The Three Mariners in Boss Alley


A farthing token issued in the name of the Three Mariners in Boss Alley, London

A farthing token issued in the name of the Three Mariners in Boss Alley, London

The above brass farthing token measures 15.9 mm and weighs 1.17 grams. It was issued in the name of Three Mariners  in Boss Alley in 1653. The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (star) AT.THE 3.MARINERS, around edge. Within centre field a depiction of three sailors standing. The centre one smoking a clay pipe (?).
Reverse: (star) IN.BOSS.ALLEY.1653 , around twisted wire inner circle. Triad W | .R. | C within.

There are two alternatives for the location of Boss Alley and both lead off Thames Street. The first of these options is in Billingsgate Ward to the north of  Thames Street, east of St. Mary Hill and the south of Cross Lane. The second possibility, and the one normally accepted, is in Queenhithe Ward. This option runs off the south side of Thames Street,opposite Green Dragon Court and running parallel to Trig Lane.

Queenhithe showing the location of Boss Alley from John Ogilby & William Morgan's 1676 Map of the City of London

Queenhithe showing the location of Boss Alley from John Ogilby & William Morgan’s 1676 Map of the City of London

As yet the issuers of this farthing token , Mr. W.R. and Mrs. C.R., have not been identified. The Three Mariners was possibly a tavern. Its location between Thames Street and the north bank of the Thames, made it very accessible to passing trade moving to and from the nearby watermen’s stairs  or boat landing stage known as Trig Stairs. Here boats could be hired to cross the river or navigate to one of the many other river stairs located both up and down stream along both banks of the Thames.

The sign of the Three Mariners was common along the banks of the Thames. There are at least a dozen other examples of this sign known from 17th century London.

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Filed under Tokens from within the City Walls

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