The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.
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EASTWARD from Stone lies Swanscombe, so called from the camp of Swane, king of Denmark, who having failed up the Thames, landed at Greenhithe; and marching from thence, encamped at this place; Combe and Compe in Saxon, being derived from campus in Latin, signifying a camp. (fn. 1)
It is written in some records Swegenscomp, Swaneskampe, (fn. 2) and in Domesday Suinescamp.
The high road from London to Dover crosses the northern part of this parish, which reaches up higher a long way to the southward, among a large tract of woodland. It contains in the whole 2300 acres of land, of which 600 are wood, and 250 marsh land. On the north side of the above road there is a large range of chalk pits, and lower down the hamlet of Greenhithe, (called in the Textus Roffensis, Gretenersce (fn. 3) ) close to the shore of the river Thames. Here there are several wharfs for the landing and shipping of corn, wood, coals, and other commodities, but the greatest traffic arises from the chalk and lime, from the above chalk pits, the range of which continues with small intermission from Stone to Gravesend, within a very small distance of the shore. Hence not only the city of London, but the adjacent counties, and even those of Suffolk and Norfolk, are supplied with this commodity. There is a ferry here across the Thames into Essex, for horses and cattle only, which antiently belonged to the priory of Dartford; at the suppression of which, in king Henry the VIIIth's reign, it was granted to John Bere for a term of years, (fn. 4) and afterwards by queen Elizabeth in her 2d year, with the manor of Swanscombe to Anthony Weldon, in fee, since which it has continued with the possessors of the manor to the present time.
There was a chapel formerly in this hamlet, founded by John Lucas, of Greenhithe, who, in the 19th year of king Edward the IIId. obtained the king's licence to assign over a piece of ground here, and twenty acres of pasture in this parish, to a chaplain, to celebrate divine offices daily in the chapel, to be erected on it here, in honor of the blessed Virgin Mary. This chapel was suppressed with others of the same sort in king Edward the VIth's reign, some of the walls of it are re maining, but being converted into a tenement, there is scarce any outward appearance of it left.
At the east end of this hamlet is the seat of Ingress, situated close under the chalk cliffs, on the bank of the Thames, along which it has a most pleasing view, the extensive pleasure grounds of it are for the most part formed over the remains of a range of old neglected chalk pits, which form an inequality of ground for the purpose, beyond what any art or present expence could perhaps easily attain to. Above the London road, on the southern side, is a neat modern house, called Knockholt, built by one of the family of Hayes, of Cobham, the last of whom Mr. Bonham Hayes left it by will to Mr. Butler, of Deal, who now owns it; near it are two small hamlets, called Milton-street and Weston-cross.
From the above road the ground rises southward to the village of Swanscombe, at the west end of which is the mansion of the manor, much of which has within these few years been pulled down, and it is now used as a farm house; and a little further the parsonage and church. Round the village there is some tolerable good land, though rather inclined to gravel, and some orchard ground; even so early as the 36th year of king Henry VIII. mention is made in a grant of it of an orchard here, called the cherry-garden, belonging to the mansion of the manor. Above the village the ground rises still higher, being covered with a large tract of woodland, the soil of which is a stiff cold clay. These woods stop the current of the air, and occasion the fogs and noisome vapours arising from the marshes to hang among them, and then to descend on the village and low lands again, which renders this parish exceedingly unhealthy. Part of these woods within the bounds of this parish is known by the name of Swanscombe park, in which and other parts near it there are several mounts of earth thrown up, seemingly the works of very antient times. They all lie very high, some of them have a hollow at the top, and none of them are above thirty or forty yards over. The old Roman road runs along the southern part of this wood. Dr. Thorpe supposed that Swanscombe was the vagniace of the Romans, and that their station here was at the head of the fleet, which parts this parish and Northfleet, on which subject the reader will find further hereafter under Southfleet. A few years ago a copper coin of Nero was grubbed up out of a hedgerow in this parish, and another of Severus was turned up by the plough; a sussicient corroboration that the Romans had intercourse in or near this place.
William the Conqueror, as is commonly reported, was met in his way through this county, immediately after the battle of Hastings, by the Kentishmen at Swanscombe, headed by archbishop Stigand, and Egelsine, the abbot of St. Augustines, each man having a bough in his hand; so that the whole multitude seemed at first a moving forest; when throwing down their boughs, at the sound of the trumpet, they appeared with their arms prepared for battle. This at first somewhat alarmed the duke, but his surprize ceased, when he found it was the people of Kent, who, as he was told, by the archbishop and abbot, were come to assure him of the submission of the county, and withal to demand the confirmation of their antient laws and privileges. The duke received them very graciously, and not so willingly, as wisely, granted their request.
This tale is repeated by William Thorne, monk of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, from a MSS. history of that abbey, drawn up by Thomas Sport, and others, chroniclers there, who in all probability invented it, to magnify the valour of their archbishop and abbot, and of their countrymen. All our writers, except Mr. Lambarde, who seems loth to give it up, have looked upon this story as a mere fiction. Mr. Somner, in particular, calls it a commentitious sable; he says, it is mentioned only by Sprot, who lived in the reign of king Edward I. and such others as of latter times have written after his copy; for before him, and in that interim of more than two hundred years, between the conquest and the time he wrote, no published story, no chronicle, no record of any kind, Kentish or other, is found to warrant the relation; and yet, a matter so remarkable as this, was not likely to escape all our historians pens that were before him, especially those about the time of the conquest. Among which the silence of Ingulphus is the more strange, since he is so particular and punctual in relating and recording the Conqueror's oppugners and their proceedings. These reasons, with others, he offers to the more literate and judicious only, for the story being so universally swallowed by the generality of people, he dares not enter into a dispute with them about it, as despairing of success in disengaging them from the belief of it, though he was to use the most convincing arguments for that purpose. (fn. 5)
Our herbalists have taken notice of the following SCARCE HERBS and PLANTS to be found within this parish:
Ifchæmon vulgare, cocksfoot grass, which Johnson says was most probably gramen dactiloides radice repente, cocksfoot grass with creeping roots; Gerardé found it near Greenhithe.
Palma Christi, mas. & fæmina, the male and female satyrion royal; in Swanscombe wood.
Rheseda Plinii, Italian rocket; upon the upgrounds above Greenhithe
Cynocrambe, dogs mercury; about Greenhithe and Swanscombe.
Virga aurea, the golden rod; in Swanscombe wood.
Pneumonanthe, Calathian violet; upon the chalk cliffs near Greenhithe.
Speculum veneris minus, codded corn violet; in the corn-fields near Greenhithe.
Trachelium majus, blue Canterbury bells, Trachelium minus, small Canterbury bells, are both found not only in this parish, but in many other places in this county.
Centaurium parvum luteum lobellii, yellow centorie; upon the chalky cliffs about Greenhithe.
Lathyrus major latifolius, everlasting pea; in Swanscombe wood. (fn. 6)
I have myself also found on the waste upground above Greenhithe the butterfly and the fly satyrion, the humble-bee and the bee-orchis.
In the reign of king William the Conqueror, Swanscombe was part of the possessions of Odo, bishop of Baieux, the king's half brother, and it is accordingly entered, under the general title of his lands, in the survey of Domesday, as follows:
Helto holds Sninescamp of the bishop (of Baieux.) It was taxed at 10 sulings. The arable land is 14 carucates. There are 3 in demesne, and 33 villeins, with 3 borderers, having 13 carucates. There is 1 knight, and 10 servants, and 40 acres of meadow, wood for three hogs and 5 fisheries of 30 pence, and a sixth which belongs to the hall, and 1 hith of 5 shillings and 4 pence; of the wood of this manor, Richard (de Tunbridge) holds in his lowy as much as is worth 4 shilling.
The whole manor was worth 20 pounds .... and it is now worth 32 pounds.
On the disgrace of bishop Odo, in 1084, his possessions were consiscated to the king's use, and this manor as part of them. After which the manor of Swanscombe came into the possession of the family of Montchensie, called in Latin De Monte Canisio.
William, son of William de Montchensie, who died in the 6th year of king John, owned this manor. It appears that he lived but a few years afterwards; for Warine de Montchensie (probably his uncle) in the 15th year of that reign, for a fine of two thousand marcs, had possession granted of his whole inheritance. He married Joane, the second daughter of William Mareschal, earl of Pembroke; and in the 7th year of king Henry III. being in the expedition then made into Wales, he had scutage of all his tenants by military service in Kent, and other counties. He died anno 38 king Henry III. being then reputed one of the most noble, prudent, and wealthy men in the kingdom, his inventory amounting to two thousand marcs. He bore for his arms, Or, three escutcheons vairy, argent and azure, two bars gules; which coat is among the quarterings of the present earl of Shrewsbury. He left William, his son and heir, and a daughter Joane, who had married, by the king's appointment, William de Valence, the king's half brother. Valence bore for his arms, Barry of ten, argent and azure; eight martlets gules, three, two, and three, though sometimes they were placed in orle. His arms are in Woodnesborough church, as quartered by Hastings, and they are on the roof of the cloysters of Canterbury cathedral. These arms were quartered by the late Marchioness de Grey, and the earl of Shrewsbury.
William de Montchensie, two years after, as son and heir to his father, had possession granted of all his lands lying in Kent, and other counties. Not long after which he took part with the discontented barons, and, in the 48th year of king Henry III. was one of the chief commanders on their part, in the battle of Lewes, where the king was made prisoner; and next year, when they summoned a parliament in the king's name, he was one of the chief of those barons that fat in it. (fn. 7) After being taken at Kenilworth, in the surprise made by the forces of prince Edward, a little before the battle of Evesham, his lands, and among them this manor, were seized, and given to William de Valence, before-mentioned. However, he had soon after such favor shewn him for his sister's sake, that William Valence freely restored them to him again. After which, in the 6th year of king Edward I. he obtained a full pardon, with other favours granted to him, and in the 8th year he had restored and granted in fee, view of frank pledge, and the courts belonging to it in all his lands. (fn. 8) But in the 17th year of that reign, marching with the earl of Cornwall (then governor of the realm in the king's absence) into Wales against Rees ap Grissith, then in the castle of Drosselan, and endeavouring to demolish it by undermining it, he was, with many others, overwhelmed in the fall of it. (fn. 9) He left one daughter and sole heir, Dionisia. Notwithstanding which next year William de Valence, and Joane his wife, asserted their claim in parliament to the inheritance of her father's lands, pretending, that this Dionisia was a bastard; but after much dispute, it being proved that William de Montchensie acknowledged her, whilst he lived, as his lawful daughter publicly, and because the bishop of Worcester, in whose diocese she was born, had given sentence therein accordingly, she was allowed to be legitimate. (fn. 10) She was shortly afterwards married, through the king's means, to Hugh de Vere, third son of Robert, earl of Oxford, who in the 25th year of the same reign, in consideration of his services in the wars of France, had possession granted of the lands of her inheritance. (fn. 11)
In the 1st year of king Edward II. he was summoned to the king's coronation, as was Dionisia his wife, by whom it seems he had no issue; for on her death, in the 7th year of that reign, it was found, that she died possessed among others, of this manor of Swanscombe, which she held in capite, by homage and service, and that Adomar de Valence, son of Joan and William de Valence before-mentioned, was her next heir, (fn. 12) who afterwards succeeded in the earldom of Pembroke, whose three sisters were Anne, first married to Maurice Fitzgerald, and next to Hugh Baliol, and lastly to John de Avennes; Isabel to John de Hastings, of Bergavenny; and Joane to John Comyn, of Badenagh. Adomar, or Aymer de Valence before-mentioned, on his two brothers death without issue, became earl of Pembroke. But in the 17th year of that reign, attending the queen into France, was murdered there, in revenge, as it is said, for the death of the earl of Lancaster, being one of those who had given sentence of death upon him at Pontesract two years before, and his body being brought into England was buried in the abbey church of Westminster, at the head of Edmund, earl of Lancaster. (fn. 13) He left no issue, though he was thrice married, upon which John, son of John de Hastings, by Isabel his wife, the earl's sister, and John, son of John Comyn, of Badenagh, by Joan, the other sister of the earl, were found to be his coheirs, and next of kin. (fn. 14)
John de Hastings, the son, died without issue next year, leaving Joane, wife of David de Strabolgi, earl of Athol, and Elizabeth Comyn, her sister, his cousins, and next heirs.
Elizabeth Comyn, being likewise one of the cousins and heirs of Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke before-mentioned, on the partition of his estates, had for her share, among others, the manors of Swanscombe and Milton, in this county; but being seized on by Hugh le Despencer, earl of Winchester, Hugh his son, and others, at Kenynton in Surry, she was kept a prisoner by them for more than a year; during which she was compelled, through fear of being put to death, to pass away many manors and lands of her inheritance to him, among which the manor of Swanscombe seems to have been one; for the king, in his 18th year, confirmed it to Hugh le Despencer, earl of Winchester, and his son Hugh, in fee. The former of whom, in the 19th year of that reign, on the queen's coming to Bristol from abroad, with a powerful force, was brought before the prince, and those barons then attending him, though at that time ninety years of age, and received judgment of death; first to be drawn, afterwards to be beheaded, and then hanged on a gibbet; all which was accordingly executed, on which Hugh Despencer, the younger, immediately fled, but being taken prisoner not long afterwards in Wales, was brought in the most ignominious manner to Hereford, where he was condemned to a cruel and shameful death, which was accordingly executed on him, the gallows being fifty feet high, on St. Andrew's Eve, in the 20th year of king Edward II. and being then quartered, his limbs were sent to four different places, and his head to Londonbridge. Upon this the manor of Swanscombe escheated to the crown, where it remained till the 1st year of king Edward III. when, in consideration of the good services performed by Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, and partly in satisfaction of the deficiency of lands which his father king Edward had appointed him to have, the king granted to him several manors, which by the sorseitures of Hugh Despencer, earl of Winchester, the father, and of Hugh the son, had escheated to the crown, among which was this manor. (fn. 15)
This Edmund married Margaret, widow of John Comyn, of Badenagh, and in the 3d year of king Edward III. had possession granted of her dowry.
Being accused of treason, he was arrested at a council held at Winchester, in the 4th year of that reign, upon which he submitted to mercy; but by the malice of queen Isabel, he was adjudged to suffer death for high treason, in plotting the delivery of the late king. Which sentence was accordingly executed on him. He died possessed of this manor with the church belonging to it, among others in this county; holding it, as appears by the inquisition taken after his death, in fee-tail of the king in capite, as of the honor of Rochester-castle, by the service of paying yearly to the castle, at the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, 4l. 4s. and at the king's exchequer 8s. 3½d. for all service. After the earl's death, this manor seems to have reverted to its right owner again, in Elizabeth, sister and coheir of John Comyn, of Badenagh, cousin and heir of Aymer, earl of Pembroke, then married to Richard Talbot, of Goderich-castle, in Herefordshire, who was ancestor of Talbot, viscount Lisle, Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, and the Talbots of Graston and Longford, Richard Talbot's great-grandfather, who died anno 2 king Edward I. bore for his arms, Bendy of ten pieces argent and gules, being the paternal coat of Talbot. He married the daughter and heir of Rhese Ap-Grissith, prince of Wales; and their descendants discontinued the bearing of their paternal coat, according to the custom of those times, in respect to her, and took the arms of the said Rhese and his ancestors, princes of Wales, viz. Gules, a lion rampant or, within a bordure engrailed of the second. He paid aid for this manor as half a knight's fee, in the 20th year of that reign. He was a man of experienced valour, much entrusted and employed by the king in his wars, especially in Scotland; and having been summoned to parliament from the 4th to the 29th years of the same reign inclusive, he died in the 30th year of it, being then possessed of this manor, held in capite. (fn. 16)
It appears that he held this manor only for life; for on his death, it came into the possession of Roger, lord Mortimer, who was owner of it at his death, which happened in France, anno 34 king Edward III. holding it of the honor of Rochester-castle, by the service before-mentioned. (fn. 17)
From him it descended to his great grandson, Edmund Mortimer; on whose death without issue, in the 3d year of king Henry VI. Richard, duke of York, son of Anne his sister, was by inquisition, found to be his cousin and next heir.
Being, both by his father's and mother's side, descended from king Edward III. he aspired to the crown; but in the 37th year of king Henry VI. the army, which he and his friends had raised for this purpose, having, upon the king's proclamation of pardon deserted him, he fled to Ireland, and the king causing a parliament to meet at Coventry, this duke, his son Edmund, earl of March, and all their adherents, were attainted in it; upon which this manor became forfeited to the crown, and was that year granted to Sir Thomas Browne, of Beechworth-castle, in Surry, treasurer of the king's houshold, who had then a grant of a fair to be held at this place yearly, on the Tuesday in the week of Pentecost. (fn. 18) However, it seems, as if on the turn of fortune, which happened soon afterwards to the duke of York, that he regained the possession of this manor, of which he died possessed, as appears by the inquisition taken after his death, in the 3d year of king Edward IV. After which his widow, Cecilie, duchess of York, the king's mother, continued in possession of it to the time of her death, in the 10th year of king Henry VII. (fn. 19) when it reverted to the crown, where it staid till king Henry VIII. settled it on his queen, Jane Seymour; on whose death, in the 29th year of that reign, it came again into the king's hands, where it remained till queen Elizabeth, in her 2d year, granted it in see, with the scite of it, the cherry-garden, and the serry of Greenhithe, to Anthony Weldon, esq. who had a lease of it, both from king Henry VIII. and Edward VI. for a term of years, to hold of her in capite by knights service. He was descended from Bertram de Weltdone, who was of the retinue of Walther, earl of Northumberland and bishop of Durham, at the time of the conquest. His descendant, Robert de Weltden, was lord of Weltden, in Northumberland, in the reign of king Richard I. whose descendant, Simon Weltden, was of Weltden, and flourished in the time of king Henry VI. He had by Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Thomas Denton, esq. of Denton, in Northumberland, two sons; Christopher, who succeeded his father at Weltden, and was ancestor of the branch of this family who settled there; and Hugh Weltden, who was sewer to king Henry VII. and left four sons, Hugh Weltden, who was ancestor to the Weltdens, of Shottesbrooke, in Berkshire; Edward Weltden, the second son, whose descendants settled in Kent, bearing for their arms, Argent a cinquesoil pierced gules, on a chief of the second, a demi lion rampant of the field; Thomas Weltden, the third son, who was cofferer to king Edward VI. and queen Elizabeth, whose descendants remained at Cookham, in Berkshire; and William Weltden, the fourth son, whose descendants settled at Thornby, in Northamptonshire.
But to return to Edward, the second son, who was servant to king Henry VII. and master of the houshold to king Henry VIII. He was of Swanscombe, and left by his wife, daughter of Roo, Anthony Weldon, esq. before-mentioned, clerk of the spicery, and afterwards promoted to the board of green-cloth, to whom queen Elizabeth, in her 2d year, granted this manor of Swanscombe in fee. He died in the 16th year of that reign, (fn. 20) being then clerk of the green cloth to that princess.
Ralph Weldon, his eldest son, had possession granted of this manor, the serry, and other lands before-mentioned, that year, holding them in capite by knights service. (fn. 21) He was knighted, and was clerk of the kitchen to queen Elizabeth, afterwards clerk comptroller to king James, and died clerk of the board of green cloth. He died in 1609, leaving, by Elizabeth, daughter of Leven Buskin, esq. four sons, Anthony, clerk of the kitchen to king James, Henry, Levin, and Ralph, and several daughters.
Anthony Weldon, esq. the eldest son, succeeded him in this manor, was afterwards knighted, and in the 10th year of king James, obtained a grant of the castle of Rochester, with all its services annexed. He married Elinor, daughter of George Wilmer, esq. by whom he had several children, of whom Ralph Weldon, the eldest son, on his father's death inherited this manor and the castle. His son was Anthony Weldon, esq. of Swanscombe, whose son, Walker Weldon, esq. died possessed of these estates in 1731, presently after whose death, his heirs conveyed them by sale to Thomas Blechynden, esq. who died owner of them in 1740, leaving, by Lydia his wife, two sons, his coheirs, whose trustees, under the direction of the court of chancery, conveyed them to Samuel Child, esq. of Osterly park, an eminent banker in London, and he died possessed of them in 1752, leaving two sons, Francis and Robert, of whom the eldest, succeeded his father in these estates; but dying without issue in 1763, this manor, with the scite of Rochester-castle, as well as his other estates, devolved to his brother and heir at law, Robert Child, esq. late of Osterly-park, and a banker in London, who married the eldest daughter of Gilbert Joddrell, esq. of Ankerwyke, and died in 1782, and his widow Mrs. Child, with the other trustees under her husband's will, then became possessed of them, and she, in 1791, carried her interest in them, in marriage to Francis, lord Ducie. She died in 1793, since which they have again become vested in the trustees of her first husband's will, and remain so at this time.
The manor of Swanscombe, as well as that of Combe in this parish, holden of Rochester-castle, owed service towards the defence of it, the owner of Swanscombe being, as it were, one of the principal captains to whom that charge was antiently committed, and there were subject to this manor several knights sees, as petty or subordinate captains, bound to serve under his banner there. (fn. 22)
These services have been long since turned into annual rents of money. The following is a list of those manors and lands which held by castle-guard, and now pay rents in lieu of it:
Luddesdown manor. Ryarsh manor. Delce Magna. Addington manor. Norton manor. Cobham Eastcourt, and Aldington Eastcourt. Stockbury manor. Little Delce. Hamwold-court manor. Farnborough-court manor. Boughton Monchelsea manor. Midley and Little Caldecott. Goddington manor. Padlesworth manor. Bicknor manor. Fraxingham manor. Wootton manor.
Eccles manor. Part of ditto. Sholden manor in Surry. Lands in Westborough farm, in Surry. Dairy farm, in Higham. Mickleham manor, in Surry. Barrow-hall manor, in ditto. Ingrast, Harringfield, East Harringfield, and West Horden, in Essex. Great and Little Borstable manors. Widford manor, in Essex. Alchardin, alias Combes manor, and part of North-court.
These rents are paid on St. Andrew's day, old style, and the custom has been held, that if the rent is not then paid, it is liable to be doubled, on the return of every tide in the Medway, during the time it remains unpaid. This custom was very near being brought to a legal decision some years ago; for Sir Thomas Dyke, bart. owner of Farnborough-court manor, and Thomas Best, esq. owner of Eccles manor, having made default in the payment of their castle-guard rents, Mr. Child, owner of Swanscombe manor, and the castle, required the penalty of their being doubled; which dispute was carried so far, that ejectments were served on the estates, and a special jury was struck, to try the matter. But by the interposition of friends, the dispute was compromised, and a small composition was accepted, in lieu of the penalty, though it was entered in the court-rolls of Swanscombe manor, with the consent of all parties, in such a manner, that the custom of this payment might not be lessened in future by it.
The MANOR of Combes, called likewise Alkerdyn, alias Combes, in the reign of Edward III. was in the possession of Sir Richard Talbot, who, in the 20th year of that reign, paid aid for it, holding it as the 10th part of a knight's see, which Hugh de Vere held before of the king.
This place afterwards gave name to a family, who possessed it for many generations, called from it AtCumbe, and Combe. One of these, John de Combe, held it as the fifth part of a knight's see of the earl of March, lord of the manor of Swanscombe. From this family it went, in the next reign of Edward IV. to Swan of Hook-house, in Southfleet, whose descendant, Mr. Thomas Swan, died possessed of it, in the 3d year of queen Elizabeth, holding it of the queen, as of her manor of Swanscombe, by knight's service; (fn. 23) his son and heir, William Swan, sold it to Lovelace; and he, not long after, passed it away to Carter, who alienated it to Hardres; from whom, at the latter end of that reign, it was sold to Fagg, and he conveyed it to Hudson, whose descendant, in the reign of king Charles I. conveyed it to Mr. Richard Head, of Rochester, (fn. 24) who was advanced to the dignity of baronet in 1676; his great grandson, Sir Francis Head, bart. died possessed of this manor in 1768, leaving three daughters, Mary Wilhelmina, married to the Hon. Harry Roper, eldest son of Henry lord Teynham; Anne Gabriel, married first to Moses Mendes, esq. and 2dly to the Hon. John Roper, second son of Henry lord Teynham above mentioned; and Elizabeth Campbell, married to the Rev. Dr. Lill, of the kingdom of Ireland.
On Sir Francis Head's death this manor came to the Honorable Harry Roper, by virtue of the settlement made by Sir Francis on his marriage; he afterwards succeeded to the title of lord Teynham, and died possessed of it, but without issue, on which it devolved, by the above settlement, to his other two daughters and coheirs. Soon after which it was sold to Mr. William Levett, who conveyed it to Mr. Bonham Hayes, who died in 1794, and his heirs sold it to David Powell, esq. of London, merchant, the present owner of it.
INGRESS is a seat, built on the bank of the Thames, adjoining to the hamlet of Green-hithe. It was once accounted a manor, and formerly belonged to the priory of Dartford, and was possessed by it at the suppression of that house in the reign of Henry VIII. by which means this estate, among their other possessions, came into the hands of the crown; at which time Robert Meriel, of Swanscombe, husbandman, had a lease from the prioress and convent, at the yearly rent of ten pounds, of their farm, called Ingress, late in the tenure of Richard Grove, and all their chalk cliffs, called Downe cliffs; which lease Martin Meriel, his son, afterwards had renewed, from Edward VI. in his 5th year. (fn. 25)
The see of this estate remained in the crown till queen Elizabeth, in her 5th year, granted it to Edward Darbyshire and John Bere, who not long after conveyed it to Jones; who, in the latter end of king James I.'s reign, alienated it to Whaley, and he settled it on his kinsman, Mr. Thomas Holloway, who conveyed it to Shires; (fn. 26) whose wife Mary survived him, and with her two sons, Edward and Robert Shires, esqrs. of the Inner Temple, in 1649, conveyed the mansion-house, manor, and farm, called Ingress, and the several lands belonging to it, chalk cliffs, lime-kiln, whars, salt and fresh marsh, to Capt. Edward Brent, of Southwark, who by his will, in 1676, gave this estate to Christian his wife, for her life, with remainder to Edward Brent, esq. their son, who became possessed of Ingress at his mother's decease, and resided at it; and in the year 1689, conveyed it, with the lands belonging to it, in Swanscombe, among other premises, by way of mortgage, to John Smith, esq. of Camberwell, Surry, who by his will, in 1698, gave his interest in it to his two sons, Nathaniel and Jonathan Smith, who, in 1710, purchased the fee of this estate of the heirs of Brent. Nathaniel and Jonathan Smith above mentioned, both resided here; but in 1719, Capt. Nathaniel Smith conveyed his share in Ingress to his brother-in-law, Jonathan, sheriff in 1721, who bore for his arms, Argent, on a fess vert three bezants, between three demi griffins sable. In the year 1737, he alienated it to John Carmichael, earl of Hyndford, afterwards made a knight of the Thistle, and appointed envoy extraordinary to Prussia and Russia; and he, in the year 1748, alienated Ingress, with the grounds belonging to it, to William viscount Duncannon; who, in 1758, on his father's death, succeeded him as earl of Besborough, in Ireland, and baron Ponsonby, of Sysonby, in this kingdom. He greatly improved this seat and the grounds belonging to it, with much elegance and taste, and resided here, with his lady (Carolina, eldest daughter of William duke of Devonshire) and family till her death, which happened in 1760, but losing several of his children here likewise, he became so disgusted with the place, that he immediately sold it to John Calcraft, esq. late an agent for the army, who purchased several estates, at different times, contiguous to Ingress, into which he extended the plantations and gardens, which lord Besborough had begun, and continued making such additions to it, that, had he lived, Ingress would, most probably, have been one of the greatest ornaments of this county. He died in 1772, being then M. P. for Rochester, and devised this, among his other estates, to his eldest son, John Calcrast, esq. and he sold it in 1788, to John Disney Roebuck, esq. who resided here, and died possessed of it in 1796; and his son, Henry Roebuck, esq. now possesses it.
Martin MERIEL, of Greenhithe, by his will in 1563, devised 20s. yearly, to be paid out of his house and lands, called Daniel's, in Swanscombe, to be applied, 18s. towards the relief of the poor of this parish, on Good Friday, and 2s. to the churchwardens, in consideration of their pains.
John BERE, gent. in the reign of queen Elizabeth, by will, appointed that James Vaughan and others, and their heirs, enfeoffed by him by deed, in three tenements and gardens, situated in Greenhithe, should stand seised of them, for the purpose, that three aged poor men or women should for ever be placed in them, by the clergymen and churchwardens, they being inhabitants, and to enjoy the same gratis during their lives.
Anthony POULTER, as is supposed, gave by will, in 1635, 20s. yearly, to be distributed by the churchwardens to the poor, at Christmas, which money is paid by Mrs. A. Pettit, of Dartford.
Lady SWAN gave, by will, in 1721, three messuages in Greenhithe, to the churchwardens and overseers, the yearly rents of them, to be distributed among the poorest inhabitants of this parish as they should think fit, or to permit so many such to dwell in them gratis, the same now vested in the churchwardens; a part of the premises was let to the late Mr. Richard Forrest, for ninety-nine years, and occupied by him at 3l. per annum; another small part is in the occupation of James King, at 5s. per annum, and the remainder is turned into a workhouse.
ONE PIECE of land, called the Poor Acre, and other lands belonging to B. Hayes, esq. pays 1l. 5s. to the churchwardens, for the use of the poor of the parish yearly, the donor unknown.
SWANSCOMBE is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese and deanry of Rochester. This church, which is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, consists of two isles and two chancels, having a spire steeple at the west end.
In this church, among other monuments and inscriptions, are the following. In the isle, are several gravestones, with memorials, for the Tuckeys, Acortes, Wallis's, and other inhabitants, of this parish. A mural monument, on the north isle, for Mr. John Sloman, obt. 1706, æt. 21, only surviving son of Mr. Anthony Sloman, of London; he left his fortune to his sole executor, Mr. Jonathan Smith, younger son of John Smith, esq. (his grandfather by his mother's side) by a second marriage. In the great chancel, a memorial for the wife of Anthony Weldon, esq. obt. 1759; above these arms, a cinquefoil, on a chief a demi lion. Another within the rails, for the Rev. John Watts, obt. Jan. 12, 1670. A memorial for John Taylor, clerk, B. D. rector of this parish, obt. Sep. 2, 1757, æt. 60, arms, ermine on a chief indented, three escallop shells, impaling a chevron ermine between three garles. Another for Martin Barnes, B. D. rector of this parish, ob. Sep. 27, 1759, æt. 59. On the south side a mural monument, with the figure of a woman finely executed, and kneeling at a desk, with a book open before her, and an inscription for dame Ellinor Weldon, daughter of George Wilmer, esq. and wife of Sir Anthony Weldon, by whom he had six sons and four daughters living, obt. 1622. On the south side of the rails, a mural monument, with a like figure of a man, kneeling at a desk, with a book open before him, and inscription, for Anthony Weldon, who died, clerk of the greencloth to queen Elizabeth, and brother of Sir Ralph Weldon, who died in the same office to king James I. himself being clerk of the kitchen both to queen Elizabeth and king James I. who resigned the same place to his nephew, Anthony Weldon, then clerk of the kitchen, in the 2d year of that king's reign, obt. 1613, arms, Weldon. In the south chancel, a monument for Elianor, relict of Wm. Say, esq. ob. 1678; above, a shield with three chevrons, impaling Weldon. Another for Elizabeth, relict of Wm. Hart, esq. obt. 1677; above, these arms, a lozenge, Hart, impaling Weldon; another for Anne, relict of Sir Percival Hart, of Lullingstone, obt. 1712. A memorial, at the east end of the south chancel, for Thomas Blechinden, esq. lord of this manor, obt. 1740, æt. 31, and for his widow, Mrs. Lidia Blechingdon, obt. 1743, æt. 31; above are these arms, quarterly, 1st and 4th, a fess nebulee between three lions heads erased; 2d and 3d, a chevron between three eagles heads erased, impaling a fess ermine between three cinquesoils. At the upper end of the south side, a stately monument of alabaster, on which are the figures of a knight in armour and his lady, at large, resting on pillows, at his feet a son cumbent, and at her's, a daughter; and in front, under two tablets, are three sons and five daughters, kneeling, in the dress of the age; between them is a desk, with a book open on each side, being for Sir Ralph Weldon, erected by his wife, lady Elizabeth Weldon; he was chief clerk of the kitchen to queen Elizabeth, afterwards clerk comptroller to king James, and died clerk of the green cloth, an. 1609, having had by the said Elizabeth, daughter of Leven Buffkin, esq. four sons; Anthony, clerk of the kitchen to king James, Henry, Lever, and Ralph; and six daughters. On another tablet, an inscription, shewing that his grandfather, Edw. Weldon, served king Henry VII. and was master of the household to king Henry VIII. whom likewise Thomas Weldon, his uncle, served, and was cofferer to king Edward VI. and queen Elizabeth; Anthony Weldon, his father, served queen Elizabeth, and died clerk of the Greencloth; on the top, these arms, quarterly, 1st and 4th, Weldon; 2d, ermine, a lion rampant, his tail forked azure, crowned or; 3d, argent, on a chevron azure, three besants between three trefoils, parted per pale gules and vert; on the left side a shield, being Weldon, impaling on a bend ermine, three boars heads couped, between two bendlets or; on the right, Weldon, impaling Buffkin. In the upper window of the south chancel are these arms, very antient, in coloured glass, 1st quarterly, 1st and 4th, argent, a chevron between three rooks proper; 2d and 3d, per pale indented, quarterly and azure, a lion rampant or, impaling chequy or and azure, a fess gules. (fn. 27)
This church, in former times, was much resorted to by a company of pilgrims, who came hither for St. Hildeserth's help, who by his picture, which was in the upper window of the south side, appears to have been a bishop, to whom such as were distracted came to be cured of their infanity. (fn. 28)
From the earliest account of time it was esteemed an appendage to the manor of Swanscombe; although, in the reign of king Henry III. there arose a dispute between the prior and convent of St. Mary's, in Southwark, and Warine de Monchensie, concerning the advowson and right of presentation to it; but the prior and convent allowed it to belong to Warine de Monchensie, saving to the prior and his successors, the annual sum of five marcs sterling, to be paid by the rector of it. (fn. 29)
The church continued appendant to the manor till Edward VI. Dec. 4, in his 6th year, granted the advowson of the rectory of it, with other premises, in exchange, to Edward lord Clinton and Say, and Henry Herdson. (fn. 30)
In king James I.'s reign, the advowson belonged to Mr. George Gardiner. In 1650, it was the property of the Rev. Mr. Betts, who was likewise rector of this church. It has been, for many years past, part of the possessions of the master and fellows of Sidney college in Cambridge, the present proprietors of it.
In the 15th year of king Edward I. the rectory of Swanscombe was valued at thirty marcs. (fn. 31)
By virtue of the commission of enquiry into the value of church livings, in 1650, it was returned, that Swanscombe was a parsonage, with a house, and about twenty acres of glebe land, all worth 120l. per annum, master Betts enjoying the same, who had the advowson. (fn. 32) About which time there was a suit between the lord of the manor and the rector of this parish, relating to tithes, which was determined in the exchequer in favour of the latter, of which there is a curious memorandum inserted in the Register.
It is valued in the king's books at 25l. 13s. 4d. and the yearly tenths at 2l. 11s. 4d. (fn. 33)
Church Of Swanscombe.
|Or by whom presented.|
|The King||Edm. de London, presented 1331, obt. 1332. (fn. 34)|
|Reginald Thomas, LLB. obt. 1494. (fn. 35)|
|The Queen||Ambrose Lancaster, A. M. Nov. 8, 1566. (fn. 36)|
|James Iken, A.M. in 1627. Betts, in 1650. (fn. 37)|
|William Hopkins, in 1661, obt. 1685.|
|Henry Boyce, in 1695. Hope, obt. 1708. Boyce, in 1718.|
|Master and Fellows of Sidney college Cambridge||John Taylor, B. D. obt. Sept. 2, 1757. (fn. 38)|
|Martin Barnes, B.D. 1757, obt. Sep. 27, 1759. (fn. 39)|
|John Lawson, 1700, B.D. Nov. 1779. (fn. 40)|
|Edward Oliver, 1781. Present rector.|