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Deptford Parish

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A View of the Parish

Deptford St. Nicholas and part of Deptford St. Paul are, ecclesiastically, in the diocese of London, in the archdeaconry of Middlesex and in the deanery of Greenwich.  One of the churches is named for St. Nicholas with registers commencing 1563 held at the London Metropolitan Archives. The other church is named for St. Paul with original parish registers commencing 1730.

Deptford, is a town and two parishes which are also sub-districts, in the district of Greenwich; part of one of the parishes (St. Paul) in Surrey, the rest of that parish and the whole of the other (St. Nicholas) in Kent. The town stands at the influx of the Ravensbourne rivulet to the Thames, and on the London and Greenwich railway, immediately west of Greenwich, and 3 miles south-south-east of London Bridge.

It is the Depeford of Chaucer, whose pilgrims went through it; and it took that name, of which the present one is a corruption, from a deep ford in the Ravensbourne, long ago superseded by a bridge. It was, at one time, a small fishing village; but it sprang into a town from the establishment of a royal dock at it, in the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII. It was visited by Elizabeth in 1581, to see Drake in the ship with which he had just "compassed the world"; and was the place where the Czar Peter studied the science and practice of ship-building. It suffered desolation by fire in 1652; by Wyatt and his rabble, in 1653; by the plague, in 1665; and by a high tide, rising 10 feet in the lower streets, in 1671. It presents a crowded, irregular, disagreeable appearance; yet contains well-built streets and many good houses.

A castle was built at it, by Gilbert de Magnimot, soon after the Conquest, but has disappeared. A mansion, called Sayes Court, succeeded the castle; was long held by the family of Say; passed, in 1651, to John Evelyn, author of the "Sylva"; was then famous for its fine garden and a fine holly-hedge; suffered great damage from temporary occupancy by the Czar Peter; figures graphically in Sir Walter Scott’s novel of "Kenilworth"; and was at length swept away, and gave place to a work-house.

The original bridge over the Ravensbourne was a wooden structure; was rebuilt of stone in 1628; and reconstructed of cast-iron in 1829.

The Trinity House, now the Trinity Board, was first established here by Henry VIII.; held long its meetings in an old hall, taken down in 1787; and removed then to Water Lane, Thames Street, and afterwards to the present building on Tower Hill.

The royal dockyard became so enlarged as to occupy 31 acres, and to include two wet docks, three building slips, two mast ponds, a mast house and other appurtenances; but is now no more than a third-rate establishment. The original building for it forms part of a quadrangle, with additions made at different periods. The victualling offices, a long range of brick buildings, west of the docks, are still of considerable importance; and they include part of the ground of the quondam Sayes Court garden.

Two hospitals, for pilots and shipmasters, exist in connection with the Trinity Board; the one built toward the end of the 17th century, the other built in the time of Henry VIII., and rebuilt in 1788. The Dreadnought, of 98 guns, which captured a Spanish three-decker at Trafalgar, now lies as a hulk adjacent to the town, and serves as an hospital ship.

Addey’s school has £415 from endowment; Stanhope’s or Gransden’s school, £212; and other charities £260. The town has a post-office, under London, S.E., with a savings banks and a money order office. It also has a railway station with telegraph, and a banking-office; is a seat of petty sessions; and is grouped with Greenwich, Woolwich, Chorlton [sic] and Plumstead, in sending two members to parliament.

A fair is held on Trinity Monday; and manufactures of earthenware and chemicals are carried on. Water works were constructed in 1699; passed by purchase, in 1808, to a company; took then the name of the Kent water works; draws supply partly from the Ravensbourne rivulet; and delivers about 3,500,000 gallons daily to Deptford, Greenwich, Woolwich, Chorlton and Blackheath.

The Earl of Winchelsea, who commanded at the Armada, Sir T. Smith, the ambassador of James I. to Russia, and Cowley, the poet, were residents.

The town, together with all the rest of the two parishes, is within Greenwich borough; but the population of the town is not separately returned. The two parishes are St. Nicholas and St. Paul.

The two Independent chapels are structures of 1861 and 1862 – the one Gothic, the other Italian; and there are four other dissenting chapels.

The manor, after being held by Gilbert de Magnimot and the Says, was held by the Mortimers, the De la Poles, the St. Johns, and others; and went, at the Restoration, to the Crown. Much of the land is fertile market garden, in the highest state of cultivation.

Deptford St. Nicholas:

St. Nicholas contains the royal marine barracks. Acres of St. Nicholas, 110 of land and 39 of water. Real property of St. Nicholas in 1860 £19,339. Population of St. Nicholas in 1861, 8,139. Houses, 1,172.

St. Nicholas church was rebuilt in 1697, remodelled in 1716; has a much older enbattled tower; and contains monuments to Fenton, Pett, Shelvock, several Brownes, and others. St. Nicholas is a vicarage in the diocese of Rochester (as of 1870). Value of St. Nicholas £557. Patron of St. Nicholas, T.T. Drake, Esq..

Deptford St Paul:

St. Paul includes Hatcham hamlet and St. John, Christchurch, St. Peter and Hatcham chapelries. Acres of St. Paul, 1,587 of land and 22 of water. Real property of St. Paul in 1860, £94,691. Population of St. Paul in 1861, 37,834. Houses, 5,905.

St. Paul’s church was built in the time of Queen Anne; has a west-end spire; and contains a mural monument by Nollekens, to Admiral Sayer, and two grand monuments to the Finches. St. Paul is a rectory in the diocese of Rochester (as of 1870). Value of St. Paul £400 with a habitable glebe house. Patron of St. Paul, W.W. Drake, Esq..

St. John’s church is a Gothic edifice of 1854. St. John is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Rochester (as of 1870). Patron of St. John, J.J.S. Lucas, Esq..

Christ Church is a mission building of 1864 and constituted in 1865. Christ Church is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Rochester (as of 1870). Patron, not reported.

St. Peter is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Rochester (as of 1870). St Peter’s was constituted in 1867. Patron, not reported.

Hatcham, is a manor and a chapelry in Deptford, St. Paul parish; the former in Surrey, the latter partly also in Kent. The manor lies on the London Bridge and New Croydon railway, at New Cross station, 2 miles southwest-by-west of Deptford; and has two post offices, the one east of New Cross Tollgate, under Deptford, London S.E., the other west of New Cross Tollgate, under Peckham, London, S.E.. It was known at Domesday as Hacheham; and it was held by the Brixi, who gave name to Brixton hundred. Acres, 670. Population in 1851, 4,074; in 1861, 5,731. Houses, 969. Hatcham House and Hatcham Manor House are chief residences. The chapelry was constituted in 1845. Population in 1861, 9,887. Houses, 1,630. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of London. Value £160 with a habitable glebe house. Patron, the Rev. A.K.B. Granville. The church was built in 1850, is in the Gothic style, and stood incomplete at the beginning of 1865.

New Cross, is a hamlet in Deptford St. Paul parish, Kent and Surrey; at the mutual boundary of the counties, and on the Southeastern and the London and Brighton railways, 1/2 a mile southwest of Deptford, and 4 southeast-by-south of London bridge. It has stations with telegraph on the railway, and a post office with a savings banks and a money order office, under Deptford, London S.E.. The Royal naval school, for giving a good and inexpensive education to naval cadets, is here; was founded in 1845, under the patronage of Queen Adelaide; and is a red brick building, after a design copied from one of Sir C. Wren. The railway towards Sydenham rises from the New Cross station with an incline of 1 in 100; and passes through a cutting in blue clay of a maximum depth of 80 feet. Landslips occurred in this cutting, in the winter of 1841-2, so extensive as to require incessant labour during 3 months to remove them, and to involve a cost of more than £90,000 for their removal.1

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

Deptford 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 Deptford: 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 Deptford   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
  • Pauper's List
  • Surveyor's Accounts
  • Workhouse Records
  • Pew Rents
  • Donors' Rolls
  • Vestry Minutes
  • Bishops' Visitations
  • Parish Magazines
  • Parish Histories


Total Population- St. Nicholas

1801   -   6,933
1811   -   7,085
1821   -   6,337
1831   -   6,036*
1841   -   6,953
1851   -   7,071
1861   -   8,139
1871   -   6,474
1881   -   7,901
1891   -   6,887
1901   -   7,267
1911   -   7,179
1921   -   7,518
* includes 202 persons in a convict ship

Total Population- St. Paul (part of)**

1801   -   10,615
1811   -   12,748*
1821   -   13,525
1831   -   13,759
1841   -   16,212***
1851   -   20,825
1861   -   32,103
1871   -   46,347
1881   -   59,584
1891   -   69,269
1901   -   71,892
1911   -   109,496*
1921   -   112,534*
* the entire population is shown in Kent
** the remainder of this parish population is in East Brixton Hundred, Surrey
*** includes 154 persons in vessels

Deptford Distance to

London mi.
Canterbury mi.
Ashford mi.
Bromley mi.
Chatham mi.
Cranbrook mi.
Dartford mi.
Deptford mi.
Dover mi.
Faversham mi.
Folkestone mi.
Gravesend mi.
Greenwich mi.
Hythe mi.
Maidstone mi.
Margate mi.
Milton Regis mi.
Queenborough mi.
Ramsgate mi.
Rochester mi.
Sandwich mi.
Sheerness mi.
Tenterden mi.
Tunbridge mi.
Woolwich 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
  • Manors
  • 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

Village Resources