A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In this section
Cyningestun (xi cent.); Cyngestun (x cent.); Chingestun (xi cent.); Kingeston (xii cent.).
The town of Kingston is built on the river-bank; behind it is alluvium through which the Hogsmill river flows. On either hand are hills, those to the north-east carrying the ancient ridgeway to Wimbledon and along the slopes above the Thames valley, those to the south with roads to Mid-Surrey, Southampton, and the southern shires. All these converge at Kingston, for here in early times was one of the two great passages into Surrey from the north, at first by a ford near which the place probably first grew, then by the mediaeval bridge. Though the bridge now has fellows, and trade comes and goes by the branch line of the London and South Western Railway, completed in 1889, yet the river still influences the town, and brings the many pleasure-seekers who have made Kingston one of their favourite haunts by the river-side. Kingston is first mentioned in 836 or 838 as the meeting-place of the council at which King Egbert and the Archbishop Ceolnoth made their league. (fn. 1) This points to its being already a place of some importance, and the alliance here made between the West Saxon Crown and the Metropolitan See, which did so much to confirm their respective civil and ecclesiastical primacies in Britain, is the only reasonable explanation for the crowning here of the West Saxon kings in the 10th century. (fn. 2) Edward the Elder was crowned here in 902. (fn. 3) Athelstan in 925, (fn. 4) Edmund and Edred in 940 and 946. (fn. 5) In 955 Edwig was elected at a gemot held here and crowned; at the coronation feast the young king left the hall and sought two ladies, Aethelgifu and her daughter Elfgifu, with the latter of whom he had formed an uncanonical marriage, and was dragged back to the feast by Dunstan and Bishop Cynesige. (fn. 6) In 958 Ethelred 'was very readily and with great joy' crowned here by Dunstan. (fn. 7) All these kings are said to have been crowned on the 'coronation stone' now preserved in the market-place. (fn. 8) This stone is not mentioned by Leland or Camden, but is traditionally said to have been preserved in the ancient chapel of St. Mary, which fell down in 1730. (fn. 9) It was then placed outside the town hall and used as a mounting-block until 1850, when the mayor, a local antiquary, placed it on its present pedestal and unveiled it with much ceremony on a public holiday. (fn. 10)
Kingston was a demesne manor of the West Saxon kings. Edward the Confessor let it out to farm and had a stud-farm in its neighbourhood. (fn. 11) It was its 'great bridge' over the Thames that gave it special importance, as in the 13th century, this was the most easterly of the bridges before London Bridge was reached. In 1217 the peace between King John and Louis of France was first negotiated at Kingston though signed at Lambeth, (fn. 12) and Henry III came here in 1234, 1236, (fn. 13) and 1263. (fn. 14) In 1238 and 1261 (fn. 15) assemblies of the barons were held here. Probably the castle captured by Henry III in 1264 on his march south to Rochester (fn. 16) was built to cover the bridge on land seized from the manor by Gilbert de Clare, who himself had no land nearer than Long Ditton (q.v.), for Kingston was held in demesne. Kingston, probably from its accessibility, was a favourite place for tournaments. (fn. 17)
In 1323 some rebels from the West Country made a disturbance here, (fn. 18) and for the next twenty years the country was in an unquiet state. In 1331 William Inge, Archdeacon of Surrey, complained that he had been attacked by no less than forty-six of the men, fishers, and others of Kingston, and imprisoned in the town, (fn. 19) and two years later Thomas Roscelyn applied for redress against several of the chief men of Kingston, who had taken away possessions of his worth £200. (fn. 20) In 1346 commissioners were appointed to arrest the 'Roberdesmen, Wastries and Draghlaches,' who were harrying the neighbourhood (fn. 21) and who were perhaps responsible for the destruction of Hartington Coombe. (fn. 22) Kingston Bridge played a considerable part in the campaign of 1452, when the Duke of York, who had marched from the West Country and had been refused entry into London, was enabled to cross by it into Surrey and take up his position at Blackheath. Wyatt also used this passage in 1554 when, baulked of his intention to enter the city by way of London Bridge, he marched to Kingston. The extremely flimsy nature of the bridge stood the government in good stead, for considerable delay was caused by some 30 ft. of the bridge having been removed before the insurgents' arrival. (fn. 23)
Until the 16th century the external history of the town centred in the bridge, but with the occupation of Hampton Court as a royal palace Kingston gained a new importance as a lodging-place for those connected with the court, and accordingly many orders were issued respecting infection from the plague, which attacked the town with great violence in 1625 and 1636. (fn. 24) During the Civil Wars the importance of holding the bridge caused Kingston to be garrisoned by Parliamentary troops, except for a brief space on 14–19 November 1642, when it was held for the king, and in 1644 the City regiments were stationed there. (fn. 25) In 1648 when the Earls of Holland and Peterborough and the Duke of Buckingham made a last effort in the royal cause they rose at Kingston, and after a march to Reigate retreated there again, when a skirmish took place near Surbiton Common, in which Lord Francis Villiers was killed, and the Cavaliers routed. (fn. 26) The Committees for Safety and Sequestrations for Surrey both sat at Kingston, which from its proximity to London and accessibility has always been a centre for local administration. The 'general sessions' were held here in 1531, (fn. 27) and it was an Assize town until 1884; (fn. 28) it was also chosen as a centre by the Surrey County Council, whose fine offices stand in Penrhyn Road.
There is no evidence to determine at what date the great bridge over the Thames was built, but it was already endowed with lands for its maintenance in 1219, (fn. 29) when Master William de Coventry was master of the bridge. In 1223 Henry III passing through the town entrusted the work of the bridge to Henry de St. Albans and Matthew son of Geoffrey, (fn. 30) a local merchant, with seisin of the bridge, its charters, and the house pertaining to it. (fn. 31) This house was, it has been suggested, on a site in the horse market, where a curious crypt of shaped chalk stones was recently discovered. (fn. 32) The bridge probably underwent little modification from an early period until the 19th century. Sketches made in about 1800 show a long and flimsy wooden structure consisting of a narrow causeway railed on either side and resting on rows of piles disposed in groups of four or five banded together by wooden beams. At this time the ducking stool stood prominently at the east end of the bridge. (fn. 33) This lightness of build necessitated constant repairs; the bridge was in a dangerous condition in 1318, when pontage was granted to the bailiffs and good men for six years upon all wares for sale crossing and from each ship laden with wares for sale exceeding the value of 100s. passing beneath it. (fn. 34) The grant was renewed for five years in 1383, (fn. 35) and again in 1400 for three years, when the king's esquire, William Loveney, and two others were appointed surveyors. (fn. 36) A flood did much damage in 1435, and pontage was obtained for five years (fn. 37); this developed into a regular system of toll, (fn. 38) which was so burdensome that Robert Hammond settled land valued at £40 for the support and redemption of the bridge, the gift being commemorated by the following inscription on a rail at about the middle of the bridge:
'1565 Robert Hamon gentleman, Bayliff of Kingston heretofore,
He then made this bridge toll-free for evermore'
When these rails were replaced, a stone similarly inscribed was set in the brickwork of the north side of the western abutment. (fn. 39) The tolls had formed a considerable part of the revenue which the borough administered in support of the bridge through the bridgewardens, though there was also an estate appropriated to the purpose, and some benefit was derived from the lands of Clement Milan. (fn. 40)
In 1556 the decay of the bridge and the burdens sustained about its repair were the pretexts for the grant of the fair of St. Mary Magdalene's Day, and also of a fish weir (fn. 41) The bridgewardens' accounts begin at the close of the 14th century, but are not detailed until 1568; later they were rendered annually to the Court of Assembly and signed by the bailiffs. (fn. 42) The wardens kept a storehouse for necessary materials, their usual method being to buy timber and make the repairs by their own workmen; so in 1572 12d. was paid 'for making of the Plankes,' 5s. 'for two legges for the brydges,' and 2s. for 'stoping of holes'; gravel for the causeway was always a serious item. (fn. 43) In the same year 13s. was given to the poor on Easter Day, and probably the 18d. paid to the churchwardens in 1569 was also for alms. (fn. 44) The Court of Assembly made such by-laws as were needful; so in 1680 and 1685 it was 'ordered that if upon any Saturday or other market or Faire day of the saide Towne two carts meete upon the Great Bridge of Kingston that then each carte shall forfeit the sume of 6d. which said Forfeiture shalbe paid by the owner of the said carte or partie driving the same to Thomas Styles keeper of the said Bridge to give an acct thereof to the Bayliffs and Freemen, and that everie emptie carte alwaies give way to the loaded.' (fn. 45) This order points to the narrowness of the bridge, which was only partly remedied when its Middlesex side was considerably widened in about 1791. (fn. 46) In 1812 the bridge was in such a state of decay as to be beyond repair, and the bridge estate was wholly inadequate to meet the cost of rebuilding. The corporation tried to shift the responsibility on to the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, with the result that cross indictments were filed. (fn. 47) Judgement was finally given against the borough, and money was raised by the sale of lands. An Act of Parliament for rebuilding the bridge was obtained in 1825, (fn. 48) and the work was begun in that year, Lord Liverpool, the High Steward, laying the first stone. (fn. 49) The bridge, which rests on five arches of stone, was the design of Edward Lapidge, the architect of the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge, and himself a local man. (fn. 50) It was built about 100 yards south of the old one and brought about a considerable change in the topography of this part of the town. Hitherto the way from London Street had been down Wood Street into the Horse Fair and then west from this down Old Bridge Street, at the corner of which probably stood the Bridge House. To approach the new bridge London Street was continued westward from the point at which Church Row touches it, sweeping away the row of houses abutting on the churchyard which now lay open to the view. The new street was called Clarence Street in honour of the Duchess of Clarence, wife of the prince afterwards William IV, who opened the bridge in grand procession in July 1828. The skeleton of the old bridge still stood, though with several bays broken to prevent its use. For some years tolls were charged and were let for £2,000 a year. (fn. 51) There was much rejoicing when the toll was abolished in 1870, and from this time the volume of traffic has continuously increased.
From the great bridge the way south into the town lay down Thames Street. The north end of this, the open Horse Fair, and the surrounding 'Back Laines,' as they were called in the 16th century, (fn. 52) were cleared of their ancient buildings and undesirable inhabitants in 1905, when the present houses were built. Farther south the 17th and 18th-century houses still remain: the street is divided from the river by shops with gardens behind; passages lead through darkness into alleys such as Fountain Court, where the houses stand round an enormous leaden bowl. Near this is a passage preserving the name of the Bishop's Hall, once the property of the Bishops of Winchester. Probably it first came into their hands in 1202, when Bishop Godfrey paid 14s. to Osbert Horo for three messuages, retaining two and letting the other to Osbert. (fn. 53) The Bishop's Hall was soon deserted and was leased to tenants, certainly from 1392 (fn. 54); as Leland put it, 'now it is turned into a commune Dwelling House of a Tounisch man. Sum Bishop, wery of it, did neglect the House and began to build at Asher near the Tamise side 2 or 3 miles above Kingston.' (fn. 55) In the time of William of Wykeham it was described as between a lane leading to the Thames on the south, a tenement on the north, and the river on the west.' (fn. 56) In 1533 the master of the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene leased a toft and garden abutting on 'le Byshoppe Hawe' on the north, the Thames on the west, and the tenement of Richard Benson on the east (fn. 57); this last was described as situated between the highway and Bishop's Hall. (fn. 58) These descriptions prove that the hall faced the river and can have had no frontage to Thames Street. Sold to Henry VIII with other lands of the see, it was granted in 1544 as a garden and lands to Richard Borole, barber-surgeon, and John Howe, grocer, of London, (fn. 59) but in 1567 Mr. Starr paid 3s. 4d. to the bailiffs and freemen for 'Bisshopes Hall,' (fn. 60) and in 1670 Robert Viall paid 8s. for a tenement so called. By 1804 no traces of the building remained, (fn. 61) and the site is now occupied by stables and yards. Probably Thames Street has always been one of the chief shopping districts; in 1430–1 John Cheeseman was accused of making an encroachment on Thames Street by putting out there a porch and butt or movable counter. (fn. 62) At the south end of the street a turn brings the market-place into view. Standing here it is difficult to believe that the turmoil of London is but 12 miles away; only a few modern shop-fronts proclaim this present century, and even they do not hide the high-pitched roofs which show above the stucco of the walls and assert their age. A map ascribed to the 17th century suggests that the marketplace originally extended to the Horse Fair as one open space with the church in the midst. Purprestures seem to have brought the town to its present state at an early period, for the houses round the marketplace and churchyard were held in burgage. Probably here, as elsewhere, each trade had a particular pitch for its booths, which it retained when the stalls were replaced by houses, and hence the Butchery, Cook Row, in the market-place, and the Apple Market, an excellent example of the results of encroachment. Close to the town hall from at least the 17th to the 19th century stood a small octagonal building (fn. 63) of red brick with a high roof covered with tiles and supported on pillars, which thus formed an open space beneath. Its purpose is forgotten, but it may be suggested that it was to this that reference was made in 1685 when the toll of the Oat Market was leased at a rent of £4 a year 'to the use of the chamber and of the Maior for the repairing, supporting, maintaining and amending the house over the said toll of the said Oate-Market called ye pillory-house.' (fn. 64) The Malt Market also is mentioned in 1670 (fn. 65) and points to a trade very prosperous here in this and the following century; the Wool and Leather Markets paid rent to the bailiffs and freemen in 1417–18, and the Cheese Market is also mentioned.
One of the oldest houses in Kingston is a butcher's shop at the corner of the passage leading to the Apple Market. It is a house of three stories, the ground floor converted into the shop, the first floor overhanging and the top gabled; these are all cemented and have modern windows. On the side to the alley the upper stories also overhang and are cemented. In the wall are remains of a 15th-century wood window with a cinquefoiled ogee arch and a traceried head; the window head probably dates the whole building. An inn on the other side of the passage, in the Apple Market, may have been as old, but has been almost completely modernized. No. 5 Market Place, just opposite (now belonging to Messrs. Hide & Co. furniture dealers, etc.), formerly the Castle Inn mentioned in 1537, (fn. 67) retains an early 17th-century staircase from the ground to the second floor; the heavy square newels have carved and panelled sides and ball tops, the carriages or sloping strings are carved as laurel wreaths. The handrails are heavy, and the space between the strings and handrails is filled in with heavy foliage, roses, and other subjects; at the head of the first flight are three tuns, and on the first floor is a Bacchus seated on a tun and holding up a cup, and there are other human figures worked in with the foliage. Various initials, evidently original, are scattered over the work; on one newel head IORPGVP, on another newel CB EB SB AB; in a true lover's knot N B S; on a human face in a third newel FV and HB; on a fourth TS, TI, and another GD. The building has been modernized in front, but the back towards a courtyard is unaltered; it is of narrow bricks with moulded eaves, cornices, &c. Some of the bricks have initial letters in relief, like the stairs; among others SB and AB appear again, and the dates 1651 and 1656 (? 1636). The 18th-century outside gallery of the inn is also retained. In 1769 it paid 1s. 10d. quit-rent, (fn. 68) and remained in use as an inn until converted into dwellinghouses in the middle of the 19th century. Backing on to the south-east of the church is another row of three old houses converted into shops; they are of timber plastered over, and have overhanging second floors above which are four gabled heads.
The town hall was built in 1838–40; in 1837 the proposal that a new site should be chosen was fiercely opposed by the townsfolk, (fn. 69) who finally had their way. The old town hall, red brick and gabled, probably dated from the 16th century, and had beneath it an open market-stead extended on the south by a sort of shed; in 1670 Benjamin Woodfall paid £1 for his shop under the Court Hall, (fn. 70) or Gildhall, for the terms were synonymous. In the upper rooms, then as now, were kept the records of the borough, for in July 1684 the Court of Assembly ordered that the bailiffs and nine others should meet to sort out their writings and leases. (fn. 71) The assizes were held here, and in the 17th century the hall was then decorated with hangings brought from Hampton Court. (fn. 72) In 1670 'Mr. Marriott' received £2 for their use. (fn. 73) In 1572 two watchmen were paid 6d. 'for watching under ye court hall at ye syes,' and in 1670 were in special charge of the hanging. (fn. 74) 'The arms' were painted in the Gildhall in 1572, and in 1660 the painted window still in the council-room was presented in honour of the Restoration; in 1670 John Baylis was paid 'for taking down the glasse in Guildhall att Session times.' (fn. 75) Several important trials took place here, perhaps the most sensational being that before Blackstone in which George Onslow brought an action for libel against John Horne Tooke the politician and philologist. (fn. 76) The poorness of the accommodation provided caused much grumbling among both judges and counsel, and in 1808 the corporation obtained an Act of Parliament authorizing the sale of the common lands to raise funds for building a new court-house. In 1811 they purchased Clattern House for the judges' lodging and added on its eastern side a court-house which cost them about £10,000. When Kingston ceased to be an assize town Clattern House was made the municipal offices, and here the public library was housed until in 1904 it was moved to its present building in the Fair Field, given by Mr. Andrew Carnegie. Clattern House stands at the southern end of the market-place opposite the town hall on the bank of the Hogsmill, Malden River, or Lurteborne as it seems to have been called in 1439. (fn. 77)
Clattern House preserves the name of Clattering Bridge, which though but 8 ft. wide in 1831 (fn. 78) had at least one house on its western side, for which £1 rent was paid to the corporation in 1620 and 1670. (fn. 79) The bridge was widened in about 1882 and the present coping erected. (fn. 80) Across the road and next to the bridge is a row of gabled houses with plastered fronts, all more or less restored or altered for modern shops; near these must have stood 'The Crane,' (fn. 81) the most important inn in Kingston during the 16th and 17th centuries. It had belonged to the free chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, and was held in 1546 by John Agmondesham and inherited by his son, but in 1564 it formed part of the endowment of the grammar school. (fn. 82) It was much frequented by the Court, and in 1526 was the lodging-place of the Imperial Ambassadors. (fn. 83) When they passed through the town the Chamberlain's Accounts show items such as 'Payd at ye Crane for wyen and pypens geven to ye Byshops,' for a gallon of sack for my Lord Mayor at the Crane 5s. and 'to the goodman of the Crane for frewt 12d.' (fn. 84) During the Commonwealth the 'Crane' was the seat of the Committee for Safety for the county, (fn. 85) but it seems to have lost its reputation at the end of the century. Close by was the Debtors' Prison. (fn. 86)
Although West-by-Thames Street, as High Street was called until the 19th century, was one of the oldest parts of the town it was considered without the vill in 1253, when the bailiffs complained that the tenants of Merton Priory did not keep watch and perform other duties as did the king's men, and answer was made that they were never accustomed to keep watch beyond the water at the end of the market towards Guildford, which was without the vill; but only pro homine mortuo did they as others, serve within the vill. (fn. 87) From the bridge the road slopes gradually towards the river; picturesque old houses are on either hand, and open gates show glimpses of the river or green trees. One of the most interesting of the houses, that known as King John's Palace (fn. 88) or Dairy, stood at the corner of Kingston Hill Road, but was pulled down in 1805. Its name preserved the tradition that there was a palace in this part of the town in the early 13th century, with offices stretching into the Bittoms on the east. No record, however, of such a building has been found, though Richard II was certainly staying somewhere in Kingston at the time of the death of Edward III, when the citizens of London came here to greet their new lord. (fn. 89) A fruit shop at the northern end of the street shows signs of age; it is an irregular building with a plastered front and gabled roofs, and close to it is a furniture shop calling itself 'Ye Olde Malt House'; its front is modernized, but it has a round malting chimney. There are several other old half-timbered and gabled houses in the street. Among them is a low three storied house now called 'Ye Olde White House,' with plastered front and overhanging upper story, which probably dates from the 16th century. A row of three others are worth notice; one, now a coal office, is weather-boarded and has an overhanging upper story and a tiled roof with the eaves to the road; the second is cemented, and has an overhanging upper floor and eaves, it is now used as the works of a boat proprietor; the third (a butcher's shop) is similar in front, but the side of the house towards a yard on the south is of half-timber filled in with lath and plaster and a little brick; two of the rearmost windows in this side have four-centred heads and are unglazed. On the other side, in a narrow court, the walls are also of half-timber filled with lath and plaster towards the rear, but with more modern brick towards the front. The upper story overhangs on curved brackets and a moulded facia, the head is gabled and has a good cusped bargeboard. Some of the windows in this side retain their original wood frames. The house is evidently work of the 16th century. Farther south the road touches the Thames, and here is a wharf alive with the trade of rivercraft.
North of the bridge the towing path is edged with small white houses. Here too are boat-houses, and the bank is covered with small craft. Across the river is a house with embanked garden, then come red wooden sheds, then orchards. Beyond the little houses, and protected from the towing path by a lawn set with sycamores, is Downhall, the property of Mrs. Nuthall, widow of the late Mr. G. W. Nuthall, a grey stuccoed house with jalousies and older kitchens behind. Downhall was held in the 13th century of the manor of Canbury (q.v.) by Lewin and Alan le Mariner, and was afterwards leased to Ralf Wakelin and Beatrice his wife. (fn. 90) In 1485–6 it was styled a 'capital messuage' or 'manor,' and was held of Merton by Robert Skerne, on whose death in that year it passed to Swithin his son. (fn. 91) It was conveyed in 1617 by Mildred Bond, widow, and Thomas Bond to Anthony Browne and Matilda his wife. (fn. 92) Downhill lies in Canbury; not far away the ancient tithe-barn stood until sold in 1850 and pulled down. North of this is the railway bridge and station, the gasworks, a recreation ground, and, finally, Ham Common and Ham Fields.
Vicarage Lane takes its name from the old vicarage, which stood here until the modern house was built to replace that given by John Lovekyn to the vicar in 1366. (fn. 93)
In 1513 four Lollards were examined at Kingston, and one Thomas Denys was burned in the marketplace on 5 March, the rest submitted. (fn. 94) There was a strong element of Puritanism in Kingston. Richard Taverner the controversialist lived at Norbiton, and was probably the Mr. Taverner who bought the roodscreen in 1561. (fn. 95) Before 1584 John Udall was lecturer or curate-in-charge, but was deprived of his licence to preach by the High Commission in 1588. (fn. 96) In the early 17th century Edmund Staunton was vicar for twenty years, but was suspended for a time before 1638, (fn. 97) probably for puritanical teaching; he was known as 'the searching preacher,' and was diligent both in catechising and teaching from house to house. (fn. 98) In 1658 a strong Puritan, Richard Mayo, was presented to the living. He, though ejected in 1662, kept a separatist congregation together, which was licensed under the Indulgence of 1672. (fn. 99) In 1698 his more famous son Daniel Mayo (fn. 100) succeeded John Goffe as pastor of the Presbyterian congregation here. He died at Kingston in 1733 and was succeeded in the ministry there by George Wightwick of Lowestoft. (fn. 101) John Townsend, the founder of the London Asylum for Deaf Mutes, came here in 1781 as pastor. (fn. 102) The congregation, as was so often the case, became Independent. The chapel in Eden Street was built in 1856. (fn. 103) The Presbyterian Church of England chapel, built in Grove Crescent Road in 1883, has no connexion with this original Nonconformist body. Another early body of Nonconformists in Kingston was that of the Quakers. George Fox often preached here, the meetings being held in the house known as King John's Dairy. In 1769 they had a burial-place in Eden Street (fn. 104) and there they still have a meeting-house. The Wesleyans also have one chapel in Eden Street, another being at Kingston Hill. There are also four Baptist chapels: in Union Street, Queen Elizabeth Road, Cowleaze, and London Road. The first represents a secession from the Independents in the latter part of the 18th century. The Primitive Methodists have chapels in Victoria and Richmond Roads, while the Brethren meet in the Apple-market.
Heathen, now Eden Street, is said to have taken its name from being the Jews' quarter, and was so called when the earliest extant rentals were made. This and London Street are full of quaint houses, some timbered, some built of wood.
Next to the Grammar School chapel in the London Road are almshouses of red brick, six on either side of a projecting middle bay with a gabled head. The houses are of two stories with modern door and window frames and tiled roofs. In the middle bay a square-headed doorway with cemented rustic quoins opens into a small common room. On the first floor are three oval windows, and in the middle a tablet inscribed 'CHARITATI SACRUM Anno Salutis 1668 being the Gift of WILLIAM CLEAVE Alderman of London for Six Poor Men and Six Poor Women of this Town for whose Maintenance for Ever He hath given A Competent Revenue and also Caused these Buildings to be Erected at his own Expense for the Habitation and Convenience of the said People.' On a cartouche over are his arms: Argent on a fesse between three wolves' heads razed sable three molets or; and crest, an eagle with a serpent in its beak. Above this is a sundial with the initials and date W C 1668.
The Technical Institute in Kingston Hill Road and the Polytechnic in Fife Road provide education in technical subjects, and secondary education is cared for by the Grammar and the Tiffin foundation schools, and there are several elementary schools.
Norbiton (Norbinton, xiii cent.; Norbeton, xiv cent.), which lies towards the north end of London Street, is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, but occurs early in the 13th century when William de Wicumb and Sailda his wife quitclaimed 6 acres of land there to Hamon son of Ralf and William son of Siward. (fn. 105) The hamlet was part of the manor of Kingston, and the common which lay to the north was under the control of the bailiffs and freemen, (fn. 106) who used the timber there for 'the mending, repairing and entreteyning of the wayes' as being appurtenant 'to the King's Royalty, the grant whereof they have in their fee farm.' (fn. 107) The right of felling the timber was upheld by an order in Council in 1543, (fn. 108) though violently opposed by the inhabitants of Norbiton, and was of some value, for the Court of Assembly ordered, in 1680, 'that a book should be bought to enter ye accounts of ye wardens of Norbiton Common in, and that the same be left with the Town clerk to enter as other accounts.' (fn. 109)
In the East Field of Norbiton in the reign of Edward III lay Walepot, Adewellerthe, Kyondescroft, Crokkeres Forlang, and Wateryngcroft, (fn. 110) and the common of Norbiton is mentioned as the northern boundary of a road which had 'le Holefur' on the south. (fn. 111) The common lands were inclosed under an Act of Parliament obtained in 1808, (fn. 112) and from that date the population grew so rapidly that the new ecclesiastical district of St. Peter was formed in 1842, the parish of St. John the Baptist, Kingston Vale, in 1847, the consolidated chapelry of St. John the Evangelist in 1873, the parish of St. Paul, Kingston Hill, in 1881, and the parish of St. Luke, Gibbon Road, in 1890. (fn. 113) The population numbered 9,063 in 1901. (fn. 114) From the Kingston Road, Kingston Hill, and Park Road, innumerable streets have radiated, and nearly the whole space here between the Hogsmill river and Richmond Park is now occupied or about to be developed. Manor Gate Road takes its name from the 'Manyngate' mentioned with Tarendeslane in the reign of Richard III. (fn. 115) A road from Latchmere towards Manningate is mentioned in 1605, (fn. 116) Hog Lane Gate in 1683. (fn. 117)
Among the larger houses in Norbiton are Kenry House (Earl of Dunraven), Coombe Hurst (Mr. R. C. Vyner), Warren House (Gen. Sir A. H. F. Paget), Coombe End (Mr. B. Weguelan), Coombe Wood Farm (Lord Archibald Campbell), Coombe Warren (Mr. L. Currie), Coombe Court (Earl de Grey), and Latchmere House (Mr. P. Jackson).
The Elementary Schools are St. Peter's, Cambridge Road, 1852; St. Paul's School, 1871; and St. John the Evangelist's School, 1873; the Bonner Hill Road School was built in 1906, and schools in connexion with the churches of St. John the Evangelist, St. Luke, and the Roman Catholic Church of St. Agatha. In Church Road the Guild House School is for physically defective children.
Surbiton (Subertone, xiii cent.; Subeton, xiv cent.) is not mentioned in Domesday Book, but was a hamlet in 1179 when the men of Surbiton, represented by John Hog and about twenty others, granted to the Prior and convent of Merton land in Grapelingham for twenty-one years, with a preference, under which a fresh lease was made in 1203. (fn. 118) The grange of Edith de la Stronde is mentioned in 1229, (fn. 119) and in 1296 Isabella widow of William le Haselye granted her curtilage to John le Poter with the hedge and ditch towards the field and with the wall towards the highway. (fn. 120) In 1417–18 seventeen tenements here paid £1 11s. 11½d. quit-rent to the bailiffs and freemen of Kingston, the rate here as elsewhere being 2d. per acre. (fn. 121) Until the inclosure award made for Kingston in 1838 under authority of an Act of Parliament of 1808 (fn. 122) about 190 acres remained commonable in Surbiton, and extended from the Surbiton Hill Road, or a little below Villier's Path, on the north to the division of Surbiton from the parish of Long Ditton on the south, and from Clay Hill and King Charles's Road on the east to just beyond the houses on the near side of the Ewell Road on the west.
The only house in the district covered by the modern Surbiton marked on the maps of the 18th century was Berrylands Farm. It certainly existed in 1736, (fn. 123) and is probably much older, if it can be identified with Berowe, where William Skerne had licence to inclose land called the Fyfteen Acres in 1439, (fn. 124) and Berow or Barrow Hill held by Robert Skerne of Thomas Wyndsore in 1485–6. (fn. 125) Early in the 19th century building began in the valley towards Kingston with the original Waggon and Horses public-house, and the Elmers called Surbiton House until 1823 and pulled down before 1888. Maple Farm, afterwards called Maple Lodge, was built by Christopher Terry about 1815 as the Manor House. In 1808 Southborough Lodge, the first house on the hill, was built for Thomas Langley by John Nash, the architect of Buckingham Palace; this with the three farms and a windmill was the only building here until 1812, when the White House, afterwards known as Hill House, was built (fn. 126) where the office of the Urban District Council now stands. Surbiton Hill House was next built in 1826 partly from material from the abandoned palace of Kew. Though still, as in the 13th century, (fn. 127) covered with furze and heath, the land was already considered of value as a building site.
The whole position of the neighbourhood was altered when in 1836 the main line of the London and South Western Railway was brought through Surbiton because, tradition says, the inhabitants opposed its original course through Kingston. A small cottagelike structure called Kingston Station was built in the deep railway cutting near the Ewell Road Bridge, and was used until 1840, when Thomas Pooley gave the present site to the company. (fn. 128) The 18th-century maps of the neighbourhood mark but one main road as passing through Surbiton. This, the Portsmouth Road, is a continuation of the Kingston High Street and follows the river, though separated from it for some distance by public gardens. There were of course minor roads: Leatherhead Mill Lane, Lower Marsh Lanes, and a road corresponding to the modern Clay Hill and King Charles's Road are mentioned; (fn. 129) a lane from the Ewell Road to Berrylands Farm is marked on a map of 1813, as is also the lane now called Villier's Path and Clay Hill. (fn. 130) The western side of Surbiton was the first to be developed. After the death of Christopher Terry in 1838 the Maple Farm lands were bought by Thomas Pooley, who began to lay out roads and build houses. Having insufficient capital he mortgaged heavily, principally to Coutts & Co., the bankers, who finally foreclosed. They managed the property well, and the Oakhill and Raphael estates followed, their streets of staid Victorian houses giving this quarter its essentially residential character. Lately, however, this has become the shopping district of Surbiton, a feature emphasized since the opening of the United Tramways Company's electric service in 1905. In the extreme southern corner of this section lay the Seething Wells, yielding an abundant supply of water. The land inclosed under the Act of 1808 was purchased by the Lambeth Waterworks, and reservoirs opened in 1851; they were followed by the Chelsea Water Company, who, in 1852, built the works adjoining these on the north.
The Berrylands or eastern hill section was developed in 1851, the land making £500 per acre at public auction in 1853. In spite of the great change in the character of the neighbourhood, the roads, lighting, and drainage were still those of a hamlet. Under the Surbiton Improvement Act of 1855 (fn. 131) the inhabitants secured local government by fifteen commissioners who, with some modifications in 1882, (fn. 132) retained their authority until Surbiton became an Urban District. The southern section was a little later in growth. In this district the land attains its highest point, being 120 ft. above ordnance datum on Oak Hill. The lowest point (20 ft. above sea-level) is by the river side. The soil on the lower levels is chiefly gravel on a subsoil of London Clay; on Surbiton Hill it is clay, and there were brick-kilns near the Fish Ponds in 1838. (fn. 133)
Within the last five years an entirely new district has sprung up between the Surbiton Hill Road and Clay Hill, taking the name of Crane's Park from the Cranes, the large house which stood here. The development of this estate has resulted in a continuation of King Charles's Road into Kingston, and has reduced Villier's Path, the traditional scene of the death of Lord Francis Villiers in 1648, to a mere footpath hemmed in with houses. The hillside east of this is now divided into building lots, and it is anticipated that Clay Lane will soon form the backbone of a further series of streets. On the island in the Thames opposite Surbiton, called Raven's Eyot, are the head quarters of the Kingston Rowing Club, founded in 1858. The population of the urban district in 1901 was 15,017. (fn. 134) The development of Surbiton was marked by the formation of the parish of St. Mark's, part of which was assigned in 1863 to Christ Church, Surbiton Hill; (fn. 135) and in 1876 another part of St. Mark's parish was assigned to the consolidated chapelry of St. Matthew, which was partly formed from the parish of Long Ditton. (fn. 136) In 1854 the Congregationalists built a handsome church in Maple Road. (fn. 137) This becoming too small for the congregation a larger church was built in 1864 at the corner of Grove Road. The first Wesleyan services in 1861 were held in a hall and afterwards in an iron chapel; the church in the Ewell Road was dedicated in 1882. In 1874 the Oaklands Baptist chapel in Oakhill Road was opened. The Baptist chapel in Balaclava Road was opened in 1905. In 1879 the Primitive Methodists built an iron church, now disused, in Arlington Road. The Roman Catholic church of St. Raphael was built by Charles Parker (fn. 138) for Mr. Alexander Raphael in 1846–7. It was here that many members of the Orleans family were married. It was shut up for some years, but was re-opened to the public in 1908.
New Malden and Coombe, 2 miles east of Kingston, is a newly created Urban District, formed by the great growth of new houses in the neighbourhood during the last forty years. It was constituted an ecclesiastical parish, being separated from the new ecclesiastical parish of St. Peter's, Norbiton, in 1867, and in the same year a Local Board was formed. In 1895, under the Local Government Act of the previous year, it was constituted a civil parish under an Urban District Council. It is divided into three wards, Coombe, New Malden, Old Malden (q.v.). The total area is 3,220 acres, and the population in 1901 was 6,233, of whom only 503 were in Old Malden. There is a railway station on the main London and South Western Railway, the junction also for the Kingston line. The Baptist chapel was opened in 1862; the Congregational chapel in 1880. There is also in the parish a Wesleyan chapel, a Free Church of England chapel, and a Roman Catholic chapel of St. Egbert, opened in 1908. The Lime Grove (Church) School for girls and infants was built in 1870; the Christchurch Elm Road Boys' Schools in 1896, and the County Council (mixed) School was opened in 1908.
Hook (Hoke, xiv cent.) is an ecclesiastical parish, in the part of Kingston old parish which divides Long Ditton into two parts. It was constituted an ecclesiastical parish in 1839, the inhabitants then being mostly cottagers in small houses on the road from Kingston to Letherhead. A considerable number of better houses have now been built. Part of the ecclesiastical parish was made a civil parish in 1895 under the Act of the previous year, but the northern part is in the Urban District of Surbiton.
There is an iron Wesleyan chapel in the parish. The schools (National) were built in 1860.
The ecclesiastical parish of St. Andrew, Ham, was formed in 1834; it had formerly been a chapelry to Kew.
The earliest mention of organized government in Kingston is in 1086, when the royal manor was under the control of bedels, or elected officers. (fn. 139) They are not again mentioned, but the name was preserved until the 15th century in the 'Bedelsford.' (fn. 140) In or about 1195 the men of Kingston claimed to have held their town at farm by a charter of King Henry which had been burnt by misfortune, and they gave 100s. for holding their vill until the coming of the king, and offered 30 marks for a charter under which they might pay the same farm as before. (fn. 141) This farm appears to have been £28 10s., (fn. 142) the amount granted here in 1199 and 1200 to Joscelin de Gant. (fn. 143) Accordingly, on paying a further 60 marks in 1200, (fn. 144) the men received their first extant charter which confirmed the previous grant, and gave the vill to the freemen of Kingston, at the rent of £12 beyond the farm owed and customary. (fn. 145) They continued to hold the town at this farm until 1208 when King John granted it to them at the fee farm (fn. 146) of £50 yearly. In 1222 this fee farm had been granted to John de Atia for his maintenance in the royal service, (fn. 147) and he drew it until 1226. (fn. 148) In 1236 the town was assigned to Queen Eleanor as part of her dower, (fn. 149) and in 1281 was said to be of the yearly value of £51 8s. 6d. (fn. 150) In 1290 the manor of Kingston was extended at £52 8s. 6d. (fn. 151) and was still in the hands of the queenmother. The extra sum above the amount of the fee farm perhaps represents the money service from Postel's land, (fn. 152) serjeanties, and purprestures which are expressly mentioned with Kingston in 1299 when the town was assigned in dower to Queen Margaret. (fn. 153) In 1300 the custody of Kingston was granted to the local merchant Edward Lovekin that he might reimburse himself from the farm and other issues of that town for £500 lent to the king. (fn. 154) The farm was granted to Queen Isabel in 1327. (fn. 155) Under Richard II in 1378 began a long series of grants (fn. 156) of portions of the fee farm to various officers and persons connected with the royal household. It is possible that the freemen of Kingston at this time had made considerable purprestures, for which they paid additional rent, as in 1381 the farm was said to be £54 8s. 10d., (fn. 157) and in aid of this the king granted them, in 1392, a shop and 8 acres of land which were escheats to the Crown. (fn. 158) Part of the farm was assigned in the middle of the 15th century to the expenses of the royal household, (fn. 159) and in 1507 the manor of Kingston was farmed by Thomas Lovell, who committed waste of timber in Walton-onThames. (fn. 160) On the formation of the honour of Hampton Court in 1540 the fee farm was annexed to it, (fn. 161) and part remitted in consideration of the fact that much of the land paying quit-rent towards the farm was now inclosed in the royal parks. (fn. 162) The abatement was questioned, but ratified in 1563. (fn. 163) The farm of Kingston was assigned as part of the dower of Queen Catherine in 1665–6, (fn. 164) but was alienated in 1670, (fn. 165) and in 1794 was only about £8. (fn. 166)
The greater part of mediaeval Kingston was held in burgage in aid of the fee farm, a quit-rent of 2d. being paid on the acre, and sums varying from 20s. to a farthing on tenements. (fn. 167) Quit-rents were also paid by lands throughout the manor, and were received in the 16th century from the manors of Imworth, Clay Gate, East Molesey, Molesey Matham, Berwell, Canbury, Hatch, Hook, and Hampton Court, as well as from lands in Long Ditton and Sandon. (fn. 168)
In 1287–8 Kingston paid £13 5s. 4d. tallage, (fn. 169) and 10 marks were exacted in 1197–8 and the following year. (fn. 170) In 1210 the Crown took 50s., (fn. 171) and in 1214 30 marks. (fn. 172) This last sum was demanded in 1236–7, when Henry III pardoned 10 marks 'so that the poor and more oppressed feel themselves relieved'; the remaining 20 marks were to be levied according to the tenants' respective means. (fn. 173) The tallage assessed in 1234 was £18, but the excess above 20 marks (£13 6s. 8d.) was released, (fn. 174) and the tallage from the men of the almonry of Westminster remitted. (fn. 175)
Beside the charters of 1200 and 1208 the freemen obtained from Henry III three charters in 1256, dated 10, 12, and 13 September. By the last they obtained the right of 'having and holding their gild merchant as they have theretofore had and held it, and as the probi homines of Guildford hold it.' (fn. 176) Probably, as in Guildford, the gild merchant was closely connected with the government of the town; this seems to be the only time that it is referred to in words. These charters were confirmed in 1343, 1378, 1400, and 1413. In 1441 the town was formally incorporated with markets rights corresponding to Windsor and Wycombe, under two bailiffs and the freemen. This charter of incorporation was confirmed in 1481, 1494, 1510, 1547, 1556, 1559, and 1603. Additional privileges were obtained under the charter of 1481 and confirmed in 1559. Elizabeth exempted the freemen from toll in 1592 and gave or rather restored to them a grammar school in 1564. Further charters were obtained in 1603, 1628, and 1662. In January 1685 the charters were surrendered to Charles II. He died a month later, and the surrender was repeated to his successor James II, who granted a new charter in August 1685. This was in turn revoked, and the old charter re-confirmed in 1688. (fn. 177)
The earliest evidence for the constitution of the governing body of Kingston points to a state of things very similar to that still in existence in 1835. The various charters were, as has been said, granted to the freemen of the town, who in the early 19th century were chosen from the free tenants of the manor; these under the names of gownsmen, peers, and fifteens, with two bailiffs, a high steward, and recorder, in 1835 formed the Court of Assembly which exercised control over both the policy and property of the town until the corporation was reconstructed in that year. (fn. 178)
In the absence of any town records before the 15th century it is impossible to decide the origin of the Court of Assembly. In 1346 the bailiffs were ordered to appear with six lawful men before the king in council to answer certain allegations concerning the community of the town; (fn. 179) and in the 15th century leases were usually made by the bailiffs of the liberty of the men of Kingston and by the whole community of the town, (fn. 180) or 'with the assent of the whole community' (fn. 181) or 'of the honest men and community.' (fn. 182) Such leases were enrolled in the roll of the view of frankpledge on Tuesday in Whitsun week, the law day. On the incorporation in 1441 the bailiffs and freemen were given power to meet at the Gildhall and to make laws for the government of the town, which they might enforce with penalties. (fn. 183) It is not evident at what date this gathering obtained the title of the Court of Assembly, but a 'Court of Common Council' is mentioned in 1655. (fn. 184) The 'Books of the Court of Assembly' date from 1680, and though reconstructed under the charter of James II the acts of the new body were entered in the minute book of its predecessor. There was also a separate and inferior Common Council of sixteen under this charter in place of the 'Fifteens' of the old charters, and it was ordered that 'the Common Councilmen should have their vote in all orders and bye-laws which should be made either for letting, selling, or passing away any lands, tenements, or hereditaments belonging to the corporation and all laws for the good government of the town made in the Court of Common Assembly.' (fn. 185) The Court of Assembly, which, besides its other functions had control of the school and bridge, consisted of fifty-seven members in 1835 when it was replaced by the present Town Council. (fn. 186)
The 'Fifteens,' so called from their number, are first mentioned in the 16th century, and were also headboroughs, the group being generally known in the 17th and 18th centuries as that of 'the fifteen headboroughs'; (fn. 187) they took oath on election to be conformable to the customs of the town. (fn. 188) On the Sunday after Michaelmas in each year the Fifteens met at the Gildhall, (fn. 189) and by ballot voted out two of their number, henceforth known as Peers; their places were taken by two voted in from among the free tenants of the manor and these were immediately elected ale-tasters, (fn. 190) and took oath for that office as well as for the office of freemen and headboroughs. (fn. 191) They were liable to a fine of £15 for refusing office. Although two was the customary number of new freemen the power of election enjoyed by the court under the charter was unlimited. (fn. 192)
Gownsmen were those freemen who had filled the office of bailiff; they seem to have been generally called 'masters' until the 18th century, (fn. 193) and in 1638 (fn. 194) the three 'masters' received an order from the exchequer in the absence of the bailiff. A list of the officers of the corporation drawn up in 1555 shows them to have been two bailiffs, two constables, two chamberlains, two churchwardens, two bridgewardens and two ale-tasters. (fn. 195) The bailiffs were elected from four nominees chosen from the gownsmen and peers by ballot of the fifteen on the Sunday before Michaelmas. (fn. 196) In 1655 the gownsmen and peers chose two of the four proposed as bailiffs for the ensuing year, (fn. 197) but in 1835 the method had changed and the gownsmen and peers elected one, while the bailiffs of the present year, with the recorder and high steward, chose a second. (fn. 198) The voting was by a species of ballot, the names of the fifteen being written out and placed aside in the council-room, the vote being recorded by scratching the chosen name with a pen. (fn. 199) The growth of the power of the bailiffs is one of the most interesting features of the borough history. Deriving their powers from the bailiffs of the royal manor, they are first mentioned in 1234–5 as holding a court at Kingston, (fn. 200) and in 1242 were impleaded for unjust exaction of tolls. (fn. 201) The bailiffs and freemen had been clerks of the market under the charter of 1441, (fn. 202) the bailiffs only in 1628. (fn. 203) The charter of 1603 rendering their presence necessary at every meeting of the Court of Assembly (fn. 204) probably only ratified an ancient practice and made abortive an attempt of a royalist minority to hold a court in 1655. (fn. 205) This charter further granted that the bailiffs should be ex officio justices of the peace. In 1626 the Commissioners recommended that the outgoing bailiffs should retain their commission of the peace for a year after holding office, (fn. 206) and this was embodied in the grant of 1628. (fn. 207) Their position may be gauged by the order confirmed by the Court of Assembly in 1680 that the bailiffs were not to take out of the chamber any sum above 20s. without the privity and consent of the whole corporation. (fn. 208) The bailiffs were empowered to appoint under-bailiffs and were to be preceded by two serjeants-at-mace. (fn. 209) The office of bailiff was suspended shortly after the Restoration, when Charles II forbade the election of bailiffs until the differences between members of the town had been settled, (fn. 210) and it was only restored after a petition in September 1661. (fn. 211) The bailiffs were abolished by the charter of James II in 1685 and a mayor elected by the magistrates substituted; (fn. 212) Mr. Agar the first mayor complained that one of the Common Councilmen had 'very much abused him,' and the offender was accordingly discorporated. (fn. 213) Restored on the resumption of the charter, the bailiffs retained their office until replaced by a mayor under the reconstruction of 1835. (fn. 214)
Of the constables little is known, their office being such that they are seldom mentioned. The chamberlains filled a more important office and acted as treasurers. (fn. 215) They were elected by the Fifteens from among their fellows on the charter day, and might hold office for several years in succession. (fn. 216) Being considered an integral part of the Court of Assembly they are not expressly mentioned among the officers detailed in 1628; (fn. 217) their accounts are preserved from the 15th century and are full of detail concerning the life of the town. In 1835 it was said that in practice the senior chamberlain alone executed the office, 'the junior only signing the accounts,' (fn. 218) and possibly this explains the election of a 'treasurer' in 1684. (fn. 219) In the 16th century two churchwardens were also officers of the corporate body, which seems to have retained its power over them for another hundred years. They were answerable to the bailiffs and yielded up their accounts at the Gildhall each St. Luke's-tide. (fn. 220) The reason for this term being chosen is obscure, as St. Luke was not patron of the church or its chantries, nor was it one of the recognized quarters; (fn. 221) it probably had some connexion with the borough year, which began on the Sunday after Michaelmas. A meeting corresponding to the vestry was first held in the church in 1535, (fn. 222) when the bailiffs are expressly mentioned as being present; the vestry minute books begin a century later. (fn. 223)
It is not known when bridgewardens were first appointed as custodians of the bridge and its property; (fn. 224) they were elected from among the freemen by the Court of Assembly, and submitted their accounts for signature by the bailiffs each Michaelmas. (fn. 225)
The ale-tasters have been already mentioned; it was part of their duty to give a dinner to the court, and so important was this considered in the 18th century that recalcitrant ale-tasters were threatened with a fine of £10 in 1706 (fn. 226) and with discorporation in 1721. (fn. 227)
The high officials of the corporate body were the high steward, the steward of the court, and the recorder. The office of high steward probably originated in the 16th century, when it was advisable to have some prominent person at court directly interested in the town's welfare. Lord Howard of Effingham is the first named. The office was not purely nominal, for in 1684 the corporation immediately applied to their high steward, Lord Arlington, for advice as to the surrender of their charter. (fn. 228) James II under the new charter appointed Lord Ailesbury to the office, which still exists and has been held by Lord Liverpool and other distinguished persons. (fn. 229) The appointment was for life by patent of the Court of Assembly, the presentation being signalized by 'a handsome treate'; (fn. 230) the annual present consisted of eighteen sugar-loaves, worth about £9 in 1835. (fn. 231) The steward of the Court or 'Learned Steward,' as he was more frequently called in the 17th century, (fn. 232) filled an office originally much more humble in character than it afterwards became. By the charter of 1628 the appointment was limited to the attorney-general, (fn. 233) who has always held the office since that date.
A recorder is first mentioned in the charter of 1603 when he and the bailiffs were empowered to hold a court of record and to be justices of the peace. (fn. 234) The appointment of 'one skilled in the laws of the realm' as recorder was directed in 1628 and was made by the Court of Assembly for life, the salary being eighteen sugar-loaves and £26 5s. a year. (fn. 235) His duties in 1835 were to attend the election of the municipal officers on the charter day, to preside at the sessions and court of record, and to act as steward of the court leet and as legal adviser to the corporation.
There is no evidence to show at what date a townclerk was first employed, but the trades companies in 1609 had a clerk who later invariably fulfilled both duties. (fn. 236) He is first mentioned in the charter of 1628 as 'a common clerk and clerk of the peace, who is called prothonotary of the court of the town.' (fn. 237) He was elected for life by the Court of Assembly and was himself generally a freeman. (fn. 238) It was a disputed election of this officer that led in 1655 to a tumultuous assembly at the Gildhall, when certain freemen sat as a court, censured the bailiffs for their choice of a clerk, and discharged them from bearing office. (fn. 239) The town-clerk in 1835 acted as senior coroner, clerk of the court baron and court leet and as clerk-solicitor and attorney of the corporation. (fn. 240)
There were other officials of less importance. After the restoration of the grammar school two schoolwardens were chosen from among the freemen by the Court of Assembly, to which they were responsible for their expenditure. (fn. 241) Paving wardens are also mentioned in 1684. (fn. 242) Inferior to these in status were the two serjeants-at-mace authorized by the charter of 1481, (fn. 243) who, under the grant of 1556, could execute writs and be sent by the bailiffs on business before justices of the peace, coroners, and other royal officers. (fn. 244) Their numbers were increased to four in 1628, (fn. 245) but there is no evidence that more than two were ever appointed. Their duty was to execute the process of the court of record; in 1835 one of the serjeants was gaoler, and probably the office of keeper of the tollbooth mentioned in 1683–4 was filled by his fellow. (fn. 246) In 1682 the Court of Assembly ordered that in the future the bailiffs at the first hall after their election should deliver 30s. apiece for gowns for the serjeants. (fn. 247) In 1835 there were also two mace-bearers to carry the maces before the mayor on occasions of ceremony, (fn. 248) as well as a hall-keeper or general attendant on the Court of Assembly. (fn. 249)
According to Stuart practice the charter of incorporation was expanded and defined in 1603, when a few additional rights were granted, but no very material difference made. Henceforth the bailiff, steward, and recorder were to be justices of the peace for the town, its liberties, and the hamlets of Surbiton, Ham, and Hatch, with power to make amerciaments and deliver malefactors to gaol. (fn. 250) A further charter in 1628 defined the constitution more closely by authorizing the ancient methods of election and by stipulating that the Attorney-General should be the steward of the borough-court. (fn. 251) With the exception of the period covered by the charter of James II this remained the governing charter until 1835.
Although not then a Parliamentary borough, Kingston was among the corporations which Charles II attempted to remodel. The first indication of the purpose of the Government appears to have been received in June 1682, when 10s. was paid for making a copy of the governing charter for the use of the recorder, (fn. 252) but nothing further was done until the autumn of 1684, when the recorder resigned, probably as a protest, Francis Brown being elected in his stead. (fn. 253) In September of that year the bailiff and all the gownsmen waited on the high and the learned steward to learn the royal pleasure concerning the surrender, (fn. 254) and two months later the AttorneyGeneral gave formal notice that a writ of quo warranto would be brought against the charter. (fn. 255) The corporation was evidently severely frightened, and also puzzled as to their wisest course of action. Their high steward, Lord Arlington, was ill, but they secured the goodwill of his secretary by the gift of a guinea and obtained his promise to 'let them know if he heard anything against them at any time.' (fn. 256) The surrender was authorized, (fn. 257) sealed, (fn. 258) and delivered to the king on 20 January 1685. (fn. 259) Charles II died on 6 February, and the surrender not having been enrolled was rendered void.
A second quo warranto was brought against the corporation in May, (fn. 260) and the bailiffs now applied direct to Jeffreys, who 'was so kind to the corporation as to take the business upon him,' (fn. 261) and 'directed that the Attorney-General should prepare a new surrender which should contain an absolute surrender of every person in the corporation, their respective offices, and places therein.' (fn. 262) The corporation though unwilling and terrified, (fn. 263) made an absolute surrender in June of all liberties, charters, lands, and manors. (fn. 264) They were forced to borrow £40 from the bridgewardens and smaller sums from the trades companies towards the expenses of the new charter, which was granted in August 1685 and remodelled the constitution under a a mayor, twelve aldermen, a recorder, high steward, steward of the court, sixteen common councilmen, and fourteen headboroughs, (fn. 265) the minor offices remaining unchanged. (fn. 266) All officers were amovable by the king in council, and the right was exercised in 1688 against the recorder, Sir Francis Wythens, and the corporation required to choose Robert Power in his stead. (fn. 267) The new charter was recalled at Michaelmas 1688, and the old form of government resumed, Francis Brown, who had been removed in favour of Wythens in 1685, returning to the office of recorder. (fn. 268)
The constitution of the borough, though characterized by the commissioners of 1835 as 'harmless if not useful to the town,' was remodelled in the same year by an Act of Parliament. (fn. 269) The style of the corporation from this time has been the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the Borough of Kingston-uponThames, and the town was divided into three wards with six aldermen and eighteen councillors. In 1855, by the Kingston-upon-Thames Improvement Act, a fourth ward was added, and the corporation increased to a mayor, eight aldermen, and twenty-four councillors, the present governing body.
Kingston sent representatives to the Parliament of 1311, 1313, 1353, and 1373, (fn. 270) but no further writs have been found. It is said that the townsmen begged to be excused the responsibility and obtained their wish. (fn. 271) At the same time they refused, in 1378, to bear a part in contributions towards the expense of knights of the shire, and succeeded in upholding their exemption. (fn. 272) In 1591 they obtained a royal declaration of indemnity, as tenants in ancient demesne, from this expense and from serving as jurors.
The first charter of King John, granted in 1200, gave to the freemen, as has already been mentioned, the town with all its appurtenances, and in 1208 this was expanded by the clause 'with all the liberties and free customs thereof.' (fn. 273) The prescriptive rights thus obtained included not only the hundred court but other liberties. One such right was that of amendment of the assize of bread and ale; this, though recognized in 1292–3, (fn. 274) was disputed by the Crown until 1441, when Henry VI granted that the clerk of the market should not exercise his office within the town, but that the freemen should have correction of the assize of bread and ale in the town and liberty and be clerks of the market there. (fn. 275) The office of ale-taster owed its origin to the right under which the body corporate had the custody of certain standard measures. As tenants in ancient demesne the freemen were quit of toll throughout the kingdom and of service on juries outside the manor. These rights were disputed in 1581 when 11s. were paid 'for writin a copie or note owte of the Booke of Domesdeye' (fn. 276) in proof, and Queen Elizabeth confirmed these privileges in 1592. (fn. 277)
It was in accordance with this prescriptive right that the freemen claimed the purprestures. They established their right by 1292–3, (fn. 278) though not without conflict with the Crown, for in 1274 they were accused of occupying and appropriating the king's lands, (fn. 279) and at a date previous to 1312 the king claimed 67s. 11d. yearly rent from a purpresture which had been inundated by the Thames. (fn. 280) The Court of Assembly asserted their right in 1680, when they proposed proceeding against one Rymer whose pales encroached on the highway. (fn. 281)
By the third charter granted to Kingston in 1256, which gave the freemen that privilege from arrest which was the aim of every trading town at this period, no man of Kingston might be arrested for debts for which he was not the surety or principal debtor, unless the debtors were solvent or the men of the town had failed to give the aggrieved persons justice. (fn. 282)
This charter was followed three days later by one of greater importance, by which the freemen realized the ambition of all mediaeval towns and succeeded in ousting the sheriff and other royal officers by getting into their own hands the return of Exchequer and other writs, unless by default. (fn. 283) The right to exclude the sheriff was confirmed in 1628, but had fallen into abeyance fifty years later, for in 1682 the Court of Assembly sought counsel's opinion 'whether an action did not lie against the sheriffs who entered this liberty and executed an execution without any warrant directed to the bailiffs of the town'; (fn. 284) the answer being in the affirmative. Six weeks later the suit had begun, (fn. 285) and was only abandoned in November 1683 at 'the request of Sir Edward Evelyn, Sir James Clarke, and others of the neighbouring gentry.' (fn. 286) By 1835 the right was no longer exercised. (fn. 287)
The charter of 1256, confirming the freemen in their gild merchant, granted that they should not lose goods which they could prove their own for the trespass or forfeiture of the servants who might hold them, and also freedom of inheritance. (fn. 288) The charter of 1441 granted to the freemen all kinds of escheats and forfeitures of land or chattels, with treasure trove, deodands, goods and chattels of felons and suicides. (fn. 289) Yet in spite of this the Privy Council in 1553 demanded such plate—perhaps the property of the church or gild—as they pretended to be theirs by way of escheat, (fn. 290) and in 1635 process was discharged in the Crown office against the bailiffs for a deodand. (fn. 291)
The jurisdiction of the borough courts was very complicated, and was exercised within such varying boundaries that in 1835 doubts as to both powers and area were entertained. (fn. 292) At that date the courts held were the hundred court, court of record, court leet or law-day, court baron, petty sessions, and sessions of the peace. (fn. 293) The hundred court of Kingston was a court of ancient demesne, and in 1199–1200 was said to be and always to have been appurtenant to the vill, rendering to the king a farm of £28 10s., to which the hundred of Emleybridge contributed 16s. (fn. 294) It passed into the hands of the freemen as a prescriptive right under the charter of 1208. Under their prescriptive right of infangenthef the bailiffs would hold such a court as that which in 1235 tried and hanged Sarah wife of Stephen de Meudon, a villein, who was arrested while cooking stolen grain. (fn. 295) The men of Kingston did not however obtain the right of choosing coroners until 1256, (fn. 296) the hundred being amerced in 1224–5 because the bailiffs had permitted the burial of Henry de Heandon, who had died from an accident, without view of the king's coroner. (fn. 297) The right of choosing two coroners was confirmed by James I in 1603, (fn. 298) and is still exercised. The coroners were elected by the Court of Assembly from its members, and in 1835 it was usual for the town** clerk to be appointed senior and acting coroner, the junior bailiff being junior coroner, a sinecure post.
A court of record appears to have been held here as early as 1234–5, when Ralf de How questioned an essoin under a writ de recto; (fn. 299) it was formally granted in 1481, and was to be held every Saturday before the bailiffs and steward of the town, with cognizance of all pleas of debt, covenant, trespass, and personal matters within the demesne of the town and the hundreds of Kingston and Emleybridge. (fn. 300) This privilege was extended in 1628 (fn. 301) to the hundreds of Copthorne and Effingham, and the court continued to be held until the end of the 18th century. (fn. 302) The court leet was part of the old manorial organization, and in the early 19th century was still held before the recorder on Tuesday in Whitsun week, when the Fifteens were the jury. (fn. 303) Its jurisdiction at one time extended throughout the hundred, (fn. 304) but the corporation surrendered their powers in Richmond, Petersham, Kew, Ham, and Effingham to Charles I in 1628. (fn. 305) The court baron, at which presentment of the death of free tenants and the alienation of free tenements was made, was held before the bailiffs on Tuesday in Whitsun week; the gownsmen and peers formed the homage, and also signed the presentment of the leet jury. (fn. 306) In 1556 a court of pie-powder was granted with the fair, but does not appear ever to have been much exercised, and had fallen into disuse by 1835. (fn. 307) The petty and quarter sessions were, in 1835, held concurrently with the court leet, the bailiffs being ex officio justices of the peace.
There were also Trades Companies, which were certainly established in the town by 1579, when certain constitutions were enacted which practically remained in force until the 19th century. (fn. 308) The freemen of the town were divided into the four companies of mercers, woollen drapers, shoemakers or cordwainers, and butchers, later victuallers, whose 'arms' may still be seen in the painted glass of the town hall. Each company was constituted in the same way, and consisted of a body of freemen governed by two wardens, with a clerk and a beadle. (fn. 309) The freemen of the companies were distinct from the freemen of the corporation, and were either 'apprentices bound to and serving a freeman in the town, or the eldest son living of a freeman upon the death of his father,' or freemen of the corporation, who could claim the freedom of one of the companies either on or after election. (fn. 310) In 1835 a member of either of these classes paid 6s. 8d. on admission to his freedom, but in 1635–7 the normal fee paid by apprentices was 3s. 4d. (fn. 311) The names of the freemen were entered in roll books, (fn. 312) now no longer extant; the number of admissions yearly was considerable in the early 17th century, but diminished after the Restoration, the membership being sixty in 1835. The two wardens were elected every year by the freemen of the Company; it was their duty to keep the accounts, to act as treasurers generally, and to be present at the signing of indentures of apprenticeship in the trades under their control. (fn. 313) They had power to impose fines and distrain for breaches of their orders. (fn. 314) The town clerk acted as clerk of each company, receiving a fee of 5s. (fn. 315) Each company generally met but once a year by special summons, though sometimes as many as six meetings were held, (fn. 316) and an item would appear in the accounts such as 'expended at 2 several times in wyne at the Sarazen's Head.' (fn. 317) The greatest expense of the year was generally the money 'spent on the Company at the Dinner' on Easter Monday, the 'feast-day' on which the outgoing wardens presented the accounts of each company to the bailiff at the Gildhall before the newly-elected wardens and divers other freemen of the company.
None of the companies possessed property, and their revenues were derived solely from the fees paid by newly-elected freemen, from fines for breach of the orders, postponement of the swearing-in of apprentices, and from quarterages due from each freeman. (fn. 318) According to the by-law the quarterage of a householder was 8d., that of a journeyman 8d., but by 1835 8d. was paid by married and 4d. by single men; (fn. 319) in 1609 the quarterage paid to the Mercers' Company was 13s. 4d. for the past year, while the woollen drapers received 20s. 8d. But though the expenses usually nearly balanced the receipts, as in the case of the woollen drapers, whose receipts in 1655 were £2 19s. and expenditure £2 17s. 7d., in 1688 the Court of Assembly was able to borrow £16 10s. from the victuallers, £17 of the mercers, and £26 10s. of the cordwainers, 20s. of which was repaid in 'brass money.' (fn. 320)
The companies were very dependent on the Court of Assembly, which kept their money stored in 'a chest with four boxes and six locks and keys for the four companies' bought in 1609–10. (fn. 321) The regulation of the trade of the town was really in the hands of the Court of Assembly, which in 1638 re-enacted orders of 1579 prohibiting any but freemen of the companies from exercising any trade, science or mystery, or keeping open shop or selling by retail within the town under penalty of 6s. 8d. for each offence and the like sum for every market-day he continued to transgress. (fn. 322) This seems to indicate that market-days were not like fair days, free, and in 1609 the Company of Mercers twice distrained Henry Woodfall for trading in the town contrary to orders, and spent 4d. in twice carrying his stall into the court-hall. (fn. 323) The Court of Assembly, moreover, reserved to itself the right of granting life-tolerations to those who were not freemen on payment of sums varying in 1835 between £5 and £30. (fn. 324) These tolerations became increasingly common after the Restoration, and brought the corporation into conflict more than once with the wardens of the companies, as in 1682, when the wardens of the Company of Shoemakers were ordered to cease disturbing Thomas Burchett, who had obtained a toleration in 1676. (fn. 325) The system opened a new source of revenue to the corporation, which in 1776 required the wardens to make a return of all persons following trades in the town who were not free or tolerated. (fn. 326) The search for 'foreigners' was active at this time, and even in 1835 tolerations were demanded of all but those keeping very small shops. (fn. 327) The trades companies were then still flourishing, though the Company of Woollen Drapers had already lapsed.
The market at Kingston was established in 1242, when the men of the Bishop of London came to it from Fulham. (fn. 328) It was included among the liberties granted by the charter of 1208 until 1603, when James I granted a market to be held every Saturday for all animals. (fn. 329) Grain was sold in the market in 1551, (fn. 330) and it was an important market for corn in 1623; (fn. 331) a few years later the justices of the peace told with pride how they had brought down the price of wheat from 9s. and 9s. 6d. to 7s. the bushel, while the poor were served with rye at 5s. (fn. 332) The corn market is now small and unimportant. The proximity of the royal household at Hampton Court evidently had a stimulating effect on trade at Kingston, and formed the pretext for a petition in 1662 for a second market, (fn. 333) which was granted for Wednesdays in the same year. (fn. 334) This second market has not, however, flourished so well as that on Saturday; it appears to have been abandoned at the close of the 18th century, (fn. 335) and though revived later was 'small and unimportant' in 1888. (fn. 336) The Saturday market on the other hand has always been considerable. Beneath the new town hall, as beneath the old town hall, is a covered space filled with stalls, which also stand in rows without, and are covered with fruit, flowers, fish, and miscellaneous articles. The whole space is alive with movement and colour, for the market is not only attended by the townsfolk but serves the whole neighbourhood, the fruit, flower, and fish markets being especially popular among the housekeepers of Norbiton and Surbiton. The fish market, which is perhaps the most important, was well established in 1619, when George Walker was paid various sums 'for whipping and cleaning the Fish Market.' There is also on Saturdays a busy cattle market, provided by the corporation in the middle of the 19th century at the request of the farmers in the neighbourhood. (fn. 337)
The fairs were likewise held in the market place; the first of these was granted to Kingston in 1256 for the morrow of the feast of All Souls and the seven following days. (fn. 338) A second fair was ordered to be proclaimed in 1351 for Thursday in Whitsun week and the seven days after. (fn. 339) In 1555 the bailiffs petitioned for a third fair which, with a court of piepowder, stallage, picage and all amerciaments, was granted to them in the same year for the day and morrow of the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. (fn. 340) These three fairs were still held in 1792, (fn. 341) but under powers obtained in 1855 the November fair alone was continued, and at the same time this was shortened to three days and the cattle fair removed to the fair field. The pleasure fair remained in the streets of the town, but was abolished as a nuisance in 1889. (fn. 342)