Edward Hasted - Cliffe History

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Cliffe Described by Edward Hasted circa 1800

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 styled 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 cliff   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, 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; 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; 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.

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 Aithelbald, king of Mercia, presided,   Cuthbert, archbishop of Canterbury, and the rest of the   bishops sitting likewise in it. In 747, a famous council was   held there under archbishop of Cuthbert, there being   present, besides the bishops, priests, and many other   ecclesiastics, Aithelbald, 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 there.   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, a synodal council was   held in that famous place, which was called at Clofeshoum,   Beornulf, king of Mercia, and archbishop Wilfred, 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. 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. 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,   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. 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 £7. 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 BERRY 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 treasurer 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, 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 infant,   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. 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 refectory, in like manner as they before had the manor of Lambeth, saving to the bishop of Rochester all episcopal right, &c. which exchange was confirmed that year by king Richard I. and afterwards by king John, in his first and second years. 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 belonging 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 Rochester, 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 bishop 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 Drop'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 Salomon. 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 of it. 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 Cordon's, a tenement called Balord's, and another   called Mortimer's, and all other lands in Cliff and Higham,   late belonging to the above monastery, 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   Drop's, with their appurtenances in Cliff, with other   premises, to Oliver Leder. How long the manor of Cordon'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, 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, 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, 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   £ 1 .
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 £6.
THOMAS GALE, in 1620, gave by will to the same a   tenement, in the occupation of William Halfpenny, 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 £2.
ROBERT PARKER, in 1678, gave by will to the poor, the sum   of £5 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 deanery  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 lofty 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 formerly 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
This inscription, in Saxon capitals (Lombardic), ELIENORE DE CLIVE GIST ICI DEU DE SA ALME EIT MERCI AMEN PAR CHARITE. Drawn and etched by J Fisher 1789AD
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. 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. £200. It is valued in the king's books at £50 and the yearly tenths, £5. The present rector is paid £500 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 £650 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 expense 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 Chartae Antiq. in the Lambeth library. This parish is a peculiar jurisdiction, exempted from the authority of the dean of the arches, who is the commissary of the deanery 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 +   JURISDICTIONS DE LIBA POCH DE CLYFF, i. e. the seal of the   officiality 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: PECULIARS: JURISDICTIONS: RECTORIS: DE:   CLYFF, i. e. the seal of the peculiar jurisdiction of the   rector of Cliff. Godfrid de Scraembroke gave the tithe of   his land at Scraembroke, 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, 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.

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