Bromley St Leonard's

The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1795.

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Daniel Lysons, 'Bromley St Leonard's', The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex, (London, 1795), pp. 59-69. British History Online [accessed 18 June 2024].

Daniel Lysons. "Bromley St Leonard's", in The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex, (London, 1795) 59-69. British History Online, accessed June 18, 2024,

Lysons, Daniel. "Bromley St Leonard's", The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex, (London, 1795). 59-69. British History Online. Web. 18 June 2024,



This place, in ancient records, is called Brambele, Brambelegh, or Brembeley.—Newcourt supposes the name to be derived from brom, broom, and leag or lege, a field, or perhaps from the river Lea, near whose banks it lies (fn. 1). I think it more likely that it is derived from the Saxon word Brembel, a bramble, and lege, a field.

Situation, boundaries, extent, &c.

Bromley lies in the hundred of Ossulston, about two miles from Whitechapel church, and adjoining to Stratford-Bow. The parish is of small extent, containing between four and five hundred acres of land, of which about sixty are occupied by market gardeners and nursery men, the remainder is divided in an equal proportion between arable and pasture; the soil for the most part is gravelly. This parish pays for its quota to the land-tax the sum of 428£. 8s. 2d. which, in the year 1792, was at the rate of is. 9d. in the pound.


At this place there was a nunnery of the Benedictine order, dedicated to St. Leonard, founded in the reign of William the Conqueror, by William, Bishop of London, for a prioress and nine nuns (fn. 2). There is no trace of any part of this building to be seen, except the chapel of St. Mary, which is now the parish church, and part of an old brick wall in the church-yard. References to various grants relating to this convent will be found in the notes (fn. 3). At the suppression of monasteries, the nunnery at Bromley was valued, according to Dugdale, at 108£. is. 11d.

The manor.

The manor of Bromley belonged to the abovementioned convent, to which it is said to have been given by Sir Ralph Jossline (fn. 4). After the dissolution it was granted, with the site of the priory and advowson of the church, by Henry VIII. to Sir Ralph Sadler (fn. 5), who granted a lease of the priory, with certain premises adjoining, to Joan Gough, at the yearly rent of 35£. 10s. 8d. (fn. 6), and in the year 1546 exchanged the manor again with the crown for other lands (fn. 7). After the expiration of Joan Gough's lease, Queen Elizabeth granted the same premises for twenty-one years to Sir Thomas Cotton (fn. 8). The manor, in the year 1583, was the property of Henry Morgan, alias Wolf, who obtained a licence to alien the same, with certain tenements and tofts, 30 acres of arable, 15 of meadow, 30 of pasture, 2 of wood, and 3£. rents of assize, to Thomas Spencer, Esq. and Richard Shute (fn. 9). In 1607 a licence was obtained by Hugh and John Hare, to alien the same premises to Arthur Ingram and his heirs (fn. 10). Soon after this the manor seems to have reverted to the crown. King James granted it in 1609 to Francis Morrice and Francis Phillips (fn. 11). It was vested in the crown again A. D. 1620, when, being valued at 71l. 2s. 6d. it was settled among other manors upon Charles I. then Prince of Wales (fn. 12), who, in the fourth year of his reign, granted it to Edward Ditchfield and others, trustees for the city of London (fn. 13), who, five years afterwards, sold it to Sir John Jacob (fn. 14). Sir John was a great sufferer in the civil war: his estates having been sequestrated, this manor appears to have passed into the hands of Abraham Wilmer, Esq. who was allied to the Jacobs by marriage, and who is stiled patron of the church in 1650 (fn. 15). Sir John Jacob died in 1666. The manor afterwards came to the family of Roberts (fn. 16). After the death of Sir John Roberts, Bart. which happened in 1692, it became the property of Sir William Benson, Knt. who dying in 1712, his son sold it about the year 1719, to Mr. Lloyd, a merchant of London (fn. 17), who aliened one moiety to his relation Mr. Booth, from whom it descended to his grandson Richard Booth, Esq. of Glenden in Northamptonshire; the other moiety is held by Gamaliel Lloyd and others, as trustees for the infant children of John Lloyd, Esq. of Snitterfield in Warwickshire. The manor-house, a large brick edifice, was built by Sir John Jacob in the reign of Charles I.; his arms, with those of his second wife, are on the chimney-piece in the drawing-room (fn. 18). Sir William Benson made many alterations, and appears to have built the porch, where his arms are to be seen over the entrance.

Manor of Bromley Hall.

The manor of Bromley Hall in this parish, consisting of a hide and a half of land, was given by Geoffrey and William de Mandeville to the priory of Christ Church in London (fn. 19); and on the dissolution of that monastery, was granted by Henry VIII. to Richard Morrison (fn. 20). In 1548, the site of the manor, with a moiety of all reliefs, profits of court, view of frankpledge, &c. was aliened by William Clyfton, citizen and merchant of London, to Humphrey Luce, citizen and leather-seller (fn. 21), whose son and heir Evan, the next year, sold it again to William Cecil, afterwards Lord Burleigh (fn. 22). It is now the property of George Nicholls, Esq. of Cambridge.

Singular tenure.

In the reign of Edward I. Idonea Cricket held certain lands in Brembeleg, valued at 60s. per annum, by the service of holding the King's napkin at the coronation. After her death they were divided between the nuns of St. Leonard's, the brethren of the Holy Trinity, and others (fn. 23).

The church.

Stone stalls.

The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary, was, no doubt, the chapel belonging to the nunnery which had that Saint for its patroness (fn. 24). The remains of Norman architecture sufficiently demonstrate it to be nearly, if not quite, coeval with the foundation of the convent. It is a small structure, consisting only of a nave and chancel, which are of the same width, and separated by an ascent of one step. Some ancient columns in the south wall of the nave, the capitals of which are decorated with foliage and other ornaments, shew that the building was extended farther on that side. In the south wall of the chancel are five stone stalls (fn. 25), two of which have round arches; the others are Gothic; through one of these a door has been made to communicate with the manor-house, and the others are in part concealed by the wainscot. Sir William Benson lengthened the chancel by the addition of a projecting recess, in which the communion-table is placed. In the east window are his arms (fn. 26) and those of his wife (fn. 27), the arms of England, the city of London, and the Drapers' company (fn. 28). In the west wall are the remains of a large round arch, ornamented with the lozenge and other Saxon mouldings. At the same end is a small wooden turret.

Within this chapel was interred the body of Elizabeth, sister of Queen Philippa, and daughter of William Earl of Henault, whose will bears date 1375 (fn. 29). Joyce, wife of Sir Hugh Blount, was buried there the same year (fn. 30). Weever says, that John de Bohun (the fifth Earl of Hereford of that family) was entombed in the abbey church of St. Leonard's, in Stratford-Bow (fn. 31). As that writer has evidently confounded the nunnery of St. Leonard at Bromley with the convent at Stratford, it seems more probable that this Earl was buried at the latter place. The historical account of the family of Bohun, in Dugdale's Monasticon (fn. 32), tends to confirm the supposition.

William Gobyonne appears to have been buried at Bromley in 1435, and Robert Sudbury in 1484 (fn. 33).

In the chancel were formerly the tombs of Henry Topsfield, who died in 1557 (fn. 34), and of Thomas Grey, citizen of London, who died in 1590; and in the nave that of Michael Barker, Esq. who died at Bromley Hall in 1599 (fn. 35).


Against the south wall of the chancel stands a large marble monument, supported by pillars of the Corinthian order, to the memory of Abraham Jacob, Esq. who died in 1629; the figures of himself and his wife are represented kneeling under arches. The monument is adorned with the arms of the family, and its alliances (fn. 36). On the same wall is a monument of white marble to the memory of Sir John Roberts, Bart. patron of the church, who died in 1692 (fn. 37), and that of William Ferrers, Esq. who married Jane, daughter of Sir Peter Vanlore, Bart. and died in 1625 (fn. 38). The latter monument is supported by pillars of the Corinthian order, and is ornamented with busts of William Ferrers and his wife, placed under arches. He is habited in a doublet and ruff, with his own hair, piked beard, and whiskers. She is represented with her hair straight.

On the east wall of the chancel is a monument to the memory of Elias Russell, who died in 1690 (fn. 39), and Samuel Skinner, Esq. who died in 1757. On the north wall is the monument of Sir Richard Munden (fn. 40),captain in the navy, who died in 1680; he signalized himself upon various occasions, and particularly by the taking of St. Helena. On the same wall is a large monument of veined marble to the memory of Sir William Benson sheriff of London, who died in 1712, erected by his son William Benson, Esq. On the floor is a brass plate to the memory of Roger Horton, citizen and goldsmith, who died in 1556; and the tomb of Captain Christopher Morgan, who died in 1705. Against the north wall of the nave is the monument of Elizabeth, daughter of Gyles Lytcott, Esq. and wife of George Turville, who died in 1704; and on the south wall that of Mary, wife of Captain Edward Rhodes, who died the same year (fn. 41). In the nave are also the tombs of Thomas Rudge, Esq. who died in 1723; and Edward Astley, Esq. third son of Sir Philip Astley, Bart. who died in 1763.

Church yard.

In the church-yard are the tombs of Isaac Rot, Gent. who died in 1653; Philip Starkey, citizen, (1677); William Wray, minister, (1692); and his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir William Bateman, Knt.; Andrew Orgill, of Sussex, Gent. (1705); Susanna, wife of Mr. Starkey Myddelton, citizen and surgeon, (1718); Thomas Harlow, 1741 (fn. 42); Mr. John Debonnaire, (1747); Richard Rudd, apothecary, (1749); Richard Charlton, Esq. (1754); Isaac Worth, Captain of the Houghton East Indiaman, (1761); Richard Newman, Esq. of Westham, (1766); Peter Newman, Esq. (1770); Captain John Caruthers, (1770); Daniel Bisson, Esq. (1777); John Curtis, Esq. (1780); Mr. Richard Hill, of Ormskirk in Lancashire, (1784); Miss Sarah Tomkins, (1784); John Duprie, Esq. (1785); Mrs. Mary Jarrett, (1786); John Milward, Esq. (1786); and Peter Lefevre, Esq. (1787).


The church of Bromley is in the diocese of London, and the archdeaconry of Middlesex: the benefice is a curacy; the great tithes, which, with the advowson of the church, belonged to the nunnery of St. Leonard, have always been held with the manor, except that the rectory was leased separately by Queen Elizabeth (fn. 43). In 1650 it was presented by the inquisition to the commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of ecclesiastical benefices, that Bromley St. Leonard's was a parish of itself, but never depending upon the late hierarchy; that Abraham Wilmore, Esq. was the present rector; that the tithes were worth 201. per annum; and that Benjamin Spencer was the present minister, having been approved by the commissioners of plundered ministers, and that he received 121. per annum from the impropriator, besides offerings, &c. valued at 41. per annum. They recommended to the committee to increase his salary (fn. 44). Newcourt says, that the plea of exemption from episcopal jurisdiction is illgrounded, since the convent acknowledged the bishop's authority, and the curates have always been licensed by him (fn. 45).

Nathaniel Cole.

Nathaniel Cole, A. M. author of some sermons and devotional tracts (fn. 46), was curate of this place, and was buried here May 4, 1626.

The present curate is William Haggitt, A. M. who was appointed in 1783.

Parish register.

Comparative state of population.

The earlies date of the parish register is 1624.

Average of baptisms. Average of burials.
1630–1639 18½ 19 6/10
1680–1689 16 4/10 23 9/10
1730–1739 27 44 1/10
1780–1789 29½ 48 7/10
1790 31 58
1791 34 40

The list of burials is considerably increased by the number of nonparishioners here interred.

The present number of houses in Bromley is about 200.

In 1625, there were 63 burials; in 1665, 61.

Families of Middelton, Ferrers, and Jacob.

In the early part of the register are recorded several baptisms of the children of Timothy Middelton, Esq. (fn. 47); of Sir Henry Ferrers, Bart. and Anne his wife; and of Sir John Jacob and his second wife Alice.

Sir John Maynard.

"Anne, daughter of Sir John Maynard, K. B. and Mary his wife, baptized December 27, 1627." Sir John Maynard was brother of the first Lord Maynard: he was made Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Charles I. His wife was daughter of Sir Timothy Middelton. In the year 1648, being then a prisoner in the Tower, on a charge of treason, he sent a spirited remonstrance to the House of Lords, demanding to be tried by a jury of his peers. It was printed on a single sheet, under the title of "England's Champion, or the Just Man's Fortitude," and is to be found amongst the collection of pamphlets of that date in the British Museum. It appears that Sir John Maynard was released from his consinement, for he resided some years afterwards at Tooting, where he was proprietor of the manor. He was buried in the church-yard of that place A. D. 1658.

"Buried Mr. Thomas Willmer, Gent. and Theologue, September 17, 1650."

Sir John Jacob.

"Sir John Jacob, Knight, and Bart, buried March 13, 1665-6." Sir John Jacob, a rich and loyal citizen, was one of the farmers of the customs, and a great sufferer during the civil war. In 1642 he was a prisoner at Crosby-house, for refusing to contribute money for the use of the parliament.

"Rt Worshipful Sir John Roberts, Bart. buried December 29, 1692." He was created a baronet in 1681: the title is now extinct.

William Benson.

"William, son of Mr. William Benson, and Martha his wife, baptized March 17, 1681-2." Auditor Benson, who died at Wimbledon, and of whom an account is given in Vol. I. He was buried at Bromley February 9, 1754.

"Sir William Benson, Knt. buried August 29, 1712." Sheriff of London, and father of Auditor Benson.

"Sir Charles Peers, buried February 7, 1736-7." He was senior Alderman of London, and had been Lord Mayor in 1716.


In this parish, near the road side, stand two alms-houses, one of which was founded in 1613 by Sir John Jolles, Knt. and Alderman of London, for eight poor widows, four of whom are to be of Bromley, and four of Stratford-Bow. Over the door are the arms of Jolles (fn. 48). The other alms-house (for 12 poor persons) was built in 1706, by the Drapers' company, to whom a sum of money was left in trust for that purpose by Mr. John Edmondson, whose arms (fn. 49) are over the door.


Mr. Thomas Ferrers, in 1625, gave the sum of 100 l. to purchase freehold lands, the profits of which should be laid out weekly in bread for the poor. Abraham Jacob, Esq. in 1633, gave 20 l. to buy coals. A person unknown gave 201. for the same use. Capt. Christopher Morgan, who died in 1705, gave 501. for the use of the poor; and William Snelling, Esq. in 1713, the same sum. With the benefactions of Messrs. Ferrers, Morgan, Snelling, and the person unknown, was purchased an estate in Suffolk, let some time ago at 91. but lately raised to 301. per annum. Alderman Phillips gave a messuage in Oat-lane to the parish, in lieu of a burial-place for his family. Richard Newman, Esq. in 1766, gave 5 1. per annum to be distributed in bread and coals on Christmasday among poor housekeepers not receiving alms.


In this parish are the calico printing-grounds of Mr. Joseph Forster, who is tenant of the manor-house of Bromley-Hall; Mr. Copp's tambour-manufacture; and a large distillery belonging to Messrs. Hatch, Smith, and Currie.


  • 1. Repertorium, vol. i. p. 576.
  • 2. Tanner's Notitia Monastica.
  • 3. Confirmation of the manor of Haselingfield by King Stephen. Dugdale's Monast. vol. i. p. 443. Grant and confirmation of the church of Norton, Ibid. Confirm. Cart. & Libertat. Cart. II Edw. II. No. 3. Pro Prioriss. de Stratford, Pat. 22 Edw. III. pt. 2. m. 25. Pat. 23 Edw. III. pt.2. m. 21. Pat.24 Edw. III. pt. 1. m. 38. Pro Prioriss. & Monial. Strat- atte Bowe, Pat. 32 Edw. III. pt. 2. m. 12. (pro ten. in Brembeley). Pat. 33 Edw. III. pt. 1. m. 22. Pat. 36 Edw. III. pt. 2. m. 21. (pro. 4£. 10s. exeunt. de ten. apud le Stenes, London.) Pat. 39 Edw. III. pt. 1. m. 26. (pro. ten. in Brembeley.) Pro Abbiss. Stratford. Cart. 14 Rich. II. m. 1. Prioriff. & Monial. Beati Leonardi de Stratford, ampl. confirm. cart. & libertat. Cart. 10–12 Hen. IV. No. 12. & 2 Hen. V. pt. 1. No. 4. Pat. 8 Hen. VI. pt. 2. m. 23. Pat. 3 Edw. IV. pt. 3. m. 18. This convent being always described in the records as at Stratford, and not at Bromley, there having been also a convent of monks at Stratford-Bow, and another at Stratford in Essex, it is difficult to distinguish them in the calendars at the Tower; nor can it be always done without referring to the original roll, where the word Prioriff. will determine the grants which belonged to this house, even if Beati Leonardi should not follow. It was through this difficulty, probably, that Weever was led into the error of calling the nunnery at Bromley a Convent of White Monks.
  • 4. See Newcourt's Repertorium, vol. i. p. 576.
  • 5. Pat. 32 Hen. VIII. pt. 8. April 21.
  • 6. Vide Pat. 13 Eliz. pt. 8. Aug. 6.
  • 7. Records in the Augmentation-office.
  • 8. Pat. 13 Eliz. ut suprá.
  • 9. Pat. 25 Eliz. pt. 10. Mar. 2.
  • 10. Pat. 4 Jac. pt. 14. April 1.
  • 11. Newcourt's Repertorium, vol. i. p. 577. Morrice and Phillips had several very extensive that year (7 Jac.) in various counties. Newcourt's reference is to pt. 22.
  • 12. Lamb. MS. Library, 663, No. 48.
  • 13. Pat. 4 Car. pt. 35. June 14.
  • 14. Cl. 9 Car. pt. 31. No. 23.
  • 15. Parliamentary Surveys, Lamb. MS. Lib.
  • 16. Court rolls of the manor.
  • 17. From the information of the steward of the manor.
  • 18. Arg. a chevron G. between 3 wolves heads erased proper for Jacob, impaling Az. on a chevron engrailed between 3 unicorns heads erased Or, 3 crescents Gules for Clowes. Sir John Jacob appears to have been married to his second wife Alice Clowes, or Clouse, about 1633.
  • 19. Dugdale's Monast. vol. ii. p. 82. Robert Burel also, and William de Pirho, gave them some property in Bromley.
  • 20. 37 Hen. VIII. Aug. 29. Fee-farm roll, Augmentation-office.
  • 21. Pat. 3 Edw. VI. pt. 2. Jan. 29. Sir Ralph Sadler, who had been lord of the manor of Bromley, was at this time lessee of the manor of Bromley-Hall.
  • 22. Pat. 4 Edw. VI. pt. 3. Jan. 30.
  • 23. Records in the Exchequer, Esch. in Middlesex, de testa de Nevill.
  • 24. The chapel of St. Mary within the convent of St. Leonard, is mentioned in several ancient wills.
  • 25. Or rather perhaps four stalls and a piscina, but the lower part being entirely concealed by the wainscot, it cannot be ascertained.
  • 26. Arg. 3 trefoils Sab. between 2 bendlets Gules.
  • 27. Vert. a chevron erm. between 3 crowns, Or.—These arms are impaled by Sir William Benson, who married Mary Austin; but I find no such coat appropriated to that family.
  • 28. Az. 3 clouds proper, radiated in base, Or, each surmounted with a triple crown of the third, caps Gules.
  • 29. Stow's Survey, edit. 1755, vol. ii. p. 766.
  • 30. Id. ibid.
  • 31. Funeral Monuments, edit. 1631, p. 541, 542.
  • 32. Vol. i. p. 447.
  • 33. Stow ut supra.
  • 34. The arms of Topsfield remain—three martlets upon a chevron.
  • 35. Fun. Certif. Heralds College.
  • 36. 1. Arg. a chevron Gul. between 3 wolves heads erased proper, for Jacob, quartering Argent, 3 boars, gorged with bones Sable; and impaling, Arg. a chevron between 3 bucks current Sable, attires and collars, Or, for Rogers. Abraham Jacob married Mary Rogers of Kent. 2. Arg. on a bend Sab. 3 dolphins naiant embowed of the field for Rolte, impaling Jacob. Thomas Rolte married Elizabeth Jacob. 3. Sable, a chevron engrailed Or, between 3 plates charged with crosses pateé Gules, for Bury, impaling Jacob. George Bury married Mary Jacob. 4. Jacob, impaling Sable, 3 helmets Arg. within a border engrailed of the second, for Halliday. John Jacob married Elizabeth Halliday. 5. Gules, a chevron vaire between 3 eagles displayed Or, for Wilmer, impaling Jacob. Thomas Wilmer married Elizabeth Jacob. 6. Az. a chief Erm. for Syliard impaling Jacob. George Syliard married Barbara Jacob.
  • 37. Arms—Or, a lion rampant; quartering, 1. Az. a bow Or, armed with an arrow drawn, Arg. 2. Az. across fretty......between 4 mullets Or, impaling Arg. a boar's head couped between 3 cross crosslets Sab. for Amy. Sir John Roberts married Margery daughter of William Amy.
  • 38. Arms—Arg. on a bend Gul. cottised Az. 3 horseshoes Or.
  • 39. Arms—Arg. a chevron between 3 cross crosslets sitchee Sable, for Russell, impaling Arg, on a bend Sab. 3 eagles displayed of the field.
  • 40. Arms—Per pale Gules & Sab. on a cross engrailed Or, 5 lozenges of the second, a chief of the second charged, with 3 eagles legs erased of the third—in a canton ermine an anchor Az. In the original grant to Sir Richard Munden in the Heralds' College, the field is Gules only.
  • 41. Arms—Arg. two trefoils Sab. a chief of the second for Rhodes, impaling Arg. 3 lions passant Sable.
  • 42. The inscription on this tomb begins "Olim erraticus hic situs est."
  • 43. Viz. to Richard Grey, 7 Eliz. Records, Augmentation-office. Newcourt mentions other leases, viz. to Richard Pickman, 15 Eliz. and to Ambrose Willoughby, 28 Eliz. Repertorium, vol. i. p. 577.
  • 44. Parliamentary Surveys, Lambeth MS. Library.
  • 45. Repertorium ut supr`.
  • 46. Ant. Wood's Athen. Oxon. vol. i.
  • 47. He was afterwards Sir Timothy Middelton, Knt. and Lord Mayor of London.
  • 48. Or, a cinquesoil Gul. between 3 pheons Sable.
  • 49. Gules, a pale wavy Erm. between six efcallop-shells Or.