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Historic Manors and Estates in Southfleet, Kent, England
The MANOR of SOUTHFLEET, with the church, seems to have been given to the church and priory of of St. Andrew, in Rochester, by some of the ancient Saxon kings, and their estate here was afterwards increased by the gift of one Birtrick, a rich and potent man, who at that time resided at Meopham, and gave, with the consent of Alfswithe, his wife, his land here and in other places to that church and priory; but their whole property here was wrested from them in the troublesome times which soon afterwards followed, and they continued dispossessed of their estate here till the time of the Conqueror, when it was restored to the church of St. Andrew again, by the famous trial of Pinenden. This appears by a confirmation of this manor, among others, to the church of Rochester, by archbishop Boniface, in which it it mentioned, as having been the gift of the ancient kings of England, and to have been taken away, and restored as above mentioned; and it continued part of the possessions of the above mentioned church at the time of the taking the survey of Domesday, in the 15th year of the Conqueror's reign, anno 1080, in which it is thus described, under the general title of the lands of the bishop of Rochester.
In a taxation of the manors, et cetera, of the prior and convent of Rochester, anno 15 King Edward I the manor of Southfleet was valued at £16. 12s. per annum.
Henry, bishop of Rochester, confirmed that the small tythes, together with the other tythes, arising from their manors and demesnes within his diocese; in Frendesbury, Southfleet, and in their other manors, according to former custom before his time; all which was confirmed by Richard, bishop of Rochester, in 1280; who at the same time, at the instance of the prior and convent of Rochester, made a solemn inquisition, in an assembly of both clergy and people of the neighbourhood, whom he had called together; that by them he might be more fully certified concerning the retention of the above tythes, and in what manner the monks used to retain tythes in their manors, and in what manner they used to impart them to the parish churches.
These persons, being sworn to the truth, deposed, that in the manor of Southfleet, the parish church took, in the name of tythe, the sixteenth sheaf of wheat and rye, and the fifteenth sheaf of barley, oats, and peas, with vetches only; but of the small tythes, nor of the mills and hay, in this as well as the rest of their said manors, the parish church did not, nor ever used to take any thing. And Henry, bishop of Rochester decreed, that the parish church should be content with the said sixteenth sheaf of wheat and rye, and the said fifteenth sheaf of barley, oats, and peas, together with vetches only; and that the monks should have and retain for ever, all other tythes, both great and small, by whatever names they were called, in all their manors and places within his diocese, the tythes of sheaves, et cetera in each of the same, as particularly mentioned in his instrument, only excepted. All which were confirmed to them (as well as the former grants of the bishops Walter, Gilbert, and Henry) by John, archbishop of Canterbury, by his letters of inspeximus in the year 1281.
In the 5th year of King Henry VIII it was worth as appeared by the account of William Fressell, the prior, in the whole £40. 19s. 4d.
At the suppression of the priory of Rochester, this manor came, among the rest of its possessions, into the King's hands, who, two years after, settled it on his new erected dean and chapter of Rochester, where it did not stay long, for he required it from them again soon afterwards, by way of exchange; in consequence of which the dean and chapter, in the 36th of that reign, granted it to him, with all its rights and appurtenances, and had in lieu of it a grant of the rectory impropriate and advowson of the vicarage of Shorne, in this county. [See Tan. Mon. p. 203.] By which means the original tenth, payable by the dean and chapter, on their foundation, to the King, being £115. was advanced for, as Shorne was esteemed worth £9. 6s. more than Southfleet, that sum was added to it, and they now pay £125. 6s.
The next year the King granted the manor of Southfleet, with its appurtenances, to Sir William Petre, to hold in capite by knights service. [See Rot. Esch. pt. 2.]
Sir William Petre was a man of great eminence in his time, of approved wisdom, and exquisite learning. He was first taken notice of by King Henry VIII as a man fit for his purpose, in managing the dissolution of the religious houses, and was put into the commission by Thomas Cromwell, the visitor-general, in order to gather matter sufficient to found their ruin on; in which business he behaved so well to the King's liking, that he ever after employed him in state affairs, and made him chief secretary of state, and of his privy council. Sir William knew so well how to accommodate himself to the humour even of those fickle times, that he found means to continue in favour, and in his office of secretary, during the reigns of King Edward VI, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. But in Queen Mary's reign, discerning that the restoring the Roman religion would deprive him of those vast grants of abbey lands, which he had so industriously acquired, he got a special dispensation from the pope for retaining them; affirming, that he was ready to employ them to spiritual uses. His only son John, by his second wife, in the 1st year of King James I was made lord Petre of Writtle, in Essex. [See Collins's Peer. vol. vi. p. 584. Camb. Brit. in Essex: and Hollinshed's Chron. See his Life, in Biog. Brit. vol. v. p. 5340.]
Sir William Petre sold this manor the same year in which it was granted to him to William Gerrard, or Garret, as some called him, citizen and haberdasher of London, and afterwards knighted, and lord-mayor in 1553; [See Strype's Stow's Survey, book v. p. 133. Ib. book ii. p. 175] who was the son of John Gerrard, alias Garret, of Sittingborne, and bore for his arms, Argent on a fess, sable, a lion passant of the field. He died in the 14th year of Queen Elizabeth, and was succeeded here by his son and heir, William Gerrard, who was afterwards knighted. He died in the 22d year of that reign. His son, Sir John Gerrard, lord-mayor in 1601, passed it away to Sir William Sedley, of the Friars, in Aylesford, [See Philipott, p. 329] created a baronet on May 22, 1611.
From Sir William Sedley it descended down to his grandson, Sir Charles Sedley, bart. so much noted for his wit and gallantry; who by Catharine, one of the daughters of John Earl Rivers, left one only daughter, Catherine, created by King James II in his first year, Countess of Dorchester and Baroness of Darlington for life. [See Visit. co. Kent, anno 1619, with additions. Kimber's Baronetage, vol. iii. p. 2. et seq. See his life, Biog. Brit. vol. v. p. 3603, 3661, et seq.]
Sir Charles died in 1701, on which the title became extinct, and this estate came by settlement to Sir Charles Sedley, of St. Giles's, who was, next year, created a baronet, and resided at Scadbury, now called Scotbury, the ancient seat in this parish belonging to this family. This branch of the family bore for their arms, quarterly five coats, 1. Sedley, azure, a fess wavy argent, between three goats heads erased of the second; 2. Fenks; 3. Grove; 4. Darell; and 5. Savile.
The family of Sedley was possessed of Scadbury so high as the year 1337, as appeared by a pannel of wainscot in the dining room of this house; on which there was carved the arms of the Sedleys, A fess wavy between three goats heads erased, and underneath the letters, W. S. and the above mentioned date. [See Philipott, p. 330.]
John Sedley was of Scadbury in the reign of Henry VII and one of the auditors of the exchequer to that prince. He died in 1500, and left by Elizabeth his wife, daughter and coheir of Roger Jenkes, of London, two sons; William, of whom hereafter; and Martin Sedley, who was of Morley, in Norfolk, from whom descended the Sedleys of that county.
William Sedley, the eldest son, was of Scadbury. He was sheriff of this county in the 1st year of King Edward VI and married Anne, daughter and heir of Roger Grove, of London, by whom he left three sons and two daughters; of the former, John, the eldest, was of Scadbury, of whom hereafter; Robert was the second son; and Nicholas, the third son, left one son, Isaac Sedley, bart. of Great Chart, the father of Sir John Sedley, bart. of St. Clere's, in Ightham.
John Sedley, of Scadbury, eldest son of William, was sheriff in the 8th year of Queen Elizabeth, and having married Anne, daughter of John Culpeper, Esq. of Aylesford, died in 1581, leaving three sons; of whom William was of Aylesford, and was created a baronet in 1611, as has been before mentioned in the account of him and his descendants. John died, sine prole [See Visit. co. Kent, an. 1619.] and Richard was of Southfleet, and afterwards of Digonswell, in Hertfordshire.
By an ordinary of arms, belonging to the gentry of this county, in 1595, the arms of Sedley, of Southfleet are given, Per pale azure and sable, a fess chequy argent and gules, between three goats heads erased argent, attired or; which, I should imagine were those of this Richard Sedley, who married Elizabeth, daughter of John Darell Esq. of Calehill, by whom he had William Sedley, Esq. who died in 1658, leaving by his second wife, Mary, daughter of Sir John Honywood, of Charing, a son, named Charles, who was knighted in 1688, and died in 1701. [See Le Neve's Monast. Ang. vol. iii. p. 33.] His son Charles, after the death of Sir Charles Sedley, bart. of Aylesford and Southfleet, became possessed both of the manor of Southfleet and the ancient family seat of Scadbury, and was created a baronet on July 10, 1702, being the 1st year of Queen Anne. He died in 1727, leaving by Frances his wife, daughter of Sir Richard Newdigate, bart. one son, Charles, and a daughter, Elizabeth, married in 1739, to Sir Robert Burdet, bart. of Bramcote, in Warwickshire. [See Kimber's Bar. vol. iii. p. 4, et seq.]
Sir Charles Sedley, bart. the son, married in 1718, Elizabeth, daughter of William Frith, Esq. by whom he became possessed of the estate and seat at Nuthall, in Nottinghamshire, where this family afterwards resided. He died in 1730, leaving Sir Charles Sedley, bart. of Nuthall, his only son and heir, who some few years ago exchanged the manor of Southfleet, Scadbury, and the estates belonging to them, for other lands, with the Rev. Mr. Thomas Sanderson, of Haslemere, in Surry; and his daughter, Mary Anne, is the present possessor of them.
Among the ancient contributory lands, towards the repair of Rochester bridge, is this manor; the owner of which, as well as those of Halling, Trottesclive, Malling, Stone, Pinenden, and Fawkham, and likewise the bishop of Rochester, are bound, when necessity requires, to repair the third pier of that bridge. [See Lamb. Peramb. p. 416, 421.]
Pole or Pool, is a manor here, which was anciently estimated at one suling or plough-land. It formerly was the inheritance of a family, called Berese; one of whom, Richard de Berese, gave the tithes of his lands [See Custumale Roff. p. 12. Reg. Roff. p. 47.] in Southfleet to the church of Rochester; and they were allotted, by bishop Gundulph, to the share of the monks of his priory.
It afterwards gave name to a family who were possessors of it; and it appears by the book of Knights Fees, taken in the reign of King Edward I and now remaining in the exchequer, that Sarah de Pole was owner of it in that reign, holding it in dower, as two parts of a knight's fee, of the bishop of Rochester.
In the reign of King Edward III this manor was part of the possessions of Sir John, son of Henry de Cobham, of Cobham, the eldest branch of that noble family; who, in the 17th year of that reign, obtained a charter for free warren within this his lordship of Pole among others. [See Dugd. Bar. vol. ii. p. 66.] In the 20th year of that reign, he paid aid for it, as two parts of a knight's fee, which Sarah de Pole before held in Southfleet of the bishop of Rochester.
Sir John de Cobham died, full of years, in the 9th year of King Henry IV being then possessed of this manor, [See Rot. Esch. No. 10. Dugd. Bar. vol. ii. p. 66, 67] leaving Joane his grand daughter his next heir, the wife of Sir Nicholas Hawberk. She afterwards married Sir John Oldcastle, who, on that account, assumed the title of lord Cobham, and died possessed of this manor in the 5th year of King Henry VI [See Rot. Esch. ejus an.] though she is said to have had five husbands; one of whom, John Harpden, died possessed of Pole in his wife's right, in the 12th year of King Henry VI yet she had issue only by her second husband, Sir Reginald, second son of Sir Gerard Braybrooke, one sole daughter and heir, named Joane, who became the wife of Sir Thomas Brooke, of Somersetshire, who was, in his wife's right, lord Cobham, though he never received summons to parliament. He had by her a numerous offspring, and died anno 17 King Henry VI [See Rot. Esch. His son Edward died seised of it anno 4 King Edward IV] possessed of this manor, which descended from him to his great grandson, Sir Thomas Brooke, lord Cobham, who gave it in marriage with his third daughter, Elizabeth, to Sir Thomas Wyat, of Allington-castle.
Sir Thomas Wyat, of Allington-castle, in the 32d year of King Henry VIII exchanged it, together with all his other lands in Southfleet, with King Edward IV, for the monastery of Boxley and other premises; after which it remained in the hands of the crown till queen Mary, in her 2d year, through her bounty, granted it to the Lady Jane, the widow of Sir Thomas Wyat, who had been the year before attainted and executed for high treason, to hold in capite by knight's service. [See Rot Esch No. 4. pt. 6.]
Their son, George Wyat, was of Boxley-abbey, and was restored in blood in the 13th year of Queen Elizabeth, by act of parliament. On his death, in 1624, this manor descended to his eldest son, Sir Francis Wyat, of Boxley-abbey, who died in 1644, leaving Henry his successor in this manor; and Edwin, afterwards made a sergeant-at law; and Elizabeth, married to Thomas Bosvile, Esq. of Little Mote, in Eynsford.
Henry Wyat, the eldest son, was of Boxley-abbey, and possessed Pole manor. He left by Jane his wife, an only daughter, Frances, who married Sir Thomas Selyard, bart. and he, in her right, took possession of it; but her father's brother, Mr. Sergeant Wyat, above mentioned, claimed, and soon afterwards recovered at law, the whole of the manor itself, with a moiety of the farm and demesne lands, as his right.
Sir Thomas Selyard died possessed of the farm and demesne lands, after which the lady Selyard, his widow, passed it away by sale to Fisher, by a female heir, of which name it is now by marriage become the property of Mr. John Colyer, who is the present owner of it.
The manor, with the other moiety of the farm and demesne lands, possessed by Mr. Sergeant Wyat, after his death continued some years in his family, till, by the death of the last of that name, it became vested in Robert Marsham, lord Romney, great grand son of Elizabeth, sister of Mr. Sergeant Wyat, who married Thomas Bosvile, esq. above mentioned, and his son, the Rt. Hon. Charles lord Romney, is the present owner of it.
Hook Place is a seat in Southfleet, which was for some centuries the seat of a family named Swan, who, as early as the reign of King Richard II wrote themselves gentlemen, as appears by their own deeds. Sir William Swan possessed it in the reign of James I and dying in 1612 lies buried in this church, as does Hester Lady Swan, his mother, who died the beginning of that year, his grandson Sir William Swan was likewise of Hook-place, and was created a baronet in 1666. He left Sir William Swan, bart. who conveyed this seat, with the estate belonging to it, to Harrington, who bore for his arms, sable fretty, or, semee of fleurs de lis gules, and Aaron Harrington, Esq. died possessed of it in 1739, and lies buried in this church, as does Sarah his sister, who married Mr. Samuel Russel, by whom he had a daughter, Elizabeth, who, as devisee under her uncle Harrington's Will, carried it in marriage to Joseph Brooke, Esq. late recorder of Rochester, who by his Will devised it, after his wife's decease, to the Reverend John Kenward Shaw, now of Town-Malling, who has taken the name of Brooke, and is the present owner of it.
Hook Green House, in this parish, the seat of Zachariah Piggot, Esq. is situated a short distance southward from the church. It is an ancient house, but we understand will shortly undergo considerable improvement, by the substitution of a new front in the Elizabethan style, which (to judge from a drawing that we saw of the proposed building) will be a beautiful speciment of that kind of architecture.1
Hook Green House is distant from Gravesend rather more than three miles, and from London about 20 miles.1
Joyce Hall, in this parish, the seat of Thomas Colyer, Esq. is situated a short distance westward from the church. It is a handsome house, partly modern, and partly ancient: the modern part forms the south front, and is elegant and spacious. The site is very pleasant and the gardens and grounds well laid out. It is distant from Gravesend about three miles, and from London between 19 and 20 miles.1
North End, in this parish, the property and residence of William Wingfield Armstrong, Gentleman, is an ancient house, situated about three quarters of a mile north-west from the church. In the interior are a few old paintings. It is distant from Gravesend rather more than three miles, and from London nineteen miles and a half.1
It was returned by the commission of enquiry into the value of livings in 1650, issuing out of chancery, that Southfleet was a parsonage, having a house and five acres of land, worth £160. per annum; Mr. Richard Simons enjoying the same, a sequestration of master Elizeus Burgis, archdeacon of Rochester. [See Parl. Surveys, Lambeth-library, vol. xix.]
The parsonage house is one of the most ancient edifices of the kind in the diocese. It is built of stone, the windows large with pointed arches, and stone munions, much resembling those of a church. The porch is with a strong arch, and the whole has a most venerable and ecclesiastical appearance, and had much more so till the front of it was lately plaistered over and whitewashed, and the gothic windows altered and sashed, which has taken much from the ancient beauty of it. Some of the windows on the south side next the yard still retain their old form. [Cust. Roff. p. 248 is an engraving this house in its former state.]
It is valued in the King's books at £31. 15s. and the yearly tenths at £3. 3s. 6d. [Ect. Thes. p. 385.]
The Rectory is a fine ancient house, with extensive grounds and shrubberies. Some few years ago it was altered and modernised by the Rev. Mr. Rashleigh, then Rector; but although it was made more commodious, the venerable appearance and uniform gothic beauty of the structure were very much impaired. It stands a short distance south from the church.1
Source: Edward Hasted, Parishes: Southfleet, in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2 (Canterbury, 1797), pp. 421-440. Also found at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-kent/vol2/pp421-440.
1 C. Greenwood, Lathe of Sutton at Hone, in An Epitome of County History: Vol. 1 - County of Kent, pp. 78-79. (London: No. 5 Hart Street, Bloomsbury Square, 1838.)