THERE have been various conjectures respecting the derivation
of the name of this place. The most ancient record wherein
I have seen it mentioned, is a charter of Edward the Confessor,
in the Saxon language; it is there written Cealchylle: did local
circumstances allow it, I should not hesitate a moment in saying
that it was so called from its hills of chalk; but as there is neither chalk nor a hill in the parish, the derivation does not prove satisfactory. Later records vary much in the orthography of this
word; it seems to have puzzled the Norman scribes; for in Doomsday-book we find a double reading thus cereebede/Chelched. I have seen deeds of
the age of Edward II. (fn. 1) , in which it is called Chelchey: but the most
common mode of spelling for some centuries after the Conquest, was
Chelcheth or Chelchith. In the 16th century it began to be written
Chelsey. The modern way of spelling seems to have been first
used about a century ago. Skinner derives Chelsea from shelves
of sand and ey or ea, land situated near water; at the same time he
allows that it is written in ancient records, Cealchyth, i. e. chalky
(fn. 2) . Newcourt derives it from Ceald or Cele, cold, and byth
(fn. 3) .
Norden, whose etymology is best supported by fact, says, "it is so
called from the nature of the place, whose strand is like the chesel,
(ceosel or cesol,) which the sea casteth up of sand and pebble stones,
thereof called Cheselsey, briefly Chelsey, as is Chelsey in Sussex (fn. 4) ."
Situation, boundaries, and extent.
Chelsea is pleasantly situated upon the banks of the Thames, which
is supposed to be wider in the adjoining reach than in any part west
of London-bridge. The church is two miles distant from Buckingham-house, but the village extends almost to Hide-park-corner, including a considerable part of Knightsbridge. The parish lies within
the hundred of Ossulston, and is bounded on the east by a rivulet which parts it from the parish of St. George, HanoverSquare; on the west by a rivulet which divides it from Fulham;
on the north by the parish of Kensington; and on the south by
the river Thames. In the year 1664, James Hamilton took an
actual survey of the parish of Chelsea (fn. 6) , and found it to contain 630
acres, which he has thus particularized:
|Gardens, &c. about the manor-house
|Site of houses, gardens, &c.
It is computed that there are now only 130 acres of pasture and
meadow, and about 170 of arable, the greater part of which is
occupied by market gardeners (fn. 7) ; this deficiency is to be attributed to
the prodigious increase of buildings since the abovementioned survey
was taken. There is also in the parish of Chelsea, a tract of land
not included in this account, which contains 137 acres, lying quite
detached from the rest, and surrounded by the parishes of Kensington, Paddington, and Wilsdon; a considerable part of this land belongs to All Souls College at Oxford, being within their manor
of Malurees. The whole is under grass, and the soil clay: in other
parts of the parish, the soil consists chiefly of sand and gravel. Chelfea
is assessed the sum of 1079 l. 19 s. 8 d. to the land-tax, which, in the
year 1792, was is. in the pound upon land, and 1s. 2d. upon houses.
Synod at Chelsea.
About the year 785, Pope Adrian having sent legates to England
for the purpose of reforming the religion, they held a synod at
Cealchythe (fn. 8) .
Sir Reginald Bray
Dart says, that in the reign of Edward the Confessor, Thurstan
gave the manor of Chilchelle or Chelcheya, which he held of the
King, to Westminster-Abbey; and that the grant was afterwards renewed by William the Conqueror, in whose charter it is called,
Land at Chelchea. (fn. 9) In the British Museum is a charter of Edward
the Confessor (fn. 10) , confirming the manor of Cealchylle, with all its
rights and appurtenances, land and water, wood and field, meadow
and pasture, pannage and fruit, and other emoluments, as fully
and freely as it was held by Thurstan, the governor of his palace (fn. 11) ,
with the privilege also of holding a court to take cognizance of
causes between the villeins, the right of punishing thieves, and
taking up fugitives: he granted them moreover, exemption from toll
and every third tree, with a third of the fruit growing in his wood
at Kyngesbyrig. We are told by Dart (fn. 12) , that Gervase, abbot of
Westminster, natural son of King Stephen, aliened some of the
manors of that church, and among the rest Chelchithe, which he
gave to his mother Dameta and her heirs, to be held in fee with
the village and appurtenances, either in land or water, to hold it
peaceably and honourably, with all privileges, paying to the church
of Westminster annually the sum of 4l. for which grant the gave
to the church the sum of 40s. and a pall of the value of 100s. The
record of Doomsday-book makes no mention of any lands or manor
belonging to the church of Westminster in Chelsea; but it is
possible that it might have been included amongst their possessions in Westminster, where they are said to have had thirteen
hides and a half; and it is more probable, as the manor of Chekched
there mentioned, contained two hides only. Edward de Sarisburie,
according to that record, held Chelched, containing two hides, or
five carucates, one hide of which was in demesne. There were two
villeins holding two virgates, and four holding half a virgate each;
four borderers, each holding five acres, and three slaves: of meadow
land two carucates; pasture for the cattle of the town; woods for sixty
hogs, and 52d. rents; in the whole valued at 9l. Wluune, a servant
of King Edward, held this manor, and had the power of aliening it.
If this was, as it appears to have been, a distinct manor from that
mentioned by Dart, it is probable that they were afterwards consolidated, at leaft we hear of only one manor at any subsequent period;
and of that there is a great deficiency of records till the reign of
Henry VII.; from which time its history may be very satisfactorily
deduced. It is somewhat singular, that among the inquisitions post
mortem at the Tower, there is not one of the manor of Chelsea.
By the nomina villarum in the British Museum, dated 1316, it appears that it was then held by the heirs of Bartholomew de Septem
Fontibus (fn. 13) . Robert de Wodehous, who died in 1345, held certain
lands at Kingsholt of Richard Heyle, Lord of Chelchith. (fn. 14) Robert
de Heyle, in 1368, leased the whole of his manor of Chelchith, except Westbourne and Kingsholt, to the abbot and convent of Westminster for the term of his own life, for which they were to allow
him a certain house within the convent lately occupied by Sir John
Molyns for his residence, to pay him the sum of 20l. per annum, to
provide him every day two white loaves, two flagons of convent
ale, and once a year a robe of esquire's silk (fn. 15) . Several of the courtrolls of the manor during the reign of Edward III. and Richard II. are
still to be found among the records of the dean and chapter of Westminster. At one of the courts (16 Ric. II.) Florence North, a brewer,
was presented for not putting up a sign, as was customary; and at
another, (11 Ric. II.) the wife of Philip Wells was fined 6d. for
being a common babbler (garrulatrix). Except that Simon Baylle
was lessee of the house and appurtenances, 33 Hen. VI., I find
nothing farther relating to this manor till the reign of Hen. VII.
when it was the property of his faithful minister Sir Reginald Bray,
from whom it descended to Margaret, the only child of his next brother John, who married William Lord Sandys. (fn. 16) In the year 1536,
Lord Sandys being seized of the manor of Chelsea in right of his
wife, gave it to King Henry VIII. (fn. 17)
Queen Katherine and the Lord Admiral.
This manor was a part of the jointure of Queen Katherine Parr (fn. 18) ,
who resided at Chelsea with her second husband Thomas Seymour,
the Lord Admiral. Some of her letters, dated from Chelsea anno
1548, are printed amongst the Burleigh Papers (fn. 19) , in which collection
there is a curious account of the Lord Admiral's familiar behaviour
towards the Princess Elizabeth, then about fourteen years of age, and
residing at Chelsea under the care of the Queen Dowager. (fn. 20) . After the
Queen's death, which happened the same year, not without suspicion
of poison, the Lord Admiral was very importunate with the Princess
to consent to a marriage; but his ambitious projects were soon defeated, and he lost his head upon the scaffold March 14, 1548-9 (fn. 21) .
Dudley Duke of Northum-berland.
Anne of Cleve.
Duke of Hamilton.
Sir Hans Sloane
I have not been able to ascertain at what time this manor was
first granted to the Duke of Northumberland, but it is certain that
he surrendered it to the crown in the year 1551 (fn. 22) ; King Edward VI.
then granted it to the duke's eldest son, John Earl of Warwick (fn. 23) ;
and again in 1553, to the duke himself (fn. 24) , who, not many months
afterwards, was beheaded for proclaiming Lady Jane Grey. His
widow, Jane Duchess of Northumberland, was in possession of the
manor, and died at her house at Chelsea in the beginning of the year
1555 (fn. 25) . The manor-house of Chelsea appears to have been granted
in fee by patent, dated April 11, 1557, to John Caryll, Esq. (fn. 26) and
by him aliened on the first of June following, to James Basset,
Esq. (fn. 27) notwithstanding which, the Lady Anne of Cleve is said in the
account of her funeral to have died at "the King and Quene's Majesty's place of Chelfey beside London," on the 16th of July that
year (fn. 28) . Queen Elizabeth, in the second year of her reign, granted
the manor of Chelsea to Anne Duchess of Somerset, widow of the
protector, for life (fn. 29) . She dying in the year 1588, the Queen, in the
ensuing year, granted the manor, with the manor-house of Chelsea,
subject to a rent of 13l. 6s. 8d. to John Stanhope, Gentleman of
the Privy Chamber, (afterwards the first Lord Stanhope, of Harring
ton,) for life (fn. 30) . It is probable that he soon afterwards surrendered
this patent; for I find Chelsey Place granted again upon the like
terms in 1592, to Katherine Lady Howard, wife of the Lord Admiral (fn. 31) . The Lord Admiral appears to have resided at Chelsea previous
to this grant; some of his letters among the Harleian MSS. are dated
thence in 1589 and 1591 (fn. 32) . The Howard family obtained fresh
grants of this manor at subsequent periods, either for life or a
term of years (fn. 33) . In 1639, King Charles I. granted the reversion
to James Marquis of Hamilton (fn. 34) , who purchased the Countenss of
Nottingham's interest in the premises. The marquis, who was
created a duke in 1643, fell a sacrifice to his loyalty, and was beheaded in the year 1648. His brother William, who succeeded to
the title, was slain at the battle of Worcester in 1651. The manor
of Chelsea having been seized among the forfeited lands, was sold
in the year 1654, by certain trustees appointed for that purpose, to
Robert Austin, Thomas Smithsby, and others (fn. 35) . In 1657, William
Lord Douglas, and his wife Ann Duchess of Hamilton, daughter
and coheir of James Duke of Hamilton, conveyed Chelsey Place to
Charles Cheyne, Esq. afterwards created Viscount Newhaven, of the
kingdom of Scotland; and in the year 1660, the same parties, Lord
Douglas being then Duke of Hamilton, sold the manor also to Mr.
Cheyne. It was purchased, as it is expressed upon the monument
of Lady Jane Cheyne, with a part of the large dower which she
brought her husband. Sir Hans Sloane, of whom more particular
mention will be made hereafter, purchased the manor of Chelsea in
1712, of William Lord Cheyne; and dying in the year 1752, left
two daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah; the former of whom married
the late Lord Cadogan; and the latter George Stanley, Esq. The
Right Hon. Charles Sloane, the present Lord Cadogan, inherits one
moiety of this manor from his father; the other was left by the late
Hans Stanley, Esq. to his sisters, Anne, wife of Welbore Ellis, Esq.
and Sarah, wife of Christopher Doiley, Esq. who having no issue,
the reversion is vested under Mr. Stanley's will in Lord Cadogan
and his heirs.
Dr. King, in his MS. account of Chelsea before quoted, says,
that the old manor-house stood near the church; and that Henry VIII.
parted with it to the ancestors of Sir Thomas Lawrence, having built a new house upon another site (fn. 36) . I cannot find any record
of this grant: the fact, as far as relates to the alteration of the site,
seems very probable. I think it not unlikely that this was the manorhouse granted to Caryll, as before mentioned (fn. 37) , which by some subsequent alienation might have become the property of the Lawrence
family. The circumstance of the north aisle of the church being still
annexed to the premises which were Sir Thomas Lawrence's, corroborates the supposition of their having been the site of the manerial residence. Henry VIII.'s building stood upon that part of
Cheyne-walk which adjoins to Winchester House, and extends eastward as far as Don Saltero's coffee-house (fn. 38) . A row of houses now
supplies the place of the old mansion, which was pulled down many
Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.
Thomas Beauchamp, the victorious Earl of Warwick, who signalized himself at the battles of Cressy and Poictiers, appears to have
had a country feat at Chelsea, at which place his will was dated in
the year 1369 (fn. 39) . It is probable that he was proprietor of the same
house and premises which afterwards belonged to Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury, and which were granted by Richard III.
to Elizabeth, relict of Thomas Moubray Duke of Norfolk, for
life, to be held by the service of a red rose (fn. 40) .
Marquis of Berlkey.
William Marquis of Berkley, who died in 1491, left a house at
Chelsea to John Whiting and his heirs (fn. 41) .
Earls of Shrewbury.
George Earl of Shrewsbury, an eminent military character in the
reign of Henry VIII. resided occasionally at this place, where
his son Richard was born (fn. 42) . Francis, his successor, is mentioned
among the freeholders in a court-roll of the manor of Chelsea,
35 Hen. VIII. (fn. 43) . His son George, the second Earl of Shrewsbury of
that name, a faithful servant of Queen Elizabeth, (who committed
the Queen of Scots to his custody,) resided sometimes at Chelsea (fn. 44) , and
died seized of a capital mansion there, 33 Eliz. (fn. 45) This mansion, I
presume, he gave to his Countess, who was widow of Sir William
Cavendish; for I find her son William Earl of Devonshire, (to
whom the bequeathed the whole of her estates,) soon afterwards in pof
session of a large house by the water-side at Chelsea (fn. 46) : the Earl's second wife, who survived him, resided at this place, (fn. 47) , where she died in
1643 (fn. 48) . The house afterwards belonged to Sir Joseph Allstone (fn. 49) , and
is now the property of Mrs. Tate, relict of Benjamin Tate, Esq.; at
present it is occupied as a paper manufactory.
Sir Thomas More.
Manner of his living at Chelsea.
The celebrated Sir Thomas More purchased an estate at Chelsea,
and settled his family there about the year 1520 (fn. 50) . His house was
situated near the water-side, and, as Erasmus describes it, was
"neither mean nor subject to envy, yet magnificent enough".
He added to its conveniences by building at the end of his garden
a library and a chapel, where he passed much of his time in retirement and devotion. To give general anecdotes of a man so well
known as Sir Thomas More, would be supersluous; I shall confine
myself therefore to such as are connected with his residence at Chelsea. The capricious monarch, to whom he owed his rise and fall,
frequently visited him at this place with the utmost familiarity, and
would sometimes dine with him uninvited (fn. 52) . Erasmus's description
of the manner of Sir Thomas More's living with his family at
Chelsea, exhibits a fine picture of domestic happiness: "There he
converseth (says he) with his wife, his son, his daughter-in-law,
his three daughters and their husbands, with eleven grandchildren. There is not any man living so affectionate to his children as he; and he loveth his old wife as well as if the was a
young maid (fn. 53) ." When we are told that this wife was not only inclining to old age, but of a nature somewhat harsh, and very
worldly, or as his great grandson More says, "of good years; of
no good favour nor complexion, nor very rich; her disposition
very near and worldly (fn. 54) ," we must allow him great merit for his
affectionate behaviour towards her; nor should we omit to commend
the means he made use of to soften the moroseness of her disposition: "he persuaded her (it seems) to play upon the lute, viol, and
some other instruments, every day performing thereon her task;
and so with the like genetleness he ordered his family."—"Such is
the excellence of his temper, (continues Erasmus,) that whatsoever
happeneth that could not be helped, he loveth it as if nothing
could have happened more happily. You would say there was in
that place Plato's academy; but I do his house an injury in comparing it to Plato's academy, where there were only disputations
of numbers and geometrical figures, and sometimes of moral virtues. I should rather call his house a school, or university of
christian religion; for though there is none therein but readeth
or studieth the liberal sciences, their special care is piety and virtue; there is no quarreling, or intemperate words heard; none
seen idle; that worthy gentleman doth not govern with proud
and lofty words, but with well-timed and courteous benevolence;
every body performeth his duty, yet is there always alacrity;
neither is sober mirth anything wanting (fn. 55) ."
Anecdotes of him.
Sir Thomas More was a great benesactor to the church of Chelsea, constantly attended divine service there, and frequently assisted
at its celebration. The Duke of Norfolk coming one day to dine
with him whilst he was chancellor, found him at church, wearing a
surplice, and singing with the quire; "God's body, my Lord Chancellor," said the Duke as they returned to his house, "what a
parish clerk! A parish clerk! you dishonour the king and his
office." "Nay, said Sir Thomas, you may not think your master and mine will be offended with me for serving God, his master, or thereby count his office dishonoured (fn. 56) ."
The morning after he had resigned the great seal, he went to
Chelsea church with his lady and family, where, during divine service, he sat as usual in the quire, wearing a surplice; and because it
had been a custom after mass was done, for one of his gentlemen to
go to his lady's pew, and say, "My lord is gone before;" he came
now himself, and making a low bow, said, "Madam, my lord is
gone." She thinking it to be no more than his usual humour, took
no notice of it; but in the way home, to her great mortification, he
unriddled the jest, by acquainting her with what he had done the
preceding day (fn. 57) .
Holbein, who came to England in 1526, was first patronized by
Sir Thomas More, and during the space of three years lived in his
house at Chelsea, where he was employed in drawing the portraits
of his patron and his friends (fn. 58) . Among the numerous works attributed to this celebrated master, none perhaps are more noted than
the groups of Sir Thomas More's family; but very good reasons
have been assigned for supposing, that though the heads were
sketched by Holbein, the pictures were finished by an inferior
artist (fn. 59) .
Farther anecdotes of Sir Thomas More.
Among other instances of Sir Thomas More's benevolent disposition, we are told, that he hired a house at Chelsea for the reception of
aged people, who were supported by his bounty, and that it was the
province of his amiable daughter Margaret to see that all their wants
were duly relieved (fn. 60) . This great man was beheaded in 1535, for
refusing to take the oath which acknowledged the king's supremacyIt may be thought worthy of notice, perhaps, that the morning he
was summoned to repair to Lambeth for the purpose of taking that
oath, he went to his parish church, attended mass, and received the
sacrament (fn. 61) ; after which, stepping into his barge, he bid a last adieu
to the favourite scenes of his retirement, and resigned himself to the
fate he saw approaching.
Disputes about the place of his interment.
A few years previous to his death, Sir Thomas More caused a vault
to be made on the south side of the chancel of Chelsea church, to
which he removed the bones of his first wife, and which he designed
for the place of his own interment. It has been a matter of dispute
whether his body was deposited there or not; some authors say, that
his daughter Margaret, whose pious affection to her father's memory
has frequently been the theme of panegyric, removed his corpse from
the Tower, where it had been buried, to the vault at Chelsea (fn. 62) .
More, the Chancellor's great-grandson, who wrote his life, does not
mention this fact; and it has been thought unlikely, from the circumstance of Bishop Fisher's body having been removed to the
Tower by Margaret Roper, that it might be interred, according to
his request, near her father, who was there buried (fn. 63) . Soon after Sir
Thomas More resigned the office of lord chancellor, he wrote the
following epitaph for himself, which is engraved upon a tablet of
black marble on the south wall of the chancel at Chelsea. It has
been several times printed, but not correctly: Weever's copy is the
"Thomas Morus urbe Londinensi, familià non celebri, fed honestâ natus, in literis utcunque versatus; quum et causas aliquot
annos juvenis egisset in foro, et in urbe suâ pro Shirevo jus dixisset: ab invictissimo rege Henrico Octavo (cui uni regum omnium gloria prius inaudita contigit, ut fidei defensor, qualem et
gladio se et calamo veré præstitit, meritó vocaretur) adscitus in
aulam est, delectusque in consilium; et creatus eques, Proquæstor
primúm, post Cancellarius Lancastriæ, tandem Angliæ, miro principis favore factus est. Sed interim in publico regni senatu lectus
est orator populi, præterea legatus regis nonnunquam fuit, alias
alibi, postremò vero Cameraci Comes et collega junctus principi
legationis Cuthberto Tunstallo tum Londinensi, mox Dunelmensi
episcopo quo viro vix habet orbis hodie quicquam eruditius prudentius, melius. Ibi inter summos orbis christiani monarchas rursus refecta fœdera, redditamque mundo diu desideratam pacem et
lætissimus vidit et legatus intersuit.
"Quem superi pacem firment faxintque perennem."
"In hoc officiorum vel honorum cursu, quum ita versaretur ut
neque princeps optimus operam ejus improbaret neque nobilibus
effet invisus nec injucundus populo, furibus autem et homicidis (fn. 64) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .molestus. Pater ejus tandem Johannes
Morus eques et in eum judicum ordinem a principe cooptatus qui
regius confessus vocatur; homo civilis, suavis, innocens, mitis,
misericors, æquus et integer; annis quidem gravis, sed corpore
"plusquam pro ætate vivido, postquam eò productam sibi vitam
"vidit ut filium videret Angliæ Cancellarium satis in terrâ se jam
moratum ratus, libens emigravit in Cælum. At filius, defuncto
patre, cui quamdiu superarat, comparatus et juvenis vocari consueverat, et ipse quoque sibi videbatur, amissum jam patrem requirens ac æditos ex se liberos quatuor et nepotes undecim, respi"ciens apud animum suum cæpit persenescere. Auxit hunc affectum animi, subsecuta statim velut adpetentis senii signum pectoris valitudo deterior. Itaque, mortalium harum rerum satur
quam rem a puero pené semper optaverat ut ultimos aliquot vitæ
suæ annos obtineret liberos, quibus hujus vitæ negotiis paulatim
se seducens futuræ possit immortalitatem meditari eam rem tandem (si cæptis annuat Deus) indulgentissimi principis incomparabili beneficio, resignatis honoribus impetravit: atque hoc sepulchrum sibi, quod mortis eum nunquam cessantis adrepere quotidié commonefaceret, translatis huc prioris uxoris ossibus extruendum curavit. Quod ne superstes frustrà sibi fecerit, neve in"gruentem trepidus mortem horreat, sed desiderio Christi libens oppetat; mortemque ut sibi non omnino mortem sed januam vitæ
feliciori inveniat: precibus eum piis lector optime spirantem præcor, defunctumque prosequere.
"Chara Thomæ jacet hic Joanna uxorcula Mori
Qui tumulum Aliciæ hunc destino; quique mihi.
Una mihi dedit hoc conjuncta virentibus annis
Me vocet ut puer et trina puella patrem.
Altera privignis (quæ gloria rara Novercæ est)
Tam pia quam gnatis vix fuit ulla suis.
"Altera sic mecum vixit sic altera vivit,
Charior incertum est, quæ sit an illa fuit.
"O simul, O juncti poteramus vivere nos tres
Quam bené, si fatum religioque sinant.
"At societ tumulus, societ nos, obsecro, cælum
Sic mors, non potuit quod dare, vita, dabit."
Distress of Sir Thomas More's family.
Grant of his house to the Marquis of Winchester.
Robert Earl of Salisbury.
Henry Earl of Lincoln. Sir Arthur Gorges.
The Earl of Middlesex,
Duke of Buckingham.
Duke of Buckingham, author of the Rehearsal.
George Dig- by Earl of Bristol.
Henry Duke of Beaufort.
Sir Hans Sloane.
Site of the house.
Traditions relating to it.
Sir Thomas More's monument appears to have been erected in
his life-time, in the year 1532. The tablet on which the inscription
is engraved stands under a flat Gothic arch, the cornice of which is
ornamented with foliage. Over the tomb is the crest of Sir Thomas
More, viz. a moor's head; and the arms of himself and his two
wives (fn. 65) . After the attainder of Sir Thomas More, the king seized
upon all his possessions, without any regard to his widow or family,
whom he left so poor, that his great-grandson says they had not
money wherewith to buy him a winding-sheet (fn. 66) . The king afterwards granted Lady More a pension of 20l. per annum; a poor pittance, as the author above quoted observes, to maintain a chancellor's lady. In the year 1544, she had a grant of a house in Chelsea, (formerly part of the possessions of her late husband, and then in
the occupation of the rector,) for the term of 21 years, paying a
rent of twenty shillings per annum (fn. 67) . Her husband's son-in-law, William Roper, appears to have been a freeholder in this parish about
the same time (fn. 68) . The custody of Sir Thomas More's capital man
sion at Chelsea was granted to Sir William Pawlet, afterwards Marquis of Winchester (fn. 69) , to whom Edward VI. granted in fee both
that and all other premises in Chelsea and Kensington, forfeited by
his attainder (fn. 70) . The Marquis of Winchester, who had been Lord
High Treasurer of England thirty years, died at the advanced age of
96, in the year 1571, and was succeeded by his son John, who died
at Chelsea in 1576 (fn. 71) . Winifred, widow of the old Marquis, died in
1586 (fn. 72) ; and this house appears to have been soon afterwards in the
possession of Gregory Lord Dacre, who married Anne, her daughter
by her first husband Sir Richard Sackville, and died in 1594. Lady
Dacre, who survived him but a few months, bequeathed her house at
Chelsea, with all its appurtenances, to the great Lord Burleigh, with
remainder to his son Robert (fn. 73) , afterwards Earl of Salisbury and Lord
High Treasurer. Sir Robert Cecil is supposed to have rebuilt the
house; the initials of his name, and that of his lady, Elizabeth, were
to be seen on the pipes, and in some of the rooms (fn. 74) . Sir Robert
Cecil sold the house to Henry Fiennes, Earl of Lincoln (fn. 75) , from whom
it passed to Sir Arthur Gorges, who married his daughter Elizabeth.
In 1619, Sir Arthur conveyed it to Lionel Lord Cransield, afterwards Earl of Middlesex and Lord Treasurer (fn. 76) . It has been erro
neously asserted, that when he was dismissed from that office and
sined, the Duke of Buckingham got this house at Chelsea for
his share of the sine (fn. 77) . The fact is, that Lord Cranfield was in possession of it till the year 1625 in the next reign, when he sold it to
King Charles I. (fn. 78) , who two years afterwards granted it to George
Villiers, the great Duke of Buckingham (fn. 79) ; from that time it was
called Buckingham-house, and by that name was, in the year
1649, committed to the custody of John Lisle, one of the commissioners of the great seal (fn. 80) . The same year it was granted for 21
years to Sir Bulstrode Whitlocke, a commissioner also of the great
seal, and one of Cromwell's peers (fn. 81) , who resided at Chelsea some
years (fn. 82) . After the restoration, George, the second Duke of Buckingham, celebrated for his wit and profligacy, recovered his father's
estates, and was the possessor of this house for a few years, but was
soon obliged to dispose of it for the benefit of his creditors, and it
was accordingly sold to John Godden, Esq. and others, for their use,
in the year 1664 (fn. 83) . James Plummer, one of the principal creditors,
was the person in whose name it was aliened, in 1674, to Strode and
others, in trust for George Digby Earl of Bristol (fn. 84) , who is said to
have died at Chelsea, and to have been buried inthe church there (fn. 85) :
I find no memorial of him, nor any entry of this interment in the pa
rish register. It is certain, that by his will, dated 1677, he directed
that his body should be buried in the church belonging to the parish
where he should die. He bequeathed his house at Chelsea to his
Countess, who, in the month of January 1682, sold it to Henry
Marquis of Worcester, afterwards Duke of Beaufort (fn. 86) ; from this
time it was known by the appellation of Beausort-house, and continued to be the occasional residence of that noble family till about the
year 1720. Mary, relict of the first Duke, died there in 1714, and
was buried in the family vault at Badminton in Gloucestershire (fn. 87) .
Beaufort-house, after having stood empty for several years, was purchased by Sir Hans Sloane, in the year 1738 (fn. 88) , and was pulled down
in 1740. The gate, which was built by Inigo Jones for the Lord
Treasurer Middlesex, Sir Hans Sloane gave to the Earl of Burlington, who removed it to his gardens at Chiswick. The old mansion
stood at the north end of Beaufort-row, extending westward at the
distance of about 100 yards from the water-side. I trust I shall not
be thought too minute in describing a spot once the residence of Sir
Thomas More, and since his time inhabited by such a series of illustrious characters, as seldom have been known to occupy the same
premises. Dr. King, Rector of Chelsea, writing in the year 1717 (fn. 89) ,
says, that no less than four houses have contended for the honour of
Sir Thomas More's residence, viz. 1. Beaufort-house; 2. that which
was late Sir William Powell's, then divided into several tenements;
3. that which was formerly Sir John Danvers's, then the site of
Danvers-street; and 4. that which was lately Sir Joseph Allstone's.
This last is now a paper manufactory, and still appropriated by tradition to Sir Thomas More, but with how little reason the foregoing statement will prove.
Ratcliffe Earl of Sussex.
Robert Ratcliffe, the first Earl of Sussex of that family, and Lord
High Chamberlain of England, died "at his place at Chelsea,"
Nov. 26, 1542 (fn. 90) .
Earl of Manchester and John Pym.
The Earl of Manchester, Speaker of the House of Lords (fn. 91) , and
John Pym, a distinguished Member of the House of Commons (fn. 92) ,
lived at Chelsea during the civil war.
Count D'Estrades, Ambassador from Louis XIV. who came to
England to negotiate the sale of Dunkirk, and who maintained the
famous dispute about precedency with the Spanish Ambassador, resided at Chelsea during the years 1661 and 1662, as appears by the
dates of his letters, an English translation of which (in one vol. 8vo.)
was published in 1755.
Duchess of Mazarine.
The Duchess of Mazarine, who had lived many years in England,
and had been one of the most celebrated beauties of Charles II.'s
court, about the year 1694, came to reside at Chelsea, where her
house was the constant resort of people of fashion, who were attracted by her conversaziones, her basset table, and her concerts.
The latter were chiefly dramatic, and conducted upon a most magnificent scale. The vocal parts were performed by the principal female singers from the theatres. The celebrated St. Evremond, whose
home was principally at the Duchess's house, wrote the words, and
composed some of the music (fn. 93) . The expence of these costly entertainments was defrayed, no doubt, in some way or other, by the visitors. The Duchess's finances, after the death of Charles II. (who
allowed her a pension of 4000l. per annum,) were very slender.
She appears to have been in arrear for the parish rates during the
whole time of her residence at Chelsea; and I have been told, that it
was usual for the nobility and others, who dined at her house, to
leave money under the plates to pay for their entertainment. The
Duchess of Mazarine died at her house at Chelsea in the year 1699,
and in the 52d year of her age.
Gerrard Earl of Macclesfield.
Fitton Gerrard, the last Earl of Macclesfield of that family, died
at his house at Chelsea in 1702 (fn. 94) . A lawsuit was commenced concerning the right of succession to his estate, between Lord Mohun
and the Duke of Hamilton, who married his nieces. This occasioned a quarrel, and a duel was fought between the competitors, in
Hyde-park, which proved fatal to both parties.
Vaughan Earl of Carbery.
John Vaughan, the last Earl of Carbery, died at Chelsea in 1712 (fn. 95) .
He occupied the premises which afterwards came to the Gough family. Henry Gough, Esq. was created a baronet in 1728, with remainder to John Gough, Esq. of Chelsea. Gough-house is now a
boarding-school for young ladies.
Edward Fowler, Bishop of Gloucester, died at his house at Chelsea, Aug. 26, 1714 (fn. 96) .
Sir Robert Walpole.
Mr. Ausere's collection of pictures.
About the year 1722, Sir Robert Walpole became possessed of a
house and garden in the Stable-yard at Chelsea. Sir Robert frequently resided there, improved and added to the house, considerably
enlarged the gardens by a purchase of some land from the Gough
family, built the octagon summer-house at the end of the terras, and
a large green-house (fn. 97) , where he had a sine collection of exotics.
One summer, when Queen Caroline was regent during the King's
absence in Germany, her Majesty honoured Lady Walpole with her
presence at a dinner in this green-house, which was elegantly fitted
up for the occasion, and hung with some of the finest of those pictures which afterwards formed part of the Houghton Collection.
After Sir Robert Walpole's death, the house was sold to the Earl of
Dunmore, of whose executors it was purchased by George Aufrere,
Esq. the present proprietor, who has a very fine collection of pictures there, consisting for the most part of the productions of the
Venetian, Bolognese, and Lombardy schools: among these may be
particularly noticed the Seven Works of Mercy, by Sebastian Bourdon; two sine landscapes, by Gaspar Poussin; a portrait of a pirate,
by Georgioni; a beautiful picture of St. Catherine, by Corregio; and
a holy family, by Titian. The gardens belonging to this house are
very beautiful, and laid out with much taste. In the octagon summer-house above-mentioned, stands Bernini's famous statue of Neptune, late the property of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who purchased it
from the gardens of the Villa Negroni at Rome.
Lord Cremorne's Villa.
Lord Cremorne's elegant villa by the water-side, near the western
extremity of the parish, was built by Theophilus Earl of Huntingdon, and afterwards belonged successively to Lord Powerscourt, the
Countess Dowager of Exeter, Sir Richard Littleton, and the Duke
of Bridgwater. At this villa Lord Cremorne has a good collection
of pictures, by the Italian and Flemish masters, among which are several pieces of Ferg; a portrait of Gesler, by Vandyke; and the Earl
of Arlington and his family, by Netscher. Here is also a very beautiful window of stained glass, consisting of about twenty pieces, by
Jarvis, being the only considerable collection of the smaller works
of that artist. The subjects are various; landscapes, sea pieces,
Gothic buildings, &c. In the latter, the effect of the sunshine coming through the windows, is admirably well managed.
Lady Mary Coke's late Dr. Hoadly's.
Adjoining to Lord Cremorne's premises is a house belonging to
Lady Mary Coke, which was formerly the property and residence of
Dr. Hoadly, author of the Suspicious Husband; and afterwards of
the Earl of Ashburnham.
Various eminent persons resident at Chelsea.
The following persons of rank and eminence, whom I shall not
have an opportunity of noticing elsewhere, appear, by the parish
books, to have been resident at Chelsea: Sir Robert Atkins (fn. 98) , (1684);
the Duke of St. Alban's, (1692); William Aglionby, Queen Anne's
Envoy to the Swiss Cantons, (1700); Edward Russel, Earl of Orford (fn. 99) , (from 1703 to 1707); the Countess of Bristol, (1705); the
Duchess of Buccleugh, the Duchess of Monmouth, the Duchess of
Hamilton, and the Duke of Kent, (1714–16); Sir Richard Steele (fn. 100) ,
(1714–15); Doctor Richard Mead, (1719–1720); the Duchess of
Ormond, (1720–1733). Captain Balchen (fn. 101) , and Sir James Wishart (fn. 102) , (1723) ; and Mr. Stackhouse (fn. 103) , (1741).
Dr. Alexander Blackwell and Mrs. Blackwell.
Mrs. Blackwell, author of the Herbal, lived at Chelsea, where she
took a house opposite the physic-garden, for the convenience of procuring specimens for her work. Her husband, Alexander Blackwell,
who resided there also, wrote a treatise on agriculture. He was afterwards tempted, by an advantageous offer, to go to Sweden, where
he was appointed physician to the King; but being suspected of some
treasonable designs, lost his head upon a scaffold, July 29, 1747 (fn. 104) .
Tombs of the Brays.
Funeral of John Lord Bray.
The parish church of Chelsea, which is dedicated to St. Luke (fn. 105) ,
stands by the water-side; it is built, for the most part, of brick, and
consists of a nave, chancel, and two aisles; the chancel appears to
have been rebuilt early in the sixteenth century; the chapel, at the
east end of the south aisle, was added by Sir Thomas More, about the
year 1520; that at the end of the north aisle exhibits the architecture
of the fourteenth century (fn. 106) . The church was considerably enlarged, and the present tower, which is of brick, built between the
years 1667 and 1674 (fn. 107) . On the north side of the chancel is an
ancient altar-tomb, without any inscription. John, brother of Sir
Reginald Bray, K. G. is said to have been buried under a high tomb
in the middest of the chancel. In Weever's time, there was the following mutilated inscription to the memory of his son Edmund, the
first Lord Bray of Eaton: "Of your charitie pray for the soul of
Edmund Bray, Knight, Lord Bray, cosin and heire to Sir Reignold Bray, Knight of the Garter." John, his son, the second and
last Lord Bray, who died in 1557, was buried also at Chelsea with
his father. The following account of his interment, as a specimen
of the funeral ceremonies of that age, perhaps, may not be unacceptable. It is copied from the original account of his funeral in the
Heralds' College (fn. 108) .
"Thentyrement and buryall of the Right hon[our]able John Lorde
Braye, who dep[ar]ted this liefe within the late Blackefryers in London, on Thursdaye the 18 of Novembre, at 3 of the clocke in the
aftrenone, 1557. An. 4 & 5 Phi. & Mar. and was buryed at Chelseye in the myddest of the hyghe chauncell there, with his father
and grandfather undre one highe tombe there.
"It[e]m, he leste behinde hym his wiefe Anne, daughtre to Frauncys
Erl of Shrewisburye, then lyvinge, by whom he had no childe, and
so died without issue, and made no will, but comytted thordre of
all things to hys mother Dame Jane Braye, late wyse to Edmond
"It[e]m, after the bodye was colde hyt was bowellid, cered, and
coffend, and browght into the greate chambre, where hyt was leyd
undre a table coverd with a large pawle of blacke unwaterd chamblett, with a whyte crosse of the lyke, with 6 schocheons of his
armes and his wiefe, wrought on buckeram; sett thereon a crosse,
2 tapres and 4 other, al the which still burned duringe his abode
there with contynewall watche, which was tyll Tuesdaye the 23 of
Novembre, about 8 of the clocke in the mornynge, that al things
was in a readyness, at which tyme he was conveyed to Chelsey as
followeth,—Fyrst, the crosse, and on eyther side the 2 whyte
branchis borne by 2 clerks,—then 24 clerks and 8 prysts;—then
Edward Merlyon, his hoode on his heade, bearing the standerde;—after hym Sr. Richard Wheytley and Sr. Richard Harrys, chapleyns,
in theyre gownes and typpetts;—then Thomas Udall with the
bannr. of armes;—after hym Rudge Dragon, with the helme and
creste;—then Rychemonde with the cote of armes,—and after
hym Garter:—then the corpse as afore borne by 6 of his men,
viz. Christopher Banks, George Vaux, George Stadley, Alexander Morley, Davye Morgan, and John Lackey; and on thone syde
went Frauncys Sawnders with the bannr. of the Trynytye, and on
thother syde Tryamor Smyth, with St. George, bothe of them
havinge theyre hoodes on theyre heades;—and along on both sydes
were 18 staffe torchys, carryed by 18 poore men in black gownes.
Then next aftre the corps, as chiefe morner, went Sr. George
Broke, Knight of the Garter, Lorde Cobham,—aftre hym his son
Mr. Thom[a]s Broke, and Mr. Edmond Verney;—then Mr. John
Broke, and Mr. Thomas Lyesylde; and laste Mr. Edmonde Braye,
and Mr. Halshe; and aftre them all other comers; in which ordre
they proceaded to the bridge at the blackfreers, where was 2 greate
barges coverd with black, garnysshed with schoocheons, thone for
the morners and gentlemen thother for the bodye, quere, hatchments, and other. Where althings placed, they rowyd uppe tyll
they cam to Chelsey (alwaies that with the bodye afore thother),
where they landed, and proceaded as afore tyll they cam to the
churche, where at the dore the body was recefyd, and then conveied into the quere, where yn the myddest it was sett upon tressles,
with dowble and barryers, stoles and Quyssheons for the morners
coverd with blacke, garnysshed with schocheons, and in lyke manner was the chauncel and quere hangyd and garnisshed, and at
every corner of the inner barryers stode a highe standing candlestycke gylte, with a greate mayne tapre thereon, and on eche two
schoocheons of hys armes.
"Then the bodye placed with the hatchements sett thereon, and
all other things in ordre, Richemond herald bade the prayer as followeth: "For the soule of the Right hon[our]able Sr. John Braye,
Knyght, late Lorde Braye, of your charytie say a pr. nr." which
he bade at other tymes accostomyd, and then dyridge began, which
ended, masse of requiem began, durynge which tyme at the syde
awltre were dyverse masses seid, and at magnificat; benedictus; aftre
the gospell, and at libera me the person censyd the corps.
"Then at the offerynge, Mr. Garter, Rychemond, and Rudge-Dragon proceaded uppe before the chiefe morner, thother 6 mourners
followinge hym, where all onely he, offeryd the masse pennye, a
peece of golde returnyd to hys place.—Then Mr. Garter at thend of
these, delyvered the cote of armes to Mr. Thomas Cobham and Mr.
Verney, who with Rychemond before them, offeryd the same,
which Roudge-dragon at the pryst's hands received, and placed on
the awltre, and so they returnyd, goinge uppe the northe ile, and
returnynge downe the sowthe ile.—Then Mr. Garter d d the targett to Mr. John Cobham and Mr. Lyesylde, who with Roudgedragon before them in lyke ordre, offeryd the same, which Rychemond placed on the awltre, and returnyd.—Then Mr. Garter d d
the swerde to Mr. Braye and Mr. Halshe, who with Rychemonde
before them likewife offeryd the same, the hylte forwarde, which
Roudge-dragon placed on the awltre.—Then the 2 fyrste mourners
agayne proceaded uppe with Roudge-Dragon before them, in all
poynts as afore, and offeryd thelme and creste, which Rychemond
placed on the awltre, and so they returnyd to theyre places—and
then the Lorde Chiefe morner alone, with Rychemond afore hym,
proceaded uppe and offeryd for hymselfe, and aftre returnyd, and
toke hys place.—Then Mr. Thomas Cobham and Mr. Verney offeryd for themselfs, and returnyd to theyre places.—And aftre them
thother 4 morners offeryd likewife for themselfs, 2 aftre 2,— and
then all gentlemen and other that wolde: which offeryng synyshed
the sermon began by Father Peryn, a blacke freer, whose Antheme was "Scio quia resurget in refurrectione in noviffimo die,"
where uppon he declaryd howe Chryste raised Lazarus from
deathe, seying howe he was a gentleman geven to Chyvalrie for
the welthe of hys countrey; and so he seid that noble man
which there laye deade was in whose commendacion amonge
manye other things, he fynyshed his sermonde, which don, mass
proceaded till St. John's gospell, that the bannr and standarde were
offeryd, and aftre the body buryed, in which meane tyme et libera
me, the morners departed to theyre botts, and so to London to his
seid howse to dynn[e]r, where they and other dynyd, which endyd,
everye man dep[ar]td at theyre pleasure. And the morrowe the
hatchments and banners were fett uppe in the chauncell at Chelsey
"The paynter's chardge at the seid buryall of the Lorde Braye."
|"It[e]m for his standarde whys crest of the lyon between two wyngs, powderd with the dunne croppe earyd connye and the brake, and his woorde: "Sera comme a Dieu plaira," pryce
|A banner and armes, pryce
|Two banners of Seynts
|A coote of armes
|A creste carved and kylte
|The mantells of blacke velvet, with the gylte knopps and sylke tassels
|Six schoocheons in buckeram
|Two doz. in mettall at 15d the pece
|Four doz. in cooler at 10d the pece
|For 5 iron brasses (braces)
|Four black staves
Monument of Thomas Hungerford.
On the north wall of the chancel is the monument of Thomas
Hungerford, with the following inscription:
"Here lieth the bodies of Thomas Hungerford of Chelsey, in the
county of Middlesex, Esquier, the second sonne of Robert Hungerford of Cadname, in the county of Wilth, Esquier, which hath
served King Henry the 8 in the rometh of a gentilman pencioner,
and was with his Matie at the wining of Bologne and King Edward
the 6. at Musselbroughe feild, besides Quene Mary and Quene Elizabeth in their affaires, being of thadge of 70 yeres, who had to
wife Ursula Maidenhead, the daughter of Lady Sands. An° Dom.
1581 (fn. 108) ."
Dr. Adam Littleton.
On the same wall is the monument of Dr. Adam Littleton, with
the following inscription:
"Hic prope situm est corpus doctissimi viri et de literis optime
meriti Adami Littleton, S. T. P. Capellani Regii Canonici Westmonasteriensis, hujus ecclesiæ (per spatium 24 annorum) rectoris,
omnibus hujus parochiæ incolis unicé chari: e stirpe antiquâ et
venerabili oriundi. Obiit ultimo die Junii 1694. Anno Ætatis
Of various oersons.
On the north wall also is a monument to the memory of Maria,
daughter of William Bukby (fn. 109) , Serjeant at Law, who died in 1733,
and Anne Skinner, who died in 1756. On the east wall is a small
monument of white marble, to the memory of Lucy Smith and Anne
Wilton, (two sisters,) who died in 1781. On the south wall is the
monument of Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Theodore Mayerne, physician to Charles I. and wife of Peter de Caumont, Marquis de Cugnac (fn. 110) ,
who died in 1653. On the floor is a flat stone to the memory of
Henry Lussan, Esq. justice of the peace for the county of Monmouth, who died in 1750; and Mrs. Catherine Horton, who died in
All the monuments hitherto mentioned, are in the upper part of
the chancel, formerly called the high chancel, to which there is an
ascent of two steps. On the south wall of the lower chancel is the
monument of Thomas Stewart (fn. 111) , of Barbadoes, merchant, who died
in 1722. On a pillar at the north-west end is that of Baldwin
Hamey, M. D. (fn. 112) , with the following inscription :
"In ipso ecclesiæ adyto sub lato marmore, juxta deponitur Baldwinus Hamey, M. D. Academiæ Lugduni Batavorum, Oxoniensis Anglorum, collegiique medicorum Londinensis, deliciæ, decus
et desiderium: eruditorum olim asylum, facultatis lumen, vera encyclopædia, ex animo Philevangelicus Medicus Anglus. Obiit
Ano Ætatis 76.—Restauratæ salutis 1676. Radulphus Palmer,
Ar. e Soc. Med. Temp. pronepos pie posuit."
Bowack, who omits this, gives another inscription, (now scarcely
to be traced,) from a black marble stone in the floor of the chancel,
to the memory of Dr. Hamey, whom he calls Howley:— "The return of Baldwin Howley, Doctor of Physic, on the 14th of May,
being Whitsunday, in the year of our Lord 1676."
Ralph Palmer, Esq. died in 1715, as appears by a tablet (fn. 113) to his
memory on the above-mentioned pillar ; on the west side of which
is the monument of Henry Powell, Esq. (fn. 114) . who died in 1752. On
the south side of the lower chancel are tablets to the memory of Hugh,
son of Hugh Stafford, of the county of Devon, who died in 1729;
and Edward Stanley, Esq. of Dalgarth, in the county of Cumberland,
who died in 1751. On the floor are the tombs of Thomas Putland,
Esq. who died in 1723; and Nicholas Ray, Esq. who died in
Duchess of Northumberland's.
At the east end of More's chapel, against the south wall, is the monument of Jane Duchess of Northumberland (fn. 115) . Under a rich gothic
canopy, supported by pillars of mosaic work, the whole of which
appears now in a very mutilated co dition, is a tablet with the following inscription:
"Here lyeth ye right noble and excellent prynces Lady Jane
Guyldeford, late Duches of Northumberland, daughter and sole
heyre unto ye right honorable Sr Edward Guyldeford, Knight,
Lord Wardeyn of ye right portes, ye which Sir Edward was sonne
to ye right honorable Sr Richard Guyldeford, sometymes Knight
and companion of ye most noble ordre of ye gartor; and the said
Duches was wyse to the right high and mighty prince John Dudley, late Duke of Northumberland, by whome she had yssew 13
children, that is to wete, 8 sonnes and 5 dawghters; and after she
had lyved yeres 46, she departed this transitory world at her maner
of Chelse ye 22 daye of January, in ye second yere of ye reigne of our
sovereyne Lady Quene Mary the first, and in An° 1555; on whose
soul Jesu have mercy." Over the tablet are some upright brass plates,
with figures of the Duchess and her children, very coarsely executed.
The Duchess is represented habited in a surcoat, on which the arms
of her father and mother (fn. 115) were enamelled. The enamel having
been worn off, the colours have been since restored with paint.
Anecdotes of the Duchess and her family.
The Duchess of Northumberland was a singular instance of the
vicissitudes of fortune: having been the wife of one of the greatest
men of that age, she lived to see her husband lose his head upon a
scaffold (fn. 116) ; to see one son share his father's fate; another escape it
only by dying in prison; and the rest of her children living but by
permission. Amidst this distress, which was heightened by the confiscation of her property, she displayed great firmness of mind, though
left destitute of fortune and of friends, till the arrival of some of the
nobility from the Spanish court, who interested themselves so warmly
in her favour, that they prevailed upon the Queen to reinstate her in
some of her former possessions (fn. 117) ; and she conducted herself with
such wisdom and prudence as enabled her to restore her overthrown
house even in a reign of cruelty and tyranny (fn. 118) . Her surviving progeny were no less remarkable for their prosperity than their brethren
for their misfortunes. Ambrose was restored to the title of Earl of
Warwick, and enjoyed many other honours and preferments. Robert was created Earl of Leicester, and became one of Queen Elizabeth's prime ministers, and her daughter Mary was the mother of Sir
Singular extracts from her will.
The Duchess, a short time before her death, wrote her will with
her own hands. She bequeathed to Sir Henry Sidney the gold and
green hangings in the gallery at Chelsea, with her lord's arms and
hers; to her daughter Mary Sidney, her gown of black barred velvet furred with sables, and a gown with a high back of fair wrought
velvet; to her daughter Catherine Hastings, a gown of purple velvet, a summer gown, and a kirtle of new purple velvet to it, and
sleeves; to Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Cobham, a gown of blackbarred velvet furred with lizards; to the Duchess of Alva, her green
parrot, having nothing else worthy for her. "My will (says she)
is, earnestly and effectually, that little solempnitie be made for me,
for I had ever have a thousand foldes my debts to be paide, and the
poore to be given unto, than anye pompe to be shewed upon my
wretched carkes; therefore to the wormes will I goe, as I have
afore wrytten in all poyntes, as you will answer yt afore God."
And you breke any one jot of it, your wills hereafter may chaunce
be as well broken."
In another place she says, "After I am departyd from this worlde,
let me be wonde up in a shete, and put into a coffyn of woode,
and so layde in the grounde with such funeralls as parteyneth to
the buriall of a corse. I will at my yeres mynde have such devyne
service as myne executors shall thynke mete, with the whole arms of
father and mother upon the stone graven; nor in no wife to let me
be opened after I am dead.—I have not loved to be very bold afore
women, much more wolde I be lothe to come into the hands of any
lyving man, be he physician or surgeon (fn. 119) ." Notwithstanding her
strict injunctions to the contrary, she was buried with great solemnity, Feb. 1, 1554-5, two heralds attending, with many mourners, six dozen of torches, and two white branches, and "a canopy
borne over her effigies in wax, in a goodly hearse, to the church of
Chelsey (fn. 120) ."
Close to the Duchess of Northumberland's monument, under the
canopy, stands an altar-tomb, the top of which is inlaid with a small
slab of white marble, to the memory of Catherine, relict of Henry
Earl of Huntingdon, and daughter of John Duke of Northumberland, who died in 1620.
Sir Robert Stanley's monument.
Near that of the Duchess of Northumberland, at the east end of
the chapel, is a splendid monument to the memory of Sir Robert
Stanley, K. B. (fn. 121) , on the front of which is his bust of veined marble
in alto relievo: he is represented with whiskers, but no beard; his
hair long and flowing. There are busts also of two of his children:
round the ledge of a slab of black marble is the following inscription:—"To the faire memorie of the truly honorable Sir Robert
Stanley, Kt of the noble order of the Bath, and seacond sonne to
the right hoble William Earle of Darbie, whoe deceased the 3 day
of January An° Dni 1632." On the south wall is the monument
of Sir William Milman (fn. 122) , who died in 1713. On the floor are the
tombs of Mr. Ludar Lang, who died in 1791; and Richard Lamborne, Esq. who died in 1793.
Sir Thomas More's chapel.
This chapel belonged to the proprietor of Sir Thomas More's house,
till it was sold by Mr. Arthur Gorges to Lionel Earl of Middlesex,
at which time he reserved the chapel to himself, as he continued to
reside at Chelsea in another house. In 1664, when he sold this lastmentioned house to Thomas Pritchard, he only reserved a right of
burial for his family; the chapel passed therefore, with the house,
through various owners, to Sir William Milman, and is now the property of Francis Milman, M. D. Between this chapel and the
lower chancel is a pointed arch supported by ancient pillars, whose
capitals are ornamented with various singular devices.
Tombs of the family of Gorges.
Between Sir Thomas More's chapel and the south aisle, stands a
table tomb, covered with a slab of black marble, on which are the
arms and quarterings of Gorges (fn. 123) ; on the south side of the tomb
is the following inscription: "Here lies interred the body of that
generous and worthy Gent. Arthur Gorges; Esq. eldest son of Sir
Arthur Gorges, Knt. the last surviving branch of the first male line
of that honble family, who departed this life the eighth of April 1668.
He maryed Mary, one of the daughters and coheires of Paul Lord
Viscount Banning. She first maryed to William Lord Grandison,
afterwards to Charles Earle of Angelesey; and thirdly to the sayd
deseced Arthur Gorges, whom she survived; and departed this life
"- - - - - - - - - - - - - lyes here buried with her loving husband, to whose and her own memorey she erected this tombe."
In Bowack's account of Chelsea (fn. 124) , are some English verses, now
concealed by pews, to the memory of Mr. Gorges, whom that author
erroneously calls the translator of Lucan. Bowack describes also another monument to the memory of Sir Arthur Gorges, with the effigies of himself and his family in brass plates. No trace of this remains.
Lord Dacre's monument.
Against the wall of the south aisle stands a large marble monument,
very richly ornamented with roses and mosaic work, to the memory
of Gregory Lord Dacre, and Anne his wife. The effigies of Lord
and Lady Dacre, as large as life, lie under an arch supported by pillars of veined marble, of the Corinthian order. He is represented in
armour; his hair short; his beard round, and of considerable length,
as are his whiskers. She is habited in a gown and long cloak, and
wears a ruff. At the feet of each lies a dog; over the arch are the
arms and quarterings of Dacre (fn. 125) .
Gregory Lord Dacre died Sept. 25, 1594; Anne Lady Dacre,
May 14, 1595. She was daughter of Sir Richard Sackville; was a
woman of great piety, and founder of the alms-houses near Tothil-fields. The monument is inscribed with several Latin verses,
recording Lady Dacre's virtues; and her grief for the loss of her
husband, whom she survived but a few months. The following
lines are given as a specimen:
Nobilis Anna jaces prudens Sackvillia proles,
Viva tui defles funera mœfta viri,
Nil mortale placet, coelum tua pectora spirant.
Postque parca viri conscidit atra diem,
FÆminei lux clara chori, pia, casta, pudica
Ægris subsidium pauperibusque decus"—
Near one of the windows of this aisle is a small brass plate, fixed in
a marble tablet, to the memory of Humphrey Peshall, son of Sir John
Peshall, of Horsley in the county of Stafford, who died of a fever in
London in the year 1650, aged 51. On the south wall also are the
monuments of Mary Bolney (fn. 126) , daughter of Bartholomew Smith,
Esq. and wife, first of John Wybarnd, Esq. and secondly of George
Bolney, Esq. (1716); and Anne, daughter of Thomas Lowfield (fn. 127) ,
(1720). On the floor is the tomb of Francis Thomas, director of the
porcelain manufacture, who died in 1770.
Monument of Sir John Lawrence, &c.
The chapel at the end of the north aisle belonged, for many generations, to the family of Lawrence, many of whom are there buried.
At the east end is the monument of Sir John Lawrence, Bart. (fn. 128) of
Iver in the county of Bucks, who died in 1638; on the north wall
that of his father Thomas Lawrence, Esq. (fn. 129) who died in 1593; and
adjoining to it, that of Sarah Colvill (fn. 130) , daughter of Thomas Lawrence, and wife of Richard Colvill of Newton in the Isle of Ely, who
died in 1631. The latter monument is of white marble; the deceased is represented clothed in a winding-sheet, in the act of rising
from her tomb, her hands and eyes being lifted to heaven. On the
floor is the tomb of Henry Lawrence, Turkey merchant, who died
in 1661. This chapel was some time ago the property of Mr. Offley,
who bequeathed it to Colonel Needham, of whom it was purchased
about the year 1782, with some messuages to which it is an appendage, by Mr. Lewer, the present proprietor.
Lady Jane Cheyne's monument.
On the wall of the north aisle is Lady Jane Cheyne's monument,
the work of the celebrated Bernini, and said to have cost 500l.
Within a spacious nich, supported by columns of veined marble of
the Corinthian order, upon a black sarcophagus, lies the effigies of
the deceased, being of white marble as large as life: she is represented
leaning with her left elbow upon a cushion, her hand upon a book.
A long Latin inscription informs us that she was daughter of William Duke of Newcastle, and the wife of Charles Cheyne, Esq. by
whom she had three children, Elizabeth, William, and Catherine,
the latter of whom died soon after her mother. Lady Jane was a
considerable contributor to the repairs and ornaments of the church;
she resided chiefly in the parish, and died in the year 1669. Underneath, upon the sarcophagus, is an inscription to the memory of
Charles Cheyne, lord of the manor of Chelsea, who died in 1698,
aged 74, being then Lord Viscount Newhaven of the kingdom of
Scotland. In Bowack's account of Chelsea (fn. 131) , is an inscription copied
from a stone placed over the vault in the chancel, which is now illegible. The purport of it was, that the vault was made in 1669, by
Charles Cheyne, Esq. lord of the manor, which was purchased with
the rich dowry of his wife.
On the wall of the north aisle are the monuments also of James
Buck, Esq. (fn. 132) who died in 1680; of Richard Guilford, who died the
same year, and bequeathed 101. per annum to be distributed to the
poor on the anniversary of his marriage with his last wife Elizabeth;
of Jennet, wife of Alexander Hamilton, Gent. who died in 1716;
and of Henry Hewitt, who died in 1771. On the floor is the tomb
of Mrs. Anne Banks, who died in 1759.
Between the north aisle and the lower chancel stands a large monument, with an open arch about ten feet in height, ornamented with
fluted carving. On the inside of one of the pillars is an inscription
to the memory of Richard Gervoise, who died in the prime of life
in 1563. The monument, I imagine, was erected to the memory of
his father Richard Gervoise, sheriff of London (fn. 133) , who died in 1557,
and was buried at Chelsea. The Gervoises occupied a house within
the precincts of the palace (fn. 134) .
At the west end of the church against the wall, are the monuments
of Anne, widow of Mr. Thomas Wakelin, apothecary, who died in
1722; and of Anne, wife of Captain Richard Culliford (fn. 135) , who died
in 1726. In the belfry are those of Hester, wife of Thomas Hill,
who died in 1699; William Clarkson, who died in 1712; and Anna
Maria Powel, wife of Captain Dawly Sutton, who died in 1745.
Monuments of the Chamberlayne family.
Against the south wall of the church, on the outside, are the monuments of several of the family of Chamberlayne, for the erecting
of which, and making a vault, Dr. Chamberlayne obtained a grant
from the parish in the year 1694, in consideration of a benefaction
which will be mentioned hereafter: he himself was buried there in
1703. On his monument is the following inscription:
Epitaph of Dr. Chamberlayne.
"Posteritati sacrum—More majorum extra urbis pomæria juxta
viam publicam, in tumulo editiore heic prope inhumari voluit Edwardus Chamberlayne Anglus, Christicola, Legum Doctor; ex antiquâ Comitis Tanquervilliæ prosapiâ Normanicâ oriundus, Odingtoniæ natus 1616, Glocestriæ Grammaticâ, Oxonii Jurisprudentiâ,
Londini humanitate imbutus fuit. Per Galliam, Hispanìam, Italiam, Hungariam, Bohemiam, utramque Germaniam, Daniam et
Sueciam migravit. Susannam Clifford ex equestri familiâ prognatam in matrimonium duxit 1658. Novem liberos genuit, sex
libros composuit. Tandem, 1703, in terram oblivionis semigravit.
Benefaciendi universis, etìam et posteris, adeo studiosus fuit ut secum condi jusserat libros aliquot suos cerâ obvolutos feræ forsan
posteritati aliquando profuturos. Abi viator, fac simile, Deus te
servet incolumem. Hoc monumentum non impuné temerandum
in honoris juxta ac mœroris testimonium poni curavit Gual.
Harris, M. D. Amicus Amico."
Monument of Anne Chamberlayne, who fought on board a fireship.
On the same wall is the monument of Susannah his widow (fn. 136) , who
survived him but a few months; that of Peregrine Clifford Chamberlayne, his eldest son, (a captain in the navy, like his father a great
traveller, and, as his epitaph informs us, a man of very universal
knowledge and accomplishments,) who died in 1691, aged 31; that
of Edward, his youngest son, who was of the Inner Temple, but preferring a naval life, engaged in the service of his country, and died in
1698, aged 29; and that of Anne, his only daughter, who, catching
the naval ardor from her brothers, actually entered on board a fireship of which one of them had the command, and being dressed in
man's apparel, fought bravely against the French for the space of six
hours (fn. 137) . A few months after her return, she married John Spragg,
Esq. and died soon after being delivered of her first child, which was
a daughter. The writer of her epitaph (which is here given) laments that she was thus cut off before she had produced a race of
"Hic juxta in conditorio jacet Anna Edwardi Chamberlayne,
"L. D. filia unica, Londini nata 20 Januarii 1667, quæ diu spreto
connubio magnaque supra sexum et ætatem moliens, 30 Junii
"Contra Francigenas armis habituque virili
In rate flammiferâ sex horas sub duce fratre
Pugnavit, dum virgo fuit; dum casta virago
Heroum poterat stirpem generare marinam
Ni præmaturis fatis abrepta fuisset.
"Redux ab ista navali pugnâ, ac post aliquot menses nupta Joanni Spragge Armigero, quocum vixit amantissime sesquiannum.
Tandem enixa filiam post paucos dies obiit 30 Octobris 1692.
Hoc monumentum uxori charissimæ necnon pudicissimæ poni curavit maritus mœstissimus."
Monument of John Chamberlayne.
On the same wall is the monument of John Chamberlayne, Esq. (fn. 138)
with the following inscription:
"In a vault near this place lies the body of John Chamberlayne,
Esq. F. R. S. some time Gent. Waiter to Prince George of Denmark; Gent. of the Privy Chamber to Queen Anne and to King
George. He was given to hospitality and doing good offices,
especially to foreigners. In hopes of a glorious eternity, he left
this mortal state Nov. 2, 1723, aged 57."
Against the north wall of the church, is the monument of Catherine, wife of Joseph Biscoe, Esq. (fn. 139) who died in 1731. Against the
wall of the vestry, are the monuments of Mrs. Methuen (fn. 140) , who
died in 1723; Thomas Bower, M. D. F. R. S. Professor of Mathematics at Aberdeen, who died in 1723; and William Moncrieff,
Professor of Humanity at St. Andrews, who died in 1732.
Near the former, on a north wall, is the monument of Thomas
Allstone, Esq. of the county of Suffolk; the date is obliterated.
Monument of Sir Hans Sloane.
Against the north wall of the church-yard, is the monument of
Sir John Munden, who died in 1719; and those of John Pennant (fn. 141) ,
second son of David Pennant, Esq. of the county of Flint, who died
in 1709; and of Robert Woodcock, Gent. who died in 1710. Near
the south wall stands the monument of Sir Hans Sloane, Bart. and
M. D. (fn. 142) : on the south side of the pedestal, upon which stands an urn
entwined with serpents, emblematical of his profession, is the following inscription: "In memory of Sir Hans Sloane, Bart. President of
the Royal Society and of the College of Physicians, who in the
year of our Lord 1753, the 92d of his age, without the least pain
of body, and with a conscious serenity of mind, ended a virtuous
and beneficent life, this monument was erected by his two
daughters, Elizabeth Cadogan and Sarah Stanley." On the same
monument is a memorial of Elizabeth Lady Sloane, who died in
Against a house adjoining to the church-yard, is the monument of
Thomas Tilford, who died in 1698. In the church-yard are also the
tombs of S. Pattison, architect, (without date); Richard Munden,
who died in 1672; Samuel Forest, (1692); Christopher Cratford,
Gent. (1702); Flora, daughter of Henry Butts, Gent. (1704);
Robert Butler, Esq. (1712); Clayton Milbourne, Esq. (1726); Mr.
Andrew Churchill, (1731); Major General John Cavallier, (1740);
Mr. Alexander Reid, (1743); Joanna, wife of Christopher Rhodes,
Esq. and daughter of Sir Oliver Boteler, Bart. (1753); Sarah, wife
of Francis Eyre, (1755); Mrs. Mary Agnes Smith, (1773); Mary
Emilia, wife of the Rev. David Williams, (1774); Martha, widow of
Colonel John Cottrell, (1778); William Rush, Esq. (1779); Major
George Henderson of the 13th regiment of foot, (1787); Miss Mary
Hall Stanton of Barbadoes, (1789); Charlwood Lawton, Esq. (1790);
and Mary, wife of John Haynes, Esq. (1791).
Cemetery near the King's Road.
Adjoining to the King's private road, at the distance of about a
quarter of a mile from the church, is a cemetery, given to the parish
by Sir Hans Sloane in the year 1733. Near the centre of this ground
is an obelisk, erected in the year 1751 by Andrew Millar, an eminent bookseller, over a vault appropriated to his family, as appears
by an inscription on the south side of the obelisk. He himself was
buried there in 1768; his widow (afterwards married to Sir Archibald Grant, Bart.) in 1788.
Cipriani the artist.
Towards the north side of the ground, is the tomb of Cipriani
the artist, with the following inscription: "Eximio viro, artifici, et
amico, Johanni Baptistæ Cipriani, Florentino, hic humi defosso, honoris, luctus et benevolentiæ, uno inscripto lapide triplex edidit
monumentum Franciscus Bartolozzi superstes. Obiit die decimâ
quartâ Decembris, Anno Domini 1785. Ætatis 58."
Dr. Martyn, Dr. Withers, &c. &c. &c.
In the same ground are the tombs of John Martyn, F. R. S. Professor of Botany at Cambridge, who died in 1768, aged 69; and his
wife Eulalia, daughter of Dr. John King, Rector of Chelsea, who
died in 1749; that of Philip Withers, D. D. who died in 1790; and
those of the following persons, viz. Isaac Desbordes, merchant, who
died in 1741; William Dent, of Winkham in Northumberland,
Gent. (1742); James Bennet, Esq. (1743); Robert Norris, Esq.
(1752); Daniel Webb, Esq. (1753); P. Charron, Esq. (1754);
Capt. James Hodsoll, (1754); Anna Virginia, wife of William Buttar, merchant, and daughter of the Rev. Benjamin Goodwin, minister
of Droughton, Northamptonshire, (1754); Thomas Hamilton, Esq.
(1757); Michael Armstrong, Esq. (1757); Anne, wife of Henry
Vander-esch, Esq. (1757); Michael Duffield, Gent. (1761); Emor
North, apothecary, (1761); Margaret, daughter of Richard Cross,
Rector of Steepleton, in the county of Salop, (1764); Wm. Frederick
St. Paul, Esq. Equerry of the Crown Stables, (1765); Sloane Ellesmere,
D. D. Rector of Chelsea for the space of 34 years, (1766); Lewis
Seleries, Esq. (1772); John Lloyd, Gent. (1773); Elizabeth Hockley, (1773); Elizabeth, relict of Dr. Francis of Norwich, (1774);
Capt. Edward Kyffin, of the marines, (1774); Mrs. Sarah Allen,
who preferred waiting on E. C. to many lucrative offers made by
others from 1764 to 1776, (the tomb erected by E. C.); Anne, wife
of the Rev. John Millar, (1777); Lady Rous (fn. 143) , aged 90, (1777);
John Innys, Esq. of Redland-court, in the county of Gloucester,
(1778); Amelia, wife of Richard Townsend Herbert, Esq. of Currans, in the county of Kerry, (1779); Lieutenant Samuel Bradstreet, (1780); Martin Howard, Esq. of North Carolina, (1781);
Robert Harris, Esq. (1783); John Wilkins, Lieut. Col. of the 18th
regiment of foot, (1789); Lucy Frances, wife of William Furrell,
(1789); John Hornsby, Esq. (1790); Christopher Kelly, M. D.
(1790); James Delancy Muirson, M. D. (1791); Anne, widow of
the Rev. Mr. Hotchkis, of Stockwell, (1792); and Mrs. Elizabeth
The church of Chelsea is a rectory within the diocese of London,
and the archdeaconry of Middlesex. The advowson formerly belonged to the church of Westminster. In the year 1538, the dean
and chapter gave it to the king, together with their manors of Neyte
and Hide, in exchange for the priory of Hurley (fn. 144) . Since this time
it has always been annexed to the manor. In 1327, it was rated at
thirteen marks (fn. 145) ; in the king's books at 131. 6s. 8d. In 1650, it was
reported to the commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of
ecclesiastical benefices, that the parsonage-house at Chelsea, with
twenty acres of glebe thereto belonging, were worth 601. per annum,
and that the tithes were worth 601. more; that Dr. Samuel Wilkinson, the minister, was a man of very scandalous report; and that it
was said that the presentation formerly belonged to the Earl of Nottingham (fn. 146) . In the year 1566, Robert Richardson, then rector of
Chelsea, exchanged the parsonage-house, and about eighteen acres of
land, for another house, and nearly the same quantity of land, with
William Marquis of Winchester; which exchange was confirmed by
the Queen and the Bishop of London (fn. 147) .
Rectors. John Larke.
John Larke, presented to the rectory of Chelsea in 1530, by Sir
Thomas More (fn. 148) , who had a grant of the advowson, for that turn,
from the abbot and convent of Westminster, was executed at Tyburn
in 1544, for following the example of his patron in denying the
King's supremacy (fn. 149) .
Robert Richardson, instituted to this rectory in 1543, was ejected
in 1554, for being a married priest; but was restored by Queen
Elizabeth (fn. 150) .
Adam Littleton, who was presented to the rectory of Chelsea in
1669, was master of Westminster school, and prebendary of that
church. He published the well-known Latin dictionary which goes
by his name, several translations, a volume of sermons in folio, and
some other books of divinity (fn. 151) . Dr. Littleton died insolvent, and
left his widow in very distressed circumstances (fn. 152) . He was succeeded
in the rectory of Chelsea by Dr. John King, who published a tract
against Toland, the Case of Bishop Atherton fairly represented, Animadversions on a Pamphlet addressed to the Non-Conformists, and
some single sermons. A great intimacy subsisted between him and
Sir William Dawes, the learned Archbishop of York (fn. 153) , who resided
several years at Chelsea (fn. 154) . Some poems, and other MSS. by Dr.
King, are among the Sloane collection in the British Museum (fn. 155) ;
and a short MS. account of this parish, with a terrier of the glebe,
&c. is in the possession of the present rector, who has obligingly favoured me with access to it.
Dr. Sloane Elsmere, who was instituted to the rectory of Chelsea
after the death of Dr. King, which happened in 1732, died in 1766,
and left behind him a volume of sermons, to be published for the benefit of the charity-school.
The present rector is the Hon. William Bromley Cadogan, M. A.
second son of the Right Hon. Lord Cadogan, who was instituted in
the year 1775.
The parish register commences in the year 1559, and, excepting
that it is rather imperfect during the time of the civil war, and that
there is a chasm in the burials from 1564 to 1591, appears to have
been kept very accurately to the present time.