Parishes: Cliff

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: Cliff', The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, (Canterbury, 1797), pp. 498-515. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

Edward Hasted. "Parishes: Cliff", in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, (Canterbury, 1797) 498-515. British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024,

Hasted, Edward. "Parishes: Cliff", The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 3, (Canterbury, 1797). 498-515. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,

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NORTH-EASTWARD from Higham lies Cliff, called in antient records, Clive, and sometimes Bishop's Clive. It is likewise called Cliff at Hoo, from its nearness to that hundred, and Cliff near Rochester and Gravesend, to distinguish it from the parish of Cliff near Dover. This parish, as well as that near Dover, are both frequently stiled West Cliff; the former as being situated westward of the latter; and the latter, as being situated westward of St. Margaret at Cliff, the adjoining parish eastward from it.

This place takes it name from the cliff or rock on which it stands. It is by many supposed to have been the place called, in the time of the Saxons, Cloveshoe, where several councils were held by the British bishops, of which a further account will be given.

THIS PARISH is very extensive, being from north to south about five miles, of which near three is marsh land, reaching to the Thames, which is its northern boundary, and incircles the whole level, winding round it in the form of a crescent. The situation of it is a pleasant, but exceedingly unhealthy, owing to its nearness and exposure to so great a quantity of marsh land. The upland lies high, though mostly a level surface; the soil dry and fertile, being a loamy mould, especially in the common uninclosed field, which comprehends the middle part of the parish, and contains upwards of two thousand acres of arable land, though adjoining to it, near Cowling, the soil becomes very wet, clayey, and poor, and much covered with bushes and thick hedge rows; southward of the common field, on the road to Rochester, the land rises to the hilly country, a poor clayey soil likewise, where is the manor of Mortimers, at the southern boundary of this parish.

The village of Cliffe, called Church-street, is situated at the northern edge of the upland, on the chalk cliffee, hanging over the adjoining level of marshes, having the church within it (a conspicuous object to the river and neighbouring county). Adjoining to the church yard is a capital messuage and estate, called Courtsole, for many generations the property of the Ropers, some of whom appear occasionally to have resided here; and it continued in that name till Christopher Roper, lord Teynham, in 1645, alienated it to Sir Edward Monins, bart. of Waldershere, whose brother, Sir Thomas, by his will, in 1676, gave it to dame Elizabeth his wife, as she did in like manner, in 1705, to Mr.Thomas Short, who had married Elizabeth, her niece; and he, in 1721, conveyed it by sale to Mr. Joseph Hasted, of Chatham, (fn. 1) whose grandson, Edward Hasted, of Canterbury, afterwards inherited it, but it is now in the possession of Mr. Tho. Williams, gent. of Horton, in this county.

This village is said to have been formerly much larger than it is at present, great part of it was burnt down by a casual fire, which happened here in 1520, about the time that the emperor Charles came into this realm, to visit king Henry VIII. which disaster it never recovered; (fn. 2) but seems daily growing into further ruin and poverty, the number of the inhabitants lessening yearly, and several of the houses, for want of them, lying in ruins. A fair is held in it, on St. Pelagius's day, October 19.

There is another village, not far distant, called from its situation, West-street, about half a mile from which is the parsonage house, a mansion fit for the incumbents of so rich a benefice, though seldom occupied by them. In the marshes, which are called Cliff level, and are under the direction of the commission of sewers held at Rochester, there is a common mead, which is jointly stocked by the owners of estates here, according to the property they are intitled to in it.

This is in general supposed to be the place mentioned under the name of Clovesho, i.e. Cliff at Hoo, where several councils of the British bishops have been formerly held; though some, among which are Camden, Baxter, &c. and indeed Mr. Somner inclines this way, have thought this Clovesho to mean Abingdon, in Berkshire, antiently written Sheovesham, corruptly for Cleovesham, and urge, besides the similitude of the name, the conveniency of its situation for the members who attended these councils, that place being in the middle of the island, and in the kingdom of Mercia; whereas Cliff was situated in a bye corner of Kent, and inconvenient on that account to most who had business at it; (fn. 3) but, as Dr. Plot well observes, it is no wonder the kings of Mercia called councils in Kent, which at that time they had wholly conquered; Cuthred, king of Kent, in 796, not being able to give a small piece of land to Christ church, without the leave of Cenulf, king of Mercia. (fn. 4)

In a national synod, assembled at Hertford, in the year 673, at which Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury presided, it was determined that a council should be held yearly at Clovesho. Whether they were held there so often is not known; however, the following are the only ones that have been transmitted to us—In 742, a great council was held there, at which Æthelbald, king of Mercia, presided, Cuthbert, archbishop of Canterbury, and the rest of the bishops sitting likewise in it. (fn. 5)

In 747, a famous council was held there under archbishop of Cuthbert, there being present, besides the bishops, priests, and many other ecclesiastics, Æthelbald, king of Mercia, with his princes and great men.

In 798, there was a council held there under archbishop Athelard.

In 800, a provincial council was held there by Cenulf, king of Mercia, and Athelard, archbishop of Canterbury, all the bishops of the province, the great men, abbots, and other persons of dignity, being assembled there.

In 803, a council was held there by Atherlard, archbishop of Canterbury, with twelve other bishops, wherein the see of Canterbury, according to the precept of pope Leo III. was restored to its pristine right.

In 822, a synodal council was held in that noted place, called Clovesho, Bernulf, king of Mercia, and Wlfred, archbishop of Canterbury, presiding in it, all the bishops, abbots, and nobles, of whatever dignity they were, being present at it, in which, among other things, the injuries done to the church of Canterbury, by Ceolnulf, king of Mercia, were treated of, and several lands restored to it.

In 824 or 825, (fn. 6) a synodal council was held in that famous place, which was called at Clofeshoum, Beornulf, king of Mercia, and archbishop Wlfred, presiding at it, with the bishops, abbots, and all the princes of the Mercians sitting in it.

King Richard II. in his 1st year, directed his writs to the sheriffs of Kent and Essex, commanding them to erect beacons on each side of the river Thames, opposite to each other, that by the firing of them, notice might be given of any sudden attempt of the enemy; in consequence of which one beacon was erected here at Cliff, an another at Tilbury, in Essex, among other places along the banks of the river. (fn. 7)

This parish was antiently bound to contribute, among other places in this neighbourhood, to the repair of the ninth pier of Rochester bridge.

THE MANOR of Cliff, with its appurtenances, was given to the priory of Christ church, in Canterbury, in the time of the Saxon heptarchy, and its possessions were afterwards increased here by king Offa, who, in the year 791, gave Dunmalingdene, and by queen Ediva, who in the year 860, gave Oisterland, and by other benefactors to it. (fn. 8) All which remained, as parcel of the possessions of the priory, at the consecration of archbishop Lanfranc, in the 4th year of the Conqueror's reign, who, in the division which he made of the revenues of his church, (fn. 9) allotted the manors of Cliff, Mallingden, and Bury-court, with their appendages, in this parish, for their subsistence, cloathing, and other necessary uses, to the monks of Christ church; but the premises, called Priors-hall, Hersing, East marsh, Bishop's-marsh, and others, he retained, as part of the revenues of the see of Canterbury, for the use of himself and his successors.

These possessions above mentioned, belonging to the priory, are thus entered in the general survey of Domesday, under the title of Terra Monachorum Archiepi, in which the archbishop himself is said to hold them, but this is the usual style of all the possessions of the priory described in this record.

The archbishop himself holds Clive. It was taxed for three sulings and a half. The arable land is six carucates. In demesne there is one carucate and a half, and 20 villeins, with 18 borderers, having five carucates and an half There is a church and two servants; 36 acres of meadow; wood of 12 pence value. In the time of king Edward the Confessors, the whole manor was worth six pounds, and afterward seven pounds, and now 16 pounds.

In the 15th year of king Henry III. the possessions of the priory of Christ church in Cliff and Grean were valued at nine pounds. King Edward II. in his 10th year, granted to the priory of Christ church free warren in all their demesne lands that they possessed in the time of his grandfather, and that they had purchased in this parish, among others therein mentioned. (fn. 10) In an antient valuation, the temporalities of the priory in in this parish were estimated at one hundred and thirty pounds per annum. It appears by the Textus Roffensis, there was once a chapel at this manor of Westcliff.

These manors and premises continued part of the possessions of the priory of Christ church till the dissolution of it in the 31st year of king Henry VIII. when it was surrendered into the king's hands, together with the lands and revenues belonging to it; all which were confirmed to the king and his heirs by the general words of the act, passed that year for this purpose.

King Henry VIII. in his 32d year, granted to Sir George Brooke, lord Cobham, the manors of West Cliff and Bury-court, with the lands and appurtenances belonging to them; the marsh grounds, called Great Hersing marsh, Shepherd's hope, South marsh, and Tuckney's, in this parish, together with other premises in Stroke, to hold in capite by knights service, at the yearly rent of 7l. 13s. 81/2d. which was granted by the king in his 37th year, to the lord Cobham; to whom king Edward VI. in his 2d year, granted the marshes called Burye marsh, alias Patriche marsh, Crawledge marsh, and Haverwick marsh, and others in the parishes of West Cliffe and Stoke, to hold in capite by knights service; and among the Harleian manuscripts there is part of an old roll, containing a survey of the marsh in Kent, with pictures of the manor houses of Cliff, Couling, Halstow, St. Mary's, and Allhallows, belonging to the lord Cobham or Sir Thomas Wyatt. His grandson, Henry lord Cobham, being attainted of treason in the 1st year of king James I. his estates became forfeited to the crown, and were confirmed to it by an act passed in the 3d year of that reign; notwithstanding which the manor of West Cliff, and premises above mentioned, excepting Buryecourt, of which an account will be given hereafter, whether by a family entail or otherwise, I have not found, went into the possession of Sir John Brooke, (second son of Sir Henry Brooke, alias Cobham) fifth son of the above mentioned lord Cobham, who was, anno 20 king Charles I. in consideration of his loyalty and sufferings, created baron of Cobham, to him and his heirs male. He alienated all his estates in this parish, containing, with the salts, upwards of fourteen hundred acres of land, with others in this neighbourhood, to James duke of Richmond, who died possessed of them in 1655; since which they have descended, in like manner as Cobham-hall, in the same line of ownership, down to the Right Hon. John earl of Darnley, the present owner of them.

A court leet and court baron is held for this manor.

The MANOR oF BURYE-COURT, now called BER RY COURT, on the attainder of Henry lord Cobham, came to the crown as before mentioned; soon after which the reversion of it, after the death of the lady Frances, his widow, was granted to Sir Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury (son of that eminent statesman, William lord Burleigh) who was afterwards lord trea surer of England, knight of the Garter, and chancellor of the university of Cambridge, and had married Elizabeth, sister of Henry lord Cobham above mentioned. He passed away this manor, with its appurtenances, to Bernard Hyde, esq. of London, in whose descendants it continued many generations, and till it was sold to Harvey, whose son, Samuel Clay Harvey, esq. died possessed of it in 1791; whose heirs and assigns are at this time entitled to the possession of this estate.

The MANOR oF MALLINGDEN, now called MOL LAND and DEAN FEE, on the dissolution of the priory of Christ church, in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. came into the hands of that king, as has been mentioned before, where it continued till queen Elizabeth granted it to William Ewens, (fn. 11) who quickly afterwards alienated it to Brown, from whom it passed in like manner to Sompner, who sold it to Hills, whence after some intermission it was conveyed by sale to Blackford, of Holnicote, in Somersetshire. Henrietta Blackford, of that place, spinster, died an infant, in 1733, possessed, among other premises in other counties, of one fourth part of this manor, and other lands in Cliff and Higham, which then came to her coheirs, Elizabeth Dyke, of Dulverton, in Somersetshire, widow, and Elizabeth her daughter, an insant, as coparceners in fee simple; after which Elizabeth Dyke, the mother, conveyed those premises in Somerset and Devonshire, to her son Edward Dyke, and in 1735, procured an act of parliament for an exchange of lands in Somerset and Devonshire, for others in Oxfordshire and Kent, among the latter of which was this manor, and to settle them to the same uses; by which means he became possessed of the entire fee of this manor, in which he himself had some share before. He died without issue, and Elizabeth his niece, daughter and heir of Thomas Dyke, esq. of Tetton became his heir, then married to Sir Thomas Ackland, bart. who in her right became possessed of it. This family was originally of Lankey, near Barnstaple, in Devonshire, and took its name from their seat in it, called Accalan, or Aclan, in allusion to which they bore, in early times, on their seals, Three oak leaves on a bend, between two lions rampant. They antiently wrote their name, De Accalan, and afterwards Akelane, and Acland. John Ackland, esq was of Columb John, in the parish of Broad Clist, near Exeter, and was, by king Charles I. for his eminent services in the royal cause, made a baronet; but the letters patent were destroyed in the confusion of those times, and there being a long minority in the family after the Restoration, new letters of exemplification of the former ones were not granted till 1677; but there was a special clause in them of precedency from the date of the first. His direct descendant was Sir Thomas Ackland, bart. of Columb John above mentioned. They bear for their arms, Quarterly, 1st and 4th, argent, on a bend sable, three lions heads erased argent, crowned or. (fn. 12) He died in 1753, leaving two sons, John Dyke Acland, esq. of Pixton, in Somersetshire; and Thomas, the latter of whom at length afterwards succeeded to the title and to this estate, of which he died possessed in 1794; since which it has been sold to the present owner of it.

This is a small manor; the court baron for it is held under a tree, there being no manor house remaining.

PRIOR'S-HALL, with other premises, which archbishop Lanfranc retained in this parish, as part of the revenues of the see of Canterbury, as has been already mentioned, remained in the possession of the archbishops till Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury, in the year 1195, anno 7 Richard I. with the king's consent, and for the mutual benefit of the churches of Canterbury and Rochester, exchanged, among other premises, a sheepcote in Clive, which was called Estmers, with two hundred and twenty sheep, and certain land in Clive, belonging to it, and certain tenants in this parish, with the lands which they held, and the rents, services, and customs, without any reservation to the archbishop and his successors, for the manor of Lambeth, &c. with the monks of St. Andrew's, in Rochester, to the use of their resectory, in like manner as they before had the manor of Lambeth, saving to the bishop of Rochester all episcopal right, (fn. 13) &c. which exchange was confirmed that year by king Richard I. and afterwards by king John, in his first and second years.

The priory of St. Andrew's continued in possession of these premises and the manor belonging to them, called Prior's hall, till the time of its dissolution, which happened in the 32d year of king Henry VIII. when it was, with all the rents and revenues belong ing to it, surrendered into the king's hands, who soon afterwards, by his dotation charter, in his 33d year, settled the manor of Prior's-hall on his new founded dean and chapter of Pochester, with whom the inheritance of it now remains.

William Gates, gent. of Rochester, died possessed of the lease of these premises in 1768, the term of which became vested in his executors. It is now in the possession of James Roper Head, esq.

THE OTHER PART OF THIS PARISH, not belonging to the archbishop or church of Canterbury, was among those possessions with which William the Conqueror enriched his half brother Odo, the great bi shop of Baieux, under the general title of whose lands it is thus entered in the book of Domesday:

Ernulf de Hesding holds Clive of the bishop (of Baieux). It was taxed for half a suling. The arable land is In demesne half a carucate, and two villeins, and 10 acres of meadow, and pasture for 100 sheep. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth 30 Shillings.

On the disgrace of bishop Odo, about four years afterwards, his estates were confiscated to the crown, and among them this of Cliff, which consisted of the manors now called Cardan's and Mortimer's, with lands, called Drap's, Ballard's, Mortimer's, Southwould, Northope, and divers others in the south-east part of this parish.

The MANOR of CARDON'S, in the reign of king Edward I. was in the possession of the heirs of Robert Cardon, Robert le Ram, and Alice Salamon. In the 20th year of king Edward III. John Cardon and others held it of the manor of Horton Kirkby, as the fourth part of one knight's fee, for which they paid respective aid, at the making the Black Prince a knight. Robert le Ram above mentioned died in the 36th year of that reign possessed of his part of this estate; Joane, the wife of John Ram, most probably one of his descendants, lies buried in this church, under a grave stone, with her memorial in French, cut in large capitals of a very antient form, round the verge of it.

In the 16th year of king Edward IV. it was in the hands of the crown, and was that year granted to the Carthusian monastery, commonly called the Charterhouse, in West Smithfield, London; on the suppression of which, in the 29th year of king Henry VIII. it came to the crown, and was confirmed to the king by the act of the 31st of that reign. In which year the king granted to Thomas Gibbons, citizen and vinter of London, the manor of Cardon's, a tenement called Balord's, and another called Mortimer's, and all other lands in Cliff and Higham, late belonging to the above phonastery, to hold in capite by knight's service; before the end of which year he had the king's licence to alienate this manor, with Ballard's and Drap's, with their appurtenances in Cliff, with other premises, to Oliver Leder. How long the manor of Cardon's continued in the name of Leder I do not find; but about the year 1725 it was sold to the dean and chapter of Rochester, in whom the inheritance of it continues at this time, the present lessee being Mr. John Knight.

The MANOR of MORTIMER'S, now vulgarly called BLUE GATES, is situated at the southern extremity of this parish, in the high road from Cliff to Rochester, and was antiently in the possession of a younger branch of the great family of Mortimer, who in after times settled their name on it.

Hugh de Mortimer was possessed of this estate in the 1st year of king Edward III and had the grant of a fair to his manor here. In the reign of king Edward I. John Mortimer and Guncelin de Clyve were in possession of it; and in the 20th year of that reign, John, son of John Mortimer, and Robert le Ram, paid respective aid for it, as half a knight's fee, which the before mentioned John and Guncelin held at Shabrok in Clyve.

John Mortimer resided at Mortimer's in the reign of king Edward III. in the 11th year of which he was summoned to provide an hobleer, or light horseman, for the security of the coast about Genlade in Hoo. After the family of Mortimer had left the possession of this place, that of Englefeild, of Berkshire, succeeded to it; a noble family, as Philipott calls it, reputed to be of Saxon extraction, and descended from Hasculfus de Inglefeild, (fn. 14) who lived at the latter end of king Canute's reign. His direct descendant, Sir Thomas Englesfeild, speaker of the house of commons, and chief justice of Chester, in the reign of king Henry VII. who bore for his arms, Barry of six, gules and argent, on a chief or, a lion passant argent, (fn. 15) alienated this manor about the latter end of that reign to John Sedley, esq. auditor of the exchequer to that prince, whose descendant sold it to Wentworth; and Richard lord Wentworth, in the 2d and 3d year of Philip and Mary, conveyed it by sale to Mr. Thomas Polley, and his great grandson, Geo. Polley, esq. passed it away to Rob. Lee, gent. of Chatham, whose son, William Lee, esq. was surveyor of the navy in the reign of queen Anne. He was twice married, first to Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Pett, esq. and secondly to Catherine, daughter of William Johnson, esq. by neither of whom he had issue. He died in 1757, much advanced in years, (fn. 16) and by his will gave this estate to his kinswoman, Mrs. Ward, of Chatham, for her life, with remainder to her brother, rear admiral Henry Ward, esq. both of whom possessed it, and on the death of the latter, about the year 1768, it came to his son, Edward Vernon Ward, esq. who is the present owner of it.


THE PARISH of Cliff 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 power to present and elect for this parish; and if the parish of Hoo makes default in electing in their turn, then the benefit of such election devolves to this parish.

RICHARD COX, in 1611, gave by will to the poorest persons a tenement in the occupation of Richard Edmunds, now of the annual produce of 1l.

DR. WILSON, in 1614, gave to the poorest and eldest widower and widow, 40s. each, and to the poor of the parish, 40s. yearly, to be paid out of three pieces of land, in the occupation of Wm. Slaughter, and now of the annual produce of 6l.

THOMAS GALE, in 1620, gave by will to the same a tenement, in the occupation of William Halspenny, now of the annual product of 10s.

BONHAM FAUNCE, in 1652, gave by will to the poor a piece of land, in the same occupation, of the like annual produce.

GEORGE PERRIT, in 1661, gave by will to the poorest persons of this parish a piece of land, now in the occupation of Mrs. Smith, now of the annual produce of 2l.

ROBERT PARKER, in 1678, gave by will to the poor, the sum of 5l. now of the annual produce of 6s.

JOHN BROWNE, late of this parish, yeoman, in 1679, gave a tenement, lying in Church-street, in the tenure of John Browne, and another, with its appurtenances, in Southwood-borough, for the education and teaching of twelve poor children of the inhabitants of this parish for ever. And he ordered, that his executor and the churchwardens for the time being should elect and choose a poor man or woman, being capable to teach, and also the children to be taught, &c. The master or dame to keep the premises in good repair.

CLIFF is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and being a peculiar of the archbishop of Canterbury, is as such within the deanry of Shoreham. The church is dedicated to St. Helen. It stands at the north-west side of Churchstreet, and is a large handsome building, equal to most other churches in this county. It consists or two side isles, a nave, and a chancel, all losty and spacious; the roof is covered with lead, and the walls embattled; at the west end is a good tower, in which is a clock, and a ring of six bells. In the chancel there are remains of good painted glass, and on the roof the arms of archbishop Arundel. Here are likewise six stalls, for the use of the monks of Christ church and others of the clergy, when they attended divine service in this church. Such stalls are frequently observed in the chancels of churches where the large monasteries had estates, being placed there for the above use, for formerly the clergy and laity sat apart, the former in the chancel, and the latter in the other parts of the church, in like manner as at present in the Roman Catholic countries abroad. There was fomerly an organ in this church, the case of which is yet remaining.

Among other monuments and memorials in it are the following: In the nave, round the verge of a coffin like stone, in Saxon capitals, these words, JONE LA PEMME JOHAN RAM GYST YCI DUE DE SA ALME EIT MERCI +. On a grave stone a brass, with the figures of a man and his two wives and two children, for Bonham Faunce, gent. of this parish, ob. 1652, having had by his two wives, Elizabeth and Mary, each one child; another a brass, with the figures of a man and his two wives, one of them lost; and six children, for Thomas Faunce, yeoman, who had two wives, Alice and Elizabeth, by the former he had two sons and one daughter, and by the latter one son and two daughters; he died in 1609, Alice died in 1592; Thomas his eldest son, being mayor of Rochester at his father's decease; on a pillar, south of the entrance into the chancel, on a brass plate, an inscription, with an account of John Browne's charity to this parish, as mentioned above. In one of the windows are these arms, Azure a cross patonce between five martlets or. In the north isle, round the verge of a stone, in the form of a coffin, this inscription, in Saxon capitals, ELIENORE DE CLIVE GIST ICI DEU DE SA ALME EIT MERCI AMEN PAR CHARITE. In the south isle, a brass for Elizabeth Gissome, wife of James Gissome of this parish, obt. 1688. A memorial for the Baynards of this parish. (fn. 17)

The church of Cliff (to which there belongs a manor in this parish, called Parson's borough, for which a court baron is still held) was part of the antient possessions of the see of Canterbury, and was excepted in the great deed of exchange, which archbishop Cranmer made with king Henry VIII. by which he conveyed all the rest of his estates in this parish to that king, as has been mentioned before. The archbishop of Canterbury still continues patron of this rectory.

In the 15th year of king Edward I. the church of Clive was valued at one hundred and ten marcs. In the year 1650, it was valued at 200l. (fn. 18) It is valued in the king's books at 50l. and the yearly tenths, 5l. The present rector is paid 500l. per annum by the parishioners in general, who agree to pay all land and other taxes besides, and they levy the whole at so much per acre among themselves, which raises in the whole about 650l. per annum.

The rector by old custom is bound to distribute at his parsonage house on St. James's day annually, a mutton pie and a loaf, to as many persons as choose to come there and demand it, the expence of which amounts to about fifteen pounds per annum. This continued till within these few years, but the present rector has found means to obtain the parishioners acquiescence for the discontinuance of it.

The tithes of the marsh land in this parish caused continual disputes between the prior and convent of Christ church and the rectors of this parish, concerning which they came at last to a composition, in 1229, which was confirmed by the archbishops, Richard and John; but this not satisfying the convent, they obtained, in 1290, from the rector, John de Bestan, an instrument under his seal, by which he relinquished all right and title to them; since which, to the present time, the marshes in this parish have been exempted from the payment of tithes. The prior and convent likewise contended for an exemption from tithes for their sheepcotes and mills in this parish, and the small tithes of their manor of Cliff, all which they obtained, in 1254, from Hugh de Mortimer, then rector of this church, by an instrument under his seal, but the disputes between them, owing to the incroachments of the convent, still continued, to settle which there were several compositions entered into between them at different times, which were confirmed by the several archbishops; all which may be seen in their registers, and in the Chartæ Antiq. in the Lambeth library. (fn. 19)

This parish is a peculiar jurisdiction, exempted from the authority of the dean of the arches, who is the commissary of the deanry of Shoreham, and the rector of it is only visitable by the archbishop at Cliff. He is ordinary of his parish, and exercises several branches of ordinary jurisdiction, without any special commission. By himself, or his surrogate, he holds a court every year, soon after Easter, for the taking the oaths of the churchwardens on their entrance into office, and he grants licences for marriages, probates of wills, and letters of administration.

The seal, which once belonged to the ecclesiastical court of Cliff, having been many years lost, is said to have been found some years ago on Blackheath; the impression, A man's hand issuing from a gown sleeve, (probably that of doctor of laws) and holding a long staff, with a cross fixed on the top of it. The inscription, in old English letters, S. OFFICIALIT + JURISDICTIONIS DE LIBA POCH DE CLYFF, i. e. the seal of the officlality of the jurisdiction of the free parish of Clyff. The seal now used seems to be antient; the impression is the figure of a bishop, with his crosier in his hand; the inscription, S: PECULIARIS: JURISDICTIONS: RECTORIS: DE: CLYFF, i. e. the seal of the peculiar jurisdiction of the rector of Cliff.

Godfrid de Scræmbroke gave the tithe of his land at Scræmbroke, in the parish of Cliff, to the priory of St. Andrew, in Rochester, soon after the conquest; which gift was confirmed to it by Richard, (fn. 20) Baldwin, and Hubert, archbishops of Canterbury. There were lands in this parish of the yearly value of sixteen pence, given for the saying of a mass yearly in this church.

Church of Cliff.

Or by whom presented.
Archbishops of Canterbury. Richard Wallingford in 1229. (fn. 21)
Hugh de Mortimer, in 1254.
Richard de Stratford, in 1277.
Philip de Wyleby, in 1283.
John de Bestune, in 1289.
James de Cobham, in 1305.
Wm. de Wittesley, about 1350. (fn. 22)
Wm. de Jocelyn, alias Islep, inst. Mar. 11, 1358, resig. Nov. following. (fn. 23)
Wm. Uttinge, S.T.P. ob. Feb. 10, 1481. (fn. 24)
Nicholas Health, in 1543, resig. 1548. (fn. 25)
Edmond Cranmer, in 1549. (fn. 26)
The Queen Hugh Weston, S.T.P. inst. Ap. 2, 1554. (fn. 27)
William Wilson, S.T.P. ob. May 15, 1615. (fn. 28)
Griffin Higgs, S.T.P. in 1631, ejected. (fn. 29)
Samuel Annesley, LL.D. an in truder about 1640. (fn. 30)
Henry Holcroft, outed 1661. (fn. 31)
Geo. Stradling, S.T.P. in 1661. (fn. 32)
George Green, S.T.P. obt. Oct. 1739.
Wm. Nicholas Blomberg, S. T.P. presented Nov. 1, 1739, obt. 1750.
James Harwood, A. M. ob. Feb. 15, 1778. (fn. 33)
John Simkinson, Aug. 1778. Present rector.


  • 1. See Easling.
  • 2. Lambarde's Perambulation. p. 538.
  • 3. Camden, p. 161, 224.
  • 4. Dugd. Mon. vol. i.p. 19.
  • 5. Wilkin's Councils, vol. i. p. 86, et seq.
  • 6. Some suppose there was a council held there in each of those years. See Wilkins, ibid. and MSS. Cotton library, Aug. 73.
  • 7. Rym. Fœd. vol. vii. p. 156. Lamb. Peramb. p. 424.
  • 8. Among the MSS. in the Cotton library, is a charter of king Æthelred, in 1001, by which he gives Terra Clofiæ to this priory.
  • 9. See vol. ii. p. 98.
  • 10. Reg. Roff. Christ church, Cant. Cart. 134. Tan. Mon. p. 201.
  • 11. Grant of arms to Ewens, by Robert Cooke, clarencieux, in 1587. Harl. MSS. No. 1069-37.
  • 12. Collins's Baronetage, vol. ii. p. 407. Kimber's Baronetage, vol. i. p. 519, et seq.
  • 13. Dugdale's Mon. vol. ii. p. 844.
  • 14. Philipott, p. 126. From an old roll of this family.
  • 15. Kimber's Bar. vol. i. p. 125.
  • 16. See Darent, vol. ii. p. 268.
  • 17. See the monuments and inscriptions, in Reg. Roff. p. 744.
  • 18. Parliamentary Surveys, Lambeth library, vol. xix.
  • 19. See Ducarel's Repert. second edit. p. 167.
  • 20. Surveys of Chantries, in Augm. Office.
  • 21. Ducarel's Rep. p. 167.
  • 22. Afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. Newc. Rep. vol. i. p. 443.
  • 23. More's Hist. Tunstall, p. 49.
  • 24. Also rector of Chartham. He lies buried in the chancel of Lambeth church.
  • 25. He had been bishop of Rochester, and being translated to Worcester, had the king's writ to hold this rectory in commendam. Rym. Fœd. vol. xv. p. 18.
  • 26. Archdeacon of Canterbury, and brother of the archbishop. Batteley's Somner, pt. ii. p. 158.
  • 27. He was first dean of Westminster, and then of Windsor. See Rym. Fœd. vol. xv. p. 381. Newc. Rep. vol. i. p. 718.
  • 28. Prebendary of Rochester and canon of Windsor, where he lies buried, in St. George's chapel. Wood's Ath. Fasti, vol. i. p. 177.
  • 29. Afterwards chaunter of St. David's and dean of Litchfield. Willis's Cath. vol. i. p. 401. Wood's Ath. vol. ii. p. 239, 966.
  • 30. Wood's Ath. vol. ii. p. 966.
  • 31. He was ejected by the Bartholomew act.
  • 32. And vicar of Sutton at-Hone, af terwards prehendary of Westminster, and dean of Chichester. Wood's Ath. vol. ii. p. 822.
  • 33. Also vicar of Dartford.