THE COMMISSIONS FOR BUILDING FIFTY NEW CHURCHES
MINUTES OF THE COMMISSIONERS, 1711-18
Lambeth MS 2690
1a. [p. iii] 'The Rt Honble Ld Bishop of Bristol, Lord Privy Seal, his
abstract of what business lies before the Rt Honble and Honble Commissioners appointed by Her Majesty for building Churches etc. Vizt
To enquire into what parishes the said churches, cemeteries and
minister's houses are needed.
What chapels now in being may be converted into parish churches.
What limits to be fixed for the said new parishes.
In what part of those limits the churches are to be placed.
What houses, ground, etc. necessary to be purchased for that end.
What estates and interests are in the houses, grounds, etc., that are to
be purchased for those ends.
To return an answer in writing by the 24th of December 1711 to Her
Majesty; and a duplicate of the same to each House of Parliament.'
1b. [p. 1] 3 Oct. 1711, at Banqueting House, Whitehall
1. Jennings reported what passed at Lambeth House, upon opening the
commission, on Friday, 28 September: commission was opened and read;
Commissioners present chose Mr Thos Rous their Secretary, adjourning
till Wednesday, 3 October 1711 to the Banqueting House, Whitehall.
2-3. Mr John Skeat to be Agent and Solicitor; Thos Crocker, Messenger; Thos Brookes, Doorkeeper; if hereafter occasion for another Messenger, Edward Stanley to be used.
4. Secretary to write to Minister, churchwardens and vestrymen of the
following parishes, according to the draft proposed by Dean of Canterbury and Dr Moss: St Andrew Holborn, St Ann Westminster, St Botolph
Aldgate, St Botolph Aldersgate, St Clement Danes, St Giles Cripplegate, St James Clerkenwell, St Sepulchre, St Giles in the Fields, St Martin
in the Fields, St Mary Magdalen Bermondsey, St Paul Shadwell, St James
Westminster, St Leonard Shoreditch, St Margaret Westminster, St Olave
Southwark, St Saviour Southwark, St Mary Whitechapel, Deptford, and
St Dunstan Stepney. To the following chapels: New chapel in St Margaret
Westminster, St George's chapel in St Andrew Holborn, Hatton Garden
chapel, and King Street chapel near St James Westminster, and St Mary
5. 'The Commissioners appointed by Her Majesty, pursuant to a late
Act of Parliament (entitled etc.) being desirous to proceed in so pious and
useful a work with all possible expedition, have thought fit hereby to
request that you would inform them concerning the number and condition of your inhabitants, that so they may the better be enabled to judge,
what new church or churches will be necessary to be erected in your
You are also desired to inform them of proper places for the sites of the
said church or churches, and for church yards, and also for houses for the
habitation of the respective ministers; and lastly, whether there be in your
parish any chapel or chapels fit to be made parish churches.
All which you are desired to signify under your hands, with all
convenient speed, that the Commissioners may proceed accordingly.'
6. 'To the Minister and Trustees of St George's Chapel, etc.
The Commissioners . . . do desire you with all convenient speed to lay
before them the constitution, state and condition of St George's Chapel;
and whether the same may be fit to be made a parochial church; and what
terms you shall propose proper for that purpose; as also what place may
be found commodious for a church yard, and for the habitation of the
2. [p. 2] 10 Oct. 1711
1, 2. Read representation from minister and churchwardens of Stepney.
Churchwarden and parish clerk of St James Westminster delivered
reasons why, at present, they could not make any return.
3. William Dickinson and Mr Nicholas Hawksmoor appointed
4-6. Sir C. Wren, Stanhope, Annesley, Smalridge, Bertie, Archer,
Vanbrugh, Sir R. Hoare, Jennings, Mr Wren, Mosse, Isham, Sir R.
Raymond, Sherlock, Mr Hy Hoare and Bulstrode, and all other Commissioners that attend (any three being a quorum), appointed as a committee
to prepare instructions for the Surveyors, consider proposals already
received, and receive any further proposals from parishes, and report.
All Commissioners present to have votes. Committee to meet in this
place immediately after the Commissioners adjourn.
7. Messenger to give notice when and where the Committee to meet.
8. A conveniency to be made in this room for the Secretary to lock up
books and papers for the Commissioners' use.
3. [p. 4] 17 Oct. 1711
Read minutes of Commissioners, 10 Oct. (2), and of Committee, 16 Oct.
1. Read representation of St George's chapel, Ormond Street, St
2. Resolved that St George's chapel is fit to be made a parochial church,
being capable of holding about 2,000 people for Divine Service.
3,4. Bishop of London to apply to Lady Russell for a piece of ground
near the chapel for a church yard, when made parochial.
5. Read resolutions of the Committee relating to erecting five new
churches in Stepney parish.
6. Resolved that the chapel at Poplar is fit to be made a parochial church.
7,8. Sir R. Hoare and the two present sheriffs of London and Middlesex
to apply to the East India Company, to know their interest in the chapel,
and desire their concurrence that it be made a parochial church.
9. The rest of the Committee's resolutions relating to Stepney to be recommitted; the Committee to consider the recent act of Parliament
relating to the division of the parish after the death of the present
10. Read the memorial of the minister and churchwardens of Deptford,
relating to erecting a new parish church, and the Committee's resolutions
11. Resolved that one of the fifty new churches ought to be erected in
4. [p. 6] 24 Oct. 1711
1,2. Bishop of London reported that Lady Russell agreed to sell the
piece of ground mentioned in the representation of the trustees of St
George's chapel for a church yard; she would desire Mr Hoskins, one of
this Commission, to treat with any that the Commissioners should
appoint. Also that she has some old houses in the parish of St Giles, of
which the leases are nearly expired, which she had deferred renewing,
thinking to pull them down and erect a place for public worship. Being
since informed that there were new churches to be built in that parish, she
would suspend renewing the leases till she knew whether the Commissioners thought it a proper site for a new church.
3. Sir R. Hoare reported he had seen the Directors of the East India
Company about Poplar chapel; they would reply in writing.
4. Agreed with the Committee that a letter should be written to the
Principal and Fellows of Brasenose College Oxford, signifying the
division intended to be made of the parish of Stepney, and to desire their
5. Approved draft of such letter prepared by Dean of Canterbury.
6. Secretary to write and subscribe the said letter, and send it forthwith
by the General Post.
7. Letter to be sent to Sir Nat. Curzon and John Kent, Esq., about the
terms for church yard for St George's chapel, Ormond Street.
8. John Hoskins to be added to the Committee.
5. [p. 8] 31 Oct. 1711
1. Lord Privy Seal reported that the Lord Treasurer had promised to
order £200 to be issued towards defraying incident charges about executing this Commission.
2,3. Read letter from secretary of East India Co. presented by Sir R.
Hoare, about Poplar chapel. Consideration adjourned until reply
received about Stepney from Brasenose College.
4. Dr Landon, minister of Poplar, attended; Sir R. Hoare to desire East
India Co. directors for early reply about making the chapel parochial.
5. Committee empowered to treat with any persons, as required, for
carrying on more speedily and effectually the purpose of this Commission, reporting the result.
6. Agreed with the Committee that one of the fifty new churches ought to
be erected in Bishopsgate parish, including the precincts of Norton
Folgate, the Old Artillery Ground and St Mary le Spittle.
7. Dean of Canterbury to draft letter to parishes that have not made
returns to the letter of 4 October, desiring them to make their returns to
the Committee by 9 November; otherwise the Commissioners will
proceed without them.
8. Secretary to provide one of the best and largest maps of the Cities of
London and Westminster and suburbs thereof, to be hung in this room for
the Commissioners' use.
6. [p. 10] 7 Nov. 1711
1. No church to be built at the end of Albemarle Street.
2-4. Dean and Chapter of Westminster thanked for offer of a free site.
5,6. Dean of Rochester and inhabitants of St Mary le Strand given leave
to state in petition to the Queen that in Commissioners' opinion one of
the new churches should be for their benefit.
7. Received letter from the Principal of Brasenose College.
8. Letter to Brasenose College states that churches are to be apportioned
to population; hope that Parliament will provide for ministers'
9. Resolved that new churches ought to be built in the following
parishes, according to the numbers there allotted to each parish:
St Andrew Holborn
|St Botolph Aldgate
|St Bride's including White Friars
|St Botolph Bishopsgate
|St George Southwark
|St Giles Cripplegate
|St Saviour Southwark
|St Olave Southwark
|St Dunstan Stepney
|St Giles in the Fields
|St Leonard Shoreditch
|St Mary Magdalen Bermondsey|
|St James Clerkenwell
|St Mary Whitechapel
|St Paul Shadwell
|St Ann Westminster
|St Clement Danes
|St Margaret Westminster
|St Mary le Strand
Sir C. Wren, Thos Archer, John Vanbrugh and Chr. Wren, Esquires, to
view the sites agreed upon by the Surveyors, and report.
7. [p. 12] 14 Nov. 1711
Agreed with Committee that:
1. One of the new churches ought to be erected within St John Wapping
2. Bow chapel in Stepney parish ought to be made a parochial church.
3. The hamlet of Bethnal Green in Stepney parish be made a parish, and
a new church be erected there.
4. The hamlet of Limehouse in Stepney parish be made a parish, and a
new church be erected there.
5. The hamlet of Upper Wapping be made a parish, and a new church be
6. The hamlet of Lower Wapping in Stepney parish be made a parish,
and a new church be erected there.
7. The hamlet of Spitalfields in Stepney parish be divided into two
districts or parishes, and two new churches be erected there.
8. Where cemeteries can conveniently be had, at some distance from the
churches, they ought to be so appointed.
9. A new church ought to be erected in St Botolph Aldgate parish.
10,11. Resolved that Great Lincoln's Inn Square is a proper site for one
of the new churches in St Giles in the Fields parish, provided there be no
church yard, nor burials in the church, nor a ring of bells. Notice of the
resolution to be given to the inhabitants, and to the Society of Lincoln's
12. Upon reconsidering the state of St Sepulchre parish, resolved that
only one new church ought to be erected there, viz in that part without the
13,14. Representation of the trustees of King Street Chapel, St James
Westminster, to be laid before Archbishop of Canterbury by Freind,
Bulstrode and Hoskins, to know his opinion and the nature of the trust.
15. The first part of Lady Russell's answer, relating to a church yard for
Ormond Street chapel, to be communicated to the trustees of the chapel.
16. The site of the Maypole in the Strand, proposed for a parish church
for St Mary le Strand parish, to be recommitted.
17. Nelson to be added to the Committee.
8. [p. 15] 21 Nov. 1711
Agreed to the following resolutions of the Committee, reported by
1. That the parish of St James Westminster should be divided into four
2. That the parish of St Martin's in the Fields should be divided into four
3. Resolved, that the site proposed in Upper Wapping, next Ratcliff
Highway, Cannon Street, etc., is a convenient site for a church, church
yard and minister's house.
4. The site proposed by Archer, at the low end of the Minories on Little
Tower Hill, is a proper site for one of the two new churches in the parish
of St Botolph Aldgate; Archer to ascertain of John Jefferys, Esq., of
Sheen, Surrey, what he demands.
5. Read Committee's resolution relating to the site proposed for a
church, etc. in Harefields, Bethnal Green; resolved that if there were no
greater objections than what has already been made, there ought to be a
church there erected for Bethnal Green hamlet.
6. The sites for churches, church yards and ministers' houses to be fixed
upon before any districts of parishes be made; reserving liberty to alter
such sites as required.
10. (fn. *) Resolved that Westfield in Limehouse hamlet is a proper site for a
church and minister's house, unless a more convenient site can be
proposed nearer the centre of the hamlet.
7. Surveyors to enquire chiefly after ground to build ministers' houses
on; unless they propose houses to be pulled down in order to erect new
8. No site to be pitched upon for erecting a new church, where it will not
admit that the church be placed east and west, without special reasons, to
be particularly approved of by the Commissioners.
9. As many maps as can be got of the several parishes wherein new
churches are to be built to be bought by the Secretary.
9. [p. 18] 28 Nov. 1711
Agreed with the Committee that:
1. The district formerly proposed for a parish by the trustees of St
George's chapel, Ormond Street, is a proper district.
2. The demand made by Sir N. Curzon and John Kent, Esq. for the
inheritance of the ground whereon St George's chapel stands is
3,4. Unless they propose more reasonable terms, the Commissioners
will erect a new church in Red Lion Square, or elsewhere within the
district. Mr Box to acquaint the said proprietors accordingly.
5,6. A debate arising about the two sites for churches, etc., proposed by
the inhabitants of Limehouse, resolved that Rigby's Garden ground
ought to be preferred before West's Field (the proprietor making
convenient approaches), if it can be had on reasonable terms.
7. Further agreed with the Committee that:
(1.) The Three Cups Inn, Holborn, is a proper site for a new church
within the parish of St Andrew Holborn.
8-10. (2.) A solicitor ought to be appointed to enquire into the interests
of such sites as the Commissioners wish to purchase, and to make
abstracts of deeds, in order to lay them before some of the Commissioners. Simon Beckley to be appointed Solicitor for the purposes
mentioned. Messrs Jennings, Box and Annesley to inspect such titles as
the Solicitor prepares for them.
11. Also agreed with the Committee that the sites proposed for churches
and ministers' houses, to be taken out of St Olave Southwark, are proper;
the former is in Stoney Lane and Unicorn Yard; the latter in Horsleydown Lane.
12. Two acres of ground to be allowed for each church yard when so
much can be obtained on reasonable terms.
The district proposed by the Committee for the lower parish within St
Botolph Aldgate is proper.
13. To the districts proposed by Rev. Dr Bray for the middle parish in St
Botolph Aldgate there ought to be added all the houses on both sides the
way from the north side of Trinity Minories to Whitechapel Street and all
the south side of Whitechapel from Aldgate to the Bars.
14,15. The new church in Lambeth parish ought to be erected within the
Liberty of Stockwell, on the ground offered gratis by Sir John
Thornicroft. Robt Nelson, Esq., to return the Commissioners' thanks to
Sir John for his generous offer.
16. The gentlemen who appeared for the Liberty of Stockwell to procure
the consent of all who have right of commonage there, that an act of
Parliament may be obtained for erecting a church thereon.
17. The site proposed at the Maypole in the Strand is a proper site for a
new church for the parish of St Mary le Strand; the district commonly
called the Savoy Ward (part of St Clement Danes parish) ought to be
added to the parish of St Mary le Strand.
18. Read Hawksmoor's report that the approaches for coaches from
Harefields to Bethnal Green may be made convenient; resolved that the
new church for Bethnal Green ought to be erected in Crossfields by Hare
10. [p. 21] 1 Dec. 1711
Agreed with the Committee that:
1. Mr Watts' demand of £400 for two acres of ground for the site of a
church, etc., in Upper Wapping is reasonable.
2. All that part of St Saviour Southwark parish known as the Borough
Liberty, and part of Clink Liberty beginning at Deadman's place on the
south, and all the east side of Stoney Street toward the Thames ought to
be continued to the mother church.
3. The Tenterfields on the north side of Castle Street is a proper site for a
church, etc. to be taken out of the parish of St Saviour.
4. Its district ought to be bounded by Bandy Leg Walk, Maiden Lane on
the north and north-west, and on the north by the Bear Garden down
Rope Alley, to be terminated by the Thames on the north.
5. The site proposed in Pye Garden on the south side of Maiden Lane is a
proper site for a second church, etc. within the said parish; its district
ought to consist of the remaining part of the parish, lying south-west of
6. Mr Slaughter's demand of £300 for the site of a church, etc. in Hare
alias Cross fields, Bethnal Green, as set out by Hawksmoor, is
7. When they make their report to the Queen and Parliament, they will
represent how convenient it will be to add some part of St Giles
Cripplegate parish, lying contiguous to St Alphage, to that parish, which
is very small.
8. Mr Smith's ground on Millbank, St Margaret Westminster parish, is a
proper site for a church and minister's house for one of the new churches.
9. The site and district proposed by Hawksmoor for a church, etc., to be
taken out of Bermondsey parish is proper.
10. The parish of St Sepulchre should be divided into two by a line drawn
from [blank's] house in Long Lane through the centre of the lane and
thence across Smithfield on the north side of the sheep pens and down the
middle of Check Lane to Fleet Ditch.
11. The two sites and districts proposed by Dickinson for the new
parishes to be taken out of St Olave Southwark are proper.
12. Earl of Rochester to speak with Earl of Salisbury, to persuade him to
set a moderate price on his ground, proposed for the site of a church, etc.
13. Hoskins to remind Archbishop of Canterbury of the written answer
he promised, relating to King Street chapel, St James Westminster.
14. Dean of Carlisle and Annesley to draft report from the Commissioners to Queen and Parliament.
11. [p. 24] 5 Dec. 1711
1. Mr Willmers offered a site for a church, etc., called the Mermaid
Brewhouse in White Cross Street, in St Giles Cripplegate, at £550.
2,3. Read petition of Wm Richardson, clerk, relating to a chapel in St
Jones's [sic], in St James Clerkenwell parish. Dickinson to report
thereon, and discourse Dr Carr, the proprietor, about his demand.
4,5. Read a second demand from Sir N. Curzon and John Kent, Esq., for
the inheritance of the site of St George's chapel [Ormond Street]; the sum
of £1,000 demanded is reasonable.
6,7. Read petitions of several inhabitants of Limehouse that a church be
built on Westfield; and of others that Rigby's Garden be chosen. Heard
the petitioners. Resolved that, for the reasons offered in and upon the
petition for Westfield, the order relating to erecting a church in Rigby's
Garden be revoked, and that the church ought to be erected in Westfield.
8. Accepted Mr Kemp's demand for ground proposed for a house for
minister of Bow and Old Ford.
12. [p. 26] 12 Dec. 1711
1-3. Received representation from St Saviour Southwark; and letter
from Archbishop of Canterbury on King Street chapel.
4. Agreed with committee in two resolutions:
5. The case of the parishioners of Rotherhithe to be particularly
represented to Queen and Parliament.
6. The chapel in Hatton Garden is not fit to be made a parochial church.
7,8. Bulstrode, accompanied by Hawksmoor, to enquire what ground or
houses can be purchased about the chapel to make it a proper site for a
church, with the several demands for the property.
9,10. Disagreed to the Committee's resolution relating to the district for
the new parish of St Clement Danes. The churchwardens of the liberties
within the parish to attend the Committee on Friday next, to inform them
about the division of the parish.
11. Read, the consent of freeholders of Common Green, Stockwell,
13. [p. 28] 17 Dec. 1711
1. Reported that pulling down some houses adjacent to Hatton Garden
chapel might make it a proper site for parochial church and minister's
2. Bulstrode to enquire their demands of the proprietors, and ask Bishop
of Ely his views and terms for his interest.
3. Read Archbishop of Canterbury's letter relating to King Street
chapel. His Grace having been a great benefactor and unwilling that the
chapel should be made parochial, resolved that it should not be made
4,5. Surveyors to enquire for three sites for churches, etc., within St
James Westminster parish. Freind, Hoskins and Bulstrode, or either of
them, to inform Archbishop.
6. Agreed with the Committee that:
The districts proposed by Hawksmoor in two plans before them, of St
Giles in the Fields and St Paul Shadwell parishes, are proper for the
division of the parishes.
7. Mr Rous's demand of £350 for site for church and minister's house for
the parish to be taken out of Shadwell is reasonable.
8. Dean of Carlisle brought draft report to the Queen, which was
unanimously agreed to.
The officers to bring their accounts of disbursements to the Committee
on Friday, 21 December at 3 p.m.; Committee to distribute the £200
advanced towards incidental charges among the officers.
Copy of the report above mentioned [minute 8]:
'To the Queen's most excellent Majesty.
Whereas by your Majesty's commission . . . bearing date the 21st
day of September 1711 . . . the Commissioners therein named are
directed, authorized and commanded to enquire and inform themselves, in what parishes in and about the Cities of London and
Westminster, fifty new churches except one for Greenwich were
most necessary to be built, and of proper places for the sites of the
respective new churches, and, also, a cemetery or church yard for
each of the said churches, for the burial of Christian people, to be
purchased; and also what chapels in the respective parishes aforesaid
are fit to be made parish churches, and to ascertain the several
houses, lands, tenements and hereditaments, and bonds and limits
which may be fit to be made distinct parishes: and to enquire and
inform themselves by the best means they could of the value of such
lands, tenements and houses, and of the respective estates and
interests therein as they, or any five or more of them, should think
necessary to be purchased for the said sites and cemeteries, and for
the houses for the habitations for the respective ministers, and that
they, or any five or more of them, do on or before the 24th day of
December 1711 report or certify to your Majesty, in writing under
their hands and seals, such matters and things as should appear to
them upon their inquiries aforesaid with their opinions thereupon, to
the end such further directions might be given thereupon, as might
be pursuant to your Majesty's intentions . . .
Your Commissioners have had frequent meetings and consultations; and have caused schemes and plans of the several parishes,
and of sites for churches to be drawn and laid before them; the
delineation of which by proper and skilful persons hath taken up
much time and they have made diligent enquiries and informed
themselves by the best means they could of the several matters
aforesaid; but they do with all humility represent to your Majesty
that they have not with their utmost industry and application been
able within the time laid down for the purposes aforesaid to lay
before your Majesty a representation of all those facts which it is
necessary for your Majesty to be fully informed, in order to the
putting in execution your pious intentions for completing a work
which tends so much to the honour of God, to the spiritual welfare of
your subjects, to the interest of the Established Church, and to the
glory of your Majesty's reign: But from what progress they have
already made, they are humbly of opinion that if farther time were
given them, for the purposes aforesaid, they should then be able fully
and satisfactorily to answer your Majesty's expectations: And they
do think it a duty incumbent upon them, humbly to represent to your
Majesty that one great obstruction they found in carrying on this
pious good work was the want of power to contract with the several
proprietors of lands, proper for sites for churches and cemeteries,
and for houses for the habitations of the respective ministers, which
defect of power the Commissioners do conceive hath created a
backwardness in several of the proprietors, either to lay before the
Commissioners their titles, whereby it might appear what estates and
interests the respective proprietors had in [the sites] . . . or even so
much as to treat with the Commissioners about the sale or purchase
thereof. All which matters are . . . humbly submitted to your
Majesty . . .' 18 December 1711.