IS the last parish undescribed in this hundred, being the next westward from Lee. It adjoins westward to Surry, and southward to the hundred of
Bromley and Beckenham.
This place, called in antient deeds, Levesham, derives its name from its situation, Leves, or Leswes, in
Saxon signifying pastures, and ham, a town or village. (fn. 1)
This parish lies low and flat. The river Ravensborne directs its course through it northward, at a
small distance westward of the village or street of Lewisham, which stands on the roads to Beckenham and
Bromley, and extends up to the Eltham road, beyond
which it extends, northward, up the hill to Blackheath,
which is a small part of it within its bounds, on which
there is a large hamlet of houses, which reaches as
far as Deptford-hill on the London-road, many of
these are handsome, and some inhabited by the nobility, particularly one by the earl of Dartmouth, lord
of this manor.
Lewisham-street is more than a mile in length,
which, as well as the hamlets and environs near it,
are in great measure inhabited by opulent merchants
and Londoners, the vicinity to the metropolis making
this place a most agreeable and convenient recess.
In the street, opposite the rookery, there stood a
great house, once the habitation of Sir William Wild,
knt. and bart. recorder of London, and afterwards one
of the justices of the common-pleas and king's-bench,
in the reign of king Charles II. It was held under a
term from the corporation of London, which expiring some years ago, it was then pulled down. Farther on, at the corner of the lane going up to Brock-
ley, by the church and vicarage house, is a handsome
mansion, which was for some generations owned by
the family of Lethieullier, the first of whom was Sir
John le Thieullier, a Hamburgh merchant, who had
raised himself by his industry and trade, in whose descendants it continued till his great grandson, John
Greene Lethieullier, esq. alienated it in 1776, to Mr.
Sclater of Roterhithe, who is now entitled to it.
At the south end of the street is the hamlet of
Rushy-green, and farther on, at near a mile's distance, on the road to Beckenham, that of Southend,
noted for those engines on the river, by which the
late Mr. Ephraim How made those knife-blades so
famous throughout England; on the opposite or
western side of the river, on higher ground, is the
hamlet of Brockley; and nearer the river a great
house, usually called the Place-house, which once belonged to George Plantagenet duke of Clarence, king
Edward IV.'s brother, and came to him by marriage
with Isabel, daughter and coheir of Richard Neville,
the great earl of Warwick, in memory of which the
duke's arms, impaled with her's, were put up in the
windows of this house, where they remained till very
lately, by which it should seem, that he at some time
resided here. Near this house is the hamlet of Perystreet, and at some distance, farther southward, the
much more considerable one of Sydenham is situated
at the south-west corner of it, adjoining to Surry. It
was formerly written Cypenham, and among the benefactors to the priory of Rochester, John Besevile is
recorded to have given the land of Sipeham, in this
parish, to that priory; (fn. 2) and about one hundred years
ago had only a few farm-houses and cottages in it,
built round the common. The increase of its inhabitants, and prosperity since, has been owing to the
discovery of some springs of medicinal purging water in
it, which, from their nearness to Dulwich, bear the
name of Dulwich-wells, though there are some of
the same kind in that parish, but they are of an inferior quality, and not so plentiful in quantity. These
springs in this hamlet are at the foot of a hill, about
twelve in number. The hill and ground adjoining is
a stiff clay, with some wood upon it. These are next
to those of Epsom, being discovered about the year
1640. The hole dug is about nine feet deep, and the
water about half a yard deep, when emptied every
day. The bottom is a loam, as is the hill, and where
the water issues in, is found the lapis lutoso-vitriolicus,
which glitters with vitriolic sparkles, and is divided
into parcels by the trichitis. This water purges very
quick; it is bitter like the Epsom waters, it curdles
with soap or milk, equal to them, and much more
than those at Richmond.
Dr. Allen published his account of these wells in
1699, though there had been before, in 1681, a treatise on them, published at London, in 12mo. by Dr.
John Peter, physician, under the name of Lewisham,
vulgarly called Dulwich-wells, in Kent, and in No.
461 of the Philosophical Transactions, is an account
of a new purging spring at the Green Man, at Dulwich, in 1739, by Mr. Martyn. In 1472, a great
spring broke out of the earth in this parish.
Between Lewisham street and Dulwich, is a hill
with an oak on it, which was called The Oak of Honour, because queen Elizabeth dined under it, though,
indeed, the old tree has been long since gone, and a
new one planted in its room, and another tree planted
just by, to supply the future defect of that likewise.
The following scarce plants have been observed in
Androsæmum clampoclarensium, on the hedge side beyond Lewisham.
Aquilegia cærula; blue columbine; sive aquilegia
vulg. simplex; between Lewisham and Bromley.
Viola fol. trachelii serotina hirsuta radice lignosa, in
the way to Lewisham, in a great gravel-pit. (fn. 3)
Some antiquities having been found on the edge of
the heath, particularly next the town of Lewisham,
has induced an ingenious gentleman, Mr. William
Harrison, to conjecture that Lewisham was the Noviomagus mentioned in the Itinerary of Antonine, but
in this he has not been followed by any one.
In the heraldic visitation of this county, begun by
John Philipott, rouge dragon, in 1619, is the pedigree
of Colfe, beginning with Amand Colfe of Calais, who
married Catherine, daughter and heir of — Bradfield
of Calais, by whom he had five sons, William, Richard, Joseph, and two others, and a daughter, Beatrix,
wife of Barnaby Turner, minister of the gospel. Of
the sons, Richard, born at Calais, was prebendary of
Canterbury, and D. D. He died in 1613, and was
buried in that cathedral, having martied three wives;
first, the daughter of Thornton; second, Alice, daughter of — Strughill; and third, Mary, daughter of
Richard Rogers. By the first he had issue Abraham,
who was vicar of Lewisham, and in the great rebellion was much reverenced here by the orthodox party for his religion and learning; he had likewise the
rectory of St. Leonard, Eastcheap, which the restless
Presbyterians forced him to give up to one who was
scribe to their assembly of divines. After which he
retired hither, where he founded a free-school and
alms-house. He died, and was buried at Lewisham,
in the church-yard, close to the south wall of the
chancel. (fn. 4) Isaac, the next brother of Abraham above
mentioned, married the daughter of George Elsin;
and Jacob, the third, was vicar of Herne. By the
second wife, he had Joseph, and a daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Man, of London. And by the
third, four sons, Joseph, another son of Amand, set-
tled at Canterbury, where he was an alderman, and left
issue. (fn. 5) Their arms were, Quarterly, Colfe and Bradfield, viz. first and fourth, Or, a fess between three colts
currant sable; second and third, Vert, a cross pale per
cross or and gules, between four mullets or.
The MANOR of Lewisham was given, with its appendages of Greenwich and Combe, by Elthruda, king
Alfred's niece, as has been already mentioned, to the
abbey of St. Peter at Ghent, to which Lewisham then
became a cell, or alien priory; which grant is said to
have been confirmed by king Edgar, in 964, and by
Edward the Confessor in 1044, with the addition of
many privileges. (fn. 6)
In Domesday book this place is thus described, under the title of the possessions of the abbot of Ghent,
In Grenviz hundred the abbot of Ghent holds Levesham of the King, and he held it of King Edward the
Confessor; and it then was, and now is taxed at 2 sulings. The arable land is 14 carucates. In demesne
there are 2 carucates, and 50 villeins, with 9 borderers,
having 17 carucates. There are three servants, and 11
mills, with the rent of the socmen, amounting to 8l. 12s.
Of the profit of the haven 40 shillings. There are 30
acres of meadow. Of wood, pannage sufficient for 50
hogs. The whole manor in the time of K. Edward was
worth 16 pounds, and afterwards 12 pounds, and now
William the Conqueror, and several of his successors, confirmed this manor and its appendages to
the above abbey; with which they remained till the
suppression of the alien priories throughout England,
by the statute of the 2d year of king Henry V. when
they became vested in the crown, and were the next
year settled by the king on his new-founded house, or
Carthusian priory, of Bethlehem, of or near Shene.
Notwithstanding which, king Henry VIII. found
means to obtain the surrendry of this manor, with the
rectory and advowson of the vicarage, and annexed
them to the crown in his 23d year.
John, earl of Warwick, eldest son of the duke of
Northumberland, afterwards possessed this manor; on
whose attainder it escheated to the crown, from whence
it was, in the 5th year of queen Elizabeth, granted to
his brother, Sir Ambrose Dudley, (fn. 7) who had been restored in blood by queen Mary, and in the 4th year of
queen Elizabeth, had been created baron L'Isle, and
the next day, earl of Warwick. (fn. 8) He soon after exchanged it for other lands with that princess; and she,
in the 18th of her reign, granted this manor and rectory, for forty years, to Sir Nicholas Stoddard, of
Mottingham; which term expiring in 1605, king
James granted another lease of it for forty years more,
to Sir Francis Knolles, who being a person very zealous for the reformation, was much esteemed by queen
Elizabeth; insomuch, that in the 1st year of her reign,
he was made one of her privy council, and shortly
after that, vice-chamberlain of her household, captain
of her guard, treasurer of her household, and lastly,
knight of the Garter. He married Katherine, daughter of William Carie, esq. and had by her several children; of whom William, the eldest surviving son, was,
in the 1st year of king James I. created lord Knolles
of Grays, in Oxfordshire, and within a short time after,
knight of the Garter; in the 14th year of that reign,
he was raised to the dignity of viscount Wallingford;
and in the 2d year of king Charles I. he was created
earl of Banbury. (fn. 9) They bore for their arms, Azure
crusele, a cross moline voided throughout, or.
King James, after granting the above-mentioned
lease, granted the fee-simple of this manor and rectory
to John Ramsey, earl of Holderness, who had been a
page to king James, and attending him to the house
of earl Gowry, at Perth in Scotland, in 1600, had the
good fortune to discover the conspiracy, which the earl
and his brother Alexander, had then designed against
the king's life; for which service he was advanced to
the title of viscount Hadington; and for an augmentation of honour, had An arm holding a naked sword,
with a crown in the midst thereof, with an heart at the
point, given him, to impale with his own arms.
In the 18th year of that reign he was created baron of
Kingston upon Thames, and earl of Holderness, with
this special addition of honour, that on the 5th day of
August annually, (the day of the discovery) he and
his heirs male for ever, should bear the sword of state
before the king, in remembrance of his happy deliverance. He died before the expiration of the above
lease, and leaving no issue, gave his interest in this estate
to his brother, Sir George Ramsay, who was naturalized by Parliament, anno 7th of James I. whose son,
John Ramsay, when the former lease was worn out,
which was about the year 1645, sold the fee-simple
to Reginald Grahme, esq. (fn. 10) and he, in the latter end of
king Charles II's reign, sold this manor, with the rectory, church, parsonage, and advowson of the vicarage,
to George Legge, esq. admiral of the royal navy, afterwards created baron Dartmouth of Dartmouth, in
An ancestor of this family is said to have been Thomas Leggy, who lived in the reign of king Edward
III. and was of the Skinners-company of London, and
was sheriff of that city in the 18th year of that reign,
and twice lord-mayor. He was several times returned
one of the citizens in Parliament for London, and gave
for his arms, A buck's head caboshed, on a chief three
crosles patoncee. (fn. 11) By Elizabeth his wife, one of the
daughters of Thomas Beauchamp earl of Warwick, he
had two sons, Simon and John.
The direct descendant of the former was William
Legge, who eminently distinguished his loyalty to
Charles I. on every occasion, and had so general a reputation of integrity and fidelity, that he never fell
under the least imputation or reproach with any man.
After the unfortunate death of the king he suffered
great hardships, which did not hinder him from espousing the interests of king Charles II. after whose restoration he received many marks of royal favour, and had
many honourable and lucrative employments conferred
He died at his house in the Minories in 1670, and
was buried in the vault in the Trinity chapel there with
great solemnity, where a monument is erected to his
memory. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir
William Washington of Packington, in Leicestershire,
by whom he had three sons, George, William, and
Edward, and two daughters.
George Legge, the eldest son and heir, who, as has
been before-mentioned, purchased this manor of Lewisham, and its appendages, was early in life sent to sea,
under the care of his kinsman, Sir Edward Spragge,
and was commander of several of the king's ships of
war. In 1673 he was made governor of Portsmouth,
master of the horse, and gentleman of the bedchamber to the duke of York; master of the ordinance,
and sworn of the privy-council; and on December 2,
in the 34th year of king Charles II. he was advanced to
the title of baron Dartmouth of Dartmouth, in Devonshire, to him and his heirs male, with remainder
to his next brother, William Legge, in like tail. Having singular skill and experience in military and naval
affairs, he was afterwards honoured with the post of admiral of the royal navy; in which capacity he was employed both in that and the next reign. During the
reign of king James II. besides other posts, he was
master of the horse, general of the ordnance, constable
of the tower, and a privy-counsellor. He commanded
the royal fleet in the year 1688, at the time of the
prince of Orange's landing in this kingdom: yet, notwithstanding he brought the fleet safe home, and had
acted by order of the king, he was deprived of all his
employments at the revolution, and in 1691 committed
prisoner to the tower of London; where, after three
months imprisonment, he died suddenly of an apoplexy.
By the express order of king William, he had the same
respect paid to him at his funeral, that would have been
due to him, if he had died possessed of all his employments. He was buried near his father in the vault in
the Minories, where a monument was erected to his
memory, by Barbara his wife, who died 1718, and was
buried in the same vault with him. By her, who was
daughter and coheir of Sir Henry Archbold of Staffordshire, he had one son, William, and several daughters.
William Legge, the only son of George lord Dartmouth, was raised by queen Anne to several posts of
honour and trust, and was of her privy-council; and on
Sept. 5, 1711, was advanced to the dignities of viscount
Lewisham, and earl of Dartmouth. He married the
lady Anne Finch, third daughter to Heneage earl of
Aylesford, who died in 1751, and by her had six sons
and two daughters. Of the sons, George the eldest,
viscount Lewisham, died in his father's life-time, as
will be further noticed.
Heneage Legge, second son, was one of the barons
of the exchequer. He married Catherine, daughter and
one of the coheirs of Mr. Jonathan Fogge, merchant,
of London, by whom he had issue, and died in 1759.
Henry Legge, fourth son, who took the name of
Bilson, was a person of great abilities, both as a statesman and financier, and went through most of the great
offices of government with reputation and integrity,
and quitted them to the great regret of the nation in
general. He died in 1764, having married in 1750,
Mary, only daughter and heir of Edward lord Stawel,
who, in 1760, was created baroness Stawel, with remainder to her heirs male by her said husband; by
whom she had one son, the Hon. Henry Stawel Legge,
born in 1757, now lord Stawell. She afterwards remarried Wills, late earl of Hillsborough, afterwards
marquis of Downshire, and died in 1768.
Edward Legge, the fifth son, was a commander in
the royal navy, and died in the West-Indies in 1747.
The earl died at his house at Blackheath in this parish, in 1750, and was succeeded in honours and estate
by William, his grandson and heir, only son of his eldest son, George, viscount Lewisham, who had married
Elizabeth, sole daughter and heir of Sir Arthur Kaye
of Yorkshire, bart. and died in 1732, in his father's
life-time. By her (who remarried with Francis, earl
of Guildford) he had William, now earl of Dartmouth;
and two daughters; which William earl of Dartmouth,
is the present possessor of this manor, rectory, and advowson of the vicarage of Lewisham, and resides at his
seat on Blackheath, in this parish.
The earl of Dartmouth married in 1755, FrancesCatherine, only daughter and heir of Sir Charles Gunter Nicholl, K. B. and by her has several children;
of whom George, the eldest, lord viscount Lewisham,
was born in 1755, and married in 1782 lady Sarah,
sister of the earl of Aylesford.
He bears for his arms, Azure, a buck's head coboshed
argent. For crest, in a ducal coronet or, a plume of five
ostrich feathers, party per pale, argent and azure. And
for supporters, on the dexter side, a lion argent, semé
of fleur de lis sable, and crowned, as the crest; on the
sinister, a buck argent, semée of mullets gules.
George lord Dartmouth, obtained from king
Charles II. a grant, to hold a fair twice a year, and
a market twice a week, upon Blackheath in this parish.
The former of which used to be held on the 12th of
May, and the 11th of October; but it has since the
year 1772, been discontinued, (excepting for the sale
of cattle) by public notice, given by the earl of Dartmouth, as lord of the manor.
CATFORD is a manor in this parish, which was antiently the inheritance of a family of the name of Abel,
who dwelt at Hering-hill in Erith; one of whom, John
Abel, had a charter of free-warren, for his lands here
at Lewisham, and in Hachecham and Camberwelle,
in the 23d of king Edward I. Soon after this it came
into the possession of that great prelate, Anthony Beke,
bishop of Durham, at whose death it escheated to the
crown; but in the 4th of king Edward III. it was
granted, with other manors and lands, to Sir William
de Montacute, (fn. 12) knight banneret, and his wife Katherine, in tail, with remainder to the king, &c. as a reward for having apprehended Roger Mortimer at
Nottingham; and he obtained, the next year, a charter
of confirmation for free warren in this manor. In the
10th year of king Edward III. he was constituted admiral of the king's fleet, westward; and having served
the king with great success in his Scottish wars, he was,
the next year, in a full parliament held at London,
advanced to the title and dignity of earl of Salisbury.
After which he obtained a grant, dated at Antwerp in
the 12th year of that reign, of the office of marshal of
England, void by the death of Thomas, earl of Norfolk. (fn. 13)
The year after which the manor of Catford became
by his gift, part of the possessions of the chantry or
college of St. Laurence Poultney in London, then
newly founded by Sir John Poultney, knt. a man
of great account at that time, as well for his wisdom as
large riches; and it remained in the possession of the
college till its suppression, in the reign of king Edward VI. when it was granted, among other lands, by
the description of a capital messuage, called Catford,
of the clear yearly value of 3l. 14s. 1d. to Henry
Polsted and William More, for 2034l. (fn. 14)
These Polsteds were of a family of great antiquity
in the county of Surry; for Hugh de Polsted gave
lands, called Inwood, in the 16th year of king John,
to the abbey of Waversley in that county. (fn. 15) They
bore for their arms, as appears by the visitation of
the county of Surry, Argent sretty sable.
Catford continued in the name of Polsted till Francis
Polsted, cousin and heir of Richard, sold it, in the 20th
year of queen Elizabeth, to Brian Annesley, esq. of the
adjoining parish of Lee, in reversion, after the death of
Elizabeth, the wife of John Wolley, and widow of
Richard Polsted above-mentioned. Brian Annesley
died without issue male, leaving three daughters his
coheirs, Christian, married to William lord Sandys;
Grace, to Sir John Wildgorse, and Cordelia, to Sir
William Hervey, the two last of whom shared the inheritance of this place between them. (fn. 16) From them it
passed by sale to Edward lord Montague, of Boughton,
in Northamptonshire, son of Sir Edward Montague,
who was created lord Montague, baron of Boughton,
by patent, anno 19 king James I. His descendant
and great grand-son, John duke of Montague, in 1717,
procured an act of parliament to vest the manor of
Catford in Lewisham, with appurtenances, and the capital messuage and appurtenances called Catford, with
the lands, &c., belonging to it, in Lewisham, Lee, and
Deptford, and the moiety of the manor or farm, some
time called Forest-place, and then Brockley-farm.
The other moiety, situated in Deptford, being called
Hither or Upper Brockley, with its appurtenances in
Brockley and Lewisham, with all rents, services, &c.
belonging to it, and the capital messuage called Bankers and Great Hatchfield, with their lands and appurtenances in those parishes, (which last-mentioned estate
had been before the property of the family of Birde,
and before that of that of Banquelle or Bankwell, of
the adjoining parish of Lee); being then the estates
of Ralph, late duke of Montague, and then of John
duke of Montague, his son, in trustees, to sell the same,
towards the payment of debts.
The trustees accordingly passed away these manors
and capital messuages, with the rest of the estates as
above-mentioned, to James Craggs, senior, esq. joint
post-master-general; on whose death in 1721, without
issue male, (his only son, James Craggs, esq. one of the
principal secretaries of state, dying on February 16,
preceding,) they descended to his three daughters and
coheirs, married to Newsham, Eliot, and Trefusis;
since which they have continued in the same clue of
ownership that Kidbrooke, in the parish of Charlton,
has, and as such are now vested in the right honourable
Edward lord Eliot, of Port Eliot, in Cornwall. (fn. 17)
The manor of Billingham in this parish was possessed
by the Cistercian monastery of Stratford Langthorne,
founded at West Ham, in Essex, by William de Montsitchet, about the year 1134. After which, in the 15th
year of king Edward I. the temporalities of the abbot
at Levesham were valued at 7l. 11s. 8d. per annum.
at the dissolution of which it came to the crown, and was,
in the 1st year of queen Mary, granted to Rich. Wheatly,
to hold in capite. His daughter and heir Philippa, married John Rochester, who afterwards possessed this manor
and levied a fine of it in Easter term, anno 17 Elizabeth.
In whose possession it passed afterwards I have not found
for some length of time, only that it came some years
since into the possession of Thomas Inwin, esq. whose
daughter, Sarah, viscountess Falkland, (whose first
husband was Henry earl of Suffolk) died possessed of
it in 1776, and by her will devised it for life to her
husband, Lucius lord Falkland, and the remainder in
see to Francis Motley Austin, esq. of Wilmington, since
of Kippington, in Sevenoke, who since purchased
lord Falkland's interest in it, and is the present possessor of this manor.
As to THE PRIORY here, so much has already
been said of it before, in the account of the manor of
Lewisham, that little more need be particularized of
it, farther than, that on the grant of the manor of
Lewisham and its appendages, to St. Peter's abbey,
at Ghent, by Elthruda, king Alfred's niece, the abbot and convent built a mansion here, afterwards
called the Priory of Lewisham, under the government
of one who had the title of Prior, and being thus
connected with St. Peter's abbey, it was esteemed a
benedictine cell, or alien priory, to it.
There were not many formal foundations of these
cells; the course being for the most part, after a grant
of land, or other possessions here to a monastery
abroad (as by a multitude of instances may be shewn)
for the monks beyond sea, either with an intention to
increase their own order, or perhaps rather to have
faithful stewards of their revenues, to build convenient
houses for the reception of a small convent, and then
to send over such a number of their order as they
thought proper. Some of these cells were conventual, and consisted of a certain number of monks,
who had a prior sent them by the superior abbey;
others were permitted to choose their own prior, and
these were entire societies within themselves, and received the revenues belonging to their several houses
for their own use and benefit, paying only perhaps a
yearly pension, as an acknowledgement of their subjection, or what was at first, the surplusage to the foreign house. In such cells as had their priors set over
them, their monks were mostly foreigners, and removeable at pleasure, and they returned all their revenues
to the foreign head houses; for which reason their
estates were seized generally during the wars between
England and France, and restored to them again
upon the return of peace.
The first public seizure of this kind, at le ast upon
authority, was in the 23d of king Edward I. as appears by the roll of that year, in which the particular
persons of each county, to whom the custody of these
houses was committed, are recorded. They were to
retain them in their hands during the king's pleasure,
answering to his exchequer the profits of them, according to the directions and orders made by the king
and his council. And it was usual for the king, after
such seizures in the time of war, in consideration of a
rent to be paid him yearly into the exchequer, to commit these cells, with what belonged to them, to their
respective priors, to hold during his pleasure.
In the 4th year of king Henry IV. there was a new
consideration had in the parliament then held, touching these priories alien, that they should be again
seized into the king's hands, excepting those that
were conventual; upon which the sheriff of each
county had command to give warning to the priors
of these cells, within their respective limits, to appear
in their proper persons at Westminster, and to bring
with them all their charters and evidences, by which
the king himself and his council might be satisfied, whether they had been priories conventual time
out of mind, or not. (fn. 18) The priory of Lewisham seeems
to have been one of these conventual alien priories,
and is said to have paid a rent-service of forty shillings per annum to its superior monastery at Ghent,
in the 12th year of king Richard II. In which situation it continued till the general suppression of the
alien priories throughout England, in the 2d year of
king Henry V. when, in the parliament held that
year at Leicester, one hundred and forty-two of them
were suppressed, and their houses and possessions given
to the king and his heirs. Though this act is not in
the statute book, it is mentioned among the patent
rolls of 3 Henry V. It recites, that the commons
having considered that the head abbies beyond sea,
possessing the lands and revenues of these alien priories, great sums of money were carried out of the nation, and foreseeing, that when the war was begun
with France, all the subjects of England, holding
lands in that kingdom, would be dispossessed, they,
therefore made this act to disseize these foreign monasteries of the priories alien, and vest the same in
the king and his heirs for ever. The next year after
the suppression of this priory, the king settled it on
his new erected Carthusian monastery, at Shene, in
Surry, as has been before-mentioned. (fn. 19)
ABRAHAM COLFE, vicar of Lewisham, who died in 1657,
founded in his life-time, Two Free Schools, one for teaching
English, and the other for teaching Latin, with several yearly allowances to the schoolmasters, and towards the maintenance of
some of the scholars at the universities, the oversight and government of which he committed to the company of Leathersellers of
London. He likewise founded an Alms-house in this parish,
and in the 16th year of king Charles II. an act passed for settling
the charitable gift of Abraham Colfe, clerk, for erecting and endowing two free-schools and an alms-house, at Lewisham, in
Kent. This free-school is now commonly called Blackheathschool, from its situation near it, upon the declivity next to Lewisham, and maintains a good reputation for learning and the education of youth. When a master is to be chosen, the trustees,
(the Leathersellers company) meet at the school-house, where the
candidates are strictly examined in the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew
languages before the head masters of Westminster and Merchant
Tailors schools, the learned deputies of the president and assistants of Sion-college, and the clergy of Blackheath hundred.
The endowment now paid on account of these charities by the
Leathersellers company, is for the teaching thirty-one boys of
this hundred, 30l. for an usher (besides a house to live in) 20l.
for seven poor scholars, to be sent to the university yearly, 70l.
to buy books, 1l. 4s. for teaching thirty-one boys in the English
school, 20l. for books for ditto, 3l. for the maintenance of five
alms-people, 22l. 15s. and for a gown for each, 2l. 5s. Besides
the above, Mr. COLFE left by his will, for the benefit of the
poor of this parish the annual produce of 2l. 4s. for poor persons
attending prayers at church, houses and land of the annual produce of il. to be paid to a maid servant, on her marriage, the
amount of 5s. for certain houses and lands, for placing out apprentices, to be paid out of houses and lands, the annual sum of
3l. and for books, for poor persons, from the like, the annual
produce of 1l. all likewise vested in the same company.
MARGARET, first wife of Jasper Valentine, and afterwards of
Abraham Colfe, vicar of this parish, gave by will, 20s. yearly to
the poor of this parish for ever.
STEPHEN BATH, in 1547, gave by will, to be laid out for the
poor in bread, land vested in trustees, of the annual produce of 2s.
JOHN GLYNN, vicar, in 1564, gave 100l. towards a school in
RICHARD GRIMES, in 1570, gave by will, for the like purpose, lands vested in trustees, of the annual produce of 5s.
WILLIAM LAMBARDE, in 1576 gave, by will, three almsplots for poor persons, vested in the Drapers company.
THOMAS WARE, in 1612, gave for the poor to live in, a
house, vested in the overseers of this parish and Greenwich.
WILLIAM HATCLIFFE, in 1620, gave by will, for the benefit of poor persons of this parish, certain houses and land, vested
in trustees, now of the annual produce of 22l. 11s. 6d.
GEORGE HATCLIFFE gave by will, 10s. to the minister of
this parish, for a sermon on New year's day, 10s. to the churchwardens, and 10s. to the poor for ever on the same day.
HUMPHRY STREET gave by will, in 1623, to be distributed
in bread to the poor, a house, vested in the vicar and churchwardens, of the annual produce of 4l. and another house, for
the like use, vested in trustees, of the annual produce of 1l.
PRISCILLA JONES, in 1625, gave by will, for the benefit of
the poor, to be distributed in bread, a like gift, vested in the Leathersellers company, and of the annual produce of 1l.
EDMUND STYLE, in 1626, gave by will, for the like use,
houses and land, vested in trustees, of the ann. produce of 11l. 8s.
BEVIL MOLESWORTH, in 1630, gave by will, for the like
use, a house, vested in the vicar and churchwardens, of the annual produce of 1l. 5s.
THOMAS MANN, in 1642, gave by will, for the like use, a
house, vested in the Leathersellers company, of the annual produce of 1l. 10s.
WATER HULL gave by will, for the like use, certain houses
and lands vested in the vicar and churchwardens, of the annual
value of 1l. 5s.
WILLIAM BOND, in 1671, gave by will, for the benefit of poor
persons, certain lands, vested in trust, of the ann. produce of 8l.
VALENTINE SPARROW, in 1726, gave by will, to be distributed in bread to the poor, the sum of 139l. 3s. 6d. 3 per cent.
Bank annuities, vested in trustees, and of the annual produce of
DEAN GEORGE STANHOPE, vicar of this parish, in 1727, gave
by will, and the parish of Lewisham by gift, gave 250l. new South
Sea annuities, vested in trustees, and Anne Stanhope, in 1730,
gave by will, 50l. old South Sea annuities, the product of the
300l. being 9l. per annum, the whole of the same towards the
support of the charity school, in this parish, which had been set
forward in 1704, for thirty girls, and had been supported by the
voluntary subscriptions of several persons, to the amount of 20l.
JAMES BROOKS, in 1750, gave by will, for the use of the poor
in bread, 100l. vested in trustees, of the annual produce of 3l.
RICHARD BROOKS, in 1767, gave by will, for the benefit of
six poor housekeepers, 100l. 3 per cent. Bank annuities, vested
in trustees, and of the annual produce of 3l.
BARTHO TAYER, in 1768, gave by will, for six alms people,
in money, 100l. 3 per cent. Bank annuities, vested in the Leathersellers company, and of the annual produce of 3l.
SUSANNA BRETT, in 1773 gave by will, for the use of the
poor in bread, 100l. old South Sea annuities, vested in trustees,
and of the annual produce of 3l.
LADY SARAH FALKLAND, in 1776, gave by will, for the use
of the poor, in bread, 250l. old South Sea annuities, vested in
trustees, of the annual produce of 7l. 10s.
Dr. BRYAN DUPPA, bishop of Winchester, who was born in
this parish, and died in 1662, was a good benefactor to the poor
Lewisham is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester and deanry of
Dartford. The church is dedicated to St. Mary. It
was, from the earliest account of time, an appendage
to the manor of Lewisham, and as such was given by
Elthruda, king Alfred's niece, to the Benedictine abbey of Ghent, which was confirmed at times by several of our kings, particularly by king Henry III.
with the churches, church-yards, lands, tithes, and
It was appropriated by Gilbert de Glanville, bishop
of Rochester, in king Henry II.'s reign, to the abbot
and convent of St. Peter of Ghent, with all its ob-
ventions, to be possessed by them, in perpetual alms,
and to be converted by them to their own proper
use, saving a sufficient support for a curate, together
with a clerk (capellanus cum clerico) to be presented to
the bishop, and to serve in the church so long as he
should be useful to the monks, and saving to the bishop all episcopal right, &c. To which grant was
witness, among others, Sigon, prior of Lewisham.
This was confirmed by bishop Benedict, and afterwards by bishop Richard, in 1239. On an inquisition, taken of the profits and revenues of the bishopric of Rochester, in the 53d year of king Henry III.
it was returned, that the bishop was entitled to receive a yearly pension of four marcs from this church.
King Edward III. in his 17th year, directed his
writ to the bishop of Rochester, to return the names
of aliens beneficed within his diocese, and the names
of the respective benefices, and who of them were resident on them. To which the bishop made return,
that the abbot and convent of Ghent possessed to
their own proper use this church, with the temporals
and spirituals annexed to it, and that brother William
Sergotz, the proctor of the abbot and convent, resided here. A like writ was issued in the 20th year of
the same reign, when the bishop made return, that
the abbot and convent possessed to their own proper
use this church, taxed at twenty marcs, but that they
were not resident on the same. (fn. 20)
In the parliament held at Leicester, in the 2d year
of king Henry V. an act passing for the suppression of
all these alien priories, by which their houses, lands,
and possessions were granted to the king and his heirs,
this church, as part of the possessions of the abbot and
convent of Ghent, became vested in the crown, where
it staid only till the next year, when the king settling
this manor of Lewisham, with its appurtenances, on
his new-founded Carthusian monastery at Shene, the
church, as an appendage, passed with it at the same
In the Register of John Langdon, bishop of Rochester, in the 13th year of king Henry VI. and of
bishop Fisher, in 1508, it appears, that the prior and
convent of Shene, holding the church of Lewisham
appropriate, paid to the bishop a pension of forty shillings yearly. (fn. 21)
Several disputes having arisen between John Bokynham, prior, and the convent of Shene, appropriators of this church, and master William Frome, perpetual vicar of it, concerning the right of taking the
tithes of hay of the demesne meadows, and the tithes
of silva cædua of the demesne wood of Levesham, a
composition was made between them, with the consent of John bishop of Rochester, who by his instrument, under his seal, anno 1431, decreed, with the
consent of both parties, that the prior and convent,
and their successors, possessors of this church, should
take yearly for the future all the tithes of hay of the
demesne meadows, and those of sylva cædua of the
demesne woods of the town and parish of Levesham,
as before possessed by them, and that master William
Frome, vicar, and his successors, in recompence of
the right which they, as vicars of this church, had or
might claim in it, and of the loss which the vicarage
of this church, and the vicars of it might undergo
from the not taking of the tithes aforesaid, and for the
promoting of peace and quietness between the parties,
should peaceably and quietly take and have from that
time, the half part of the wax offered in the church,
on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, which half part of the wax so offered, either
by right or composition, or by the ordination of the
vicarage antiently made, was due to the proprietaries
of this church. And the parties granted for themselves
and their successors for ever, that it should be lawful
for the bishop of Rochester for the time being, or his
vicar general, his official, or the keeper of the spiritualities of the bishopric, in the vacancy of the see, by
sequestering the profits either of the church of Lewisham or the vicarage of it, canonically to compel
both or either of the parties to the keeping of this
composition. King Henry VIII. in his 23d year,
obtained the possession of this church and vicarage
from the above priory in exchange, when John Joburne, the prior of Shene, and the convent of the same
place, by deed dated in their chapter house, granted
to the king their manor of Lewisham, with its appurtenances, and the advowson and patronage of the
church, vicarage, and rectory of Lewisham.
Since which the rectory or parsonage, and the advowson of the vicarage, have passed, with the manor
of Lewisham, through the same proprietors to the
right honourable the earl of Dartmouth, who is the
present owner of them. In the 15th year of king
Edward I. the church of Lewisham was valued at
twenty marcs, and the vicarage at ten marcs. (fn. 22)
By virtue of the commission of enquiry into the value
of church livings, in 1650, out of the court of chancery, it was returned, that Lewisham was a vicarage,
worth one hundred and twenty pounds per annum,
master Abraham Colfe then enjoying it; that the
house, and fifty-four acres of glebe land, were worth
besides fifty pounds per annum. (fn. 23) The vicarage is
valued in the king's books at 23l. 19s. 2d. and the
yearly tenths at 2l. 7s. 11d. (fn. 24)
In the year 1774, the church of Lewisham requiring great repairs to support it, and becoming too
small to contain the numerous inhabitants of this
parish, the parishioners applied to parliament for
powers to rebuild it. Accordingly an act passed that
year to enable commissioners to take down and rebuild it, and to raise a sum for that purpose, by annuities or lives, not exceeding five thousand pounds.
In pursuance of which the old church was pulled
down, and a new one has since been erected on the
same spot, in which service was first performed on
Sunday, September 7, 1777. Within a few days after which part of the east side of it fell to the ground,
which was quickly afterwards repaired and made good.
In the old church, among others, on the north side,
was a monument for John Perry, esq. of Blackheath,
ob. 1732, æt. 92; and for his wife, ob. 1733, æt. 72.
On the south side, one for Thomas Dyer, esq. barrister at law, and Catharine his wife; they both died
in 1748. In the chancel, a memorial for Susan, wife
of Reginald Grahme, lord of this manor, and second
daughter of Sir William Washington, ob. 1698, æt.
81. Two memorials for two infant daughters of Sir
William Wylde, knt. and bart. and dame Frances
his wife, in 1666 and 1668. Within the altar rails,
a memorial for George Stanhope, S. T. P. dean of
Canterbury and vicar of this church, 1728; another
with the figure of a man, in brass, for George, son
and heir of William Haltecliff, esq. one of the king's
treasurers in Ireland, and one of the clerks of his
household, ob. 1514. On the north side, a monument for Margaret, first wife of Jasper Valentine, afterwards of Abraham Colfe, pastor of Lewisham, ob.
1643; another for Thomas Jones, esq. common sergeant of the city of London, ob. 1625, and Priscilla,
his wife, who died the same year. On the north side,
one for dean Stanhope above mentioned, thirty eight
years vicar of this parish and twenty-six of Deptford;
another for Olivia, daughter of Charles Cotton, esq. of
Staffordshire, and wife of dean Stanhope, ob. 1707.
In the south chancel, a memorial for several of the Dyers; two monuments for the family of Symes, of
Blackheath; a monument for the family of Dyer. At
the back of the pulpit were the arms of Valentine,
carved on the wainscot. On the north side of the chancel was an antient stone coffin, cased over with board,
which forms a seat of two pews, near the rails of the
altar; it probably contained the remains of one of
the priors of the cell in this parish. On the south
wall of the church, on the outside, near the east end,
was a small monument for Abraham Colfe, late minister of Lewisham, ob. 1657. (fn. 25)
There were two chantries founded at Lewisham, one
by Richard Walker, for one priest to celebrate mass
at the altar of the Trinity, for the founder's soul; the
other by Roger Fitz, who, by the appointment of his
will, anno 17 king Henry VII. devised his two houses,
the Lion and the Ram, in the Stews, on the Bankside, near London, to be sold to build the chantryhouse, and endow it with maintenance for one priest,
to celebrate at the altar of the Trinity, in Lewisham
church, for the founder's soul.
CHURCH OF LEWISHAM.
|PATRONS, Or by whom presented.||VICARS.|
|Abbot and Convent of Ghent||Richard, first vicar, 1267.|
|Prior and Convent of Shene||William Frome, 1431.|
|John Witton, obt. 1444. (fn. 26) |
|William Helwise, in 1476, and
|Roger Tochett, in July 1483, resigned 1530.|
|John Crayford, instituted 5 July,
|The Crown||John Glynn, Oct. 11, 1545. (fn. 27) |
|John Bungay, 1568, ob. 1595. (fn. 28) |
|The Crown||Hadrianus de Saravia, D. D. resigned 1610. (fn. 29) |
|Abraham Colfe, inducted May 1,
1610, obt. Dec. 5, 1657. (fn. 30) |
|George Legge, esq.||Alexander Davidson, A. M. instituted March 2, 1677, obt.
|George Stanhope, A. M. instituted Aug. 3, 1689, obt. Mar.
18, 1728. (fn. 31) |
|William Legge Earl of Dartmouth||John Inglis, A. M. Ap. 5, 1728,
obt. Oct. 18, 1739.|
|William Lowth, B. D. inducted
Decem. 15, 1739, obt. Feb.
1795. (fn. 32) |
|Hugh Jones, A. M. Sep. 1795.
Anno 5 king George III. an act passed for the
more easy and speedy recovery of small debts within
the hundreds of Blackheath, Bromley, and Beckenham, Rokesley, and Little and Lesnes; and in the
10th year of it, another act passed to explain and
amend the same.