Parishes: Swaycliffe

Pages 518-523

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

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LIES the next parish eastward. It is written in antient charters, Swalclyve; in the survey of Domesday, Soaneclive, and is now usually pronounced Swakeley.

THIS PARISH is but small, extending about a mile each way. It bounds to the sea towards the north. The fields are large, and the surface tolerably level. The church stands in the north part of it, at a little distance from the sea shore, with the court-lodge close to the west end of it, and the small village near it. Near the west end of which is a farm called Rayham, formerly belonging to the Ropers, and now to the same owners as Chesfield hereaster-described. The parish is rather lone and unsrequented, not having more than eleven houses throughout the whole of it, and by the return made in 1565, by queen Elizabeth's order, there appears to have been the same number at that time. There are two districts of this parish, separated from the rest of it by those of St. Stephens and Whitstaple intervening. The road to it from Canterbury is through St. Stephens, and thence between the great woods of Thornden and Clowes, about six miles.

The manor of Sturry claims over the borough of Swayclisse, and the manor of Shourt claims over part of it, but it is Subordinate to

THE MANOR OF SWAYCLIFFE, which seems to have once belonged to St. Mildred's abbey, in Thanet, was given by king Eadred, in 946, to one of his servants, named Heresige, by the description of one hide and an half of land, (Mansum at Dimid,) to which the inhabitants of the country, from antient use, had given the name of an Swalewancliffe; and the latter gave it to St. Augustine's monastery, in which he had chosen for himself a place of sepulture, and the profits of this manor were afterwards assigned by the abbot in 1128, to the clothing of the monks; (fn. 1) and it appears by an antient admeasurement of this manor, taken about king Richard II.'s reign, that it consisted of 214 acres of arable, pasture, wood and surze here, at Herneherst and at Bothwelle, all belonging to the chamber of the monastery.

In the iter of H. de Stanton and his sociates, justices itinerant, anno 7 Edward II. the abbot upon a quo warranto, claimed and was allowed in this manor, view of frank-pledge and all belonging to it, and weif and wreck of the sea, and other liberties therein mentioned, as having been granted by divers of the king's predecessors, and confirmed by him in his sixth year, the same having been allowed in the last iter of Berewick. And further, that Swalclyve was a member of Sturye, and that the tenants of the abbot of Swalclyve ought to come to the view of frank-pledge of the abbot in Sturye. And the jurors of the hundreds of Blengate, Westgate, and Canterbury, upon their oaths, found as aforesaid; and that the abbot had there one view of frank-pledge in his manor of Sturye, and not two; all which were afterwards again confirmed, among the rest of the manors, possessions, and liberties belonging to the abbey, by Edward III. in his 10th year, and by his charter of inspeximus in his 36th year; and by king Henry VI. afterwards. After which, this manor remained part of the possessions of the monastery till its dissolution anno 30 King Henry VIII. when it was surrendered into the king's hands, where this manor did not remain long, for the king, in his 32d year, granted it, with the advowson of the church appendant, to Sir Christopher Hales, in fee, to hold in capite, at which time it seems to have been separated from the manor of Sturry, and to have become an independent manor of itself. He died possessed of it next year, leaving three daughters his coheirs, who became jointly entitled to this manor, which, on the division of their estates, was allotted to the youngest daughter Mary, who entitled her husband Alexander Colepeper, esq. to it; in which name it continued till the 22d year of queen Elizabeth, when it was passed away by sale to Thomas Fane, esq. who not long afterwards alienated it to Benedict Barnham, esq. alderman of London, and Sheriff in 1591, who died in 1598, leaving four daughters his coheirs, of whom Bridget, the youngest, on the division of their inheritance, entitled her husband Sir William Soame, of Norsolk, to the possession of it; his arms were, Gules, a chevron, between three mutlets, or. He sold it to Perry, who not long afterwards parted with it again to Gould, whence it passed to Spencer, and in Easter term, anno 19 Charles II. Thomas Spencer, gent. of Canterbury, Suffered a recovery of this manor, with its appurtenances, and the advowson of the church of Swaycliffe. His descendant William Spencer sold it, in queen Anne's reign, to colonel Palester, who parted with it to Richard Lee, gent. of Hackny, and he alienated it, about the beginning of king George II.'s reign, to the trustees of William, earl Cowper, then an infant, (son of Sir William Cowper, bart. who was first created lord Cowper, then made lord chancellor, and afterwards created Earl Cowper, (fn. 2) ) and his grandson, the right hon. Peter-Lewis-Francis Cowper, earl Cowper, is the present possessor of it.

A court baron is held for this manor. There is an oyster ground appertaining to this manor.

AT THE TIME of taking the survey of Domesday, the bishop of Baieux was in possession of an estate in this parish, which is thus entered, under the general title of his lands in it:

In Witenstaple hundred, Vitalis holds of the bishop, Soancclive. It was taxed at half a suling. The arable land is one carucate and an half. In demesne there is one carucate, with eight cottagers, who pay four shillings and six-pence. Wood for the pannage of twenty bogs. In the time of king Edward the Consessor it was worth twentyone shillings, when Vitalis received it twelve shillings, now thirty shillings. Eduuard Snoch held it of king Edward.

The same Vitalis holds of the bishop, one yoke in the same hundred, and there he has half a carucate in demesne, with four borderers paying six shillings. The areble land is half a carucate. There is wood for the pannage of ten hogs. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth ten shillings. Ulsi held it of king Edward.

Four years after taking the above survey, the bishop was disgraced, and all his possessions were confiscated to the crown. Part of the above estate was

THE MANOR OF CHESTFIELD, which lies at the south-east part of this parish, and in the reign of king Edward II. was possessed by a family of the name of Reyner, one of whom, Henry Reyner, most probably died without male issue, leaving only daughters his coheirs, for in the next reign of king Edward III. this manor, with that of Botelers court and Cluse, in this parish, Whitstaple, and Blean, (fn. 3) likewise belonging to him, and part of the bishop of Baieux's estate above-described, appears to have been divided among different owners; and in the 20th year of that reign, the former was become the inheritance and seat of a proprietor, who assumed his name from it, in the per son of James de Chestvill, as the name was then spelt, but about the latter end of king Richard II.'s reign, it passed by sale to the family of Roper, of St. Dunstans, in which it descended down to John Roper, esq. who resided both here and at St. Dunstans, and died possessed of it in the 5th year of Henry VII. (fn. 4) His eldest son John Roper was of Eltham, and the king's attorney-general, and died possessed of these estates in 1524, since which it has descended down, in like manner as Condies-hall, in Whitstaple, beforedescribed, to Sir Edward Dering and Sir Rowland Wynne, baronets, and they are the present joint proprietors of it.

The Lypeatts for many years inhabited the mansion of this manor, as tenants of it. Mr. James Lypeatt was the last, who died in 1790, and his nephew Mr. Thomas Foord occupies it at present.

THE MANOR OF SHOURT, in this parish, is mentioned by Kilburne, as belonging to the dean and chapter of Canterbury, though I can learn nothing further of it, or even the name of it; but the dean and chapter are possessed of certain rents here, called Shourt rents.


THERE is a yearly annuity of 1l. 6s. 8d. given to the poor, out of land, by the will of Mr. Thomas Lunce, in 1588, and vested in the seossees of that and other charities given to the poor of Whitstaple.— See before, p. 515.

The poor constantly relieved are about six, casually forty.

SWAYCLIFFE is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of Westbere.

The church, which is very small, is dedicated to St. John Baptist. It consists of one isle and one chan cel, having at the west end a flim spire steeple, covered with shingles, in which hangs one bell. The church and isle are both ceiled; the latter was done in 1789, by Mr. James Lypeatt, when the church was pewed and completely repaired by the parishioners. There are no monuments or inscriptions in it.

This church has always been appendant to the manor of Swaycliffe, and as such is now of the patronage of the right hon. earl Cowper, the present owner of this manor. It is a rectory, valued in the king's books at IIl. 9s. 4½d. and the tenths at Il. 2s. 11¼d. (fn. 5) In 1588 it was valued at sixty pounds, communicants forty-one. In 1640 the same. It is now of the clear yearly certified value of 50l. 4s. 6d, There are about five acres of glebe land.

Church of Swaycliffe.

Or by whom presented.
William Cooke. Nov. 6, 1587, obt. 1610.
Sir Mervin Audley, and others. Thomas Cleybrooke, A. M. March 31, 1610.
John Tray, obt. 1640. (fn. 6)
Sir William Soame. Daniel Cackow, A. M. June 28, 1641, obt. 1690.
William Spencer, esq. John Cotton, A. M. January 21, 1690, obt. 1724. (fn. 7)
Richard Lee, gent. of Hackney. Richard Chapman, A. M. Oct. 3, 1724, resigned 1726. (fn. 8)
Robert Talbot, A. M. May 17, 1727, resigned 1733. (fn. 9)
William, earl Cowper. Edward Squire, Dec. 13, 1733, obt. 1760.
Vincent Warren, Sept. 13, 1760, obt. 1791.
William Chafy, A. M. 1791, the obt. 1791.
William Chafy, A. M. 1791. the present rector. (fn. 10)


  • 1. Dec. Script, col. 1799, 1935, 1951.
  • 2. In 1735 an act passed for settling the estate of William, late earl Cowper, deceased, to the uses and purposes mentioned in it, and inter alia of the manor of Swayclist, with its appurtena nces.
  • 3. See an account of these manors under Cosmus Blean.
  • 4. He was found by inquisition to die possessed of the manors of Chestfield, Botillers-court, and Cluse, in Whitstaple, held in capite. Rot. Esch, anno 5 Henry VII.
  • 5. Orig. Endow. dat. 3 Apr. 1296. Reg. Winchel.
  • 6. Likewise rector of Murston.
  • 7. Buried in the cloysters of the cathedral church of Canterbury.
  • 8. He resigned this rectory for the vicarage of Frindtbury.
  • 9. He was afterwards rector of Stone near Dartford.
  • 10. A minor canon of Canterbury, and vicar of Sturry.