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Image of St. Peter & St. Paul Church, Tonbridge, Kent, Copyright 2016 Susan D. Young.  All rights reserved.
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Tunbridge aka Tonbridge Parish

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Tunbridge aka Tonbridge

Tunbridge [sometime also known as Tonbridge] is, ecclesiastically, in the diocese of Canterbury, in the archdeaconry of Canterbury and in the deanery of South Malling.  The church is named for St. Peter with registers commencing 1553.

Tunbridge is a town, a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred, in Kent.  The town stands on the river Medway, and on the Southeastern railway, at the intersection of the Sevenoaks and Hastings railway, 30 miles by road southwest of London;  was held, at Domesday, by Richard Fitzgilbert, who assumed the name of De Tonebridge or De Clare;  acquired, in his time, a castle and a Premonstratensian priory;  sent two members to parliament in the time of Edward I, is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and a polling place;  publishes three weekly newspapers;  occupies ground rising from the Medway, which is navigable hither for barges of 40 tons, and divides here into several branches;  contains one long old street, some parts of which are wide;  includes a new town on the south, in the vicinity of the rail station;  and has a head post office with a money order office and a savigs banks;  a large rail station with telegraph, two banking offices, two chief inns, a townhall and market house, a chief bridge built in 1775, several smaller bridges, a police station, an ancient spacious parochial church, two modern churches, four dissenting chapels, a literary and scientific institution with reading room and library, a mechanics' institution, a great grammar school, national and infant schools, a workhouse, two suites of alms houses, and other charities £168.

The castle was taken by William Rufus;  was taken again by Prince Edward, son of Henry III;  was seized by Hugh de Audley, in the time of Edward I, and taken from him;  was forfeited to the Crown, by the Staffords, in the time of Henry VIII;  was given by Elizabeth to the Careys;  and is now represented by some interesting remains.

The priory's refectory remained till the forming of the railway, and was then swept away.

The parochial church, or St. Peter's, was given, in the time of Henry II, to the Knights of St. John;  has been very much disfigured;  and shows, in the nave and the tower, decorated and later English features.

St. Stephen's church was built in 1852;  and is in the early English style, with tower and spire.

The grammar school was founded in 1153;  is an extensive building with old centre and modern wings;  has £4,500 a year from endowment, and 16 exhibitions of £100 each to various colleges;  and had the poet Cawthorne and V. Knox for masters, and Sir Sydney Smith for a pupil.

A well-attended market is held on the first and third Tuesdays of every month;  a fair is held on 11 October;  the manufacture of "Tunbridge ware", in toys, snuff boxes, dressing cases, and other articles, from soft woods, is largely carried on;  and there are maltings, breweries, corn mills, an iron foundry, a tannery, and gunpowder mills.  Population in 1861, 5,919.  Houses, 1,165.

The parish includes Lower Haysden, Upper Haysden, Southborough, and part of Tunbridge aka Tonbridge.  Acres, 15,235.Real property in 1860, £103,032;  of which £1,135 are in gas works and £170 in quarries.  Population in 1851, 16,548;  in 1861, 21,004.  Houses, 3,942.

The living of St. Peter is a vicarage, and the livings of St. Stephen and St. Thomas are perpetual curacies, in the diocese of Canterbury.  Value of St. Peter, £832 with a habitable glebe house;  of St. Stephen, £259 with a habitable glebe house;  of St. Thomas, not reported.  Patron of St. Peter, Mrs. Deacon;  of St. Stephen, Trustees;  of St. Thomas, Mrs. Pugh.  The perpetual curacies of Hildenborough and Southborough also are separate beneficies.

The sub-district excludes part of Tunbridge parish, but includes three other parishes.  Population in 1861, 11,129.  Houses, 2,136.

The district contains also Tunbridge aka Tonbridge and Brenchley sub-districts and comprises 46,179 acres.  Poor rates in 1863, £16,271.  Population in 1851, 28,545;  in 1861, 34,271.  Houses, 6,507.  Marriages in 1863 in the district, 303;  births, 1,140 of which 48 were illegitimate;deaths, 663 of which 234 were at ages under 5 years and 12 at ages above 85.  Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2,685;  births, 10,226;  deaths, 6,356.

The places of worship in 1851 were 16 of the Church of England, with 9,420 sittings;  4 of Independents, with 1,363 sittings;  8 of Baptists, with 1,626 sittings;  8 of Wesleyans, with 1,682 sittings;  1 of Primitive Methodists, with 135 sittings;  1 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 402 sittings;  and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 260 sittings.

The schools were 25 public day schools, with 2,964 scholars;  58 private day schools with 1,384 scholars;  and 29 Sunday schools, with 2,679 scholars.

The hundred bears the name of Tunbridge-Lowey;  is in Aylesford lathe;  contains two parishes and a part;  and formed a tract around Tunbridge Castle, with two great chases for deer hunting.  Acres, 15,235.  Population in 1851, 16,548.  Houses, 2,939.

or Hilderborough, a hamlet in Tunbridge parish, and a chapelry partly also in Leigh parish, Kent.  The hamlet lies 2 miles northwest by north of Tunbridge rail station;  and has a post office under Tunbridge.  The chapelry was constituted in 1844.  Population in 1861, 1,049.  Houses, 208.  Population of the Tunbridge portion is 840.  Houses, 166.  The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Canterbury.  Value, £170 with a habitable glebe house.  Patron, the Vicar of Tunbridge.  The church was built in 1844;  and consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with tower and spire.  There is a national school.1

1 John Marius Wilson, comp.  The Imperial Gazatteer of England and Wales. (London, England: A. Fullerton & Co., 1870).

Tunbridge aka Tonbridge Bibliography

-- various. 'Archaeologia Cantiana'. Publisher: Kent, England: Kent Archaeological Society, various dates.  [Note:  The following volumes can be found on  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (1876), 11, 12, 13 (1880), 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 32, 34, 35, vol. 1907 supplement.]

  • General references to Tunbridge: vol. , pp.
  • Currently in revision

Great Britain, Public Record Office. 'Calendar of the patent rolls preserved in the Public Record Office--Edward II, Vol. 1. 1307-1313'Each volume has own index. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Great Britain, Public Record Office. 'Inquisitions and assessments relating to feudal aids : with other analogous documents preserved in the Public Record Office, A. D. 1284-1431', Vol. 3. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Great Britain, Exchequer. 'The book of fees commonly called testa de nevill, pt. 3'. The Book of fees contains information about the holdings of feudal tenants. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Hall, Hubert, 1857-1944. 'The Red book of the Exchequer - Liber rubeus de Scaccario, Vol. 3'. The Red book of the Exchequer was a register intended to preserve important documents comprising charters, statutes of the realm, public acts (Placita), private deeds and ordinances, correspondence. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Glencross, Reginald Morshead. 'Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Vol. 1. 1559-1571'. Publisher: Genealogical Society of Utah d.b.a Historical Books on FamilySearch;

Hasted, Edward. 'The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent; Containing the antient and present state of it, civil and ecclesiastical; collected from public records, and other authorities: illustrated with maps, views, antiquities, etc. The second edition, improved, corrected, and continued to the present time'. 12 volumes. Publisher: Canterbury: Printed by W. Bristow, 1797-1801. URL: British History Online

Hussey, Arthur. 'Notes on the churches in the counties of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey, mentioned in Domesday book, and those of more recent date'. Publisher: London J.R. Smith,(1852).

Letters, Dr. Samantha. 'Kent', Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516 (2005).  URL: British History Online.

Page, William, 1861-1934, ed.. 'The Victoria history of the county of Kent'. Publisher: London: Constable (1908).  URL: British History Online

Sharp, J. E. E. S., ed.. 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward I, File 39', Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume 2: Edward I. Published:(1906), pp. 315-323.  URL: British History Online.

Sharp, J. E. E. S., ed.. 'Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry III, File 45', Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Volume 1: Henry III. Published:(1904), pp. 296-302.  URL: British History Online.

Location of Records

The following list of records is not intended to be exhaustive.  There are many records that are awaiting discovery in archive offices throughout Kent and England.  This list is intended only to set out those records that are available via at least two relatively easy-to-access avenues.  If you have used or discover a record that would be of benefit to other researchers, that is not on this list, please send me an email with the details of the archive - name, address and archival call number.

Census | Church of England | Non-Conformist | Parish chest | Workhouse and Poor Law | Land | Assizes and Sessions | School



Date The National Archives, Ruskin Avenue,
Kew, Richmond,
LDS Family History Centre
(Find a centre near you)
and indexed online at:
6 June 1841 Currently under revision  
30 Mar 1851 Currently under revision  
30 Mar 1851 census name index & images Currently under revision  
7 Apr 1861 Currently under revision  
2 Apr 1871 Currently under revision  
3 Apr 1881 Currently under revision  
5 Apr 1891 Currently under revision  
31 Mar 1901 Currently under revision  
2 Apr 1911 Currently under revision  
2 Apr 1911 RG 78/139 - Census Enumerator's Summary Books online only and other subscription sites none

Church Records, Church of England

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Parish Register   Currently under revision  
Bishop's transcripts   Currently under revision  
CMB transcripts   Currently under revision  
Parish Registers, transcribed by Thomas Colyer-Fergusson   Currently under revision  

Church Records, Non-Conformist

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Particular Baptist Chapel, Nonconformist Return   Currently under revision  
Methodist Church Registers   Currently under revision  

Parish chest records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Parish Council Minutes   Currently under revision  
Removal orders out   Currently under revision  
Settlement Examinations, Minute book   Currently under revision  
Overseers' Accounts   Currently under revision  
Return of Churchwardens, constables and defaulters     
Tithe Apportionment Files      
Poor Rate books   Currently under revision  

Workhouse and Poor Law Records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Admission & Discharge books   This section currently under revision  
Guardians' Minutes      
Births   Currently under revision  
Deaths   Currently under revision  
Religious creed registers   Currently under revision  
Apprentice Register      
Registers of lunatics      
Letters books      
Vaccination registers 1899-1930 Currently under revision  

Land Records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Land tax assessments 1780-1831 Currently under revision  
Land tax assessments 1875-1876 Currently under revision  
Land tax assessments 1889-1890 Currently under revision  
Rates and Duties - Houses, Windows, Lights   Currently under revision  
Manorial Court rolls   Currently under revision  
War Damage Files 1939-1962 Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone, Kent, no.: Finding Aid at CKS-DRb/RW 123 None

Assizes and Sessions Records
(poor laws, jail terms, oaths, and other municipal and public records)

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
Hearth tax   Currently under revision  
Victuallers Recognizances   Currently under revision  
Churchwarden's Presentments   Currently under revision  
Parish rate books   Currently under revision  

School Records

Record Type Dates Archive 1
Corresponding LDS Family History Library film numbers
(Find a centre near you)
    Currently under revision  


Coming Soon

Church Registers


Parish Chest

  • Settlement Certificates
  • Removal Orders
  • Bastardy Examinations
  • Parish-assisted Immigrants
  • Churchwarden's Accounts
  • Overseer's Accounts
  • Surveyor's Accounts
  • Workhouse Records
  • Pew Rents
  • Donors' Rolls
  • Vestry Minutes
  • Bishops' Visitations
  • Parish Magazines
  • Parish Histories


Total Population, includes that of Tunbridge Wells

1801   -   4,371
1811   -   5,932
1821   -   7,406
1831   -   10,380
1841   -   12,530
1851   -   16,548
1861   -   21,004
1871   -   29,756
1881   -   35,919
1891   -   41,849
1901   -   49,302
1911   -   60,463
1921   -   61,463

Tunbridge Distance to

London 27.0 mi.
Canterbury 34.8 mi.
Ashford 25.6 mi.
Chatham 15.8 mi.
Cranbrook 12.8 mi.
Dartford 17.3 mi.
Deptford 24.0 mi.
Dover 44.8 mi.
Faversham 27.7 mi.
Folkestone 39.0 mi.
Gravesend 17.8 mi.
Greenwich 22.9 mi.
Hythe 36.2 mi.
Maidstone 11.9 mi.
Margate 49.5 mi.
Milton Regis 22.3 mi.
Queenborough 25.6 mi.
Ramsgate 50.3 mi.
Rochester 15.9 mi.
Sandwich 46.6 mi.
Sheerness 26.8 mi.
Tenterden 19.7 mi.
Tunbridge Wells 4.4 mi.
Woolwich 22.8 mi.


Municipal & Public Records

  • Mayors
  • Town Clerks
  • Recorders
  • Chamberlains
  • M.P.s
  • Jurats, Aldermen and Common Councilmen
  • Electoral Register
  • Freeholders
  • Freemen Index
  • Freeman's Roll
  • Masters Index
  • Pubs, Taverns, Inns, Alehouses
  • Victuallers

Wills & Estate Records

  • AD index 1448-1857
  • CC index 1448-1857
  • PCC 1338-1858
  • PPR 1858-1925
  • Depositions

Court Records

  • Gaol Returns
  • Quarter Sessions
  • Transportations
  • Summons for Pavement Repairs
  • Protestation Rolls c1641-1643
  • Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy 1662
  • Oaths of Allegiance c1720s

Military Records

Land Records
& Maps

  • Parish Map
  • Victoria County History
  • Deeds, Mortgages, etc.
  • Rated Property Returns
  • Returns of owners of land, 1873
  • Manor Court Baron
  • Manor Tenancy Rolls
  • Manors, Castles & Holdings of Significance

Tax Lists

  • Poll Tax
  • Hearth Tax
  • Window Tax
  • Hair Powder Tax
  • Land Tax Assessments 1780-1831
  • Land Tax Assessments 1799-1805

Other Records

  • Apprenticeships
  • Immigration
  • School Records
  • Notable Events
  • Nefarious Activities

Village Resources