Richard Carmarden

Q.Thanks for the very informative and nice-looking website.  You might consider adding Richard Carmarden (d.1603), Surveyor of Customs for London, to your list of Chislehurst residents.  According to Hasted, there is (or was) a brass memorial to him in the Church of St. Nicholas.


A copy of the Great Bible sold at Bonham's recently for $5,000
A. We were helped with this enquiry by Peter Appelby of St Nicholas Church.  Carmarden is covered in Webb on Page 26 and Page 413 where the escutcheons are detailed as well.  'Little Webb' states on Page 33 that the 4 brasses are "On the floor, before the altar rails, beneath the carpet."! It goes on ..."one to Richard Carmarden, 1603, who lived in the Rectory at the time and who probably, rebuilt the house in 1586, for there is still a door in the basement of the present Rectory bearing his initials and that date".  The door was conserved when the Rectory was rebuilt in 1960 and then installed at the foot of the Church Tower on the south side.  You can see it behind the font, so have evidence even if we don't lift the chancel carpet!

There is a full reference Richard Carmarden on Wikipedia, some of which is reproduced here, with thanks, and with the usual caveats as to complete accuracy:

Carmarden is first heard of in 1566 when he funded the printing of an edition of the Great Bible in English at Rouen. At an unknown date he became a member of the Company of Merchant Taylors. In 1570 he wrote A Caveat for the Quene.

In 1590, when the administration of the customs was reorganized ... the London merchant Sir Thomas Middleton was appointed Receiver General of Customs Revenues, while the London alderman Henry Billingsley was made chief Customer of the Port of London. The 'next most important officer' in London was Carmarden, who was appointed Surveyor of Customs. According to Newton, 'in order that he might hold a position of greater independence, Carmarden received out of the Receipt of the Exchequer £200 a year out of his whole salary of £256 13s 4d, the remainder, the traditional stipend of the surveyor, being defalked on the customs accounts'.

As Surveyor of Customs one of his tasks was to search for foreign books being imported into the realm. In a letter written to Lord Burghley in 1597 Carmarden refers to the 'commandment unto me given charge and daily to all her Majesty’s waiters to look narrowly after all books that come into this port from foreign parts'. Carmarden also on one occasion is recorded as having imported forty reams of printed books himself.

During Thomas Smythe’s tenure as Customer, Carmarden had been frequently employed by Lord Burghley on special Exchequer commissions. His relationship with the Lord Treasurer continued to be a close one after he was appointed Surveyor of Customs; during the 1590s he was in frequent correspondence with both Lord Burghley and with his son, Sir Robert Cecil. On at least one occasion Carmarden's advice was even sought by the Queen herself, to whom he recommended the best means of making sale of the large amount of pepper which had formed part of the rich cargo of the carrack Madre de Dios, captured off the Azores on 3 August 1592.

In 1595 Carmarden was embroiled in a controversy with the London mercer William Leveson. Carmarden's officers had confiscated certain packs belonging to Leveson, whereupon Leveson and others beat Carmarden's officers and uttered 'wild words' against the Queen's authority. Upon Carmarden's complaint, Leveson was imprisoned, but released after begging pardon and paying costs.

Carmarden's exercise of his office as Surveyor of the Customs was criticized by others besides Leveson; a contemporary manuscript is described as 'A Brief, listing a series of complaints against Richard Carmarden of London, Surveyor of the Customs to Queen Elizabeth, and the damage caused by his misbehavior to shipping, trade, and receipt of customs'.

Carmarden died in 1603 and was buried in the Church of St Nicholas at Chislehurst, Kent, where there is a memorial to him stating that he was aged sixty-seven at his death. In the same church are memorials to his first wife, Alice More, who died in 1586 at the age of forty-two, and to Carmarden's son-in-law, Thomas Wigg (d.1602), who married Carmarden's daughter, Mary.