James Tillard (1754-1828) was born in London. The Tillard family was originally of Huguenot descent and had settled in Devon in the sixteenth century. A number of the family members became mayors of Totnes in the early seventeenth century.
James’ wealth, it would appear, was due to an inheritance of a good deal of property in east London around Norton Folgate, Bishopsgate and Spitalfields. By 1827 all the Tillard estate in Norton Folgate was owned by James Tillard.
On his death in Ramsgate in 1828 James Tillard bequeathed not only £2,000 to rebuild St Mary’s Church in Lower Hardres/Petham but also contributed to the erection, enlargement and repair of other neighbouring churches. He bequeathed substantial sums of money to local hospitals and asylums, parishes and other institutions.
He was also a member of The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts and bequeathed £30,000 towards work of the Society in Calcutta.
James Tillard’s memory is “ever honoured and regarded as a pattern to the wealthy; as a friend to the distressed”.