The Highgate Records
Compiled by Percy Lovell and William McB Marcham from Cantelowes Court Rolls and additional sources, in the 1930s
Edited and retyped by John Richardson 2018
by John Richardson
Historically, Highgate has been divided into several jurisdictions. From medieval times what is now regarded as ‘the Village’, was mostly within the two parishes of St Pancras and Hornsey, with a small portion in Islington. That division roughly corresponds to today’s arrangement whereby Camden, Haringey and Islington govern similar areas. At the junction of Highgate Hill and Dartmouth Park Hill where stand St Joseph’s church and the grounds of Lauderdale House, the three old parishes met. Today, the three modern boroughs do likewise.
Highgate was further divided into manors. That of Hornsey held sway northwards from that side of the High Street. The St Pancras manor of Cantelowes included most of Highgate’s southern area, including the south side of the High Street, and an Islington manor held part of the north-east of the village at Highgate Hill. The long St Pancras manor of Tottenhall included undeveloped land west of Highgate West Hill.
Manor courts and manorial lords had much influence in parishes. The courts usually met at least once a year to record changes of land and property. They also supervised the condition of ditches, paths and roads, including the king’s highways, and could impound stray animals and charge for their return to owners. They also dealt with minor crimes and appointed constables to that effect, using stocks for punishment and watchhouses for detention before transfer of prisoners, if required, to the Quarterly Assizes. They appointed inspectors of local provision of ale and bread.
Parishes, however, were responsible for relief of the poor and administered legacies intended for that object. As from the end of the sixteenth century, when the charitable functions of monastic institutions were diminished by their dissolution, poor relief became instead a significant part of parish budgets, raised by taxes on land and buildings. This, and rapid urban development, increased the power and prestige of parish councils, also called vestries, and reduced the importance of manor courts. The jurisdiction of the latter was largely abolished in the 1920s.
The churchgoers of Highgate village had a long trek to their three respective parish churches, St Pancras Old Church, St Mary Hornsey and St Mary Islington, and it became common, especially in bad weather, for residents to use instead the chapel attached to Highgate School, founded in 1565. This did not please the parochial vicars because they did not receive income from the chapel’s Sunday services and other ceremonies.
These records deal with land and property ownership in the St Pancras part of Highgate Village, which extended from the south side of Highgate High Street down to the junction of Swains Lane and Highgate Road. This was all part of the Cantelowes manor.
Transcripts of the Cantelowes Court Rolls, from 1480-1750, were compiled in the 1930s by Percy Lovell and W. McB. Marcham when preparing their Survey of London volumes on St Pancras. They were used for Volume 17 (1936) in The Village of Highgate, and again in Volume 19 (1938) for Old St Pancras and Kentish Town. The Rolls record not just land ownership but also some of the customs and civic affairs of the area.
The transcribed, typed, records of Cantelowes Court Rolls compiled chronologically by Lovell and Marcham in three volumes covered the whole of the manor including that in Highgate, but the transcribers also produced two typed volumes which dealt only with Highgate Village, stretching from the south side of the High Street to the northern end of Highgate Road by its junction with Swains Lane. These two volumes I call The Highgate Records. They contained appropriate Court Roll entries affecting Highgate and additional information inserted by the transcribers from sources such as Wills, Hearth Tax Records, burial registers, Highgate School records etc. These two volumes presented the information property by property so that it is easier to track the ownership of an older Highgate house since it was built.
The five volumes of typed transcripts made by Lovell and Marcham were at some time, probably in the 1930s when the Survey of London books were published, deposited in the archives of St Pancras Borough Council and kept in its Highgate Branch Library in Chester Road. In the early 1960s, when I first became interested in the history of St Pancras parish and borough, I came across them at Chester Road. They were not indexed and therefore difficult to use. I copied the five volumes and then typed them, simplifying some of the legal phraseology, but otherwise keeping any information of use to researchers..
The Lovell and Marcham typed transcripts now appear to have disappeared from Camden’s archives. In any case they would not have been suitable for internet use and I have therefore retyped the copies I made about fifty years ago, so that they can be placed on the Camden History Society website. There are two files : Cantelowes Court Rolls, which contains the chronological Court Rolls of the whole manor from 1480 to 1750, based on the three volumes noted above, and The Highgate Records, which are restricted to the St Pancras part of Highgate Village, as in the two volumes.
How the Records are organised:
The Highgate Records have been broken down into three parts, and each topic for discussion or decision, has been given an Item number. Each part has its own index and a summary of those properties featured is below. The item numbers follow on from those used in the full transcripts of the Cantelowes Court Rolls.
Index no Dates
Lauderdale House 2165-2221 (1589-1890)
Andrew Marvel’s Cottage 2222-2240 (1675-1868)
Fairseat 2241-2262 (1709-1925)
Hertford House 2263-2290 (1624-1899)
Bisham House 2291-2343 (1553-1856)
17,19, 21 Highgate High Street 2344-2360 (1636-1733)
23 Highgate High Street 2361-2369 (1783-1884)
25, 27, 29, 31 Highgate High Street 2370-2381 (1783-1895)
The Swan, Salterstones, Rakeshill 2382-2390 (1482-1533)
The Angel and Angel Row, 33, 35, 37
Highgate High Street, 1-9 South
Grove (Russell House) 2391-2494 (1594-1900)
10-11 South Grove (Church House) 2495-2534 (1611-1861)
Index of Part One
Swains Lane, Elisha Coysh’s house 2535-2556 (1609-1887)
South Hill Cottages 2557-2597 (1663-1840)
Moreton House, Bisham Court 2598-2648 (1580-1856)
16-19 South Grove, Arundel House, 2649-2675 (1588-1670)
The Lawns 2676-2678 (1687-1717)
Adjoining Old Hall on the east 2679-2695 (1674-1848)
17 South Grove, Old Hall 2696-2717 (1691-1911)
Site of St Michael’s church 2718-2737 (1674-1830)
18 South Grove, Voel House 2738-2749 (1713-1903)
19 South Grove, South Grove House, 2750-2771 (1675-1`857)
45, 46, 47 West Hill
(White Hart, Cutbush Nursery) 2772-2802 (1493-1862)
West Hill 2803-2818 (1640-1821)
Holly Terrace 2819-2835 (1824-1870)
Holly Lodge Estate, Holly Terrace 2836-2850 (1610-2850)
Kentish Town House
(site of St Alban’s Villas,
Highgate Road) 2852-2868 (1509-1781)
West Hill 2869-2887 (1663-1893)
Fox & Crown, West Hill 2888-2903 (1663-1863)
Mr Yardley’s House, West Hill 2904-2924 (1663-1863)
Parkfield (Witanhurst site) 2925-2956 (1665-1889)
Index of Part Two
Item nos. Dates
Grove Bank, (Dorchester House Site) 2957-2973 1727-1898
Dorchester House 2974-2995 1609-1714
1-6 The Grove 2996-3009 1728-1863
7-12 The Grove (site of Grove House) 3010-3043A 1610-1841
South Grove 3044-3075 1841-1837
52, 53, 54 South Grove 3076-3080 1843-1919
39 High Street ` 3081-3101 1664-1897
47, 49, 51 High Street (5,6,7 York Place) 3102-3132 1619-1890
53, 55, 57 High Street (9,10,11 York Pl.) 3133-3152 1684-1934
59 High Street 3153-3154 c1868-1898
63 High Street 3155-3158 1828-1893
65 High Street 3159-3162 1811-1813
The Bowling Green 3163-3167 1672-1730
The Flask 3168-3201 1663-1917
Highgate Grove 2,4,5,6,7 3202-3233 1733-1808
Rock House (6 Pond Square) 3234-3239K 1777-1931
4, 5 Pond Square 3240-3251 1740-1912
1 Pond Square 3252-3259A 1819-1905
45 South Grove 3260-3266 1828-1911
46-51 South Grove 3267-3281 1692-1911
Index of Part Three