The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 6. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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THE next parish westward from Tong is Murston, usually called Muston, which takes its name from its vicinity to the marshes.
The PARISH is almost all of it situated on the north side of the high Dover road, to the left of the hill next beyond Sittingborne, a very small part of it only extending southward of the road, where, near the boundaries of the parish is the parsonage, with the glebe belonging to it, and the only small wood within it. It extends northward across the marshes and salts, as far as the waters of the Swale, which separates the main land from the Isle of Shepey. The village is situated midway between the London road and the marshes, and the church and court-lodge at no great distance from it. The parish contains about one thousand acres of land, of which about thirty are wood. Its situation is most unpleasant as well as unhealthy, even in the highest grounds of it, but the greatest part lying so exceeding low and watry, enveloped by creeks, marshes and salts, the air is very gross, and much subject to fogs, which smell very offensive, and in winter it is scarce ever free from them, and when most so, they yet remain hovering over the lands for three or four feet or more in height, which, with the badness of the water, occasions severe agues, which the inhabitants are very rarely without, whose complexions from those distempers become of a dingy yellow colour, and if they survive, are generally afflicted with them till summer, and often for several years, so that it is not unusual to see a poor man, his wife, and whole family of five or six children, hovering over their fire in their hovel, shaking with an ague all at the same time; and Dr. Plot remarks, that seldom any, though born here, continuing in it, have lived to the age of twenty-one years. This character of unhealthiness extends to the neighbouring parishes on the northern side of the road, which, however, is not peculiar to this county, as all other parts of the kingdom in a like situation, are subject to the same satality. The lands in this parish, like those of Tong and Bapchild before-described, are very rich and fertile for corn, and there is some good hop-ground in it; was it not for this prospect of gain, and high wages given for the hazard of life itself, these situa tions would probably be nearly deserted of inhabitants, but this temptation draws them hither in preference to the healthy country among the poor and barren hills, but a few miles distance from them.
In Frid wood, southward of Murston parsonage, and likewise in the neighbourhood of Faversham, there are several hollow caves dug in the ground, much like those at Crayford, mentioned in the second volume of this history, p. 266, which seem to have been hiding places in the time of the Saxons, where the inhabitants secured their wives, children and effects, from the ravages and cruelty of their enemies.
A small part of this parish, consisting of some acres of arable and wood, lies at some distance from the rest of it, entirely surrounded by the parish of Luddenham, several other parishes intervening; it seems formerly to have been of some account, and in antient records to have been mentioned by the name of the manor of Herst-hall, in Herst; part of it in Bizing wood belongs to the glebe of this rectory.
The MANOR, after William the Conqueror had seized on the bishop of Baieux, his half-brother, for his seditious and turbulent behaviour, in the year 1084, with his other estates became confiscated to the crown, after which the king granted this manor to Hugh de Port, who held it of the king in capite by barony, as of the castle of Dover, by the tenure of castle guard for the defence of it, of him and of his descendants, the St. John's, this manor was again held by a family which took their name from their residence at it.
Bartholomew de Murston is in the list of those Kentish gentlemen, who assisted king Richard I. at the siege of Acon, in Palestine; and his descendant John de Murston held it in the reign of king Edward III. in the 20th year of which he paid aid for it, as one knight's fee.
But before the end of the next reign of Richard II. this family was become extinct here, when Walter, lord Fitzwalter, was become the possessor of it, whose descendant Walter, lord Fitzwalter, likewise possessed it in the reign of king Henry VI. bearing for his arms, Or, a fess between two chevrons, gules.
He seems to have alienated this manor to Sir William Cromer, lord mayor in the years 1413 and 1423, and he died possessed of it anno 1433. After which this manor continued in his descendants in like manner as Tunstall before-described, till it came with that manor, by a female coheir, in marriage to John, eldest son of Sir Edward Hales, of Tenterden, knight and baronet. In whose descendants this manor continued down to Sir Edward Hales, bart. of St. Stephen's, near Canterbury, (fn. 1) who sold it some few years since to Rebecca, the widow of Sir Roger Twisden, bart. of Bardbourn, and she is the present possessor of it. (fn. 2)
East-HALL is an estate in this parish, which was once accounted a manor. It was in early times possessed by a family which assumed its surname from it; one of whom, Joane de Easthall, is recorded in the leiger book of Davington priory, as having been a good benefactor to the nuns there, in the reign of king Henry III. After this name was extinct here, it came into the possession of the De la Pines, who bore for their arms, Sable, three pine apples, or. One of whom, James de la Pine, was sheriff of Kent in the 26th, and part of the 27th years of king Edward III. and died possessed of this manor in the 37th year of that reign, then holding it of the king in capite, by the tenth part of one knight's fee.
His son and heir Thomas de la Pine, about the beginning of king Richard II.'s reign, conveyed this manor to Thomas St. Leger, second son of Sir Ralph St. Leger, of Ulcomb, who resided at Otterden. He left a daughter Joane, who marrying Henry Aucher, esq. of Newenden, entitled her to the possession of it. She survived him, and afterwards married Robert Capys, to whom Henry Aucher, esq. her only son and heir by her first husband, in the 19th year of Henry VI. confirmed a life-estate in East-hall and other places.
From him it passed into the name of Eveas; for Humphry Eveas was found by inquisition to die possessed of the manor of Esthall in the 32d year of king Henry VI. as did his son John Eveas in the 4th year of king Henry VII. and was buried with his wife in the north chancel of this church. His wife Mildred, daughter of Bartholomew Bourne, seems to have survived him, and afterwards to have married Lewis Clifford, esq. of Bobbing. She died in the 20th year of king Henry VII. possessed of this manor with its appurtenances, in the parishes of Murston, Tong, Bapchild, and Elmele, held in capite by knight's service. At length her grandson, Humphry Eveas, dying in the 27th year of Henry VIII. leaving four daughters his coheirs, one of them Alicia, carried it in marriage to Thomas Hales, whose son Christopher Hales, in the 5th year of Edward VI. alienated it to Sir Anthony Aucher, of Otterden, who the next year passed it away by sale to Thomas Gardyner, and he, in the 10th year of queen Elizabeth, transmitted it by sale to Mr. John Norden, who in the 17th year of that reign, levied a fine of it; and afterwards alienated it to William Pordage, esq. of Rodmersham, in whose descendants it continued till it was at length sold to Iles, by a daughter of which name it went in marriage to Hazard, from which name it passed into that of shard, and thence again to Seath, in which it still continues, Rich. Seath, esq. being the present owner, who resides in it.
MERE-COURT is an estate in this parish, once esteemed a capital mansion, and seems to have been so named from its low watery situation, near the marshes; for it does not appear to have had any owners of that surname.
Thomas Abelyn held this manor in the reign of Edward I. in the 4th year of which he died, holding it of the king in capite. His grandson Thomas Abelyn, at length succeeded to it, and left his widow Isolda surviving, who, in the 21st year of that reign, married Henry de Apulderfield, which being without the king's leave, he paid his fine, and had then possession of his wife's land here and elsewhere.
This manor afterwards came into the possession of the family of Savage, of Bobbing, one of whom, Sir Arnold Savage, of Bobbing, died possessed of it in the 49th year of king Edward III. anno 1374. His grandson of the same name dying s. p. his sister Eleanor became his heir, she married William Clifford, esq. and entitled him to this estate, among the rest of her inheritance, and in his descendants it probably continued till it was alienated to Crosts, whose descendant Mr. Daniel Crofts died in the 22d year of queen Elizabeth, leaving one son John, and two daughters, Helen and Margaret, and they, upon the death of their brother, who was an ideot, becoming joint heirs to this estate, sold it, in the 42d year of that reign, to Mr. Stephen Hulks, (fn. 3) whose descendant Mr. Nathaniel Hulks dying without issue male, devised it by will to his two daughters and coheirs, Mary and Anne; the former of whom carried her part of this estate in marriage to Mr. John Austen, of St. Martin's hill, near Canterbury, who died possessed of it in 1770. She survived her husband, and again became entitled to this share of Mere-court in her own right, and afterwards, by the death of her sister Anne, who died unmarried, to her share of it likewise, of both which she died possessed in 1781, since which it has been sold by her heirs to Mr. John Lemmey, the present owner, who now resides in it.
WILLIAM HOUSSON, gent. gave by will in 1783, for the instruction of poor children of this parish, Tong, and Bapchild, the interest to be equally divided between them in money, 200l. vested in the 4 per cent. consolidated annuities, trustees the incumbents of the three parishes, now of the annual product of 10l. 13s. 6d.
The number of poor constantly relieved are about eighteen; casually about fifteen.
MURSTON is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Sittingborne.
The church, dedicated to All Saints, is a large building, of three isles and three chancels, having a square tower, with a wooden turret, in which are three bells.
The advowson of Murston was always an appendage to the manor, and as such continued in the same owners, till Sir Edward Hales, bart. sold it to Thomas Leigh, clerk, rector of this parish, whose son the Rev. Egerton Leigh, likewise rector, died possessed of it in 1788, and his heirs are now entitled to it.
It is valued in the king's books at 10l. 14s. 2d. the yearly tenths of which are 1l. 1s. The value of it is now computed to be about two hundred and sixty pounds per annum. In 1578 there were forty-two communicants, and ten houses in this parish.
There are about forty acres of glebe land, the greatest part of which lie in Bizing-wood, near Ospringe, entirely surrounded by Luddenham.
Church of Murston.
|Or by whom presented.|
|William Cromer, esq.||Gawin Hyereck, inducted June 6, 1583, obt. 1614. (fn. 4)|
|Robert Russel, and others, hac vice.||Richard Hay, A. M. inducted January 23, 1614, resigned 1630.|
|The King.||John Tray, A. B. inducted Feb. 20, 1530, obt. 1640.|
|George Bonham, A. M. June 23, 1641.|
|Richard Tray, obt. 1664.|
|Samuel symons, A. M. inducted Nov. 25. 1664.|
|Family of Hales.||John Symonds, obt. 1694.|
|Mark Hildesley, A. M. inducted April 26, 1694, resig. 1710. (fn. 5)|
|Thomas Allen, A. M. Aug. 26 1712. obt. Dec. 17. 1732. (fn. 6)|
|Thomas Leigh, A. M. inducted Jan. 9, 1732, obt. April 19. 1774. (fn. 7)|
|Himself, natron.||Egerton Leigh, inducted Oct. 18 1774, obt. April 13. 1788. (fn. 8)|
|J. H. Stenden, the present rector.|