ramsgate, to be distributed in three-penny loaves of baker's bread to forty poor people of Ramsgate, on Easter eve, yearly; which estate is vested in Mr. John Buckett.
CAPTAIN ROBERT PARKER, by will in 1705, gave 7l. a year, to be paid out of an estate at Dumpton, to be distributed yearly, 20s. for a sermon on every Good Friday, and the remaining 6l. to be laid out yearly in three-penny loaves of baker's bread, for the use of the poor of this parish and of the town of Ramsgate, equally to be divided between them, at his tomb in the south chancel of the parish church; half on every Good Friday, and the other half equally on every Whit Sunday and Christmas day; and when no sermon should be preached on Good Friday, the money given for that, to be distributed as the bread; which estate is vested in the heirs of Mr. John Fagg.
THOMAS EVERS, by will in 1716, gave the sum of 50s. to be paid yearly out of his estate at Dumpton, to be laid out on three-penny loaves, to be distributed yearly to the poor of Ramsgate and St. Laurence, on Ascension-day; but if a sermon be preached on that day, 10s. to be deducted for the preacher; which estate is now vested in Mr. Thomas Ashenden.
MARTIN LONG, by will in 1749, gave 60s. out of an estate at Pysing, in this parish, 20s. of which to be paid yearly to the poor of St. Laurence, on Lady-day, and 40s. yearly to the poor of Ramsgate, on the same day; which estate is vested in the Rev. William Abbot.
ANN ROBERTS, by will in 1753, gave the sum of 31l. 3s. 4d. bank stock, the yearly produce of which is 1l. 17s. 2d. for the clothing of the poor; two thirds of the annual produce to poor antient widows at the town of Ramsgate, and the other third to poor antient widows of this parish; which money is vested in the name of Martha Hawkesley.
ELIZABETH TURNER, by will in 1770, gave 800l. 4 per cent. bank annuities, the annual produce of which is 21l. to be distributed to ten widows of captains and mates of ships belonging to Ramsgate, two guineas to each, yearly on Christmas day; which money is vested in the name of Mr. John Quince.
JOHN SIMPSON, in 1773, gave 100l. in money, the annual produce of which is 5l. vested in the trustees of Ramsgate harbour, the same to be distributed yearly on Dec. 23, to the poor of the ville of Ramsgate.
The DONATION of nine loaves and eighteen herrings yearly on Midlent Sunday, to six poor persons of this parish; and of two yards of blanket yearly to three poor persons likewise of this parish, from Salmanstone grange, in the parish of St. John, has been already fully taken notice of, under that parish before.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Laurence, consists of three isles and three chancels, having a tower steeple in the middle of it, standing on four pillars, the capitals of which display the rude conceits of the artist. This tower, on the outside, is encircled with a string of very plain octagonal small pillars and semicircular arches, in the true Saxon taste. There are five bells in it. The church itself is a handsome building, of field stones, rough casted over, as the rest of the churches in this island are, and seems to have been built at several times; of the two side chancels the north one is said to have been built by the Manstons, of Manston-court, many of whom lie buried in it, though most of their monumental inscriptions are perished through length of time. Weever has however preserved two of them, being those of Roger Manston, and Julian his wife, and of Thomas St. Nicholas, who married Joane Manston, and had by her Thomas, entombed here likewise. There was likewise here a brass plate, having the effigies of a man, and these arms, quarterly, first and fourth, A fess, ermine, between three mullets; second and third, On a cross, engrailed, a cinquefoil, and underneath an inscription for Nicholas Manston, esq. obt. 1444. A brass plate, now torn off, for. . . Sayen Nicholas, esq. and Johane his wife; she died 1499; and just by, on a flat stone a brass with the effigies of a woman, and these arms, Ermine, a chief, quarterly; the inscription gone. A monument fixed against the north wall, for Frances, wife of Thomas Coppin, of Westminster, and daughter of Robert Brooke, esq. of Nacton, in Suffolk, who died during her stay here at Manston, in 1677; arms, Parted per pale, azure and gules, three boars heads, couped, or, a chief of the last. On a stone near this monument, and adjoining to that of Nicholas Sprackling, are four shields of arms, first, A cross engrailed, a rose in the centre; second, A cross engrailed; third, A fess, between three mullets, impaling the first coat; fourth, As the third, quartering the first. Part of this chancel is now made into a very handsome vestry. In the high chancel are several memorials in brass, with figures and inscriptions, for the family of Sprakeling. Below these is one having the figure scratched in the marble, of a man lying, with a pen in his hand, writing, Garde promesse fidelement; arms, Sable, a saltier, between four leopards faces, or, impaling or, a chevron, gules, between three bulls passant, sable. In this church is an antient grave-stone of one Umfry, but the arms are gone as well as the inscription, if it ever had any. In the body of the church there have been built several galleries, (which make a most unsightly appearance) to make as much room as possible for the numerous inhabitants of this parish, who had increased to four times the number that they were sixty or seventy years ago; but the inhabitants of Ramsgate are now accommodated with a chapel of of ease, lately built in that ville, as has been already noticed. Besides the above there are numerous monuments and memorials, of a more modern date, and among them, in the south chancel, a mural monument for Sarah, wife of Mr. Adam Spencer, obt. 1745, who with her three children were deposited in a vault near it; she had nine children, of whom four only survived; also for the aforesaid Mr. Adam Spencer, merchant, obt. 1757, who lies in the same vault with Sarah his wife, on it are these arms, Quarterly, first and fourth, Argent; second and third, Gules, a fret, or, over all, on a bend, sable, three escallops of the first, impaling barry of six, azure and gules, a chief, ermine. A mural monument for Capt. Martin Read, obt. 1792, and for Margaret his wife; arms, Gules, a saltier, or, between four leopards faces, proper. A mural monument for Capt. Martin Long, obt. 1751; for Elizabeth his sister, and for his sister Catharine, widow of Mr. William Abbott, arms, Sable, a lion rampant, argent.
In the south isle, among many others, a white tablet for Martha, widow of Darell Shorte, jun. esq. of Wadhurst, in Suffex, and daughter of Sir Robert Kemp, bart. late of Appeston, in Suffolk, obt. 1789; another for Dorothy, wife of Mr. William Abbott; she died 1728, and two of their daughters both named Dorothy, and their son Adam, obt. 1735, also the above mentioned Mr. William Abbott, obt. 1755, and for Dorothy his wife, and their children; and for the Holman's. In the great chancel, a memorial for Ann, relict of Capt. William Bookey, of the East-India Company's service, obt. 1770. In the vestry a black tablet for the Rev. Robert Tyler, A. M. twenty-six years vicar, obt. June 10, 1766.—In the north isle a white tablet to the memory of several of the Tomsons. A mural monument for the Tickners. A memorial for Peter Johnson, A. M. son of Henry Johnson, gent. and fellow of Corpus Christi college, Oxford, vicar of this church, obt. April 18, 1704; arms, Parted per fess, dancette, a vulture. On a plain stone, Capt. John Pettit, died; the rest is covered by the pews; arms, On a chevron, gules, three bezants, between three griffins heads, sable, crowned, or. A tablet in the south cross for Anna-Eliza, eldest daughter of the Rev. William-Worcester Wilson, D. D. obt. 1792. A memorial for the Rev. Peter James, M. A. late of Greenwich, and rector of Ight ham, obt. 1791. The following are plain slabs, mostly at the east end of the church; for Mrs. Elizabeth Kelly, daughter of Dr. Kelly, of Winchester, and sister of Dr. Kelly, regius professor, of Oxford; also Martha Kelly, sister to Elizabeth, wife of Lieutenant Charles Kelly, of the royal navy, obt. 1788; arms, A castle, between two lions rampant; for Matthew Brooke, A. M. fellow of king's college, and rector of Walton, in Hertfordshire, and vicar of this parish, obt. 1739; arms, On a fess, three martlets, a bordure engrailed, impaling a chevron, between three covered cups; for Matthew Bookey, son of M. and A. Bookey, obt. 1747. Memorials for several of the Gillows, Tomsons, Abbotts, Pamfleets, Harnets, Law, Joad, Moses, Parkers, Quince, Carraways, Redwood, Evers, Curling, Whites, Napletons, and Hoopers; for George Garrett, esq. obt. 1775. A mural monument, with inscription, that in a vault hereto adjoining, lie several of the family of Abbott, and their relatives; arms, A chevron, between three pears, impaling, on a pile, three griffins heads, erased.
In the church-yard are several monuments for the Stocks, Austens and Coxens; for Brotherly and Quince; for the Maxteds and Holmans; for Lithered and Joad. Two mural monuments, one for the Garretts, Casbys, and Browns, and their relatives; arms, Garrett, on a fess, a lion passant; the other for Mark Seller Garrett, obt. 1779. There are principal monuments and gravestones in this church and church-yard, the whole of which are by far too numerous to insert here.
Besides the high altar in this church, there were formerly others dedicated to St. James, St. Catherine, St. Thomas, and the Holy Trinity; besides which there were kept wax-lights, the expence of which was maintained by voluntary gifts and legacies. In the west window of the church were formerly painted the arms of Criol, who owned Upper-court, being Or, two chevrons, and a canton, gules. Septvans, Azure, three wheat skreens, or, an annulet for difference; the latter dwelt in this parish, and lies buried under a monument in Ash church. Of St. Nicholas, who married Jane Manstone, Ermine, a chief quarterly, or, and gules; in the first quarter, an annulet for difference Of Chiche, Azure, three lions rampant, argent, a bordure of the second; and of Manston, Gules, a fess, ermine, between three mullets.
At a small distance from the church to the eastward, are the remains of a small chapel, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, now converted into a cottage.—There was a chantry founded in it, for the support of which several lands hereabouts were given, which at the suppression of these chapels in king Edward VI.'s reign, came into the hands of the crown, and became a lay fee.
This church was one of the three chapels belonging to the church of Minster, and was very probably made parochial sometime after the year 1200, after that church, with its appendages, had been appropriated in 1128, to the monastery of St. Augustine; it was at the same time assigned with the three chapels, and all rents, tithes, and other things belonging to them, to the sacristy of the monastery; and it was further granted, that the abbot and convent should present to the archbishop, in the above-mentioned chapels, fit perpetual chaplains to the altarages of them; but that the vicar of the mother church should take and receive in right of his vicarage, the tenths of small tithes, of lambs and pigs, and all obventions arising from marriages and churchings which were forbid at the chapels, and were solemnized, &c. at the mother church only. (fn. 12)
In the year 1275, archbishop Robert consecrated the cemetery of this church, and granted it the right of sepulture, with the restrictions, that the tenants or occupiers of land, who were parishioners of this chapel, should be buried at their mother church of Minster, as the parishioners of this chapel had heretofore been; and that none of them should be buried here, without the express leave of the vicar of Minster, notwithstanding they, by their wills, or by any other means, ordered their burial to be in the burying-place of the chapel; but that children and poor people, who were parishioners of it, and not tenants or occupiers of land, might be buried here, with this proviso, that all obventions, oblations, or legacies arising, on account of such sepulture, in the yard of this chapel, should wholly be divided between the vicars of Minster and this chapel of St. Laurence; that no prejudice might be done to the mother church of Minster, as to marriages and churchings, which should be done for the future at the mother church, as they had been before.
These obventions, oblations and legacies, arising from funerals, were to be faithfully laid up and kept by the vicar of this chapel and his chaplains, till they should be equally divided between him and the vicar of Minster, which was to be done every month, unless they should be required of the vicar of Minster, or his chaplain or proctor, oftener. But a composition, we are told, was made between the patrons and several incumbents, which was confirmed by the archbishop, which was, that the incumbents of these chapels or dependant churches should pay only the tenth part of all their real profits to the incumbent of the mother church; which composition was, it is said, duly observed about the year 1370. (fn. 13)
Although the chaplains of these chapels were to receive no more than ten marcs of these altarages, yet they were not excluded the enjoyment of the manses and glebes given to these chapels when they were first consecrated, which made some addition to their income, and enabled them to keep a deacon to assist them. On the great and principal festivals, the inhabitants of the three chapelries, preceded by their priests, were accustomed to go in procession to Minster, in token of their subjection to their parochial or mother church.
In 1301, the abbot of St. Augustine ordained several new deanries, one of which, named the deanry of Minster, in which this church of St. Laurence was included; but this raising great contests between the abbot and the archbishop, and the pope deciding in favour of the latter, these new deanries were entirely dissolved. (fn. 14)
After this, the appropriation of the church of Minster, with its appendant chapels and the advowsons of the vicarages of them, continued with the abbot and convent till the dissolution of the monastery in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when they were surrendered, together with the rest of the possessions of the monastery, into the king's hands.
After the dissolution of the monastery, and the change in the service of churches wrought by the reformation, this parochial chapel of St. Laurence became entirely separated from the mother church of Minster, the vicar of this parish having no further subjection to it in any shape whatever; but by the same change he was likewise deprived of several of those emoluments he had before enjoyed in the right of his vicarage; and all the tithes of corn and grain within this parish, being appropriated to the two granges, or parsonages of Newland and Ozingell, and the small tithes of it to that of Salmestone, as has been already mentioned before. The endowment of this vicarage consisted only of the yearly stipends of six pounds paid out of Newland grange, and of ten pounds paid out of Ozingell grange, a vicaragehouse, barn, and two acres of glebe. But this income, by reason of the increase of every necessary article of life, falling far short of a reasonable maintenance, archbishop Juxon, in conformity to the king's letters mandatory, in 1660, augmented this vicarage with the addition of 40l. to be paid yearly out of Newland grange. (fn. 15)
This vicarage is valued in the king's books at seven pounds, and the yearly tenths at fourteen shillings. In 1588 here were communicants six hundred and fifty-six, and it was valued at only twenty pounds. In 1640 here were six hundred and fifty communicants.
The advowson of this vicarage coming into the hands of the crown, on the dissolution of the abbey of St. Augustine, continued there till Edward VI. in the first year of his reign, granted the advowson of the vicarage of Minster, with the three chapels appendant to it, one of which was this church of St. Laurence, among other premises, to the archbishop, since which this advowson has continued parcel of the possessious of that see, the archbishop being the present patron of it.
Church of St. Laurence.
|Or by whom presented.|
|The Archbishop.||Peter Johnson, A.M. in 1654, ejected August, 1662. (fn. 16)|
|John Young, A.B.Dec. 4, 1663, obt. 1699.|
|Matthew Bookey, A.M. March 20, 1700, obt. March 16, 1740.|
|Robert Tyler, A.M. May 31, 1740, obt. June 10, 1766. (fn. 17)|
|Richard Harvey, A.M. 1766, resigned June, 1793. (fn. 18)|
|Richard Harvey, jun. A.M. June 17, 1793, the present vicar. (fn. 19)|