Parishes: Higham

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1797.

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Edward Hasted, 'Parishes: Higham', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, (Canterbury, 1797), pp. 481-498. British History Online [accessed 20 June 2024].

Edward Hasted. "Parishes: Higham", in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, (Canterbury, 1797) 481-498. British History Online, accessed June 20, 2024,

Hasted, Edward. "Parishes: Higham", The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, (Canterbury, 1797). 481-498. British History Online. Web. 20 June 2024,

In this section


THE next parish northward from Merston is HIGHAM, which in antient records is variously written Hecham, Hegham, and Heabham.

It was from the reign of king Stephen till about the reign of king Edward III. frequently called Lillechurch, alias Higham; the former of which names it took from a manor or ville in this parish, where a priory was built, but in later times it seems to have been called by its former name of Higham only, that of Lillechurch being entirely omitted.

THIS PARISH is situated on the north side of the London high road, nearly opposite to Shorne. It lies low adjoining to the marshes, the river Thames being its northern boundary, of course the air is very unhealthy, and much subject to intermittents, a satality which attends in general all those parishes, which lie on the north side of the high London road as far as Canterbury, and thence again to the uplands of the Isle of Thanet. Higham is about four miles in extent from north-west to south-east, and but little more than a mile in breadth. The surface is slat, and the soil in general very fertile, excepting towards the eastern part of it, where it is high ground and light land. The village and church stand close to, and entirely exposed to the marshes, which comprehend nearly one half of the parish. The nunnery, now called the Abbey, was situated not far from the east end of the church, where the farm-house, of which the sides and back part are built of stone, with windows of a gothic orm, discovers marks of some antiquity, and seems to have been a part of the abbey, but it is supposed to have been only a part of some of the offices, (fn. 1) there being in the field on the south side many appearances of foundations, and contiguous to the farm-yard there remains some part of the thick stone wall covered with ivy, being the inclosure of the abbey, and was carried quite round the yard. About a mile from the church, near the road to Cliff, is Lillechurch-house, where the priory or abbey of Higham, as it is now called, is supposed to have been first erected; behind the garden of which, in a field called Church-place, many human bones have been found. At the east end of the parish, in the road from Frindsbury to Cliff, is the estate of Mockbeggar, and on the submit of the hill southward, The mansion of Hermitage, below which, in the flat country, at an equal distance from the church, is the manor and hamlet of Higham-ridgeway, a name plainly derived from the antient causeway through it, leading towards the river. Plautius, the Roman general, under the emperor Claudius, in the year of Christ, 43, is said to have passed the river Thames from Essex into Kent, near the mouth of it, with his army, in pursuit of the flying Britons, who being acquainted with the firm and fordable places of the river, passed it easily. (fn. 2) This passage is considered to have been from East Tilbury, in Essex, across the river to Higham. (fn. 3) Between these places there was a ferry on the river for many ages after, the method of intercourse between the two counties of Kent and Essex for all these parts, and it continued so till the dissolution of the abbey here; before which time, Higham was likewise the place for shipping and unshipping corn and goods in great quantities from this part of the county to and from London and elsewhere. The probability of this having been a frequented ford or passage in the time of the Romans, is strengthened by the visible remains of the raised causeway, or road, near thirty feet wide, leading from the Thames side through the marshes by Higham, southward to this ridgeway before-mentioned, and thence across the London high road on Gads-hill to Shorne ridgeway, about half a mile beyond which it joins the Roman Watling-street-road, near the entrance into Cobham park.

In the pleas of the crown in the 21st year of king Edward I. the prioress of the nunnery of Higham was found liable to maintain a bridge and causeway that led from Higham down to the river Thames, in order to give the better and easter passage to such as would ferry from hence over into Essex.

This parish, among others in this neighbourhood, was antiently bound to contribute to the repair of the ninth pier of Rochester bridge, as the manor of Okely was to the fourth pier of it. (fn. 4)

In queen Elizabeth's reign there was a fort or bulwark at Higham for the defence of the river Thames, under the direction of a captain, soldiers, &c. (fn. 5)

HIGHAM was part of the possessions with which William the Conqueror enriched his half-brother, Odo, bishop of Baieux and earl of Kent, under the general title of whose lands, it is thus entered in the book of Domesday, taken in the year 1080.

The same Adam holds Hecham of the bishop (of Baieux). It was taxed at 5 sulings. The arable land is 12 carucates. In demesne there are 3 carucates, and 24 villeins, with 12 borderers having 6 carucates and an half. There are 20 servants, and 30 acres of meadow. There is a church, and 1 mill of 10 shillings, and a fishery of 3 shillings, and in Exesle pasture for 200 sheep. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth 12 pounds, and afterwards 6 pounds, now 15 pounds.

In the time of king Edward, Goduin, the son of Carli and Toli, held this land for two manors.

These were the two manors of Higham and Lillechurch, which on the disgrace of bishop Odo, about four years afterwards, were with the rest of his estates, consiscated to the crown, where they remained till king Stephen, together with Matilda his queen, in the 14th year of his reign, gave them by the name of the manor of Lillechurch, with its appurtenances, under which name both manors seem then to have been comprehended, being part of her inheritance, with other premises, to William de Ipre, in exchange for the manor for Fauresham.

KING STEPHEN afterwards founded a NUNNERY, of the Benedictine order, at Lillechurch in Higham, (fn. 6) to which his daughter, the princess Mary, as is mentioned in a deed, retired cum monialibus suis quas tanquam in proprietate sua recepit. (fn. 7) She afterwards became abbess of Rumsey.

After the death of king Stephen, William de Ipre above mentioned, earl of Kent, was, with the rest of the Flemish, of whom he was principal, forced to abandon this kingdom, and their estates were all seized, by which this manor came again to the crown; but in the 6th year of king John, the nuns gave the king one hundred pounds for his grant of the manor of Lille cherche; after which, king Henry III. in his 11th year, granted and confirmed to the abbey of St. Mary of Sulpice, in Bourges, and to the prioress and nuns of Lillecherche, that manor, in pure and perpetual alms, with all its appurtenances, and all liberties and free customs belonging to it, by which it should seem that this house had then some dependence on that abbey; and he further granted to the prioress and nuns, to have one fair at Lillecherche for three days yearly, on the day of St. Michael, and two days afterwards; and that they should possess them, and in like manner as the grant, which they had of his father, king John, plainly testified. (fn. 8)

King Henry, in his 50th year, granted to the prioress and nuns of Lillechurch an exemption from the suit they were yearly used to make at his court of the honor of Boloigne, at St. Martin the Great in London, for their demesne lands in the manor of Lillecherche. King Edward I. in his 16th year, confirmed the above fair to the prioress and nuns there.

This monastery was subject to the visitation of the bishops of Rochester; and accordingly Hamo de Heth, bishop of Rochester, in 1320, visited it, and professed eight nuns here; as he did again in 1328, when he buried Joane de Hadloe, prioress of this house, and he afterwards confirmed Maud de Colcestre prioress in her place, at Greenwich. At what time this priory was removed from Lillechurch, where it was certainly first built, to where the ruins are still visible, near the present church of Higham, is no where mentioned, nor is there any clue leading to discover it. That it was so those ruins, as well as the change of the name of it, are convincing proofs; nor is there any thing further worth mentioning relating to it till king Henry VII's reign, at which time the manors of Higham and Lillecherche, with their lands and appurtenances, conti nued in the possession of the prioress; in the 17th year of which reign, this house was become almost deserted, for it appeared then, on the election of a prioress, that there were only a sub-prioress and two nuns belonging to it, though there had been in former times sixteen belonging to it. Soon after which, in 1548, Margaret, countess of Richmond and Derby, having begun the foundation of St. John's college, in Cambridge, died, and left her executors to carry on the design; one of these was John Fisher, bishop of Rochester, who being himself a learned man, and greatly anxious for the increase of learning, obtained licence of king Henry VIII. to dissolve this monastery with that of Bromhall, in Berkshire, that the lands and revenues of them might be annexed towards the better support and maintenance of the above college. (fn. 9) Accordingly, about the year 1521, these nunneries were dissolved, (fn. 10) and, with their revenues, were surrendered into the hands of the crown; three years after which, the master and fellows of that college obtained, at the instance of bishop Fisher, of the king and pope Clement VII. these priories, with their appurtenances, to be transferred and confirmed for ever to their college, (fn. 11) where the inheritance of the scite of this priory, or abbey as it is now called, the manor and church of Higham, with the manor of Lillichurch, and the rest of the lands and revenues belonging to it here and elsewhere, continue at this time. The lease of these manors, with the scite of the abbey, and the lands in this parish belonging to it, were some years ago purchased by Mr. Rich. Hornsby, of Horton Kirkby in this county, of Mr. Tho. Peake. Mr. Hornsby died possessed of it within these few years, since which his interest in this estate has been sold to Mr. Thomas Williams and Mr. Thomas Smith, gent. of Dartford, the former of whom sold it to Mr. John Prebble, who is the present lessee of them.

Prioresses of Higham.

MARY, daughter of king Stephen, first prioress. (fn. 12)

ALICIA, JOANE, Named in several charters.

ACELINA, anno 50 king Henry III. (fn. 13)

AMPHELICIA, anno 16 king Edward I.

MATILDA, succeeded anno 17 king Edward I.

JOANE DE HADLOE, obt. anno 3 king Edward III. (fn. 14)

MAUD DE COLCESTRE, chosen in her room. (fn. 15)

ELIZABETH, or ISABEL, anno 18 and 31 king Edward III

CECILIA, anno 38 and 52 of the same reign.

JOANE DE COBEHAM, anno 15 and 18 of king Richard II

JOANE SOANE, succeeded anno 19 of the same reign.

ALICE PECKHAM, anno 7 king Henry V.

ISABEL, anno 25 king Henry VI.

ELIZABETA BRADFORTH, resig. anno 17 king Henry VII. (fn. 16)

AGNES SWAINE, succeeded. (fn. 17)


ANCHORET UNGOTHORPE, alias OWGLETHORPE, anno 6 king Henry VIII. She died Jan. 31, anno 12 of the same reign, after which there was not another prioress elected.

GREAT and LITTLE OKELY are two reputed manors in this parish, which derive their name from ac, or ake, an oak, and ley, a field, in Saxon, Aclea, a place in which there is plenty of oaks. In the reign of king John, John le Brun held half a knight's fee in Acle, of William de Clovile, as he did of Warine de Montchensie. (fn. 18)

In the 7th year of Edward I. both these estates were in the possession of William de St. Clere, (fn. 19) the former being held, as half a knight's fee, of Warine de Montchensie, as of his manor of Swanescombe; and the latter, as half a knight's fee, of the bishop of Rochester. Soon after which these estates were possessed by two different branches of this family: Great Okeley descended to Nicholas de St. Clere, from whom it passed to Walter Neile, who, as well as his descendants, were lessess to the abbey of Higham, for great part of their possessions in this parish. One of his descendants, in the reign of king Henry VII. alienated it to John Sedley, esq. of Southfleet, in this county, one of the auditors of the exchequer to that prince, whose descendant, Sir Charles Sedley, (fn. 20) bart. in the reign of king Charles II. passed away this manor by sale to Mr. Shales, of Portsmouth, who not long afterwards sold it to Peter Burrell, esq. of Beckenham, in this county, whose descendant the Right Hon. Peter lord Gwydir is the present possessor of it.

LITTLE OKELEY manor descended from William de St. Clere, who possessed it, as has been beforementioned, in the 7th year of king Edward I. to Nicholas de Clere, and from him to John de St. Clere, who paid respective aid for it in the 20th year of king Edward III. at making the Black Prince a knight, as half a knight's fee, held of the bishop of Rochester. From this family it passed, after some intermission, to that of Cholmeley; one of whom, Sir Roger Cholmeley of London, died possessed of this manor, and left it to one of his daughters and coheirs, among other premises. She married Mr. Beckwith, by whom she had one son, Roger, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Frances, She afterwards married Christopher Kenne, esq. of Kenne, in Somersetshire, who was possessed of it in her right, anno 22 queen Elizabeth; and then, having levied a fine of it, sold it to Thompson; and he, in the reign of king Charles I. alienated it to Best, who passed it away by sale to Sir Charles Sedley, bart. from whom it went the same way to Farnham Aldersey, one of whose descendants sold it to Mr. Wm. Gates, gent. of Rochester, on whose death, in 1768, it came to his son of the same name, and his eldest son, Mr. George Gates, attorney at law and town clerk of Rochester, died possessed of it s.p. in 1792, and his sisters are now entitled to it.

There are no courts held for either Great or Little Okeley manors.

THE HERMITAGE is a pleasant seat in this parish, situated at almost the south-east extremity of it, about a mile northward from the London road to Dover. It stands on a hill, and commands a most extensive prospect both of the Medway and Thames, the Channel below the Nore, and a vast tract of country both in Kent and Essex.

This seat was new built by Sir Francis Head, bart. who inclosed a park round it (since disparked) and greatly improved the adjoining grounds. He resided here, and died possessed of it, with the manor of Higham Ridgway, and other estates in this parish, in 1768, and was buried in a vault in Higham church. He was descended from Richard Head, of Rochester, who by Anne, daughter of William Hartridge, of Cranbrooke, in this county, had issue four sons; of whom Richard, the second, was advanced to the dignity of a baronet, on June 19, 1676. He had three wives, first, Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Francis Merrick, alderman of Rochester, by whom he had three sons; Francis, of whom hereafter; Henry, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Summers, esq. and Merrick, D. D. who married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Dixon, D. D. prebendary of Rochester, by whom he left a daughter, Elizabeth, married to Theophilus Delangle; Dr. Head was rector of Leyborne and Ulcombe, in this county, and died in 1686, and lies buried in Leyborne church—And also one daughter, Elizabeth, married to Sir Robert Faunce, of Maidstone, in this county. Secondly, Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Mr. Willey, of Wrotham, by whom he had one son, Henry, who married the daughter and coheir of John Dawes, merchant, of London, by whom he had Dawes Head, ancestor of the present baronet, now in Virginia; and also two daughters, Jane, first married to Herbert Price, esq. and afterwards to John Boys, esq. of Hode; and Frances, first married to Thomas Poley, esq. and afterwards to Adam Lawry, of Rochester. Thirdly, Anne, daughter of William Kingsley, D. D. archdeacon of Canterbury, and relict of John Boys, esq. by whom he had no issue.

Sir Richard Head above mentioned, served several times in parliament for the city of Rochester. He died in 1689, and lies buried in Rochester cathedral, having been a good benefactor to the poor of St. Nicholas's parish, in that city.

Francis Head, esq. barrister at law, eldest son of Sir Richard, married Sarah, only daughter of Sir Geo. Ent, of London, M. D. who afterwards married Sir Paul Barrett, by whom he had six children. He died in his father's life time, in 1678, and was buried in the chancel of St. Margaret's church, Rochester; and by his will gave his house, pleasantly situated in St. Margaret's, to that see, for the residence of the bishop and his successors. Only two of his children survived him, viz. Sarah, married to John Lynch, esq. of Groves; and a son, Francis, who succeeded his grandfather in titles and estate, and resided at Canterbury, He married Margaret, daughter and coheir of James Smithbye, esq. by whom he had six sons and three daughters; he died, and was buried in St. Mildred's church, in Canterbury, in 1716. Of the above children, only four sons and one daughter survived him, viz. Sir Richard, his successor, who died unmarried, in 1721; Sir Francis, of whom hereafter; James Head, esq. barrister at law, who died unmarried in 1727, and was buried at Ickham, in this county; and Sir John Head, bart. who was D.D. and prebendary and archdeacon of Canterbury, and succeeded his brother, Sir Francis, but died in 1769, without surviving issue, though he was twice married; first, to Jane, daughter of the Rev. Mr. Peter Leigh, by whom he had several children, who all died before him; secondly, in 1751, Jane, sister of Wm. Geekie, D.D. prebendary of Canterbury, who survived him, but by whom he had no issue.

Anne, the surviving daughter of Sir Francis Head, married William Egerton, LL.D. prebendary of Canterbury, and grandson of the earl of Bridgewater.

Sir Francis Head, bart. the son, succeeded his brother Richard in title and in this estate, and having new built the seat, resided here, as above mentioned.

The arms borne by the family of Head were, Argent, a chevron ermines, between three unicorns heads, couped sable. (fn. 21)

Sir Francis last mentioned, married Mary, daughter and sole heir of Sir William Boys, M.D. (by Anne his wife, daughter of Sir Paul Barrett, sergeant at law, who married the widow of Francis Head, esq. the eldest son of the first baronet) by whom he had three daughters and coheirs; Mary Wilhelmina, married in 1753, to the Hon. Harry Roper, eldest son of Henry lord Teynham, and died, s.p. in 1758; Anne Gabriel, married first to Moses Mendez, esq. by whom she had two sons, Francis and James, who both took the name of Head, and will be hereafter noticed; and a daughter, who became a nun prossessed in France; and secondly, in 1760, to the Hon. John Roper, next brother to Harry Roper above mentioned, by whom she had no issue, and died in 1771; and Eliza beth Campbell, married to the Rev. Dr. Lill, of Ireland, since deceased, by whom she had one son, Francis, and three daughters.

On the death of Sir Francis, this seat, with the manor of Higham, Ridgway, and other estates in this parish, devolved, by settlement, to his widow, lady Head, who died in 1792, and was buried in the same vault with her late husband; and this seat, and the manor and estates above mentioned, descended by settlement, one fourth part to the widow of Francis Head, seq. (daughter of Mr. Egerton) re-married to colonel Andrew Cowell, of the Guards, as guardian to her only daughter by Mr. Head; another fourth part to James Roper Head, esq. his younger brother, who married Miss Burgess, and now resides at the Hermitage; and the remaining half part, or moiety, to Elizabeth Campbell, the widow of Dr. Lill; in which divisions the property of these estates remain vested at this time.

SIR ANTHONY ST. LEGER, in the reign of king Edward VI. was possessed of an estate, called the BROOKES, being marsh lands, with other lands in Higham; all which, in the 4th year of that reign, he conveyed to the king. This estate afterwards came into the possession of the Stuarts, dukes of Richmond, from whom it is now come, in like manner as Cobham hall, to the Right Hon. John earl of Darnley, the present possessor of it.


THIS PARISH of Higham has a right of nomination to one place in the New College of Cobham, for one poor person, inhabitant of this parish, to be chosen and presented so, and by such as the ordinances of the college have powder to present and elect for this parish; and if the parish of Halling make default in their turn, then the benefit of election devolves on this parish.

THOMAS SHAVE gave by will, in 1655, two dozen of bread to the poor of this parish, to be disposed of every Sunday; for which purpose he settled the Sun-house, with the yard, and three acres and three roods of land, now vested in the minister and churchwardens, feoffees in trust, and of the annual produce of 7l.

HIGHAM is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese and deanry of Rochester. The church is dedicated to St. Mary, and consists of two isles and two chancels, with a slat tower, having two bells.

Among other monuments and memorials in it are the following: In the chancel, a stone with a bend voided between six escallops for William Inglett, B.D. vicar of this parish, ob. Jan. 4, 1659; another, with a chevron between three leaves slipped, for Mr. Richard Pearson, forty-four years vicar here, obt. Ap. 14, 1710; under an arch, in the south wall, an altar monument for Anne, wife of Samuel Cordwell, and daughter of Richard Machan, esq. obt. 1642. In the north chancel, by the north wall, on an altar monument, a brass plate, having three cups covered, impaling on a chevron three birds heads erased, for Elizabeth Boteler, obt. 1615, wife of Wm. Boteler, esq. of Rochester, daughter of Sir William Crayford, leaving two sons and two daughters, Henry, Thomas, Anne, and Elizabeth; another like for Robert Hylton, late yeoman of the Guards to king Henry VIII. obt. 1529. A memorial for Elizabeth, wife of Robert Parker, of Shinglewell, who left two sons, Richard and Robert, ob. 1670. (fn. 22)

The church, with its appurtenances, once belonged to the Benedictine abbey of St. John, in Colchester, and was granted at the instance of queen Matilda, wife of king Stephen (that king and his son, earl Eustace, confirming it) by Hugh, abbot, and the convent of that abbey, to the convent of the nuns of Lillechirche, in exchange for land, of one hundred shillings value, at East Doniland, in Essex. (fn. 23) Not withstanding which great disputes afterwards arose between them concerning this church, which was settled by agreement in the beginning of Edward II.'s reign, when Walter, abbot of Colchester, and his convent, gave up to the nuns all their right and title to it. In consideration of which they granted to the abbot and convent certain land in Lillecherche, belonging to this church, of the yearly value of thirty shillings; and if the land, called Blunteshale, should be made over to them by the nuns, on the same terms as the above land was granted to them, then they agreed to restore the lands of thirty shillings value to the nuns, and to receive the lands of Blunteshale in exchange for it of them, which was then confirmed by Gilbert, bishop of London, and S . . . . . . . . . abbot of St. Alban's, and the abbot of Colchester above mentioned and his convent, having, for the purpose of this exchange, resigned this church into the hands of Walter, bishop of Rochester, and quitted all kind of claim to it, he granted and gave the same in alms to Mary, daughter of king Stephen, and her nuns at Lillechurch, with all its appurtenances, in as ample and full a manner as any of their predecessors ever possessed it; and at the same time, with the consent and good will of Amselice, then prioress here, endowed the vicarage of this church as follows: viz. that the chaplain ministering in it should have all obventions of the altar, exceptiog twenty-four candles, which the nuns should receive on the day of the purification of the Blessed Virgin, of the better ones made on that day; and all legacies, made as well to himself as to the church, except it was a horse, ox, or cow, which the prioress and nuns should take; and that he should have all small tithes arising from the parish, excepting those from the demesnes of the nuns, and from the food of their cattle, and except the tithe of wool arising from the parish; and that he should have yearly six seams of corn from the nuns, viz. two of wheat, two of barley, and two of oats; of which, two should be paid to him at the feast of St. Michael, two at the Nativity, and two at the feast of Easter, and forage and herbage for one horse; and that he should sustain the burthen of clerks necessary to administer in the church, of whom one should daily be present at the greater mass before the said nuns; that the prioress should pay the synodals, and sustain the other episcopal burthens, saving, nevertheless, in all matters episcopal, the right to the bishop; all which was confirmed by him.

The prioress and convent, in the reign of king Edward III. having begun the repair of this church, pope Alexander IV. in his 4th year, anno 1357, granted an indulgence of forty days remission of penance to all who should contribute to it, by his bull for that purpose, which was to continue in force for five years.

This church remained with the nunnery till the dissolution of it, about the year 1521, when it was, with the other possessions of it, surrendered into the hands of king Henry VIII. three years after which, the priory and church, together with all the rents and revenues belonging to them, were granted by the king, with the pope's consent, to the master and sellows of St. John's college, in Cambridge; the church, with its appurtenances, to be held by them in like manner as it was held before by the prioress and convent, and paying yearly to the bishop of Rochester, and his successors, 13s. 4d. as an annual pension; and to the archdeacon and his successors, 7s. 6d. yearly for ever, as had been accoustomed; and on the vacancy of the see of Rochester, to the archbishop and his successors, four shillings for procurations, &c. and also out of the revenues of the priory twelve pence yearly on Michaelmas day, in the priory, to the poor people dwelling and being there for ever. The instrument of the commissary of the bishop of Rochester, for the above union and appropriation of the priory and church of Higham, to the master and fellows of St. John's college, Cambridge, (fn. 24) is dated in 1523; and with them the inheritance of the appropriation and advowson of the vicarage of the church of Higham continues at this time.

The yearly rent paid by the lessee of this parsonage to the master and fellows of St. John's, is 5l. 6s. 8d. in money, six quarters of wheat, three quarters of malt, and six couple of capons.

About the time of the restoration of king Charles II. colonel Goodyer was lessee of it, and he sold his interest in it to one Page, who alienated it to Richard Pearson, A. M. vicar of this parish, who possessed the lease of it for forty years, and died in 1710, and de vised his term in it to his nephew, John Pearson, who by his will devised it to his executors, Richard Pearson and John Till, of Essex, who, in 1738, for one thousand pounds, sold it to Mr. Tho. Harris, gent. of Sutton-at-Home. He died possessed of it in 1769, and by his will devised his interest in the term of this parsonage to Stephen Dilly, yeoman, whose widow is the present lessee of it.

The vicarage of Higham is valued in the king's books at 8l. 10s. and the yearly tenths at 17s. In the year 1650, this vicarage was valued at 60l. per annum. (fn. 25) The vicar receives all tithes arising within this parish, excepting corn.

THERE ARE certain lands in Higham, in Okeleyfarm, of which the impropriator of the parsonage takes but half the tithes (the other half being part of the portion of tithes belonging to the dean and chapter of Rochester, of which a further account will be given) These lands are now called dominical lands, and are thus described:

The orchard, below the house, five acres; Barnfield, eight acres; Downefield, elevan acres; Cookfield, eighteen acres; in the whole, forty-two acres. The impropriator takes the whole tithes of all the rest of Okeley-farm, as well as of the rest of the parish, excepting one field, called the Homestal, which belongs to the vicar, and is compounded for at three pounds and some shillings yearly.

The portion of tithes above mentioned was part of the antient possessions of the priory of Rochester. William de Cloeville gave for ever two parts of his tithe of Acle, now Okeley, to the monks of St. Andrew's, Rochester, in consideration of their having made his son a monk there; which gift he made with the consent of Gosfrid Talbot, chief lord of the see. (fn. 26) Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, who was consecrated in 1077, confirmed this donation, as did several of the succeeding bishops of Rochester, and others. (fn. 27) On the dissolution of the priory of Rochester, in the reign of king Henry VIII. this portion of tithes was, together with the rest of the possessions of that monastery, surrendered into the king's hands in the 32d year of his reign; who presently after, in his 33d year, settled it, by his dotation charter, on his new founded dean and chapter of Rochester, part of whose inheritance it continues at this time.

It appears by the survey of this portion of tithes, called Odeley portion, taken by order of the state in 1650; on the dissolution of deans and chapters, &c. that the same was then valued at ten pounds per ann. improved rent, and was let, anno 6 queen Elizabeth, by the dean and chapter, to John Sedley, esq. for ninety nine years, at the yearly rent of 13s. 4d. (fn. 28) Peter Burrell, esq. of Beckenham, died possessed of the lease of these tithes this year, 1775, and his descendant, the Right Hon. lord Gwydir, is the present lessee of them.

Church of Higham.

Or by whom presented.
Master and Fellows of St. John's college, Cambridge. Henry Bearblocke, A. M. about 1630. (fn. 29)
William Inglett, B.D. obt. Jan. 14, 1659. (fn. 30)
Richard Pearson, 1666, ob. Ap. 14, 1710. (fn. 31)
George Smith, ob. Ap. 17, 1725. (fn. 32)
Henry Foche, B.D. inst. May 15, 1725, ob. 1732.
Michael Nickins, A.M. inst. Ap. 15, 1732.
Major Nourse, obt. 1759.
John Youde, 1771, ob. 1796.
Richard Hargraves, A.M. 1796. Present vicar. (fn. 33)


  • 1. There are two views of these remains engraved in the Custumale Roffense, p. 122.
  • 2. Dion. Cassius, lib. 9.
  • 3. By Dr. Thorpe, Dr. Plott, and others.
  • 4. Lamb. Per. 424, 421.
  • 5. Peck's desid, Cur. B. II. p. 13.
  • 6. Tanner says, in the year 1151. Monast. p. 214.
  • 7. Willis's Mitred Abbies, vol. ii. Additions, p. 13.
  • 8. Dugd. Mon. vol. i. p. 528. Rot. Cart. ejus ann. No. 8.
  • 9. Fidde's Life of Wolsey, p. 312. Tan. Mon. p. 215. Patent 20 Edw. III. p. 1. m. 29, vol. 30, pro ten. in Higham. Patent 50 Edw. III. p. 2. m. 19, pro ten. in Shorne. Patent 16 Richard II. p. 1. m. 32, pro terris in Heyham.
  • 10. According to Willis, this house was dissolved Oct. 1, 1522. Mitred Abbies, vol. ii. Additions, p. 14.
  • 11. The instrument bears date May 19, 1523. Reg. Roff. p. 418.
  • 12. This list is mostly taken from Willis's Mit. Abb. Add. p. 14.
  • 13. Dugdale's Mon. vol i. p. 529.
  • 14. Wharton's Aug. Sacr. vol. i. p. 369.
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. Reg. Roff. p. 414. At which time Agnes Water was subprioress.
  • 17. The conven at this time consisted of two nuns, of whom this Agnes was one, and a sub-prioress.
  • 18. Book of Knights Fees, in the Exchequer.
  • 19. Rot. de Inquis. de Fœd. Milt. anno 7 Edward I.
  • 20. See more of this family, under Aylesford and Southfleet.
  • 21. Collins's Baronetage, edit. 1741, vol. iv. p. 498, et seq.
  • 22. See the monum. and inscrip. at large, in Reg. Roff. p. 746.
  • 23. Dugd. Mon. vol. iii. p. 885. Reg. Roff. p. 475.
  • 24. Dugd. Mon. vol. ii. p. 885. Reg. Roff. p. 418. Ect. Thes. 385.
  • 25. Parliamentary Surveys, Lambeth library, vol. xix.
  • 26. Text. Roff. p. 168.
  • 27. Reg. Roff. p. 47. 59. 87. 528.
  • 28. Parliamentary Surveys, Lambeth library, vol. xiv.
  • 29. MSS. Twysden.
  • 30. Parl. Surveys. He lies buried in this church.
  • 31. He lies buried in this church.
  • 32. See account of him, Biog. Brit. vol. vi. p. 3725.
  • 33. Master of Rivington free school, in Lancashire.