CLIFF NEAR ROCHESTER.
NORTH-EASTWARD from Higham lies Cliff,
called in antient records, Clive, and sometimes Bishop's Clive. It is likewise called Cliff at Hoo, from
its nearness to that hundred, and Cliff near Rochester
and Gravesend, to distinguish it from the parish of
Cliff near Dover. This parish, as well as that near
Dover, are both frequently stiled West Cliff; the former as being situated westward of the latter; and the
latter, as being situated westward of St. Margaret at
Cliff, the adjoining parish eastward from it.
This place takes it name from the cliff or rock on
which it stands. It is by many supposed to have been
the place called, in the time of the Saxons, Cloveshoe,
where several councils were held by the British bishops, of which a further account will be given.
THIS PARISH is very extensive, being from north
to south about five miles, of which near three is marsh
land, reaching to the Thames, which is its northern
boundary, and incircles the whole level, winding round
it in the form of a crescent. The situation of it is a pleasant, but exceedingly unhealthy, owing to its nearness
and exposure to so great a quantity of marsh land. The
upland lies high, though mostly a level surface; the
soil dry and fertile, being a loamy mould, especially
in the common uninclosed field, which comprehends
the middle part of the parish, and contains upwards of
two thousand acres of arable land, though adjoining to
it, near Cowling, the soil becomes very wet, clayey,
and poor, and much covered with bushes and thick
hedge rows; southward of the common field, on the
road to Rochester, the land rises to the hilly country,
a poor clayey soil likewise, where is the manor of
Mortimers, at the southern boundary of this parish.
The village of Cliffe, called Church-street, is situated at the northern edge of the upland, on the chalk
cliffee, hanging over the adjoining level of marshes,
having the church within it (a conspicuous object to
the river and neighbouring county). Adjoining to the
church yard is a capital messuage and estate, called
Courtsole, for many generations the property of the
Ropers, some of whom appear occasionally to have
resided here; and it continued in that name till Christopher Roper, lord Teynham, in 1645, alienated it to
Sir Edward Monins, bart. of Waldershere, whose brother, Sir Thomas, by his will, in 1676, gave it to dame
Elizabeth his wife, as she did in like manner, in 1705,
to Mr.Thomas Short, who had married Elizabeth,
her niece; and he, in 1721, conveyed it by sale to
Mr. Joseph Hasted, of Chatham, (fn. 1) whose grandson,
Edward Hasted, of Canterbury, afterwards inherited
it, but it is now in the possession of Mr. Tho. Williams, gent. of Horton, in this county.
This village is said to have been formerly much
larger than it is at present, great part of it was burnt
down by a casual fire, which happened here in 1520,
about the time that the emperor Charles came into this
realm, to visit king Henry VIII. which disaster it never
recovered; (fn. 2) but seems daily growing into further ruin
and poverty, the number of the inhabitants lessening
yearly, and several of the houses, for want of them,
lying in ruins. A fair is held in it, on St. Pelagius's
day, October 19.
There is another village, not far distant, called from
its situation, West-street, about half a mile from which
is the parsonage house, a mansion fit for the incumbents
of so rich a benefice, though seldom occupied by them.
In the marshes, which are called Cliff level, and are
under the direction of the commission of sewers held at
Rochester, there is a common mead, which is jointly
stocked by the owners of estates here, according to the
property they are intitled to in it.
This is in general supposed to be the place mentioned under the name of Clovesho, i.e. Cliff at Hoo,
where several councils of the British bishops have been
formerly held; though some, among which are Camden, Baxter, &c. and indeed Mr. Somner inclines this
way, have thought this Clovesho to mean Abingdon,
in Berkshire, antiently written Sheovesham, corruptly
for Cleovesham, and urge, besides the similitude of the
name, the conveniency of its situation for the members
who attended these councils, that place being in the
middle of the island, and in the kingdom of Mercia;
whereas Cliff was situated in a bye corner of Kent, and
inconvenient on that account to most who had business at it; (fn. 3) but, as Dr. Plot well observes, it is no
wonder the kings of Mercia called councils in Kent,
which at that time they had wholly conquered; Cuthred, king of Kent, in 796, not being able to give a
small piece of land to Christ church, without the leave
of Cenulf, king of Mercia. (fn. 4)
In a national synod, assembled at Hertford, in the
year 673, at which Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury presided, it was determined that a council should
be held yearly at Clovesho. Whether they were held
there so often is not known; however, the following
are the only ones that have been transmitted to us—In 742, a great council was held there, at which Æthelbald, king of Mercia, presided, Cuthbert, archbishop of
Canterbury, and the rest of the bishops sitting likewise
in it. (fn. 5)
In 747, a famous council was held there under archbishop of Cuthbert, there being present, besides the
bishops, priests, and many other ecclesiastics, Æthelbald, king of Mercia, with his princes and great men.
In 798, there was a council held there under archbishop Athelard.
In 800, a provincial council was held there by Cenulf, king of Mercia, and Athelard, archbishop of Canterbury, all the bishops of the province, the great men,
abbots, and other persons of dignity, being assembled
In 803, a council was held there by Atherlard, archbishop of Canterbury, with twelve other bishops, wherein the see of Canterbury, according to the precept of
pope Leo III. was restored to its pristine right.
In 822, a synodal council was held in that noted
place, called Clovesho, Bernulf, king of Mercia, and
Wlfred, archbishop of Canterbury, presiding in it, all
the bishops, abbots, and nobles, of whatever dignity
they were, being present at it, in which, among other
things, the injuries done to the church of Canterbury,
by Ceolnulf, king of Mercia, were treated of, and several lands restored to it.
In 824 or 825, (fn. 6) a synodal council was held in that
famous place, which was called at Clofeshoum, Beornulf, king of Mercia, and archbishop Wlfred, presiding at it, with the bishops, abbots, and all the princes
of the Mercians sitting in it.
King Richard II. in his 1st year, directed his writs
to the sheriffs of Kent and Essex, commanding them to
erect beacons on each side of the river Thames, opposite to each other, that by the firing of them, notice
might be given of any sudden attempt of the enemy;
in consequence of which one beacon was erected here
at Cliff, an another at Tilbury, in Essex, among other
places along the banks of the river. (fn. 7)
This parish was antiently bound to contribute,
among other places in this neighbourhood, to the repair of the ninth pier of Rochester bridge.
THE MANOR of Cliff, with its appurtenances, was
given to the priory of Christ church, in Canterbury, in
the time of the Saxon heptarchy, and its possessions
were afterwards increased here by king Offa, who, in
the year 791, gave Dunmalingdene, and by queen
Ediva, who in the year 860, gave Oisterland, and by
other benefactors to it. (fn. 8) All which remained, as parcel of the possessions of the priory, at the consecration
of archbishop Lanfranc, in the 4th year of the Conqueror's reign, who, in the division which he made of the
revenues of his church, (fn. 9) allotted the manors of Cliff,
Mallingden, and Bury-court, with their appendages, in
this parish, for their subsistence, cloathing, and other
necessary uses, to the monks of Christ church; but
the premises, called Priors-hall, Hersing, East marsh,
Bishop's-marsh, and others, he retained, as part of the
revenues of the see of Canterbury, for the use of himself and his successors.
These possessions above mentioned, belonging to the
priory, are thus entered in the general survey of Domesday, under the title of Terra Monachorum Archiepi, in
which the archbishop himself is said to hold them, but
this is the usual style of all the possessions of the priory
described in this record.
The archbishop himself holds Clive. It was taxed for
three sulings and a half. The arable land is six carucates.
In demesne there is one carucate and a half, and 20 villeins, with 18 borderers, having five carucates and an
half There is a church and two servants; 36 acres of
meadow; wood of 12 pence value. In the time of king
Edward the Confessors, the whole manor was worth six
pounds, and afterward seven pounds, and now 16 pounds.
In the 15th year of king Henry III. the possessions
of the priory of Christ church in Cliff and Grean were
valued at nine pounds. King Edward II. in his 10th
year, granted to the priory of Christ church free warren in all their demesne lands that they possessed in the
time of his grandfather, and that they had purchased
in this parish, among others therein mentioned. (fn. 10) In
an antient valuation, the temporalities of the priory in
in this parish were estimated at one hundred and thirty
pounds per annum. It appears by the Textus Roffensis, there was once a chapel at this manor of Westcliff.
These manors and premises continued part of the
possessions of the priory of Christ church till the dissolution of it in the 31st year of king Henry VIII. when
it was surrendered into the king's hands, together with
the lands and revenues belonging to it; all which were
confirmed to the king and his heirs by the general
words of the act, passed that year for this purpose.
King Henry VIII. in his 32d year, granted to Sir
George Brooke, lord Cobham, the manors of West
Cliff and Bury-court, with the lands and appurtenances
belonging to them; the marsh grounds, called Great
Hersing marsh, Shepherd's hope, South marsh, and
Tuckney's, in this parish, together with other premises
in Stroke, to hold in capite by knights service, at the
yearly rent of 7l. 13s. 81/2d. which was granted by the
king in his 37th year, to the lord Cobham; to whom
king Edward VI. in his 2d year, granted the marshes
called Burye marsh, alias Patriche marsh, Crawledge
marsh, and Haverwick marsh, and others in the parishes of West Cliffe and Stoke, to hold in capite by
knights service; and among the Harleian manuscripts
there is part of an old roll, containing a survey of the
marsh in Kent, with pictures of the manor houses of
Cliff, Couling, Halstow, St. Mary's, and Allhallows,
belonging to the lord Cobham or Sir Thomas Wyatt. His grandson, Henry lord Cobham, being attainted of treason in the 1st year of king James I. his
estates became forfeited to the crown, and were confirmed to it by an act passed in the 3d year of that
reign; notwithstanding which the manor of West
Cliff, and premises above mentioned, excepting Buryecourt, of which an account will be given hereafter,
whether by a family entail or otherwise, I have not
found, went into the possession of Sir John Brooke,
(second son of Sir Henry Brooke, alias Cobham) fifth
son of the above mentioned lord Cobham, who was,
anno 20 king Charles I. in consideration of his loyalty and sufferings, created baron of Cobham, to him
and his heirs male. He alienated all his estates in
this parish, containing, with the salts, upwards of
fourteen hundred acres of land, with others in this
neighbourhood, to James duke of Richmond, who
died possessed of them in 1655; since which they have
descended, in like manner as Cobham-hall, in the
same line of ownership, down to the Right Hon. John
earl of Darnley, the present owner of them.
A court leet and court baron is held for this manor.
The MANOR oF BURYE-COURT, now called BER
RY COURT, on the attainder of Henry lord Cobham,
came to the crown as before mentioned; soon after
which the reversion of it, after the death of the lady
Frances, his widow, was granted to Sir Robert Cecil,
earl of Salisbury (son of that eminent statesman,
William lord Burleigh) who was afterwards lord trea
surer of England, knight of the Garter, and chancellor of the university of Cambridge, and had married
Elizabeth, sister of Henry lord Cobham above mentioned. He passed away this manor, with its appurtenances, to Bernard Hyde, esq. of London, in whose
descendants it continued many generations, and till
it was sold to Harvey, whose son, Samuel Clay Harvey, esq. died possessed of it in 1791; whose heirs
and assigns are at this time entitled to the possession
of this estate.
The MANOR oF MALLINGDEN, now called MOL
LAND and DEAN FEE, on the dissolution of the
priory of Christ church, in the 32d year of king
Henry VIII. came into the hands of that king, as has
been mentioned before, where it continued till queen
Elizabeth granted it to William Ewens, (fn. 11) who quickly
afterwards alienated it to Brown, from whom it passed
in like manner to Sompner, who sold it to Hills, whence
after some intermission it was conveyed by sale to
Blackford, of Holnicote, in Somersetshire. Henrietta
Blackford, of that place, spinster, died an infant, in
1733, possessed, among other premises in other counties, of one fourth part of this manor, and other lands
in Cliff and Higham, which then came to her coheirs, Elizabeth Dyke, of Dulverton, in Somersetshire, widow, and Elizabeth her daughter, an insant,
as coparceners in fee simple; after which Elizabeth
Dyke, the mother, conveyed those premises in Somerset and Devonshire, to her son Edward Dyke, and
in 1735, procured an act of parliament for an exchange of lands in Somerset and Devonshire, for others
in Oxfordshire and Kent, among the latter of which
was this manor, and to settle them to the same uses;
by which means he became possessed of the entire fee
of this manor, in which he himself had some share
before. He died without issue, and Elizabeth his
niece, daughter and heir of Thomas Dyke, esq. of
Tetton became his heir, then married to Sir Thomas
Ackland, bart. who in her right became possessed of
it. This family was originally of Lankey, near Barnstaple, in Devonshire, and took its name from their
seat in it, called Accalan, or Aclan, in allusion to
which they bore, in early times, on their seals, Three
oak leaves on a bend, between two lions rampant. They
antiently wrote their name, De Accalan, and afterwards Akelane, and Acland. John Ackland, esq was
of Columb John, in the parish of Broad Clist, near
Exeter, and was, by king Charles I. for his eminent services in the royal cause, made a baronet; but
the letters patent were destroyed in the confusion of
those times, and there being a long minority in the
family after the Restoration, new letters of exemplification of the former ones were not granted till 1677;
but there was a special clause in them of precedency
from the date of the first. His direct descendant was
Sir Thomas Ackland, bart. of Columb John above
mentioned. They bear for their arms, Quarterly, 1st
and 4th, argent, on a bend sable, three lions heads erased
argent, crowned or. (fn. 12) He died in 1753, leaving two
sons, John Dyke Acland, esq. of Pixton, in Somersetshire; and Thomas, the latter of whom at length afterwards succeeded to the title and to this estate, of
which he died possessed in 1794; since which it has
been sold to the present owner of it.
This is a small manor; the court baron for it is
held under a tree, there being no manor house remaining.
PRIOR'S-HALL, with other premises, which archbishop Lanfranc retained in this parish, as part of the
revenues of the see of Canterbury, as has been already
mentioned, remained in the possession of the archbishops till Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury, in the
year 1195, anno 7 Richard I. with the king's consent,
and for the mutual benefit of the churches of Canterbury and Rochester, exchanged, among other premises, a sheepcote in Clive, which was called Estmers,
with two hundred and twenty sheep, and certain land
in Clive, belonging to it, and certain tenants in this
parish, with the lands which they held, and the rents,
services, and customs, without any reservation to the
archbishop and his successors, for the manor of Lambeth, &c. with the monks of St. Andrew's, in Rochester, to the use of their resectory, in like manner
as they before had the manor of Lambeth, saving to
the bishop of Rochester all episcopal right, (fn. 13) &c. which
exchange was confirmed that year by king Richard I.
and afterwards by king John, in his first and second
The priory of St. Andrew's continued in possession
of these premises and the manor belonging to them,
called Prior's hall, till the time of its dissolution,
which happened in the 32d year of king Henry VIII.
when it was, with all the rents and revenues belong
ing to it, surrendered into the king's hands, who soon
afterwards, by his dotation charter, in his 33d year,
settled the manor of Prior's-hall on his new founded
dean and chapter of Pochester, with whom the inheritance of it now remains.
William Gates, gent. of Rochester, died possessed
of the lease of these premises in 1768, the term of
which became vested in his executors. It is now in
the possession of James Roper Head, esq.
THE OTHER PART OF THIS PARISH, not belonging to the archbishop or church of Canterbury, was
among those possessions with which William the Conqueror enriched his half brother Odo, the great bi
shop of Baieux, under the general title of whose lands
it is thus entered in the book of Domesday:
Ernulf de Hesding holds Clive of the bishop (of
Baieux). It was taxed for half a suling. The arable
land is In demesne half a carucate, and two villeins, and 10 acres of meadow, and pasture for 100 sheep.
In the time of king Edward the Confessor, and afterwards, it was worth 30 Shillings.
On the disgrace of bishop Odo, about four years
afterwards, his estates were confiscated to the crown,
and among them this of Cliff, which consisted of the
manors now called Cardan's and Mortimer's, with
lands, called Drap's, Ballard's, Mortimer's, Southwould, Northope, and divers others in the south-east
part of this parish.
The MANOR of CARDON'S, in the reign of king
Edward I. was in the possession of the heirs of Robert
Cardon, Robert le Ram, and Alice Salamon. In
the 20th year of king Edward III. John Cardon and
others held it of the manor of Horton Kirkby, as the
fourth part of one knight's fee, for which they paid respective aid, at the making the Black Prince a knight.
Robert le Ram above mentioned died in the 36th
year of that reign possessed of his part of this estate;
Joane, the wife of John Ram, most probably one of
his descendants, lies buried in this church, under a
grave stone, with her memorial in French, cut in
large capitals of a very antient form, round the verge
In the 16th year of king Edward IV. it was in the
hands of the crown, and was that year granted to the
Carthusian monastery, commonly called the Charterhouse, in West Smithfield, London; on the suppression of which, in the 29th year of king Henry VIII.
it came to the crown, and was confirmed to the king
by the act of the 31st of that reign. In which year
the king granted to Thomas Gibbons, citizen and
vinter of London, the manor of Cardon's, a tenement
called Balord's, and another called Mortimer's, and
all other lands in Cliff and Higham, late belonging to
the above phonastery, to hold in capite by knight's
service; before the end of which year he had the
king's licence to alienate this manor, with Ballard's
and Drap's, with their appurtenances in Cliff, with
other premises, to Oliver Leder. How long the manor of Cardon's continued in the name of Leder I do
not find; but about the year 1725 it was sold to the
dean and chapter of Rochester, in whom the inheritance of it continues at this time, the present lessee
being Mr. John Knight.
The MANOR of MORTIMER'S, now vulgarly called BLUE GATES, is situated at the southern extremity of this parish, in the high road from Cliff to
Rochester, and was antiently in the possession of a
younger branch of the great family of Mortimer, who
in after times settled their name on it.
Hugh de Mortimer was possessed of this estate in
the 1st year of king Edward III and had the grant
of a fair to his manor here. In the reign of king
Edward I. John Mortimer and Guncelin de Clyve
were in possession of it; and in the 20th year of that
reign, John, son of John Mortimer, and Robert le
Ram, paid respective aid for it, as half a knight's fee,
which the before mentioned John and Guncelin held
at Shabrok in Clyve.
John Mortimer resided at Mortimer's in the reign
of king Edward III. in the 11th year of which he
was summoned to provide an hobleer, or light horseman, for the security of the coast about Genlade in
Hoo. After the family of Mortimer had left the
possession of this place, that of Englefeild, of Berkshire, succeeded to it; a noble family, as Philipott
calls it, reputed to be of Saxon extraction, and descended from Hasculfus de Inglefeild, (fn. 14) who lived at
the latter end of king Canute's reign. His direct
descendant, Sir Thomas Englesfeild, speaker of the
house of commons, and chief justice of Chester, in
the reign of king Henry VII. who bore for his arms,
Barry of six, gules and argent, on a chief or, a lion passant argent, (fn. 15) alienated this manor about the latter
end of that reign to John Sedley, esq. auditor of the
exchequer to that prince, whose descendant sold it to
Wentworth; and Richard lord Wentworth, in the
2d and 3d year of Philip and Mary, conveyed it by
sale to Mr. Thomas Polley, and his great grandson,
Geo. Polley, esq. passed it away to Rob. Lee, gent. of
Chatham, whose son, William Lee, esq. was surveyor
of the navy in the reign of queen Anne. He was
twice married, first to Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel
Pett, esq. and secondly to Catherine, daughter of
William Johnson, esq. by neither of whom he had
issue. He died in 1757, much advanced in years, (fn. 16)
and by his will gave this estate to his kinswoman,
Mrs. Ward, of Chatham, for her life, with remainder
to her brother, rear admiral Henry Ward, esq. both
of whom possessed it, and on the death of the latter,
about the year 1768, it came to his son, Edward
Vernon Ward, esq. who is the present owner of it.
THE PARISH of Cliff has a right of nomination to one place
in the New College of Cobham, for one poor person, inhabitant
of this parish, to be chosen and presented so, and by such as the
ordinances of the college have power to present and elect for this
parish; and if the parish of Hoo makes default in electing in
their turn, then the benefit of such election devolves to this parish.
RICHARD COX, in 1611, gave by will to the poorest persons
a tenement in the occupation of Richard Edmunds, now of the
annual produce of 1l.
DR. WILSON, in 1614, gave to the poorest and eldest widower
and widow, 40s. each, and to the poor of the parish, 40s. yearly,
to be paid out of three pieces of land, in the occupation of Wm.
Slaughter, and now of the annual produce of 6l.
THOMAS GALE, in 1620, gave by will to the same a tenement, in the occupation of William Halspenny, now of the annual product of 10s.
BONHAM FAUNCE, in 1652, gave by will to the poor a piece
of land, in the same occupation, of the like annual produce.
GEORGE PERRIT, in 1661, gave by will to the poorest persons of this parish a piece of land, now in the occupation of Mrs.
Smith, now of the annual produce of 2l.
ROBERT PARKER, in 1678, gave by will to the poor, the sum
of 5l. now of the annual produce of 6s.
JOHN BROWNE, late of this parish, yeoman, in 1679, gave a
tenement, lying in Church-street, in the tenure of John Browne,
and another, with its appurtenances, in Southwood-borough, for
the education and teaching of twelve poor children of the inhabitants of this parish for ever. And he ordered, that his executor
and the churchwardens for the time being should elect and choose
a poor man or woman, being capable to teach, and also the children to be taught, &c. The master or dame to keep the premises
in good repair.
CLIFF is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Rochester, and being a peculiar
of the archbishop of Canterbury, is as such within the
deanry of Shoreham. The church is dedicated to St.
Helen. It stands at the north-west side of Churchstreet, and is a large handsome building, equal to most
other churches in this county. It consists or two
side isles, a nave, and a chancel, all losty and spacious; the roof is covered with lead, and the walls
embattled; at the west end is a good tower, in which
is a clock, and a ring of six bells. In the chancel
there are remains of good painted glass, and on the
roof the arms of archbishop Arundel. Here are likewise six stalls, for the use of the monks of Christ
church and others of the clergy, when they attended
divine service in this church. Such stalls are frequently observed in the chancels of churches where
the large monasteries had estates, being placed there
for the above use, for formerly the clergy and laity
sat apart, the former in the chancel, and the latter
in the other parts of the church, in like manner as
at present in the Roman Catholic countries abroad.
There was fomerly an organ in this church, the case
of which is yet remaining.
Among other monuments and memorials in it are the following:
In the nave, round the verge of a coffin like stone, in Saxon capitals, these words, JONE LA PEMME JOHAN RAM GYST YCI
DUE DE SA ALME EIT MERCI +. On a grave stone a brass,
with the figures of a man and his two wives and two children, for
Bonham Faunce, gent. of this parish, ob. 1652, having had by
his two wives, Elizabeth and Mary, each one child; another a
brass, with the figures of a man and his two wives, one of them
lost; and six children, for Thomas Faunce, yeoman, who had two
wives, Alice and Elizabeth, by the former he had two sons and
one daughter, and by the latter one son and two daughters; he
died in 1609, Alice died in 1592; Thomas his eldest son, being
mayor of Rochester at his father's decease; on a pillar, south of
the entrance into the chancel, on a brass plate, an inscription,
with an account of John Browne's charity to this parish, as mentioned above. In one of the windows are these arms, Azure a
cross patonce between five martlets or. In the north isle, round
the verge of a stone, in the form of a coffin, this inscription, in
Saxon capitals, ELIENORE DE CLIVE GIST ICI DEU DE SA
ALME EIT MERCI AMEN PAR CHARITE. In the south isle, a
brass for Elizabeth Gissome, wife of James Gissome of this parish,
obt. 1688. A memorial for the Baynards of this parish. (fn. 17)
The church of Cliff (to which there belongs a manor in this parish, called Parson's borough, for which
a court baron is still held) was part of the antient possessions of the see of Canterbury, and was excepted in
the great deed of exchange, which archbishop Cranmer made with king Henry VIII. by which he conveyed all the rest of his estates in this parish to that
king, as has been mentioned before. The archbishop
of Canterbury still continues patron of this rectory.
In the 15th year of king Edward I. the church of
Clive was valued at one hundred and ten marcs. In
the year 1650, it was valued at 200l. (fn. 18) It is valued
in the king's books at 50l. and the yearly tenths, 5l.
The present rector is paid 500l. per annum by the
parishioners in general, who agree to pay all land and
other taxes besides, and they levy the whole at so
much per acre among themselves, which raises in the
whole about 650l. per annum.
The rector by old custom is bound to distribute at
his parsonage house on St. James's day annually, a
mutton pie and a loaf, to as many persons as choose
to come there and demand it, the expence of which
amounts to about fifteen pounds per annum. This
continued till within these few years, but the present
rector has found means to obtain the parishioners acquiescence for the discontinuance of it.
The tithes of the marsh land in this parish caused
continual disputes between the prior and convent of
Christ church and the rectors of this parish, concerning which they came at last to a composition, in 1229,
which was confirmed by the archbishops, Richard and
John; but this not satisfying the convent, they obtained, in 1290, from the rector, John de Bestan, an
instrument under his seal, by which he relinquished
all right and title to them; since which, to the present time, the marshes in this parish have been exempted from the payment of tithes. The prior and
convent likewise contended for an exemption from
tithes for their sheepcotes and mills in this parish, and
the small tithes of their manor of Cliff, all which they
obtained, in 1254, from Hugh de Mortimer, then
rector of this church, by an instrument under his
seal, but the disputes between them, owing to the incroachments of the convent, still continued, to settle
which there were several compositions entered into
between them at different times, which were confirmed by the several archbishops; all which may be
seen in their registers, and in the Chartæ Antiq. in
the Lambeth library. (fn. 19)
This parish is a peculiar jurisdiction, exempted
from the authority of the dean of the arches, who is
the commissary of the deanry of Shoreham, and the
rector of it is only visitable by the archbishop at Cliff.
He is ordinary of his parish, and exercises several
branches of ordinary jurisdiction, without any special
commission. By himself, or his surrogate, he holds
a court every year, soon after Easter, for the taking
the oaths of the churchwardens on their entrance into
office, and he grants licences for marriages, probates
of wills, and letters of administration.
The seal, which once belonged to the ecclesiastical
court of Cliff, having been many years lost, is said to
have been found some years ago on Blackheath; the
impression, A man's hand issuing from a gown sleeve,
(probably that of doctor of laws) and holding a long
staff, with a cross fixed on the top of it. The inscription, in old English letters, S. OFFICIALIT + JURISDICTIONIS DE LIBA POCH DE CLYFF, i. e. the
seal of the officlality of the jurisdiction of the free parish
of Clyff. The seal now used seems to be antient;
the impression is the figure of a bishop, with his crosier in his hand; the inscription, S: PECULIARIS: JURISDICTIONS: RECTORIS: DE: CLYFF, i. e. the seal
of the peculiar jurisdiction of the rector of Cliff.
Godfrid de Scræmbroke gave the tithe of his land
at Scræmbroke, in the parish of Cliff, to the priory
of St. Andrew, in Rochester, soon after the conquest;
which gift was confirmed to it by Richard, (fn. 20) Baldwin,
and Hubert, archbishops of Canterbury. There were
lands in this parish of the yearly value of sixteen pence,
given for the saying of a mass yearly in this church.
Church of Cliff.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Archbishops of Canterbury.||Richard Wallingford in 1229. (fn. 21) |
|Hugh de Mortimer, in 1254.|
|Richard de Stratford, in 1277.|
|Philip de Wyleby, in 1283.|
|John de Bestune, in 1289.|
|James de Cobham, in 1305.|
|Wm. de Wittesley, about 1350. (fn. 22) |
|Wm. de Jocelyn, alias Islep, inst.
Mar. 11, 1358, resig. Nov.
following. (fn. 23) |
|Wm. Uttinge, S.T.P. ob. Feb.
10, 1481. (fn. 24) |
|Nicholas Health, in 1543, resig.
1548. (fn. 25) |
|Edmond Cranmer, in 1549. (fn. 26) |
|The Queen||Hugh Weston, S.T.P. inst. Ap.
2, 1554. (fn. 27) |
|William Wilson, S.T.P. ob. May
15, 1615. (fn. 28) |
|Griffin Higgs, S.T.P. in 1631,
ejected. (fn. 29) |
|Samuel Annesley, LL.D. an in
truder about 1640. (fn. 30) |
|Henry Holcroft, outed 1661. (fn. 31) |
|Geo. Stradling, S.T.P. in 1661. (fn. 32) |
|George Green, S.T.P. obt. Oct.
|Wm. Nicholas Blomberg, S. T.P.
presented Nov. 1, 1739, obt.
|James Harwood, A. M. ob. Feb.
15, 1778. (fn. 33) |
|John Simkinson, Aug. 1778. Present rector.|