The island of Thanet: Introduction

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 10. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.

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'The island of Thanet: Introduction', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 10, (Canterbury, 1800) pp. 217-237. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]


The Tomb of Edila de, Thorne.

The Island of Thanet is situated at the north east part of the county of Kent, being separated from the rest of it by the river Stour on the southern, and by the water called the Nethergong, on the western side of it. It is said by most writers to be the same as was called by the Britons, Inis Ruim, (fn. 1) or Ruochim; that is, the island of Richborough; though Richborough itself, having antiently been an island, may reasonably be supposed to have been rather so called. Julius Solinus is the first of the Roman writers, who mentions it by the name of Athanaton and Thanaton. The Saxons afterwards called it Teneth, and Tenetlonde, which name it still bears, though by change of language, and length of time, it has been softened to that of Thanet, as it is called at present.

The water, which antiently separated this island from the county, was a large æstuary on the south and west parts of it, which ran up the country as far as Chartham and Ashford, and had its two openings, or mouths, to the sea; the one at the north mouth, or Genlade, (afterwards, by corruption of language, Yenlade, or renlet,) betwixt Reculver and this island, and the other by Ebbsfleet in the eastern part of it. This æstuary, beyond the bounds of this island, seems to have stopped before the time of the Romans, and the river Stour to have been the only water left in the valleys, through which it flowed; and even between this island and the county, and when Solinus wrote, it seems to have decreased, for he says, it was separated from it æstuario tenui, by a narrow æstuary.

But notwithstanding this, so long as the sea continued flowing at the Genlade, at the north mouth on the east of Reculver, there was still a considerable force of water, which being increased by the river Stour, ran down towards Ebbsfleet and Sandwich, in a rapid stream, and served to scour and cleanse the channel, particularly the mouth of it, of those sands which were then beginning to gather in it.

At that time, instead of sailing round the North Foreland, as at present, the ordinary passage from the continent of France to London was through this æstuary, on the south or inner side of this island, and back again through the same, the two openings bearing the plural name of Portus Rutupinæ, and likewise Rutupiæ. After which, this water continuing to decrease it, acquired from thence the name of the river Wantsume, in Latin, Vaxtsumus, by which name Venerable Bede calls it, in his Ecclesiastical History, where he says, it divides this island from the continent, being about three surlongs, or a quarter of a mile broad, and passable over only at two places, both its heads extend ing into the sea. Even so late as the latter end of the 15th century, the Wantsume continued navigable, not only for lesser boats, but for greater barks and merchant ships, which sailed back ward and forward betwixt this island and the continent.

During this period, the landholders took advantage of this failure of the waters round this island, and of the salts left by it, which contributed still more to the lessening of the stream and weakening its force, so that about king Henry VII.'s time, that part of the Wantsume, which ran by Sarre towards the Genlade, or north mouth, and where the Stour intermixed with it, ceased to be a continued stream, and flood gates being erected across it, dispersed itself among the lands for the conveniency of watering the cattle on them, and at other times of sewing the adjoining lands. (fn. 2) This is now called the Nethergong, over which where the antient ferry was at Sarre, a bridge was soon afterwards built for the conveniency of passengers; and anno I Henry VII. an act passed for the inhabitants of the Isle of Thanet to build a bridge at the place called Sarre ferry.

As to the other part of the Wantsume, which ran eastward, though the innings of the salts by the landholders lessened the force of the tide, and of the Stour's waters mixing with it, which occasioned the sands to increase at the mouth of the harbour by Ebbsfleet, where it was at length entirely choaked up, so that a wall was made there, to prevent the sea at high-water overflowing the lands, on which is now the road to Sandwich; yet the remains of the Wantsume, and the stream of the river Stour mixing with it, served still, especially after great rains, to preserve the harbour of Sandwich from entire ruin, and to scour it from those sands which otherwise would have entirely stopped it up. This stream is still of sufficient depth for the passage of lighters and barges, between Fordwich and Sandwich, laden with coals, deals, and such like sort of heavy carriage.

The Island of Thanet is surrounded by the sea on the northern and eastern sides, along which the chalk cliffs extend, from a little westward of Gore-end on the south, round the eastern side to Cliff-end, about a mile and an half south-west beyond Ramsgate. It is bounded on the south by the river Stour, and on the west by the water called the Nethergong. It is in shape a long oval, being about nine miles long from east to west, and about five miles broad from north to south. It is divided into the two manors of Minster and Monkton, which are separated by a bank, or lynch, which goes quite across the island, and is commonly called St. Mildred's lynch, as will be further mentioned hereafter. It is computed to contain nearly forty-one square miles, and little less than about 27,000 acres of land, including Stonar.

The chalk cliffs on the north and east parts, are in general pretty high; some of these, as from Margatepier to Pegwell, are more firm and durable. Under these cliffs have been sound large pieces of amber, after a rage of the sea, and fall of the cliffs. The other cliffs to the west of Margate, which reach to Westgate bay, are much lower, and of a more loose and crumbly nature, and fall away in greater quantities after any frost, or rage of the sea. Through these cliffs, the inhabitants have cut several hollow ways, for the conveniency of passing to and from the sea; but they have been frequently forced to fill them up again in time of war, to prevent their being made use of by the enemy, to surprize and plunder the country. (fn. 3)

The general face of the country, (excepting the marsh land towards the south) is high land, exceedingly beautiful; consisting in general of fertile corn lands, intermixed with those sown with saintsoin, clover, and vetches, mostly open and uninclosed, with gentle hill and dale, frequently interspersed with small hamlets and cottages, most of which being built, as well as the adjoining walls, with chalk, the general soil of the country, have a very chearful appearance. The grounds rise from the northern sea shore, up towards the middle part of the island southward, so that the high road across it from Sarre, eastward, towards Margate, and St. Peter's, as well as the many bridle, or horse paths, which are almost without number, across the lands, are most beautifully enriched with continued prospects over the intermediate country and adjoining channel, which being the constant passage towards the mouths of the Medway and Thames, has constantly on it a variety of shipping, which diversisy and enrich the scene as far as the eye can compass. These advantages, with the dryness of the soil, make the island most pleasant and grateful during the greatest part of the year, and very healthy at all times; which occasions a resort to it of numbers of persons of distinction, and genteel families from London and other parts of the kingdom, both for health and pleasure; whence there arises a continued resource of wealth, as well as increase of trade and inhabitants to this island, to the great benefit of the landholders, and every other person connected with it. Yet, notwithstanding what has been already said, the general aspect of the island being exposed towards the north and east, and there being so very few hedges and inclosures to shelter it, causes the situation to be very bleak towards the sea, and those few trees, which are growing hereabout, are for the most part scrubby and unthriving, from their being so much subject to the sea winds, which often blow very strong, and at times blast almost every thing in their way. This island too is less pleasant, from there being scarce any medium here, between a stalk calm and an outrageous storm, owing to its being so much exposed to the sea, without any kind of shelter On the north and east sides of the island, next the sea, where the shore is clean, no marshes near, and the water in general good, the inhabitants are mostly healthy and long lived; but in the lower part of it, to the south and west, near the marshes, it is not near so healthy; the inhabitants, from the lowness of the situation and the badness of the water, being much subject to intermittent severs and agues.

The soil here has always been remarkable for its fruitsulness.— Felix tellus Tanet sua fecunditate, says the Monkish Historian; and modern writers speak of it in equal terms of praise. An antient chronicle goes still further in its praise, stiling it, Insula arridens, bona verum copia, regni flos et Thalamus, amenitate, gratia, in qua tanquam quodam elysio, &c. (fn. 4)

It is, as to the uplands in general, a chalky light soil, though there are a very few parts in it a stiff clay; but by the excellent husbandry of the landholders, who are noted for it to a proverb in these parts, the crops of corn are abundantly large, and Thanet wheat and barley, for its cleanliness and weight, fetch a superior price at market of all others. Canary-feed is likewise produced on the lands here in great quantities, as well as the seeds of radish, spinach, mustard, cabbage, and other esculent plants, which are sent from hence for the supply of the London markets; in short, the high state of cultivation throughout the island gives an idea rather of the delicate work of a gardener, than the effect of the more enlarged industry of the husbandman. The farms throughout the island are mostly large and considerable, and the farmers wealthy, insomuch that they are usually denominated gentlemen farmers on that account, as well as from their hospitable and substantial mode of living. Mr. Boys, in his general view of the agriculture of this county, drawn up for the use of the Board of Agriculture not long since, gives the following account of this island:

Much of it, he says, is naturally very thin light land; but the greater part of it having belonged to the religious, who were the wealthiest and most intelligent people, and the best farmers of the time, no cost or pains were spared to improve the soil; the sea furnished an inexhaustible supply of manure, which was brought up by the tides to all the borders of the upland, quite round the island, and most probably was liberally and judiciously applied by the monks and their tenants; and their successors to the present time have not neglected to profit by their example. Owing to these circumstances, Thanet always was, and most likely always will be famous for its fertility; and the monkish tale of Thanet's deriving its superior fruitsulness from its having been the asylum of St. Augustine, is not so far from the truth, at it may at first appear.

In short, there is not perhaps another district in Great Britain, or in the world, of the same extent, in such a perfect state of cultivation; where the farmers are so wealthy and intelligent; where land, naturally of so inserior a quality, is let for so much money, and produces such abundant crops.

The whole island contains about 3,500 acres of excellent marsh land, and 23,000 acres of arable; all the lower part of the latter, bordering upon the marshes and some parts of the hill, where there is a good depth of earth, are exceedingly productive; and the principal part of the remainder, although naturally a poor thin light mould, on a chalky bottom, is made exceedingly fertile by the excellence of the system under which it is cultivated.

As to the soil, the bottom soil of the whole island, or what modern writers in husbandry call the subsoil, is a dry, hard, rock chalk. The tops of the ridges are about sixty feet above the level of the sea and are covered with a dry, loose chalky mould, from four to six inches deep, it has a mixture of small flints, and is without manure a very poor soil. The vales between the ridges, and the flat lands on the hills, have a depth of dry loamy soil, from one to three feet, lest mixed with chalk, and of a much better quality. The west end of the island, even on the hills, has a good mould, from one to two feet deep, a little inclining to stiffness; but the deepest and best soil, is that which lies on the south side of the southernmost ridge, running westward from Ramsgate to Monkton; it is there a deep, rich sandy loam, and mostly dry enough to be ploughed flat, without any water surrows. Indeed it is so rich and gentle, that being cultivated and managed with great care, expence and industry, there is seldom occasion to fallow it; so that it is, much of it, what is generally called round-tilth land, and produces very large crops. The soil of the marshes is a stiff clay, mixed with a sea sand, and small marine shells. There is no commonable land, nor an acre of waste in the island.—Thus far Mr. Boys.

The alga, or sea weed, which is often cast up by the sea in great quantities under the cliffs, has been made great use of by the inhabitants on the north and east sides of this island, for the making of a manure for their lands; though the stench of this weed, when first laid in a heap on the land, is very nauseous indeed; and there is another use to which this sea weed is put here; (but it is only such of it as is alive, and actually growing upon the rocks) which is to burn to make potash for the potters, which they call kelp, which being put into barrels, is carried over to Holland, with which they glaze all their earthen ware; but the smoke arising from the process of it, is very offensive to some distance, as the wind happens to wast it. (fn. 5)

The lands on the southernmost side of the island are defended by those above them, from the strong north and east winds, which come from the sea; and are very kindly for fruit trees, which thrive and bear well, though there are very few orchards in the island; and hops have been tried in it, but without success.

It should seem by the names of places still in use, that there was antiently much more woodland in this island than at present; but whatever there was, almost all of it has been grubbed up and converted into tillage, though several of the little vills in it still preserve the memory of these woods, viz. Westwood, Northwood, Southwood, Colyswood, and Wood, or Villawood; corruptly pronounced by the inhabitants Willowwood; which last seems to have been once entirely a wood, excepting a few cottages; besidesthese, there were Frisket wood, near Hoo; a wood called Bobdale, in St. Nicholas, and Manston wood, a copse of about five acres, which is the only woodland of all these, now left. (fn. 6)

Into these woods, it is probable, the inhabitants used co retire, and secure themselves and families, when the Danish pirates infested this island. Some shew of this custom seems still remaining at a place called Chesmunds, (which it is likely, was a part of that large wood about the middle of the island, which still bears that name) where there is an appearance of entrenchments cast up, in which these distrested people sheltered themselves, this being too small for any army to encamp in. Several caves under ground have been discovered elsewhere, in this island, which were perhaps made likewise by the inhabitants to hide themselves in from the enemy. The timber growing in this island is in general elm, which in the lower part of it, about Minster and Monkton, grows to a good height and size, much more so than that which stands exposed to the sea winds and nearer the chalk. Just by the house of Powcies farm, there was, till lately, a small grove of oaks, the only one in this island; but the unthriving state of them, shewed how unkind both the soil and situation was to them.

Leland, in his Itinerary, vol. vii. p. 137, describes this island in king Henry VIII.'s time as follows:

"Morton pretending in wynning his marisches, to make a new haven in Thanet."

"Thanet is yn lengthe from Nordmuth to Sandwich yn strayt yorney vii miles and more and in brede from the river of Sture and goith not far from Mystre Mergat, that is to lay from sowth to north a iiii myles and so is yn circuit by estimation a xvii or xviii myles. At Northmuth where the entery of the se was, the salt water swellith yet up at a creek a myle and more toward a place cawled Sarre, which was the commune fery when Thanet was fulle iled."

"Ther hath bene a xi paroche chyrches in Thanet, of the which iii be decayed, the residew remayne.

"In the isle is very little wood.

"There cum at certen tymes sum paroches out of Thanet to Reculver a myle of as to ther mother chyrche.

Sum paroches of the isle at certain tymes cummeth to Minstre being in the isle as to theyr mother and principal chyrche.

"The shore of the Isle of Thanet and also the inward part is full of good quarres of chalke."

And a little further,

"Raterburgh otherwise Richeboro was or ever the ryver Sture dyd turn his botom or old canale withyn the Isle of Thanet."

The households in this island were thus computed in queen Elizabeth's reign, anno 1563, in the return made to the council's letter by archbishop Parker's order.

St. Nicholas, households, 33
Monketon, 15
St. Laurence, 98
Minster, 53
Birchington, 40
St. Peter's, 186
St. John's, 107
Woode, none.
Total. —532

After which, the inhabitants appear to have increased considerably, insomuch that when Mr. Lewis published his history of this island in 1736, it was computed that there were no fewer than 2,200 families or houses in the whole island; which, reckoning four to a family, one with another, would make 8,800 souls. In the parish of St. John and town of Margate, there were computed to be 600 families; which reckoning four to a family, makes the number of souls about 2,400; but they are very much increased indeed since, in the parishes of St. John, St. Peter, and the ville of Ramsgate. By the subsequent account of the several parishes, it will appear that there were formerly many antient seats in this island, inhabited by good families with large estates; but these seats are all, except two, turned into farm houses, and the estates antiently belonging to them, for the most part, alienated; so that there are at this time but few gentlemen of estate, and, I believe, only one justice of the peace resident in it; which last is no small detriment and inconvenience to the inhabitants of it.

As to the present constant inhabitants, excepting those of the towns and villes of Margate, St. Peter, Broadstairs, and Ramsgate, who mostly depend on the resort of company in the summer season to those places, and the mechanics who constantly reside in them; they are in general those, who occupy farms, who as they are persons of good substance and some gentility, so they live in a very generous and hospitable manner. They who live by the sea side are generally fishermen, or seafaring men, or such as depend on what they call foying, i.e. going off to ships with provisions, and to help them in distress, &c. many of these, especially those who go to the north seas to fish, are such, as Camden calls them, a sort of amphibious creatures, who get their living both by sea and land, as having to do with both elements, being both fishermen and husbandmen, and equally skilled in managing the helm and the plough. According to the season of the year they knit nets, catch cods, herrings, mackarel, &c. go voyages and import merchandizes. The very same persons dung the land, and perform every other sort of husbandry business. (fn. 7)

As to the north sea fishery, it has formerly been much used by the inhabitants of this island; but the little success they have met with for many years past, has entirely discouraged them from following that employment. The seamen here are generally reputed excellent sailors, and shew themselves very dextrous and bold in going off to succour ships in distress; but they are too apt to pilfer stranded ships, and ruin those who have already suffered so much. This practice they call paultring, and nothing sure can be so base and unfeeling, as under pretence of assisting and of saving for the unfortunate their property, to plunder and convert it to their own use, by making what they call guile shares, (that is, cheating shares).

Time has made so great an alteration in this island, that it is very difficult, if not impossible, perhaps for us now to form a perfect judgment of the antient state of it. On the north and east the land has certainly gone much farther into the sea, which has washed away many hundred acres, not to say thousands, as it must have done, if it encroached in proportion for the seven hundred years before, as it has for these last hundred and fifty. At this time, at low water, rocks, as the inhabitants call them, or footings of the chalky cliffs, on which antiently was land, are to be seen above half a mile from the present shore or cliffs. On the south and west parts of the island, there are some hundred of acres now dry land, which were antiently all under water and a navigable stream, where the sea ebbed and flowed. Omnia Pontus erat. At Hepes-flete, or Ebbsflete, as it is now called, was a water-mill, and at Stonar another, which both belonged to the abbot of St. Augustine. Between these places was a place called Henne brigge, not far from Stonar, on the same side that Cliffe-end is; no remains of which name is now lest. The main road through the island from St. Laurence to Sarre, was antiently called Dun-strete, or the street, or way over the downe. On the road between Minster and Birchington, across the island, were two crosses erected, which in former times were held in great reverence. The larger of these crosses stood where the road called Dun-strete and this way crossed.

The Britons were the antient inhabitants of this island; of these there have been found some memorials in their coin, and amulets both of gold, or electrum, and brass; (fn. 8) and some of their tools have been likewise found here, in digging wells, &c. of a white flint, shaped and cut in the form of a broad edged chizel. To them succeeded the Romans, several of whose coins in brass have been taken up under the cliffs near Bradstow, after the rage of the sea and falling down of the land. One of them, says Mr. Lewis, was of the emperor Constantine. Another was a silver coin of Domitian. About 160 years ago, the servants of a farmer at Minster, striking their plough a greater depth than ordinary into the ground, struck against a pot, which they brought up full of Roman coins, of the lesser and larger silver; these were called by the country people, baldpates; and many years after, some of these were sound after a shower of rain, which were supposed to be dropped by those who first discovered them. Another parcel of these coins was found, not far off from the other place, near where the mill now stands; the others having been taken up near where the mill formerly stood, or what is now called king William's mount.

Of the Saxons, who drove out the Britons, after they had been abandoned by the Romans, no coins have been known to have been found here, though they frequently landed, and long remained in this island for some time. In this island the troops of the Saxons, sent for by the harrassed Britons, under the command of Hengist and Horsa, first landed at Hepesflete, afterwards called Ebbsfleet, the common landing-place in the eastern part of this island, about the year 449; and had soon afterwards, for their services against the Scots and Picts, the antient enemies of the Britons, this island allotted to them for their habitation, (fn. 9) where next year a new reinforcement of Saxon troops, in seventeen large ships, arrived on the invitation of Hengist; making together with their countrymen already in this island, a very considerable army. Hengist, after various incidents becoming king of Kent, this island continued in the constant possession of the Saxons. The consequence of this was, that the Britons, the antient inhabitants, were every where miserably harrassed and oppressed; nay, to shew the absolute conquest of the Saxons, as their language was altogether different from that of the natives, so they left very few places of any sort, which they did not change the names of, to such as were intelligible in their own language, and were given either by reason of their situation, or nature of the place, or after some place of the like sort to it in Germany, the country from which they came. But this was not, by any means, the greatest misfortune to which the inhabitants of this island afterwards became subject; from its situation it lay exposed to the continual insults and ravages of those merciless pirates the Danes, as appears by the several histories of those times. During which in 988 they burnt the abbey or nunnery at Minster, with the nuns in it, and the clergy and people who had fled there for sanctuary. And again in the year 1011, they entirely demolished that monastery; after which, though they no doubt again visited this island, yet I do not find any particular mention of their transactions here, in the historians of those times. But in after ages, when the port and town of Sandwich became so formidable to the French, that it became the continual object of their revenge, and was frequently attacked by them, this island was always in danger of being invaded, from its vicinity, as well as the great ease there was of landing on it, which induced Eustace le Moyne, the French admiral, in king John's reign, to conduct Lewis, the dauphin of France, to it, when he invaded this realm; and this induced Edward III. to take measures for the security of it, who in his 43d year, directed John de Cobeham and others, to cause such places in the Isle of Thanet, where ships and boats could land, to be inclosed and sortified with mounds and ditches, to prevent the same, at the charge of those whose lands should be benefitted by it. And in the 46th year of that reign, a writ of much the same nature, was directed to the guardians of the maritime parts of this county. (fn. 10)

JUST BY CLIFF-END there is a sort of blueish sand, very much resembling fuller's earth, among which are several strata of shells, such as cockle, culvershells, &c. great numbers of which are likewise found farther up, on the same level, in digging wells, &c.

Our botanists have taken notice of scarce and curious plants, growing in different parts of this island, much too numerous to mention here, the names of them may be seen in our several Herbalists and Botanical Writers referred to in the note below. (fn. 11)

About Sarre and Margate, common fennel grows naturally, and in great abundance on the road side and in the ditches; and the soil is particularly kind for rosemary, insomuch that there are hedges of it of a considerable length.

A weed begins to insest this island, which is not a little alarming to the farmers in it, as it is of the most prolisic kind, and very difficult to be eradicated. It was produced a few years ago among some oats, which were freighted on board a vessel that was wrecked upon the coast here, and being washed by the tides along the shore, among the sea weeds, was carried away to different lands at the same time. It is of the class tetredynamia, and produces its seeds in a pod, flowering and seeding at the same time throughout the autumn. The inhabitants call it the stink-weed, from its fetid smell. It seems to be either the brassica mnralis of Hudson, or a variety from it.

The bird, called the bargander, in Latin, chenalopex, often frequents the marsnes and waters in this island.

IN THE HERALDIC visitations of Kent, are the pedigrees of the following families, resident at different times in this island.

Cleybroke, of Manston and Nash-court, in the Heraldic visitations of 1574 and 1619; arms, Argent, a cross formee, gules. (fn. 12)

Petit, of Dandelion, in both visitations; arms, Argent, on a chevron, three bezants, between three lions heads erased, sable, crowned, or. (fn. 13)

Johnson, of Nethercourt, in both visitations; arms, Per pale and fess, indented, or, and sable; in the first quarter, a pelican vulnerated, or.

Tenche, of Birchington, in the visitation of 1619.

Curling, of this island, in the same; arms, Or, on a pale, gules, a leopard's face, jessant, a fleur de lis of the field.

Northwood, of Dane-court, in the same; arms, Ermine, a cross engrailed, gules; in the first quarter, a wolf's head, erased of the second.

Harty, of Birchington, in the same visitation; arms, Or, on a fess, sable, three eagles displayed of the field.

Spracklyn, of St. Laurence, in the same visitation; arms, Sable, a saltier, ermine, between four leopards faces, or. (fn. 14)

Crispe, of Quekes and Clive-court, in the same; arms, two coats; first, Ermine, a fess, chequy; second, Or, on a chevron, sable, five horse shoes, or.

Paramor, of St. Nicholas; arms, Azure, a fess embattled, between three etoils of six points, or.

Sanders, of St. Laurence, Minister, and Monkton; arms, Or, on a chevron, gules, three mullets, argent, between three elephants heads erased, gules.

Mason, of Monkton; arms, Per pale, argent and sable, a chevron, between three billets counter changed.

IN THE YEAR 1630, the business of knighthood was retaken into consideration, and with care and diligence set on foot, being grounded upon an old statute entitled, Statutum de Militibus; and a proclamation was issued that year, setting forth that as the king had formerly sent writs to the sheriffs of counties, for summoning all that had forty pounds, land or rent, to appear at the day of his coronation, and prepare themselves to receive the order of knighthood; he did then award a commission to certain lords, and others of his privy council, to treat and compound with all those who made default, and several commissioners were awarded into the several counties, giving power of compounding; those of this island who were summoned to appear before the commissioners appointed for this purpose, were Richard Terry, Edward Fuller, William Church, William Jenkin, all of Minster; Henry Paramor, esq. of Monkton; Thomas Paramor, gent. of St. Nicholas; William Fagg and Henry Johnson, of St. Laurence. (fn. 15)

THE FOLLOWING MEN of note and learning, were natives of this island:

Nicholas de Thorn, abbot of St. Augustine's monastery anno 1283.

John de Tenet, a monk of the Benedictine monastery of Christ-church, in Canterbury, anno 1330.

William de Thorn, a monk of St. Augustine's abbey, anno 1380.

Stephen de Birchington, a monk of the monastery of Christ-church, above-mentioned, author of a history of the archbishops as far as the year 1369.

Marcellus Daundelyon, abbot of St. Augustine's monastery in 1426.

Robert Jenkin, born at Minster in 1656, educated at the king's school, in Canterbury, and from thence sent to St. John's college, Cambridge; was afterwards made precentor of Lincoln cathedral, and master of St. John's college, and lady Margaret's professor of divinity, which preferments he held till his death in 1727. He was the author of several religious and other books and tracts.

In the year 1642, Henry Robinson, gent. by his will, gave a messuage at Upper Gore end, in Birchington, for the maintenance of two fellows and two scholars, in St. John's college, in Cambridge; the fellows and scholars to be born in the Isle of Thanet, and brought up in Canterbury school; and in default of such, other scholars born in Kent, and of the said school. By a decree in chancery, in 1652, and upon consent of parties, it was ordered, that as the lands were then sunk to fifty pounds per annum, and not able to support the charge of two fellowships, &c the college should maintain, instead of two fellows and two scholars, four scholars according to the direction of the donor, each of which should be allowed by the college in commons, ten pounds a year. (fn. 16)

THIS ISLAND gives the title of Earl to the family of Tuston, long resident at Hothfield, in this county, an ample account of which has already been given under the description of that parish, in the seventh volume of this history, p. 517.

Sir Nicholas Tuston, knt. and bart. the eldest son of Sir John Tuston, bart was created by patent, dated Nov. 1, 1626, anno 2 Charles I. baron Tuston, of Tuston, in Suffex, and afterwards, on August 5, 1628, Earl of Thanet. He died in 1632, and in his posterity these titles have continued down to the right hon. Sackville Tuston, being the ninth, and present Earl of Thanet, baron Tuston, and baronet. (fn. 17)

The HUNDRED OF RINGSLOW, called likewise in antient records, the hundred of Thanet, claims jurisdiction over such part of this island, as is not within the jurisdiction of the cinque ports.

This hundred was part of the antient possessions of the abbey of St. Augustine, but it was given up to king Edward I. in whose reign it appearing, by inquisition, to be of no value to the crown, that king, in his 13th year granted it, with the hundreds of Blengate and Downhamford, again to that abbey, to hold in fee farm; which grant was allowed on a quo warranto, in the 7th year of king Edward II. before Henry de Stanton and others, justices itinerant; (fn. 18) in which state these hundreds continued, till the dissolution of the abbey in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when they came into the hands of the crown, where they remain at this time.

It contains within its bounds, part of the parish of St. Laurence, the parishes of Minister, Monkton, and Stonar, and part of the parish of St. Nicholas, and all the churches of those parishes. Two constables have jurisdiction over this hundred.

The remainder of this island is within the jurisdiction of the cinque ports, containing the corporate town of Margate, including the parish of St. John; Birchington with Goresend, Wood, alias Woodchurch, and St. Peter's, all members of, and within the jurisdiction of the port of Dover; the ville of Ramsgate, and the ville of Sarre, now esteemed in the parish of St. Nicholas, both members, and within the jurisdiction of the port of Sandwich.

There were formerly eleven parishes and churches in this island; four of the churches are ruinated, being those of Stonar, Wood, alias Woodchurch, All Saints, and Sarre, the parishes of the three last churches being united to those of Birchington, and St. Nicholas, so that there are at this time only eight parishes remaining in it, viz.

1. ST. NICHILAS, with SARRE and ALL SAINTS annexed.
4. BIRCHINGTON, with WOOD, alias WOODCHURCH annexed.
5. ST. JOHN, with the borough and town of MARGATE.
7. ST. LAURENCE, with the ville of RAMSGATE, and

In all the parishes of this island were butts, formerly cast up and kept in repair, for the practice and exercise of archery, or shooting with the long bow, which was formerly a principal diversion in this island; the remains of these butts still continue in some of the parishes.


  • 1. Simon Dunelm, in Dec. Script. col. 120. Insula qnæ Saxonice dicitur Thenet, vocatur Inisrayn pereventure Milroyn—of frequent ing of Selis. Leland Itin. vol. vii. p. 130.— Teneth Britannico sermone Ruoichum, Ibid. Collect. vol. iii. p. 46.
  • 2. Lewis's Hist. Thanet, p. 9. See a full account of this part of the Wantsume, which flowed northward from Sarre bridge, in the first vol. of this history, p. 286.
  • 3. See Lewis's Thanet, p. 10.
  • 4. Leland Col. vol. iii. p. 170, exlibro Gocilini de vita Milburgæ See also Ibid. vol. iv. p. 8, ex libro ejusdem auctoris de vita Sci Augustini.
  • 5. See Lewis, p. 19.
  • 6. See Lewis's History, p. 25.
  • 7. See Lewis's Thanet, p. 32, et seq.
  • 8. See a description and engraving of two of these in gold, in Lewis's History of Thanet, p. 27.
  • 9. Brompton's Chron. Dec. Script. col. 728.
  • 10. Rym. Fæd. vol. vi. p. 623, 747.
  • 11. Johnson's Gerarde's Herbal, p. 31, 42, 248, 280, 315, 318, 324, 367, 411, 417, 420, 469, 503, 523, 533, 562, 610, 622, 623, 800, 838, 1273, 1547, 1570, 1571, 1572, 1573, 1574. Merrett's Pinax, p. 71, 73. Raii Synopsis, p 32, 42, 49, 221, 222. Lewis's Hist, of Thanet, p. 23. Jacob's Plantæ Fav. p. 10, 11, 17.
  • 12. See this pedigree continued to 1664 in MSS. Brit. Museum, No. 2230.
  • 13. Ibid.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. Rushworth's Hist. Col. vol. ii. part i. p. 70.
  • 16. See a lift of them in Lewis's Thanet, p. 41.
  • 17. See a full account of the several earls of Thanet, and their succession, and the arms, supporters, &c. of the earl of Thanet, in vol. vii. p. 518 et seq.
  • 18. Dec. Script. Thorn, col. 1935-1943-2120.