Chatham Kent Family History Guide

Chatham St Mary is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Kent.

Parish church:

Parish registers begin: 1568

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Bible Christian Methodist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, General Baptist, Independent/Congregational, Irvingite/Catholic Apostolic Church, Jewish, Particular Baptist, Primitive Methodist, Roman Catholic, Swedenborgian/New Jerusalem/New Church, Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Methodist Association.

Parishes adjacent to Chatham

  • Rochester St Margaret
  • Rochester St Nicholas with St Clement
  • Frindsbury
  • Luton
  • Brompton

Historical Descriptions

Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales Circa 1870

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 W by S 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 Crevecosur; and passed to the Badlesmeres, the Despensers, the Wentworths, and others. 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 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, two hospitals, a workhouse, schools, and the buildings of the dockyard, barracks, and fortifications. 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 NW passage to Russia in 1553. St. Paul’s church is an edifice in the Norman style, built in 1854. St. Peter’s church, in Troy-Town, was built in 1860, at a cost of £4,500; and is a structure of red rag-stone, with dressings of red and white bricks in the pointed style of the 13th century. 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. 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 the east end of this alone is ancient, and has an apse with, three round-headed windows. Hawkins’ hospital, in High-street, was founded, in 1592, for decayed seamen and ship-wrights; and has an income of £663. The Chatham Chest, a famous fund by subscription for the relief of sailors, originated with Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake ; and was removed, in 1802, to Greenwich Hospital. Paine’s charity, for poor widows, has £324 a-year. There are a soldiers’ institute, carried on in a separate building, a literary institute, and some other institutions.

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. 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; present features well worth the minute inspection of military men; and are undergoing extensive alterations and improvements, in fulfilment of the recent Fortifications Bill. A cemetery of the Roman Rochester, and traces of large Roman villas were discovered during their formation. Grand reviews and great military field operations take place about the lines, and attract great crowds to Chatham. See BROMPTON.

The town has a head post-office, a railway station with telegraph, two banking-offices, and five chief inns; and publishes a weekly newspaper. A weekly market is held on Saturday; and there were formerly two fairs. The chief trade arises from the dock-yard 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. Chatham is a borough under the Reform act, 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 1861, 1,603. Pop. in 1841, 21,431; in 1861, 36,177. Houses, 5,185. The town gave the title of Earl to the family of Pitt.

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, £57,576. Pop., 25,183. Houses, 3,933. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Rochester. Value, £400. Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Rochester. The p. curacies of St. John, St. Paul, Luton, and Brompton are separate charges. Value of St. John, not reported; of St. Paul, £180. Patron of St. John, the Vicar of Chatham; of St. Paul, the Bishop of Rochester. 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 s.; 1 of General Baptists, with 286 s.; 2 of Particular Baptists, with 908 s.; 6 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1,532 s.; 4 of Bible Christians, with 697 s.; 2 of the Wesleyan Association, with 369 s.; 1 of the New Church, with 70 s.; 1 of the Catholic and Apostolic church, with 120 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 150s.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

Directories

Chatham Kent – Commercial Directory of the Jews of Gt. Britain. 1894

Bankrupts

Below is a list of people, with the surname Aaron, that were declared bankrupt between 1820 and 1843 extracted from The Bankrupt Directory; George Elwick; London; Simpkin, Marshall and Co.; 1843.

Aaron Lyon, Chatham, Kent, navy agent and grocer, Jan. 20, 1821.

Atkinson Thomas, Gloucester, late Chatham, chemist, June 20, 1834.

Photographs

 

Administration

  • County: Kent
  • Civil Registration District: Medway
  • Probate Court: Courts of the Bishop (Episcopal Consistory) and Archdeaconry of Rochester
  • Diocese: Rochester
  • Rural Deanery: Rochester
  • Poor Law Union: Medway
  • Hundred: Chatham and Gillingham; Rochester Borough
  • Province: Canterbury
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