Mitcham in the Mid-17th Century:

A Surrey Village under Stress

Studies in Merton History 5: by E N Montague

This is a revised version of a diploma thesis, in which, using primary sources where possible, the author examines the impact of the Civil War on the semi-rural parish which was Mitcham at the time. Topics discussed include recruitment, taxation, parish administration, social structure and even the property market.

Review in MHS Bulletin 154 (Jun 2005)



ISBN 1 903899 46 X

E. N. Montague
Further information on Merton Historical Society can be obtained from the Society’s website at
or from
Merton Library & Heritage Service, Merton Civic Centre,
London Road, Morden, Surrey. SM4 5DX

Studies in Merton History: 5


This publication is based on a thesis presented for the University of London Diploma in History. Since
the University Regulations stipulated a maximum of 10,000 words, this version, revised and extended
with material excluded from the original thesis, was produced in November 2003.

The central question being considered is whether, when set against the general backcloth of the Civil
War and the Interregnum, and seen from a parochial viewpoint, the years 1640-1660 in north-east
Surrey were really a period of revolution, as is sometimes claimed, or are better regarded as one during
which the pace of evolutionary change was merely modified by national events.

Using primary sources wherever possible, my initial aim was to find evidence of the impact, direct or
indirect, of the two phases of the Civil War on Mitcham, a Surrey parish still essentially rural but
within nine miles distance of the cities of London and Westminster. This was followed by an examination
of parish records to identify any evidence of change in social structure, religious practice, land tenure
and local administration during the Commonwealth and Protectorate. The emergence of a new activity
in the property market was also noted.

The thesis concludes with a brief glimpse at the years immediately following the Restoration, in which,
after the disturbance of the preceding 20 years, the community resumed its progression towards more
fundamental economic changes at the end of the century.


The Society is grateful to Merton Library and Heritage Service, Surrey Archaeological Society and
Surrey History Service for permission to include illustrations from their collections.

Published by


© E N Montague 2005

ISBN 1 903899 46 X

2 39



Book of Mitcham Churchwardens’ Notes and Overseers’ Accounts 1653-1679, Civil War Period Pamphlets,
Surrey History Centre G52/6/2/1-7
Collection of Deeds Relating to Mitcham 1576-1695, Surrey History Centre Acc. 1486 599/Court
Rolls of the Manor of Ravensbury, Surrey History Centre 212/9/2
Cranmer v Moore 1820. Transcript of evidence
Estate and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer, Surrey History Centre 470/-
Mitcham alias Wickford Mill with drying room, lands and mansion house – deeds 1645 & 1657. Surrey History
Centre 212/113/18,19
Militia Tax Assessments, Mitcham, Surrey History Centre LA5/8/1-2
Monumental inscriptions, Mitcham parish church
Surrey History Centre 2553/1
Surrey History Centre, Civil War Pamphlets G52/6/2/1-7
Surrey Quarter Sessions Records 1659-1663, Surrey History Centre QS2/1/1
‘The Sadler Saddled’, 1665 MS at Surrey Archaeological Society Library. Research Collection No.116
Will of Robert Cranmer. Family Record Centre PCC Prob. 5/2/60


General Background Reading:

Ashley M, England in the Seventeenth Century (1961)
Ashley M, The English Civil War (Book Club Associates 1974)
Bradstock A, Winstanley and the Diggers 1649-1999 (Cass 2000)
Clay C G A, Economic Expansion and Social Change Vol.1 & 2 (CUP 1984)
Hill, Christopher The Century of Revolution 1603-1714 (1989)
Laslett P, The World We Have Lost (Methuen 2nd Edit. 1971)
Owens W R, (Edit.) Seventeenth Century England Vol. 2 (1984)
Thirsk J, The Agrarian History of England and Wales 4 1500-1640
Trease, Geoffrey, Samuel Pepys and his World (1973)
Trevelyan G M English Social History (1948)
Wrightson K, English Society

County Histories:

Aubrey J, Natural History and Anquities of Surrey II (1718)
Cox T, A Topographical, Ecclesiastical & Natural History of Surrey (1700)
Lysons D, Environs of London I (1792) and IV (1796)
Manning O, and Bray W, History of Surrey II (1809) & III (1814)
Malden H E, (Edit.) Victoria County History of Surrey II (1905) & IV (1912)
Walford E, Greater London II (1894)

Other Published Works:

Bax A R, ‘The Plundered Ministers of Surrey’ Surrey Archaeological Collections IX
Bax A R, ‘List of Suspected Persons in 1655’ in Surrey Archaeological Society Collections XIV
Bax A R, ‘1625 Subsidies’ in Surrey Archaeological Society Collections XVII
Beavan A B, Aldermen of the City of London (1908)
Berry W, Surrey Genealogies
Broadbent U, Coulsdon – Downland Village (1976)
Burns D, The Sheriffs of Surrey (1992)
Dictionary of National Biography
Giuseppi M S, ‘The River Wandle in 1610’ in Surrey Archaeological Society Collections XXI (1908)
Jackson A A (ed.), Ashtead, a Village Transformed (1977)
Jones A E, Carshalton, From Medieval Manor to London Suburb (n.d.)
Jowett E M, A History of Merton and Morden (1951)
Michell R, ‘Surrey in 1648’ in Surrey Archaeological Society Collections LXVII (1970)
Michell R, The Carews of Beddington (1981)
Milward R J, Wimbledon in the Time of the Civil Wars (1976)
Milward R J, ‘The Civil War in North-east Surrey’ Surrey History III No. 5 (1988/9)
Pulford J S L Index of Kingston Quakers in the 17th Century (1971)
Pulford J S L The First Kingston Quakers (1973)
Rice, R Garraway, ‘The Parish Registers of Ss. Peter and Paul, Mitcham’ in The Reliquary (1877)
Surrey Hearth Tax 1664, Surrey Record Society Nos. XLI & XLII Vol. XVII (1940)
Surrey Quarter Sessions Order Book, Surrey Record Society Vol. XXXV (1935)
Woodhead J R, The Rulers of London 1660-1689 (1965)



Foreword 2
Maps and Illustrations 4

Chapter I Mitcham in 1640

(i) The Parish and Village 5
(ii) Events in Mitcham between 1642 & 1649,
seen against the background of National Affairs 5
Chapter II Wartime Mitcham (1642 – 1649)

(i) The Burdens of Taxation and Quartering 7
(ii) Recruitment to the Army 8
(iii) A Local Skirmish 9
(iv) The Major Landowners, the Manors and the Church 9
(v) Experiences of some Minor Gentry 11
(vi) The War in Retrospect 14
Chapter III The Commonwealth (1649-1653)

(i) The Aftermath of War 15
(ii) The Church and Parochial Administration 15
(iii) The Manors 17
(iv) Two Mysteries 19
Chapter IV Mitcham Under the Protectorate (1653-1660)

(i) The Upheaval Continues 20
(ii) The Church and Manors 20
(iii) The Minor Gentry and Landowners 22
(iv) Newcomers to the Village
(a) Robert Cranmer 24
(b) Robert Tichborne & neighbours 26
(v) The New Administration 28
(vi) The Property Market 30
(vii)Industry 30
Chapter V The Restoration

Mitcham in the 1660s 32

Notes and References 34

General Reading List 38


The Tate family house, Cricket Green 18
Vine House, Lower Green West 19
Mitcham Parish Church, East End 21
Old Bedlam. Upper Green East 23
Mitcham Hall, Lower Mitcham 31
Detail from 1865 Edition of OS 1:2500 Map showing
the Lower Green and the house erected by Trattle etc. 13
The Cranmer Estate in 1717 25
Detail from 1865 Edition of OS 1:2500 Map
showing Lower Mitcham, with the Wylford Estate
and site of Robert Tichborne’s house 27
1 mile = 1.609 kilometres
1 acre = 0.405 hectares

(v) The New Administration
28 Montague, E, North Mitcham (2001), 102 (published by Merton Historical Society)
29 Bax A R, ‘List of Suspected Persons in Surrey During the Commonwealth’ Surrey Archaeological Collections
XIV, 176-7
(vi) The Property Market
30 SHC Collection of Deeds relating to Mitcham. Acc. 1486 599/In
1653, when the estate of the late king was auctioned by trustees appointed by Parliament, Thomas Hammond
acquired Byfleet manor, the house and park. Stevens, L R, Byfleet, A Village of England, (Revised edition, 1972)
The Byfleet property reverted to the Crown at the Restoration, but the Hammonds remained an important family
in the Kingston area into the 18th century. Pink, J, ‘The Excise Officers and their Duties in Kingston upon Thames
1643-1803’, Surrey History Vol. IV No. 3, 154 & 157
31 Canterbury Archive Office. Court Rolls Manor of Vauxhall. Rentals, Tithing of Mitcham.
32 SHC 599/425 Abstract of Title and Particulars of Documents 1576-1695
A Robert Knepp was assessed for lands valued at £4 in the ‘Lay Subsidy accounts of 1593 and 4’ Surrey
Archaeological Collections XIX (1906), 41-2
(vii) Industry
33 Montague E N, Textile Bleaching and Printing in Mitcham and Merton 1590-1870 (Merton Historical Society
34 VCH II (1967), 370-1
35 Adrian Collant, a ‘whitster’, described as a “Dutchman dwelling a long tyme in this Parish of Mitcham”, was
buried January 13 1620/1 VCH II (1967), 369
36 SHC 2400 James Cranmer’s Estate and Account Book 1740-1752 , and
MLSC Slide in the Tom Francis Collection.
37 London Borough of Sutton Local Studies Library, Copy of the Howard Estate map dated c.1620
38 VCH II (1967), 369, quoting Prob. P.C.C. 26 April 1660 (Nabbs 63)
39 Milward (1976) 75
40 VCH II (l967), 370

Chapter V The Restoration
Mitcham in the 1660s

1 Surrey County Council Surrey Quarter Sessions Records Vol. VIII (1938) 3 and 14
2 SHC Mitcham Mitcham Militia Levy Assessment Books. By 1674 Highlord was assessed as the actual landowner.
3 Surrey Archaeological Society Library, Castle Arch, Guildford. Ms copy of pamphlet The Sadler Saddled (1664)

Research collection, No. 116

4 SHC Surrey Quarter Sessions Order Books QS2/1/1
Summons issued at Croydon Jan 1661 130, 166; Presentment – Quarter Sessions Rolls April 1662, 178-196, 204,
October 1662 235, 242

5 M & B 505
6 Cox, T, A Topographical, Ecclesiastical and Natural History of Surrey (1700), 380
and Aubrey, J, Natural History and Antiquities of Surrey II (1718), 142
7 Walford, E, Greater London (1894) 528, quoting “Index Villaris published in 1700” (By Adams of the Inner
Temple and published in 1680, according to the London Guildhall Library)
8 Calculated on the basis of the Hearth Tax 1664 as suggested by Howell, R, Hearth Tax Returns No.7 in Short
Guides to Records published by the Historical Association.


(iii) The Manors
9 London Guildhall Library. MS 6912 Fishmongers’ Company Records. Survey of the manor of Vauxhall 1649

(SHC 7294 Transcription by Roy Edwards of the Streatham Society)
10 Canterbury Cathedral archives
11 Ordnance Survey Map, Surrey, Sheet No. XIII (1865) 25 inch to 1 mile

and Tithe Map, 1847
12 Montague, E N, The Cricket Green (2001), 40 (published by Merton Historical Society)
13 Canterbury Cathedral Archives (M) 70492 and (M) 70436

(SHC 7294 Transcription by Roy Edwards of the Streatham Society)
14 SHC 212/73/4
15 SHC Court Rolls of the Manor of Biggin and Tamworth
16 SHC Court Rolls of the Manor of Ravensbury

Chapter IV Mitcham Under the Protectorate (1652 – 1660)

(i) The Upheaval Continues
1 Milward (1976)
2 SHC LA5/8/1-2

(ii) Church and Manors during the Protectorate
3 M & B II, (1809), 497
4 SHC MS 470/- MS Rent and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer 1717-1749 and
Lysons, D, The Environs of London IV (1796) 358, citing Proceedings of the Committee Vol. xxxv, 190
5 SHC Collection of Deeds 599/

(iii) The Minor Gentry and Landowners
6 Burns, D, The Sheriffs of Surrey (Phillimore, Chichester, for Surrey Local History Council 1992), 65
7 SHC LA5/8/1-2 Assessment Book, Quarterly Levy 1655-1660
8 SHC 212/73/26
9 Old Hall Place, demolished in 1877, had a large open hall, typical of the Middle Ages. During excavations at the

rear of the building’s site (NGR TQ 2732 6859) in 1966 and 1968 members of Merton Historical Society found a

considerable quantity of pottery dating from the 13th and 14th centuries.
10 Lysons (1796), 600/1
11 MLSC Tom Francis lecture notes

(iv) Newcomers to the Village
(a) Robert Cranmer
12 Gordon, C T, (a descendant), in pers. comm. Jan. 1993, quoting research at India House.
13 Trevelyan G M, English Social History (Reprint Society 1948) 217
14 SHC MS 470/- MS Rent and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer 1717-1749
15 SHC 599/390 a-d Indenture of Sale, 28 April 1652
16 MLSC Historical Documents and Papers Relating to Mitcham. Declaration of Thomas J Platt in Cranmer v.

Moore 1820
17 SHC 599/322
18 SHC 599/425

(b) Robert Tichborne and Neighbours
19 Lysons, D, The Environs of London I (1792), 354
20 SHC 599/304 Indenture of Sale by Sir Henry Savile to Richard Broughton of Mansion House etc. in Mitcham,

11 Nov. 1624
21 SHC 599/320 Inq. p.m. Robert Wylford
22 SHC 599/385 Indenture of Bargain and Sale by Hopkins to Cranmer
23 Dictionary of National Biography LVI (1898), 377-78 and

Beaven, A B, The Alderman of the City of London 2 (1908), 182
24 SHC 599/384 a
25 Woodhead, J R, The Rulers of London 1660-1689 (1965), 83
26 SHC 212/73/26
27 SHC 212/73/25




(i) The Parish and Village
Situated within the hundred of Wallington in the county of Surrey, the parish of Mitcham, roughly
three miles east to west and two miles from north to south, was some 2,900 acres in extent. 1 Well-
watered by the river Wandle and its tributary the Graveney, with a sub-soil of river gravel, the parish
was flanked north and south by outcroppings of London Clay. 2

To the west of the village centre there was good arable land, whilst to the south-east lay an expanse of
some 500 acres of open heath or common, providing much valued rough grazing and fuel. Only vestigial
deciduous woodland survived, mainly on the heavier soils, and whereas in their natural state the wetlands
bordering the rivers are likely to have supported dense growths of willow and alder most, by the 17th
century, would have been drained and managed as meadow. Two large unenclosed common fields, the
Eastfields and the Blacklands or West Field, remained subdivided in the medieval fashion and were
cultivated in strips. Beyond the West Field lay the Hayfurlongs, also held in common and unenclosed.
A third common field, the South Field, was largely meadow and kept as permanent pasture. 3 An
attempt at enclosure of one of the common fields had prompted leading members of the parish in 1637
to complain to the Privy Council, where they received a sympathetic hearing, and fences were ordered
to be removed and the land thrown open annually after Lammas time.4 Textile bleaching, largely in the
hands of immigrant families from the Low Countries, was a major industry, as was corn milling, for
which the Wandle provided power. 5

As a healthy country location within easy reach of town, Mitcham had been popular with affluent Londoners
as a place of residence since the late Middle Ages. By the reign of James I the district had acquired a
reputation for its ‘good air and choice company’, 6 attracting a steady influx of minor gentry, City men,
lawyers and civil servants. Their modest mansions, some set in park-like grounds, left a legacy that
endured for nearly three centuries.7

The sale after the Dissolution of two large monastic estates in Mitcham, that of Merton priory in the
north and north-east of the parish, and Mitcham Canons to the south of the village centre, had complicated
an already complex manorial structure. By the mid-17th century four intermingled but separate estates
existed over which semi-feudal rights were exercised and rents demanded from numerous copyholders
and tenants. Lordship of these manors had been bought and sold, or had passed from father to son, for
a century or more. There were in addition two major landowners, the Smythes and the Carews, both of
whose estates owed their origins mainly to purchases of land in the late 16th century.

Patronage of the living was held by the Throgmorton-Carews of Beddington, and the Anglican Church
played a pivotal role in the life of the community, supported by the upper classes, as was the custom of
the time. Social structure was hierarchical and paternalistic, and parish administration, conscientious
and adequate as far as one can judge, was in the hands of the vestry, consisting of local gentry and
yeoman farmers.

(ii) Events in Mitcham between 1642 and 1649, seen against the Background of National Affairs.
The vexed issues preceding the outbreak of the Civil War – the impeachment of Strafford and Laud, the
King’s need for money to pursue his war with the Scots, and Parliament’s refusal to grant his requests
without constitutional amendments – left no obvious trace in village annals.

The Puritans’ assertion in the Grand Remonstrance of 1641 that, by cherishing formality and encouraging
superstition, the bishops and the more ‘corrupt’ members of the clergy supported ecclesiastical tyranny,
similarly finds no echo in local records. One would have expected the vicar of Mitcham, instituted in
January 1638,8 to have been cast in the Laudian mould, but he evidently met with the general approval


of his flock for, as we shall see, he remained in favour with his parishioners, and although probably
precluded by law from continuing as their ordained priest, was taking part in parochial affairs until
well into the Interregnum. 9

Puritans were dominant in the Parliament of 1642, and Pym’s party had the wholehearted support of
both the City and the guilds of London in his opposition to Charles. Like other Surrey gentlemen, the
Throgmorton-Carews were Royalists, but with one or two exceptions where ancestors had been in the
service of the Crown and sympathies might still be with the King, Mitcham’s leading parishioners
were in the main professional men and London merchants, whose interests lay in commerce and the
maintenance of stability.

Divisions could run deep, however, and in the Home Counties people, be they landed gentry or village
labourers, were by no means unanimous in their support for the Royalists or Parliament. Although
literacy was growing, loyalty of country folk was customarily influenced by that of their social betters.
With their interests orientated primarily towards sustaining a livelihood through agriculture and the
pursuit of rural crafts, most villagers probably cared little for constitutional complexities and the finer
points of theology. Theirs tended to be a pragmatic view of life and, extremists and hot heads apart,
their religious beliefs would have been simplistic and superstitious, whilst attendance at the parish
church was probably to a large extent determined by custom. There was little room in their philosophy
for drastic change and innovation, and anyone expounding Calvinistic or Puritan philosophy would
have received short shrift in the local ale houses. Generalisations are dangerous, however, and although
the evidence from Mitcham is lacking, we can expect the villagers, so close to London, to have been
well aware of the issues at stake. In this confusing situation it is impossible to decide with certainty
who in Mitcham in the 1640s remained loyal to the King, and who sided with Parliament.

Charles had fallen back on Oxford after the battle of Edgehill and, aware of the growing call for peace
in London following the death of Pym in 1643, called an Assembly at Oxford, which many members
of the Lord and Commons attended. Herein lies a likely explanation for lawyer Richard Farrand of
Mitcham departing there with his family in the early 1640s. 10

The chapter that follows examines in a little more detail the experiences of the parishioners of Mitcham
during the seven years of conflict. Inevitably the study is limited by the paucity of records, but specific
issues will be borne in mind, such as the reaction of local people to the enforced quartering of troops;
recruitment to the army; whether there were any skirmishes nearby; what evidence we have of the
burdens imposed by taxation on the gentry; and what happened to the parish church. In some cases,
answers can be attempted.


(iii) A Local Skirmish
11 Michell, A R, ‘Surrey in 1648′ Surrey Archaeological Collections LXVII (Castle Arch, Guildford, Surrey 1970),
69-70 and Milward (1976), 84

(iv) The Major Landowners, the Manors and the Church
12 Michell (1981), 77
13 Jones A E, Carshalton: From Medieval Manor to London Suburb (Published by the author, printed by Fleetwing

Press, Wallington, not dated, but c. 1970), 32
14 Michell (1981) 76
15 Michell (1981) 77/8
16 VCH IV (1967) 232, quoting F. of F. East 9 Chas. I and Mich. 1 Chas II
17 SHC 599/203-4
18 VCH IV (1967) 231, quoting Mich. 23 Chas I, and

SHC Accession No. 1486 Deeds 599/19
London Guildhall Library. MS 6912 Fishmongers’ Company Records

(SHC 7294 Transcription by Roy Edwards of the Streatham Society)
20 M & B 497
21 Michell (1981) 78
22 M & B 504
23 M & B 504, quoting Curl. 43. a.
24 A Penelope Bucocke was listed in the 1664 Hearth Tax returns, living in a small house in the vicinity of Three

Kings Pond.

25 Moss, G P, ‘The Advowson of Horley under Christ’s Hospital’, Surrey Archaeological Collections LXIX (Castle
Arch, Guildford, Surrey 1973) Note 29 63, and
Bax, A R, ‘The Plundered Ministers of Surrey’, Surrey Archaeological Collections IX (1888) 257

(v) The Experiences of some Minor Gentry in Mitcham during the Civil War
26 The Harleian Society The Visitations of Surrey 1623 (1899) 100

Howard, J J, (Edit.), Thompson, S, & Vincent, A, The Visitations of Surrey 1623 (n.d.)
27 Chambers, E K, The Elizabethan Stage IV (1923), 105-6 & 89
28 Rice, R Garraway, ‘On the Parish Registers of Ss Peter & Paul, Mitcham’ The Reliquary (1877) 22/3, quoting

Harl. 1., 433, fo. 186b
29 Rice, 22/3 Note 49
30 Berry, W, Pedigrees of Surrey Families (1837) 102

‘Mitcham Pedigrees’ Society of Genealogists 68 &

Howard, J J, (Edit.), Thompson, S, & Vincent, A, The Visitations of Surrey 1623 (n.d.)
31 SHC 212/113/18a
32 SHC 599/391 a-d
33 SHC 599/390 a – d Bargain and Sale 1652 and

599/389 a – b Exemplification of Fine 1652
34 SHC 212/73/26

Chapter III Mitcham During the Commonwealth (1649 – 1653)

(i) The Aftermath of War
1 SHC MS 470/- MS Rent and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer 1717-1749
2 Montague, E, Mitcham Common (2001), 7 – 10

(ii) The Church and Parochial Admininstration
3 Ducarel, A C, Some Account of the Town, Church and Archbishop’s Palace, Croydon in the County of Surrey,
from its Foundation to the Present Day (1783-7)
See also Milward, R, in Surrey History III No.5, 201/2

4 SHC 599/425 Abstract of Title etc.
5 Meakings, C A F, Surrey Hearth Tax 1664, Surrey Record Society Nos XLI and XLII Vol XVII (1940), 95
6 SHC LA5/8/- Church wardens’s accounts etc. 1653 7
SHC Mitcham Vestry Minutes Vol. I 1699 8
Burns, D, The Sheriffs of Surrey (Phillimore, Chichester, for Surrey Local History Council 1992), 65



(Unless otherwise stated, all works cited are assumed to have been published in London)

Abbreviations Used:
M & B Manning, O and Bray, W, History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey II (1809)
Michell Michell, R, The Carews of Beddington, Sutton Libraries and Arts Services (Sutton, 1981)
Milward (1976) Milward, R J, Wimbledon in the Time of the Civil War, Published by the Author (Wimbledon,
1976). Printed by Woodcote Publication Ltd, Epsom, Surrey
MLSC Merton Local Studies Centre, Morden
SHC Surrey History Centre, Woking
VCH Victoria County History of Surrey

(i) Mitcham in 1640
1 MLSC Tithe Commutation Survey Register, Mitcham, 1846 – published by Merton Historical Society as Local
History Notes 22

2 Ordnance Survey Geological Survey of Great Britain (1981) South London Sheet 270 1:50,000
3 This basic pattern of land use structure survived into the mid-19th century.

Cf Mitcham Tithe Survey 1846 and map 1847
4 SHC 470/- MS Rent and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer 1717-1749
5 VCH II (1905), 363-369
6 Walton I, ‘The Life of Dr. John Donne’, in Walton’s Lives edit. by Carter S B, (1951) 18
7 Brayley, E W, Topographical History of Surrey IV (1841), 89

(ii) Events in Mitcham between 1642 and 1649, seen against the Background of National Events
8 M & B 504, quoting Curl. 43.a

9 SHC 470/- MS Rent and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer 1717-1749, transcript of minutes of meeting
of vestry called in 1652, and
LA5/8/1 Mitcham Churchwardens’ Notes and Overseers’ Accounts 1653

10 Milward (1976), 77, quoting Commonwealth Exchequer Papers at PRO, SP28/179

Chapter II Wartime Mitcham 1642 – 1649

(i) The Burdens of Taxation and Quartering
1 Milward (1976), 64
2 Jowett, E, A History of Merton and Morden, Merton & Morden Festival of Britain Local Committee (Printed

by Loxley Bros Ltd, London and Sheffield 1951), 78
3 Milward (1976), 77
4 Milward (1976), 73
5 Milward (1976), 75, quoting Public Record Office (National Archives), Commonwealth Exchequer Papers

James Parry, gentleman, of Mitcham [probably the same person whose will (1659) is quoted in VCH II (1905)
369], was High Constable and chief tax collector for the area in 1644.

6 Milward (1976), 75
7 Michell, A R, ‘Surrey in 1648’, Surrey Archaeological Collections LXVII (Castle Arch, Guildford, Surrey
1970), 69-70
8 Milward, R J, ‘The Civil War in North-east Surrey’, Surrey History III No. 5 (Phillimore, Chichester, West
Sussex for the Surrey Local History Council 1988/9), 201

(ii) Recruitment to the Army
9 SHC Surrey Muster Lists (In 2001 in the processes of conservation and being catalogued.)
10 Broadbent, U, ‘The Manor of Colesdone 1500-1800’, Coulsdon – Downland Village, (Printed in Scotland by John
G Eccles, Inverness, for the Bourne Society 1976), 25-26



WARTIME MITCHAM (1642 – 1649)

(i) The Burdens of Taxation and Quartering.
For over six years the New Model Army was quartered throughout Surrey and Middlesex, much to the
discomfort of the villagers and townspeople, who complained bitterly of the plundering of food and the
taking offodder for their horses by troopers acting under the guise of Parliamentary authority. Poaching
deer and fish from the parks of the gentry was rife, and Wimbledon Park, close to the Leveller stronghold
of Putney, was practically cleared of game. 1 The time-honoured practice of free quartering was particularly
resented in Surrey and came near to causing an insurrection. Merton Priory was garrisoned by
Parliamentary forces when steps were taken to strengthen the capital against the Royalists in 1642, and
one can imagine that with such neighbours people in the villages around had good reason to be on their
guard, whatever their sympathies.2

In Mitcham it was probably the billeting of troops, the constant raiding of stables for horses, and the
arbitrary commandeering of provisions which, as much as anything else, affected the daily lives of the
people. Milward cites the hardest case he found when researching the sufferings of Wimbledon and its
neighbourhood in the early 1640s as being that of

“Richard Farrand, a landowner of Mitcham. He was taxed by both sides at the same

time. Parliament took three of his best horses, quartered troops in his house, and

commandeered his team of cart horses ‘in the time of the bean season upon pretence

they were to return again next day’. They were not in fact given back for six weeks.

Then the Royalists had their turn, for he ‘was enforced to be resident with his wife and

family under the power of the Cavaliers near Oxenford, where his sufferings were far

greater and heavier than all the charges and taxes could amount unto here'”3
If Parliamentary troops were regarded with apprehension, there was still less affection for the King’s
men, the sacking of Brentford by a Royalist force in 1642 demonstrating that neither side could be
trusted to respect private property.

The areas of the country under Parliamentary control were in the main far better organised than those
supporting the King. In Surrey there was established “a Committee for the Safety of this County” – the
‘County Committee’ – which met regularly at The Crane (now Ye Olde Post House), at the corner of
Kingston Market. Members included Sir Richard Onslow, member of Parliament for the county, Sir
John Dingley from Kingston, Sir Richard Betensen who, with the purchase of Eagle House at
Wimbledon, was soon to become a local resident, Thomas Locke of Merton, and George Evelyn of
Godstone. 4 The committee was concerned primarily with the raising of taxes, and the finding of food
and horses for the Parliamentary forces. Accounts were kept, and the records survive amongst the
Commonwealth Exchequer papers at the Public Record Office. 5

To the other burdens of the parish authorities was added that of special levies to meet the cost of
maintaining the army, Mitcham in 1643, for instance, being obliged to find £4 per week. At the same
time Merton had to pay £3, Wimbledon £2 and Kingston £5 – an interesting indication of the relative
wealth of the four communities. 6 Also in 1643 the combined hundreds of Wallington and Brixton
were required to furnish 500 dragoons for the Parliamentary army – a considerable stress on already
heavily taxed communities which could only have been met with difficulty.

By 1647 the pressure of taxation had become such that in December Surrey farmers were moved to
petition Fairfax to bring influence to bear on landlords to reduce rents, and to ease the burden of free
quartering. The plea met with no response. Warrants in the name of the petitioners were issued to all
parishes, and meetings were held throughout the county. The protest movement culminated in a great
meeting on Putney Heath on 16th May 1648, and the signing of a petition with 5,000 signatures
demanding the return of the King and the disbanding of the army. 7


A procession of Surrey men bearing the petition to Parliament next proceeded to Westminster. Although
basically peaceful, the demonstration turned into a riot, probably by mistake, and was eventually
suppressed by the troops, leaving 20 dead and 100 wounded. Thwarted in their attempt at redress, and
with their traditional right to petition apparently denied them, the men of Surrey smouldered with

The protest was not without effect, however, and by June 1648 Parliamentary troops seem to have
been removed from much of the county, probably to meet the threat posed by the King who, with a
Scottish army, had invaded the north of England. Feeling against them remained, and antipathy was so
strong that when Fairfax marched through Surrey on his way to Kent his men did not chance their lives
by sleeping in the towns, but kept to the fields and open country. Parliament in fact fully expected a
rising in Kent or Surrey. Horsham had already risen for the King, and disaffection was growing. The
still substantial remains of Merton priory were seen as a potential hazard to the peace of the kingdom
should they fall into the hands of the malcontents, and in 1648 the owner was ordered by the Derby
House Committee to ensure that what survived of the old conventual buildings be blown up or otherwise
made undefendable. 8

(ii) Recruitment to the Army.
In districts which had sided with Parliament, forces could be raised by calling out the militia. A few
men, conceivably, volunteered from conviction, and some were perhaps encouraged to enlist in
anticipation of adventure and plunder. If maimed, their prospects were bleak, and widows and orphans
could expect little in the form of support from a disorganised nation and a society ill-equipped to give
succour to the destitute. Of those selected by the vestries we can imagine some defected, their hearts
not in warfare or feeling their allegiance lay elsewhere, but of them the records are silent.

As in the past, the lord lieutenant of the county was required to have persons and weapons in readiness
for national defence, and the muster lists (in copy only) still exist either at Loseley House or the Surrey
History Centre at Woking. Each parish was expected to provide and arm suitable men, Mitcham in
1641 being required to find five, local or otherwise, Merton four and Wimbledon three. Croydon, the
only town in the neighbourhood, had to provide 20. Not unexpectedly, the lists contain references to
prominent Mitcham families such as the Smythes, the Leighs, and Farrands, and catalogue in some
detail the arms each had available. 9

Although the pattern was by no means uniform, at the outbreak of war in 1642 support for the King
and the Anglican Church was strongest in the shires and country districts away from town. The
progressive, prosperous Home Counties were in the main Parliamentarian, and in London in particular
opinion was firmly against the Royalists. As a result, the Roundheads were able to suppress the Cavaliers
in the capital with little difficulty. In north-east Surrey, however, where many remained loyal to the
King, the situation was somewhat different. Those who could get away retired to their country estates
and, depending on their convictions, sought to avoid attention or joined the King’s forces. Nevertheless,
Surrey, Kent and Essex were rapidly seized for Parliament. Royalist minorities were effectively
subjugated, and orders were given to ignore the King’s Commission of Affray by which he sought to
rally support to his cause.

One of the first tasks of the Surrey militia was to garrison Kingston and Farnham, the former an
important river crossing and the latter strategically placed to keep watch on the small Royalist contingent
at Basing House. In 1645 a call went out for volunteers to serve in Cromwell’s New Model Army, but
the response from Wallington hundred is said to have been poor. As a result, the high constables for the
hundred, amongst whom was James Parry of Mitcham, were required to impress men between the
ages of 18 and 50.10


repeated prosecutions for non-attendance at church,4 and Edward Brigstock, a churchwarden, was
excommunicated for “failing to present”. On another occasion, Sir William Green, a London brewer
who was a newcomer to the village, was threatened with the bishop’s court for wearing his hat during
the sermon.3 Theology, we are told, played no part in the acrimonious dispute between patron and
incumbent, and Sadler, who resigned in 1669, was remembered as “a man of a rambling head and
turbulent spirit”.5 His successor, John Berrow MA, was presented to the living by the Quaker Henry
Hampson, acting as Robert Cranmer’s trustee, and instituted in February 1669/70.

As primary sources, hearth tax and militia tax books, extracts from the vestry minutes, and the quarter
sessions records have been mentioned already, and in the decade following the Restoration we are further
aided in our visualisation of the community by the increasing volume of detailed records to have survived,
such as parish registers, wills and inventories. Two manors had changed hands, but nothing suggests any
fundamental alterations occuring in manorial customs, the pattern of land tenure, or in land use.

Hardly ‘fashionable’, Mitcham nevertheless retained its popularity as a country retreat, and was described
by Cox in 1700 as “Micham, a Village well inhabited and much frequented by the Citizens of London”.6
Houses had continued to be built or extended during the Protectorate and the Commonwealth, incorporating
contemporary detailing and reflecting new styles already becoming familiar in town. In 1664 out of a
total of 233 houses in the parish, 21 were large, having seven or more taxable hearths. One third of these,
with at least 12 hearths each, were very substantial, prompting Adams, writing in about 1680, to comment
on “the handsome mansions still scattered about the parish”. 7 The number of adults can be calculated to
have been around 1,100 in 1664,8 but with 49 houses recorded as empty there would appear to have been
a considerable decline in population within the previous decade. On the other hand, the strangely high
proportion of vacant dwellings, most of them mere hovels with a total of only 32 taxable hearths, could
indicate rising living standards. This was a period when nationally the gulf between the very rich and the
very poor was widening, and in Mitcham the 75 households having only one hearth each can be regarded
as living at poverty level, whilst a further 45 dwellings were actually excused taxation by reason of the
impoverished state of their occupants.

There is no evidence that the economic base of the community had altered over the preceding 20 years,
and employment as rural craftsmen, in agriculture or domestic service, was still the lot of the majority, for
the expansion of the local textile finishing industry lay in the future. The proximity of London, both as a
market for produce, and as a magnet for the adventurous and those seeking their fortunes, should not be
overlooked and, by siphoning off surplus labour, would have ensured employment for those staying in
the village. Parish government remained in the hands of the gentlemen of the vestry, and the impression
gained from studying the accounts and minutes is that the poor law was still administered with compassion,
at least in the eyes of those responsible, and had not yet become a financial burden on the parish.

The great majority of the ordinary inhabitants of Mitcham left very little record, and we have but fleeting
glimpses of a few, usually more affluent residents, acting together or as individuals and motivated by a
complex mix of aspirations and ingrained attitudes. This said, apart from the break-up of the Carew
estate, it is difficult from the data available to detect any fundamental social, demographic or structural
changes in the parish of Mitcham over the period under review, or any sign that the Civil War and the
Commonwealth had had a lasting impact on the community.




Mitcham in the 1660s

Echoing the euphoria that accompanied the return of Charles II to London in 1660, the newly instituted
vicar of Mitcham, the Revd. Anthony Sadler, delivered a sermon calling upon his listeners “to support
the Restoration of his Majesty to the royal Throne”. The congregation was described by historians
Manning and Bray as “solemn”, but precisely what this signified is not clear. The Declaration of Breda
set the tone for the decade to follow, Charles II having promised religious tolerance and “liberty to
tender consciences”, but how this ideal was interpreted locally is impossible to assess. The nation now
set its eyes on the future, wearied of its brief flirtation with Republicanism and repressive authority.

Newcomers had arrived and settled in the village during the 20 years of upheaval and, as might be
expected, some residents both old and new had gone. The thread of continuity was not destroyed,
however, and several of the long-established families prominent in local affairs before the War were
still there in the 1660s. Whatever their past allegiances, the social standing of the Smyth family certainly
seems to have emerged unimpaired. Their land-holding in Mitcham was much reduced, but Thomas’s
son George, who had come of age during the Protectorate, was now the resident owner of Mitcham
Grove, the family’s home since the 16th century. He also held a position of authority, and at the
Reigate quarter sessions in April 1663 “George Smith of Mitcham esquire” was appointed treasurer
for the East and Middle Divisions of Surrey for moneys to be collected for “the relief of maimed
soldiers, gaols, hospitals and poor prisoners in the King’s Bench and Marshalsea prisons”. His response
to the court’s commission seems to have fallen short of expectations, for at the quarter sessions in
Guildford in 1667 George Smith was indicted for his refusal to execute the order of the Reigate court,
and was ordered to do so within three weeks or face a fine of £50.1 As is so often the case, the records
are silent on the outcome, and we are left to assume that Smith complied, and to speculate as to what
lay behind his intransigence. Might his apparent contempt of the court be seen as an expression of
disaffection with, or even defiance of, the Cavalier Parliament of Charles II and the administration of

Richard Farrand’s assessment for the hearth tax in 1664 was on the basis of 16 fireplaces, which
confirms that he, too, still occupied one of the largest properties in Lower Mitcham. Two years later,
after being the family home for over a century, the house changed hands. Whether or not Richard
Farrand had died, or had merely moved away, we cannot say (the possibility of his having fallen victim
to the plague comes to mind), but by the autumn of 1666 the house had become the seat of John
Highlord, a distant cousin of the Farrands through the marriages of the Garth sisters, Elizabeth and

Mitcham appears to have escaped the worst ravages of the plague in 1665, but Robert Cranmer and his
wife seem to have succumbed to the infection. They left the Mitcham estate and their seven small sons
in the care of trustees, amongst whom was Henry Hampson, who continued to reside in Mitcham until
about 1668. Sadly, Cranmer’s last years were clouded by a bitter dispute which developed between
him and the vicar. Anthony Sadler, in a state of great poverty, had been presented by Cranmer to the
vicarage in about 1660, after ‘birding’, or canvassing, for a spiritual benefice or living.3 An avowed
Royalist, Sadler followed the liturgy of the Church of England, whereas many of his parishioners
were, in his opinion, more inclined towards Presbyterianism. It would, perhaps. have been unrealistic
to expect characters who espoused the extreme Puritan ethic, or alternatively had High Church leanings,
to fade quietly into the background. The surviving records do, however, give the impression that the
parishioners of Mitcham on the whole were of a tolerant disposition and the discord which followed
Sadler’s institution seems to have been largely of his own making. There is record, for instance, of


(iii) A Local Skirmish
There were no recorded military encounters in Mitcham or its immediate vicinity from 1642 until
1648 nor, for that matter, any major campaigns in Surrey during those six years. All we can note is a
skirmish in 1648 at Ewell between a troop of Cavaliers and a few of Cromwell’s men. The actual
impact on Mitcham was probably insignificant, but the event must have kept village tongues exercised
for months afterwards.

At this period communications were primitive, and news travelled largely by word of mouth. As a
result, rumours abounded. That summer (1648) a Royalist party moved on Kingston, fully armed and,
it was alleged, supported by 500 horsemen. Led by the Earl of Holland, who seems to have been
caught up in the rising by accident, the force, 600 strong, advanced towards Reigate, crossing over
Banstead Downs on 5 July. From accounts that survive, the whole episode seems to have been highly
disorganised. The Royalists attempted to take Reigate on Friday 7 July, but Parliamentary troops under
Sir Michael Livesey moved into the town, and the Royalists broke in confusion. Deciding for discretion
in place of valour, the Earl of Holland started back to Kingston along the main road, accompanied by
a substantial part of his party. The advance guard of Livesey’s force caught up with the demoralised
Royalist stragglers at Ewell on Saturday 8th, just beyond Nonsuch Park, and skirmishing started. The
Royalists, unaware of the size of the Parliamentary force, at first attempted to make a stand, but then,
thinking that they must be facing Fairfax’s New Model Army, courage failed them, and they broke and
ran. In retrospect, the attempt at a rising can be seen to have failed largely because insular Surrey
refused to give Holland any real support. The total ineptitude of the organisers and lack of leadership
must also have been potent factors. 11

Despite the rout, plots and rumours of rising persisted, and on 9 July Livesey was ordered to send
forces to parts around Croydon, Epsom and Ewell, “all being very much malignant and like to make
new troubles”. It was unfortunate that the troops were Livesey’s Kentish levies, for Surrey had already
suffered much at their hands. He was particularly warned his troops must not seize or meddle with
horses or goods of any in the county on the pretence of their delinquency, but to leave any retribution
to the sequestrators and officials to be appointed by Parliament. Livesey probably did what he could,
but there were many complaints about his troops who, after their kind, made little attempt to distinguish
between friends and enemies.

(iv) The Major Landowners, the Manors and the Church
The Throgmorton-Carews of Beddington, who in 1640 held the lordships of three manors in Mitcham
and were one of the principal land-owning families in the parish, were major casualities when the
“World turned upside down” and only partially successful in their efforts to retain their Surrey estates.
Like all landed gentry they had to meet the increasingly heavy burden of Parliamentary taxation, but as
Royalists they were further penalised by heavy fines extracted under threat of sequestration, obliging
them to mortgage or sell much of their property. 12 Impoverished, they managed, nevertheless, to survive
the war with the core of their ancestral estates intact, and eventually regained something of their former
social standing.

Sir Henry Burton of Mascells House, Carshalton Park, another major landowner in Mitcham since the
reign of James I, was even less successful. 13 Sir Henry had not only inherited the manor of Mitcham
Canons from his father Richard Burton, but also a large estate which included six houses (one of them
referred to as “the parsonage house”), ten cottages, a water mill, a dove house (still standing in the
grounds of the Canons off Madeira Road), over 1200 acres of land, and the advowson. A substantial
part of this estate lay within the parishes of Beddington and Carshalton but, even so, Burton remained
in possession of much of Lower Mitcham until the Civil War. Sadly, his readiness to assist his sovereign
had placed him in serious financial difficulties soon after Charles I’s accession, and by 1642 the remaining
family lands had been mortgaged and Sir Henry’s fraudulent attempts to raise further capital were the


subject of complaint to the Chancery Court. Burton paid more heavily than many for his support of the

Royalist cause, and when he died in 1645 the family fortunes were in ruins.
Sir Nicholas Throgmorton-Carew was 80 years of age when the Civil War commenced, and thus precluded
from taking an active part in the conflict. He prudently opted for as low a profile as possible, content
that three of his sons should be active in support of the King. The desire to avoid sequestration of his
estates, rather than support for the Presbyterians, could well have been his motivation when, a sick
man, he voluntarily attended before the Committee sitting at Croydon in December 1643 and added his
name to an exhortation to take the National Covenant. Two months later the old man was dead. 14

Two of Sir Nicholas’s sons fought in the King’s forces during the Bishops’ Wars, and one of them,
George, appears to have been killed in 1640, when the Scottish Covenantors, incensed at what they
interpreted as a return to ‘Popery’, invaded the north of England. Sir Francis, the eldest son, adopted a
more passive role. Elected member for Haslemere in 1624 and Guildford in 1627, he had married
Susan, daughter of Sir William Romney, and received a knighthood in 1627. He is occasionally described
as “of Ravensbury”, one of the family’s Mitcham manors, but is likely to have occupied the manor
house on the banks of the Wandle only rarely. Sir Francis failed to secure election for the borough of
Bletchingly in the Short Parliament of 1640, and with his uncle, Sir Thomas Grymes, and other Surrey
landowners, followed the court to Oxford in 1642, where he gave moral and practical support to
Charles, although stopping short of serving in the army. Heavily in debt by the time of his father’s
death, (Sir Nicholas was highly critical of his son’s extravagance) Sir Francis was not appointed an
executor of the will, under the terms of which he was granted an annuity of £200. 12

Parliament at this time was prepared to show tolerance to confessed Royalists who had not borne
arms, and Sir Francis returned to his Surrey estates. Default in paying a fine of £2,000 for service
against Parliament, however, resulted in temporary sequestration of the Carew property, but this was
removed on payment of £1,000 in 1644. Sir Francis’s financial difficulties remained, nevertheless, and
in an effort to meet his father’s debts as well as his own, in 1645 he commenced mortgaging the
estates. In 1647 sequestration was reimposed for non-payment of the balance. 15

The Carews’ manor of Biggin and Tamworth, comprising some 640 acres and extending across north
Mitcham into Tooting and Streatham, had been mortgaged by Sir Nicholas since 1633 to his brother-
in-law Sir Thomas Grymes of Peckham and a Robert Wolrich. 16

In June 1619 lordship of the manor of Mitcham Canons had been purchased by Sir Nicholas from his
neighbour, Sir Henry Burton of Carshalton, together with the rectory and the advowson of Mitcham. 17
In 1645 the manor formed part of the dowry of Sir Francis’s daughter Rebecca on her marriage to
Thomas Temple, but two years later Carew’s desperate need for money obliged him (with his son-in-
law, who was a party to the transaction) to convey Mitcham Canons to Thomas Hammond of Byfleet
by way of mortgage.18

The fourth manorial estate, embracing a swathe of land across central Mitcham, was held as a tithing
of the manor of Vauxhall and had been in the hands of the dean and chapter of Canterbury since the
Dissolution. Pursuant to one of Parliament’s early Acts it was sequestered in October 1649. 19

Of the advowson of Mitcham which, with the rectory, had been settled in 1626 by Sir Nicholas Carew

in jointure on Susan, wife of his son Sir Francis, Manning and Bray have to say,

“1645, Sir Francis Carew charged it with the fortune of Rebecca his daughter, who

married Thomas Temple Esq.; and in 1647 Sir Francis and Mr. Temple conveyed to

Thomas Hamond Esq. by way of mortgage.” 20

It is a sad reflection of Carew’s parlous financial situation that, within two years of the rectory becoming

part of Rebecca’s dowry, he was obliged to mortgage it as well as the manor.
Sir Francis had remained loyal to the King, and despite Parliament’s wish to show clemency to
landowners like him once Charles had been defeated, the burden of debt remained. When Sir Francis
died in 1649, leaving a widow and a family of young children, the debts remained unpaid and the
estate was bankrupt. 21


The most extensive ‘whiting’ grounds were to be found near the Wandle in Lower Mitcham, where the
Collant (or ‘Collande’) family had been working in the early 17th century.35 They were followed here
by William Henman whose farmhouse, a substantial property in the style of the early 17th century, had
probably been built by the Collants.36 With various outbuildings it stood within an enclosure known as
the House Close, once part of the South Field, and was purchased by Robert Cranmer in 1652. Another
house, associated with the nearby Firsey Close whiting ground, was acquired by Cranmer in 1654, and
is shown close to the river at Mill Green on a map produced about 1620.37 It, too, could well be
attributed to members of the Collant family or other immigrants in the early years of the century.

Whereas dyers predominated in the lower reaches of the river, it is noticeable that in the vicinity of
Mitcham a degree of specialisation was beginning to emerge, men described as ‘whitsters’, ‘thread
whitsters’, or ‘cloth whitsters’ being mentioned in the parish records. These distinctions may, of course,
be more apparent than real. Numerous examples are listed in theVictoria County History, among them
being Thomas Hore of Mitcham, a mid-17th-century whitster, mentioned in the will (dated 1653) of
his brother-in-law Henry White, a weaver; and John and Charles Camell, both ‘thread whitsters’ and,
it is believed, of Dutch origin. Wills, like that dated 1659 of James Parry of Mitcham, a whitster,
citizen and leather-seller of London, who was described as a ‘gentleman’, show that such men were
often moderately prosperous, and by no means lowly members of the community.38 Parry we have met
earlier when, in the 1640s, he held office as high constable for the hundred of Wallington. He was also
chief tax collector for the area.39 Not all were specialists, and there were Mitcham whitsters like William
Taylor40 who also carried on the trade of calico printing. Although probably only operating on a small
scale, he provides an early example of the integration of bleaching and the subsequent processes of
printing and dyeing, often carried on by one firm, which became increasingly common towards the
end of the 17th century.

Venture capital, assured markets and freedom to trade were essential ingredients for the expansion of
the textile bleaching and finishing industries, but there is no evidence of this occuring in Mitcham
until the latter part of the 17th century, when a textile printing factory was established at Ravensbury.
Similarly investment in new water-powered mills for the working of copper, with the associated creation
of mill ponds and diversions of the river, belong to the period beyond that covered by this thesis.

Mitcham Hall, Lower Mitcham

(Watercolour by G. Yates, 1825, reproduced courtesy of Surrey Archaeological Society)
Mitcham Hall is believed to have been built for Henry Hampson.


(vi) The Property Market
A phenomenon immediately apparent when one examines Mitcham deeds that have come down to us
from the mid-17th century is the number of transactions taking place which involved the buying and
selling of houses and land. Dealings in real estate are, of course, evident from earlier records, but the
volume and frequency with which bargains of sale, agreements, leases and mortgages were being
negotiated during the 1640s and ’50s is quite outstanding. Equally noticeable are the names of men not
resident in the parish and hitherto unknown in Mitcham. The implication is, clearly, that the flurry of
conveyancing during the Civil War and the Interregnum had spawned a new professional class of land
agents and property speculators.

Mitcham was not unusual in this respect and, as G M Trevelyan observed in his English Social History,
a number of Puritan merchants and Cromwellian officers bought land for a song during the period of
acute depression which followed the end of the War, and managed to retain their new estates after the
Restoration. Their philosophy was in stark contrast to the Parliamentarian Winstanley’s dictum that
land was the common inheritance of men, and not a commodity to be bought and sold. Robert Cranmer
is the obvious example locally although, as we have argued, it would be wrong to regard his activity as
purely opportunistic. It is clear, nevertheless, that as a complete newcomer to the district he must have
relied heavily on the services of specialist negotiators and lawyers for whom the prevailing turmoil
was providing a rich living.

Thomas Hammond of Byfleet, described in one deed as ‘a merchant’, from whom Cranmer purchased
the manor of Mitcham Canons in 1656, is a good example of this new class of entrepreneur who, with
capital at their disposal, were able to take advantage of the situation. It was to Hammond that Sir
Francis Carew had turned when seeking to sell the manor of Mitcham in 1647,30 and whereas towards
the end of the century Hammond, or perhaps his son, was to build a new house overlooking Mitcham’s
Lower Green,31 his interest in the lordship of the manor of Mitcham seems to have been purely
speculative. Richard Surman of Croydon is another of the same ilk. He acquired the old Parsonage
House and adjacent land at Mitcham from Edmond Carew in 1646, and retained it as an investment.
Ownership passed to his wife Joan and thence to his son, who in 1658 sold the estate piecemeal
through the agencies of Thomas Hopkins of London, John Swift and John Morris, the latter being the
person from whom the property was purchased by Cranmer in 1661.

The names of others, like Richard Tredwell and Ralph Trattle both strangers to Mitcham, are familiar
from deeds dating from the Commonwealth. On the other hand, Richard Knepp, from whom Cranmer
bought land and other premises in Mitcham, including the White Hart in 1657, was a local man, who
had purchased the inn in 1654.32

(vii) Industry
Since the close of the 16th century, bleaching of textiles, mostly linens, fustians and ‘grey’ calico
imported from the East Indies via Holland, had been a major activity in Mitcham, where the Wandle
provided pure water, fed the channels traversing the adjacent crofting grounds and, where required,
was a source of power for mills producing colouring agents. Another factor vital to the establishment
and, subsequently, the growth of the textile industry, was relatively easy access to the port of London,
whence came the bulk of the imported cloth and which provided the main market for the finished

Pioneers in the process of bleaching had been ‘Dutchmen’, and the industry remained a monopoly of
migrants from the Low Countries until shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War. For the next 20
years or so the industry continued to thrive, and towards the end of the Protectorate the names of
bleachers whose burials are recorded in the parish registers show that it was in the hands of people
with English as well as Dutch surnames.34


The latter part of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath are difficult periods for the local historian
in which to study the fortunes of the parish church. Mitcham is no exception, and Manning and Bray,
listing the names of the incumbents and the dates of their institution, observed that the register covering
the period 1643 – 1664 was “lost”. 22 We are therefore unable to say what precisely happened to the
Revd Norris Buckock(e) MA, who had been instituted in 1637/8 under the patronage of Sir Nicholas
Carew. 23 It is evident, however, that although possibly Buckocke may no longer have been allowed to
preach, he remained resident in Mitcham and, moreover, we find him attending at least one vestry
meeting during the Commonwealth. 24

In Surrey as a whole many of the county’s clergy were deprived of their livings by Parliament, and a
Presbyterian system was decreed in 1646 under which, four years later, parishes were required to elect
elders and ministers. What happened in Mitcham may be far from clear, but the misfortune of one
Surrey rector was to Mitcham’s benefit. Thomas Mulcaster BA, MA, a graduate of King’s College
Cambridge, who was teaching at a school in the 1630s, secured the rectory of Charlwood in 1637. He
was deprived of the rectorial income in 1644 when it was sequestered, and moved to Mitcham, where
he established himself again as a schoolmaster. Unfortunately he was not left in peace and, accused of
theft by the Puritans, “was continually Harrassed and Perplex’d by the Soldiers, and was many a time
in danger of his life”.25

Mulcaster’s choice of Mitcham as a place of asylum is intriguing. Could it be that he was a friend of
Buckocke, perhaps having met him at Cambridge? Or was Mitcham known for its ambivalence towards
the new religious austerity, and more tolerant in its attitude towards dissidents? Whatever the reason,
the authorities were obviously aware of Mulcaster’s whereabouts.

(v) The Experiences of some Minor Gentry in Mitcham during the Civil War
The Farrands, one of the principal families in Mitcham during the 17th century, were entitled to bear
arms, and returned their pedigree in the herald’s visitation of 1623. 26 Their house in Lower Mitcham
was a large one, and on two brief occasions in the 1590s Joan Farrand’s mother, Lady Blanke, had
been able to offer hospitality to Queen Elizabeth and her retinue en route to Nonsuch. 27

In 1615, on the death of his father William Farrand, “Doctor of the Civill Law”, Richard, the eldest
son, inherited the family’s “Capital messuage, mansion or dwellinge house”, standing in some ten
acres of land extending westwards from London Road to what today is known as Baron Walk. Richard
Farrand had married Elizabeth, daughter of George Garth, lord of the manor of Morden. Two of their
sons died early in life, but the second boy, also christened Richard, and daughters Mary and Elizabeth,
survived into adulthood. We have already noted Farrand’s experiences at the hands of both the
Parliamentarians and the Royalists. Despite their tribulations, however, the family contrived to come
through the War still in possession of one of the most imposing houses in Mitcham, and they remained
amongst the leading families in the parish until after the Restoration.

Richard Farrand’s in-laws, the Garths, also weathered the storm relatively unscathed, despite the
proximity to Morden of a garrison of Parliamentary troops, quartered in the remnants of Merton priory.
Much remains to be known of the two families’ involvement in the struggle, and whereas some of the
younger members may have played a more active role, it would seem that both Richard Farrand and
George Garth’s grandson (George Garth II), who had succeeded to the Morden estate on the death of
his father Richard in 1639, were perhaps amongst the moderates, siding with the less extreme elements
in Parliament.

The Smythes were another local family whose connections with Mitcham can be traced back to the
early years of Elizabeth’s reign, when a Thomas Smythe held the office of Clerk to the Board of the
Greencloth in the royal household. 28 In 1638 his grandson, also named Thomas, who in 1618 had
married Sarah, the daughter of Sir Humphrey Handford, an alderman of the City of London and member
of the Merchant Taylors’ Company, inherited the Smythes’ Mitcham estate. This included not only a
fine mansion set in parkland on the banks of the Wandle downstream from Mitcham bridge, but also


two water mills immediately above the bridge. There was also other property in the parish, including

the Buck’s Head overlooking the Upper Green. 29
Whether or not Thomas and Sarah normally resided at the Smythes’ ancestral home in Mitcham we
cannot tell, but it is likely that he had business interests in the City, where the couple probably had
another house. Income from the estate alone would have provided a comfortable living, and we may
assume that for a while all went well. Unfortunately, difficult times were ahead for many wealthy
middle-class families and, as we have seen, during the Civil War loyalties were frequently divided.
Thomas’s father had contributed generously to the subsidy requested by Charles I in 1625, and his aunt
Mary married a Sir John Leigh of Mitcham, “a soldier”, who had borne arms in the King’s service.
Although there is no firm evidence, the family seems likely to have been high Anglican, if not actually
adherents of the ‘old religion’, i.e. Catholics. A niece by marriage, Lady Leigh, wife of Sir John’s
nephew Sir Francis Leigh, lived at Hall Place, a house in Mitcham associated with recusancy since the
late 16th century. (It was claimed to have contained a priest’s hole.) Another relative by marriage, Sir
Peter Wyche, was “controller of the house to Charles I” and there can be little doubt therefore that
several members of the extended family were Royalist sympathisers.30

Thomas Smythe, son-in-law of a prominent City merchant and, presumably, with commercial interests
in London himself, is likely to have supported the call for greater Parliamentary control over taxation.
With his background, however, he is more likely to have sided with the King rather than Cromwell.
Perhaps because of his sympathies, Smythe evidently found himself in financial straits, and in 1645
mortgaged a substantial portion of the Mitcham estate to John Handford of Essex, another member of
the Merchant Taylors’ Company and, it seems likely, one of his wife’s relations. 31 The property was
described in a “declaration of trust” as including “a mansion house” with barns, stables, orchards,
gardens and appurtenances, together with 83 acres of land in Smythe’s own occupation, and another
house also in Smythe’s occupation, with which went 60 acres of land, part of it enclosed ‘marsh’ or
waterside meadowland in Mitcham, and the rest arable lying south of the Wandle in Carshalton. A
“Cornmill called Micham Mill als Wickford Mill als Marrish Mill, … with a high drying room or loft
adjoining … and two closes of marsh ground all in the parish of Micham” is mentioned, and also
another “mill house with orchards, barns, stables, yards, outhouses … and 4 acres meadow” south of
the river.31

The “mansion house” was almost certainly the precursor of what, in later years, became known as
Mitcham Grove, while the second house also seems to have been in Lower Mitcham. “Micham Mill”,
we can be reasonably sure, stood on the site of the present Grove Mill building near Mitcham Bridge.

In 1649 the need to raise money recurred, and in January Thomas and Sarah sold some 50 acres of
land, including 44 acres in ‘Marrish Fee’, now occupied by part of the Willow Lane industrial estate.
The buyer was Ralph Trattle, styled somewhat quaintly as “citizen and fishmonger of London”, i.e., a
member of the Fishmongers’ Company.32 The land sold extended north-eastwards as far as the Lower
Green and here, on a close of pasture called Little Chaff Hawes, Trattle subsequently erected a “brick
capital messuage or mansion house”. This, four years later, he was to sell it to Robert Cranmer, another
London merchant.33 As ‘Cranmers’ it survived until the 1920s.

In a separate transaction in 1649 the Smythes sold the second of the two houses mentioned above, with
associated land in Lower Mitcham, to Henry Hampson. He was another City man, and shortly to
become master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company.34 From later records the house can be located to
the east of the London Road, in the vicinity of Baron Grove.


As might be expected, the assessment lists for Mitcham contain names familiar from other sources of
the mid-17th century. In 1655 the amount expected of Mitcham (to be paid in July) was £40 11s 6d.
The neighbouring village of Morden had to raise £17 15s 9d, whilst £92 15s 9d was demanded from
the market town of Croydon. Demands were addressed to the high constable for the hundred of
Wallington, collection was by the constable of each parish, and the monies were to be paid in at The
Greyhound in Croydon. Five years later, the quarterly levy on Mitcham had increased to £47 6s 9d, and
the others proportionately. Whether the increase reflects inflation or growing government expenditure
or both, is not known.

To arrive at each householder’s contribution the usual method of rating was followed, assessments
being the actual, or a potential rental. For example, Thomas Smyth’s mansion and land on the banks of
the Wandle were assessed at £49 p.a., on which he paid a levy of £1 5s 6d in the first quarter of
1655/6. The fine house in Lower Mitcham belonging to Richard Farrand (who served as an assessor
with Smyth during the Commonwealth), was assessed at £27 p.a., but for the same period he was
required to pay 14s 7d for the quarter ending June 1655. No explanation is given for the slight difference
in the two poundages, but presumably this was within acceptable limits.

The assessment books contain much else of use to the local historian, and we have seen that Sir Robert
Tichborne, the regicide, is confirmed to have been renting a house from “Mr. Broughton” until 1656,
when it was purchased by Robert Cranmer. The approximate date of Tichborne’s departure from
Mitcham can also be judged. Lady Leigh, Robert Cranmer and Walter Plumer are each shown to be the
occupiers of houses with substantial assessments – evidence which is valuable when identifying the
properties, and reconstructing the history of their occupation.

During the period covered by the assessment books special ad hoc rates were also levied, such as the
£40 11s 6d demanded of Mitcham in June 1657 towards the repair of Chertsey bridge.2 (This was
nothing new, for contributions towards bridge repair were required from major landowners under the
Saxon kings. By the 17th century, however, the levy was apportioned with greater refinement.) Locally,
responsibility for the provision of bridges and their subsequent maintenance remained with the parish
or a local benefactor. Construction of a bridge over the river Graveney, between Mitcham and Streatham,
had been funded in the late 16th century by a Thomas Roe, one-time master of the Merchant Taylors’
Company. Contributing towards the cost of repair of local bridges often became a source of contention,
particularly where two parishes were concerned, and by 1647 Roe Bridge had fallen into decay. Precisely
what the circumstances were in this instance is not recorded, but in 1652 a new stone bridge was
constructed, the expense being born by the Company. 28 Rates were required of the Surrey parishes in
April 1658 for gaols, hospitals and houses of correction; a highway rate was imposed in May 1659,
and in 1660/1 there was a levy to meet the expense of disbanding the armed forces.2 Arrangements for
collection and payment were as above, and this system continued after the Restoration.

Although the vestry minute books for Mitcham do not survive from before the last decade of the
century, a few miscellaneous papers remain to be explored. One such document, a ‘List of Suspected
Persons’ produced in 1655, when the rising under Colonel Penruddock and brief seizure of Salisbury
by the insurgents demonstrated that Royalist groups still had a nuisance value, provides a chilling
glimpse of the repressive nature of the government under the Major-Generals.29 Amongst those ‘under
surveillance’ was Richard Brickstocke (sic), a yeoman, probably a relation of the Edward Brigstock of
Mitcham who attended the parish meeting in 1652, and a ‘Richard Grimes Esq.’. Both men were listed
as visiting Mitcham and were, presumably, known dissidents. After the Restoration Brigstock served
as a churchwarden, and the hearth tax books for 1664 show him paying tax on one hearth in what was
evidently only a humble cottage in Upper Mitcham.30 Of Grimes nothing more is known, but his name
suggests he was related to Sir Thomas Grimes, who had supported the King during the 1640s.



Former boundary of waste

Within in 1649, and was elected lord mayor of London for the year 1656-7. He had been knighted by
Cromwell in 1655, and in December 1657 the Protector summoned him to his ‘other house’, or upper
chamber, as ‘Lord’ Tichborne. The last reference to Sir Robert in Mitcham is in the militia assessment
for June 1658, after which the house stood empty for a year or so before being occupied by another
City merchant, Alderman Vannam. Sir Robert Tichborne and Sir John Ireton, described in a Royalist
pamphlet as “the two City Jugglers”, were arrested in 1660. After being sentenced to death, Tichborne
was reprieved and committed to life imprisonment, dying in the Tower in 1682.23

To the south of Tichborne’s house in the early 1650s stood a more substantial residence, belonging to
Henry Hampson, another master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company and one-time alderman of the
City. In 1649 he had acquired the property, described as a ‘messuage’ with associated land, from
Thomas and Sarah Smyth.24 The date this house was built is uncertain. The land may once have belonged
to James Wylforde, and the house could well have been erected early in the 17th century for a later
occupant of the site, Richard Wyche, a London merchant and president of the East India Company
who, through his marriage to Ann Cranmer, became Robert Cranmer’s brother-in-law.

According to Woodhead25 Henry Hampson was the son of Thomas Hampson of London and his wife
Sarah, a daughter of Alice and Thomas Dudson of Berkshire and the parish of St George, Southwark.
Henry was apprenticed to William Rice of Newgate Market in 1627 and progressed to membership of
the Merchant Taylors’ Company. The year 1649 saw the execution of Charles I and the commencement
of the Commonwealth, and many families who for one reason or another had incurred heavy debts
during the Civil War now began to find themselves in financial difficulties, and were obliged to sell or
mortgage houses and land.26 Whether or not the need to extricate themselves lay behind Thomas and
Sarah Smyth’s sale of the old Wyche property we have no evidence, but it is obvious that Hampson,
like Cranmer, was in a position to take advantage of the situation. Thus in 1653, four years after this
initial purchase, we find him enlarging his Mitcham estate further, buying from William Pitchford,
citizen and haberdasher of London, five messuages or tenements and 38 acres or so of land, mostly in
relatively small plots scattered throughout Mitcham.27

(v) The New Administration
The impression that a new efficiency in local administration emerged in Mitcham during the Interregnum
is fostered not only by the increased volume of records surviving post-1655, but also from the detail
contained in parish papers, such as the churchwardens’ and overseers’ accounts. For the local historian
this is a boon, and for the first time one has the assurance that comes from working with reliable data,
and the need for qualified assumption and theorising is reduced correspondingly. It must be reiterated,
however, that the impression given could be misleading, for the contrast may be merely between
survival rates. If we knew that earlier records had been destroyed, which is a possibility, this assumption
could well be false. On the evidence we have it does appear that, as in the past, those appointed to the
more responsible positions in local government after the Civil War tended to be from the leading
families in the community. In the case of Mitcham these people were in the main City merchants,
lawyers and the like, literate and experienced in conducting their own affairs in a competent manner.

This new resource for the historian is exemplified not only by the churchwardens’ and overseers’
accounts from 1652/3 onwards, but by the partial survival of the first parish rate books, with assessments
based on rental values and thus indicating the relative size of the properties. Quarterly levies towards
the cost of maintaining the army and navy had continued throughout the Civil War and the
Commonwealth,16 and the militia levy assessment books preserved at the Surrey History Centre cover
the last five years of the Protectorate. Others continue until 1680. Being set out in the manner of the
later poor rate and land tax books, they are a valuable source of information on individual houses and
their occupants. By enabling the researcher to quantify the burden of military expenditure falling on
the parish they also enable comparisons to be made with adjacent communities.


Former boundary of waste

House built by Trattle

Detail from the 1865 Edition of the O.S. 1:2500 Map.
Showing 1 Lower or Whitford Green (in the manor of Vauxhall)
2 House built by Ralph Trattle between 1649 and 1652

and bought by Robert Cranmer
3 Former boundary of parish waste
4 Encroachments on the waste
5 The Canons, built 1680

28 13

(vi) The War in Retrospect
Whereas support for the King might bring financial ruin or even death to the families of some local
gentry, the more humble residents of Mitcham were mercifully spared the trauma of actual battle,
although we have no means of telling how many men from the village failed to return once the fighting
was over. In this sense, they were little more affected by the struggle than they had been during the
Wars of the Roses two centuries earlier. There was, however, one essential difference between the
Civil War and the dynastic struggles of the Middle Ages, for the roots of the conflict could disturb
men’s consciences, setting brother against brother over such fundamental issues as religious conviction
and political allegiance. Moreover, spies and informants abounded, and settlement of old scores and
the venting of personal spite undoubtedly had a potential for disrupting the lives of those who, for one
reason or another, attracted attention.

Most authorities hold to the view that in the country at large changes in the ownership of land as a
direct consequence of the war were remarkably few. The more important property-owning families,
penalised by sequestration and faced with heavy fines if they had supported the King, might or might
not have been successful in their efforts to retain possession of their land and houses.

On the evidence of extant deeds, buying and selling of estates in Mitcham had been common for a
century or more, but the volume of transactions during the 1640s (and, indeed, in the following decade)
does appear to have increased. How far this is attributable more to the survival of records than to the
Civil War itself it is difficult to say. In the Carews’ case the cause is obvious, but there could well be
other explanations for the Smythes’ repeated need to raise capital. It is certainly worth noting that,
penalised as they were, the Carews were partially successful in preserving the integrity of their estates,
and others, like the Smythes and the Farrands, not only weathered the storm but contrived to prosper
once hostilities ended.

As for the majority of villagers who, one might imagine, sought to avoid trouble and went about their
normal business, it is even more difficult to assess the full impact of the war. Parish records, such as
vestry minutes, churchwardens’ and overseers’ accounts, do not survive from before the Commonwealth,
an absence also noticeable in neighbouring parishes. With increasing literacy, and the flood of printed
material of all kinds, many people, we can be sure, developed strong views and were tempted to take
sides. We know that petitions were organised against grievances, particularly the enforced billeting of
troops and the seizure of goods. Traditional village festivities like the May revels and Yuletide were
also suppressed during periods of Puritan zeal, but for the silent majority there was little to be done but
to wait for the affairs of state to be settled, and then to follow with bucolic stoicism the directives of
whichever faction emerged with authority.

Identically-sized plots created in the 16th
century for John and William Wylford

William Garland’s house

The site of Robert Tichborne’s house

Part of the grounds of the old Wylford mansion

Detail from the 1865 Edition of the O.S. 1:2500 Map.

Showing the gradual re-development of the former Wylford estate:
1 Mitcham Hall, built close to the site of the old Wylford mansion
2 Identically-sized plots created in the early 16th century for

John and William Wylford
3 William Garland’s house (formerly William Wylford’s house)
4 The site of Robert Tichborne’s house
5 The grounds of the old Wylford mansion

14 27

and Mary had already started a family, and by the time they settled in the village, perhaps as early as
1653 or 4, when he bought a pew in the parish church, they had a three-year-old daughter Elizabeth,
and two little boys, Robert and John, the latter a babe-in-arms. Five more brothers were to arrive at
roughly yearly intervals, and by 1660, when the seventh son, James, was born, the household must
have been a lively one.

Militia levy assessment books from the Protectorate, commencing in 1655, confirm that the house was
substantial, and an inventory compiled ten years later includes furnishings which were both impressive
and exotic. As the years passed the house was extended, and contemporary records began to describe
it as a ‘mansion’. By 1664, when the survey for hearth tax purposes was conducted, the Cranmers’
residence had a total of 15 hearths, and was one of the largest in the village. Since addresses were not
then in general use, none of the records enable the house to be located with absolute certainty, but there
is no reason to doubt that it was the ‘Rectory House’, which was the family’s home early the following
century. This house survived until 1926, when it was demolished to provide a site for the Wilson
Hospital. Next door stood the massive tithe barn belonging to Cranmer Farm, which was cleared when
the entrance drive to Mitcham County School for Girls was constructed in 1929.

(b) Robert Tichborne and Neighbours
The history of a large estate in Lower Mitcham serves to demonstrate further that whereas numerous
land transactions undoubtedly occurred in Mitcham during the Interregnum, it would be wrong to
regard them all as a direct consequence of the Civil War. Buying and selling of freeholds and leases,
often involving the fragmentation of large Tudor or even medieval holdings can, in fact, be seen as a
continuous process taking place in and around the village well before the death of Charles I.

In the mid-16th century, to the south of what was then known as Lower, or Whitford, Green and
fronting the high road to Sutton, there stood a large house in which, on no fewer than three occasions,
Elizabeth I had been a guest on her progresses to Nonsuch Palace. 19 The grounds were extensive,
covering much of the area occupied today by the dwellings in Mitcham Park and Baron Grove, and
ornamental waters surviving into the 20th century suggest the house site was at one time moated. Its
history can be traced with ease back to the late 15th century, when the estate was owned by James
Wylford, master of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors. The house itself seems to have
remained standing, largely intact although increasingly dilapidated, until well into the early 17th century.
Subdivision and redevelopment of the grounds proceeded, following the sale of part of the property
for £900 in 1623 to Richard Broughton “of London”,20 but the process had actually commenced a
century earlier, two new houses having been constructed on separate plots, created from the family
estate in the 1520s by Wylford’s sons John and William.21

By 1652 William Wylford’s former house, the northernmost of the two, was occupied by William
Garland, holding a lease from Thomas Smyth. To the south, the house built by his brother John, then
in the tenure of Robert Tichborne and occupying a small plot of land, was purchased from a Peter
Broughton of Nottinghamshire by Robert Cranmer in 1655 for the sum of £1600.22 The transaction
was effected through the customary device of the bargain and sale, the document recording the latter
being dated 27 February 1654 and naming as vendor Thomas Hopkins of London acting, one assumes,
either as an intermediary or an agent for Broughton. The purchase was not completed with the usual
conveyance of the reversionary interest until some 12 months later, and as a consequence the militia
levy assessments for the first half of 1655 still record Broughton as the recipient of Tichborne’s rent.

Early in his life Tichborne, a member of the Skinners’ Company, had been a London linen draper. He
rose to the rank of colonel in the yellow regiment of the London Trained Bands, and under Fairfax was
made Lieutenant of the Tower. An independent in his theological views, Tichborne was author of
several religious works, and was lampooned in Rump songs as having a “beardless chin” and able to
“preach, pray and prate by the Spirit”. In politics he held radically advanced views, and was one of the
signatories of the King’s death warrant. Tichborne became an alderman of the ward of Faringdon




(i) The Aftermath of War
Following the execution of Charles in January 1649 the ‘Rump’ (i.e. the remnant of the Long Parliament)
became reactionary. Instead of reforming the processes of law, financial management and administration
of local affairs, Parliament resorted to debate and rule by Committee, and the government of the new
Republic was thus ineffectual in dealing with the inadequacies of the system inherited from its predecessors.
Cromwell’s remedy was the Barebones Parliament, but in practice this proved little more effective, and
became increasingly unpopular with the Church and the propertied classes.
In the absence of ecclesiastic records, we have nothing to indicate what, precisely, happened to the Revd.

Norris Buckocke, instituted under the patronage of the old Royalist Sir Nicholas Throgmorton-Carew.
He evidently remained in close contact with his parishioners (whether or not he continued to reside in the
Parsonage House is not known), and attended a special meeting called by leading residents in 1652 to
agree on essential work to the church. 1 Since his presentation to the living occurred whilst Laud was
archbishop, it is reasonable to assume Buckocke was an Anglican rather than Presbyterian. It is also
conceivable that in 1650 he was elected by the parishioners as their minister, in compliance with the
directive from Parliament, perhaps as a covert act of defiance in the knowledge that Cromwell had
claimed to defend liberty of conscience.

Winstanley’s appeal to the House of Commons in April 1649 on behalf of the Diggers, valiantly
experimenting with subsistence farming, came to naught, since in the minds of the lawyers dominating
the new regime it was imperative that law, order and respect for property be restored. The Levellers’
and other extremists’ assertion that all land belonged to the people and that, as the birthright of free
men, commonland was for all to share, was firmly rejected. In Mitcham the commoners’ rights to turn
out cattle and gather fuel on the expanse of heath to the south-east of the village had been stoutly
defended for centuries.3 The novel claim that the parish ‘waste’ was for anyone to use would therefore
have found little support, and there is certainly nothing to suggest that the Levellers’ and other extremists’
views had any appeal locally. However, as we shall see in the following chapter, some enclosure,
perhaps initiated by squatters, may have occurred on the margins of the Lower Green, following
sequestration of the dean and chapter of Canterbury’s manor of Vauxhall, when manorial control over
the tithing may have suffered a temporary lapse.

Four years is a comparatively short time in which to detect subtle changes occurring at a local level
but, given the reforming zeal of those now in control of the country, one would expect to find that the
two pillars of the social structure of the old order, the Church and the manors, were singled out for
early attention. It is therefore to these aspects of Mitcham’s history during the Commonwealth that we
now turn.

(ii) The Church and Parochial Administration
James Cranmer, squire of Mitcham in the 18th century, whose grandfather had purchased the manor
and advowson in the 1650s, obviously found local, as well as family, history a fascination, He noted in
his memorandum book, for instance, that inquisitionspost mortem were taken only to 1645, the records
being kept in his time “at the Rolls Chapple”. This, together with the loss of the bishop’s register and
the absence of vestry minutes and accounts, suggests that all may not have been well with parish
administration in Mitcham by the time the first phase of the war ended with the defeat of the King at

Many of the monuments in the parish church seem to have suffered either during the Commonwealth
or earlier, and most of the medieval brasses had disappeared by the 18th century. Any wall paintings,
and much of the stained glass surviving the Reformation, were also obliterated or smashed before the


This hand-drawn map shows Colouring Mills on the
Wandle; houses dating from the 17th century, then
occupied by the Colland and Henman families; Firsey
Close and the Marsh Fee Lands, used as ‘whiting’ or
bleaching grounds; the Cranmers’ house with stables
adjoining in’Chaff Hawse’; and the nearby ‘Manor
or Parsonage House’ at ‘Cannons alias the Grove’.

earliest topographical historians compiled their volumes. At Croydon, Ducarel tells us in his history of
the town, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s palace was placed in the charge of Colonel Sir William
Brereton, Commander General of the Cheshire forces during the Protectorate. A notable Puritan,
Brereton destroyed the records at the palace and removed all the ornaments from the chapel, which he
turned into a kitchen. 3 There may be some significance in the fact that a particulaly fine monument in
Mitcham church to the memory of a local branch of the Brereton family, who left the parish in the
1630s but retained ownership of a large house and estate at Colliers Wood, was left intact. The monument
survived in place in the baptistry until church rebuilding between 1819 and 1822, and is now to be
found in fragments in the crypt.

In our current state of ignorance, what happened to Mitcham church between 1646 and 1652 has to be
conjectural. It would appear that its services and administration continued, for in 1648 Edward Hooker
and Edward Brewer, churchwardens, are said to have sold a pew to Edward Hinch. 4 The fabric of the
building, however, seems to have suffered from neglect, and by 1652 its condition became a matter of
concern. Was this because maintenance of the ancient structure had perforce been deficient during the
Civil War and its immediate aftermath, or because the building had been vandalised by Puritan zealots?
On the 7 June 1652, i.e. towards the end of the Commonwealth, a meeting was held to consider works
to the church. 1 Notice had been given at the Whit Sunday service that a parish meeting was to be held
the following day, Monday 7 June, to discuss the “repairacion”. It was, we are told, “generally agreed
by the persons whose names are under written that the ffloor of the Church should be levelled and

paved and the Roofe Ceiled:
“Richa. Terrams * William Smyth
Tho. Smythe Edwd. Hooker
Ricr. Traives Richard Hayes
Edw. Washfold * Anthony Brigs
Wm. Fletcher William Heath
Will. Garland Edw. Brigstock
John Kelinge Will. Hargrave
William Humble Norris Buckocke
‘W mark’ ”

* These two should probably be more correctly read as Farrand and either Washford or,
perhaps, Worsfold.
The memorandum does not record who actually took the initiative in calling the meeting, but it can be
assumed it was the first two signatories, Richard Farrand and Thomas Smythe, who served as
churchwardens in the year 1652/3. Several others attending were also gentlemen of some importance,
Fletcher and Garland occupying two of the larger houses in Mitcham, whilst John ‘Keelinge’ (sic) was
destined for office as High Constable for Wallington after the Restoration. Richard Traives (or Traves)
came from a family of London merchants, and was related to the Farrands by marriage. Edward Hooker’s
house with its seven hearths was also larger than average.5 Others were of more humble stature. Edward
Brigstock, a yeoman farmer, living in a small house with only one taxable hearth, later served as a
churchwarden, as did William Hargrave, Edward Washfold, and William Heath.

The entry “Norris Buckocke W mark” at the end of the 16 signatories raises a number of interesting
questions. We have already surmised that the vicar may have been deprived of his living in 1646, but
he was evidently still playing a role in the affairs of the parish. Illiteracy cannot be an explanation for
the “W mark”, and the possibility comes to mind that, although present, Buckocke may for some
reason have felt precluded from officially signifying participation, although the decision had his tacit
support. His name occurs again in the vestry records 12 months later, together with those of lay members
of the vestry, formally assenting to the making of the annual rate for the coming year and certifying the
parish officers’ accounts.6

The Cranmer Estate in 1717

(from James Cranmer’s Estate Book – Copyright Surrey History Service, reproduced by permission)

16 25

(iv) Newcomers to the Village
(a) Robert Cranmer
The arrival of Robert Cranmer in Mitcham provides virtually the only example of a significant change
in the local hierarchy in the years immediately following the end of the Civil War. He undoubtedly
benefited from the prevailing situation in the parish, where several houses and small estates were
becoming available for lease or purchase, but it could well be argued that his choice of locality and
timing were predetermined by his recent return from India and the Persian Gulf, and a natural wish to
set up home in the country with his young wife and children.

Son of Thomas Cranmer of Paternoster Row and Anne his wife, Robert was born in London in 1617
and baptised on 11 May. We know nothing of his early life, but he was evidently sent abroad as a young
man, and spent some ten years as a factor in the employ of the East India Company, mostly in Basra,
where he became fluent in Arabic. Cranmer seems to have had an adventurous tour of duty, at one
point nearly losing his life when attacked by rival Dutch merchants, and he left the company a highly
esteemed employee.12

On 21 January 1646 Robert wrote to his mother from “Sherratt”, probably the town of Surat, north of
Bombay, where under the early Stuarts the East India Company had established a ‘factory’ or small
trading station.13 Anne Cranmer was then living at the ‘Blew Bell’, at the upper end of Cheapside, St
Paul’s Gate, London and, his father having died the previous year, Robert promised to return home the
following year.14 He kept his word, and within three years had married Mary Whitwell, then a girl of
17 or 18 years of age. Robert evidently had a respectable fortune at his disposal, for the ‘capital house’
he purchased in Mitcham was a good one, with an adjoining farm.15 Whether the purchase money
came from his own enterprise abroad, or was in part an inheritance or dowry, we have no knowledge.
With no banks as we know them, and no stock market in which to invest, the customary deployment of
surplus capital was in purchasing land and houses, and the buying and selling of leases and mortgages.
Robert, it is clear, was looking to the future.

Nothing much has survived to indicate Cranmer’s political inclinations. As a merchant he might be
expected to have supported Parliament, but after ten years’ absence far from home his views were
more likely to have been conservative rather than radical. As we have observed, the family was distantly
related to Archbishop Cranmer, but although Robert Cranmer purchased the rectory of Mitcham, thereby
becoming patron of the living, his religious convictions are unknown.

Amongst London merchants and others with connections in the City, Mitcham had for many years
enjoyed popularity as a healthy country location within easy reach of town. Years later Robert Cranmer’s
descendants were to claim that, in 1619, a member of the family held land in the “manor of Mitcham
Canons”, but this has not been substantiated.16 If the reasons for Cranmer’s choice of Mitcham remain
somewhat uncertain, there can be no question as to the success of his activities in the property market,
for as the newly established squire of Mitcham and a major land owner in the village, he secured a
position of pre-eminence in the local community which the family was to enjoy for the next 250 years.

It is probably best, therefore, to see Robert Cranmer’s purchase of an estate in Mitcham as part of a
continuing trend, facilitated by, rather than a direct outcome of, the misfortunes of local landowners
like the Carews and the Burtons. His ventures into the property market commenced around 1652 with
the buying of a recently erected ‘capital messuage’ with land and common rights from Ralph Trattle.15
This was followed by a series of transactions over the space of the next decade by which he purchased
various other buildings and parcels of land in Mitcham and Carshalton. One of his later acquisitions,
the old ‘Parsonage House’ (occupying the site of today’s Canons Heritage and Leisure Centre) had
passed into the hands of Richard Surman of Croydon in 1646, and was bought by Cranmer through the
agency of John Swift and John Morris in September 1661.17

Robert Cranmer evidently lost little time in removing his household from the unhealthy environment
of London to their new house overlooking the green in Mitcham which still bears the family name. He


The works agreed in the Spring of 1652 included levelling the floor of the church, which in itself has
two implications. The most obvious is that this was either a necessary precursor to repaving, due to
differential settlement (the interior of the building had been used extensively for burials since the
Middle Ages), or because of normal wear and tear. On the other hand, the widely resented changes
ordered by Archbishop Laud in the 1630s had included raising the chancel floor above that of the
nave. Was the decision reached at Mitcham in 1652 aimed at achieving liturgical correctness by removing
such a ‘popish’ innovation and bringing the church more in keeping with current Presbyterian thinking?

Whereas the earliest vestry minutes to have survived date from 1699, 7 a book of Mitcham
churchwardens’ and overseers’ notes and accounts exists for the period 1652 – 1681. Both are now in
the care of Surrey History Centre. 6 Amongst the earliest churchwardens’ names recorded is that of
Richard Farrand, who was appointed sheriff of the county of Surrey in 1651. 8 In accordance with
established procedure, he and his fellow churchwardens would have been expected to meet the
expenditure they incurred in performing their duties from the rates collected, or from accumulated
reserves. The accounts for 1652/3 were presented by Thomas Smythe and William Hargrave (who
seems to have replaced Richard Farrand as churchwarden during the year), and show the parish to
have been in a sound financial position, with receipts totalling £12. 19s. 7d., and disbursements of £9.
18s. 1d. No records have survived for the following year, but at a meeting at The Greyhound, Croydon,
in April 1654, it was agreed that Thomas Smyth (sic) and Edward Worsfold (or “Washford”) should
“take upon themselves” the offices of churchwarden for the ensuing 12 months.

(iii) The Manors
Changes in the tenure of three of the Mitcham manors during the 1640s have been touched upon
already. It has also been noted that a fourth manorial estate in Mitcham, a tithing or detached portion of
the manor of Vauxhall, was sequestered in October 1649. Manorial records include a rental for what
was described as the Mitcham “Lybertie” dating from that year, when a survey of the manor was
conducted. 9 This showed that the court baron had been in the practice of meeting annually at Easter,
and that the court leet sat each October. There is a hint, however, that the Mitcham ‘tithing’ may not
have been one of the most efficiently administered of the Canterbury estates, for the manorial pound
on Mitcham’s Lower Green had been allowed to become “much decayed”. The survey also disclosed
that there was very little marketable timber or woodland of commercial value on the estate. ‘Fines’

(i.e. fees) were still payable on descent or alienation of tenure of properties, two years quit rent and a
heriot “at large” being demanded by custom of the manor when title changed hands. Two freeholders,
a “Mr.” Jones and a “Mr.” Charles Allen, were listed, and also 16 copyholders.
The manor of Vauxhall remained sequestered until the Restoration, when it was returned to the dean
and chapter of Canterbury. Nothing is known by the writer of the manorial administration during the
Interregnum, but the court rolls are extant and warrant examination. 10 With large areas of commonland
elsewhere in the parish, control of grazing on the Lower Green may not have been of great concern at
this time, and management was probably neglected. Large-scale maps of Mitcham produced in the mid19th
century indicate that at some time in the past enclosure of land had taken place on the margins of
the Green, possibly by landless peasants claiming ‘squatter’s rights’. 11 Such small-scale enclosure of
waste land was quite common at times when manorial administration was lax. When these particular
enclosures were created is not known, but house plots with a common rear boundary can be seen very
clearly, both along the north-eastern side of the Green, and to the south. Here a surface water ditch, now
piped underground, seems once to have defined the border between former commonland and the fields
and meadows of a private estate.

One larger building plot in particular invites speculation. Now occupied by a group of almshouses, it
was the site of a late 17th- or early 18th-century house belonging to the Tate family and their ancestors,
the Hammonds. 12 (The date of its erection is uncertain, since it is only known from watercolour


paintings, having been demolished in the 1820s). The site, a choice one, overlooks the Lower Green,
and court rolls of the manor of Vauxhall for 1718 list the property, then in the occupation of a ‘Mrs
Hammond’, who was a copyholder, paying an annual ‘quit rent’ of two shillings and four pence to the
dean and chapter of Canterbury. 13 Records for the late 17th century have yet to be examined, but there
seems to be a strong possibility that the house had been built on land enclosed by Thomas Hammond,
with or without manorial consent, during the Commonwealth.

Mention has been made earlier that Sir Nicholas Carew mortgaged the manor of Biggin and Tamworth
in 1633. In her efforts to raise funds, in 1649 Lady Carew, Sir Francis’s widow, vested lordship of the
manor in George Evelyn and Henry Campion as trustees for Edward Thurland of Reigate, and it
passed out of the family’s hands forever. 14 A senior justice of the peace for the county and a Parliamentary
supporter, Thurland was resident at Beddington Place, the Carew family’s home, between 1649 and
1653. He often took the chair at Surrey Quarter Sessions and his sphere of work on the bench appears
to have been mainly in the Reigate district. Amongst other positions he held was stewardship of the
estate of the earl of Warwick. The court rolls of Biggin and Tamworth survive, and are another potentially
rich source of material for the local historian.15

The manor of Mitcham Canons, mortgaged to Thomas Hammond in 1647, had ceased to exist in all
but name by the Commonwealth, and no custumals, terriers or court rolls exist. In contrast, court rolls
of the Carews’ manor of Ravensbury. which included much of Lower Mitcham as well as numerous
isolated properties elsewhere in the parish, survive from 1498, and those from 1650 – conveniently in
English, like many Commonwealth records – form a continuous series until 1921.16 Lordship of
Ravensbury remained with the Carews, and although the family’s financial difficulties persisted
throughout the Interregnum, normal manorial administration was sustained. The manor house, standing
in its extensive grounds on the banks of the Wandle, was leased to tenants.

The house belonging to the Tate family, overlooking the Cricket Green.

(Watercolour signed “J CB 1827”, reproduced courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service)


before 1640. On the main road out of London, close to Merton Abbey, the house was hardly likely to
have been a peaceful haven, and Pledge terminated his occupancy in 1657. The estate and house, part
copyhold of Ravensbury, next passed into the hands of a Mr Shelton. He made it his home for a few
years before in turn sub-leasing or letting, firstly to Francis Odway, described as an “innholder”, and
subsequently to Alexander Odway, who we can assume was a son. A grand old mansion (its occupancy
can be traced back to the 15th century), Colliers Wood House, or ‘Jenkingranger’ as it appears in the
court rolls, seems by this time to have been in decline. The Odways were relative newcomers to the
parish, and their story, interesting in its own right, properly belongs to the latter part of the 17th

The history of several other larger houses in Mitcham can similarly be traced from the mid-1650s
onwards and, with biographical detail added, demonstrates that the pattern of occupation and ownership
by prominent Londoners during the Protectorate largely repeated that of the earlier part of the century.

Old Bedlam, Upper Green East

(Sepia-wash drawing by J. C. Buckler, 1827 , reproduced courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service)

This multi-period house had a first-floor medieval hall and an undercroft. Believed once to have been the
property of Sir Walter and Lady Raleigh, it was sold to Thomas Plumer in 1616, and remained in the possession
of the Plumer family until the mid-19th century. From the Militia Tax records it would appear to have been
occupied throughout the Protectorate by Walter Plumer, who was created a baronet by Charles II in 1660/1.


(iii) The Minor Gentry and Landowners
A lawyer by profession, Richard Farrand was evidently in good standing with the Puritan authorities
when, in November 1651, as “Richard Farrant of Mitcham” he was appointed sheriff of Surrey by the
House of Commons. 6 It has to be said that whereas many of the Surrey sheriffs chosen during the
Interregnum were former Parliamentarians, by no means all were fanatical Puritans, or even ardent
supporters of the Parliamentary party during the Civil War. As was then expected, given his social
position, Richard Farrand took an active part in parochial administration and, as we have seen, held
office as churchwarden at Mitcham for at least part of the year 1652-53. On various occasions during
the Protectorate he also acted as local assessor for the quarterly levy imposed by Cromwell for the
maintenance of the Parliamentary army and navy, and he performed a similar office after the Restoration.7

The end of the war found Thomas Smyth(e) still in possession of the Mitcham Grove estate, although
much of the family property in Mitcham, including the mansion occupied by Henry Hampson, and the
land on which Ralph Trattle had built himself a house (subsequently purchased by Robert Cranmer),
had been sold.8 Smyth’s brother William died in 1640, the year of the Second Bishops’ War, when the
Scots defeated the Royal forces at Newburn. There is a possibility that William, like George Carew of
Beddington, was killed in the fighting around York. William’s young son George, to whom the estate
would pass eventually, was then a child of about six, and was raised under the guardianship and
influence of his uncle Thomas and aunt Sarah.

It has already been noted that, in common with many London merchants and professional men, Thomas
is likely to have supported parliamentary government and stability, without necessarily subscribing to
the views of the more radical elements. Like Richard Farrand, he was evidently regarded as trustworthy
by the Cromwellian authorities, for in 1653, holding office as churchwarden at Mitcham and considered
to be “faithful, fearing God and hating covetousness”, he too was appointed as local assessor for the
quarterly levy for the maintenance of the army and navy.

In about 1655, having reached his majority, George Smyth, or Smith, as the name was more commonly
rendered by this time, became the resident owner of Mitcham Grove. Whatever their allegiances might
have been, at the time of the Restoration the social standing of the family certainly seems to have
survived unimpaired, with George emerging as one of the leading figures in the village.

The militia levy assessments and court rolls of Vauxhall confirm that throughout the Interregnum Lady
Leigh, to whom Thomas Smith was distantly related, remained in occupation of Hall Place. The house,
parts of which dated back to the 13th century, 9 was quite large (it was held liable for tax on nine
hearths in 1664), 5 and one envisages the old lady quietly living out her days in genteel poverty. In
1654, on the death of Rowland Wilson, a London vintner living in Merton who was another distant
relative, actual ownership of Hall Place passed to his daughters Elizabeth and Mary, but Lady Leigh
retained proprietorial rights over the north chancel of the parish church, and the registers record that
“Lady Lee” was “buried in her own chancel in January 1665/6”.10

Old Bedlam, or Old Bethlehem, a rambling and impressive part-timbered medieval house with a first-
floor hall, stood at the corner of what is today Majestic Way and Upper Green East until demolished in
the mid-19th century. 11 Believed to have comprised part of the Mitcham estate sold in 1616 by Sir
Walter Raleigh, it remained in the hands of the Plumer family for some 200 years. A clue to its occupation
during the Protectorate is to be found in the militia levy assessments from 1655 – 1680, which include
a relatively large house, owned by Sir Walter Plumer of Esher (sheriff of Surrey in 1663) and occupied
by Lady Haven.

The close association of the wealthy and well-connected Rutland family with the Colliers Wood area
continued from the late 16th century (when two of the Rutland men in succession held the position of
Clerk to the Catery in the royal household) until well into the 17th century, although more detailed
information is lacking. Ownership of the Colliers Wood estate passed to the Brereton family, and by
the mid-1650s a Humphrey Pledge (about whom we can say nothing at the present time) was in residence,
either leasing or renting the property from the owners, the Breretons, who had left Mitcham shortly


(iv) Two Mysteries
Two unsolved mysteries ought to be recounted before this chapter is concluded.
The first is mentioned in Tom Francis’s lantern slide lecture notes, now in Merton Local Studies
Centre. Referring to Vine House, which stood opposite Hall Place on the northern side of Lower Green
West, he recalled the local tradition that a man’s skeleton had been discovered buried in the back
garden, and that it was commonly believed to be the remains of “a Parliamentary Officer”. Tantalisingly,

he gave no indication of the date of discovery, nor any grounds for ascribing the body to the Civil War
or Commonwealth periods.
Vine House was demolished in the 1930s, and today the site is covered by Beadle Court. Surviving

illustrations show the house to have been a two- storeyed, three-bay brick-built and tiled-roofed structure,
with a protruding central porch and a small room above. In style, it reflects the Dutch influence on
vernacular architecture, and could well have dated to the mid-17th century, which lends some credibility
to the story. Unfortunately, who the “Parliamentary Officer” was, how he met his death, and under
what circumstances he came to be buried in the garden, remain mysteries which are likely to prove
difficult to solve. A plausible explanation is that the house was his home and, holding strong Puritan
views, it was his wish that his remains should be interred in his garden with the minimum of formality.

The second mystery concerns the alleged discovery in Mitcham of certain items of the Crown jewels
of Charles I, sold by the Parliamentary Commissioners after the Civil War. In his London Beneath the
Pavement, published in 1971, Michael Harrison states “Some of the treasures … turned up again. The
Swords of Mercy and Grace were found, sadly rusted, buried in the garden of an old house in Mitcham”.
No date is given for the discovery, and no further details. If the house could be located the occupier
during the mid-17th century might be identified. There must, presumably, have been some justification
for the story, which prompts speculation as to the involvement of the householder. Was he a Royalist
or a Cromwellian? Was he merely a common thief, or were the swords hidden in the hope an opportunity
might come for their return to the authorities should the monarchy be restored?

Correspondence with Harrison some years ago proved unfruitful, since he could not recall the source
of his information, and enquiries made on his suggestion to the librarian at Windsor Castle have been
similarly unproductive.

Vine House, Lower Green West

(early 20th century photograph reproduced courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service)




(i) The Upheaval Continues
The Commonwealth experiment lasted for four years. Power was then surrendered to Cromwell who,
as Lord Protector, resorted to government with a Council of State and a single-chambered legislative
assembly. In 1655 rule by the Major-Generals commenced, eleven districts being created covering
England and Wales through which the Commonwealth was policed, taxed and administered.

It is in the period of the Protectorate, extending from 1653 until Cromwell’s death in 1659, that we
may detect locally what seems to be a new stirring of administrative activity, with perhaps greater
attention being paid to record keeping to meet the demands of the new regime. This certainly seems to
be the case in Mitcham, and a similar impression is gained when reading Milward’s work on
Wimbledon,1 but it may be an illusion, for in the nearby parishes of Merton, Morden, Carshalton and
Sutton there is a dearth of records from the same period. Of particular assistance to the historian in
Mitcham are the first surviving overseers’ and churchwardens’ accounts, details of the county rate
demands, and the militia tax records – all from the six years of the Protectorate.2

With what appears to be a returning sense of confidence, perhaps encouraged by the ending of war
with the Dutch, a growing activity in the property market also becomes apparent. This is typified in
Mitcham not only by the arrival in the village of people like Robert Cranmer, investing capital
accumulated whilst serving in the East Indies, but other newcomers, seeking the status and financial
security that came with the ownership of land. In turn this leads to the phenomenon of the land speculator,
a relatively new breed of merchant dealing in real estate.

In this chapter we examine very briefly the information to be gleaned from the taxation records, whilst
acknowledging that the resurgence in local government exercised through the vestry, and the continuance
of the underlying manorial structure evidenced by the court rolls, has left a rich legacy of primary
material for research. Much work remains to be done before this important period can be better

The field of biographical studies similarly has much to offer, and the increasing volume of secondary
sources provides tempting insights into the fortunes of several old Mitcham families, as well as
illustrating the backgrounds of some of the incomers bringing ‘new money’ to the parish.

The efficiency of the new Major-Generals’ rule was not universally acclaimed by leaders of the
communities over which they exercised authority, and in 1657 Parliament, by the Humble Petition and
Address, offered Cromwell the Crown, but this was declined. We are thus led to the fifth and final
chapter of this thesis and, within two years of his death, the Restoration of the Monarchy and a new
phase in the history of Mitcham.

(ii) The Church and Manors during the Protectorate.
For ten years the advowson of the vicarage of Mitcham, together with the rectory, remained with
Thomas Hammond, to whom it was conveyed by way of mortgage in 1647.3 During that time the need
to exercise the right of presentation to the living appears not to have arisen. Over the same period the
rectorial tithes, presumably, were collected by Hammond as mortgagee. When, in 1653, the trustees
appointed under the Commonwealth to manage the royal estates sold the manor of Byfleet, together
with Byefleet House and the park which surrounded it, the buyer was Thomas Hammond. Nothing is
known of his background, but by this time Hammond was achieving what no doubt was his ambition,
and was well on course to become a member of the local gentry.

In 1656/7 Hammond and Nicholas Carew alias Throgmorton, son and heir of Sir Francis, sold the
rectory and the advowson of Mitcham to a London merchant, Robert Cranmer. The Cranmer family was


proud of a somewhat distant relationship to Archbishop Cranmer, martyred at the stake in 1555 for
his adherence to the reformed Church of England, and it would seem that Robert Cranmer was
probably a moderate in his religious leanings, acknowledging the traditional duty of patron of the
living to maintain the discipline of the Church, and generous in the financial assistance he gave to
distressed and sequestered clergy. What happened to Norris Buckocke is not known, and the first
preacher Cranmer presented to the benefice was George Weldon. In Cranmer’s words “a very able
and orthodox divine”, Weldon was instituted on October 1st 1658.4

Until early 1657, when transfer of title to Robert Cranmer was finalised,5 lordship of the manor of
Mitcham Canons (which is something of an enigma since no court rolls, custumals or terriers exist)
had also been part of the inheritance of young Sir Nicholas Carew, although it, too, had been
mortgaged to Hammond since 1647. There is little evidence now of Mitcham Canons ever functioning
as a conventional manor – there is certainly no record of any manorial courts being held under the
Cranmer family, who retained the lordship for over 200 years – and its main assets were rights
claimed to gravel and turves on Mitcham Common. Even these were to be disputed by the lords of
the other three manors.

Mitcham thus acquired a new squire in the mid-1650s, but only indirectly as a consequence of the
Civil War, for whereas the conflict undoubtedly hastened the process, the Carews’ profligacy made
the eventual fragmentation of the family’s estate inevitable.

East End of Mitcham Parish Church

(Engraving of around 1800 – in writer’s possession)
The North Chancel where Lady Leigh was buried in 1665/6 (see p.22) is in the centre
of the illustration. Here also were the graves of previous occupiers of Hall Place, the
Illingworths, from whose tombs the brasses had been stripped before the 18th century.