Category Archives: Tokens from West of the City Walls

Here are listed some some of my brief reseach notes on a random selection of 17th century tokens that were issued by tradesmen living to the west of the old walls of the City of London

Humphrey Vaughan of White Hart Yard, Westminster

A half penny tradesman's token issued by Humphrey Vaughan at White Hart Yard, Westminster

A half penny tradesman’s token issued by Humphrey Vaughan at White Hart Yard, Westminster

The above copper half penny token measures 18.3 mm and weighs 1.70 grams. It was issued in 1666 by Humphrey Vaughan a tradesman of White Hart Yard off Covent Garden in Westminster. Its design may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (sexfoil) HVMPHRY . VAVGHAN . IN . , around a beaded inner border, within the depiction of a man wearing a hat walking left carrying a sack over his shoulder.

Reverse: (sexfoil) WHITE . HART . YARD. 1666, around a beaded inner border. Within the legend HIS / HALF / PENY in three lines.

The portrayal of a man carrying a sack found on the obverse of this token is not unique as at least two other examples are known from the London area. These were issued by a coal and lime merchant respectively. This could act as a clue to Humphrey Vaughan’s trade.

There were several White Hart Yards in and around 17th century London including examples in Stepney, Holborn, Drury Lane, St. Martin’s Lane, Tothill Street, Bermondsey, and Southwark. Research into this token’s issuer (as outlined below) has confirmed that the White Hart Yard in question in this case was that which lead west off Drury Lane in the south-east part of the parish of St. Paul’s in Covent Garden. The street derived its name from its location immediately behind the White Hart Inn which fronted onto the Strand and is recorded as early as 1570(1).

White Hart Yard, Covent Garden, c.1720

White Hart Yard, Covent Garden, c.1720

White Hart Yard no longer exists in Westminster’s modern street plan. It ran to the south of, and in a parallel alignment to that of, today’s Tavistock Street along the stretch leading into Drury Lane. Its course is now lost under the Waldorf Hilton Hotel.

In Search of Humphrey Vaughan

Humphrey Vaughan’s half penny token offers very little information about its issuer. While it clearly states the address of his premises in 1666 as White Hart Yard it is unclear as to which of the various locations of this name, in and around 17th century London, is being referred to. Often the obverse pictorial design selected for such tradesman’s tokens offers an indication as to the issuer’s trade. In this case we are left unclear although, as has previously pointed out, this particular design is known from at least two other similar London tokens whose issuers were coal and lime merchants respectively. Fortunately sufficient references to Humphrey Vaughan remain in the historical record to allow us to further address these questions and many others relating to his family’s history.

The following partial life history of Humphrey Vaughan has been constructed from contemporary parish registers, rate book entries, various tax return registers and probate records. While there is always the chance of confusing the historical records relating to different individuals who share the same name, the use of specific time line, family relationship and geographical identifiers can often be used to help eliminate or minimise the risk. Where available such criteria have been applied in this case (Note 1 and 2).

The first clear record of Humphrey Vaughan, the token issuer, appears in 1646 in the parish registers of St. Botolph’s Aldersgate in the city of London.

3rd December 1646 – Marriage of Humphrey Vaughan and Rachell Clarke

Humphrey’s age or home parish are not recorded but on the assumption that this was his first marriage we might estimate his then age as being early 21 to 25. This gives us an estimated period for his birth as 1621 to 1625. Assuming the couple followed tradition their marriage was likely held in the bride’s home parish.

Just over 9 months later the couple’s names again appear, this time in the parish registers for St. Martin-in-the-fields, Westminster, within a record of the christening of their daughter Jane;

5th September 1647 – Christening of Jana, the daughter of Humphridi Vaughan and Rachellae

Humphrey’s association with this parish thereafter continues for the rest of his recorded life.

The same set of parish resisters go on to record the birth and death of further children to Humphrey and Rachel over the next 9 years;

16th October 1648 – Christening of Elizabeth, the daughter of Humphridi Vaughan and Rachellae

21st September 1651 – Christening of Rachel Vaughan, daughter of Humphridi Vaughan and Rachelis

3rd April 1654 – Christening of Humphrey, son of Humphrey Vaughan and Rachell (born on 2nd April 1654)

31st July 1656 – Burial of Humphrey, son of Humphrey Vaughan and Rachell

In the same year as the death of his son (i.e. 1656) Humphrey Vaughan is recorded as living in Russell Street, Covent Garden in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields. A series of entries in the Westminster rate returns books record him, and we can presume the rest of his family, in this street until at least 1663(2). Interestingly this is further backed up by the numismatic evidence from the following tradesman’s token.

A farthing tradesman's token issued by Humphrey Vaughan at or by the sign of the Goat in Russell Street, Westminster

A farthing tradesman’s token issued by Humphrey Vaughan at or by the sign of the Goat in Russell Street, Westminster

The design of this brass farthing may be described as follows;

Obverse: (cinquefoil) HVMPHRY . VAVGHAN , around the depiction of a goat walking left.

Reverse: (cinquefoil) IN . RVSSELL . STREET , around a twisted wire inner circle, within a triad of initials comprising H | (mullet) V (mullet) | R , with a (mullet) blow.

The style and denomination of the token arguably suggests an issue date of the mid-1650s to early 1660s. The triad of issuers’ initials on the reverse of the token are those of Humphrey and Rachel Vaughan. The token clearly confirms Humphrey Vaughan’s business address as being at or by the sign of the goat in Russell Street. However, it falls short in confirming his occupation.

In a time before the formal address numbering of buildings the use of ornate and memorable trade signs, in association with specific street names, were the standard means of expressing a location’s address. Trade signs were typically suspended from support rods at an elevated position on the street facing outer wall of their owner’s business premises. After the great fire of 1666 many of the new brick built buildings and business premises in London incorporated trade signs in the form of carved stone reliefs which were built at height into the outer wall of the buildings’ fabric.

An analysis of Humphrey’s trade sign (i.e. the goat) offers few clues as to his trade. The first record of this sign in London is recorded in Cheapside in 1260(3). No particular set of tradesmen appear to have adopted the sign as being representative of their occupation although the image of a goat or a goat’s head does appear in the crest or as a supporter in the coats of arms of several of the city’s Livery Companies including the  Haberdashers, Curriers and the Cordwainers. This particular example of the use of the sign might have a more locational and historical significance. Russell Street, variously built between c.1610 and c.1632, was named after Francis Russell, the 4th Earl of Bedford, who was largely responsible for developing his family’s earlier grants of land in and around Covent Garden(4). The image of a goat had been adopted by the Russell family as an armorial badge. As such the goat may well have been adopted by some of the tenant tradesmen in the area in honour of their landlord’s family.

As stated above it is possible that Humphrey Vaughan’s business premises were by and not necessarily at the sign of the goat. If this were the case then the trade sign depicted on his token may not have been his own. Between 1633 and 1634 a well-documented Covent Garden vintner by the name of William Clifton, was the proprietor of the Goat tavern at the north-west corner of Russell with Bow Street. If this were the sign referred to in Humphrey’s token it would arguably put his premises very close by, if not adjacent to, the tavern. As an alternative conclusion of the evidence presented is that at the time he issued his farthing trade token Humphrey Vaughan was the proprietor of the Goat tavern in Russell Street. However, subsequent reviews of the master and apprentice records of the Worshipful Company of Vintners for the early to mid-17th century has failed to identify any mention of a Humphrey Vaughan(5) .

A map of the Covent Garden area (c.1720) showing White Hart Yard and Russell Street plus the location of the Goat Tavern (in red)

A map of the Covent Garden area (c.1720) showing White Hart Yard and Russell Street plus the location of the Goat Tavern (in red)

While unaffected by the Great Fire of London of 1666 the Covent Garden area was hit hard by the Great Plague of the previous year. It is not known how the Vaughan family fared during this tumultuous period in the city’s history but by Lady Day of 1666 it appears that they had moved out of Russell Street into alternative premises close by. This is apparent from the Hearth Tax returns for this year which record Humphrey as paying tax on a property with three hearths in White Hart Yard (6).

A further series of entries in the Westminster rate returns books, plus a listing in a tax return list for 1693 (Note 3) record Humphrey Vaughan, and presumably his remaining family, in White Hart Yard from 1672 to 1705(7)(8). The 1693 tax listing referred to above records Humphrey’s property in White Hart Yard as having a rental value of £25 and the value of his stock as £50.

At some time prior to 1686 it would appear that Rachael Vaughan died as indicated by the following entry from the parish registers of Holy Trinity, Minories.

24th June 1686 – Humphrey Vaughan, widower of St. Martin Fields, and Elizabeth Bowman, spinster of St. James, Westminster, married by Mr. Anderson.

No further records of Humphrey Vaughan have been found after 1705 and it can only be assumed that he died sometime shortly after this date. A copy of Humphrey’s Will, dated 22 July 1698, exists in the London Metropolitan Archives(9). This throws considerably more light on his occupation and later life.

At the time Humphrey made his Will in 1698 he describes himself as being in good physical and mental health. He confirms his home parish as being St. Martin-in-the-Fields and states his occupation as a “coals seller”, i.e. the seller of lump wood charcoal and sea-coal. In the 16th to 18th century London all mineral coal would have been referred to as “sea-coal” as it was almost exclusively brought into the capital by sea via fleets of collier vessels. Cargo from the latter would have been brought into wharves and stockyards distributed along the north bank of the River Thames via barge. Such small boats were used to transfer coal from the collier vessels which were moored downstream of Old London Bridge. At this time most coal supplied into London was shipped out of the north-east coalfield via the River Tyne.

A late 17th century or early 18th century trade card belonging to Philip Fruchard, Coal Merchant at the Golden Heart in All Hallows Lane off Thames Street. The image depicts porters transferring bags of sea coal off a barge into an awaiting cart

A late 17th century or early 18th century trade card belonging to Philip Fruchard, Coal Merchant at the Golden Heart in All Hallows Lane off Thames Street. The image depicts porters transferring bags of sea-coal off a barge into an awaiting cart

It is not clear if by the term “coals seller” Humphrey Vaughan was a small-scale fuel seller or if he was a fully established woodmonger trading in larger quantities of domestic fuels from his own wharf and or stockyard.  Unfortunately most of the records of the Worshipful Company of London Woodmongers (which would have included sea-coal traders) have not survived and so we are unable to search them for any mention of Humphrey Vaughan.

The central obverse detail of Humphrey Vaughan's half penny token compared with that of a coal seller from a mid-17th century copy of "The Cries of London". The latter could possibly have been the die sinkers source for the former token design.

The central obverse detail of Humphrey Vaughan’s half penny token compared with that of a coal seller from a mid-17th century copy of “The Cries of London”. The latter could possibly have been the die sinkers source for the former token design.

The size of Humphrey Vaughan’s estate, as outlined in his Will, is unclear but appears very modest as do his monetary bequests. The will mentions no surviving children only three grandchildren the bequests to which were as follows;

  • Thomas Caton – £20 to be paid to him on his 21st birthday and that Humphrey’s wife Elizabeth should provide and help in his upbringing until such time as he can be bound into a suitable trade apprenticeship which Elizabeth was to assist in finding for him.
  • Humphrey Hodge – 40 shillings.
  • Elizabeth Hodge – 20 shillings in addition to what Humphrey had already given to her prior to making his Will.

The remains of Humphrey’s estate and goods were to be left to his wife Elizabeth and then for the bequest of a final sum of 40 shillings to his friend, fellow parishioner and supervisor of his Will, Thomas Roades. This bequest was intended for the purchase of a mourning ring by which Thomas could remember him by.

A mid 17th Century Deaths Head Type Funerary Ring from London

A mid 17th Century Deaths Head Type Funerary Ring from London

Notes:

1) During the research for this article several other references to a Humphrey Vaughan were made in various other London parish registers. As they do not appear to be related to Humphrey Vaughan the token issuer of St. Martin-in-the-Fields they have been omitted from the above partial life history. However, for completeness they are recorded below;

(a) 4th May 1664 – Burial of Humphrey Vaughan, aged 1 year, at the parish church of St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate.

(b) 22nd July 1674 – Baptism of Humphrey Vaughan son of Humphrey at the church of St. Katherine-by-the-Tower.

(c) 7th January 1694 – Birth and christening of Rebecca daughter of Humphrey and Anne Vaughan at the parish church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

As Humphrey Vaughan the token issuer is recorded as marrying Elizabeth Bowman in 1686 and an Elizabeth is recorded as Humphrey’s wife in his Will of 1698 it is difficult to see how he could have been married to a lady called Anne in 1694. It is also noted that there is no reference to either an Anne or a Rebecca in Humphrey’s Will.

2) The Four Shillings in the Pound Aid (Note 3) tax listings for Westminster list a second record for a Humphrey Vaughan in Sheer Lane Ward of the parish of St. Clement Danes(10). The tax assessment records his property’s rental value as £20 and the value of his stock as £0. It is assumed that this tax assessment is either for a different Humphrey Vaughan to that of our token issuer or alternatively for a second property belonging to the token issuer.

 3) The Four Shillings in the Pound Aid – This Aid or Assessment was collected in London and Westminster in order to finance the wars fought by King William between 1689 and 1697. Two Acts of Parliament passed in 1692 and 1693 specified the collection of four shillings in every pound (a 20 per cent tax) on the rental value of all property, income earned in public service, and stock or ready money held as part of a personal estate. Individuals whose property was worth less than 20 shillings were exempt. The tax was administered by the City Chamberlain, and raised £296,160 8s 10 3/4d, in 1693 from the metropolis as a whole.

References:

1) Way, A. – Letter from ALBERT WAY, Esq. Director S.A., to Sir HENRY ELLIS, Secretary, accompanying an Indenture of Lease from the Earl of Bedford to Sir William Cecil, of a portion of pasture in Covent Garden. Read 25th January 1844. Archaeologia, Or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity: Volume 30. (The Society of Antiquaries of London, 1844).

2) Westminster Rate Books 1634-1900 Transcription – Entries for Humphrey Vaughan for 1656, 1663, 1666, 1672 and 1705.

3) Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).

4) Bow Street and Russell Street Area: Russell Street. Survey of London: Volume 36, Covent Garden. (London, 1970).

5) Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers. Volume 43. Vintners’ Company 1609-1800. (2006).

6) Davies, M.; Ferguson, C.; Harding, V.; Parkinson, E. & Wareham, A. – London and Middlesex Hearth Tax. The British Record Society. Hearth Tax Series Volume IX, Part II. (London, 2014).

7) Ibid 2.

8) City of Westminster, St Martin in the Fields, Drury Lane Ward, White Hart Yard – Four Shillings in the Pound Aid 1693/4. Centre for Metropolitan History (London, 1992).

9) London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London, England; Reference Number: AM/PW/1704/086.

10) City of Westminster, St Clement Danes, Sheere lane Ward, – Four Shillings in the Pound Aid 1693/4. Centre for Metropolitan History (London, 1992).

6 Comments

Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

At the sign of the Lobster by the Maypole in the Strand

A farthing tradesman's token issued at the sign of the Lobster in the Strand, Westminster.

A farthing tradesman’s token issued at the sign of the Lobster by the maypole in the Strand, Westminster.

The above copper farthing token measures 15.6 mm in diameter and weighs 0.85 grams. It was issued by a tradesman who operated from premises on the Strand in Westminster in the mid-17th century.

The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) THE. LOBSTER. AT. THE around the depiction of a lobster palewise.

Reverse: (mullet) MAIPOLE. IN. THE. STRAND around E (rosette) G

The initials on the reverse of this token are those of its issuer. Unfortunately reviews of hearth tax returns from the 1660s for the Strand area have failed to identify these initials with any specific individual. What is not in doubt is the location of the token issuer’s trade premises. This is made clear from the token’s obverse and reverse legends as being at the sign of the Lobster, adjacent to the maypole in the Strand.

The reference to the “maypole” on this token allows the trade premises of its issuers to be tied down to a very specific area of the Strand and arguably a specific period in time. Namely 1661 to 1672. This period coincides with a time when both the use of tradesmen’s tokens were current in London (i.e. 1648/9 to 1672) and during which the Strand’s celebrated maypole stood (i.e. pre 1644 and then again post April 1661).

The site of the maypole was on a patch of ground in the middle of the Strand east of Somerset House and at the southern end of Little Drury Lane and on which the construction of the church of St. Mary-le-Strand was later commenced in 1714.

The Strand, Westminster (c.1720) showing the location of the Church of St. Mary-le-Strand (in yellow)and the approximate location of the Strand maypole (in red).

The Strand, Westminster (c.1720) showing the location of the Church of St. Mary-le-Strand (in yellow) plus the approximate location of the Strand maypole (in red).

As a trade sign the lobster is recorded by at least four separate examples in London during the 1650s and 1660s (1). According to one authority(2) this sign is believed to have reference not to shell-fish but to a locally raised regiment of soldiers who during the Civil War were commonly known as the “Lobsters” or “London Lobsters” because of the bright steel shell armour in which their upper bodies were covered (Note 1).

The example of the lobster trade sign located at the maypole in the Strand is documented from two separate sources both of which are mid-17th century token issues. The first reference is that on the farthing described above. On the grounds of style and denomination this token likely dates from the 1650s to early 1660s. The second token referencing the sign of the lobster in the Strand is a halfpenny which, on stylistic grounds, likely dates to the mid to later 1660s. The details of this second, scarcer token, are outlined below.

Obverse: The legend ST. HARRISE IRONMONGER around the depiction of a lobster.

Reverse: The legend AGAINST YE and HIS ½ around the depiction of a maypole and a small building covered by a domed roof.

This token was issue by Stephen Harris, an ironmonger, who we can assume either;

  • Took over the business premises formerly occupied by the previous token issuer, i.e. the as yet un-identified individual whose initials were E. G.
  • Occupied adjacent business premises, possibly in the same building, to the as yet un-identified token issuer whose initials were E. G.

Assuming the first of the above options to be the most likely it is possible that the premises selected by Stephen Harris in which to set up his business had previously been an ironmongery. Such continuity of use would have allowed him to tap into the previous owner’s reputation (presuming it to have been a good one) and established customer base. If this was the case then it follows that the issuer of the earlier farthing token at the sign of the lobster was also an ironmonger. A review of the names of masters belonging to the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers during 1650s (3) indicates only one whose initials match those on the farthing token (i.e. E.G.). This was Edward Gardener. Much further research is required to positively link this individual as being the issuer of the above illustrated token. If the issuer can be proven to be an ironmonger it will help substantiate the earlier noted theory that this trade sign has associations with iron clad men at arms.

 A Brief History of the Maypole in the Strand

The maypole in the Strand was a well-known land mark in 17th century London and was arguably the most famous of all the capital’s maypoles which, according to one contemporary writer “were set up at every crossway” after the restoration of King Charles II (4).

The first maypole in the Strand was erected in the late 16th or early 17th century and was estimated to have stood 100 feet tall. Its precise location was close to where the remains of a medieval stone cross (the Strand Cross) stood and where, in the reign of King James I, was cited a windmill powered water pump and a watch-house (5). This site lay approximately on the western part of the plot now occupied by the church of St. Mary le Strand.

In 1634 the site of the maypole played host to the first dedicated Hackney Carriage stand in England. A former sea captain by the name of John Bailey invested in a fleet of four Hackney carriages which he based at the maypole. His drivers were each instructed to charged fixed price fares to various destinations within the city and its environs. Other private hire carriage men soon followed Bailey’s lead by working to a set of fixed fares and by using the maypole as a base and central pick-up point (6).

During the early years of the Commonwealth period the Puritan government viewed traditional maypoles as vile throwbacks to heathenism and on 6th April 1644 a Parliamentary ordinance outlawed them. This included the famous one in the Strand which was pulled down.

Shortly after the restoration of King Charles II a new and taller maypole was setup amid much ceremony and rejoicing. From a contemporary pamphlet entitled “The Citie’s Loyaltie Displayed” we learn that the second maypole was of cedar and stood 134 feet tall. While its erection had royal backing it was paid for by subscriptions from local parishioners at the head of who is understood to have been a farrier by the name of John Clarges (Note 2) (7). Clarges is believed to have operated a forge located on the west side corner of the junction between Little Drury Lane and the Strand (8).

According to the contemporary pamphlet mentioned above the maypole was brought in two parts from where it was made, below London Bridge, to Scotland Yard. From it was conveyed on 14th April 1661 to the Strand accompanied by a streamer flourishing before it and the playing of music and the beating of drums all along the route. To provide the specialist skills require for erecting the maypole Prince James, Duke of York and Lord High Admiral of England, commanded twelve seamen, who were familiar in erection of masts and rigging, to officiate the business. In order to facilitate their work they brought cables, pullies, and other tackle including six great anchors. On arrival at its destination in the Strand the two halves of the maypole were joined together and bound with supportive iron bands. It was topped with a purple streamer and around its middle was suspended a decorative hoop, like a balcony, on which was supported four crowns and the royal coat of arms. Then with the King and Prince James looking on, and amid sounds of trumpets and drums and loud cheers from the surrounding crowds, the maypole was slowly raised. It took the sailors 4 hours to fully elevate it upright and fix it into a socket on the ground where, or close to where, the previous maypole was remembered to have stood. Then amongst much celebration a party of Morris dancers, wearing purple scarfs and half-shirts, came forward commenced to dance around the maypole to the sound of a tabor and pipe (9).

The only contemporary images of the maypole, standing at its full height, are known from five separate issues of contemporary tradesmen’s tokens. Two of these are illustrated below.

Two tradesman's tokens of the mid-1660s depicting the maypole in the Strand, Erstminster. The token on the right shows a sugar loaf and three pepper corns possibly indicating its issyer was a grocer.

Two tradesman’s tokens of the mid-1660s depicting the maypole in the Strand, Westminster. The domed roof building shown in the token on the left is possibly the Strand Conduit House. The sugar loaf and three pepper corns shown either side of the maypole depicted in the right hand side token possibly indicating its issyer was a grocer as such were synonymous with this trade.

The author is of the opinion that the small building shown adjacent to the maypole on the first of these tokens is a conduit house. Accounts of such a stone building, erected over a spring, are recorded adjacent to the site of the maypole. For some time the fresh water from this spring was used to supply the local neighbourhood. By the time of Strype’s Survey of London and Westminster was published in 1720 the conduit house and spring were no longer in use (10). Contemporary with the maypole in this part of the Strand was also a pillory along with a Watchhouse which Strype confirm stood adjacent to the Conduit House (11).

This maypole erected in 1661 continued to be the site of May Day celebrations in the Strand for some 52 years until the second half of 1713 when due to general decay and a large amount of storm damage, incurred in 1672 (12) , it was taken down (13) . According to Strype only a mere 20 foot tall stump of the pole then remained (14). Following the maypole’s removal the site was cleared in preparation for the laying of the foundations of the church of St. Mary le Strand.

However, that wasn’t the final chapter in history of the maypole in the Strand. On 4th July 1713 amongst great joy and festivity a third maypole was erected on a site close by, slightly to the west of the previous location and adjacent to Somerset House. In much later times this site is said to have been marked by a water fountain (15) .

A contemporary print depicting a procession of the Houses of Parliament and Queen Anne along the Strand between Exeter Exchange and the maypole on 7th July 1713.

A contemporary print depicting a procession of the Houses of Parliament and Queen Anne along the Strand between Exeter Exchange and the maypole on 7th July 1713.

While it is uncertain it is probably the third of the Strand maypoles that is depicted in the above print by George Vertue. This depicts a procession of the Houses of Parliament and Queen Anne along the Strand between Exeter Exchange and the maypole on the way to a peace celebration in St. Paul’s Cathedral on 7th July 1713. The back drop to this view is the north side of the Strand, punctuated by the southern terminus of Catherine Street plus an array nearly 4,000 Charity School children seated on specially arranged temporary board seating (16).

Detail of the maypole in the Strand from a print by George Vertue showing a procession in the Strand on 4th July 1713.

Detail of the maypole in the Strand from a print by George Vertue showing a procession in the Strand on 4th July 1713.

This third maypole in the Strand had only a short existence. By 1717 it had been taken down so ending an era (Note 3).

Notes:

1) The London lobsters, Haselrig’s Lobsters or just Lobsters was the name given to the cavalry unit raised and led by Sir Arthur Haselrig, a leading Parliamentarian who fought in the English Civil War (17). The unit received its name because, unusually for the time, they were cuirassiers, wearing extensive armour that covered most of their upper body making them resemble lobsters. Only two cuirassier regiments were raised during the English Civil War, the other being the Lifeguard of the Earl of Essex. Full armour had largely been abandoned at this time, with cuirasses and helmets only worn by some cavalry commanders and pike units. The armour of a cuirassier was very expensive. In England, in 1629, a cuirassier’s equipment cost £4 10s, whilst that worn by a lighter cavalryman was a mere £1 6s (18). The Lobsters were probably the last unit to fight on English soil in near full armour, and one of the last in Europe.

2) John Clarges (born c.1590s) started his working life as a blacksmith and farrier at the Savoy, Westminster. In the second half of the 1610s he married Anne Leaver. The couple went on to have two children, Thomas and Anne (or Nan). Thomas became an apothecary while Anne became a milliner and seamstress. Some sources record both John and his wife dying in 1648. However, this isn’t confirmed and does not fit with additional references to John being one of the pre-eminent parishioners responsible for commissioning the second maypole in the Strand in 1661. So how did a lowly blacksmith come into such good fortunes and become largely responsible for commissioning such a famous restoration period London landmark? The answer starts several years earlier with John’s daughter Anne having the good fortune to becoming the wife (1652) of none other than General George Monk, 1st Duke of Albemarle, one of the leading architects of the restoration of King Charles II in 1660.

A contemporary print of the Ducke and Dutchess of Albermarle - George Monk & Anne Monk (nee Clarges).

A contemporary print of the Ducke and Dutchess of Albermarle – George Monk & Anne Monk (nee Clarges).

In 1644 Colonel George Monk, then head of the royalist forces in Ireland, was captured by Parliament and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Here he languished until November 1646 when, after the defeat of the Royalists in England, he took an oath of loyalty to Parliament and was released for service in Ireland. In 1647, he was appointed commander of Parliament’s forces in Ulster. Under the Commonwealth he went on to serve as a General-at-Sea in the 1st Anglo-Dutch War. He also served further in the army eventually becoming head of the Parliamentary forces in Scotland. By December 1659 he was arguably one of the most powerful men in the Kingdom being head of the army in both Scotland and England.

During his time in imprisonment Monk was regularly visited by Anne Clarges who it appears had secured a contract to supply clean linen to several of the wealthier prisoners in the Tower in addition to providing her services as a seamstress. By this time Anne had married Thomas Ratford and ran a shop at the sign of the Three Gypsies in the New Exchange off the Strand. According to John Aubrey (19) Anne was kind to the Monk during his imprisonment in a double capacity, eventually becoming his mistress. Despite her low social status, plain looks and at times coarse behaviour, Monk became increasing fond and reliant on Anne, even once released from the Tower. He continued to stand by her when she eventually became pregnant by him. After the separation and alleged death of Anne’s first husband she and the now General George Monk were married in Southwark in January 1652/3. This officially opened the doors of high society to Anne along with many new opportunities for her and her family. Despite Anne’s new elevated status she seemingly never lost her ill manners and was inclined to violent outbursts of rage and coarse language even when in the company of refined society. Despite having an apparent happy marriage it is thought that George was unquestionably afraid of Anne and that she considerably influenced and manipulated him in order to best promote their fortunes and public standing. It was no doubt through Anne’s influence that her brother Thomas Clarges became closely associated with Monk, initially as a physician to the army and later as Monk’s agent in London. This allowed him to move in elevated social circles and by 1656 he himself had become a member of parliament. Thomas’s future association with power and the nobility was secured in May 1660 when he was commissioned by Monk and Parliament to convey to the exiled Charles II the formal invitation to return to England and take up the throne. On presenting Charles with this communication the king knighted him on the spot. Thereafter Thomas’ future success in life, and those of his family, appears to have been secured.

On his return to England, in recognition of his services as a leading architect of his restoration, Charles II raised Monk to the rank of Lieutenant-General of the armed forces and elevated him to the peerage bestowing several honours and titles on him including that of 1st Duke of Albemarle. This meant that Anne was now a Duchess and a member of the court.

The naval administrator Samuel Pepys mentions Anne and Thomas Clarges several times in his famous diary. He generally speaks of Anne in a fairly derogatory fashion and on one occasion describes her as a “plain homely dowdy”.

The memorial to George and Anne Monk plus their third son Nicholas (Westminster Abbey).

The memorial to George and Anne Monk plus their third son Nicholas (Westminster Abbey).

George Monk died 3rd January 1669/70 but the funeral did not take place until 30th April as the King Charles II offered, but failed, to pay the expenses. Anne Monck died soon after her husband on 29th January 1670. The couples were interred in a vault in the north aisle of Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey.

3) After the final maypole in the Strand had been taken down it was purchased from the parish by Isaac Newton in 1717. In April 1718 it was subsequently sent by Newton to his friend the astronomer Rev. James Pound of Wanstead in Essex (20). Pound used the pole as a means of mounting a large lens (with a focal length of 123 feet) lent to him by the Royal Society. This lens, and its associated mountings and remotely held eye piece etc., formed part of an aerial telescope of the type crafted and designed by the Huygens brothers (Christiaan and Constantine) of Holland. The apparatus was gifted to the Royal Society by Constantine Huygens in 1691 (21) but had not been experimented with up until then owing to the difficulties associated with mounting its lens off a high fixed structure. Previous to James Pound experiments with the aerial telescope the Society had requested both Robert Hooke and Edmond Halley to investigate using the high scaffolding associated with the construction of the new St. Paul Cathedral as a possible means for supporting its lens. Such plans appear not to have come to fruition (22).

Huygens' aerial or tubeless compound rtpe telescope from a print of 1684.

Huygens’ aerial or tubeless compound type telescope from a print of 1684.

Despite the telescopes various operating challenges Pound appears to have put it to good use. By 1719 he had made measurements using the telescope that also allowed him to develop an equation for the transmission of light. Further of his observations using the telescope allowed Halley to correct his predictions of the movements of Saturn’s moons. Other of Pound’s measurements relating to Jupiter, Saturn and their satellites were employed by Newton in the third edition of the Principia. Some decades later Pierre-Simon Laplace also used Pound’s observations of the movements of Jupiter’s satellites to calculation the planet’s mass (23).

References:

1) Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).

2) Ibid.

3) Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers, Ironmongers’ Company 1655-1800. Volume 24. (Society of Genealogists. 1999).

4) Aubrey, J. Edited by Barber, R. – Brief Lives: A Modern English Version. (Woodbridge, 1982).

5) Thornbury, W. & Walford, E. – Old and New London: Volume 3 (London, 1878).

6) Richardson, J. – The Annals of London: A Year-by-year Record of a Thousand Years of History. (University of California Press, 2000).

7) Ibid 5.

8) Ibid 4. Foot note. Page 206.

9) Wheatley, H. B. – London Past and Present: Its History, Associations and Traditions. Volume II. (Cambridge University Press, 1891).

10) Strype, J. – A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster. (London, 1720).

11) Ibid 10.

12) Ibid 4.

13) Ibid 9.

14) Ibid 10.

15) Ibid 9.

16) Diprose, J. – Some Account of the Parish of St. Clement Danes (Westminster): Past and Present. (London, 1868).

17) Bennett, M. – Historical Dictionary of the British and Irish Civil Wars, 1637-1660. (Abingdon, 2000).

18) Haythornthwaite, P. – The English Civil War: An Illustrated History. (Blandford Press, 1983).

19) Ibid 4.

20) Ibid 9.

21) Jungnickel, C. & McCormmach, R. – Cavendish. (Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, 1996).

22) King, H. – The History of the Telescope. (2003).

23) Hockey, T.; Trimble, V. & Williams, T. Editors – Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Entry for James Pound. (2007).

2 Comments

Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

Howard’s Coffeehouse in New Street, Covent Garden

A penny token issued by Joseph Howard in 1671 for use in his London Coffee-house.

A penny token issued by Joseph Howard in 1671 for use in his London Coffee-house.

The above brass penny token measures 24.3 mm in diameter and weighs 2.71 grams. It was issued by Joseph Howard, a London coffeehouse proprietor, in 1671.

The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (cinquefoil) IOSEPH (cinquefoil) above an arced underline. Below, the depiction of a half-length figure of a man holding a cup. Above a hand issues from a cloud holding a coffee-pot which pours into the cup below. Adjacent is a table or cabinet on which there are two clay pipes and what appears to be a tobacco roll.

Reverse: Legend in five lines surrounded by a radial arrangement comprising a sexfoil and ten cinquefoils HOWARD / COFFE . HOV / SE . IN . NEW / STREET / 1671

There are several “New Streets” in and around London so attributing this token to one of them in particular without any additional evidence is difficult. However, nineteenth century token researchers (1) ascribed this token as being issued by a coffeehouse in New Street (now renamed New Row), off Covent Garden in Westminster. While this location appears perfectly plausible, and possibly more so given the less salubrious alternative “New Street” locations in the capital, I can find no contemporary evidence for it or its proprietor, Joseph Howard other than the evidence left in the paranumismatic record. This comprises two varieties of the above token. Both of these are dated 1671 and struck from very similar yet different sets of dies (Note 1). The existence of two die varieties of this token suggests they were issued in some considerable numbers. This is further confirmed from their relatively high survival rate in modern collections of this token series.

New Street, Westminster (c.1720) pff the west end of King's Street in Covent Garden.

New Street, Westminster (c.1720) pff the west end of King’s Street in Covent Garden.

Approximately 80 different coffeehouse tokens were issued in London during the period 1663 to 1672 with the majority (at least 50%) of them being attributed to the brief period 1669 to 1671(2). Nearly all of them were valued at either a half penny or penny. The comparative large size of Joseph Howard’s token suggests it to be of a penny denomination. Penny tokens appear late (i.e. post 1668/9) in the issuing series of mid seventeenth century tradesmen’s tokens which extended from 1649 to 1672. This example is clearly dated 1671.

As in this case many of the tokens issued by coffeehouses illustrated a hand or person serving coffee from a pot (invariably of the Turkish-ewer type) into a cupped dish or cup.

The Coffeehouse Revolution of the mid-17th Century

The last ten years has seen a rapid increase in the popularity of London’s coffeehouse culture with branded establishments offering comfortable surroundings in which to buy hot beverages and catch-up with the latest news and gossip. However, the real coffeehouse revolution in the city took place in the mid-1600s to early 1700s. During this period as many as 1,000 such establishments played host in the capital to caffeine-fuelled debate, wheeler-dealing and gossip-mongering usually in smoke filled surroundings. While the coffeehouses were predominantly a male abode they catered for all classes of society as long as all obeyed certain basic house rules of etiquette.

The first English coffeehouse was opened in Oxford by a Lebanese Jew by the name of Jacob who traded from the sign of the Angel in 1650(3). The exact origins of the first London coffeehouse are a little confused. However, by combining the evidence presented by several early sources it is possible to piece together a credible account of its opening and the interrelationships of the various persons associated with it.

In 1651 Thomas Hodges, a London grocer and Turkey merchant, welcomed a young draper and Levant Company merchant by the name of Daniel Edwards into his home in Walbrook with the prospect of the young man marrying his daughter. Edwards had returned from Izmir with his Greek servant Pasqua Rosee with a habit for drinking coffee, the principle ingredient for which, the coffee bean, he also brought back home in quantity. The novelty of coffee at Hodges’ home, which attracted many friends and neighbours who soon got the taste for the new drink, impeded the family’s work, so Edwards and his now father-in-law set up Rosee in a stall in St. Michael’s churchyard, Cornhill to sell coffee to the public (4). This was the first coffeehouse in London and traded under the sign depicting the head and shoulders of its proprietor, Pasqua Rosee (5). The sign of “The Turk’s Head” (although not necessarily that of Rosee) would soon become synonymous with coffee-houses through England and the sign image was often reproduced on the obverse of many of the tokens issued by such establishments.

Rosee proved to be a shrewd businessman and popularised his new business by issuing printed handbills that which made some extravagant medicinal claims about the new wonder drink, “coffee”. He claimed it helped cure hangovers, cured dropsy, gout and scurvy, helped prevents miscarriages and even facilitated the breaking of wind!

Pasqua Rosee's handbill of the 1650s advertising the virtues of the new wonder drink "Coffee" and its availability at his establishment in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill.

Pasqua Rosee’s handbill of the 1650s advertising the virtues of the new wonder drink “Coffee” and its availability at his establishment in St. Michael’s Alley, Cornhill.

Ale seller’s close by Rosee’s stall, presumably angry at his new business stealing some of their traditional customers, queried his right as a foreigner to trade in the City. This issue was overcome by Rosee going into partnership with Christopher Bowman. Bowman had been apprenticed to Hodges until 1654 when he gained his freedom from the Worshipful Company of Grocers. Their business continued to flourish and by 1656 had moved into enclosed premises in nearby St. Michael’s Alley. However, the partnership was short lived and Rosee and Bowman ended up running rival coffee-houses on opposite sides of the alley to each other. Rosee shop traded under the sign of his own head and shoulders while Bowman’s operate under the sign of a coffee pot (6).

It is believed that Rosee left London for The Hague to set-up business there on his own (7) while Bowman continued to trade on his own in Exchange Alley until his death in 1663. While this first coffee-house didn’t survive the ravages of the Great Fire of London in September 1666 a further establishment, the Jamaica Coffee House was built on the same plot in 1667. Today this historic location in St. Michael’s Alley is marked by the later built Jamaican Wine House together with an official City of London plaque commemorating the spot of London’s first coffeehouse.

The Jamaica Wine House in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill occupies the spot of London's firsr Coffee-house. The commemorative plaque (see inser top right) was errected in 1952.

The Jamaica Wine House in St. Michael’s Alley, Cornhill occupies the spot of London’s firsr Coffeehouse. The commemorative plaque (see inser top right) was errected in 1952.

The popularity of the new drink soon encouraged similar businesses to spring up throughout the capital and by 1714 it has been estimated that there was 1000 coffeehouses in London, Westminster and their immediate environs (8).

Prior to the advent of the coffee house men had gathered in taverns to do business and exchange ideas. However, such establishments were often unpleasant, rowdy and, owing to the effects of the ale they sold, were unproductive venues. Coffee, on the other hand, as Pasqua Rosee’s advertisement for the new beverage put it “will prevent drowsiness and make one fit for business”.

Soon, intellectuals, professionals and merchants thronged to the coffeehouses to debate, read and distribute pamphlets, do deals, smoke and, of course, consume one of the new imported hot beverages on offer. Amongst these were tea, imported from the East Indies; chocolate, first introduced from South and Central America by the Spanish; and coffee introduced to Western Europe by traders returning from the Ottoman Empire. Additionally it is clear from the paranumismatic evidence that some 17th century coffee-houses also offered a further imported beverage in the form of sherbet. Sherbet was another import from the Ottoman Empire and comprised a drink made from diluted fruit juice and sugar and cooled with fresh snow or crushed ice when possible.

The reverse of a London Coffee-house penny token of the early 1660s advertising the various commodities on offer to its patrons. As stated in the central field of the token these included "Coffee, Chocolat, Tea, Sherbett & Tobac sould in Exchange Alley.

The reverse of a London Coffeehouse penny token of the early 1660s advertising the various commodities on offer to its patrons. As stated in the central field of the token these included “Coffee, Chocolat, Tea, Sherbett & Tobac sould in Exchange Alley.

Newsletters and gazettes (the precursors of newspapers) were distributed in coffeehouses which also functioned as reading rooms and notice boards announcing sales, sailings, and auctions to the businessmen who frequented them. The coffee houses were commonly referred to as “penny universities”. As for the inclusive admission charge of a penny, a suitably dressed man could gain access to the well-heated and furnished premises where he could expand his mind by choosing to enter into discourse with his fellows or reading one of the many pamphlets and newsletters on offer. The coffeehouses offered all this in addition to a dish of hot coffee and a clay pipe full of tobacco (9).

A contemporary print depicting a typical 17th Century London Coffee-house.

A contemporary print depicting a typical 17th Century London Coffeehouse.

The best known began to attract a distinct clientele. By the late 1680s, Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House on Tower Street, had earned a reputation as the place to go to organise marine insurance. It later evolved into world-famous insurance market, Lloyd’s of London. In 1698, the owner of Jonathan’s Coffee House in Exchange Alley began to issue a list of stock and commodity prices entitled “The Course of the Exchange and other things” so starting of the London Stock Exchange. The auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s had similar coffeehouse origins.

Certain coffeehouses attracted likeminded professionals and traders. For example physicians frequented Batson’s coffee house in Cornhill which doubled to many as a consulting room. The Chapter Coffee House, at the corner of Chapterhouse Court, on the south side of Paternoster Row was the chosen meeting place for publishers and booksellers. Scientists and members of the newly inaugurated Royal Society, such as Sir Isaac Newton and Edmund Halley preferred the Grecian on the Strand. While the wits of the day, including the playwright Dryden, gathered at Will’s coffee house in Russell Street, Covent Garden.

However, not everyone was in favour of the new wonder drink or the almost exclusively male establishments from which it was sold. Those that lived close by to coffeehouses often complained about the continual polluting smell of beans being roasted. Tavern keepers were also raised apposition to the new coffee houses as they threatened their business. One contemporary satirical poem referred to coffee as “syrup of soot” or “essence of old shoes”. Many women also objected to the amount of time their husbands spent in the new “penny universities”. In 1674, a pamphlet entitled “The Women’s Petition against Coffee” was published in which it was said that coffee, “made men as unfruitful as the deserts whence that unhappy berry is said to be brought”.

A pamphalet of 1674 entitled "The Women;s Petition Against Coffee".

A pamphalet of 1674 entitled “The Women;s Petition Against Coffee”.

This was answered almost immediately by the male supporters in a reply pamphlet entitled “The Men’s Answer to the Women’s Petition Against Coffee”.

A pamphlet of 1674 entitled "The Men's Answer to the Women's Petition Against Coffee".

A pamphlet of 1674 entitled “The Men’s Answer to the Women’s Petition Against Coffee”.

Another opponent of the new coffeehouses was King Charles II. Despite earning substantial revenues from the sale of coffee, in 1675 he attempted to ban the establishments, condemning them as, “places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of his Majesty and his Ministers(10). However, the popular outcry generated from the king’s attempt to outlaw the coffee house movement soon caused him and his government to back down from their proposals.

By the mid-18th century, coffeehouses began to wane in popularity as the nation’s tastes turned to drinking tea which was becoming far more affordable given the increased trade with the East Indies. Those coffeehouses that remained began to attract a more gentile and select clientele, with many of them charging membership fees. And so was born the Gentleman’s Club.

Notes:

1)      Examples of both token die varieties can be seen in the Museum of London’s on-line collection (see collection items numbers NN17949 and NN17948).

 

References:

1) Akerman, J.Y. – Tradesmen’s tokens current in London and its vicinity between the years 1648 and 1672. (London, 1849).

2) Berry, G. – Seventeenth Century England: Traders and their Tokens. (London, 1988).

3) Wood, A. – Athemae Oxonienses. An Exact History of Writers and Bishops who have had their education in the University of Oxford. Vol. I. Edited by Bliss, P. for the Ecclesiastical History Society. (Oxford, 1848)

4) Thompson, R. – London Coffee-House Tokens. The Journal of the London Numismatic Club. Volume VIII, Newsletter No.10 (2007)

5) Cowan, B – Rosee, Pasqua. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (On-line edition, Oxford University Press, 2004-14).

6) Ibid.

7) Ukers, W. H – All about Coffee. The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal (New York, 1922).

8) Brandon, D. – Life in a 17th Century Coffee Shop. (Sutton Publishing, Stroud, 2007).

9) Cowan, B. – The Social Life of Coffee – The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse. (Yale University, 2005).

10)  Anderson, A. – An Historical and Chronological Deduction of the Origin of Commerce from Earliest Accounts. Vol. II (London, 1787).

Further Reading:

Brandon, D. – Life in a 17th Century Coffee Shop. (Sutton Publishing, Stroud, 2007).

Cowan, B. – The Social Life of Coffee – The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse. (Yale University, 2005).

5 Comments

Filed under London Coffee House Tokens, Tokens from West of the City Walls

Richard Athy at the sign of the Fleur de Lys in St. James Market Place, Westminster

A half penny token issued by Richard Athy at or by the sign of the "Fleur de Lys" in St. James Market, Westminster

A half penny token issued by Richard Athy at or by the sign of the “Fleur de Lys” in St. James Market, Westminster

The above octagonal brass half penny token measures 19.8 mm by 19.9 mm and weighs 2.06 grams. It was issued in 1668 by a tradesman named of Richard Athy whose premises were at or close by the trade sign of the “Fleur de Lys” in St. James Market Place, Westminster. The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) RICHARD. ATHY. 1668 ∙:∙ within inner and outer octagonal borders, around a central Fleur de Lys.

Reverse: Legend within six lines divided by five horizontal beaded lines reads, IN ST. / IAMESES / MARKETT / PLACE . HIS. / HALFE / PENY

St. James Market, Westminster (c.1720).

St. James Market, Westminster (c.1720).

This particular token was struck relatively late in the series of mid-17th century tradesmen’s tokens whose issue extended from 1648/9 to 1672. This is clear not only from the token’s legend, which indicates the date 1668, but also from its very distinctive shape. From or just prior to 1668 token manufacturers introduced four new shapes of flan on which they began to strike half penny and penny tokens. In order of their frequency of occurrence these were;

1)      Octagonal

2)      Heart-shaped

3)      Square

4)      Diamond-shaped

It has been suggested that these additional shape options were a marketing ploy to try and revitalize the token makers’ business which, by this date, had passed its peak.

Richard Athy’s token clearly infers the location of his business premises as being at or close by the sign of the “Fleur de Lys” in St. James Market Place, Westminster. Unfortunately this particular sign was adopted by a variety of tradesmen in London in the 17th century (1) and so offers no definitive clues as to Richard’s occupation. A review of several sets of surviving contemporary records has similarly failed to shed any light on Richard’s vocation. However, the records of the Worshipful Company of London Vintners list a Richard Athey as taking on four apprentices between 1672 and 1679 (2). These were;

  • Samuel Crew – The son of Robert, citizen of London and dyer on 1st October 1672
  • Phillip Scarlett – The son of Laiton, Warden and gentleman of Shropshire on 6th July 1676
  • John Lattimer – The son of John, citizen of London and cloth worker on 3rd October 1676
  • William Harris – The son of a late London grocer on 6th May 1679

Assuming that the master of above apprentices is one and the same person as our token issuer we can reasonably assume that he was a vintner who ran a tavern in St. James Market Place which traded under the sign was the fleur-de-leys.

Interestingly there appears to be no record of a Richard Athey ever being an apprentice of the Worshipful Company of London Vintners. This may indicate that he served his apprenticeship under a master tradesman belonging to a different (and as yet un-identified) London Livery Company. Examples of apprentices taking up final employment in a different trade to that in which they were originally trained is not unknown in the 17th century and became increasingly common in the 18th and 19th centuries.

There appears to be no listings for an Athey (or Athy) family in the Westminster Hearth Tax returns for 1666. However, analysis of transcribed London parish registers together the Westminster Highway and Poor Relief Rate Books has yielded more positive results.

A search of London parish registers has to date identified fifteen separate entries mentioning a Richard Ath(e)y and his immediate family. However, not all of these necessarily refer to the same individual who issued the above token. By viewing the records as a whole it is obvious that they refer to at least two separate individuals who shared a common name and lived in London during the same period. From the total of fifteen records two in particular stand out as being highly suspect as referring to a different Richard Ath(e)y to that of the token issuer. For completeness these entries have been recorded at the end of this article (see Notes 1 & 2).

The following record was entered on 24th January 1663/4 in the parish registers of St. Mary Somerset, which was located off Upper Thames Street in the Queenhithe Ward of the city.

  • Richard Athy and Susana Dix spinster one Northamp’sher one Essex, married

Further details relating to the above couple are available from their marriage license (3), reproduced below;

January 16th 1663/4 – Richard Athy, of Little Billing, co. Northton, Bachr, 23, & Susan Dix, Spr, 21, dau. of John Dix, of Romford, co. Essex, Gent., who consents; at St. Mary Mounthaw or St. Mary Somerset, London.

It is clear from the above that Richard was born in c.1640/1 and originated from Little Billing, Northamptonshire. Interestingly this small village, located approximately four miles west of the County town of Northampton, was the home of another mid-17th century London token issuer, John Athy, who shared the same surname as Richard and who was slightly older than the latter (see Note 3). It highly likely that the two men were directly related, possibly being either brothers or, possibly given the age difference, uncle and nephew.

It is reasonable to assume that Richard’s marriage to Susanna in 1663/4 was his first marriage and that only a few years previously he had completed a standard seven year trade apprenticeship. It is likely that this was served under a master tradesman belonging to one of London’s ancient livery companies. However, no record of his apprenticeship has yet been found.

Returning to the earlier mentioned parish register entries we find a total of 12 children being christened to a Richard and Susana(h) Ath(e)y within the bounds of London and Westminster between 1666 and 1686. These are listed below in chronological order;

1)      Elizabeth – Christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster – 9th December 1666

2)      Susanna – Christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster – 18th January 1667/8

3)      Richard – Christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster – 24th February 1669

4)      Ester – Christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster – 21st May 1672

5)      Mary – Christened at St. Olave, Old Jewry, London – 20th June 1673

6)      John – Christened at St. Olave, Old Jewry, London – 17th March 1674, Died 19th May 1675

7)      Susana – Christened at St. Olave, Old Jewry, London – 19th July 1676

8)      Rebecah- Christened at St. Olave, Old Jewry, London – 4th November 1674

9)      Susanah – Christened at St. Olave, Old Jewry, London – 4th May 1679

10)  Oliver – Christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster – 2nd June 1681

11)  Frances (Miss) – Christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster – 28th March 1682

12)  Henry – Christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster – 1st December 1686

Given the high mortality rate of children in London in the mid-17th century it is doubtful if all of the above survived infancy. It is clear from the respective parish register entry that their son John died in infancy. The fact that the couple named three of their daughters Susanna is a possibly indication that the first two had both died prior to each other whilst still in infancy.

The above list of christenings indicates that prior to 1673 Richard and Susanna Athy’s home parish was St. Martin in the Fields. This was the adjacent parish to St. James, Westminster where, at least in 1668, we can be fairly certain that Richard was a vintner plying his trade from premises at or by the Fleur de Leys tavern in St. James Market Place.

Between c.1673 and c.1679 it appears that the Athy family was living in the City of London where they had been married in 1663/4. By 1681 it appears that they were once again living in Westminster. This temporary move out of Westminster is further reflected by the short-term absence of Richard Athy’s name from the Westminster Highway and Poor Relief Rate Books. This is indicated by the summary of dated entries from both sets of books as listed below.

1672 – Two houses in the Market Place, St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster.

1682, 1683 & 1684 – Charles Street, south side, St. Martin in the fields, Westminster.

1684 (post May) & 1685 – Knigbridge, St. James Piccadilly, Westminster.

1688, 1690, 1693, 1694, 1695, – New Pye Street, St. Margaret’s, Westminster.

1696 – Orchard Street, St. Margaret’s, Westminster.

There is a possibility that the above listings relate to two or more individuals sharing a common name. For example some of the later entries (i.e. those after 1690) could be references to Richard Athy Junior (i.e. the token issuer’s son). Evidence to suggest that all the above entries are for Richard Athy the token issuer can be found in the Will of his son Richard junior (4). This document was prepared in 1689 and amended in 1692. During this period The Will states that Richard junior was a Lieutenant serving under Captain and Commander Charles Hawkins on Their Majesties Ship Advice, a fourth-rate Royal Navy frigate armed with 48 guns (5). The Will states that the principal beneficiaries of Richard’s estate were to be his father Richard Athy (Gentleman) of the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster and William Medgate (Scrivener) of London. Thus it is confirmed that after 1685 Richard Athy, the token issuer, moved out of the St. James area of Westminster and sequentially took-up residence in two separate addresses in the parish of St. Margaret, Westminster between 1688 and 1696.

After 1696 no further documentary references to Richard Athy (the token issuer) have yet come to light. It is likely that he died shortly after this date although no burial record has yet been found for him or his wife Susanna.

A Brief History of the early history of St. James Market, Westminster

In the 1650s the open space west of the Haymarket and north of Pall Mall, known as St. James’ Fields was considered ripe for development but hitherto this had been forbidden by the Crown. In March 1661/2 the Earl of St. Albans was granted a lease of much of this area by the Queen Mother. Development of the area was given further impetus in July 1662 when a meeting of commissioners for reforming the streets and buildings of London ordered the “paving of the way from St. James’, north, which was a quagmire, and also the Haymarket about Piqudillo”. A further Act of that same year also made provision for the paving of Pall Mall, the Haymarket and St. James’ Street. By 1663 the development of St. James’s Fields by the Earl had begun. As part of this development he established a market to serve the growing number of people who had come to live in the new buildings in the vicinity (1). This is the Westminster (or St. James) Market Place referred to as being the issuing location of the above token.

A view of Westminster by the Dutch engraver Jan Kip (c.1722).

A view of Westminster by the Dutch engraver Jan Kip (c.1722).

The Earl’s new market is first mentioned in a building lease of July 1663. The Westminster rate books confirm that it had been laid out and houses built around it before the end of the year. Building in Market Lane and St. Albans Street soon followed. The market itself was proclaimed on 27th September 1664 and facilitated the sale of all sort of provisions every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. By 1665 the new market place had its own purpose built market house and had also been made the new venue for the ancient St. James’ Fair (1).

“Whereas St. James Fair has been formerly kept in the Road near the House of St. James; be it known, that hereafter it is to be kept in St. James’ Marketplace to begin the 25th of July 1665, and to continue for 15 days at least in the Place aforesaid: A special care being taken for a better Regulation of the People thereabouts then has been formally.”

This annual fair had been held in the vicinity of St. James’ Fields since 1290. By the mid-17th century it had gained the reputation of being a boisterous and at times rowdy event. There is no record of how long the fair continued to be held in its new location.

On 1st April 1666 Samuel Pepys, the celebrated diarist and naval administrator recorded visiting the new market;

“So all up and down my Lord St. Albans his new building and market-house, and the taverne under the market-house, looking to and again into every place of building, and so away and took coach and home…”

Pepys mentions the market a second time in his diary in his entry for 11th April 1669.

“My wife and I out by coach, and Balty with us, to Loton, the landscape-drawer, a Dutchman, living in St. James’s Market, but there saw no good pictures. But by accident he did direct us to a painter that was then in the house with him, a Dutchman, newly come over, one Evarelst, who took us to his lodging close by, and did shew us a little flower-pot of his doing, the finest thing that ever, I think, I saw in my life; the drops of dew hanging on the leaves, so as I was forced, again and again, to put my finger to it, to feel whether my eyes were deceived or no. He do ask £70. for it: I had the vanity to bid him £20.; but a better picture I never saw in my whole life; and it is worth going twenty miles to see it.”

The Dutch artists being referred to above can be identified as Jan Looten (1618 to 1681) and Simon Verelst (2).

In 1720 John Strype (3) describes St. James Market as follows;

“St. James’s Market, a large place, with a commodious Market-house in the midst, filled with butchers shambles; besides the stalls in the Market Place, for country butchers, higglers, and the like; being a market now grown to great account, and much resorted unto, as being well served with good provisions. On the south-west corner is the paved alley, a good through-fare into Charles Street, and so into St. James’s Square, and those parts; but is of no great account for buildings or inhabitants. On each side, or square, of this market is a Row of houses, inhabited by such as have a dependence on the market, kept twice a week, but that on Saturdays is the most considerable.”

Parts of St. James Market house were occasionally used for purposes unconnected with trade. Richard Baxter, the Presbyterian preacher, held a number of meetings in rooms above Market-house and on one such occasion, in 1674, the size of his congregation was so great that the central supportive beam which supported the market’s upper story split and had to undergo emergency repairs before the upper rooms of the market could be re-opened (2).

The Market House in St. James Market Westminster from Strype's Map of 1720 and Jan Kip's engraving of Westminster of c.1722.

The Market House in St. James Market Westminster from Strype’s Map of 1720 and Jan Kip’s engraving of Westminster of c.1722.

I have been unable to find any contemporary images of St. James Market other than for the long distant partial view plus the schematic representation illustrated above. The first of these is Johannes Kip’s early 18th century print entitled “A Prospect of the City of London Westminster and St James’s Park”. In this the partial view of the Market shows a large building with a simple front, probably classical in style, having a pedimented centre facing down St. Albans Street and twin pediments at each end. Although this cannot be accepted as definite evidence of the building’s appearance, it is likely to be a more reliable representation than that the above mentioned schematic representation shown in John Ogilby and William Morgan’s survey (map) of London and Westminster of 1681/2. This representation of the market house shows it as a Jacobean building of two stories, with three entrances separated by projecting turrets which rise against a high hipped roof.

Notes:

1)      A christening record, dated 16th August 1643, exists for Richard, the son of Richard Athy in the parish registers of St. Mary Magdalene in Milk Street, London.

2)      A christening record, dated February 1665, exists for an Anne Athey from the London parish of St. Mary le Bow. Anne’s father was recorded as Richard Athey.

3)      John Athy has been attributed (9) as the issuer of two separate farthing tokens from the King’s Head Tavern in Leadenhall Street. His family is recorded in the parish registers of St. Peter’s Church, Cornhill between 1642 and 1665 (10). The apprentice records of the Worshipful Company of London Haberdashers records him being bound to a Peter Hunt in 1633 by his farther, Simon Athy of Little Billing, Northamptonshire. Assuming he entered his apprenticeship at the usual age of 12 this would put John’s approximate year of birth as 1620/1 (11). For the very short period between 11th to 23rd Jul 1667, John was the Alderman of the Vintry Ward of London. He was discharged from this position “in consideration of his late great losses and many children, and other evident causes disabling him to the charge and execution of the office” (11). John died c.1693/4 and according to the provisions of his Will was buried with his first wife, Jane, in whose name his farthing tokens of c.1655-60 were issued.

References:

1)      Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).

2)      Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers. Volume 43. Vintners’ Company 1609-1800. (2006).

3)      Chester, J.L. – Allegations for marriage licenses issued from the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury at London, 1543 to 1869. Church of England. Province of Canterbury. Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury at London. Harleian Society (London, 1886).

4)      PROB 11/441/102 – Will of Richard Athy, Lieutenant aboard their Majesty’s Ship Advice (6th November 1697), National Archives, London.

5)      Lavery, B. – The Ship of the Line – Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. (2003).

6)      Sheppard, F.H.W. – Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster. Part 1 (1960).

7)      Wheatley, B & Cunningham, P. – London Past and Present: It’s History. Associations and Traditions. (2011).

8)      Strype, J. – A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster. Volume II, Book VI (London, 1720).

9)      Rogers, K. – “On Some Seventeenth Century London Tokens”. Numismatic Chronicle, 5th Series. Volume VIII. (1928).

10)  Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.

11)  Woodhead, J.R. – The Rulers of London 1660-1689: A biographical record of the Aldermen and Common Councilment of the City of London (1966).

2 Comments

Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

At the sign of the Old Man’s Head in St. James Market Place, Westminster

A farthing token issued by a tradesman operating at or by the sign of the "Old Man's Head" in St. James Market, Westminster

A farthing token issued by a tradesman operating at or by the sign of the “Old Man’s Head” in St. James Market, Westminster.

The above brass farthing token measures 15.9 mm and weighs 1.80 grams. It was issued by a tradesman whose premises were at or close by the trade sign of the “Old Man” in St. James Market Place, Westminster. The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) AT. THE. OLD. MAN. IN, around the left facing bust of a man with a receding hair line, moustache and beard.

Reverse: (mullet) WESTMIN. MARKET. PLA , around twisted wire inner circle, within a triad of initials comprising W | .F. | .I

While this particular token is undated, on stylistic grounds its appearance is suggestive of one from the 1650s. However, on the grounds that its issuing location (i.e. Westminster or St. James Market Place) was not officially established until 1663 a more probable date for the token’s striking would be the mid-1660s.

The triad of initials on the reverse of the token are those of its issuers, a Mr. “W.F.” and his wife Mrs. “J.F.”. As yet these individuals have not been identified. Unfortunately they do not match those of any of the local inhabitants listed in the 1666 Hearth Tax returns for this part of Westminster.

St. James Market, Westminster (c.1720).

St. James Market, Westminster (c.1720).

In the 1650s the open space west of the Haymarket and north of Pall Mall, known as St. James’ Fields was considered ripe for development but hitherto this had been forbidden by the Crown. In March 1661/2 the Earl of St. Albans was granted a lease of much of this area by the Queen Mother. Development of the area was given further impetus in July 1662 when a meeting of commissioners for reforming the streets and buildings of London ordered the “paving of the way from St. James’, north, which was a quagmire, and also the Haymarket about Piqudillo”. A further Act of that same year also made provision for the paving of Pall Mall, the Haymarket and St. James’ Street. By 1663 the development of St. James’s Fields by the Earl had begun. As part of this development he established a market to serve the growing number of people who had come to live in the new buildings in the vicinity (1). This is the Westminster (or St. James) Market Place referred to as being the issuing location of the above token.

A view of Westminster by the Dutch engraver Jan Kip (c.1722).

A view of Westminster by the Dutch engraver Jan Kip (c.1722).

The Earl’s new market is first mentioned in a building lease of July 1663. The Westminster rate books confirm that it had been laid out and houses built around it before the end of the year. Building in Market Lane and St. Albans Street soon followed. The market itself was proclaimed on 27th September 1664 and facilitated the sale of all sort of provisions every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. By 1665 the new market place had its own purpose built market house and had also been made the new venue for the ancient St. James’ Fair (1).

“Whereas St. James Fair has been formerly kept in the Road near the House of St. James; be it known, that hereafter it is to be kept in St. James’ Marketplace to begin the 25th of July 1665, and to continue for 15 days at least in the Place aforesaid: A special care being taken for a better Regulation of the People thereabouts then has been formally.”

This annual fair had been held in the vicinity of St. James’ Fields since 1290. By the mid-17th century it had gained the reputation of being a boisterous and at times rowdy event. There is no record of how long the fair continued to be held in its new location.

On 1st April 1666 Samuel Pepys, the celebrated diarist and naval administrator recorded visiting the new market;

“So all up and down my Lord St. Albans his new building and market-house, and the taverne under the market-house, looking to and again into every place of building, and so away and took coach and home…”

Pepys mentions the market a second time in his diary in his entry for 11th April 1669.

“My wife and I out by coach, and Balty with us, to Loton, the landscape-drawer, a Dutchman, living in St. James’s Market, but there saw no good pictures. But by accident he did direct us to a painter that was then in the house with him, a Dutchman, newly come over, one Evarelst, who took us to his lodging close by, and did shew us a little flower-pot of his doing, the finest thing that ever, I think, I saw in my life; the drops of dew hanging on the leaves, so as I was forced, again and again, to put my finger to it, to feel whether my eyes were deceived or no. He do ask £70. for it: I had the vanity to bid him £20.; but a better picture I never saw in my whole life; and it is worth going twenty miles to see it.”

The Dutch artists being referred to above can be identified as Jan Looten (1618 to 1681) and Simon Verelst (2).

In 1720 John Strype (3) describes St. James Market as follows;

“St. James’s Market, a large place, with a commodious Market-house in the midst, filled with butchers shambles; besides the stalls in the Market Place, for country butchers, higglers, and the like; being a market now grown to great account, and much resorted unto, as being well served with good provisions. On the south-west corner is the paved alley, a good through-fare into Charles Street, and so into St. James’s Square, and those parts; but is of no great account for buildings or inhabitants. On each side, or square, of this market is a Row of houses, inhabited by such as have a dependence on the market, kept twice a week, but that on Saturdays is the most considerable.”

Parts of St. James Market house were occasionally used for purposes unconnected with trade. Richard Baxter, the Presbyterian preacher, held a number of meetings in rooms above Market-house and on one such occasion, in 1674, the size of his congregation was so great that the central supportive beam which supported the market’s upper story split and had to undergo emergency repairs before the upper rooms of the market could be re-opened (2).

The Market House in St. James Market Westminster from Strype's Map of 1720 and Jan Kip's engraving of Westminster of c.1722.

The Market House in St. James Market Westminster from Strype’s Map of 1720 and Jan Kip’s engraving of Westminster of c.1722.

I have been unable to find any contemporary images of St. James Market other than for the long distant partial view plus the schematic representation illustrated above. The first of these is Johannes Kip’s early 18th century print entitled “A Prospect of the City of London Westminster and St James’s Park”. In this the partial view of the Market shows a large building with a simple front, probably classical in style, having a pedimented centre facing down St. Albans Street and twin pediments at each end. Although this cannot be accepted as definite evidence of the building’s appearance, it is likely to be a more reliable representation than that the above mentioned schematic representation shown in John Ogilby and William Morgan’s survey (map) of London and Westminster of 1681/2. This representation of the market house shows it as a Jacobean building of two stories, with three entrances separated by projecting turrets which rise against a high hipped roof.

It is not apparent from the information presented on the above farthing token what particular trade its issuer (Mr. W.F.) was engaged in. However, it is clear from the information on presented on the token’s obverse that he traded at or close by to the sign of “Old Man” or “Old Man’s Head”. The suspension of distinctive trade signs above the entrances to trade premises in a particular street acted as an early form of address prior to formal building numbering in the mid-18th century. Certain very popular and early established trade signs, particularly those used by taverns (i.e. the Red Lion, Bell or Mermaid etc.), were by the mid-17th century common throughout London and the rest of the country. Others however were more obscure and transient in their use. The trade sign of the “Old Man” is one such example.

Bryant Lillywhite’s extensive survey of ancient London trade signs has recorded thousands of different examples by date and location which were variously adopted by the practitioners of different trades around the metropolis (4). Most such signs are know from a multitude of  examples from across the city. However, only a single example of the sign of the “Old Man” was recorded in his survey. A further review of the occurrence of this trade sign is possible from an examination of its depiction on tokens within the city’s mid-17th century paranumismatic record (5)(6)(7). Such an evaluation confirms the example identified by Lillywhite plus identifies a further example. These are listed below;

·         Westminster (i.e. St. James) Market Place – Mr. W.F. & Mrs. J. F. at the sign of the Old Man or Old Man’s Head (as per above brass, farthing).

·         Holborn, Chancery Lane – Mr. D.P. & Mrs. E. P. at the sign of the Old Parr’s Head (from a brass, half penny).

It is likely that both the above tokens depict trade signs having a common origin. The second of the two examples listed clearly identifies the derivation of this sign, namely “Old Parr”. Even today the sign of “Old Parr’s Head” can still be found above several public houses within the London area.

The sign board hanging above the entrance to the Old Parr's Head Public House in Islington.

The sign board hanging above the entrance to the Old Parr’s Head Public House in Islington.

Old Parr was the name given to one Thomas Parr who reputedly lived to the record age of 152! This remarkable character first came to public notice in 1635, when the poet John Taylor published a lively account of his life in a pamphlet entitled “The Old, Old, Very Old Man”.

Parr was reportedly born in 1483 at Alberbury near Shrewsbury in Shropshire. At the age of 80 Thomas married Jane Taylor. The couple had a son and a daughter both of whom died in infancy. At the age of 105 Parr did penance for committing adultery with Katherine Milton. After 32 years of marriage Jane Parr died. A decade later, at the ripe old age of 122, Thomas married his second wife, Jane, widow of Anthony Adda, of Guilsfield in Montgomeryshire.

By 1635 Thomas Parr was blind and had one tooth, his beard was neat, his hearing and digestion were good and he slept well. In that year, whilst visiting his Shropshire estates, the 21st Earl of Arundel learned of Thomas. He paid for the old man to be brought to London where he was put on show. He had his portrait etched by Dutch artist Cornelius van Dalen and was presented to King Charles I.

Contemporary images of Thomas Parr by Cornelius van Dalen (left) and Peter Paul Rubens (right).

Contemporary images of Thomas Parr by Cornelius van Dalen (left) and Peter Paul Rubens (right).

In November 1635, six weeks after his arrival in London, Thomas Parr died suddenly. The Royal physician, William Harvey, conducted an autopsy on the old man’s body. Uncritically accepting that Parr had been 152 years of age, Harvey noted that his reproductive organs were in a healthy state, this being consistent with the story of his adultery and with his second wife’s report that he had regular sexual intercourse with her until about twelve years previously. Harvey attributed Parr’s death in part to his sudden exposure to rich food and strong drink after a lifetime’s diet of cheese, buttermilk, and coarse bread. The main cause of death in his opinion was due to the adverse effects of London’s polluted atmosphere upon someone accustomed to the clean country air of Shropshire.

Thomas Parr's tomb and memorial in Westminster Abbey.

Thomas Parr’s tomb and memorial in Westminster Abbey.

By arrangement of King Charles I, Thomas Parr was buried in Westminster Abbey on 15 November 1635.

References:

1)      Sheppard, F.H.W. – Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster. Part 1 (1960).

2)      Wheatley, B & Cunningham, P. – London Past and Present: Its History. Associations and Traditions. (2011).

3)      Strype, J. – A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster. Volume II, Book VI (London, 1720).

4)      Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).

5)      Thompson, R.H. & Dickinson, M.J. – Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles – Volume 59 (The Norweb Collection) – Tokens of the British Isles 1575 – 1750. Part VII – City of London. (London, 2007).

6)      Thompson, R.H. & Dickinson, M.J. – Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles – Volume 62 (The Norweb Collection) – Tokens of the British Isles 1575 – 1750. Part VIII – Middlesex and Uncertain Pieces. (London, 2011).

7)      Williamson. G.C. – Trade Tokens Issued in the Seventeenth Century in England, Wales and Ireland by Corporations, Merchants, Tradesmen, Etc. – A New and Revised Edition of William Boyne’s Work. – Volume 2. (London, 1967).

3 Comments

Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

The Bell Tavern in King Street, Westminster

A farthing token of the Bell Tavern, King Street, Westminster

A farthing token of the Bell Tavern, King Street, Westminster

The above brass farthing token measures 15.9 mm and weighs 0.89 grams. It was issued in the name of The Bell Tavern which was once located in King Street in St. Margaret’s Parish, Westminster. The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) THE. BELL. TAVERN. IN, around twisted wire inner circle, depiction of a bell within.

Reverse: (mullet) KINGS. STREET. WESTMINS, around twisted wire inner circle, within a triad of initials comprising C | .D. | .M

While this particular token is undated on stylistic grounds its issue date can be attributed to the 1650s.

The triad of initials on the reverse of the token are those of its issuers, a Mr. “C.D.” and his wife Mrs. “M.D.”. As yet these individuals have not been identified but it is likely that Mr. C.D. kept the tavern at some period between 1641 and 1655. The later part of this period fits with the stylistic dating of the token. It is reported (1) that a William Austen kept the Bell in 1641 while between 1655 and 1664 the tavern was kept by the London vintner Samuel Walker and afterwards by his widow (2). A review of the 1664 Hearth Tax returns for King Street in Westminster confirms that Samuel Walker was paying tax on a property with 20 hearths in the southern end of the street.

King Street was a narrow but very busy thoroughfare which once linked the southern side of Whitehall Palace with Westminster Abbey. Today its original course is largely marked by that of Parliament Street.

King Street, Westminster (c.1720) - From right to left - Downing Street (Red); Axe Yard (Blue); Bell Yard (Purple) & Bell Alley (Green).

King Street, Westminster (c.1720) – From right to left – Downing Street (Red); Axe Yard (Blue); Bell Yard (Purple) & Bell Alley (Green).

At the north end of King Street, the corner of what is now Downing Street and what was then the southern side of Whitehall Palace, stood a gate called the King’s or Cock-pit Gate. It had four domed towers; on the south side were pilasters and an entablature enriched with the double rose, the portcullis, and the royal arms.

King's Gate at the north end of King Street and southern entrance to Whitehall Palace. Demolished in 1723.

King’s Gate at the north end of King Street and southern entrance to Whitehall Palace. Demolished in 1723.

At the south end of King Street at the entrance to Palace Yard stood a second gate known as High Gate the construction of which commenced under King Richard II in 1384. These gates were demolished in 1723 and 1706 respectively (3).

There were innumerable courts, alleys and lanes leading off King Street. On the west, south of Downing Street, were Axe Yard, Charles Street, Gardiners Lane, Sea Alley, Bell Yard, George Yard, Blue Boar Court, Antelope Alley and Bell Alley. The street was the home for many of the principal taverns of Westminster which included the Blue Boar’s Head, the Swan, the George, the Angel, the Antelope, the Black Dog, the Old Rhenish Wine House, the Sun, the Trumpet and the Bell. Amongst the notable inhabitants of the area in the 17th century were;

  • Oliver Cromwell and his mother who allegedly lived in a house close to the Blue Boar tavern.
  • Erasmus Dryden, Member of Parliament for Banbury and grandfather of the famous poet John Dryden, lived in a house just north of the Sun tavern.
  • Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist and Naval Administrator, who lived in Axe Yard off the north-west side of the street before moving to Seething Lane.
  • Wenceslaus Hollar, the notable Bohemian artist and engraver, who died in poverty in a rented house off King Street in Gardiners Lane.

Although narrow, King Street was wide enough to accommodate all the pageantry of state coronations, funerals and other such pageants that passed through it. The street was reportedly picturesque (4);

“The houses rose up three and four stories high; gabled all, with projecting fronts, story above story, the timbers of the fronts painted and gilt, some of them with escutcheons hung in front, the richly blazoned arms brightening the narrow way.”

However it was reportedly also dirty (4);

“The roadway was rough and full of holes; a filthy stream ran down the middle, all kinds of refuse were lying about.”

King Charles I travelled down King Street on the way from Whitehall Palace to his trial at Westminster. He went back by the same route as a condemned man. In 1658 Oliver Cromwell’s funeral procession followed the same route. Cromwell himself narrowly escaped assassination in the street, where he had a house north of Boar’s Head Yard. While travelling along the narrow and crowded street in his state carriage he became separated from his guard. As the carriage passed a cobbler stall in the street Cromwell’s companion in the coach, Lord Broghill, saw a door in the premises open and shut, while something glittered behind it. Broghill immediately dismounted from the carriage and hammered at the cobbler’s door with his scabbard, when a tall man, armed with a sword, rushed out and made his escape into the crowd.

The Blue Boar's Head in King Street - A mid 19th century view of the inn post its re-building in the mid 18th century.

The Blue Boar’s Head in King Street – A mid 19th century view of the inn post its re-building in the mid 18th century.

Even in the mid-17th century the Bell tavern was regarded as an ancient establishment. The first known mention of the tavern occurs in 1465. Approximately 50 years later it is referred to as follows (5);

“A tenement called the Bell with a medowe and all the tenementes perteynyng to the same sett in the Kynges strete of Westminster.”

Not surprisingly the Bell Tavern was one of half a dozen taverns in King Street that was regularly visited and mentioned by Samuel Pepys’ in his diary. This particular tavern gets five mentions in the diary between March 1660 and February 1666/7 and was the location of one of his many extra marital liaisons on at least one occasion.

Shrove Tuesday 6th March 1660 – “So I went to the Bell, where were Mr. Eglin, Veezy, Vincent a butcher, one more, and Mr. Tanner, with whom I played upon a viall, and he a viallin, after dinner, and were very merry, with a special good dinner, a leg of veal and bacon, two capons and sausages and fritters, with abundance of wine. After that I went home…”

Monday 2nd July 1660 – “Met with purser Washington, with whom and a lady, a friend of his, I dined at the Bell Tavern in King Street, but the rogue had no more manners than to invite me and to let me pay my club.”

Saturday 9 January 1663/64 –After dinner by coach I carried my wife and Jane to Westminster, leaving her at Mr. Hunt’s, and I to Westminster Hall, and there visited Mrs. Lane, and by appointment went out and met her at the Trumpet, Mrs. Hare’s, but the room being damp we went to the Bell tavern, and there I had her company, but could not do as I used to do (yet nothing but what was honest) …”

Friday 14 December 1666 – “So I to Westminster Hall, and there met my good friend Mr. Evelyn, and walked with him a good while, lamenting our condition for want of good council, and the King’s minding of his business and servants. I out to the Bell Taverne, and thither comes Doll to me…”

Friday 1 February 1666/67 – “Thence by water to Billingsgate; thence to the Old Swan, and there took boat, it being now night, to Westminster Hall, there to the Hall, and find Doll Lane, and ‘con elle’ I went to the Bell Taverne, and ‘ibi je’ did do what I would ‘con elle’ as well as I could, she ‘sedendo sobre’ thus far and making some little resistance. But all with much content, and ‘je tenai’ much pleasure ‘cum ista’. There parted, and I by coach home.”

Based on the place-name evidence apparent on the earlier illustrated plan of King Street (c.1720) at first glance there appear to be two possible locations for the Bell tavern. These being;

1)      At the eastern entrance to Bell Yard at the northern end of King Street.

2)      At the eastern entrance to Bell Alley at the southern end of King Street.

Thanks to the survival of a late 17th century hand bill advertising the sale of several paintings at in Westminster during mid-October 1691 the precise location of the Bell tavern becomes very apparent;

“At the Bell-Tavern over against the Gate-House in Kings-Street Westminster. Will be exposed to sale a curious collection of paintings; being most originals, by the best masters of Europe, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the 13th 14th 15th and 16th of this instant October, 1691 Beginning exactly at four of the clock in the afternoon, and so will continue till all be sold.”

The hand bill clearly places the tavern at the head of Bell Alley at the southern end of King Street adjacent to “the Gate-House”. It is most probable that the gate house being referred to is that linking King Street with the western corner of New Palace Yard.

The southern end of King Street (c.1720) showing possible locations of the Bell tavern at the head of Bell Alley (marked in green).

The southern end of King Street (c.1720) showing possible locations of the Bell tavern at the head of Bell Alley (marked in green).

This gate house can be clearly seen behind the ornamental fountain in the upper right hand side of a contemporary view of New Palace Yard as viewed from Westminster Stairs.

New Palace Yard 1647 by Wenceslaus Hollar - The Gate House in the north-west corner is that which is described as being adjacent to the Bell tavern in 1691.

New Palace Yard 1647 by Wenceslaus Hollar – The Gate House in the north-west corner is that which is described as being adjacent to the Bell tavern in 1691.

During the reign of Queen Anne (1702 to 1714) the Bell tavern was the headquarters of the October Club, a boisterous fellowship of Tory parliamentarians who took their name from the strong winter ale they reportedly drank at their meetings.

In “A Journal to Stella”, Jonathan Swift makes an indirect reference to one of the October Club’s meetings at the Bell tavern (6);

10th February, 1710/11 –We are plagued here with an October Club that is a set of above a hundred Parliament men of the country, who drink October beer at home and meet every evening at a tavern near Parliament, to consult affairs, and drive things on to extremes against the Whigs, to call the old ministry to account, and get off five or six heads.”

A few months later when Swift happened to be eating at the Bell tavern some prominent Octoberists invited him to join them at their dinner. But, he reported;

“I sent my excuses, adorned with about thirty compliments, and got off as fast as I could. It would have been a most improper thing for me to dine there, considering my friendship with the Ministry. The Club is about a hundred and fifty, and near eighty of them were then going to dinner at two long tables in a great ground-room.”

During the first quarter of the 18th century the Bell tavern was also the meeting place of a Freemason’s Lodge. By 1751 it appears that the tavern had been re-named as the Crown tavern (7).

References:

1)      Berry, G. – Tavern Tokens of Pepy’s London. (London, 1978).

2)      Latham, R.C. – The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Volume 10 – Companion. (London, 1995).

3)      Brayley, E.W. & Britton, J. – The History of the Ancient Palace and late Houses of Parliament at Westminster. (London. 1836).

4)      Besant, Sir W. & Mitton, G.E. – The Fascination of London: Westminster. (London 1902).

5)      Cox, M.H. – Survey of London: Volume 10: St. Margaret, Westminster, part I: Queen Anne’s Gate Area. (London, 1926).

6)      Rogers, P. – October Club (act. 1711–1714). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Oxford University Press, 2013).

7)      Whatley, S. – England’s Gazetteer: Or, An Accurate Description of All the Cities, Towns, and Villages of the Kingdom. Volume 2. (London 1751).

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Tokens from Pepys' London, Tokens from West of the City Walls

Thomas Springall of the Castle Tavern in St. Clement’s Churchyard.

A half penny token of Thomas Springall of the Castle Tavern, behind St. Clement Danes Church, Westminster

A half penny token of Thomas Springall of the Castle Tavern, behind St. Clement Danes Church, Westminster

The above copper half penny token measures 19.2 mm and weighs 1.27 grams. It was issued by Thomas Springall a vintner who operated from premises behind St. Clement Danes church in the Savoy Ward of the Westminster.

The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) THOS. SPRINGALL . AT. THE , around a beaded circle, within the depiction of a castle comprising gateway with portcullis supported by two towers with conical caps and a similar central tower behind.

Reverse: (mullet) BEHIND . ST. CLEMENTS, around a beaded circle, within the legend in three lines HIS / HALFE / PENNY with a mullet above and below.

The token is undated but on stylistic grounds probably dates from the mid to second half of the 1660s.

Based on the obverse design of Thomas Springall’s token it is almost certain that he was the proprietor of the Castle Tavern. A tavern of this name is known to have been located in the vicinity of St. Clement Danes based on earlier numismatic evidence. A total of three separate farthings plus a half penny token, all evidently commissioned by the same landlord, were issued in the name of the Castle Tavern between c.1655 to c.1663 (Note 1). These earlier tokens variously state the location of the Castle Tavern as either “Behind” or in the “Churchyard” of St. Clement Danes. A review of the Hearth Tax returns for 1666 indicates that a Thomas Springall, of the Savoy Ward of Westminster, was paying tax on a property with 17 hearths. This would be typical of a good-sized London tavern of the period. Thomas was paying tax on the second highest number of hearths listed for any single person in the Ward except for a handful of well to do inhabitants who were obviously living in very palatial residences. 

Based on the partial addresses given for the Castle Tavern on the various tokens mentioned above, coupled with its obvious substantial size (as indicated by its large number of hearths) it is possible to hazard a guess as to its precise location. A review of John Ogilby and William Morgan’s 1676 map of London indicates one particularly large building located on the “Backside of St. Clements” adjacent to the north-west part of the parish churchyard. It is tempting to associate this building with that of the Castle Tavern.

A map of the Strand and St. Clement Danes showing the possible location of the Castle Tavern

A map of the Strand and St. Clement Danes showing the possible location of the Castle Tavern

Other than for the five separate token issues struck in the name of the Castle very little is known about this particular London tavern. In his diary entry for 21st November 1667 Samuel Pepys, the famous Diarist and Naval Administrator, records the following which may well be a direct reference to the Castle Tavern although he does not mention it by name;

“I out and took coach to Arundell House, where the meeting of Gresham College was broke up; but there meeting Creed, I with him to the taverne in St. Clement’s Churchyard, where was Deane Wilkins, Dr. Whistler, Dr. Floyd, a divine admitted, I perceive, this day, and other brave men.”

Interestingly on four earlier occasions in 1667(Note 2) Pepys visited a tavern in the Savoy Ward of Westminster which he referred to by name as the “Castle”. He also refers to this establishment as being “hard by Exeter House”; “by Exeter House” or “by the Savoy”.

26th Jan 1666/7 – I in my Lord Bruncker’s coach, he carried me to the Savoy, and there we parted. I to the Castle Tavern, where was and did come all our company, Sir W. Batten, [Sir] W. Pen, [Sir] R. Ford, and our Counsel Sir Ellis Layton, Walt Walker, Dr. Budd, Mr. Holder, and several others, and here we had a bad dinner of our preparing, and did discourse something of our business of our prizes, which was the work of the day.”

26th March 1667 – “…to Exeter House, where the judge was sitting, and after several little causes comes on ours, and while the several depositions and papers were at large reading (which they call the preparatory), and being cold by being forced to sit with my hat off close to a window in the Hall, Sir W. Pen and I to the Castle Tavern hard by and got a lobster, and he and I staid and eat it, and drank good wine;

27th March 1667 – “By water to the Castle Taverne, by Exeter House, and there met Sir W. Batten, [Sir] W. Pen, and several others, among the rest Sir Ellis Layton, who do apply himself to discourse with me…”

23th August 1667 –So being all dusty, we put into the Castle tavern, by the Savoy, and there brushed ourselves, and then to White Hall with our fellows to attend the Council, by order upon some proposition of my Lord Anglesey, we were called in.”

It appears odd that the last four diaries entries quoted refers to the Castle Tavern by name and close by the Savoy and Exeter House while the entry later in the year (i.e. 21st November) just refers to a tavern, without name, in St. Clements Churchyard. Are all five entries a reference to the same establishment or were there two Castle taverns in close proximity in the Savoy Ward of Westminster? On first examination such a prospect might seem unlikely. However, by reviewing the evidence preserved in the numismatic record there would appear significant grounds to suggest the existence of two taverns by the name of the Castle in the area.

 A farthing token exists (Note 2) in the name of a John Peek, a cook trading at or by the sign of the Castle “Against Ye Savoy” (Note 3). Thus we have clear evidence of a “Castle” adjacent to the Savoy and Exeter House plus a further one “Behind” or in the “Churchyard” of St. Clement Danes. So it does appear that there was two “Castles Taverns” in relatively close proximity to each other.

Returning now to the subject of the above half penny token’s issuer. Thomas Springall was born on 6th March 1638. He was the youngest of five children (John b.1626, George b.1630, Edmund b.1633, Katherine 1635) born to Edmund and Katherine Springall of Petworth, Sussex. His father is variously described as a yeoman and later a tailor. Thomas was apprenticed by his father to Richard Frewen, vintner of London, on 7th October 1651(1). By becoming an apprentice vintner Thomas was following in his brother Edmund’s footsteps. Edmund, was apprenticed to William Beswick (a London vintner) in 1647. There is no evidence to suggest that Thomas Springall ever took on any apprentices of his own.

It is assumed that Thomas Springall served a standard seven years apprenticeship under Richard Frewen before receiving his freedom (c.1658). Thereafter he presumably started out on his own career as a vintner. It may have been shortly after this time that Thomas took over the running of the Castle Tavern behind St. Clement Danes church.

A search of London parish registers has failed to identify any evidence of Thomas Springall’s marriage or the baptism records of any possible children he may have had. His single status is further backed up by obvious omissions to a spouse or children in his Will (date 5th September 1668)(2) and the fact that his half penny token gives no indication that he was married. It was often the case, particularly on the earlier farthing token struck in the mid-17th century, that if a token issuer was married he would often display both his and his wife’s initials in the form of a triad on the reverse of his token. This practice continued on some of the normally later issued half penny tokens of the 1660s.

Thomas made his sister Katherine’s husband, Francis Snell, the executor of his Will in which he made the following bequests and provisions;

To his widowed mother, Katherine Springall the sum of £6 to be paid in quarterly instalments.

To his brother George the sum of £5.

To Mary Challoner, his maid servant, the sum of 40 shillings.

The provision of 20 shillings to each of the following for the purchase mourning rings (Note 4) ; William Collins, Henry Maurice, Daniel Bell plus his sister Katherine and her husband Francis Snell.

The rest of Thomas’ goods and estate (after the deduction of funeral costs) were to be left to his brother-in-law Francis Snell’s eldest son, who was also named Francis.

It is possible that at the time of preparing his Will that Thomas Springall knew he was dying as a month later on 9th October 1668 his burial is recorded in the parish register of St. Clement Danes. 

Notes:

1)      One of three farthings and a half penny token issued in the names of Mr. J.P. alone or in association with one of his two wives (i.e. Mrs. J.P. and Mrs. A.P.) from the Castle tavern which is variously stated on the tokens to be either “Behind St. Clements”, “In St. Clement Danes” or in “St. Clement Churchyard”.

castle token 2

 2)      The farthing token of John Peek, a cook, who presumably traded from premises at or by the sign of the Castle against the Savoy Hospital, Westminster.

 John Peek

 3)      The reference to the “Savoy” in this instance is to the Savoy Hospital which was a principal waterfront landmark which gave its name to this particular Ward of Westminster. The Savoy Hospital was built by Henry VII on the site of the old Savoy Palace which had been largely destroyed by Watt Tyler’s followers during the Peasant’s Revolt of 1377. The hospital, for the poor and needy, opened in 1512.The grand structure was the most impressive hospital of its time in the country and the first to benefit from permanent medical staff. It closed in 1702 and in the 19th century the old hospital buildings were demolished.

The Savoy Hospital c.1650

The Savoy Hospital c.1650 by Wenceslaus Hollar

The only part of the hospital complex to survive the demolition works of the 19th century was the Savoy Chapel. Originally dedicated to St. John the Baptist the chapel served as home to the congregation of St. Mary-le-Strand. The memory of the Savoy is today retained in the names of the famous Savoy Hotel and the Savoy Theatre along with several other local buildings which now stand on or close to its original site.

4)      The presentation of mourning or funerary memorial rings was common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries particularly amongst the middle and upper classes. Many wealthy people included instructions in their will on how much money was to be set aside for the purchase and inscribing of funerary rings together with instructions as to their design plus a list of those people who were to receive them.

A mid 17th Century Deaths Head Type Funerary Ring from London

A mid 17th Century Deaths Head Type Funerary Ring from London

 In Samuel Pepys’s Will he bequeathed the grand total of 129 mourning rings be given away at his funeral. The grander and number of rings bequeathed by an individual was often an indication of their wealth. The internal shanks of such rings were often inscribed with the name of the deceased as a memorial. The designs of such rings were often “ghoulish” by modern standards and typically included skulls and cross-bones or simply a skull (i.e. the so-called deaths head design).

References:

  1. Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers. Volume 43. Vintners’ Company 1609-1800. (2006).
  2. PROB/11/328. National Archives (London).

Leave a comment

Filed under Tokens from Pepys' London, Tokens from West of the City Walls