This place in Doomsday Book is called Michelham, that is,
the great dwelling. In all the early records, and in many of
a more recent date, it is written Miccham or Micham; the present
mode of spelling, which is more remote from its etymology, was not
universally adopted before this century.
Mitcham lies in the hundred of Croydon, about 9 miles from
Westminster Bridge. The parish is bounded by Streatham on the
east; by Beddington, Carshalton, and Croydon on the south;Mordon on the west; and Merton on the north. The arable land exceeds the pasture in a considerable proportion. The greatest part of
the extensive common between this place and Beddington is in Mitcham parish. The soil consists principally of a rich black mould.
About 250 acres are occupied by the physic gardeners, who cultivate
lavender, wormwood, camomile, aniseed, rhubarb, liquorice, and
many other medicinal plants, in great abundance; but principally
peppermint, of which there are above 100 acres. The demand for
this herb is not consined to the apothecaries shops, it being much
used in making a cordial well-known to the dram-drinkers. Forty
years since, a few acres only were employed in the cultivation of medicinal herbs in this parish. Perhaps there is no place where it is
now so extensive. Mitcham is assessed the sum of 635 l. 13s. 0d.
to the land-tax, which in the year 1791 was at the rate of 1s. 6d.
in the pound.
It appears that, at the time of the Conqueror's Survey, there were
two manors in Mitcham, each of which was of the value of 40s.
One had been held by Brictric of the Confessor, and was then held
of the Bishop of Baieux, by the canons of that convent. The other
had been held by Lemarus of King Edward; and was then the property of William the son of Ansculf. There were likewise two
other manors at Witford (fn. 1) in this parish, held by the same persons;
the oné of 30s. the other of 40s. value. The smaller was the property of the canons of Baieux. I have not been able, through the
deficiency of records, to trace the descent of these manors satisfactorily. Probably some, if not all of them, reverted soon after the
Conquest to the crown. I find several grants by Henry I. of lands
at Mitcham to be held in caþite, viz. two hides to Robert the son of
Wolfward, and Walter le Poure (fn. 2) ; one hide to Robert and Matthew
de Micham (fn. 3) , &c. &c. Alexander de Witford, about the same time,
held a knight's see in Mitcham of the barony of Roger de Sumery,
and of the honour of Dudley (fn. 4) . John de Aperdele is said to have
held the manor of Mitcham in 1367 (fn. 5) . William Mareis had very
considerable property there in the reign of Edward III. (fn. 6) In a record
4 Richard II. (fn. 7) the manor is said to have been divided between the
King, the Earl of Glocester, and the Prior of Merton. The Prior
of Southwark is omitted, though that monastery had a manor there
at a much earlier period. The Earl of Glocester's lands there were
annexed to his manor of Camberwell (fn. 8) . Thomas Plomer, Esq. who
died 15 Car. I. was seized of lands in Mitcham held of that manor (fn. 9) .
The Prior of Merton held lands there about the year 1250 of William Mauduit, afterwards Earl of Warwick, by the service of rendering a pair of gilt spurs (fn. 10) . William Figge (fn. 11) , who died 24 Edw. III.
was seized of a house and lands at Mitcham, which he held by the
service of receiving the King's distraints for the hundred of Wallington (fn. 11) . Agnes, wife of Geoffry Prior, who died 7 Henry IV.
held a house and lands by the same service (fn. 12) . In the year 1240 an
assize of common of pasture was taken, in which the priors of Merton and Southwark and other freeholders of the parish of Mitcham
were plaintiffs, and William Huscarl, Agnes Huscarl, and others, of
Beddington and Wallington, defendants; in which the plaintiffs
gained their cause and recovered 40 s. damages (fn. 13) .
There are now three distinćt manors in this parish; the manor of
Mitcham or Canon; the manor of Bigging and Tamworth; and
the manor of Ravensbury.
Manor of Mitcham or Canon.
The manor of Mitcham or Canon belonged to the Priory of St.
Mary Overie, and was granted at the dissolution of that monastery to
Nicholas Spackman (fn. 14) and Christopher Harbottle, who alienated it to
Lawrence Warren (fn. 15) ; from him it passed to Nicholas Burton of Carshalton (fn. 16) . Sir Henry Burton, K. B. sold it to Sir Nicholas Carew
in the year 1619 (fn. 17) . His son Sir Francis Carew, K. B. gave it to
Thomas Temple, Esq. as a portion with his daughter Rebecca.
Mr. Temple alienated it to the Hammon family; in 1656 Thomas
Hammond, Esq. sold it to Robert Cranmer, Merchant of London (fn. 18) ,
and it is now the property of his descendant James Cranmer, Esq.
The fallacy of the tradition, that this was the private estate of Archbishop Cranmer, will appear from the foregoing account of its descent. In 1291 this manor was valued at 20 s. per annum (fn. 19) .
Manor of Bigging and Tamworth.
The manor of Bigging and Tamworth belonged to Merton Abbey,
and was granted by Henry VIII. after the suppression of that monastery to Robert Wilford, merchant taylor, for the sum of 4861. 14s. (fn. 20)
In 1569 it appears to have been the property of John Lord Mordaunt, in right of his wife (fn. 21) . In 1582 Henry Whitney, Esq. held
a court as lord of this manor, though it appears that he purchased
a moiety thereof the ensuing year of Robert Aprece, Esq. The
Whitneys alienated the manor in 1603 to Sir John Carrill. Three
years afterwards it belonged to John Lord Hunsdon, whose son sold
it in 1614 to Sir Nicholas Carew, alias Throckmorton. It was
alienated about the year 1655 to Edward Thurland, Esq. and continued in the same family till 1744, when it was purchased of the
devisees of another Edward Thurland by John Manship, Esq. father
of the present proprietor. In 1291 it was valued at 25 s. per
Manor of Ravensbury.
The earliest proprietor of the manor of Ravensbury that I find
on record is William de Mara, or De la Mar, who was lord thereof
1250 (fn. 22) . John De la Mar, and Petronilla his wife, had a grant of
free warren in the parish of Mitcham in the reign of Edward I. (fn. 23)
The manor of Ravensbury was the property of John De la Pole
Earl of Lincoln, temp. Hen. VII. and was granted after his attainder to Simon Digby (fn. 24) . It afterwards belonged to Charles Brandon
Duke of Suffolk, who sold it to Sir Nicholas Carew, 22 Henry VIII.
for 800 l. (fn. 25) Upon the attainder of Sir Nicholas it was seized by
the crown, and was granted upon lease (fn. 26) , but was afterwards restored
to Sir Francis Carew by Queen Mary (fn. 27) , and has descended in the
same manner as the Beddington estates.
Sir Walter Raleigh.
Sir Walter Raleigh had a house and estate at Mitcham in right
of his wife, who was a daughter of Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, and
had been maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth. The estate was sold
with her consent for 2500 l. when he was preparing for his expedition to Guiana (fn. 28) . A house, in the occupation of Mr. Dempster,
who keeps an academy there, is still called Raleigh House.
Sir Julius Cæsfar.
Sir Julius Cæsar, Master of the Rolls, had also a house here, of
which he became possessed by an intermarriage with Mrs. Dent,
the widow of a merchant whose property it was. In 1598 he was
honoured with a visit from Queen Elizabeth, of which the following
account is given in his own words (fn. 29) .
Visit of Queen Elizabeth.
"Tuesday Sept. 12. the Queen visited my house at Micham,
and supped and lodged there, and dined there the next day. I
presented her with a gown of cloth of silver richly embroidered; a
black net-work mantle with pure gold; a taffeta hat, white, with
several flowers, and a jewel of gold set therein with rubies and
diamonds. Her Majesty removed from my house after dinner
the 13th of September to Nonsuch, with exceeding good contentment, which entertainment of her Majesty, with the former disappointment (fn. 30) , amounted to 700 l. sterling, besides mine own
provisions and what was sent unto me by my friends."
The celebrated Dr. Donne resided for some time at Mitcham (fn. 31) .
Sir George More of Losely, whose daughter he had privately married, was so much exasperated, that he not only refused to forgive,
but employed his utmost endeavours to ruin him; and aćtually
procured his removal from the family of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere,
to whom he was secretary. At this junćture Sir Francis Wolley took
compassion on him, and received him and his family into his
house, where they continued as long as Sir Francis lived. At his
death, being left destitute of an asylum, Donne took a small house
at Mitcham, "a place, as his biographers observe, noted for good
air and choice company." Being very learned in the civil law,
he was occasionally consulted by persons of the first rank, who paid
him liberally for his advice; but this yielded only a precarious support, and he was sometimes reduced to great distress, as may be seen
by the following extraćt from a letter to a friend dated from this place.
"The reason why I did not send an answer to your last week's
letter was, because it found me under too great a sadness; and
at present it is thus with me. There is not one person well
but myself of my family: I have ´lready lost half a child, and
with that mischance of her's, my wife has fallen into such a discomposure as would afflict her too extremely, but that the sickness
of all her other children stupisies her, one of which in good faith
I have not much hopes of, and these meet with a fortune so ill
provided for physic and such relief, that if God should ease us
with burials, I know not how to perform even that; but I flatter
myself with this hope—that I am dying too—for I cannot waste
father than by such griefs.—From my hospital at Mitcham,
"John Donne (fn. 32) ."
Mr. Donne continued at Mitcham about two years, during which
time he became so attached to his situation that he would have staid
there for life had it not been for the importunity of his friends,
and the generosity of Sir Robert Drury, who lent him a house in
Drury Lane. Sir George More at last relented, and gave him an
annuity; and Donne, who had distinguished himself by some theological writings, at the earnest desire of King James entered into
holy orders, and was afterwards made Dean of St. Paul's.
Moses Mendez, the rich poet, who died in 1758, was an inhabitant of this place. He was created M. A. at Oxford in 1750, and
was author of some dramatic pieces, a poem called Henry and
Blanche, and various other performances, some of which are to be
found in Dodsley's Collection.
The church, which is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, is built
principally of flints, and consists of a nave, two aisles, and a chancel;
at the east end of the south aisle is a square embattled tower with
a turret. The nave is separated from the aisles by octagonal pillars,
and pointed arches. The wall of the north aisle has been rebuilt.
The church received considerable damage by lightning in the year
1637, at which time thirteen churches in this county are said to
have experienced the same fate (fn. 33) . A similar accident happened at
Mitcham a few years since, when the lighting entered through the
south wall of the tower, but without doing much injury.
In the chancel are the monuments of Thomas Pynner, Esq. chief
clerk comptroller to Queen Elizabeth, who died in 1583; Theophilus Brereton, Esq. who died in 1638; Sir Ambrose Crowley, alderman of London, (celebrated in the Tatler (fn. 34) under the name of Sir
Humphry Greenhat,) who died in 1713; and Joseph Cranmer, Esq.
who died in 1722. There are also two achievements, with inscriptions to the memory of John Eldred, Esq. who died in 1649, and
Mary wife of Robert Cranmer, Esq. who died in 1665. Within
the rails of the altar is the tomb of Lieut. Gen. Daniel Harvey,
governor of Guernsey, who died in 1732; in the chancel also are
those of Elizabeth wife of William Myers, Esq. who died in 1765;
and George Smith, Gent. who died in 1714.
Against the wall at the east corner of the nave is the monument
of William Myers, Esq. who died in 1742; against a north pillar
that of Bridget wife of Gabriel Glover, Esq. who died in 1709.
In the nave was formerly a brass plate to the memory of John
Roche, an officer in the household of Catherine Queen of England,
who died in 1430; the inscription is preserved in Aubrey's Antiquities of Surrey.
In the east window of the north aisle are some remains of painted
glass, representing angels playing on musical instruments. Under
the window is an altar tomb, from which all the brass plates have
been torn except the inscription, which is to the memory of Richard
Illyngworth, who died in 1487; near this tomb is a brass plate
upon a flat stone, to the memory of Ralph Illyngworth, Esq. who
died in 1572. Against the north wall are the monuments of Henry
Allcraft, Esq. who died in 1779; the Reverend John Evanson,
vicar of Mitcham for the space of 44 years, who died in 1778; and
Benjamin Tate, Esq. who died in 1790. In the same aisle are flat
stones in memory of Joseph Taylor, merchant, who died in 1732;
John Robinson, merchant, who died in 1750; and Denzil Onflow,
Esq. who died in 1765.
At the west end of the north aisle stands the font, which is ornamented with Gothic tracery, and resembles that at Mortlake which
was erected in the reign of Henry VI.
At the east end of the south aisle is a tablet to the memory of
John Cloberry Gascoigne, who died in 1776.
Tomb of Anne Hallam.
In the church-yard is the tomb of Anne Hallam, an actress, with
the following inscription:
"Charissimæ suæ uxori
"Annæ Hallam, Histrioni,
"Ultimum hoc amoris munus
Mrs. Hallam belonged to Covent-Garden Theatre, where she acquired considerable celebrity by her performance of Lady Macbeth.
She was much admired also in the character of Lady Touchwood.
In the church-yard are the tombs likewise of John Bligh, M. D.
who died in 1678; Frances Austin of Peterborough, who died in 1734;
Charles Dubois, Esq. who died in 1740; Waldo Dubois, Esq. and
Ebenezer Dubois, Esq. who died in 1746; Peter Waldo, Esq. who
died in 1762; William Tate, Esq. who died in 1781; and John
Twyne, Esq. who died in 1783.
Rectory and vicarage.
The church of Mitcham is in the diocese of Winchester and the
deanery of Ewell. The benefice is a vicarage. The rectory belonged
to the monastery of St. Mary Overie, and has undergone the same
alienations as the manor of Canon, being now impropriated to James
Cranmer, Esq. who is patron of the vicarage. The rectory was taxed
in 1291 at 20 marks (fn. 35) . The profits of the vicarage have been lately
much improved by the increase of the physic gardens, the tithes of
which form a principal part of its revenues. It was taxed in 1291 at
8 marks. In the king's books it is reckoned amongst the discharged
livings, and is said to be 35 l. clear yearly value.
Anthony Sadler, who was instituted to the vicarage in 1661,
published several sermons; a pamphlet against the commissioners
who sat at Whitehall for the approbation of ministers; "A Divine
Masque," dedicated to General Monk; and a pamphlet entitled
Strange News indeed from Micham in Surrey of the treacherous
and barbarous Proceedings of Robert Cranmer, Merchant of London, against A. Sadler, Vicar of Micham, London, 1664." In
this pamphlet Mr. Cranmer is accused of many cruel-and unjust
persecutions of the vicar, particularly of throwing him into prison,
and inducing him, under false pretences, to subscribe a bond for
500 l. which threatened himself and family with ruin. An answer
appeared soon afterwards entitled, "The Sadler sadled," being a
vindication of Mr. Cranmer's conduct, who it seems presented Sadler to the vicarage, then worth only 40 l. per annum. The vicar
was not long settled there before he instituted a suit against his patron for dilapidations and sacrilege, and by his behaviour rendered
himself odious to all his parishioners; at length terms of reconciliation were agreed upon; one of which was, that Mr. Sadler
should resign the vicarage at a certain time, and he entered into a
bond of 500 l. for that purpose. It appears that upon his refusing
to quit the vicarage, he was threatened with the penalty of the bond.
He kept possession however till his death, which happened four
years afterwards, in the year 1669. Anthony Wood says, that he
left behind him, "the character of a man of a rambling head, and
a turbulent spirit (fn. 36) ."
The present vicar is the Reverend Streynsham Derbyshire Myers.
The parish register commences in the year 1650.
Comparative state of population.
||Average of Baptisms.
||Average of Burials.
The entries of burials, during the latter part of the last century,
and till the year 1705, are imperfect.
The present number of houses in Mitcham is about 540.
The number of burials in 1665 were 21; in 1666, 24; not exceeding the average of that period. It appears nevertheless that the
village was not free from the plague, a man and his four sons, "who
died of the sickness," having been buried in one night.
The two following are the only entries in the register which are
any way singular:
"Anne the daughter of George Washford, who had 24 singers
and toes, baptized Oct. 19, 1690."
"Widow Durant, aged 103 years, buried Sep. 23, 1711."
Mr. Henry Smith, who is erroneously said by Aubrey to have
omitted this parish in his numerous benefactions to the county of
Surrey, left 4 l. per annum to poor housekeepers. Thomas Plummer (fn. 37) , Esq. left 5 l. per annum to buy bread for the poor;
Mrs. Rosamond Oxtoby, who died in 1792, left 2 l. 12 s. per ann.
for the same purpose. Mrs. Fisher, in the year 1709, left 200 l. to
purchase lands, the annual rent of which should be distributed
amongst poor housekeepers: this charity produces about 14 l. per
The inhabitants of Mitcham support a Sunday-school by voluntary contributions, upon an extensive plan. A school-house was built
for that purpose in the year 1788.
Mitcham Grove, a pleasant villa on the north side of the road to
Sutton, was a few years since the property and residence of Lord
Loughborough, by whom it was sold to Henry Hoare, Esq. the present proprietor.
In this parish are some snuff-mills, and Mr. Rucker's and Mr.
Fenning's manufactories for printing calicoes.
A large workhouse was built in the year 1782 on the side of
Mitcham Common, at the expence of 1,200 l. The average number
of the poor who are placed there is about seventy.