The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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THE next parish north-westward from Capel is that of Tunbridge, written in Saxon, Tunbryege, or the town of Bridges. In Domesday, and in the Textus Roffensis, it is written TONEBRIGA, and is supposed to take its name from the several bridges which are built over the five streams of the river Medway, as they pass through this town.
THE PARISH of Tunbridge is very large, extending six miles in length from north to south, and about six in breadth; its circumference is supposed to be about twelve miles, though the bounds of it have not been perambulated for many years. From its great extent, the situation, as well as the soil, is very different in the several parts of it; it lies in general very low and moist, owing to the different streams of the Medway, which flow through it, and at times inundate it to a considerable extent. From the nature of its soil it is extremely kindly for oak timber, of which there are numbers of large sized trees throughout it, the whole is esteemed a very healthy air; the soil is in general a stiff clay, much of which, especially in the grass lands on each side the river is very fertile and good fatting land, at the same time much of it is productive of good crops of corn and hops, of which there are several plantations. At the south-west part of the parish the ground rises to the quarry hill, where the soil becomes a sand covering the quarry stone rock, about a mile beyond which is the hamlet of Southborough, at the extremity of the parish that way. The north and south parts of this parish on the east side, are covered with the woods of the north and south Frith, the former of which joins to West Peckham, and the latter, of much larger size, being upwards of three miles in length, and two in breadth, extending to within a very small distance of Tunbridge-wells, in Speldhurst. On the northern side of the latter, about a mile and a half from the town, on a pleasing eminence, is the mansion of Somerhill, Mr. Woodgate's; the state apartment of this large and venerable mansion, is noble and spacious, and retains its original form, as well as much of its gilding and other decorations, and the whole, by a repair made with a proper attention to the style of its architecture, might be rendered a most magnisicent residence.
Along the western side of the Frith woods there runs a stream, which comes from Speldhurst, and about midway here turns a mill, used for the manufacturing of that sort of gunpowder, usually called battle gunpowder, it is situated at a place in it called Old Forgefarm, from its being in queen Elizabeth's time an iron foundery, subject to her use and directions. In 1763 an act passed to enable the proprietors to continue to work the mill as a pessle mill, which is otherwife prohibited by law.
The town of Tunbridge is situated nearly in the middle of the parish, about thirty miles from London, on the sides of the high road leading from thence to Tunbridge-wells, and likewise to Cowden, &c. and to Rye, in Sussex, to which places the road divides at the south end of the town; another road branches off from the middle of the town eastward through Hadlow to Mereworth, and thence to Maidstone.
The river Medway crosses the town near the south end of it, in five streams, over which there are as many bridges. The southern was formerly the main stream, of the river, but the northern, which was dug entirely to form the inner moat of the castle, is now the only navigable and main branch of it, over which there was built in 1775, on the foundations of the former one, which was grown ruinous, a new stone bridge of three arches, which cost eleven hundred pounds, at the county's expence. It was built from a design of Mr. Milne, but is calculated more for utility than ornament. Just below this bridge there is a spacious wharf, on which a great quantity of the largest oak timber which is brought out of the Wealds of Kent and Sussex, is continually laid, till it can be conveniently wasted down the river to the royal docks at Chatham and Sheerness, and elsewhere, principally for the use of the navy. Above this, the Medway, though narrow, is navigable for small boats for about a mile, where the principal channel comes from Penshurst, to which, by all appearances, it might with ease be made navigable, should the commissioners, who are impowered to compleat the navigation as far as Forest-row, in Sussex, think it an object of importance.
THE CASTLE of Tunbridge stood close to the river, just above the new bridge above-mentioned, at the south-west corner of the present town, the ruins of it are venerable, and are conspicuous for some distance round it, though there are at this time little more remaining of it than the inner gateway, a building flanked by two large circular towers of great thickness and strength, a part of the walls round the circuit of it, and the high mount within them of the keep or dungeon, all which are convincing proofs that when in its prosperity it was a place of no small strength and consequence; the walls formerly inclosed six acres of ground. The fortifications seem to have consisted of these two spacious round towers, of about seventy feet diameter, communicating with each other by a strong high wall of sixty feet, from east to west, these are united to the great keep on the top of the mount, the base of which is the circle of an acre, and had a covered way from it to the gateway of the castle, from which there was another covered way over the chapel to the south-east tower. The governor's domestic apartments were in the area, parallel to the south wall, which overlooks the river, and unites the two towers at the extremities of it as above mentioned.
There were formerly three moats which incircled this castle, the innermost of which was made by a new stream dug for that purpose, now the principal one of the Medway, over which was a stone bridge, which was joined by a strong broad wall of stone to the south-east round tower of these above-mentioned, and kept up a large head of water in the moat which was between the gateway and the barbican, or watch tower. The other two moats inclosed the then town of Tunbridge, the outermost of them had a drawbridge over it at the north end of the town. These moats were capable of being filled or emptied at pleasure, by a large wear and bank, which extended the space of two miles, towards Lyghe. (fn. 1)
In former times the town of Tunbridge was little more than the suburbs belonging to the castle, and being situated between the two outer moats of it, partook of the same vicissitudes of fortune, as that eminent fortress did, in the several sieges it underwent, particularly in king Henry IIId.'s reign, Gilbert, earl of Gloucester, the noble owner of it, having associated with the rebellious barons, the king besieged this castle, and having burnt down the town, afterwards took the castle in 1264. The present town is situated for the most part northward of the castle, on the rise of a hill. Since the river Medway has been made navigable up to it, the trade of it has been greatly increased, as well as the wealth and number of the inhabitants, there being at this time not less than one hundred freeholders residing in it, so that it is now in a flourishing state, many good houses having been erected in it, and several persons of genteel fortune induced by so healthy and pleasant a situation, and a well supplied market, have fixed their residence in it, particularly on the hill at the north end of the town are two handsome well-built houses, one late the residence of Thomas Hooker, esq. late lord of this manor, and the other of George Children, esq. the latter of whom possesses a good estate in this county, and is descended of a family who were for mady generations settled at a house called from them Childrens, situated at Lower, or Nether street, in Hilden-borough, in this parish, who bore for their arms, Or, a saltier engrailed gules. A descendant of them was John Children, esq. who married Jane, daughter of Robert Weller, esq. of Tunbridge, by whom he had one son George, and two daughters, of whom Anne was married to Mr. Richard Davenport, surgeon, of London, and Jane to Christian Albert de Passow, a Danish gentleman. He died in 1772, and was succeeded by his eldest son, George Children, esq. now of Tunbridge, barrister at law, who married Susanna, since deceased, the second daughter of the Rev. Thomas M. Jordan, rector of Barming, by whom he has one son John George.
THE TOWN, the principal street of which is very broad and airy, is from its situation at the rise of the hill, naturally neat and clean, and is kept exceedingly so under the care of two town wardens, who are chosen at the court leet of the manor every three years, and employ for that purpose a yearly rent of about thirty-two pounds per annum, arising from certain lands, called the town lands, lying near the town, given by persons unknown, many years ago, for this use. A large market is kept in it for cattle, on the first Tuesday in every month; and another market for meat, poultry, &c. on a Friday weekly. A fair is held here on three days yearly, on Ash Wednesday, on July 5, and on Oct. 29, for live cattle and toys.
This town had formerly the privilege as a borough, of sending burgesses to parliament; but there is but one return to be found of its having so done, to the parliament held in the 23d year of king Edward I's reign, at Westminster; when John German and John Martin were returned for it. (fn. 2) An account of the dreadful storm, which happened on Friday, Aug. 19, 1763, which entered this county at Tunbridge-Wells, and directing its course north-north east, spread havock and desolation wherever it vented its sury, has already been given under the description of Maidstone.
Cyperus minor palustris, hirsutus paniculis albis paleacis; observed by Mr. Du Bois, plentifully near Tunbridge. (fn. 3)
An account of the noted medicinal waters, usually called Tunbridge-Wells, situated about five miles southward from the town of Tunbridge, has already been given under the parish of Speldhurst, in which they are mostly situated.
Edward Stafford, the last duke of Buckingham, in the reign of king Henry VIII. bore, among his other titles inherited from his ancestors, that of baron of Tunbridge; (fn. 4) but being convicted of high treason in the 13th year of that reign, he was executed, and an act passed anno 14 and 15 of that reign, for his attainder, and though another act passed the same year for the restitution of his son Henry in blood, yet it did not extend to his honors and lands.
Richard Burgh, earl of Clanrickard, &c. was by king James I in his 22d year created baron of Somer hill, the name of the seat he had built in this parish, and viscount Tunbridge, and in the 4th year of king Charles I. earl of St. Albans. He died in 1636, and was succdeded in titles by his son and heir Ulick, who was afterwards created Marquis of Clanrickard. He died without male issue, and his titles, among which was that of viscount Tunbridge, became extinct.
William Henry de Zuleisten de Nassaw was in the 7th year of king William III. anno 1695, created baron of Enfield, viscount Tunbridge, and earl of Rochford, in Essex. He was the son of Frederick de Nassaw, lord of Zuleisten, in Holland, and natural son of Henry, prince of Orange, the king's grandfather. The earl of Rochford, viscount Tunbridge, died in 1708, in whose descendants those titles have continued down to the right hon. William Henry Nassau, the present earl of Rochford and viscount Tunbridge.
THOUGH THERE IS NO PARTICULAR DESCRIPTION of this place in the survey of Domesday, yet the possessor of it, Richard de Tonebridge, alias Fitz Gillibert, is frequently mentioned in it, as is the district which he was lord of round about it, called in it Leuua Ricardi de Tonebrige, the lowy of Richard de Tonebridge, as may be seen in the several parts of that record, inserted in different parishes throughout this history.
He was one of the principal persons, who came into England with the Conqueror, and was with him in the memorable battle of Hastings, by which the duke obtained the crown of this realm, in reward for which service, and in regard of his near alliance in blood, he had great honors and large possessions, both in Normandy and England, bestowed on him.
Towards the end of the Conqueror's reign, he obtained the town and castle of Tunbridge, or Tonebruge as it was then called, from the archbishop of Canterbury, in lieu of the castle of Brion, each being measured to the same extent; and having fixed his residence in his new acquired demesnes, was from thence called Richard de Tunbridge, and the district round about him, his lowy. Upon the death of the Conqueror, he favored the title of Robert Curthose against William Rusus, who besieged him in his castle of Tunbridge, on the surrender of which he submitted, and swore allegiance to him. From which time to the death of king Henry I. nothing remarkable occurs relating to him, and soon after that he was slain in Wales, and was buried at St. Neots, in Huntingdonshire, being succeeded in all his possessions in England by Gilbert de Tunbridge, his eldest son, who in his father's life-time, in the 12th year of William Rufus, taking part with Robert, earl of Morton, then in rebellion, he fortified himself in his castle of Tunbridge in the earl's behalf; but the king, after a siege of two days, obliged Gilbert, who was wounded, to surrender it up. He died about the 12th year of king Henry I. anno IIII, leaving four sons, of whom Gilbert, the second, surnamed Strongbow, was by king Stephen, in his 3d year, created Earl of Pembroke; Walter, the third son, was founder of the abbey of Tinterne, in Wales; and Baldwin, the fourth, assumed the Surname of Clare.
He was succeeded in this manor and castle by his eldest son Richard, who assumed the surname of Clare, from his lordship of that name in Suffolk, and was the first of his family who had the title of earl of Hertford, (fn. 5) bearing for his arms, Or, three chevrons gules. He founded the priory of Tunbridge, and was slain by the Welsh, in the latter end of the above reign, leaving several children, of whom Gilbert, the eldest son, be came his father's heir, and had the title likewise of earl of Clare. He gave the church of Tonebruge to the monks of Lewes, in Suffex, and dying in the 17th year of king Stephen, S. P. was buried in the cell at Clare, which Gilbert his grandfather had given to the monks of Bec, in Normandy. He was succeeded by Roger his brother, who likewise bore the title of earl of Clare. In the 9th year of king Henry II. he was summoned to appear at Westminister, by archbishop Becket, to do him homage for the castle of Tunbridge, which he asserted was held of him in right of his archbishopric; this the earl, through the king's persuasions, refused, alledging that he held it by military service of the king, and not of the archbishop, who upon this let the matter drop, without pursuing it any further. (fn. 6) In the 12th year of that reign, upon levying the aid for marrying the king's daughter, he certified his knights fees to be one hundred and forty-nine in different counties. His gifts were many to different religious houses, in manors and lands, and among others, he gave to the monks of St. Augustine's, near Canterbury, a stag every year out of his forest of Tonebrugge; to the knights hospitallers, the church of Tunbridge; and to the canons of the priory of Begeham, in Suffex, in free, pure, and perpetual alms, twenty-five hogs yearly, in the southern parts of his forest of Tunbridge, free of all pannage. He died in the 19th year of Henry II. leaving one son and heir.
Richard de Clare, who married Amicia, second daughter of William, earl of Gloucester, and at length sole heir to that earldom, (fn. 7) by whom he had Gilbert de Clare, who was the first who was earl of Gloucester and Hertford jointly. He was one of the chief of the barons who put themselves in arms against king John, upon which, Falcatius de Brent, who com manded a party of the king's forces, took the castle of Tunbridge from the earl by force, and kept it for the king's use, till peace was established between them, which was not till the beginning of the next reign of king Henry III.
Richard, his eldest son, succeeded him as his heir, and being then a minor, the guardianship of his lands and honors, was committed to Hubert de Burgh, justice of England, and among them the castle of Tunbridge.
Richard, archbishop of Canterbury, complained of this to the king, alledging its being a sief of the archbishopric; to which the king replied, that the wardship of the young earl of right belonged to him; and therefore it was his prerogative to dispose of it to his justiciary, during the heir's minority; this answer not satisfying the archbishop, he immediately departed to carry his complaints to Rome, where he obtained a bull from the pope, authorizing him to take possession of this castle, during the earl's nonage. But he reaped no benefit from this; for he died on his journey home in 1234, being succeeded in the see of Canterbury by St. Edmund, to whom the king is said to have granted the custody of the lands belonging to the castle and honor of Tonebregge and Bradested, will the earl should be of age. Perhaps this grant might be made two years afterwards, (fn. 8) at the time this archbishop married the king to his queen Eleanor.
In the 29th year of that reign, on the aid for marrying the king's daughter, the earl paid for three hundred and four knights fees and an half, which he held besides those in Kent, which were twelve and an half, and in the 34th year of it, the earl of Gloucester was present, with a noble attendance, at the solemn inthronization of archbishop Boniface, and exercised at it the office of chief butler and steward. Notwithstanding which there appears to have been great contests and disputes between them, as well concerning the customs and services required by the archbishop of him, as the fees for performing those offices; all which were settled by a mutual agreement or composition made between them, a few years afterwards. In which it was agreed, as to the customs and services which the archbishop claimed of the earl, for the manors of Tunebregge and Hanlo, with the whole lowy of Tunbridge; and for the manors of Vyelestun, Horsmundenne, Metelune, and Pettes, with their appurtenances, that he should have in future of the earl homage, the service of four knights fees, and suit at the archbishop's court, for the manors of Tunebregge and Hanlo, together with the lowy; and further, that he should be the archbishop's high steward and his chief butler, at the great seast of his inthronization, and perform suit at the archbishop's court at Otford, for the manor of Bradested; and homage, and the service of four knights fees, for the manors of Vyelestun, Horsmundenne, Meletune, and Pettes. And also for the manor of Vyelestun, suit at the archbishop's court at Otford, and for the manors of Horsmundenne, Meletune, and Pettes, suit at the archbishop's court at Canterbury. And it was further agreed between them, that whenever an archbishop should be inthroned in the church of Canterbury, the earl should receive, for the service of steward, seven robes of scarlet, thirty gallons of wine, fifty pounds of wax for the use of his own lights on the feast, the livery of hay and corn for eighty horses for two nights, and the dishes and salts, which should be set before the archbishop at the first course in the feast, and at the departure of the earl, entertainment for three days, at the cost of the archbishop, and his successors, at their nearest manors by the four quarters of Kent, wheresoever the earl should chuse it, (ad sanguinem minuendum) so that the earl did not come there but with fifty horse only, to be entertained.
And for the service of butler, seven robes of scarlet, twenty gallons of wine, fifty pounds of wax, livery of hay and oats for sixty horses for two nights, and the cup with which he should serve before the archbishop, with other fees of a lower sort, as are more particularly mentioned in it. (fn. 9)
His descendants, possessors of the manor and castle of Tunbridge, &c. continued after this to perform these services at the archbishop's inthronization. In particular, Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, received his whole fee of archbishop Winchelsea in 1294, as by this composition for his stewardships and butlership; and he received of archbishop Walter in 1313, for his fee, two hundred marcs Hugh de Audley, earl of Gloucester, received of archbishop Stratford, in 1333, one hundred marcs; and the earl of Stafford, lord of Tunbridge, was at the inthronization of archbishop Sudbury, in 1375, and received for his fee forty marcs, and a cup of silver gilt. And lastly, Edward, duke of Buckingham, received the same of archbishop Warham, when the duke executed the stewardship in person, and the butlership by his deputy, Sir Thomas Bourchier. (fn. 10)
In the 44th year of king Henry III. the earl obtained the king's licence to wall and embattle his town of Tunbridge, and to make castles of his houses in Essex and Suffolk. He died two years afterwards, at John, lord Criol's house, at Eschemerfield, in this county, being said by some to have been poisoned at the table of Peter de Savoy, the queen's uncle. His body was buried in the choir at Tewksbury, on the right hand of his father; his bowels at Canterbury, and his heart in Tunbridge church.
Gilbert, his eldest son, surnamed Rufus, succeeded him as earl of Gloucester and Hertford. Soon after which, associating himself with the rebellious barons, prince Edward, the king's son, besieged this castle and took it, and in it the countess of Gloucester, the besieged having first set fire to and burnt down the town. After which the castle was garrisoned with the king's troops, and the countess was set at liberty.
Before the end of that reign the earl, after having changed from one side to the other, was reconciled to the royal favor, and upon the king's death, and prince Edward's arrival from the holy land, the earl entertained him with his whole retinue most honorably for many days, in this castle. Soon after which he was divorced from Alice his wife, and anno 17 Edward I. married Joane of Acres, the king's daughter, in consequence of which he then entailed all his castles and manors in England and Wales, and among them those of Tunbridge, Yalding, Bradsted, Hadlow, Dachurst, &c. on his issue by her; and in default, to her heirs and assigns, in case she should survive him.
In the 20th year of that reign, on a complaint being made against the earl in parliament, of his having committed great depredations by force and arms on the earl of Hereford's lands in Wales, his lands and castles were seized, and adjudged to be forfeited during his life, and he himself was committed to prison till he had made an atonement. During this space of time, in the 22d year of that reign, prince Edward, the king's son, who was left his father's locum tenens during his absence in Flanders, resided at Tunbridge castle in August that year, where in his chamber, in the presence of Sir Reginald de Grey, and Sir William de Badelesmere, and others, he delivered the king's seal to John de Langton, the king's chancellor. The earl died at his castle of Monmouth in the 24th year of the above reign, and was buried in Tewksbury church, on the left hand of his father. He left by Joane his wife, who survived him, one son and heir, Gilbert, and three daughters, who will be further mentioned hereafter.
Joane, his wife, became enfeoffed of all the lands belonging to him in his earldoms, and soon afterwards re-married a plain esquire, named Ralph de Monthermer, at which, though the king was at first highly incensed, yet being reconciled afterwards, he had many marks of favor conserred on him, and in consideration of his services in Scotland, he had restored to him, and Joane his wife, the castle and honor of Tonebrugge, with other lands in the counties of Kent, Surry, and Suffex, and he had likewise possession granted of all the lands belonging to the great earldom of Gloucester, to hold by the service of fifty knights fees; upon which he assumed the title of earl of Gloucester, (fn. 11) which on the death of Joane his wife, in the 1st year of king Edward II. he entirely laid aside, though he lived several years afterwards, having had by her two sons, Thomas and Edward; the former of whom was slain in a sea fight in 1340, leaving Margaret, his daughter and heir, who married John de Montacute, from whom the several branches of the family of Montacute, or Montague, for they are one and the same name, at different times ennobled, derived their descent.
Gilbert de Clare, the only son and heir of the late Gilbert, earl of Gloucester and Hertford, by Joane of Acres, his wife, on her death had possession granted of the lands of his inheritance, and bore the titles likewise of his father's earldoms. Being captain of the vanguard of the king's army in Scotland, he was slain in the battle of Bannocksbourne, near Strivelin, in the 7th year of that reign, and his body was buried in the abbey church of Tewksbury. (fn. 12) On his death, without surviving issue, his three sisters became his coheirs, viz. Alianore, the wife of Hugh le Despencer the younger, and afterwards of William de la Zouch, lord of Glamorgan and Morgannock; Margaret, then wife of Hugh de Audley, who was her Scond husband, she having been first married to Piers de Gaveston, created earl of Cornwall, by whom she had a daughter, who died without issue, and Elizabeth, formerly the wife of John de Burgh, son and heir of the earl of Ulster, afterwards of Theobald, lord Verdon, (fn. 13) and then of Roger Damory.
On the partition of their inheritance, in the 11th year of king Edward II. anno 1317, the castle and manor of Tunbridge, with other estates in these parts, were allotted to Hugh de Audley, in right of Margaret his wife; at which time it appears, there were six knights fees held of this castle. But he soon afterwards consederating with the discontented lords, this castle, among others belonging to him, was seized on by the king, and the custody of it was committed to Bartholomew de Badlesmere, who soon afterwards going over to the earl's party, the king conserred this trust next year on Henry de Cobham, whose deputy, of the name of Crevequer, having conspired to seize the castle for the use of the enemy, the king ordered it to be demolished, and Crevequer was hanged, (fn. 14) but it appears by a writ of king Edward II. in his 16th year, that Tunbridge castle was still preserved, being one of the four places then appointed by the king for keeping the records and charters of the realm.
In the 1st year of king Edward III. anno 1326, upon his allegation in parliament, that there were several errors in the prosecution had in the former reign against him, he had restitution granted him of all his castles, manors and lands, then in the king's hands. And in the 11th year of it, in consideration of his services and wife's descent, was in parliament created earl of Gloucester. He died in the 21st year of that reign, leaving by Margaret his wife, who was buried in Tun bridge priory, beside her husband) an only daughter heir Margaret, then married to Ralph, lord Stafford. The arms of Audley, Gules, a fret or, and likewise of Stafford impaling Audley, are carved on the roof of the cloysters of Christ-church, Canterbury, as are those of Stafford singly, being, Or, a chevron gules.
Ralph, lord Stafford, was descended from Robert de Stafford, who in the Conqueror's reign was possessed of great estates in different counties, particularly in Staffordshire, and was the eldest son of Edmund, lord Stafford, by Margaret his wife, daughter of Ralph, lord Basset, of Drayton. In the 18th year of king Edward II. he was knighted and made a banneret, after which he became an active person in king Edward the IIId.'s wars, who conferred upon him that great office of Seneschal of Aquitane, and next year he had an eminent command in the van of the army, under the black prince, in the famous battle of Cressy, where the English obtained a glorious victory, for after it, he with Sir Reginald de Cobham, and three heralds, being sent to view those slain on the part of the enemy, they were found to be, eleven great princes, eighty bannerets, twelve hundred knights, and more than thirty thousand common soldiers. In the 21st year of that reign, he obtained, in consideration of his services, a special possession of all those lands which Hugh de Audley, earl of Gloucester, deceased, held of the inheritance of Margaret his wife, one of the daughters and coheirs of Gilbert, earl of Gloucester, and soon afterwards was elected one of the knights of the garter at the first institution of it by king Edward III. (fn. 15) and in the 25th year of it, was advanced to the title of earl of Stafford.
This great earl died, far advanced in years, at Tunbridge, in the 46th year of that reign, and wasburied in the priory here, with Margaret his wife, at the feet of her father and mother, being in right of his wife possessed of the manor and castle of Tunbridge, with its members, Datchurst and Hadloo. His character is thus expressed by an old writer, Homo quondam, validus, fortis, audax, bellicosus, in armis strenuus, senio confectus, longo squalore maceralus—Obiit Nob. Comes Staffordiæ Radulphus nomine.
Ralph, earl of Stafford, his only son, succeeded him in this castle and manor, with its appendages, which on his death descended to his three sons, Thomas, William and Edmund, in succession, and likewise earls of Stafford. (fn. 16)
Upon the death of Thomas, earl of Stafford, the eldest above-mentioned, earl William, his brother and heir, being in his minority, king Richard II. committed the custody of all the castles and lands, of which he died possessed, to Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloncester, notwithstanding the claim of archbishop Courtenay, to the custody of this of Tunbridge. On archbishop Arundel's succeeding to the see in the 20th year of that reign, earl Edmund being then in ward to the king, he complained highly of the injustice done to himself and the church of Canterbury, in depriving it of its just rights and prerogatives; by which and his intreaties, he so far prevailed, that in the parliament summoned that year, the king granted, that the archbishop and his successors, should in future have the keeping of all lands holden of him in chief, and thereupon caused to be delivered to him the castle of Tunbridge, holden of him in chief, during the minority of the heir of the earl of Stafford.
Edmund, earl of Stafford above-mentioned, was succeeded by his only son and heir, Humphry, earl of Stafford, who afterwards bore the title of earl of Buckingham, Hereford, Stafford, Northampton and Perch, and lord of Brecknock and Holderness.
In the 23d year of it, in respect of his near alliance in blood, and of his eminent services, both in France and England, as well in the time of king Henry V. as afterwards, he was advanced to the title of duke of Buckingham, to hold in tail male, and was made constable of Dover and Queenborough castles, and warden of the cinque ports. He was slain in the 38th year of king Henry VI. anno 1549, in the battle of Northampton, fighting there on the king's part, being found by the inquisition, taken after his death, to die possessed of this manor and castle, with those of Hadlowe, Dachehurst, Brastede, and others in this county, and that Henry, son of Humphry his eldest son, who was slain in the battle of St. Albans, anno 33 king Henry VI. was his next heir.
Henry, duke of Buckingham, after the death of king Edward IV. became one of the chief confidants of Richard, earl of Gloucester, and a principal abettor of his desings; for which he had several considerable offices conferred on him, and great presents, with the promise of much more, by which, being corrupted, he stopt at nothing, which tended to establish the crown on the protector's head: and having accomplished this, he pressed the performance of what had been privately promised, and the new king signed a bill for his having possession of those lands, which were of great extent in different counties, and which he laid claim to by descent from Humphry Bohun, earl of Hereford.
After which king Richard advanced him to the post of great chamberlain, and to that great and high office of constable of England, with several other lucrative ones; (fn. 17) but whether it was through a troubled conscience, or a supposition of the king's neglect of him, is uncertain; but he soon afterwards consederated with the bishop of Ely, and others, to advance the earl of Richmond to the throne; the king at first sought to regain the duke by fair promises, and at last by threats, which caused him to put himself in arms, and with a power of the Welsh to advance towards the Severn; but an extraordinary flood hindered his passage so long that the Welsh, for want of money and victuals, dispersed themselves. The duke being thus fortaken, Sought refuge in the house of an old servant not far from Shrewsbury, whose gratitude he imagined, would be his security. This servant's name was Banister, whom the duke had tenderly brought up, and above all men trusted; but a reward of one thousand pounds being proclaimed for the discovery of him, the fellow betrayed him to the sheriff of Yorkshire, who apprehended the duke, dressed in a piled black cloak, in a grove near Banister's house, and conveyed him to Salisbury, where he was on the following day, without arraignment or judgment, beheaded in the open marketplace, and an act passed for his attainder. Soon after which the king, by writ under his sign manual, commanded the inhabitants of the honor and lowy of Tunbridge, &c. to attend upon Sir Marmaduke Constable, whom he had deputed to make his abode amongst them, and that they should in no wise presume to take cloathing, or be retained with any manner of person or persons whatsoever, and he afterwards, as appears by his ledger-book, appointed his trusty friend, Robert Brakenbury, esq. constable of Tunbridge castle, with the see of ten marcs. (fn. 18).
In the 1st year of the next reign of king Henry VII. an act passed for the restitution of his son and heir Edward, duke of Buckingham, who in the 14th year of it, had possession granted of all his father's lands, and continued in great favor with the king during the remainder of his reign; but in the beginning of the next, growing eminent and powerful, as well for his high blood, as ample revenue, he drew on himself a suspi cion of aspiring higher; which was not a little somented by cardinal Wolsey, who hated him for some expressions he had made use of relating to his low parentage. Upon which he was committed on a charge of high treason, and being found guilty, was beheaded on Tower-hill, anno 13 king Henry VIII. After which an act passed for his attainder, and the same year another for the restitution of his son Henry in blood, but not to his honors and lands.
The castle and manor of Tunbridge, with its appendages, thus coming to the crown by the attainder of the duke of Buckingham, remained during that reign in the king's hands, and till king Edward VI. in his 4th year, granted them to John Dudley, earl of Warwick, among other premises, by the description of his lordship, manor, and castle of Tunbridge, and his two parks, called the Posterne and Cage, (the former being situated southward, and the latter northward of the town) and his forests and chases of North-frith and South-frith, with their members and appurtenances, to hold in capite by knight's service. (fn. 19) He was afterwards created duke of Northumberland, and in the 7th year of that reign, by deed inrolled in the Augmentationoffice, re-conveyed all these estates to the king, in exchange for other premises. After which queen Mary granted the whole of them to cardinal Reginald Pole, archbishop of Canterbury, for his life, and one year after, as the should by his will determine. He died possessed of them on Nov. 17, 1558, the same day that the queen died, and, as it seems, without any particular devise of them; upon which they came to the crown, and queen Elizabeth, by her letters patent, in her first year, granted this castle and manor, with the park called North frith, and other large demesnes belonging to them, to her kinsman Henry Carey, lord Hunsdon, and his heirs male, to hold in capite by knights service, with remainder to the crown; to bar which, he prevailed on the queen, in her 29th year, to grant the see of them to lord Burleigh and Sir Walter Mildmay, after which he suffered a recovery of them, and at his death in the 38th year of that reign, gave them by will to his eldest son George, lord Hunsdon, who died in 1603, leaving an only daughter and heir Elizabeth, married to Sir Thomas Berkeley, K. B. eldest son and heir of Henry, lord Berkeley, who soon afterwards alienated this estate to Sir John Kenedie, who quickly afterwards passed it away by sale to Ferrers, Gosson, and Johnson, and they, by mutual consent, conveyed their joint interest in it in the beginning of James I.'s reign, to Sir Peter Vanlore, a wealthy merchant, who had been naturalized by parliament in the 7th year of it, and he in 1627 settled it, together with the bulk of his very large estate in this county, Gloucester and Hertford, on his son Peter Vanlore of Tilehurst, in Berkshire, esq. and his issue male, with remainder to his own five daughters, (of whom Anne married Sir Charles Cæfar, son and heir of the master of the rolls; another married Mr. Vander Bempde, and Katherine married Sir Thomas Glemham, of Suffolk) and to his son's three daughters. (fn. 20)
Peter Vanlore, the son, was, after his father's death, in 1628, created a baronet. He bore for his arms, Or, an orle or garland of woodbines, alias boneysuckles, proper, and dying without issue male, left his three daughters his coheirs.
After this, the above settlement of Sir Peter Vanlore's father, occasioned many suits in law and equity, between the different claimants under it, for near thirty years, with divisions and sub-divisions of the estates mentioned in it; in one of which the North frith being part of the demesne lands of this manor, was allotted to one of the five daughters of Sir Peter Vanlore the elder, (the shares of the other four being allotted to them elsewhere) married to Mr. Vander Bempde, whose descendant John Vander Bempde, esq. of Westminster, gave it in marriage with his daughter Charlotte, who became the second wife of William Johnston, marquis of Annandale, who had by her two sons; George, and John.
The marquis died in 1724, and was succeeded in his titles by his only son and heir, by his first wife, (by whom he had likewise a daughter Henrietta, married to Charles, earl of Hopeton) and in this estate of North-frith by his eldest son, by his second wife before-mentioned, lord George Johnston, who, in pursuance of the will of his grandfather John Vander Bempde, took on him that name, (fn. 21) and on the death of James, marquis of Annandale, his half-brother, without issue, succeeded to his titles; but being in 1745 declared a lunatic, this estate remained in the hands of the commissioners appointed for that purpose, till his death in 1792, when this, among his other estates, devolved to James, earl of Hopeton, the grandson of Charles, earl of Hopeton, by his wife Henrietta, half sister as above-mentioned, to the late marquis; and this, I believe, was the last and only part of the vast estate of Sir Peter Vanlore the elder, remaining in the possession of any of his numerous descendants.
THE MANOR, CASTLE, and other part of the demesne lands of the manor of Tunbridge, came, by virtue of the above settlement, to the three daughters of Sir Peter Vanlore, bart. the son, married to Henry Alexander, earl of Stirling; Sir Robert Cook, bart. and Henry Zinzan, esq. alias Alexander, who in right of their respective wives, became entitled to them; this occasioned another division of this estate, which was made by a commission from the court of chancery in 1674, by which the manor and castle of Tunbridge, and some of the demesne lands, were allotted to Jacoba, the wife of Henry Zinzan, alias Alexander, esq. and her heirs, in see, and fines were accordingly levied by the respective parties. One of her descendants, in the year 1739, sold the castle, manor, and demesne lands to John Hooker, esq. afterwards of Tunbridge. He was descended of a family which came originally out of Hampshire, and bore for their arms, Party per pale and fess, four escallops counterchanged sable and argent. They at first settled in this county at Oldberry-hill, in Ightham, whence they removed to West Peckham, where John Hooker, esq. kept his shrievalty in 1712. He left two sons; Thomas, of whom hereafter; and John, from whom the Hookers of Brenchley are descended. Thomas, the eldest son, left a son, John Hooker, esq. the purchaser of the manor and castle of Tunbridge as above-mentioned, whose eldest son, Thomas Hooker, esq. succeeded him in this estate, and was of Tunbridge. In 1793 he built a handsome stone mansion for his residence, adjoining to the castle, but that year, before it was quite finished he sold the whole of this estate to William Woodgate, esq of Somerhill, in this parish, who had married Frances his sister, and he is the present owner of it.
A court leet and court baron is regularly held for this manor. There were formerly some payments made for castle-guard to it; but they have been long since disused, a few payments excepted, which seem to be made for encroachment on the lord's waste.
HILDENBURGH is a large district, comprehending all the north-west part of the lowy of Tunbridge, and containing within it the manors of Hilden, Dachurst, Martin abbey, Lamport, Nizell, Hadloe, and the district of Hollenden, the small manor of Leigh, alias Hildenborough, in Leigh, and the manor of Penshurst Halymote; over all this district the honor of Otford has jurisdiction, the high steward of which, by his de puty, holding annually a court leet in this borough, for the election of a constable, borsholder, &c. Thus this district is under the jurisdiction of two different manors, which, strange as it may appear, is not at all uncommon. There are many instances where the military and civil jurisdiction of manors (if I may be allowed to make that distinction) are separated; the land or house holding of one manor by heriot, relief, rent, &c. and the occupier of the same land or house amenable, by reason of his resciancy, to a second manor at its court leet, the reason of which is too obvious to need explanation.
THE MANOR OF DACHURST lies at the western part of the lowy, and was always accounted an appendage to the castle and manor of Tunbridge, and consequently, continued in the same owners, as has been already related, till the attainder of Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham, in the 14th year of Henry VIII. when it came into the hands of the crown, where the manor itself continued (though the demesnes of it were granted away, as will be mentioned hereafter) at the death of king Charles I. in 1648. After which the powers then in being, passed an ordinance to vest the royal estates in trustees, to survey and sell them, to supply the necessities of the state, and this manor of Dachurst, alias Hildenburgh, was in 1652 surveyed for that purpose, by which it appears that there were quit rents due to the lord in this parish, holden of the manor in free socage tenure, and the like from the freeholders in the boroughs of Nisell hoath and Lambert, and from the freeholders in the parishes of Lye and Tunbridge in the like tenure, and heretofore reserved from the manor of Martin abbey, the total of all which, with courts, fines, &c. was 24l. 10s. 6d. And that there was a court leet and court baron belonging to it. (fn. 22).
After the above survey, this manor, and those of Martin abbey, Lamport, and Nizell, were sold by the state to colonel Robert Gibbon, with whom they remained till the restoration of king Charles II. in 1660, when the possession of them returned again to the crown.
King Charles II. alienated the see-farms of these manors of Mr. George Dashwood, a younger son of a family of this name in Somersetshire, descended from the second marriage of one of the Dashwoods, of Dorsetshire, whose eldest son, Robert, in the 36th year of king Charles II. was created a baronet, and his descendant Sir Henry Dashwood, bart. of Kirtlington, in Oxfordshire, is the present owner of these manors, and the see-farms belonging to them.
THE DEMESNES of the manor of Dachurst, alias Hildenburgh, were granted by king Henry VIII. the same year that the duke of Buckingham was attainted, to Sir William Skeffington, in tail male, to hold by knights service. After which he was in that reign, made master of the ordnance in England, and twice lord deputy of Ireland, in which office he died in 1535, and was buried in St. Patrick's church, Dublin, bearing for his arms, Argent, three bulls heads erased, sable, (fn. 23)
In his descendants resident here, most of whom lie buried in this church, this estate continued down to John Skeffington, esq. who died in 1661, without issue, and left his interest in it to his uncle, Francis Skeffington, esq. after whose death, his relations and heirs, after one or more suits at law, agreed to divide this estate among them; after which it was gradually sold in several parcels to different persons. Part of it was sold to Children, and is now in the possession of George Children, esq. of Tunbridge; another part of it was alienated to Weller, and afterwards became the property of Mrs. Catherine Weller, the widow of Nicholas Weller, esq. who has lately alienated her interest in it to George Children and William-Thomas Harvey, esqrs, the present owners of it, and there were other small parts of it sold to others: but who is possessed of them at this time, it is almost impossible to ascertain. At a small distance southward from Hilden green, the foundations of a large house are yet visible, which are supposed by many to be those of Dachurstplace. The scite of it was lately the property of Thomas Harvey, esq. and now belongs to his widow, Mrs. Harvey, of Tunbridge.
HILDEN is a manor situated at about a mile's distance from Tunbridge town, and was antiently part of the possessions of the family of Vane, written a-Vane in antient deeds, before the reign of king Edward III. one of them, John Vane, esq. had two sons of the name of Henry; the eldest of which left an only daughter and heir, married to Sir Peter Blondevil; the youngest Henry Vane, was of this place, esq. and had three sons; John Vane, esq. of Hilden, and afterwards of Tudeley, ancestor of the several branches of this family since enabled; Thomas, whose son Humphry died without issue; and Henry, who was father of Sir Ralph Fane, attainted in the reign of king Edward VI. (fn. 24)
By his will in the 34th year of king Henry VI. he devised this manor to his eldest son John, and the parsonage of Hilden to his youngest son Henry. John Vane, esq. sold the manor in the 10th year of king Henry VII. to Tattersal, one of whose descendants possessed it at his death in the 6th year of king Edward VI. anno 1551, when it was sound that he died possessed of this manor, and five hundred acres of land, in Hilden and I unbridge, held of the honor of Tunbridge, by knight's service, and that John Tattersal was his son and heir. He alienated it to Humphry Dixon, who in that reign had purchased the parsonage of Hilden of Elizabeth, lady Vane. He was the second son of Thomas Dixon, esq. of North-frith, in this parish, descended of a family of good account of this name in Scotland, who bore for their arms, Or, a cross formee or palee throughout the shield, gules, between four eagles displayed, sable. (fn. 25)
John, the eldest, succeeded him in this manor, and resided here, he left two sons; Henry, who was of Hilden, esq. and justice of the peace; and William, who was of Darent, in this county. Henry Dixon, esq. the eldest son of Humphry, resided here, as did his grandson of the same name, who died in 1669, leaving two daughters his coheirs, who possessed this manor in undivided moieties. Jane, the eldest, married Nathaniel Booth, esq. and Sarah, the youngest, Percival Hart, esq. of Lullingstone.
Percival Hart, esq. died in 1738, leaving an only daughter and heir Anne, then married to Sir Thomas Dyke, bart. of Horeham, in Suffex, who became possessed of one undivided moiety of this manor, as he did likewise of the other moiety on the death of Mrs. Jane Booth, widow, above mentioned, without issue, in 1743. Sir Thomas Dyke died in 1756, leaving his widow surviving, who possessed the whole of this manor till her death in 1763, when it descended to their only son and heir Sir John Dixon Dyke, bart. of Lullingstone, who procuring the authority of parliament, (fn. 26) sold it, in 1767, to Thomas Harvey, esq. of Tunbridge, the son of Thomas Harvey, of Deal, descended of the family of Harvey, settled so early as king Edward the IVth.'s reign, at Tilmanstone, in East Kent, and afterwards dispersed over the several parishes in that neighbourhood, in the description of which parish a full account of them may be seen, whose arms being, Argent, on a chevron gules, three crescents or, between three lions gambs erased, sable, are likewife borne by this branch of it. Mr. Harvey, of Tunbridge, married Charlotte, youngest daughter of the Rev. William Davis, vicar of this parish, by whom he had two sons, Thomas, now of Redleaf, in holy orders, and William Thomas; and three daughters, Charlotte, Sophia, and Frances. He died in 1779, leaving his widow Mrs. Harvey, surviving, who is by his will possessor of this estate for her life, after which it will devolve, by his devise, to this eldest son, the Rev. Thomas Harvey.
PHILIPOTTS is an estate in this parish, about three miles from Tunbridge town, adjoining to Lyghe, which was once reputed a manor, the memory of which has been long since obliterated, and the house and estate now so called dwindled almost to nothing, there being at this time only thirty acres of land belonging to it. It formerly gave surname to the family who owned it, as appears by a deed dated in the 28th year of king Edward I. in which John de Philipott, of Philipotts, (who bore for his arms, Sable, a bend ermine) demised lands to Robert Charles, bailiff of Tunbridge forest. But after this place had remained many generations in this family, Thomas Philipott, leaving an only daughter and heir, Christiana, about the middle of king Henry VIII's reign; she carried it in marriage to John Petley, esq. of Downe, who likewise died without male issue, leaving four daughters his coheirs, of whom the youngest was married first to Smith, and afterwards to Children, and became on the division of their inheritance, entitled to it. (fn. 27) His descendant, William Children, resided at this seat, and died about the latter end of king Charles I.'s reign, leaving an only daughter and heir Sindonia, who carried it in marriage to Mr. Richard Polhill, son of William, the fifth son of Thomas Polhill, alias Polley, of Detling, in whose descendants it has continued to the present time, being now the property of Mr. Richard Polhill, of Chatham, in this county.
There is a tradition in this family, that one of them was bowbender to queen Elizabeth; and not many years ago there hung up in this house a bow, curiously enamelled and studded, which was said to have belonged to the queen.
In the 20th year of the reign of king Edward III. the prior of Tunbridge, Roger de Bardenham, and John Barden, held this estate, and then paid aid for it as one knight's see, which the prior and Simon de Barden before held of the earl of Gloucester. (fn. 28)
The family of Barden continued in possession of this manor till the reign of king Henry IV. when it was alienated by one of them to Hadlow, in which name it did not continue long; for John Hadlow dying without issue, Alice, his sister, became his heir, and entitled her husband, John Woodward, to the possession of it; she survived him, and afterwards sold it to John Hopday, who in the 38th year of Henry VI. alienated it to William Hextall, of Hextalls-court, in East Peckham, and he dying without issue male, Margaret, his daughter and heir, entitled her husband, William Whetenhall, commonly called Whetnall, esq. citizen and alderman of London, to the possession of it. Their descendant, William Whetenhall, esq. of Hex tall-court, about the middle of king Henry VIII.'s reign, alienated it to Fane, alias Vane, from which name it passed away by sale, in the 24th year of queen Elizabeth, to Sir Andrew Judde, Citizen and skinner of London, and lord-mayor in the 5th year of king Edward VI. who bore for his arms, Gules, a fess ragule between three boars heads, erased fessways argent. He was the eldest son of John Judde, of Tunbridge, by his wife Margaret, daughter of Valentine Chiche, and widow of Clovel, and dying in 1558, was buried in St. Helen's church, London, having founded a school in this parish, and other charities elsewhere, which he endowed with lands, and intrusted them to the care of the Skinners company. (fn. 29) He left an only daughter and heir Alice, married to Thomas Smith, esq. of Westenhanger, commonly called Customer Smith, who in her right became entitled to a part of this estate, called Barden-house farm, with the lands belonging to it, and several other lands and tenements adjoining, and elsewhere in this parish, (in which the manor was not included) all which he devised by will to his second son, Sir Thomas Smith, of Sutton-atHone, in whose, descendants they continued down to Robert Smith, esq. of Sutton and Bidborough, who died in 1695, leaving by Katherine his wife, who survived him, two sons, Henry and William, to whom this estate descended as heirs in gavelkind; after which, anno 10 king William III. she obtained an act for vesting them in trustees, to sell the same: who accordingly conveyed them by sale to Thomas Streatfeild, esq. whose descendant, Thomas Streatfield, esq. now of Sevenoke, owns this estate.
The other part of Barden, containing the manor, seems to have passed, on the death of Sir Andrew Judde, to one of his brothers, who in the 33d year of queen Elizabeth, anno 1590, alienated it to Johnson, and he in the 9th year of king Charles I. sold it to John Polhill, esq. of Otford, the son of David, grandson of another David, the third son of Thomas Polhill, the second son of Thomas Polhill, of Detling, by Alice Buckland, and from him it has descended down to his great-grandson, Charles Polhill, esq. of Chepsted, in Chevening, the present owner of this manor.
HADLOW is a small manor adjoining to that of Barden, last-mentioned, being called, to distinguish it from the manor of the adjoining parish of Hadlow, by the name of the manor of Hadlow Tunbridge. It had antiently owners of the same name, in which it remained till about the reign of king Henry V. when John Hadlow dying without issue, Alice, his sister, married to John Woodward, became his heir; their son, John Woodward, who bore for his arms, Argent, a chevron sable, between three grasshoppers vert, in the 37th year of king Henry VI. conveyed his interest in this manor to William and Henry Hextall, the latter of whom, that year, released all his right in it to his brother William above-mentioned, who dying a few years afterwards without male issue, his daughter and coheir Margaret, entitled her husband, William Whetenhall, esq. citizen and alderman of London, to the possession of it, and his descendant, William Whetenhall, esq. about the middle of king Henry VIII.'s reign, sold this manor to William Waller, esq. whose son, Richard Waller, in the 26th year of queen Elizabeth, anno 1583, sold it to Mr. George Stacy, and he in 1590, alienated it to Robert Byng, esq. of Wrotham, whose two grandsons, George and William Byng, in 1623, passed it away by sale to David Polhill, esq. of Otford, whose descendant, Charles Polhill, esq. of Chepsted, in Chevening, is the present possessor of this manor.
THE BOROUGH OF SOUTH, alias SOUTHBOROUGH, is a district comprehending the southern part, of the lowy of Tunbridge, in which the manor of that name first claims our attention. It was antiently part of the possessions of the great family of Clare, earls of Gloucester, and lords of the castle and manor of Tunbridge, from whom, in like manner it passed to the Audleys and Staffords, in which last name it continued till Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham, being found guilty of high treason, anno 13 king Henry VIII. forfeited this manor, among the rest of his possessions to the crown, after which an act passed for his reign, attainder, and the king in the 14th year of his reign, granted to Sir Thomas More, the manor of South, late Edward, duke of Buckingham's, to hold in capite by knight's service.
Being a man of great abilities and learning, he was in the 22d year of that reign, made lord chancellor, which high office, after two years and an half, he resigned, not being willing to be instrumental in the King's rupture with the pope. Afterwards, refusing to take the oath of supremacy and succession, he was arraigned, and being found guilty of high treason, was executed on Tower hill six days afterwards. He was the only son of Sir John More, one of the justices of the king's bench, and had one son John, attainted after his father's death, and then pardoned by the king; and three daughters, of whom Margaret, was a woman of great wisdom, piety, and learning, and married William Roper, esq. of Eltham. After his death his body was first buried in the Tower chapel, and afterwards removed to Chelsea church, and there deposited on the south side of the chancel. His head was set upon London bridge, where it continued about fourteen days, and was then privily bought by his daughter, Mrs. Margaret Roper; after which it was inclosed in lead and deposited in the vault of the Ropers, in St. Dunstan's church, near Canterbury, where the box now remains placed on the coffin of his daughter abovementioned. (fn. 30)
This manor, thus coming to the crown, was granted by the king that year, being his 26th, to George Bulleyn, viscount Rochford, son of Thomas, earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, and brother of queen Anne Bulleyn, to hold in capite by knights service. But the king's affections being changed from her, the lord Rochford was next year committed to the tower, on pretence of too great familiarity with his sister, and being found guilty of high treason, was beheaded, by which this manor came again into the hands of the crown, and was next year granted to John Dudley, earl of Warwick, who, together with Joane his wife, by indenture, in the 3d year of king Edward VI. granted this manor of Southborowe, with its appurtenances, in the parishes, townships, and hamlets of Southborowe, otherwise called South Tunbridge, Capel, Speldhurst, and Pepenbury, to the king, in exchange for other premises. (fn. 31)
In the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, it was in the possession of Sir Richard Sackvyle, who in the 19th year of that reign, alienated it to Thomas Smith, esq. of Westenhanger, commonly called Customer Smith, and he gave it by will to his second son, Sir Thomas Smith, of Sutton at Hone, in whose descendants it continued down to Sir Sydney Stafford Smythe, late chief baron of the exchequer, who died possessed of it in 1778, S.P. as did his widow, lady Sarah Smythe, in 1790, and by her will devised this manor, among her other estates, to trustees, for the benefit of her nephews and nieces, and they afterwards sold it to the right hon. John, earl of Darnley, the present owner of this manor. A court baron is regularly held for it.
HAYSDEN, alias East Haysden, is a small manor, which lies at the south-west extremity of the lowy, and was some years ago in the possession of the name of Turner, whence it was, not long since, sold to Mr. John Groombridge, whose widow re-marrying with Henry Goodwyn, esq. of Enfield, he is in her right entitled to the possession of it.
AS THERE WAS a large district, comprehending a manor, forest, or chase, with a park inclosed with pales within it, at the northern part of the lowy, called North-frith; so there was a like district, though of much larger extent, called SOUTH-FRITH, at the opposite or southern side of it, with a park likewife inclosed with pale within the bounds of it.
THIS DISTRICT was, no doubt, part of the demesnes of the family of Clare, earls of Gloucester and Hertford, possessors of the castle and manor of Tunbridge, with whom it continued till Gilbert de Clare, the only son and heir of Gilbert, earl of Gloucester and Hertford, dying without surviving issue, in the 8th year of king Edward II. his three sisters became his coheirs; and upon the division of their inheritance, though Hugh de Audley, in right of his wife Margaret, the second daughter and coheir, had the castle and manor of Tunbridge allotted to him, yet Elizabeth, the youngest of them, widow of John de Burgh, seems to have possessed this district of South-frith, and the honor of Clare, in Suffolk, as part of her share of it. She had by her husband, above-mentioned, a son, named William, who on his grandfather's death became earl of Ulster, bearing for his arms, Or, a cross gules, and on his mother's death inherited this estate. He left an only daughter and heir Elizabeth, who married Lionel, third son of king Edward III. and duke of Clarence, and was in her right created earl of Ulster, and lord of Conaught and Trime.
The duke died in the 43d year of that reign, at Alba Pompeia, in Italy, being then possessed of this estate of South-frith, leaving an only daughter and heir Philippa, who, about the time of her father's death, by the king's command, was married to Edmund Mortimer, the third earl of March, and lord of Wigmore, who died in Ireland in the 5th year of king Richard II. anno 1381, (fn. 32) possessed of this estate, which afterwards descended to his grandson Edmund, earl of March, who dying in the 3d year of king Henry VI. without issue, (fn. 33) his nephew Richard, duke of York, the only son of Richard, earl of Cambridge, by Anne Mortimer, his eldest sister, became by his uncle's will heir to his estates, and to this chase of South-frith among them, which he did not gain possession of till the countess's death, anno 10 Henry VI. He had became on the death of his father's elder brother without issue, anno 3 king Henry V. duke of York, and being both on his father's and mother's side, descended from king Edward III. he began to think of aspiring to the crown; and to crush the house of Lancaster. But in the 37th year of king Henry VI. being deserted by his army, he fled to Ireland, and was soon afterwards, in the parliament attainted, with his son the earl of March; upon which this estate became forfeited to the crown, where it did not remain long, for on the turn of fortune, which happened to him soon afterwards, the duke of York regained the possession of it, and died possessed of this chase with its appendages, in the 3d year of king Edward IV. After which Cecillie, dutchess of York, his widow, mother of king Edward IV. continued in the possession of it till her death, which happened in the 10th year of king Henry VIII. when this estate reverted to the crown, after which king Henry VIII. granted to George, lord Cobham, the office of master, manager, and supervisor of all the beasts, of what fort soever, of his park of South-frith, and of keeper of all his ponds and waters within them; in the original, Magistr' deduct, & supervis omn & aquar ferar, pci de S. frith & Custod' omn Vivar aquar. & stagn infra pcum de S. frith; but the fee of it remained in the crown till king Edward VI. in his 4th year granted the manor of South-frith, with the forest or chase, and the park of it, to John Dudley, earl of Warwick, together with the manor and castle of Tunbridge, and other premises, as has been already noticed before, to hold in capite by knights service. (fn. 34)
All which the earl, by the title of duke of Northumberland, he having been so created, re-conveyed in the 7th year of that reign, to the king, this estate in exchange. After which queen Mary granted them to cardinal Reginald Pole, archbishop of Canterbury, to hold during his life, and one year after as he should by his will determine. He died in 1558, without any particular devise of them; upon which they came to the crown, whence this forest or chase, manor, &c. were granted by queen Elizabeth, in her 14th year, to one of her chief favorites, Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, for a term of years, at the expiration of which she granted the fee of them to Frances, widow of Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, who was the sole daughter and heir of that great stateman, Sir Francis Walsingham, and had first married Sir Philip Sydney; the countess of Essex, afterwards re-married Richard Burgh, earl of Clantickard, and it is no wonder this lady married him when Smollet says he was a very handsome gallant young nobleman, and very like the late earl of Essex; insomuch, that the queen, then far advanced in years, made some advances to him, which he declined. He became by this marriage possessed of this estate, and built a noble mansion at a very large expence, on a pleasant eminence on the northern part of it, which he did not finish till the latter end of king James I.'s reign, and gave it the name of SOMERHILL. In the 22d year of that reign he was created baron of Somerhill, viscount Tunbridge; and in the 4th year of king Charles I. earl of St. Albans, at which time he had likewise other Irish honors conferred on him, as baron of Imaudy, in Conaught, and viscount of Galloway, (fn. 35) bearing for his arms, Or, a cross gules, in the dexter canton, a lion rampant sable. He resided much at Somerhill, and dying in 1636 was buried in Tunbridge church. Ulick, his son and heir, was long in arms for king Charles I. in Ireland, whence being obliged to fly, he took refuge in England, with the king, who in 1645 created him marquis of Clanrickard. His attachment to the king was a sufficient reason for the parliament to declare him a delinquent, and to sequester his estate, which they did, and by their ordinance of that year granted, among other premises, the manor, lands, &c. parcel of the estate of the earl of St. Albans, before seized and sequestered into the hands of the parliament, as being a papist, called Somerhill, alias Tunbridge, and all his goods there, to Robert, earl of Essex, in recompence of his heroic valour, prudent conduct, and unspotted fidelity in that high and important command of captain-general of their army, to hold during his life, in part of the yearly sum of 10,000l. which they had voted to him. The earl of Essex died possessed of this estate, with the seat belonging to it, in 1646, not without suspicion of poison, and had a most magnifisicent funeral, at the charge of the parliament, with a grand procession of state to the place of his burial, in St. Paul's chapel, in Westminster abbey. Upon which it came again into the hands of the parliament, who, soon after the king's death, granted it to John Bradshaw, serjeant at law, president of their high court of justice, for his great service, as they termed it, to his country. (fn. 36) He died possessed of it in 1659, and was buried with much solemnity in St. Peter's church, in Westminster; but next year his body was taken up again, and hanged on the gallows at Tyburn, under which it was afterwards buried, and the head being cut off was set on Westminster-hall. He was succeeded in it by a natural son, but the restoration of king Charles II. happening a few months afterwards, this estate of South-frith, with the seat and park of Somerhill, returned to its lawful owner in the person of Margaret, only daughter and heir of Ulick, marquis of Clanrickard, above mentioned, who had deceased in 1659, and was buried in the church of Tunbridge, and there were several antient people, not many years since alive, who remember an old man in this neighbourhood, who was reputed to be a natural son of John Bradshaw, and reported to have been once possessed of Somerhill.
The above lady was then the wife of Charles M'Carty, viscount Muskerry, eldest son of Donough, earl of Clancarty, who in her right became entitled to this seat and estate. He was killed in the great engagement with the Dutch in Solebay, in 1665, being then in the duke of York's ship, by a cannon ball, which at the same time killed the earl of Falmouth, and Richard Boyle, second son of the earl of Burlington. He died without issue, and she afterwards re-married John Villiers, viscount Purbeck, eldest son of Sir John Villiers, viscount Purbeck, the elder brother of George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, the great favorite of king James and king Charles I.
John, viscount Purbeck, the son, possessed this estate in his wife's right, and on the death of his mother Mary, countess of Buckingham, claimed the title of earl of Buckingham before the house of lords in 1667; which was not allowed, notwithstanding which he continued to take the title, and always subscribed himself, Buckingham. He died, leaving by Margaret his wife, one son John, who on his death, assumed likewise the title of earl of Buckingham. Which Margaret, surviving her husband, again possessed this estate in her right, and afterwards remarried for her third husband, Mr. commonly called Beau, Fielding; having by her expensive way of life wasted her estate, she by piece-meals sold off a great part of the demesne lands, lying mostly on the southern side of South-frith to different persons, and dying in great distress, was buried accordingly, about the year 1698.
On her death, her son John Villiers, calling himself earl of Buckingham, became possessed of Somerhill house and park, which last had been let to a warrener, and those demesnes of South frith which remained unsold by his mother. Soon after which, he alienated the manor of South-frith, with the seat and park of Somerhill, and all the lands whatever inclosed within the pales of it to Dekins; and all the rest of the demesne lands whatsoever possessed by him here, which amounted to upwards of twelve hundred acres of land and wood ground, adjoining to the high road from Tunbridge to Rye, opposite to Somerhill parkpales, and extending from thence almost to Pembury church), to Abraham Hill, esq. of Sutton at Hone, in whose name and family they continued till William Hill, esq. of Carwithenick, in Cornwall, about the year 1768, alienated them to Mr. Edward Whatmore, of Salisbury, who quickly afterwards sold them to James Templer, esq. of the city of Westminster, since deceased, whose son the Rev. John Templer, is the present possessor of them. But THE MANOR OF SOUTH-FRITH, with the house and park of Somerhill, was devised by Dekins, who died without issue, to Cave, who about 1712 conveyed this estate to Mr. John Woodgate, of Chepsted, in Penshurst. The ancestors of whose family resided at Stonewall, in Chidingstone, and bore for their arms, On a chevron, three acorns between three squirrels sejant. The first of them that I have any account of, married Joane, daughter of Robert Combridge, of Coldharbour, in Penshurst, whose son William, of Stonewall, was father of John Woodgate, the purchaster of Somerhill, as above-mentioned, to which seat he removed from Penshurst, soon after his purchase of it. His eldest son William, was of Stonewall, and died unmarried; Francis, the third and youngest, was of Mountfield, in Sussex, clerk, and left three sons, William, of whom hereafter; Stephen, now of Sevenoke, gent. and Henry, of Serjeant's-inn; and six daughters, of whom Mary was married to John Acton, esq. of London, and Alice to William Ashburnham, esq. son of the late bishop of Chichester.
Henry, the second son of John, succeeded him in this estate of Somerhill, but resided at Tunbridgetown, where he died unmarried in 1787, and by will gave this estate to his eldest nephew William, son of the Rev. Francis Woodgate, of Mountfield, as abovementioned. He resided at Somerhill during his uncle's life-time, and married Frances, the youngest sister of Thomas Hooker, esq. late of Tunbridge, by whom he had three sons, William-Francis, esq. now of Tunbridge, who married Miss Alnutt, daughter of Richard Alnutt, esq. of South-park, in Penshurst; Henry and John, and three daughters, Frances, married to Richard Alnutt, esq. of South-park, Anne and Maria. He now resides at Somerhill, of which he is the present owner.
NEW, or LITTLE BOUNDS is a seat in this parish, situated at the southern bounds of it, and was so called to distinguish it from the adjoining seat of Old Bounds, in the next parish of Bidborough. It was built by the lord chief baron Bury, on a piece of ground, part of that estate, granted to him by one of the family of Smith; and passed from one of his descendants, Dorothy, daughter of William Rokeby, esq. of Shellow, in Yorkshire, by Emma his wife, eldest daughter of Sir William Bury, of Grantham, in Lincolnshire, in marriage, about the latter end of the last century, to Sir Thomas I'anson, who died possessed of it in 1707. His son, Sir Thomas I'anson, likewise resided here, and dying in 1764, was buried near his father in this church. On the monument erected to their memories, they are stiled baronets, but I cannot find when the patent was granted; he lest two lions, Thomas and John, and several daughters; of whom Sir Thomas I'anson, the eldest son, resided here at times, and was gentleman porter of the tower of London. He died in 1773, leaving his widow surviving, on whose death in 1774, it descended to their son, Mr. John I'anson, and he alienated it to chief baron Smythe, who died in 1778, as did his widow the lady Sarah Smythe, in 1790, and by her will devised it to trustees, for the benefit of her nephews and nieces, and they have since sold it to the right hon. John, earl of Darnley, the present owner of it.
CALVERLEY is another seat, situated likewise near the southern bounds of this parish, at no great distance from Tunbridge-wells, which was many years ago the property of William Strong, esq. from whom it came into the possession of Thomas Panuwell, esq. who died unmarried in 1750, and was buried in this church. By his will he gave this seat to his friend Thomas Smith, esq. who took on him the name of Panuwell, and dying in 1786, was succeeded in it by his eldest son of the same name, who is the present owner, and resides in it.
THE PRIORY OF TUNBRIDGE was founded about the latter end of the reign of king Henry II. by Richard de Clare, the first earl of Hertford, and lord of this place, for monks of the Premonstratensian order, commonly called white canons, and it was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen. (fn. 37)
Richard de Clare, by his foundation-charter to this priory, situated within his manor of Tonebrigge, gave to the canons regular in it, ten marcs, to be received yearly from his manor of Tonebrigge; and 51s. 5d. to be received from all the affarts, old as well as new, of his land called Dennemanneshorock, in Yalding; and likewise yearly one hundred and twenty hogs in his forest of Tunbridge, free from pannage; and that the canons should have two horses (Summarios) every day, to carry the dead wood home to them, from out of his woods nearest and most convenient to them; and one stage yearly to be taken by the earl's men.
All which they enjoyed afterwards uninterrupted, as appears by an inquisition taken in the 19th year of king Edward II. (fn. 38)
In the year 1351, a sudden and dreadful fire happened in this priory, which consumed every part of it to the foundations, together with all their habits, ornaments, jewels, and furniture; but these were soon afterwards re-edified, in aid of which the church of Leghe was appropriated to it, in the instrument for which, the church, chapter-house, dormitory, refec tory, library, and vestry, of this priory, then destroyed, are said to have been edificia splendida et nobilla.
This priory remained afterwards without any circumstance happening to it worth mentioning, till the reign of king Henry VIII. when cardinal Wolsey, being desirous of founding two colleges, one at Ipswich, and the other at Oxford, and finding there were several mean monasteries in England, where both the revenues and the number of religious were too small to keep up regular discipline, church service, and hospitality, obtained a bull from the pope, in 1524, for suppressing, with the king's leave, as many small monasteries as were requisite to raise a revenue not exceeding three thousand ducats per annum. To which the king having consented, this priory, with seventeen other small ones in different counties, was suppressed; at which time it appears, the spiritualities of it were valued at 48l. 11s. 4d. and the temporalities at 120l. 18s. 11d. in the whole 169l. 10s. 3d. per annum; which revenues lay in the several counties of Kent, Cambridge, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Surry. (fn. 39)
After which the king, in his 17th year, granted the several suppressed monasteries, and this of Tunbridge among them, together with all their manors, lands, and possessions, to the cardinal, for the better endowment of his college, called Cardinal college, in Oxford; which letters patent were confirmed by others soon afterwards. (fn. 40) But this great prelate being cast in a præmunire, about four years afterwards, all the possessions of that college, which for want of time had not been firmly settled on it, were forfeited to the king, and became part of the royal revenue of the crown.
King Edward VI. in his 4th year, granted among other premises in this parish, as has been mentioned already before, the late priory of Tunbridge, and the manors lands, and possessions of it in this county, to John Dudley, earl of Warwick, to hold in capite by knights service. All which premises the earl, by the title of duke of Northumberland, he having been so created, re-conveyed in the 7th year of that reign, to the king, in exchange for other premises. (fn. 41) Queen Mary granted the priory, with the possessions in this county, late belonging to it, and the rest of the premises above-mentioned, to cardinal Reginald Pole, archbishop of Canterbury, to hold during his life and one year after, as he should by his will determine. He died in 1558, and, as it seems, without any particular devise of them; upon which they again became part of the revenues of the crown.
Queen Elizabeth granted the scite of this priory to Sir Henry Sidney, and afterwards to Dame Ursula Walsingham. It afterwards passed into the possession of the lady viscountess Purbeck, who sold it to one of the family of Poley, in which it continued till it was devised by will to George Weller, esq. of Tunbridge, who bore for his arms, Sable, two chevronels between three roses argent. He took on him the name of Poley, and afterwards resided at Boxted-hall, in Suffolk, and his son, George Weller Poley, esq. of that place, afterwards possessed it and died in 1780, on which this estate became the property of his next brother, the Rev. John Weller Poley, clerk.
The buildings of this priory appear to have been very extensive, from the foundations still visible; what remains of them seem to have been some part of the great hall, and the chapel, which is at present made use of as a barn and past-stowage, and such like uses. Messrs. Buck, in 1735, engraved a south view of the ruins of this priory.
In the priory grounds, at a small distance from the scite of it southward, is a well dedicated to St. Margaret, which was formerly walled round, and had great resort to it before Tunbridge Wells came in vogue. It appears by the ochreous sediment to be strongly impregnated with mineral, but does not sparkle like the water of those wells.
THE FREE GRAMMER SCHOOL, which stands at the north end of the town of Tunbridge, is of the foundation of Sir Andrew Judde, a native of this town, citizen and skinner of London, and lord-mayor in the 5th year of king Edward VI. He erected the school-house with some other buildings belonging to it, and intending to endow it he purchased lands in the name of himself, and Henry Fisher entrusting the management of them and the school to the Skinners company in London. After which he procured the king's letters patent, anno 7 Edward VI. for the founding of it; and that the master, wardens, and commonalty of skinners should be governors of the possessions, lands, and goods of the school, to be called the free grammer school of Sir Andrew Fudde, in the town of Tunbridge.
Sir Andrew Judde died in 1558, and by his will bequeathed the lands so purchased, to that company, for the purpose of this school; and they were assigned accordingly by Henry Fisher, above mentioned, but after his death Andrew Fisher, his son, endeavoured to impeach those conveyances; but the whole being examined in parliament, (fn. 42) in the 14th year of queen Elizabeth, an act passed for the assurance of the lands to this school; and again afterwards, upon a solemn hearing in the house of commons, upon the petition of the company, with the consent of Fisher, the former act was confirmed that year, anno 31 queen Elizabeth, by another act, for the better assuring of the lands and tenements of this school, those left by the will of Sir Andrew Judde, for the maintenance of this school and other charities, to the Skinners company, amounted then to 56l. 0s. 4d. per annum, and were situated in different parishes in the city of London, and in St. Pancras near it. (fn. 43).
About which time, the master of this school had twenty pounds per annum, and the usher of it eight pounds per annum, the reparations of the buildings of it, and the charges at the examination of the scholars amounted yearly to 50l. 2s. 3d. and there were six scholars maintained at Oxford and Cambridge, which cost the company yearly thirty pounds.
Since which, the company of skinners have executed this trust with great liberality, having both improved and augmented the original foundation. They have doubled the salary of the master, allowed a handsome annual gratuity to the usher, besides his stipend, and have usually given annuities for life to such superannuated masters, who have stood in need of them, and have sometimes continued them to their representatives.
The original building of this school extends in front upwards of one hundred feet in length. It is constructed in a plain, but neat and uniform stile, with the sand-stone of the neighbouring country. At the back part of it, there is a considerable addition to the master's habitation, erected by the Skinner's company in 1676, together with a hall or refectory, for the use of the scholars; and a small, yet elegant library built at the joint expence of the patrons of the school, and of the Rev. Mr. Cawthorn, late master of it. There are also detached offices, a garden, and a play-ground belonging to it.
By the charter of king Edward VI. the college of All Souls were appointed visitors, in case any dispute should arise; indeed, in the charter it is written, Collegium omnium Sanctorum; but as there is no such college, and the founder of this school being of consanguinity to archbishop Chichele, the founder of that college, the late learned Sir William Blackstone was of opinion, that the word Sanctorum was a mistake of the transcriber for animarum, and that the college of All Souls was meant by the founder for this part of the trust; though it is not upon record, that these visitors have at any time been appealed to.
The statutes of the school were perused, approved, and subscribed by archbishop Parker and Dr. Nowell, dean of St. Paul's. Among other matters contained in them, it is ordained, that the master of the school shall be a master of arts, if it may be, and that the usher shall be chosen by him; and that the master shall have authority to reject such as apply for gratis instruction, or day boys, unless they can write competently, and read Latin and English perfectly. But disputes having arisen concerning the extent of the freedom of the school, in 1693 an appeal was made from the town of Tunbridge to the Skinners company, who thereupon limited its freedom according to the words of the charter to the emolument, Juvenum in villa et patria adjacenti, of the boys inhabiting the town and adjacent country; and this, according to the opinion of the late lord chancellor Yorke, was a very fair and reasonable construction. Notwithstanding which, another warm dispute on this subject arose again in 1764; when after consulting the most learned men of the law, viz. Yorke, Norton, De Grey, Blackstone, and Hussey, it was resolved at a courtholden by the Skinners at their hall in 1765, that the children of the town and parish of Tunbridge, who could write competently, and read Latin and English perfectly, should be instructed on proper application to the master, without payment of any consideration excepting the staturable entrance-money; but judge Blackstone was of opinion, that the college of All Souls ought to have been consulted.
The greatest benefactor to this school, next to the founder, was Sir Thomas Smith, second son of Customer Smith, by Alice, daughter and heir of Sir Andrew Judde before-mentioned, who bequeathed lands to the Skinners company in trust, among other purposes, to pay to the master of this school ten pounds per annum; to the usher of it five pounds; to six scholars to be elected to the university from it sixty pounds per annum; to the Skinners company towards the expence of their annual visitations, an account of which will be given hereafter, 6l. 13s. 4d. per annum; and also the sum of twenty-four pounds per annum, to buy a piece of cloth, to be distributed to twentyfour poor persons, one piece of it to each of them, at the annual visitation above-mentioned.
There are several exhibitions appropriated to this school, besides those of Sir Thomas Smith above. mentioned, which were to be paid in exhibitions of ten pounds a year each, for seven years, to six poor scholars, who should go immediately from it to either of the universities.
Mr. Fisher, Sir Andrew Judde's executor, in 1562 endowed an exhibition for a scholar, who should go to Oxford from this school. Mr. Lewis endowed an exhibition for one scholar, going from hence to Cambridge. Sir James Lancaster, in 1620, endowed four more exhibitions, for such as should go to either of the universities. (fn. 44) Mr. Worrall gave two exhibitions of six pounds a year each to scholars, who should have spent two full years in the upper class. The will directs, that the person chosen by the Skinners company to one of their own exhibitions may also enjoy one of these, or if there should be any one scholar recommended by the master, as qualified in an eminent degree above others, he may enjoy both Mr. Worrall's exhibitions as they fall, if the head and senior fellows of the college signify their concurrence. Thomas Lampard, in 1593, gave an exhibition of four marcs, to be paid quarterly to a poor scholar of Tunbridge parish and school, who should be preferred to St. John's college, in Oxford, upon Sir Thomas White's foundation of a fellowship there, for the first five years after his going there.
Robert Holmedon bequeathed by his last will four pounds a year in the disposal of the Leathersellers company, to be given to a scholar of this school on failure of a claimant from another school, at the time of vacancy. Sir Thomas White directed by his will, that in the choice of a bible clerk, or Ædituns of his college of St. John, in Oxford, a preference should be given to the candidates educated at either of the schools which supply that college, of which Tunbridge is one. The salary and emoluments are thirty pounds per annum, and it is compatible with any of the above-mentioned exhibitions, and is now enjoyed by a scholar of this school, together with one of Sir Thomas Smith's exhibitions. Sir Thomas White was lord-mayor of London in 1554, and of the Merchant Taylors company. His charities were most liberal and extensive. He was an intimate friend of Sir Andrew Judde, and propter eximium amorem in eum, as the statutes of his college of St. John tell us, gave one of his fellowships to Tunbridge school, which was founded but a little while before that college. The probationary, fellow, or scholar, when nominated, must be sent immediately from the school; that is, he must not have left the school before the vacancy; for the statute expressly says, that the electors ex suis scholis mittendos curent, and it directs that the nomination of the fellow shall be made by the Prætores vel Seniore, of the several corporate towns from which fellows are sent to St. John's college, but as Tunbridge is not a corporation, nor has either mayors or aldermen or any such, who answer the above description in it, there have been great debates to whom the election properly belongs. The nomination has always hitherto been signed by the master and a few of the principal inhabitants of the town, and the college has invariably admitted its validity, though opponents have more than once endeavoured to set it aside.
Lady Margaret, relict of Sir William Boswell, in 1692. by will, bequeathed a farm, called Halywell, at Burham, in Essex, to trustees, to dispose of the yearly rents to several charitable uses; among which, to Jesus college, in Cambridge, for two scholarships, twelve pounds per annum each; the scholars to be called Sir William Boswell's scholars, and to be chosen out of Sevenoke school, and for want of lads fitting there, then from this school of Tunbridge, and upon every vacancy, three pounds a piece to two of the fellows of that college, to come over and prove the capacities of the lads. Mr. John Strong left by will a sum of money in trust, for the apprenticing to some marine business, a scholar, educated at the great school at Tunbridge; but it does not appear, that this bequest has ever been claimed by any scholar of this school.
This school continues under the management of the company of Skinners, who, in pursuance of the statutes, visit it annually in the month of May, at a very considerable expence, when they are attended, as the statutes direct, by a very respectable clergyman of London, whose business it is to examine the several classes of the school. On the arrival of the company, &c. in their carriages, at the gates of the school, a congratulatory oration in Latin is spoken by the head boy. The company then proceed to church, where they distribute bread, money, and cloaths to a number of poor persons of the parishes of Tunbridge, Bidborough, and Speldhurst, according to the will of Sir Thomas Smith. On their return, after a cold collation, they survey the buildings, and give orders for all necessary repairs. They next proceed to the the school, where, after a few Latin orations, the examination begins; at the close of which the whole company, which consists, besides the visitors and their friends, of the neighbouring gentry and clergy, retire to dinner, which is served up in the library, and in other rooms in the master's house. At five o'clock they return to the school, and the grammatical disputations, a very antient exercise, are commenced by the six senior scholars. These exercises conclude with the repetition of English or Latin verses. The examiner then distributes, according to the statutes, as an honorary reward, a silver pen gilt, to each of the six senior scholars, who on that day walk in procession to the church, before their patrons, with garlands of fresh flowers on their heads, such is the form which has been constantly observed ever since the foundation of the school.
It has always maintained a good reputation, as well for the learning of the scholars educated in it, as the eminent abilities of the masters who have had from time to time the care of it. But the register of the school having been irregularly kept, I have not been able to obtain a complete list of the latter; the following are the only names of the masters that I have met with.
Thomas Horne, A. M. about 1636, resigned about 1646. (fn. 45)
Nicholas Grey, D. D. about 1650, resigned 1660. (fn. 46)
John Goad, B. D. in 1660, resigned 1661. (fn. 47)
James Cawthorn, 1743, obt. in 1761. (fn. 48)
Vicesimus Knox, LL. B. in 1771, resigned 1778. (fn. 49)
Vicesimus Knox, D. D. 1778, the present master. (fn. 50)
Sir Thomas Smith, of London, in 1624, gave by will to the poor of Tunbridge and Bidborough, twelve fourpenny loaves of wheaten bread weekly for ever; and also to each of the said poor yearly, cloth for winter winter garments of the value of 20s. payable by the Skinners company, now of the annual amount of 22l. 8s.
John Brightling, of Tunbridge, in 1648, gave by will six two penny loaves of bread to six poor housholders of this town; and to the poor of the town, two houses in Mill, alias East-lane, for alms-houses. The former bequest is vested in Martha Summersham, who pays for the bread of 2l. 12s. per annum produce; the latter have been exchanged for two houses of a greater value, and are inhabited by the poor.
Francis Skeffington, esq. of Tunbridge, in 1684 gave by will 210l. to purchase an annuity to provide twelve fourpenny loaves of wheaten bread weekly for ever, for twelve poor people of this town and Hilden borough, constant frequencers of the church; and in 1695 his trustees purchased an annuity of 10l. 10s. issuing out of the Rose and Crown inn in this town, to the uses of his will.
John Petley, gent. of Tunbridge, in 1705, gave by will, six four penny loaves of wheaten bread to six poor people of this town, to be paid out of lands in Brenchley, now vested in John Hooker, esq. and of the annual produce of 5l. 4s.
GEORGE PETLEY, gent. of Tunbridge, gave by will 200l to be laid out in building six alms-houses, which was afterwards done in Tunbridge town; and the yearly sum of 5l. 4s. for six four-penny loves to be distributed weekly to the poor; and the sum of 3l. for ever, for the repair of the houses, and if there were no repairs wanting, then to the poor therein placed; and 3l. per annum to the minister, to preach a sermon on GoodFriday; the monies to be paid out of the tithe-wards of Haysden and Little Barden in this parish.
CAREW HOLFORD, gent. of Tunbridge, in 1732 gave by deed an annuity of 50s. per annum, to be paid out of lands vested in Samuel Mills, to provide six poor people of this town with six two-penny loaves of wheaten bread, and of the annual produce of 2l. 12s.
GEORGE CHILDREN, esq. of Tunbridge, in 1713 gave by will to the poor of Hilden borough, in Tunbridge, twelve four penny loaves of wheaten bread weekly for ever, to be paid out of lands in Tunbridge and Lyghe, vested in George Children, esq. and of the annual produce of 10l. 8s.
JOHN WILLARD, of Tunbridge, in 1719, gave an annuity of 6l. per annum for ever, issuing out of lands in this parish, to the churchwardens and overseers of the poor of Tunbridge, to be employed in the schooling and instructing eight poor children of this parish, none to continue longer at school than three years.
WILLIAM STRONG, esq. gave by will in 1713, for putting out poor children apprentices, and the surplus, if any, to be lent to them, when out of their times, for five years, without interest, about forty acres of land in Tunbridge, the trustees are all dead, and the trust not renewed, but the churchwardens receive the rents, and employ them for the above purpose, now of the annual produce of 14l.
GEORGE PUTLAND gave in 1740 by deed, for putting children to school, in and of a charity school, whilst any such shall be supported by voluntary subscriptions, but when that sails, then to feed the needy poor, an annuity of 2l. 12s. issuing out of lands in Tunbridge, which sum is paid to the schoolmaster of the charity school.
GEORGE HOOPER, of Tunbridge, scrivener, gave one dozen and a half of leathern buckets for the use of this town, and in 1720, gave a brazen sconce to this church; and by his will in 1759, gave a sum of 500l. to new pew and pave it, which was expended accordingly by his trustees.
SIR THOMAS DYKE, bart. of Lullingstone, in 1750, settled by deed an annuity of 9l. to be expended in instructing so many boys and girls as could be taught for it; the boys to be taught to read and write English, and cast accounts; the girls to read English, knit, and few plain work. The children to be found from Tunbridge and Eynsford, of which Eynsford to find two, and the rest from Tunbridge, two of which last to be out of Hilden borough, if there to be had. The objects of this charity are, such poor children only, whose parents are not able, of their own such substance, to have them so instructed.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, is a large handsome building, having a square tower at the west end. It was much orna mented and new pewed some years ago, by Mr. Hooper's legacy before-mentioned.
There are many monuments in the different parts of it for the owners of estates and principal inhabitants of this parish, most of whom are mentioned before in the descriptions of their seats and estates, as having been buried in it, but much too numerous to be repeated here; in the church-yard there are many altar tombs of them likewise.
At the south-east corner is a handsome tomb of white marble, with a well carved urn standing on it, erected to the memory of the celebrated Anne Elliot, the actress, a native of this parish, whose remains are deposited in the vault underneath it. She was the daughter of Richard and Mary Elliot, and died in 1769, æt. 26. The following elegant verses are on the north side of it.
Of matchless form, adorn'd with wit refin'd,
A feeling heart, and an enlighten'd mind;
Of softest manners, beauty's rarest bloom,
Here ELLIOT lies and moulders in her tomb.
Oh blest with genius! early snatch'd away;
The muse that joyful mark'd thy op'ning ray,
Now, sad reverse! attends thy mournful bier,
And o'er thy relics sheds the gushing tear.
Here Fancy oft' the hallow'd mould shall tread,
Recall THEE living, and lament THEE dead:
Here Friendship oft' shall sigh till life be o'er;
And Death shall bid thy image charm no more.
Gilbert de Clare, earl of Hertford, is said to have given this church to the monks of Lewes, in Sussex; however that be, on his death without issue in 1151, his brother and heir Roger de Clare, earl of Hertford, resumed the property of it, giving the monks the church of Blechingley in exchange for it, and in the next reign of king Henry II. by his charter, gave to the brethren of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, the church of Tunbridge, with the chapel and appurtenances belonging to it, to the use of the poor of that hospital, in pure and perpetual alms. And by another grant, he gave and confirmed to them the advowson of this church, and the right which he had in it. Pope Clement IV. anno 1267, granted licence to the prior and brethren of the hospital to take possession of this church as an appropriation on the first vacancy of it, provided, that a fit portion from the income of it was assigned to a perpetual vicar serving in it, for his maintenance and the support of the burthens of the church, and they were that year admitted into possession of it.
In the 52d year of king Henry III. it was affirmed that the bishop received an annual pension of three marcs from the parish church of Tunbridge towards the revenues of his table. In the 7th year of king Edward II. it was certified to the king's treasurer, in obedience to the king's writ, that the prior of the hospital possessed the appropriation of this church, with the chapels of Schiburne and St. Thomas Martyr of Capel, worth yearly ninety marcs. In the 24th year of king Henry VII. it appears, the bishop received from the vicarage of this church an annual pension of forty shillings. In the 18th year of king Henry VIII. the prior, and the brethren of the hospital demised to Richard Fane, gent. of Tudeley, their parsonage of Tunbridge, with all its appurtenances, excepting the advowson, and the woods and underwoods, at the yearly rent of fourteen pounds. (fn. 51)
In which state the church continued at the dissolution of the hospital in the 32d year of Henry VIII. when this order was suppressed by an act specially passed for the purpose, and all their lands and revenues were given by it to the king, and the see of it continued in the crown till king Edward VI. in his first year, granted both the rectory and advowson to Sir Ralph Fane, and lady Elizabeth Fane his wife, to hold in capite by knights service. (fn. 52)
On Sir Ralph Fane's death, lady Elizabeth Fane, his widow, became possessed of them, and in the 2d and 3d year of Philip and Mary, alienated the rectory, with its appurtenances, to Henry Stubberfield, yeoman, of Tunbridge, who sold it to Alexander Culpeper, by the description of the rectory of Tunbridge, with its appurtenances, and all messuages, lands, tenements, tithes, &c. in the parish of Tunbridge, in the wards of Tunbridge, Southborough, and Brombridg, and in the great park of South-frith, and in the park and lands inclosed, called North fryth, the Postern, and the Cage, parcel of the rectory.
He passed it away by sale in the 7th year of queen Elizabeth, to William Denton, esq. descended from Cumberland, whose eldest son Sir Anthony, possessed it at his death, in the 25th year of that reign, it being then held in capite by knights service. He was one of the gentlemen of the band of pensioners, as well to that queen as to king James I. and dying in 1615, s.p. was buried in this church, where his monument still remains, with the figures at large of himself and Elizabeth his wife, both reclining on cushions, the former in armour, and the latter in the dress of that time. She afterwards married Sir Paul Dewes, of Suffolk. On his death it descended to his nephew, William Denton, esq. and his three brothers, Anthony, Walter, and Arthur, sons of Sir Alexander Denton, by Anne, grand daughter of lord Windsor, who sold this parsonage, in different parcels, at times, to several persons; to some in districts, or tithe-wards, and to others as to their own lands only, which accounts for the several lands in this parish which are now, and have from that time, been exempt from the payment of the rectorial tithes.
At present, this parsonage consists of the tithewards of Haisden and Little Barden, formerly the property of John Petley, esq. of Oldbery-hill, in Ightham, who probably purchased them of the Denton's. He lived in the reign of king Charles I. and at his death devised them to Gilbert Wood, gent. of Market-cross, in Sussex, who had married Elizabeth his daughter. Their son, J. Wood, of Tunbridge, left issue an only daughter and heir Elizabeth, who married John Hooker, esq. of Tunbridge, father of Thomas Hooker, esq. of Tunbridge, the late possessor of them.
But the advowson of the vicarage of this church continued in the family of Fane, or as they afterwards wrote themselves, Vane, seated at Hadlowplace, in the adjoining parish of that name, in which it continued down to William, viscount Vane, who dying s.p. in 1789, gave this advowson, among the rest of his estates in this county, to David Papillon, esq. of Acrise, the present owner of it. (fn. 53)
Church of Tunbridge.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Prior and convent of Tunbridge||William de Ver, in the reign of king Henry II. the last rector, resigned. (fn. 54)|
|Sir Thomas, anno 1393. (fn. 55)|
|Family of Vane.||Edw. Ashburnham, A. M. 1630, sequestered 1642. (fn. 56)|
|John Stileman, A.M. 1649, ob. 1685. (fn. 57)|
|Richard Higgins, obt Sept. 30, 1705.|
|John Tristam, obt. Oct. 29, 1712.|
|William Davis, instit. 1712, obt. Jan. 29, 1747. (fn. 58)|
|Henry Hemington, 1748, resig. 1756.|
|Henry Harpur, A.M. 1756, obt. Oct. 1790.|
|David Papillon. esq||J.R. Papillon, A.M. present vicar.|