Volunteers from the Crayford Manor House Historical Society researched and wrote a portable Fabric of Our Town exhibition to celebrate the bi-centenery of Swaisland’s. The exhibition covered several themes including; Swaisland and Lord Shaftesbury, The Great Exhibition, The Swaisland Block Printers dispute and Chartism, G. P. and J Baker and the Diamond Jubilee, David Evans and the Swaisland Design School.

The exhibition banners will be displayed at various venues throughout 2013 and 2014, including Crayford Library and the Haberdashers Hall.

The text and images used in the portable exhibition is available to view on this site by clicking on the links on the left hand side.

Sir Cloudesley Shovell Crayford's Admiral

Artilce by Dennis Jarrett

Born in the village of Cockthorpe in the County of Norfolk in 1650, Cloudesley Shovell was to rise from a humble birth to become one of the leading and finest Admirals of the age. He left home at the age of 12 to be a cabin boy in the service of Christopher Myngs, and was soon in action off the West Indies against the Spanish treasure ships on their way home laden with bullion from their South American colonies. He showed his metal at an early age during the Four Days War against the Dutch when he volunteered in the heat of the battle to swim from ship to ship bearing a message for assistance which turned defeat into victory.

When Myngs was fatally injured in the battle of North Foreland, Cloudesley continued his service under Sir John Narborough. He distinguished himself when he confronted the Dey of Algiers after the Algerians captured a number of English ships and enslaved their crews. Cloudesley set fire to the Algerian ships in their harbour and forced the release of the slaves, also securing the sum of £80,000 in reparations.

He distinguished himself at the battle of Bantry Bay during the “Glorious Revolution” of 1689, after which William III & Mary II ascended to the throne of England. King William knighted him after the battle, and the following year (1690) he was promoted to Admiral of the Blue. At the Battle of Barfleur, the invading French fleet attempting to restore James II to the English throne was defeated, with much of the credit going to Sir Cloudesley, although a wound to his thigh nearly killed him from blood poisoning, prevented him celebrating.

Cloudesley was jointly blamed for the disastrous Smyrna Convoy. The Admirals failed to give the rich merchant convoy to the Levant protection, which resulted in many ships being destroyed or captured by the French, and a parliamentary enquiry. Only his previous good record saved him. However by 1694 King William had forgiven him and promoted to him Vice- Admiral of the Red. In 1696 he was promoted to Admiral of the Blue and in 1698 Full Colonel of 2nd Regiment of Marines. The 1700s saw him in the thick of battle again, against the Spanish in the War of Succession at Vigo (1702), the Siege of Gibraltar, and the Battle of Malaga (1704). On Boxing Day of that year, he was made Rear-Admiral of the Fleet of England. At the height of his power he refused to leave Barcelona, but victoriously supported the 3rd Earl of Peterborough’s land forces. Alas, this illustrious career was to come to an abrupt end. On 22nd October 1707, on his way home after once more supporting the army at Toulon, Shovell’s ship the Association, together with 3 other ships carrying a large amount of bullion, struck rocks off the Scilly Isles with the loss of all hands. Sir Cloudesley’s body was recovered and he was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey at Queen Anne’s expense.

Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Lord of the Manor of Crayford

Article by Jean Stewart and Joan Bishop

Sir Cloudesley Shovell was born at Cockthorpe in Norfolk in 1650. He joined the navy at the age of 13 serving under Vice Admiral Christopher Myngs and later secured patronage of the Admiral Sir John Narborough, who died of fever in 1688 leaving behind wife Elizabeth, two sons, and a daughter. After rapid promotion Shovell became Rear Admiral of England, Admiral of the Fleet and Commander in Chief of the Navy. In 1689 he was knighted by King William III and the following year promoted to Admiral of the Blue. In 1702 Queen Anne made him Admiral of the White. In 1691, Sir Cloudesley married Elizabeth, widow of Sir John Narborough and subsequently had two daughters of his own. He was appointed Commissioner of Sewers responsible for flood defences along the River Thames between Deptford and Gravesend, which included the Crayford marshes. Shovell became Lord of the Manor when he purchased May Place Estate (currently the site of Barnehurst Golf Club) in Crayford and moved in with his wife, step children and his daughters in 1694. The location of May Place was convenient being mid-way between the Admiralty in London and Chatham dockyard, and also conveniently placed between Westminster and Rochester for his parliamentary duties.

Sir Cloudesley was nominated by the navy and appointed an MP in 1689 for the City of Rochester. He held this position until 1701, and he was re-elected in 1705 this time by local landowners and held the post until his untimely death in 1707. He was a great benefactor to the City of Rochester, providing at his own expense the decorative plaster ceiling in the Guild Hall, the market bell clock and the façade for the Butchers Market building (now the Corn Exchange). Although being away at sea most of the time, he seemed much attached to the neighbourhood of Crayford, then only a small village. He attended St Paulinus Church and paid for the restoration of the Chancel and Nave, which were badly in need of repair. Fortunately this was captured by a local artist William Hubbard who painted a picture of this restoration which can still be seen today in the church.

Although his tomb is in Westminster Abbey, there is a large plaque behind the lectern in St Paulinus Church making reference to a previous inscription expressing the gratitude of the parishioners for his sole contribution to the church restoration and sadness that it was later altered.

His wife Elizabeth is buried in the church, as she remained in the manor house until her death in 1732. There is a magnificent memorial to her and the family in the Lady Chapel.

Sir Cloudesley Shovell and the Longitude Act

Article by Audrey Lappin

From cabin boy to Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Cloudesley Shovell rose to high rank in the Royal Navy and proved brave and active in his country’s service. His death and the wreckage of his four-ship fleet off the Isles of Scilly on 22nd October 1707 was a tragic event. Believing themselves to be safely off the coast of Brittany, they perished on the rocks of south west England. This disaster capped a long story of seafaring in the days before sailors could establish their longitude position and the dread disease of scurvy carried off many seamen when they could not restock fresh food. In addition to the human suffering, ignorance of longitude had a severe economic effect. Ships were confined to a few narrow shipping lanes where they fell prey to pirates and enemy ships.

The disastrous wreck on the Scillies when Shovell died thrust the longitude problem into the forefront of public concern. Parliament passed the Longitude Act of 1714 in which a prize of £20,000, comparable to £2.5 million today, was promised for a solution to the problem. Longitude represents the location of a place on Earth east or west of an established line running north-south. The north-south line is called the Prime Meridian, which was fixed at Greenwich, England. Earlier methods to determine longitude attempted to compare local time with the known time at a given place and relied on astrological observations. At that time, the position and movement of the moon and stars were not fully understood and no accurate instrument existed for measuring lunar distance from a ship.

Amongst the many people who applied themselves to solving the problem was John Harrison, the eldest of five children of a carpenter. Largely self-educated, John learned woodworking from his father. He constructed his first pendulum clock, almost entirely from wood, before he was twenty. In 1722, he completed a tower clock where parts normally requiring lubrication were carved in lignum vitae (the wood of life), which exudes its own grease. Harrison avoided using iron or steel in the clockwork to prevent rusting – instead he substituted brass. He developed a later innovation in constructing a pendulum: alternating strips of different metals, which avoided the problem of expansion and contraction and the consequent effect on the measurement of time.

In 1730 Harrison designed a marine clock to compete for the Longitude Prize and went on to build his first sea clock, which performed well in sea trials. Two more versions were produced in the next seventeen years. Around 1750 Harrison changed the idea of a sea clock, realising that a watch- sized timekeeper would be more successful and more practicable. He proceeded to design and make the world’s first successful maritime timekeeper that enabled a navigator to assess accurately his ship’s position on longitude. It was a revolution in navigation at sea.

Harrison had to enlist the help of George III to petition for the prize but never received the official award, although he received monetary amounts from the Board of Longitude during the course of his work. He died in 1776, and was buried in the graveyard of St John’s Church in Hampstead.

The Discovery and Importance of the 1707 Shipwrecks by Richard Larn

By Richard Larn

Sir Cloudesly Shovell and the Marsham Townshends of Frognal

Article by Patricia Gibson

When Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell (1650-1707) married Elizabeth, the widow of Sir John Narborough (1640-1688), in 1691 she was described in Secret Memoirs of the Life of the Honourable Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Anon, which was written in 1708. She appears to be a woman of independent mind and means, who had the self-assurance to marry her late husband’s former protégée and servant. Cloudesley Shovell began his life at sea as John Narborough’s cabin boy. After Cloudesley Shovell’s death(do I need to explain his death or is that written about elsewhere on the website?) she did not remarry and continued to live on at May Place, the estate north of St Paulinus Church Crayford, which Cloudesley Shovell had purchased in 1694, until her death in 1732. Gossip in 1708 associated her with Thomas, Earl of Pembroke. Lady Shovell being told of the gossip replied, in a manner that again shows her forthright character, that she ‘had lately married a daughter to Sir Something Marsham and had given her £15,000 down, and promised £20,000 more at her death, therefore was disabled for marrying men, looking chiefly at the fortune’. ‘Sir Something Marsham’ was Sir Robert Marsham (1685-1724), 5th Baronet and 1st Baron Romney of Mote Park, near Maidstone. Elizabeth Shovell’s daughter married him at the Chapel Royal, Whitehall, on 19th August 1708. He was a man of great fortune and had married a wealthy woman.

Lady Elizabeth Shovell’s wealth came from her father, Captain John Hill, Commissioner of the Navy. When she married John Narborough in 1681, Elizabeth’s dowry was sufficient to purchase Knowlton Court, near Deal in Kent, one of Narborough’s four manors in Kent. From her father, who died in 1706, she inherited almost £100,000, an enormous sum of money in the early 18th century. As the wife of seafaring men, who spent years away from home with minimal communication available, she would have had considerable involvement in supervising financial arrangements, and the management of their Kent estates and their London homes. In the legal documents in the Marsham-Townshend archives at Bromley Local Studies, her signature appears as frequently as Cloudesley Shovell’s signature. Click here to see more on these legal documents.

Cloudesly Shovell’s great great great grandson, Robert Marsham-Townshend (1834-1914), who lived at Frognal (now a home for the elderly) on the borders of Chislehurst and Foots Cray, was a keen genealogist. In 2001 family and estate records dating from the 14 th century to the 20th century, in over 100 archive boxes, were purchased by the London Borough of Bromley. These records are available to the public at Bromley Local Studies archive. Several records relate to Robert Marsham-Townshend’s attempt to trace his family history and include letters to various people inquiring about births, deaths and marriages. Correspondence between 1884 and 1914 with Reverend Jessop who lived in North Norfolk, near Shovell’s birthplace of Cockthorpe, assisted Robert Marsham-Townshend in tracing the early Shovell pedigree.

Robert Marsham-Townshend’s research was printed by London publisher in 1908. These records list the descendants of Cloudesley Shovell, relative to the Marsham and Marsham-Townshend family. The connection of the names Marsham and Townshend was made in the late 19th century when the last male Townshend heir died without issue, and a female Townshend married a Marsham. Click here to view a chart illustrating the line of descendants. Sir Robert Marsham married Cloudesley Shovell’s daughter Elizabeth, when she was just 16. They had 8 children. Their first son, Shovell Marsham, died age 6 or 7. Their second son Robert Marsham (1712-1793) was the 2nd Baron Romney. He married Priscilla Pym (1724-1771) in 1742. They continued to live at Mote Park and had 8 children. He was a man of simple tastes. In a letter of 1737 he wrote ‘ I was this day at Hampton Court to pay my compliments to their Majesties, but return’d again to Town before dinner, for I preferred a mutton chop in my own house to all the fine things at the Great Men’s Tables.’

Robert and Priscilla Marsham, also named a son Shovell, their fourth. Their second son, Charles Marsham (1744-1811), was created Earl of Romney and Viscount Marsham in 1801. Charles married Lady Frances Wyndham (1755-1795), daughter of the Earl of Egremont, in 1776. They had 5 children. She is said to have instigated the demolition of the old house at Mote Park as it was deemed unfashionable. The foundation stone for the new house was laid a few months before her death. Mote House and its 450 acres is now a retirement village.

Charles and Frances Marsham’s first child, also called Charles (1777-1845), succeeded his father as 2nd Earl of Romney and 2nd Viscount Marsham. He had 5 children by his first wife who died in 1812. Twenty years later he married a widow, Mary Elizabeth nee Townshend (1794-1847). She was, born at Frognal, the daughter of John Thomas Townshend (1764-1831), 2nd Viscount Sydney. They had one son, Robert Marsham-Townshend, the genealogist, mentioned above. On the death of his aunt by marriage, Countess Sydney, in 1893, he came in possession of Frognal, Scadbury, and other estates, and became Lord of the Manors of Chislehurst, Scadbury, and St Paul’s Cray under the will of his maternal uncle, Earl Sydney, John Robert Townshend (1805-1890). Robert Marsham took the additional name of Townshend in compliance with conditions expressed in the will. The Townshend family was at the centre of British politics in the 18th and 19th centuries and this is the probable reason that the family wanted the name to continue.

The Marsham-Townshend name continued on for two more generations. Partly due to deaths in both world wars, the male line ended. However a descendant of Sir Cloudesley Shovell, in the daughter of the last Marsham-Townshend, is the present Lord of the Manors of Chislehurst, Scadbury and St. Pauls’s Cray. She is married to an Italian Count and lives in Italy.

The name Cloudesley Shovell was not forgotten in the descendants of Robert Marsham and Elizabeth Shovell. These include: Admiral Henry Shovell Jones-Marsham (1794-1875), a great grandson of Robert Marsham and Elizabeth Shovell. His navel career is listed in the Marsham-Townsend archive. He lived at Hayle Place, Loose, Kent. Reverend Cloudesley Dewar Bullock-Marsham (1835-1915), nephew of the above. In his obituary, Wisden described him as ‘in his day, the best amateur bowler in England’. Cloudesley Henry Bullock-Marsham (1879-1928), son of the Reverend above. He was also a keen cricketer and captained the Kent County team from 1904 to 1908. The Marshams were a strong cricketing family. Cloudesley Henry’s uncles George, Charles and Robert Marsham, played for Oxford University and George Marsham also played for Kent.


Primary Sources

1080/3/2/26/10/3/12: Folder entitled 'Marsham evidences', containing allegations for marriage licences 1080/3/2/26/10/2/3: Letters from Reverend Augustus Jessopp to Robert Marsham (later Marsham-Townshend) Printed Primary Sources 1080/3/2/26/10/1/5: Chart and narrative pedigree of the Marshams of Kent

Secondary Sources (articles)

Clayton, J., Snapshots of the Past, Archives, Vol.34, Orpington & District Archaeological Society Archives (2012)

Secondary Sources (books)

Harris, Simon, Cloudesley Shovell Stuart Admiral, (StapLehurst, 2001)


D. G. C. Allan, ‘Marsham, Robert, second Baron Romney (1712–1793)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oct 2007; online edn, May 2008 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/38925

J. D. Davies, ‘Narbrough, Sir John (bap. 1640, d. 1688)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/19776

John B. Hattendorf, ‘Shovell, Sir Cloudesley (bap. 1650, d. 1707)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/25470

Wikipedia contributors. C. D. B. Marsham [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2013 May 22, 21:45 UTC [cited 2014 April 4]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=C._D._B._Marsham&oldid=556332329.

The Legal Documents

These two documents dated 17 May 1699 contain Cloudesley Shovell and his wife’s signatures, which span the seals. These documents refer to the Manor of Paul’s Cray, and land in St Paul’s Cray and St Mary’s Cray and includes the estate of May Place which Cloudesley Shovell took possession of three years after marrying Elizabeth Hill, John Hill’s daughter. Elizabeth had been previously married to John Narborough (d. 1688) and they had 3 children. John, the eldest was just 4 years old when his father died. He was left £5000 and 4 manors in Kent, whilst James and Elizabeth inherited £10,000 each.

The documents appear to be securing the property and land in trust for the ultimate benefit of James Narborough, using £4000 of James’s inheritance to fund the transaction. The other parties involved in the transactions are Elizabeth Shovell’s father, John Hill, and the husband of James’s sister, Thomas D’Aeth. The transactions appear over complex. This relates to an intricate practice called Lease and Release which was in general use until 1841 to avoid paying revenue to the Crown.