Parishes: Ulcombe

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.

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'Parishes: Ulcombe', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 5, (Canterbury, 1798) pp. 385-396. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

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LIES the next parish eastward from East Sutton. It is usually pronounced Uckham, and is variously spelt in antient records; in Domesday it is written Olecumbe, in others Wulcombe, and of late Ulcomb.

Part of this parish below, or to the southward of the hill, adjoining to Boughton Malherb, is in the division of East Kent; that is, so much of it as is eastward of a line drawn from the east end of Boughton church, to the east end of the church of Hedcorn.

Part of this parish, containing the borough of Kingsnorth, is in the lath of Scray and hundred of Faversham, it having formerly belonged to the abbey there. (fn. 1)

THE PARISH of Ulcombe is about three miles from north to south, and two miles in width. It is rather an obscure and unfrequented place, having but little thoroughfare; the quarry-hills cross it, on the summit of which is the village, with Ulcombe-place, and the parsonage within it; here the rock stone lies much nearer the surface than in the last-described parishes. To the northward it extends into the large coppice of Kingswood, which joins almost up to the village of Ulcombe; on the south side of the quarryhill there are three houses of some account, standing at some distance separate from each other, all which for some time belonged to the family of Belcher, who have been for some generations seated in this parish. These Belchers, of Ulcombe, were descended from William Belcher, rector of this parish, who died in 1739, and bore for his arms, Or, three pales gules, a chief vaire, argent and sable. He left two sons, Richard, of Rochester, M. D. and Samuel, of Boughton Malherb, whose son Samuel left an only daughter Sarah, who afterwards became entitled, by the will of her uncle, Mr. Peter Ady, who resided in it, to one of the before-mentioned houses, situated a little below the summit of Knole-hill, which she carried in marriage to Thomas Thomson, the eldest son of Thomas Thomson, esq. of Kenfield, who resided here till he removed to Maidstone, after which his trustees sold it.

Dr. Belcher, of Rochester, above-mentioned, the eldest son of William Belcher, rector of this parish, left a son William, who by Catherine, daughter of Thomas Stringer, of Goudhurst, left three sons, of whom the eldest, Stringer Belcher, was rector of this parish, and ended in four daughters and coheirs, as has been mentioned before, p. 331. Samuel, the second son, resided at another of the before-mentioned houses, near the summit of Knole-hill, and died unmarried in 1760, and Edward, the third son, resided at the third house, nearer to the village of Ulcombe, and died here in 1778, having had by Hannah, daughter of Richard Tilden, of Milsted, two sons, Stringer, who resided at Otterden, and died there unmarried, and William, who married Charlotte, daughter of Thomas Thomson, esq. of Kenfield, and succeeded both to his father's seat in this parish, and likewise to that near the summit of Knole-hill, both which he is now entitled to.

The district of the Weald begins at the summit of the quarry hill, whence this parish extends over a low flat country southward, the soil of which is a stiff clay, in wet weather very deep and miry, the land made fertile mostly by manuring it with the marle dug up here, the rich and oily substance of which meliorates the stiff and cludgy particles of the clay, and not only renders it more prolific, but by separating them renders it much easier for tillage; the hedge rows are broad, and much interspersed with large oak trees. It is watered by several small streamlets, which rise on the side of the hill, one of which turns a mill at Chegworth, hence they flow through the lower part of this parish, and join the larger stream of the Medway, a little above Hockenbury-bridge. In this part of it is a small hamlet, built on one side of a small common, and not far from it the estate of Kingsnorth.

THIS PLACE was given in very early times, by one of the Saxon kings, to the priory of Christ-church, in Canterbury, from which it was wrested in the time of the Danish wars in this kingdom; but in the year 941, king Edmund, and Eadred his brother, and Edwyn, son of the former, restored it to that church, with other lands, which his ancestors had unjustly taken from it: which grant was made in the same year in which Ethelstane, the brother of king Edmund and Eadred, died, and Edmund was advanced to be king, who declared these lands free from all secular services, excepting the repelling of invasions, and the building of bridges and castles.

In the reign of the conqueror, Ulcomb was held of the archbishop of Canterbury by knights service; accordingly it is thus entered, under the title of Terra Militum Archiepi, in the survey of Domesday.

The earl of Ow holds of the archbishop Olecumbed. It was taxed at two sulings and an half in the time of king Edward the Confessor, and now for two only. The arable land is nine carucates, in demesne there are two carucates, and twenty-three villeins, with eight borderers having seven carucates. There is a church, and one mill of four shillings, and eight acres of meadow. Wood sufficient for the pannage of twenty bags. In the whole, in the time of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth ten pounds, when he received it eight pounds, now eleven pounds. Alfer held this manor of the archbishop.

Alfer, above-mentioned, the tenant of this manor under the archbishop, seems to have been a descendant of Ealher, or Alcher, who was earl of Kent in 853, and ancestor of the family of Aucher, baronets, but lately extinct in this county.

William, earl of Ewe, in Normandy, held it, as appears by the above survey, in the reign of the Conqueror, of the archbishop by knights service. (fn. 2) After which, the family of St. Leger, called in Latin, De Sancto Leodegario, became possessed of it.

Sir Robert de St. Leger, attended William, duke of Normandy, into England, in the year 1066, as appears by the roll of Battle abbey, among those persons who assisted him in the conquest of this kingdom, and there is a tradition in this family, that he supported the duke with his hand, when he quitted his ship to land in Sussex; and that after the victory at Hastings, having overcome a Pagan Dane, who inhabited Ulcomb, he fixed his residence here. He became possessed of this manor at the latter end of the Conqueror's reign, holding it of the archbishop by knights service.

William de St. Leger, his grandson, as is supposed, lived in the reign of Henry II. He was succeeded by Ralph de St. Leger, who, among other Kentish gentlemen, accompanied king Richard I. to the siege of Acon, in Palestine.

Ralph de St. Leger, of Ulcomb, and Hugh St. Leger, of Knolton, in this county, were two of the Recognitores Magnæ Assisæ in the 2d year of the reign of king John; the former of whom held this manor in the 12th and 13th years of that reign, of the archbishop. His successor of the same name, in the next reign of Henry III. obtained the grant of a market at his manor here, on a Friday weekly, and a fair for three days, to be held yearly at it on Nov. 1, and two days afterwards; which liberties were allowed him before the justices itinerant, in the 21st year of king Edward I. and in the 28th year of the latter reign, he, with Sir John and Sir Thomas de St. Leger, attended the king to the siege of Carlaverock, in Scotland, where they were knighted, among many others, for their bravery. (fn. 3)

Ralph St. Leger possessed this manor in the reign of Edward III. when he paid aid for it, as two knights fees, held of the archbishop; in which year he represented this county in parliament. His youngest son, Thomas, was of Otterden, where a further account may be seen of him. Arnold St. Leger, the eldest son, succeeded his father at Ulcomb, and represented this county in parliament, as did his son Ralph St. Leger, esq. of Ulcomb, and in the 10th year of Richard II. was sheriff of it. His son John St. Leger. esq. was of Ulcomb, and was likewise sheriff, anno 9 Henry VI. three years after which, he was returned in the list then taken of the gentry in this county, who had a right to bear the coat armour of their ancestors. He died anno 20 Henry VI. possessed of this manor, and was buried in this church. He left three sons; Ralph, who succeeded him at Ulcomb; Sir Thomas, who married Anne, duchess of Exeter, and left a sole daughter and heir, married to Sir George Manners, lord Ross, ancestor of the earls and dukes of Rutland; and Sir James St. Leger, who married Anne, daughter and coheir of Thomas Butler, earl of Ormond, from whom the St.Legers, of Devonshire, are descended.

Ralph St. Leger, esq. of Ulcomb, the eldest son was sheriff anno 8 Edward IV. and constable of Leeds castle. He died soon afterwards, anno 1470, and was buried in this church.

Ralph St. Leger, his son, resided at Ulcomb, where he kept his shrievalty in the 18th year of Henry VII. whose eldest son, Anthony St. Leger, succeeded his father in this manor, and by the acts of 31 Henry VIII. and 2 and 3 Edward VI. procured his lands in this county to be disgavelled. He was a gentleman, who from his singular merit and eminent services, proved himself an ornament to his country and his family, being high in the esteem of Henry VIII. who made him of his privy chamber, and in the 31st of his reign, sheriff of this county, being then seated at his paternal seat in this parish. The next year he was made lord deputy of Ireland, and in 1543 elected a knight of the garter. On the king's death, he was continued in his post of lord deputy, and of the privy council, as he was likewise under queen Mary; and being well versed in Irish affairs, he by his prudence and magnanimity, did more towards civilizing that nation, and alluring it into a submission to the English government, than any one had done since the conquest of it to his own time. But being recalled from thence in the 3d and 4th year of Philip and Mary, he retired to this estate, where he died in 1559, and was buried with his ancestors at Ulcomb. He bore for his arms, Azure fretty argent, a chief or; which was not their antient coat, for they bore, Azure, a fret argent, a chief or, as appears by that coat now remaining on the roof of the cloysters at Canterbury, in the church of Woodnesborough, and among the quarterings of the coat borne by the lords Hunsdon. (fn. 4) He had by his wife Agnes, daughter of Hugh Warham, of Croydon, niece to William Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, three sons and one daughter; of whom, Sir Anthony St. Leger, the youngest son, was master of the rolls in Ireland, and a privy counsellor, whose son Sir Anthony was of Wiarton-house, in Boughton Monchensie, where a further account may be seen of him.

Warham St. Leger, esq. the eldest surviving son, was of Ulcomb, where he kept his shrievalty in the 2d year of queen Elizabeth. In 1565 he was knighted, and the next year appointed chief governor of Munster, and privy counsellor in Ireland, in which kingdom he performed eminent services for her majesty, in the progress of which he was unfortunately slain, in 1599, anno 42 Elizabeth, at the head of his troops, in an encounter with Hugh Macquire and his sollowers, the two chiefs killing each other in combat. Sir William St. Leger, his eldest son, succeeded him in this manor. He was a gentleman of great merit, valour, and integrity, being made by king Charles I. lord president of Munster, of his privy council in that kingdom, and sergeant-major-general of the Irish forces. He was ancestor of the St. Legers, viscounts Donraile, and others of this name still remaining in that kingdom, and died in 1642. Some years before his death he alienated this manor to Henry Clerke, esq. of Rochester, who served in parliament for that city in the first year of king Charles I. of which he was recorder; and in the 12th year of that reign was made a serjeant-at law, whose paternal arms were Argent, on a bend gules between three pellets, as many swans proper.

He left a son and heir Sir Francis Clerke, who succeeded him at Ulcomb, who was twice M. P. for Rochester, and of the privy chamber. He resided at Ulcombe-place, and dying in 1685 was succeeded here by his only son Francis, M.P. likewise, for that city. He resided here and died in 1691, s.p. upon which this estate came by devise to Gilbert Clarke, esq. the second son of Gilbert Clarke, of Chilcot, in Derbyshire, and on his decease in 1725, to his son, Godfry Clarke, esq. of Sutton, in that county, and M. P. for it, on whose decease it came to his son, Godfry Bagnal Clarke, esq. of Sutton, who was succeeded by his brother Gilbert Clarke, since deceased, whose sister and heir Sarah married Job Hart Price, of Aldershot, in Hampshire, who in 1787 had licence to take the name and arms of Clarke, in addition to his own, and they are now jointly entitled to this manor, with that of Chegworth, in this parish likewise.

BOYCOT, vulgarly called Boy-court, is a manor in this parish, which afforded both seat and surname to a family of that denomination, as appears by several old deeds, some of which are without date, in which mention is made of Stephen, John, and Alexander de Boycot; the last of whom resided, here in the reigns of king Edward III. and king Richard II. and from him this manor descended down to John Boycot, who had issue two sons, John and Stephen. One of them sold his moiety, which accrued to him by the custom of gavelkind, to Richard Hovenden; and the other alienated his part, which came to him in like manner, to William Adam, who gave it by his will to Thomas Glover, as is mentioned in the deed of sale, by which he passed it away in the first year of king Henry VII. to Richard Hovenden, who then became possessed of the entire see of this manor. He bore for his arms, Chequy, argent and sable, on a bend gules, three lions heads erased or. It was afterwards sold by one of his descendants to Clerke, of Woodchurch, in which name it does not appear to have staid long, for Humphry Clarke, alienated it in the 19th year of queen Elizabeth to Thomas Sands, or Sondes, as the name was afterwards spelt, the eldest son of Sir Anthony, of Throwley, and he passed it away next year to Sir Maurice Berkeley, standard bearer to king Henry VIII. Edward VI. and queen Elizabeth, who had married Elizabeth his sister, and was descended of the same family as those of this name since ennobled. (fn. 5)

On his death, Elizabeth, lady Berkeley, seems to have possessed this manor, in whose descendants it continued till it went into the name of Hubert, by a female heir of which it passed in marriage to Heath, of the family of those formerly of Brasted-place, in this county, and bore the same arms, whose grandson Nicholas Heath Nicholas, esq. of Sussex, in 1772 obtained the king's sign-manuel, to take the name and arms of Nicholas only; the arms of which family are, Argent, on a cross gules, a crown or. Nicholas Nicholas, esq. is the present possessor of it.

KINGSNORTH, alias Kingsnode, is a manor lying in this parish and Boughton Malherb, which was given to the abbot and convent of Faversham in the 16th year of king Richard II. and as such is esteemed to be in the hundred of Faversham, part of the possessions of which it continued till the dissolution of that abbey in the 30th year of Henry VIII. when it was surrendered, together with all its possessions into the king's hands, after which this manor seems to have remained in the crown till king Edward VI. in his 4th year, granted it to Sir Anthony St. Leger, lord deputy of Ireland, &c. who died in 1559, and his eldest son Sir Warham St. Leger, esq. having levied a fine of it, anno 17 Elizabeth, quickly afterwards passed it away to William Isley, esq. who in the 21st year of that reign alienated it to James Austeyne, and he in the 23d year of it conveyed it by sale to Robert Cranmer, esq. of Chepsted, in this county, who died in 1619, leaving an only daughter and heir Anne, who carried it in marriage to Sir Arthur Herrys, eldest son of Sir William Herrys, of Crixey, in Essex, by whom he had two sons, Sir Cranmer Herrys, and John. He died in 1632, and by his will devised this manor to his second son, John Herris, esq. whose son, Cranmer Herris, of Lincoln's-inn, possessed it at the restoration of king Charles II. He was afterwards of Christ-church, in Canterbury, where he died in 1727, s.p. and was buried in the cloysters there. Upon which, his only surviving sister and sole heir, Mrs. Annabella Herris, became possessed of this manor, and soon afterwards passed it away to Sir Edward Filmer, bart. of East Sutton, whose second son Sir Beversham Filmer, bart. of that parish, is at length become the present proprietor of it.

A court baron is held for this manor.

THERE IS a small court held in this parish for the manor of Huntingfield, which seems to be a limb of the manor of Huntingfield, in Easling, and as such to have continued with it part of the possessions of the free chapel or college of St. Stephen, in Westminster, till its dissolution in the 1st year of Edward VI. (fn. 6) in consequence of the act which then passed for the surrendery of all such chapels, chantries, &c. Since which this manor continued in the like chain of ownership as that in Easling, to the family of Grove, of Tunstall, in which it remained till Richard Grove, esq. of London, dying unmarried in 1792, gave this among the rest of his estates in this county, to Wm. Jemmet, gent. of Ashford, and William Marshall, of London, and they are the present owners of this manor. (fn. 6)

A court baron is held for this manor.


CLEMENT BARLING gave by will to cloath six boys and two widows, 10s. for a sermon to be preached on the day of the distribution, and 10s. in money to poor persons, to be paid yearly out of land vested in Mr. Spencer, of Maidstone, now of the annual produce of 3l.

MRS. LUCRETIA HOLLAND, daughter of Sir Francis Clark, and the last of that family, gave by will in 1696, the sum of 10l yearly, to be distributed among the poor of this parish in bread and cloaths, which has not been paid since 1774, being stopped by order of the trustees of Gilbert Clarke, esq.

The number of poor relieved here constantly are about 40; casually about 20.

ULCOMB is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deaury of Sutton.

The church is dedicated to All Saints. In it lie buried in a vault many of the eminent family of St. Leger to the year 1654, of the Clarkes, and Gilbert Clarke, esq. 1725, the last of his family who resided in this parish. It was from the earliest time esteemed as an appendage to the manor of Ulcomb.

About the year 1220, it was made collegiate by archbishop Stephen Langton, at the request of Ralph de St. Leger, the patron of it, the ordination of which is still remaining among the records of the dean and chapter of Canterbury; among which there is an instrument, by which it appears, that the head of this church or college was stiled archipresbyter, and the inferior members, minor canons; but soon after the year 1293, this collegiate institution seems to have dropped, and the church became again, and has remained ever since, a single, undivided rectory as before, the patronage of which has remained in the possession of the lords of the manor of Ulcomb till the present time.

It is valued in the king's books at 16l. 5s. 10d. and the yearly tenths at 1l. 12s. 7d.

In 1640, it was valued at sixty-nine pounds. Communicants 225. In queen Anne's reign it was valued at 140l. per annum.

Church of Ulcomb.

Or by whom projected.
Anthony St Leger, esq. Richard Horsmonden, clerk, March 26, 1598, obt. Oct. 27, 1627. (fn. 7)
Daniel Horsmonden, D.D. Nov. 8, 1627, deprived 1643. (fn. 8)
William Belcher, A. M. 1643, obt. 1655, ejected 1662. (fn. 9)
Meric Head, esq. D. D. obt. March 6, 1686. (fn. 10)
John Clerke, A. M. esq. obt. Sept. 24, 1786. (fn. 11)
John Loton, April 15, 1713, ob. 1716.
Stringer Belcher, A. M. Sept. 26, 1716, obt. Dec. 11, 1739 (fn. 12)
William Bell, A. M. 1740, obt. June 1778.
Fitzherbert Meane, LL. B. July 1778, the pretent rector.

There was a religious fraternity in this church, before the reformation, called the Fraternity of Corpus Christi.


  • 1. See Kilburne's Survey, p. 278.
  • 2. See an account of his family in Dugd. Bar. vol. i. p. 136.
  • 3. Irish Peer. vol. iii. p. 169. Philipott, p. 348.
  • 4. Le Neve's MSS. and Cooke's Baronage, MSS.
  • 5. See the descent of this family in Atkins's Glouc. p. 135, 363. Coll. Peer. vol. iii. p. 439.
  • 6. See more of this college under Bredhurst.
  • 7. Rym. Fœd. vol. xviii. p. 1009.
  • 8. Son of the former rector. In 1627, by dispensation vicar of Goudhurst, ibid. p. 1005, he was deprived by the sanatics, and lived till 1655. See White's Century, p. 36. Wood's Ath. vol. i.
  • 9. Calamy's Life of Baxter, p. 286.
  • 10. Also rector of Leyborne, where he lies buried, with the addition of squire on his gravestone.
  • 11. He was also vicar of Harrietsham He lies buried in this church. See Wood's Ath. Fasti, vol. ii. p. 190.
  • 12. He new built the parsonagehouse, at the expence of upwards of 1000l. and died with a most excellent character, and was buried in this church.