IS the principal parish in the Island of Shepey. It
lies on high ground near the middle of the north side
The parish takes its name from the monastery founded
very early within it, Minstre in the Saxon language signifying a monastery or religious house.
The manor of Newington claims over a small part
of this parish, but the paramount manor over the whole
of it is that of Milton.
THE PARISH of Minster is by far the largest of any
in the island. The village is situated on high ground
near the middle of it, with the church, and ruins of the
monastery close on the northern side of it; of the latter
there is little more than the gate-house remaining.
THE VILLE of Sheerness is situated at the western
bounds, as well of this parish as of the whole island, a
further account of which will be given hereafter. It
was formerly accounted as part of this parish, but it
has long since been made a ville of itself, and as to its
civil jurisdiction, entirely separate from this parish.
The cliffs on the northern side of this island, are
likewise the northern boundaries of this parish; Queenborough and Sheerness bound it towards the west, and
the Swale and the island of Elmley southward.
In June 1756, a monstrous fish, thought to be a
young whale, was driven on shore at this place. It
measured thirty-six feet and upwards in length, twentytwo feet in circumserence, and eight feet from the eyes
to the tip of the nose. It was supposed to yield twenty
hogsheads of oil.
King Edward III. in his 17th year, granted a fair
to be held here on Palm Monday, which is still continued for toys and such like merchandize.
SEXBURGA, one of the daughters of Annas, king of
East Anglia, and widow of Ercombert, king of Kent,
between the years 664 and 673, having obtained lands
in this parish of her son king Egbert, founded A MONASTERY here, which she finished and got well endowed for seventy-seven nuns, whom she placed in it,
king Egbert himself adding several lands to it, and she
became herself the first abbess. Soon after which,
about the year 675, she resigned her government of it
to her daughter Ermenilda, who became the second
abbess, and then retired, in the year 699, to the Isle of
Ely, to the monastery there, over which her sister
Etheldred presided. (fn. 1)
During the times of the Danish invasions, the religious of this monastery were subject to continual instances of cruelty and oppression, and at last their house
was in a great measure destroyed by them, and the nuns
dispersed. In which situation it seems nearly to have
remained till the reign of the Conqueror, who, on the
prioress of the nunnery of Newington near Sittingborne having been strangled in her bed, consiscated
their possessions, and removed the few remaining nuns
to this ruinated monastery, which continued but in a
very mean condition till the year 1130, when it was reedified and replenished with Benedictine nuns, by
archbishop Corboil, and dedicated to St. Mary and St.
In the 8th year of king Richard II. anno 1384, the
temporalities of this monastery were valued at 66 l. 8s.
and the spiritualities at 73l. 6s. 8d. Total 139l. 14s. 8d.
In the 27th year of king Henry VIII. an act having
passed for the suppression of all religious houses, whose
revenues did not amount to the clear yearly value of
two hundred pounds, this monastery, whose revenues
amounted to no more than 129l. 7s. 10½d. annual re
venue, or 122l. 14s. 6d. clear yearly income, being
then ten pounds less than they were near two hundred
years before, was surrendered up to the king, at which
time it was in so indigent a state, that there were but
a prioress and ten nuns in it. To the former, Alicia
Crane, the king granted a pension of fourteen pounds
for her life, towards her proper support and maintenance.
The manor of Minster, alias Sexburg, was granted,
together with the scite of the monastery, and all the
lands and possessions belonging to it, by the king, in
his 29th year, to Sir Thomas Cheney, lord warden,
and treasurer of the household, to hold in capite by
knight's service. He died in the 1st year of queen
Elizabeth, and was succeeded in his estates by his only
son Henry, afterwards knighted, and created lord Cheney, of Tuddington, (fn. 2) who in the 3d year of that reign
levied a fine of all his lands, and quickly afterwards exchanged this estate with the queen for others elsewhere,
though he afterwards remained possessed of much other
lands in this parish, which as well as all the rest of his
estates, through his prosuse manner of living, he was
obliged to alienate at different times. (fn. 3)
After the above-mentioned exchange, the queen regranted this manor, with the scite of the monastery, to
Sir Thomas Hoby, of Bisham, in Berkshire, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Anthony Cook, of
Giddy-hall, in Essex, by whom he had two sons,
Edward, and Thomas-Posthumus, both afterwards
knighted. He died at Paris, where he was ambassador, in 1566, leaving his wife with child of his second
son there. She brought his body home, and having
built a chapel on the south side of the church of Bisham,
laid him in the vault underneath. He was succeeded
in this manor and estate at Minster by his eldest son
Sir Edward Hoby, who, as Camden stiles him, was a
famous and worthy knight, being made constable of
Queenborough-castle, where he resided, and custos rotulorum of this county. The Hobys bore for their
arms, Argent, three spindles in fess, gules, threaded, or,
being the arms of Badland, the heiress of whom their
ancestor had married; the antient arms of Hoby being
Gules, three halberts in pale, argent, their staves, or,
which they bore in the second place. Sir Edward Hoby's arms are in a window of the Middle Temple hall,
with his quarterings. He was an officer at the taking of
Cadiz, and was chosen to serve in parliament several
times, at the latter end of queen Elizabeth, and on king
James's coming to the crown was made a gentleman
of his privy chamber. He was a person of learning,
and wrote several books. He died at Queenboroughcastle in 1616, not long before which he had sold this
manor and estate to Mr. Henry Richards, who gave it
by his will to Gabriel Levesey, esq. of Hollingborne,
sheriff in 1618. He was descended from the family
of Levesey, or Livesey, which was originally of Levesey, in Lancashire. His father, Robert Levesey, esq.
was of Stretham, in Surry, sheriff of Sussex and Surry
in 1592 and 1602, and left three sons, of whom Gabriel above-mentioned, was the youngest. They bore
for their arms, Argent, a lion rampant, gules, between
three tresoils slipt, vert. His son Sir Michael Levesey,
about the year 1623, conveyed this manor, with the
scite of the monastery, to Sir John Hayward, of Hollingborne-hill, second son of Sir Rowland Hayward,
citizen and alderman of London. (fn. 4) Dying in 1636, s. p.
he settled it by his will in 1635, upon his two feoffees,
Richard Buller, esq. of Cornwall, and Mr. Sergeant
Clerk, of Rochester, in trust for such charitable uses as
they should think proportionate to the profits of the
estate from time to time. In which situation it still
continues, the present trustees of it being John Buller,
esq. of Cornwall, and his brother, Sir Francis Buller,
one of the justices of the court of common pleas. The
trustees of this charity in 1651, in pursuance of Sir
John Hayward's will, settled fifty pounds per annum,
for the relief of the poor of St. Nicholas's parish, in
Rochester, to be paid out of this manor, and other premises in Shepey; and these estates still increasing in
value, the residuary trustee of them, in 1718, purchased out of their profits 636l. South-Sea stock, which
he transferred to the mayor and citizens of Rochester,
for the perpetual support of three charity schools in
that city and in Strood. (fn. 5)
NEWHALL, alias BORSTAL, is a small manor in this
parish, which in the 9th year of king Edward II. was
in the possession of Fulk Peysorer, who that year died
possessed of it; from which name it passed into that of
Potyn, one of whom, Nicholas Potyn, was possessed of
it in the reign of king Richard II. and left one only
daughter Juliana, who carried it in marriage to Thomas St. Leger, of Otterden, second son of Ralph St.
Leger, of Ulcomb, whose daughter and heir Joane,
carried it in marriage to Henry Aucher, esq. of Newenden, and he seems to have passed away this manor
before the end of king Henry the Vth.'s reign, to Sir
William Cromer, lord mayor of London in the years
1413 and 1423, who died possessed of it in 1433. He,
as well as his descendants, possessors of this manor, resided at Tunstall; one of whom, William Cromer,
esq. engaging in the rebellion raised by Sir Thomas
Wyatt in the 1st year of queen Mary, was attainted,
by which this manor, among the rest of his estates, became forfeited to the crown, (fn. 6) whence it was soon afterwards granted by the queen to Sir Thomas Cheney,
knight of the garter, treasurer of the houshold, &c.
who died possessed of it in the 1st year of queen Elizabeth, and was succeeded by his only son Henry, afterwards knighted, and created Lord Cheney, of Tuddington.
He levied fines of all his lands anno 3 and 17 Elizabeth, and in the 20th year of that reign, alienated the
manor of Newhall to Richard Luck, whose son of the
same name sold it to Mr. Henry Newton, as he did
soon afterwards to Mr. Josias Gering, who was possessed of it at the restoration of king Charles II. After
which it came into the name of Randal, the last of
whom, Mr. Thomas Randal, devised it by his will to
Mr. John Swist, who has rebuilt the greatest part of
this seat, and resides in it.
RUSHINDON, formerly called Rossingdone, is a manor
here, which in the reign of king Henry II. seems to
have been in the possession of that prince, who gave to
the church of the Holy Trinity, now Christ-church,
Canterbury, fifteen pounds, rents in Rissendon, and
other places in this neighbourhood; after which it
came into the possession of the family of Savage, seated
at Bobbing, in this county, one of whom, John le Sauvage, obtained a charter of free-warren for his lands
here, among others, in the 23d year of king Edward I.
Of one of his descendants it was purchased by queen
Philippa, wife of king Edward III. who settled it, together with the farm of Dandeley, in this parish, (fn. 7) on
the master and brethren of the royal hospital of St.
Katherine, near the Tower, in London, and their successors, towards the enlarging and better endowing of
that hospital, to hold to them in pure and perpetual
By a survey remaining in the First Fruits office, taken in the 26th year of king Henry VIII. this manor
of Rossingdone was valued at twenty-pounds, and the
farm of Dandeley at eight pounds yearly income.
This hospital escaped the suppression of such foundations in the reigns of king Henry VIII. and Edward VI.
and consists at this time of a master, three brethren
priests, three sisters, and ten beadswomen, with officers
and servants, to whom the see of this manor, with Dandeley and other estates in this parish, now belongs;
but the possession of them is leased by them at an annual reserved rent for three lives to different tenants.
This estate was held of the hospital in the 14th year
of king Richard II. by John of Gaunt, the king's
uncle. In much later times it was held by Decroe for
three lives, afterwards by Adam Edwards, since that by
Caleb Banks, esq. of Maidstone, by one of the coheirs
of whose son, Sir John Banks, bart. his interest in it
went in marriage to Heneage Finch, created afterwards
earl of Aylesford, whose eldest son Heneage, earl of
Aylesford, in 1721, anno 7 George I. having procured
an act for the purpose, passed away his interest in this
manor to his next brother the hon. John Finch, whose
only son Savile Finch, esq. died in 1788, and his heirs
are now possessed of his interest in the lease of it.
THE FARM OF DANDELE above-mentioned is situated in the western part of this parish; in the reign of
king Edward VI. it was in the possession of Sir Thomas Seymour, lord Seymour, and lord high admiral of
England, who being attainted in the 3d year of that
reign, this, among the rest of his possessions, became
forfeited to the crown, whence it was granted that same
year, being then in the tenure of Sir William Poultney,
to Sir Thomas Cheney, knight of the garter, &c. to
hold in capite by knight's service. He was succeeded
by his only son Henry, afterwards knighted, and created lord Cheney of Tuddington, who in the 3d year
of that reign had possession granted of all his lands, and
among them of a house, and three hundred acres of land
and marsh, called Daunley, with their appurtenances,
in Minster, parcel of the possessions of St. Katherine's,
in the tenure of Thomas Harris and Thomas Horton,
held of the king in capite by knight's service.
He levied a fine that year of all his lands, as he did
again in the 17th year of it, and soon afterwards sold
his interest in this estate to Levesey, who parted with it
about the year 1604 to Sir Julius Cæsar, master of the
rolls, under treasurer of the exchequer, and privy counsellor, (fn. 8) who the next year settled it on his eldest son,
Charles Cæsar, esq. He was afterwards knighted, and
succeeded his father as master of the rolls, and was of
the privy council both to king James and Charles I.
He died in 1643, and was buried in the church of Benington, in Hertfordshire, having been twice married;
first to Anne, daughter of Sir Peter Vanlore, by whom
he had three daughters, Jacomina, wife of Henry Anderson, esq. of Pendley; the second of Henry Levingston, esq. of Hampshire, and Anne; secondly Jane,
daughter of Sir Edward Barkham, lord-mayor of London, by whom he left two sons, Sir Henry, of Benington, and Charles, of Much Haddon, in Hertfordshire,
esq. His lady survived him, and possessed his interest
in this estate, of which she died possessed in 1661, this
estate being at that time part of the possessions of St.
Katherine's hospital, of whom it was afterwards held
by Garret, and Charles Garret passed away his interest
in it to Philip Crespigny, esq. whose descendant Philip
Champion Crespigny, esq. is the present leffee of it.
NEATS, alias Neats-court, is a manor in this parish,
which in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign was
in the hands of the crown, and was granted by that
princess, in her 5th year, to Robert Merrywether, but
it was only for a term, for in the 17th year of that
reign it was again in the queen's hands, who then
granted it, at the yearly rent of seventy pounds, for a
term of years, to John Bode and Elizabeth his wife;
after which the fee-simple of it remaining in the crown,
was by king Charles I. in his Ist year, settled, on his
marriage with queen Henrietta-Maria, as part of her
Her trustees afterwards granted a lease of the manor-house and lands belonging to it, in the 14th year of
king Charles I. in consideration of 450l. fine, the surrender of a former lease, and 70l. 0s. 0½d. rent per annum, to Sir Edward Hales, knight and baronet, for
three lives; and there was reserved out of the grant,
all courts-baron and leets, advowsons, mines, quarries, &c.
After the death of king Charles I. anno 1648, the
powers then in being seized on the royal estates, and
passed an ordinance to vest them in trustees, that they
might be surveyed and sold. Accordingly, by the survey
taken in 1650, it appeared, that the number of acres
then belonging to this estate was 649, and the yearly
annual improved rent of it amounted to 380l. 3s. and
that the three lives above-mentioned were then subsisting. Soon after which the fee of this estate was sold
by them to Edward Downton and Edward Finch, with
whom it continued till the restoration of Charles II.
anno 1660, when the inheritance of it returned again
to the crown. (fn. 9) Since which it has come into the possession of the name of Edwin; Humphry Edwin, esq.
lately owned it, and it is now the property of Mrs.
Mary Edwin, of St. Albans, in Hertfordshire.
CALEHILL is another manor here, which in the reign
of king Henry VIII. was in the possession of William
Bury, who in the 37th year of it, conveyed it to that
king in exchange for Culneham, in Oxfordshire.
This manor remained in the crown till the 2d and
3d years of Philip and Mary, when it was granted, with
divers lands and pastures parcel of it, to Sir Thomas
Cheney, knight of the garter, &c. to hold in capite by
knight's service, whose only son and heir Henry, lord
Cheney, of Tuddington, who, in the 3d year of that
reign, had possession granted of his father's estates, and
among others of this manor called Calehill, with its appurtenances, in this parish, and several parcels of land,
called Notts, Mayotts, and Chetercroft, in Leysdowne,
Estchurch, and Warden, held of the king in capite,
late parcel of the possessions of William Bury, merchant. After which he exchanged Calehill, with the
lands above mentioned, with the queen, among other
estates in this parish and neighbourhood, and the fee of
it remained in the crown till king James I. in his 2d
year, granted it to Philip Herbert, younger brother of
William, earl of Pembroke, who was the next year
created lord Herbert of Shurland, and earl of Montgomery, and on his brother's death, without surviving
issue, succeeded him as earl of Pembroke. Since which
it has descended down in like manner as Milton manor,
to the right hon. Philip, viscount Wenman, and Mrs.
Anne Herbert, who are the present possessors of it, but
it has been long since so blended with the rest of their
possessions here, that the very name of it is forgotten;
nor is the exact situation of it at present known.
THE GOVERNORS of the Chest for sick and maimed
seamen at Chatham, are possessed of lands here called
Scockles, containing by estimation three hundred and
forty acres, which formerly belonged to the family of
A PERSON UNKNOWN gave for the relief of the poor a house
and some land, containing about three acres, it was last rented
at 4l. per annum, but is now in the occupation of the parish.
The poor relieved constantly are about sixty; casually about
MINSTER is within the ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION of the diocese of Canterbury, and deanry of
The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary and St.
Sexburg, (as was the monastery) is supposed by some
to have been the very church of it, but by others, that
it only adjoined to it; at present it consists of two isles
and two chancels. The steeple is at the west end, being a large square tower, with a turret at the top, in
which there is a clock, and a ring of five bells. It was
formerly higher than it is at present, as appears by the
remains. There was formerly a building adjoining to
the east end of the north chancel, as appears by a doorcase and some ornaments on the outside of it. In the
north chancel, on the south side, is the tomb of Sir
Thomas Cheney, knight of the garter, &c. who was
buried with great state, in a chapel which had been the
conventual church, adjoining to the north east part of
this parish; but his son Henry, lord Cheney, having in
1581, anno 24 Elizabeth, obtained a licence to remove
the coffins and bones of his father and ancestors from
thence, he having sold the materials of the chapel to Sir
Humphry Gilbert, and placed them in this parish
church, the coffin of his father was, among others removed, and deposited in this chancel. On the north
side, under an arch in the wall, on a grey marble, lies
the figure of a man, habited in armour. In the south,
or high chancel, against the south wall, is an antient
tomb, with the effigies of a man lying at length crosslegged, and in armour; on his right side is the figure
of a horse's head, carved alike in alabaster, and fixed
to the tomb, concerning which many idle reports are
current. (fn. 10) On a stone in the middle of the chancel, are
the figures in brass of a man and woman; his in armour, cross-legged, with large spurs, his sword by his
side, and this coat of arms, Ermine, a pale, engrailed,
(perhaps it might have been originally a cross, the rest
of it having been rubbed out); on her mantle, Three
bars, wavy; under his feet a lion, under her's a talbot;
the inscription underneath is gone, except the word
Hic at the beginning of it. At the upper end of the
north isle is a small stone, seemingly very antient, with
a cross bottony on it.
In the year 1489, there was a chapel, dedicated to
St. John Baptist, Situated within the cemetery of Minster, in Shepey.
The church of Minster seems to have been part of
the endowment of the monastery at the first foundation of it.
This church was not many years afterwards appropriated to it, (fn. 11) the cure of it being esteemed as a donative, in which state it continued at the time of the dissolution of the monastery, when it came, together with
the rest of the possessions of it, into the king's hands,
where it remained till the king granted the rectory of
Minster, with its rights, members, and appurtenances,
and the advowson of the church there, to Sir Thomas
Cheney, knight of the garter, &c. to hold in capite by
knight's service, whose son Henry, lord Cheney, of
Tuddington, alienated this rectory, with the advowson,
to Robert Levesey, esq. in whose descendants it continued sometime afterwards, till at length it was sold to
Gore, and William Gore, esq. of Boxley, died possessed
of the rectory impropriate, with the advowson, in 1768.
He died s.p. and by his will devised it to his relation
Robert Mitchell, esq. who dying likewise. s.p. in
1779, gave his estates to his three nephews, Robert,
Christopher, and Thomas, sons of his brother Thomas,
the eldest of whom, Robert Mitchell, esq. became afterwards the sole proprietor of them.
The parsonage at present consists of a house, barns,
&c. and one hundred and eighty-eight acres of arable,
meadow, and pasture belonging to it, together with all
the great and small tithes of the parish, of all kinds
The ecclesiastical jurisdiction of this parish extends
over the ville of Sheerness, the populousness of which
adds greatly to the burials in it, insomuch that in some
years of late, they have amounted to between two and
The church of Queenborough was formerly esteemed
as a chapel to this church, but it has long since been
independent of it. The cure of it is still esteemed as
a donative, the yearly stipend of the curate being
16l. 13s. 4d. In 1578 the communicants were three
hundred and eight.
In 1640 the stipend of the curate was 16l. 13s. 4d.
Communicants two hundred and sixty-five. It is not
in charge in the king's books.
Roger, abbot of St. Augustine's, in 1188 let to
Agnes, prioress, and the convent of St. Sexburg, certain tithes within this parish, to hold in perpetual ferme
at fourteen shillings yearly rent, &c. These tithes were
those of Westlande; being those of Sir Adam de Shurlande, and of Adam Rusin (fn. 12)
Church of Minster.
|Or by whom presented.|
|Joseph Mirthwaite, obt. 1758.|
|Egerton Leigh, LL. S. 1758,
obt. 1788. (fn. 13) |
|W. Philip Menzies, the present
curate. (fn. 14) |