Parishes: Burmarsh

Pages 258-264

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 8. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1799.

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THE next parish south westward from West Hythe, lies in Romney Marsh, and within the liberty and jurisdiction of the justices of it.

THIS PARISH lies within the level of Romney Marsh, throughout the whole of which both the air and water make dreadful havoc on the health of the inhabitants of this sickly and contagious country, a character sufficiently corroborated by their pallid countenances and short lives. The village, having the church in it, consists of only four or five houses, situated among many thriving elms, an unusual sight in this part of the marsh. It is nearly in the middle of the parish, which is about two miles across each way. The prospect of the country here is very different from that heretofore described, being an entire flat for many miles, over a great extent of marshland, some little of which, at different places throughout it, is ploughed up for agriculture. The roads, which are wide and exceedingly crooked and winding, are in general nothing more than the deep black soil of the marsh, having in some places beach and shingle laid on them. There are very few hedges, either on the sides of the roads, or to part the property of different persons, deep and wide ditches or dikes, with post and rail sencing, being every where made use of; so that there is an uninterrupted view over the whole marsh, a very few houses with stacks of hay and corn thinly scattered about, and a low tree or pollard of willow or ash growing at long distances here and there, with the cattle grazing over the whole, fill up the prospect as far as the eye can see. There is a great deal of marsh ploughed up in this parish, where the land is very fertile and rich.

In the reign of king Ethelwolf, about the year 848, Edbald his grandson, for the sum of four thousand pence, gave this manor to his friend Wynemund, who again gave it, with the land of Wyk, to the monastery of St. Augustine, (fn. 1) as free as his lord had given it to him, where he had chosen for himself a place of sepulture. After which it remained part of the possessions of the monastery, and accordingly it is thus entered in the record of Domesday, under the general title of the land of the church of St. Augustine:

In the marsh of Romenel, the abbot himself holds Burwarmaresc. It was taxed at two sulings and three yoke. The arable land is twelve carucates. In demesne there are four, and forty-four villeins, with five borderers having ten carucates. In the time of king Edward the Confessor it was worth twenty pounds, and afterwards ten pounds, now thirty pounds. The shire testifies that Bedenesmere was St. Augustine's in the time of king Edward the Confessor, and the abbot shall have of him who shall hold it sac and soc.

In the 8th year of king Richard II. the abbot's possessions in this parish, as appears by the admeasurement, were two hundred and four acres, one rood and an half. In the iter of H. de Stanton and his sociates, justices itinerant, anno 7 Edward II. the abbot upon a quo warranto, was allowed, among other liberties in this manor, free warren in all his demesne lands of it, and view of frank pledge and all belonging to it, in consequence of the grants and confirmations of them by the king and his predecessors, and the allowance of them in the last iter of J. de Berewick and his sociates, to him; and king Edward III. by inspeximus, and king Henry VI. likewise confirmed the same to it; (fn. 2) at which period the great length of time which the abbot had possessed this manor, had gained the court lodge of it the name of Abbots Court, by which it is called at this time. The manor of Burmarsh, with Abbots-court, remained part of the possessions of St.Augustine's monastery till its dissolution, in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when this great abbey, with all its possessions, was surrendered into the king's hands, who next year granted this manor, with Abbots court, to Walter Hendley, esq. and he seems very soon afterwards to have conveyed it back again to the crown, for I find a grant of this manor, with its appurtenances, to Sir William Finch, of the Moat, near Canterbury, and his heirs male, by Katherine his then wife, to hold in capite. He died in 1552, leaving by her, who was his second wife, two sons, Erasmus and Vincent, who successively became possessed of it by the limitation in the above grant; during which time their half brother Sir Thomas Finch, of Eastwell, who was their father's eldest surviving son, by Elizabeth his first wife, in the 5th year of queen Elizabeth, obtained a grant of the reversion of it, in case of failure of their issue. Both Erasmus and Vincent Finch died s. p. but when, I have not found, but that the possession of it came at length afterwards to his grandson Sir Thomas Finch, of Eastwell, and earl of Winchelsea on his mother's death, (fn. 3) who, in king Charles I.'s reign, passed it away to Sir Ralph Whit field; whose son Sir Herbert Whitfield, at the latter end of king Charles II.'s reign, alienated it, by the name of the manor of Burmarsh, alias Abbots-court, to Sir Edward Dering, bart. of Surrenden, and in his descendants it has continued down to Sir Edward Dering, bart. who is the present proprietor of it. A court baron is held for this manor.

TRIENSTONE is a manor in this parish, though now it has only the name of having been one, which was in king Henry III.'s reign held of Dover castle, as appears by the book of the tenures belonging to it, being a part of those fees which made up the barony called the Constabularie, by the performance of ward for the defence of it; and by the book of knights fees, taken from divers inquisitions ex officio in king Edward I's reign, and remaining in the king's remembrancer's office in the exchequer, it appears that the master of the hospital, or Matson Dieu, in Ospringe, then held it of the king's gift, in capite, as of the honor of Peverel, and it continued among the possessions of the hospital till king Edward IV.'s reign, when this hospital, with all its possessions, escheated to the crown, as was found by inquisition in the 20th year of that reign. After which the king granted the custody or guardianship of it to secular persons; in which state it continued till the 7th year of Henry VIII. when John Fisher, bishop of Rochester, obtained a grant of the hospital and all its revenues, among which was this manor of Trienstone, for the better endowment of St. John's college, in Cambridge, part of the possessions of which it remains at this time. It is let by the college on a beneficial lease to Mr. William Pepper, of Folkestone, and Mr. Robert Hunt, of Dover.

The family of Broadnax had a mansion and estate here, still called Broadnax, as early as the reign of king Henry VIII. when William Broadnax resided at it. The estate now belongs to David Papillon, esq. And the Brockmans, of Newington and Cheriton, had likewise possessions here full as early as that, which are now the property of James Drake Brockman, esq. of Beechborough.

There are no parochial charities. The poor constantly relieved are about four, casually six.

BURMARSH is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Limne.

The church, which is dedicated to All Saints, is handsome, consisting of one isle and a chancel, having a tower at the west end, which, as well as the isle, is embattled. In it are three bells. It is kept very clean and neat. There are no memorials in it.

This rectory was always appendant to the manor of Burmarsh, till the dissolution of the abbey of St. Augustine, in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. when it came into the hands of the crown, where it has remained ever since, the king being now the patron of it.

It is valued in the king's books at 20l. 10s. 10d. and the yearly tenths at 2l. 1s. ld. In 1588 it was valued at sixty pounds, communicants thirty-six. In 1640 it was valued at eighty pounds, communicants the same. It is now, owing to the increase of arable lands in it, of the value of one hundred and fifty pounds per annum.

In the year 1635, anno II Charles I. there was a petition of the poor clergy, beneficed in Romney Marsh, to the king, among which was the rector of Burmarsh, setting forth, that in times theretofore, and till very lately, the owners and occupiers of land had either paid tithes in kind, or compounded, some after one rate and some after another; but that they had lately set on foot a custom of two-pence an acre, in lieu of tithe-wool and pasturage, being the main profit accruing from the marsh-land, and to that end had obtained prohibitions to stop proceedings in decimarie causes in the ecclesiastical court, which, if it should take place, would tend to render the best benefice in this sickly and contagious part of the county scarcely sufficient for a poor curate's stipend, much less to maintain them and their families. Upon which the matter was heard before the lords of the council, in the Star Chamber, where divers modes were suggested by them, for the settling this difference between the clergy and landholders, and two meetings were appointed at Maidstone in the spring of the next year, 1636, at which both parties appeared; when all the parishes in Romney Marth agreed in the custom of two pence an acre for pasturage and wool, which is called sometimes, the tithe of dry cattle, excepting Warehorne, which was 2½d. and Old Romney, of which nothing was then found; and it was then agreed on all sides, that no man had ever heard or known wool in this marsh to have been ever paid in specie, the other tithes being paid or compounded for, and as to this parish in particular, the custom had been proved by depositions in the spiritual court, and by a sentence given in it according to this custom in 1602, in a suit between Lane, parson, and Cheeseman; and Sir John Honywood, on behalf of himself and others, owners and occupiers in this parish, claimed a custom of two-pence an acre for pasturage and wool, three-pence for the cast of a colt, one penny for a calf, and one halfpenny for a lamb; all which was then acquiesced in, and has been submitted to as a custom ever since. (fn. 4) There is a modus of one shilling an acre on the grass land in this parish.

Church of Burmarsh.

Or by whom presented.
The King. Thomas Lane, Nov. 13, 1593, obt. 1623.
Anthony Foxton, A. M. Dec. 5, 1623, obt. 1631.
Thomas Heylin, A. M. Feb. 28, 1631, obt. 1632. (fn. 5)
Arthur Coythmore, March 2, 1632.
James Burnett, obt. 1640 (fn. 6).
Alexander Burnett, clerk, Nov 23, 1640. (fn. 7)
James Watts, A. M. Sept. II, 1661, obt. 1662.
John Hurt, A. M. Sept. II, 1662.
George Jones, A.B. May 21, 1673, obt. 1705.
Samuel Wightwick, A. M. Nov. 28, 1705, obt. 1706.
John Honywood, A. M. Nov. 20, 1706, obt. Sept. 16, 1737. (fn. 8)
John Head, A. M. Nov. 21, 1737, obt. June 1754. (fn. 9)
Richard Smith, A. M. Oct. 18, 1754, obt. 1772. (fn. 10)
William Wing Fowle, A. B. Dec. 22, 1772, the present rector. (fn. 11)


  • 1. Dec. Script. col. 1776, 1777, 2239.
  • 2. Rot. Cart. ab an. I mo. usq. an vicessimum. N. 11.
  • 3. See a full account of the Finch's, under Eastwell, vol. vii. of this history, p. 403.
  • 4. This is taken from the breviate and other papers of Sergeant Twysden, (afterwards one of the judges of the king's bench,) who was one of the council retained in the cause.
  • 5. Rym. Fæd, vol. xix. p. 350.
  • 6. Ibid. vol. xx. p. 451.
  • 7. Ibid. p. 453.
  • 8. Also rector of Kingsnoth by dispensation.
  • 9. And vicar of Sellinge.
  • 10. And vicar of Alkham. See BiogBrit. vol. vi. p. 3725.
  • 11. In 1772, by dispensation, rector of Snargate.