Colleges: Cobham

A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1926.

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'Colleges: Cobham', in A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2, (London, 1926) pp. 231-232. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

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Edward III on 18 November, 1362, granted licence for John de Cobham to found a chantry of five chaplains, of whom one was to be master, in the church of Cobham, and to grant to them in mortmain the manor of Westchalk, and lands and rents in Chalk, Cobham, and St. Werburgh. (fn. 1)

The founder made these grants to the chantry or college in 1363; and several more grants were made by him and others under a licence by letters patent, dated 29 March, 1367, for the master arid chaplains to acquire in mortmain lands and rents to the value of £40 yearly. (fn. 2) On 24 November, 1376, the king granted licence for the founder to grant to them the advowsons of two churches (fn. 3); and the church of Horton by Dartford was appropriated to them in 1378. (fn. 4) The church of Chalk was granted to them by the prior and convent of Norwich in 1380. (fn. 5) The church of Rolvenden was granted by Richard de Ponynges and John de Clyntone in 1383, and appropriated in 1389, (fn. 6) the bishop then ordaining that in addition to the seven chaplains then in the college there should be two chaplains temporal; and Walter Schudham, master, John Moys, under master, and the five fellows formally agreed to this. On 10 November, 1389, John de Cobham had licence to grant to the college the advowson of the church of East Tilbury in Essex (fn. 7); which was appropriated to them accordingly, the number of nine chaplains being increased by two. (fn. 8) All the above letters patent and grants and some others were confirmed by Richard II in 1390. (fn. 9)

Indulgences to penitents visiting the college at certain times were granted by several popes (fn. 10); and the appropriation of the churches of Rolvenden and Tilbury confirmed. (fn. 11) Pope Innocent VII in 1405 granted licence for an alteration in the costume of the master and chaplains. (fn. 12)

An inventory (fn. 13) is preserved of the books, jewels, vestments, and ornaments of the college, made by the undermaster and sacristans in 1479.

The oath of acknowledgement of the royal supremacy was taken on 27 October, 1535, by John Bayly, master, John Norman, fellow, and Thomas Webster, William Wharffe, and Stephen Tennand, brethren. (fn. 14) In the Valor of that year the whole of the possessions of the college were valued (fn. 15) at £142 1s. 2½d. yearly, with deductions of £13 19s. 5d., leaving a net income of £128 1s. 9½d.

The college was not dissolved in the ordinary way, but privately surrendered by the master and brethren to George Brooke, lord of Cobham, whose possession was secured by Act of Parliament. (fn. 16)

Sir William Brooke, Lord Cobham, who died on 6 March, 1597, left by his will (fn. 17) to Sir John Leveson, Thomas Fane, and William Lambard, the site of the college and other lands, as well as sums of money, bricks and timber, to make a college to be called the New College of Cobham, This was completed on 29 September, 1598, and statutes were made for it. The wardens of the lands contributory to Rochester bridge were to have the management and to be called the presidents of the college, and the college was to consist of twenty poor persons, each of whom was to have a lodging and 6s. 8d. monthly. One of these, a man, to be nominated by the Baron Cobham, was to be warden, and another man, nominated by the presidents, sub-warden; and the remaining eighteen were to be chosen by various parishes, three each by Cobham and Hoo, two each by Shorne and Strood, and one each by Cooling, Cliffe, Chalk, Gravesend, Higham, St. Mary's, Cuxton, and Hailing.

The college exists thus to the present day. (fn. 18)

Masters of Cobham

William de Newton, resigned 1371 (fn. 19)
Edward de Stanlake, appointed 1371 (fn. 19)
John Wetewang, occurs 1378 (fn. 20)
Walter Shuldham, resigned 1390 (fn. 21)
William Tanner, appointed 1390, (fn. 21) died 1418 (fn. 22)
John Gladwyn, occurs 1420, (fn. 22) died 1450 (fn. 22)
William Bbchier, died 1458 (fn. 23)
William Hobson, appointed 1458, (fn. 23) died 1473 (fn. 22)
John Holt, occurs 1473 (fn. 23)
John Bygcrofte, occurs 1481 (fn. 24)
Thomas Lyndley, occurs 1491 (fn. 25)
John Sprotte, appointed 1492, (fn. 22) died 1498 (fn. 26)
John Alan, appointed 1498, (fn. 26) died 1502 (fn. 27)
John Bald, appointed 1502 (fn. 27)
John Baker, occurs 1502 (fn. 22)
George Crowmer, appointed 1512, (fn. 28) resigned 1532 (fn. 29)
Robert Johnson, appointed 1532, (fn. 30) resigned 1533 (fn. 31)
John Wylbor, appointed 1533 (fn. 31)
John Bayly, occurs 1535 (fn. 32)

The seal (fn. 33) (1415) of the college is of fed wax, measuring 1¾ in., and represents the Virgin fulllength with crown and nimbus, holding in the left hand the Child, also with crown and nimbus, and in the right a branch. On the right beneath a tree is St. Mary Magdalen kneeling in adoration. In base a shield of arms: on a cheveron three lions rampant. Legend:—



  • 1. Pat. 36 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 16.
  • 2. Pat. 41 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 27.
  • 3. Pat. 50 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 13.
  • 4. Thorpe, Reg. Roff. 431; Pat. 3 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 28.
  • 5. Pat. 4 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 21.
  • 6. Reg. Roff. 234.
  • 7. Pat. 13 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 1.
  • 8. Newcourt, Repertorium, ii, 595.
  • 9. Pat. 13 Ric. II, pt. 3, m. 42-32.
  • 10. Cal. Papal Let. iv, 42, 61, 62, 396; vi, 27.
  • 11. Ibid. iv, 226, 390; vi, 28.
  • 12. Ibid, vi, 49.
  • 13. Printed in Reg. Roff. 239.
  • 14. L. and P. Hen. VIII, ix, 692.
  • 15. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 104.
  • 16. 31 Hen. VIII, cap. 13; 1 Edw. VI, cap. 14.
  • 17. The will, statutes, &c., are printed in Reg. Roff. 242-57.
  • 18. Some further details are given and documents printed in an article by Mr. A. A. Arnold, in Arch. Cant, xxvii, 64.
  • 19. Roch. Epis. Reg. vol. 1, fol. 348.
  • 20. Reg. Roff. 431.
  • 21. Roch. Epis. Reg. vol. 2, fol. 10.
  • 22. Arch. Cant. xxvii, 75.
  • 23. Roch. Epis. Reg. vol. 3, fol. 230.
  • 24. a Harl. Chart. 44. C. 42.
  • 25. b Ibid. 44. C.44.
  • 26. Roch. Epis. Reg. vol. 4, fol. 23.
  • 27. Ibid. 33d.
  • 28. Roch. Epis. Reg. vol. 4, fol. 68; L. and P. Hen. VIII, i, 3215.
  • 29. Roch. Epis. Reg. vol. 4, fol, 166 d. He was then bishop of Armagh.
  • 30. Ibid.
  • 31. Ibid. 179.
  • 32. L. and P. Hen. VIII, viii, 1037; ix, 692.
  • 33. B.M. Harl. Chart. 43. I. 31; 56. I. 42.