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St. Mary Chatham
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Chatham Parish

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Chatham is, ecclesiastically, in the diocese of Rochester, in the archdeaconry of Rochester and St. Albans.  The church is named for St. Mary with registers commencing 1569.

Chatham, a town and a parish in Medway district, Kent.  The town stands on the river Medway, Watling Street and the London and Dover railway, contiguous to Rochester, 30 miles west-by-south of London.  It has furnished numerous Roman remains;  and was known to the Saxons as Coeddeham, and at Domesday as Ceteham.

The manor belonged, in the time of Edward the Confessor, to Earl Godwin;  was given by the Conqueror to Hamon de Crevecœur;  and passed to the Badlesmeres, the Despensers, the Wentworths, and others.

The town forms a continuous line of edifice with Rochester;  consists chiefly of narrow streets;  and presents, in a strong light, the aspects of old large seaports.  A steep lane, called Hamon Hill, leads to an elevated spot, commanding a fine view of the town and the environs.  Many of the houses are old;  and one with a carved front, in High Street, is pointed out as having been the residence of certain famous ship builders of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The chief public buildings are churches, chapels, schools, hospitals, a workhouse, a convict prison, the dockyard, barracks, and the fortifications.

The parish includes also Chatham Intra within the city of Rochester, the hamlet of Luton, and part of the village of Brompton.  Acres, 4,273;  of which 90 are water.  Real property in 1860, £57,576.  Population in 1861, 25,183.  Houses, 3,933.


St. Mary's, or the parish church, was rebuilt in 1788;  incorporates a doorway of a previous old Norman edifice;  is itself an ungainly structure;  and contains several monuments, preserved from the previous church, one of them a brass of Stephen Borough, the discoverer of the northwest passage to Russia in 1553.

St. John's church was built in 1821, by the Parliamentary Commissioners, at a cost of nearly £15,000;  and was extensively altered in 1869.

St. Paul's church was built in 1854, and is in the Norman style.

St. Peter's church, in Troy Town, was built in 1860.

A Presbyterian church on a site given by the War Office, is a neat structure of galvanized iron, erected in 1861.

The Roman Catholic church is a brick edifice, with little external ornament, built in 1863.

The livings of St. Mary [parish church] and St. John are rectories, and that of St. Paul a vicarage, in the diocese of Rochester.  Value of St. Mary £500;  of St. John and St. Peter, each £300 with a habitable glebe house.  Patrons of St. Mary, the Dean and Chapter;  of St. John, the Rector of St. Mary;  of St. Peter, the Bishop.  The rectory of Luton and the vicarage of Brompton are separate benefices.


St. Bartholomew's hospital was founded for lepers, in 1078;  is now a new hospital, with 50 beds, and with a government lock branch;  and has an endowed income of about£1,760.  The original chapel still stands, and continues to be used;  but only the east end of it is ancient.  A new lock hospital was founded in 1869, and contracted to cost £7,749.  Hawkin's hospital, for decayed seamen and shipwrights, has an income of £663.  Paine's charity, for widows, has £324 a year.  The Marine hospital was built in 1828, and has accommodation for 340 patients.  The artillery hospital is attached to the artillery barracks, and has wards for 100 patients.


A new wing to the convict prison, with accommodation for about 300 more convicts was founded in 1869.


A royal dockyard was formed here in the time of Elizabeth;  was greatly enlarged by Charles I;  was the scene of a disastrous attack by a Dutch fleet in 1667;  was materially improved by Charles II;  has been further enlarged from time to time;  and is now one of the most important establishments of its kind in the kingdom.  Many sovereigns have visited it;  and Queen Victoria made a special visit to it in 1855, when she inspected the wounded soldiers from the Crimea.

The chief trade arises from the dockyard and from ship building.  About 33 men-of-war are commonly lying off;   and about 20 building on the slips.  A pier, behind the Sun Inn, was built by Colonel Best, at a cost of £3,000;  and steamers touch at it many times a day, on their way to Sheerness.  Races were formerly run, but have been discontinued.

The dockyard is nearly a mile long, walled round and fortified;  and contains four wet docks, with capacity for the largest vessels, one of them a tidal basin, 400 feet by 96, completed in 1857.  The store houses and workshops are admirably arranged, and can equip a first rate man-of-war in a few days.  The mast house is 240 feet long, and 120 wide;  the rope house is 1,110 feet long and 50 wide;  the smith's shop contains 40 forges;  and the saw mills have eight saw frames, with capacity for 240 saws, and two circular saw benches, with windlasses and capstans for supplying them with wood.  The gun wharf, adjoining the dockyard, is more a great storehouse than an arsenal, and contains a large park of artillery.

Fort Pitt and Military Barracks

The principal barracks extend along the Medway;  and contain accommodation for upwards of 4,000 men.  Fort Pitt, on a hill overlooking the town, contains other barracks, a military hospital, and a military museum;  and was constructed at the end of last century.  The fortifications, called the Chatham lines, enclose the dockyard and the principal barracks;  include Brompton village, partly in Gillingham parish;  run down to the Medway, at the extremities of Chatham and Brompton;  were commenced in 1758, and completed about 1807;  and have recently undergone extensive alterations and improvements.  New works, on marsh ground of about 320 acres to the northeast of the dockyard, to include a repairing basin, new docks, and extensive buildings, and estimated to cost about £1,250,000, were commenced in 1867, and were expected to be finished about the end of 1870.  Grand reviews and great military field operations take place about the lines, and attract great crowds to Chatham.

Town Amenities

The town has a head post office with a savings banks and a money order office, a railway station with telegraph, two other banking offices, and five chief inns;  and publishes a weekly newspaper.  A weekly market is held on Saturday;  and there were formerly two fairs.

There are a soldiers' institute, a mechanics' institute, and some other institutions.

Chatham Borough

Chatham is a borough under the act of 1832, sending one member to parliament;  and, as a borough, consists of part of the parish of Chatham and part of the parish of Gillingham.  Acres, 1,670.  Direct taxes in 1857, £9,251.  Electors in 1868, 2,111.  Population in 1841, 21,431;  in 1861, 36,177.  Houses, 5,185.  The town gave the title of Earl to the family of Pitt.

The places of worship within the borough in 1851, were 10 of the Church of England, with 6,610 sittings;  3 of Independents, with 1,220 sittings;  1 of General Baptists, with 286 sittings;  2 of Particular Baptists, with 908 sittings;  6 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1,532 sittings;  4 of Bible Christians, with 697 sittings;  2 of the Wesleyan Association with 369 sittings;  1 of the New Church, with 70 sittings;  1 of the Catholic and Apostolic church, with 120 sittings;  and 1 of Roman Catholics with 150 sittings.

Chatham and Gillingham, is a hundred in the lathe of Aylesford, Kent;  lying around Chatham, but excluding the borough.  Acres, 21,281.  Population in 1861, 31,671.  Houss 4,984. 1

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

Chatham Bibliography

-- various. 'Archaeologia Cantiana'. Publisher: Kent, England: Kent Archaeological Society, various dates.  Volumes 1 through 139 are available to view free on the Kent Archaeological Society website.  [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 Chatham: 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 RG 13/785 - also online at  
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 of Chatham   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

1801   -   10,505**
1811   -   12,652**
1821   -   14,754
1831   -   16,485
1841   -   18,962
1851   -   21,886
1861   -   24,650
1871   -   26,184
1881   -   26,525
1891   -   31,594
1901   -   36,944
1911   -   94,253*
1921   -   95,751*
*Includes Gillingham parish population. **The entire population, including those from the part of the parish that lays within Rochester Borough, for 1801 and 1811 is shown here. Except as otherwise noted, all other population levels represent just those living in the part of Chatham parish that lays within Chatham and Gillingham Hundred.

Chatham Distance to

London 28.9 mi.
Canterbury 24.1 mi.
Ashford 20.6 mi.
Bromley 22.5 mi.
Cranbrook 18.0 mi.
Dartford 15.7 mi.
Deptford 25.9 mi.
Dover 37.3 mi.
Faversham 15.7 mi.
Folkestone 33.2 mi.
Gravesend 8.8 mi.
Greenwich 24.2 mi.
Hythe 31.4 mi.
Maidstone 6.2 mi.
Margate 36.8 mi.
Milton Regis 8.7 mi.
Queenborough 10.3 mi.
Ramsgate 38.5 mi.
Rochester 3.1 mi.
Sandwich 35.7 mi.
Sheerness 11.2 mi.
Tenterden 21.2 mi.
Tunbridge 19.6 mi.
Woolwich 22.3 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

Tax Lists

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

Other Records

Village Resources