Tag Archives: exonumia

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).

 

2 Comments

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

A Ticket to Attend The Royal Touching Ceremonies of Charles II

Royal Touching Ceremony Entrance Ticket or Pass dating to the reign of Charles II

Royal Touching Ceremony Entrance Ticket or Pass dating to the reign of Charles II

The object above is an entrance ticket or pass dating from the reign of King Charles II. It measures 29.7 mm and weighs 11.15 grams and is bi-metallic comprising an inner brass core and an outer copper collar.

Unlike the tradesmen’s tokens which are the primary focus of this website the above ticket or pass had no monetary value at the time of its use between the 1660s to 1680s. It was issued by official agents of the Crown to sufferers of scrofula as a form of official entrance ticket or pass to one of Charles II’s royal healing or “touching” ceremonies. These were held in the Banqueting House of the Palace of Whitehall throughout his reign.

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

Obverse: CAR . II . D . G. M . B . FR . ET . HI . REX (six pointed star) around the depiction of a three masted ship sailing left (Note 1).

Reverse: SOLI DEO GLORIA (six pointed star) around the depiction of the angel Michael spearing a recumbent dragon at his feet.

Before considering the method of issue and use of the above types of ticket or pass it is worth explaining further the context of their use and the formal ceremony to which they gave their bearer access.

 The Curative Royal Touch for King’s Evil and the presentation of Touch-Pieces

Historically in Britain scrofula or the “King’s Evil” was a name applied to a variety of skin diseases but in particular a form of tuberculosis, affecting the lymph nodes of the neck and which resulted in bulbous swellings and sores. It has been estimated that in 17th century London 1% of the population were suffers of the disease which effected people of all social classes.

From the reigns of King Edward the Confessor in England (1003 to 1066) and Philip I (1052 to 1108) in France it was believed that a touch from the king could cure diseases given that the monarch had been granted divine powers. Subsequent English and French kings were believed to have inherited this “royal touch”, which was taken as an indication of their god given right to rule. In grand ceremonies, kings touched hundreds of suffers afflicted by scrofula. In later years those attending such healing ceremonies also received a gold coin, typically an Angel, from the monarch which was also believed to be blessed with an extension of the monarch’s healing powers. These presentational coins became known as “touch-pieces” and over time became treated as amulets and were pierced for wearing around the recipient’s neck by a ribbon.

A gold Angel of Henry VIII - First Coinage Issue, 1509-1526

A gold Angel of Henry VIII – First Coinage Issue, 1509-1526

The last Angels to be minted for general circulation were issued in 1642(1) from the Royal Mint which was located in the Tower of London. After this date the mint was seized by Parliament at the start of the Civil War and in whose control it remained until the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.

During the reign of James I the location of the royal touching ceremony was transferred from the Chapel Royal to the Banqueting House within the Palace of Whitehall(2) , Westminster. This continued to be the London venue for the ceremony throughout the reign of Charles I. During the Commonwealth period the practice ceased on British soil although it was continued by Charles II while in exile on the continent. On his restoration in 1660 he was quick to restore the ceremony, presumably as a means of re-affirming his rightful position as monarch through the practice of a divinely given gift (i.e. that of healing by touch).

In September 1660 Thomas Simon, the mint’s then chief engraver, was ordered to prepare sketches and dies for a new series of Angels(1).

Thomas Simon's Sketch for the proposed new Angel coinage of Charles II

Thomas Simon’s Sketch for the proposed new Angel coinage of Charles II

While there was an obvious early intent by Charles II to restore the Angel into common circulation within the Kingdom, and for use as touch-pieces, it never happened. However, in February 1664/5 Charles commissioned a new supply of purpose made gold “touch-pieces” from the mint at the Tower of London(2). The first issue of these new presentational medalets was struck from dies which were almost certainly cut by John Roettiers who was one of the mint’s chief engravers. Over Charles II’s reign six separate sets of dies were commissioned for the on-going striking of touch-pieces. Although the same emblems as used on the old Angels (i.e. St. Michael spearing a fallen dragon plus a ship in full sail) were maintained on the new touch-pieces their designs were different to those of the earlier Angels in that the monarch’s titles were switched to appear on the side depicting the ship, thus making it the obverse whereas on the Angel it had been on the reverse side.

A golden Touch-Piece of Charles II

A golden Touch-Piece of Charles II

During Charles II’s reign the royal touching ceremony became immensely popular. It is estimated that between 1660 and 1684 the king administered the royal touch to no fewer than 105,000 people, all of whom would have received one of the touch-pieces which contained the equivalent of 10 shillings worth of 22 carat gold(2).

During the reign of Charles II the touching ceremonies were held on Fridays between 1st November and 18th December, then during the months of January and for a month over Easter. It was suspended over the warmer months of the year to lessen the risk of spreading infection of any diseases amongst the gathered masses.

The first of Charles II’s touching ceremonies was attended by 600 suffers. However, thereafter the number was reduced to a more manageable 200 per session. While most of those who attended the Whitehall touching ceremony would have been from London and the Home Counties there is evidence that some of those who attended were from much further afield. Records exist of a petition addressed to the local assembly of Portsmouth, New Hampshire (USA) which was presented by a colonial sufferer of scrofula who wanted financial assistance to travel to London to be receive the royal touch(2).

The first touching ceremony performed by Charles II after his restoration was held on Saturday 23rd June 1660. It was recorded by both the diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. Pepys’ diary entry relating to this event is only very brief(3).

“So to my Lord’s lodgings, where Tom Guy came to me, and there staid to see the King touch people for the King’s evil. But he did not come at all, it rayned so; and the poor people were forced to stand all the morning in the rain in the garden. Afterward he touched them in the Banquetting-house.”

John Evelyn’s account of the event however, is far more detailed despite the fact that it entered erroneously in his diary under the date 6th July(4).

“His Majesty began first to Touch for the Evil according to custome: Thus, his Majestie sitting under his State in the Banqueting house: The Chirurgeons cause the sick to be brought or led up to the throne, who kneeling, the King strokes their faces or cheekes with both his hands at once: at which instant a Chaplaine in his formalitie, says, He put his hand upon them, and he healed them, this is sayd, to everyone in particular: when they have been all touch’d they come up againe in the same order and the Chaperlaine kneeling and Angel gold, strung on white ribbon on his arme, delivers them one by one to his majestie: and Who puts them about the neck of the Touched as the passe: whilest the first Chaperlaine repeates: That is the true light who came into the World: Then followes an Epistle (as at first a Gospell) with the Liturgy prayers for the sick with some alteration: Lastly the blessing; And then the Lo: Chamberlaine and Comptroller of the household bring basin, Ewer and towell for his Majestie to wash:”

(Left) Front piece from John Browne's Adenochoiradelogia (London, 1684) depicting Charless II presiding at a Royal Touching Ceremony at the Banqueting House, Westminster. (Right) The Banqueting House as it appears today.

(Left) Front piece from John Browne’s Adenochoiradelogia (London, 1684) depicting Charles II presiding at a Royal Touching Ceremony at the Banqueting House, Westminster. (Right) The Banqueting House as it appears today.

After Charles II’s death touching ceremonies continued under his brother King James II although it is understood that he was a less keen advocate of the practice as his older brother had been. After the succession of King William III and Queen Mary the ceremony was temporarily stopped until being resumed for a final period (in Britain at least) under the patronage of Queen Anne. She performed the ceremony for the last time on the 30th March 1712 in St. James’s Palace, Westminster.

Amongst the last 300 people that day who receive the royal touch and receive one of the last issued golden touch-pieces was a young boy of nearly three years of age who suffered from poor eyesight believed to be a result of scrofula. The little boy was the son of a book seller from Lichfield in Staffordshire. His family had been recommended to seek the royal touch for their son by Sir John Floyer, a former physician to Charles II. After making the three day journey to London with his parents and attaining an entrance ticket to the ceremony, after first being medically certified as eligible by an appointed doctor, he was admitted to the royal touching ceremony. The ceremony obviously made a marked impression on the young boy’s memory. As a grown man, many years later, he recalled his vague memories of the event and how he had met a lady wearing diamonds and a long black hood(2).While he may not have recalled receiving a golden touch-piece from her he undoubtedly did as he wore it on a ribbon around his neck for the rest of his life. After his death this touch-piece was kept safe and later found its way into the collection of the British Museum where it remains today. While this is not a particularly remarkable story it is made far more interesting once the identity boy is revealed. The boy grew up to become the famed Dr. Samuel Johnson the renowned poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.

Dr. Samuel Jouhnson Touch-Piece - Presented to him by Queen Anne 30th March 1712 at the last ever Royal Touching Ceremony held in Britain

Dr. Samuel Johnson Touch-Piece – Presented to him by Queen Anne 30th March 1712 at the last ever Royal Touching Ceremony held in Britain

Royal Touching Ceremony Entrance Tickets

The number of sufferers wishing to attend the royal touching ceremonies throughout the 17th century was considerable. While there was a genuine belief on the part of most attending such ceremonies that they could be healed there was also the allure of 10 shillings worth of gold in the form of the presentational touch-piece they would be given. While sufferers were only meant to attend one touch ceremony in their lifetime the temptation of receiving 10 shillings worth of gold meant that many fraudulently tried and did attend on multiple occasions(5). From the reign of Charles I onwards, in order to control the numbers of people attending each ceremony and to ensure that they didn’t attend on multiple occasions, certain control measures were put in place. The list of control measures were further extended after the restoration of Charles II and by then included the following;

1)      Those wishing to attend the ceremony had to obtain a special certificate or declaration letter from their parish minister and church wardens confirming that they were suffering from the “King’s Evil” and that they had not previously attended a royal touching ceremony.

2)      The day prior to the ceremony those wishing to take part were to attend the Sergeant-Surgeon whose duty it was to confirm them as suffering from the “King’s Evil”.

3)      On the basis that those wishing to receive the royal touch had met the above two requirements they were given an admission ticket to the ceremony in the form of a metal token or ticket. On presenting this ticket to officials at the Banqueting House on the day of the ceremony the bearer was granted admission.

Both Charles I and II employed the use of entrance tickets to their touching ceremonies. None of the entrance tickets used during the reign of Charles I have survived whist those used during the time of his son have. The entrance tickets used under Charles II were almost identical in design to the gold touch-pieces medalets commissioned in 1664/5. However, at 29 mm as opposed to 22 mm, their diameter was slightly larger than the new touch-pieces. Also the tickets incorporated six pointed stars which separated the beginning from the end of their obverse and reverse legends. Like the new touch-pieces, the dies used to strike the admission tickets were probably engraved by John Roettiers of the Royal Mint in the Tower of London. There is no evidence to confirm when in Charles II’s reign the admission tickets were introduced. The similarity of their design to that of his new touch-pieces has led some to the conclusion that the tickets were a copy of touch-pieces and so were introduced shortly after the striking of the first batch of the new medalets. However, given that Charles was conducting touching ceremonies as early as July 1660, presumably using a supply of earlier dynastic Angels, there is no reason that the admission tickets weren’t struck early in his reign and that the design of the new touch-pieces of 1664/5 was based on those of the tickets. As early as July 1660 there is official mention in the Parliamentary Journal of “tickets” being issued to gain access to the touching ceremony(6).

“His Majesty hath for the future, appointed every Friday for the core; at which time, two hundred and no more are to be represented to him, who are first to repair to Mr. Knight, the king’s surgeon, living at the Cross Guns in Russel Street, Covent Garden over against the Rose Tavern, for their tickets. That none might lose their labour, he thought fit to make it known, that he will be at his home every Wednesday and Thursday, from two till six of the clock, to attend that service; and if any persons of quality shall send to him, he will wait upon them at their lodgings, upon notice given to him.”

It is possible that the tickets referred to in the contemporary account above could have been hand written or, less likely, metallic tickets-tokens previously used in the time of Charles I.

After their collection on the day of each touching ceremony the admission tickets were re-issued for use on future occasions.  However, to further reduce the possibility of people gaining fraudulent entry to the ceremonies (possibly via the use of counterfeit tickets) the organising officials randomly alternated between the use of four different varieties of the tickets which, while obviously different in appearance, varied only in as much as the metal flans on which they were struck, i.e. copper, copper with a brass centre (as per the one illustrated at the beginning of this article) brass and brass with a copper centre. The bi-metallic copper & brass tickets are much rarer than the other two types.  It is noted that some surviving examples of these entrance tickets have either one or two notches filed in their upper edges. The notches have been made purposely and in a non-haphazard fashion. It has been suggested that such identifying marks were made as a further method of establishing their validity and to counter-act fraudulent entry to the ceremonies(2).

The continual collection and re-issue of the tickets would help account for their comparative scarcity. Some will have inevitably been lost in the continual process of reuse. Some examples have been clearly pierced for suspension which has given rise to the idea that these examples, at least, were actually used as touch-pieces in place of the usual gold medalets. Alternatively these pierced base metal tickets may just have escaped collection and then been pierced for wearing in the belief that they posed the same healing powers as the gold touch-pieces.

Notes:

1)      The ship on both the touching ceremony entrance tickets and Charles II’s gold touch-pieces can be identified as “The Sovereign of the Seas” which was launched at Woolwich in 1637. At 1,637 tons with 102 guns the ship was the largest afloat at that time. She cost £65,000 to build which was ten times more than any other man-of-war of the time. It is ironic that Charles II should have selected an image of this ship to adorn his touch-pieces as it had contributed so much to his father’s downfall through the unpopular Ship Tax

His Majesty's royal ship the Sovereign of the Seas - a contemporaneous engraving by J. Payne

His Majesty’s royal ship the Sovereign of the Seas – a contemporaneous engraving by J. Payne

The ship was re-named “The Sovereign” in 1651 and then “The Royal Sovereign” in 1685. During her operational life she took part in the battles of Kentish Knock, Beachy Head and La Hogue. The vessel was accidentally destroyed by fire on 27th January 1696 at Chatham. A few days later the diarist John Evelyn wrote in his diary(4), “The R. Sovereign burnt at Chatham, that ship built in 1637 was perhaps the original Cause of all the after trouble to this day” – a judgement written seven years after the “Glorious Revolution”.

References:

  1. Farquhar, H. – Royal Charities. Part II – Touchpieces for the King’s Evil. – British Numismatic Journal. Volume 15. (London, 1919).
  2. Woolf, N. – The Sovereign Remedy: Touch-Pieces and the King’s Evil – British Numismatic Journal. Volume 49. (London, 2011).
  3. Latham, R.C. – The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Volume I – 1660 (Harper Collins, 2010).
  4. De Beer, E.S. – The Diary of John Evelyn. (Everyman Edition. London 2006).
  5. Lysons, Rev. D. – The Environs of London: Being an Historical Account of the Towns, Villages and Hamlets within 12 miles of the Capital. Volume I. County of Surrey. (London. 1792). Page 82, Footnote 40 siting Mercurious Politicus, 21st February 1661.
  6. Lysons, Rev. D. – The Environs of London: Being an Historical Account of the Towns, Villages and Hamlets within 12 miles of the Capital. Volume I. County of Surrey. (London. 1792). Page 82-83, Footnote 41 siting Parliamentary Journal, 2 to 9th July 1661.

1 Comment

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

Gabriell Marden of Durham Yard

A farthing token date 1659 issued by Gabriell Marden - A tradesman from Durham Yard, Westminster

A farthing token date 1659 issued by Gabriell Marden – A tradesman from Durham Yard, Westminster

The copper farthing token, pictured above, measures 16.0 mm and weighs 1.32 grams. It was issued in 1659 by Gabriell Marden, a tradesman operating from premises in Durham Yard in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster.

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

Obverse: GABRELL . MARDEN , around the arms of the Marden or Morden family of Warwickshire(1).

Reverse: (pierced mullet) IN DVRHAM . YARD . 1659 , around a twisted wire circle. Within a triad of initials comprising G | (diamond) M (diamond) | C with a further (diamond) below the “M”.

The triad of initial’s on the reverse of the token are those of the issuer and his wife which in this case are “Mr. G.M.” and “Mrs. C.M.”.

The place where this token was issued, i.e. Durham Yard, no longer exists. It was located on the original north bank of the River Thames, i.e. the present day built-up area south of the Strand prior to the building of the Victoria Embankment. Today the location of Durham Yard lies on a highly developed site situated due west of the Savoy Hotel and north of the eastern part of Embankment Gardens.

A map of part of the Parish of St. Martins-in-the-Fields, Westminster (C.1720) indicating the location of Durham Yard

A map of part of the Parish of St. Martins-in-the-Fields, Westminster (C.1720) indicating the location of Durham Yard

Durham Yard took its name from the inner court of the former Durham House which fronted onto The Strand and stretched down to the river. This medieval palace, built c.1345, was the official residence of the Bishops of Durham when visiting London. After the Reformation and until the early 17th century Durham House passed several times between the Crown and the Bishops of Durham until the latter finally re-took control in the reign of James I. In 1553 Durham House played host to the marriage of Lady Jane Grey and Lord Dudley. Under Elizabeth I the palace was granted to Sir Walter Raleigh and after his tenancy it was used to accommodate various visiting foreign dignitaries and ambassadors before reverting back to the Bishops of Durham. By the early 17th century much of the original palace buildings had become dilapidated. The stable block, which fronted onto The Strand, was the first part of the original palace to be demolished. In its place was built a grand market pace known as Britain’s Burse or the New Exchange. This was opened in 1608(2) .

A depiction od Durham House (c.1630) from the River Thames - By Wenceslaus Hollar

A depiction od Durham House (c.1630) from the River Thames – By Wenceslaus Hollar

In 1640 the remaining parts of Durham House was sold by the Bishop of Durham to the Earl of Pembroke who demolished it shortly c.1650. The gatehouse of the original palace, fronting onto the Strand, remained intact until 1807.  On the vacant plot where Durham House had stood the Earl’s son built rows of handsome houses descending in a street off The Strand to a further row of houses, some of which had fine gardens running down to the River Thames. This southern row of buildings also contained premises associated with two adjoining woodmongers’ wharfs from where domestic fuel (i.e. wood and coal) was landed off the river and sold(3) .

The Gate House of Durham House on the south side of the Strand which survived until 1807 - From a scketch made by Nathaneil Smith in 1790

The Gate House of Durham House on the south side of the Strand which survived until 1807 – From a sketch made by Nathaniel Smith in 1790

It was to one of these new built properties in Durham Yard that Gabriell Marden moved into c.1658 when his presence in the Yard is first recorded in a Westminster Rate Book. A review of the Hearth Tax returns for Durham Yard area for 1664 and 1666 has failed to identify a Marden/Morden/Murden family so it is possible they had moved on by this time.

On 26th April 1669 the famous diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys records(4) how King Charles II assisted in saving much of Durham Yard from burning down;

“…a great fire happened in Durham-Yard last night, burning the house of one Lady Hungerford, who was to come to town to it this night; and so the house is burned, new furnished, by carelessness of the girl sent to take off a candle from a bunch of candles, which she did by burning it off, and left the rest, as is supposed, on fire. The King and Court were here, it seems, and stopped the fire by blowing up of the next house.”

I cannot trace where or when Gabriell Marden was born. However, the coat of arms displayed on the obverse of his tokens suggests that his family’s ancestral origins were in Warwickshire.

A Gabrill Mardin [sic] was born in Bletchingley in Surrey on 11th August 1618 but it is by no means certain that this is the same person as issued token farthings from Durham Yard some forty-one years later.

A record exists of a Gabriell Marden in London in 1646 when on the 2nd April that year a person of that name married a Judith Wilson at the church of St. Nicholas Cole Abbey in the Queenhithe Ward of the city. The entry for their marriage in the Parish register records Gabriell as a “cordwainer”, i.e. a leather shoe maker of the parish of “Inn Lands in the west”. This is probably an accepted colloquialism of the period for the extra-parochial area of Furnival’s Inn. This ancient Inn of Chancery was located between Leather Lane and Gray’s Inn Lane to the west of the city walls. The home parish named for Judith Wilson is similarly given in an abbreviated or colloquial form as “Mary Cole”, i.e. St. Mary Colechurch which was located in the Cheapside Ward of the city.

A Judith Marden, the wife of a Gabriell Marden, is recorded in the burial register of All Hallows church in Tottenham (then a rural village in north Middlesex) on 5th April 1649. Again it is by no means certain that this is the same couple as living in London three years earlier or the same Gabriell Marden as issued tokens from Durham Yard in 1659.

It is almost certain that by 1650 Gabriell Marden the cordwainer (earlier referred to) was leasing a shop against the south side of the church of St. Mary Colechurch, fronting onto Poultry(5) in the Cheapside Ward of London. He continued to hold this lease until 1660 when he sold it. The same Gabriel Marden appears to have rented a further property in the area from 1651 to 1657. This second property was just a short distance from the shop he rented in the Ward and was located close by on the eastern side of Ironmongers Lane, just south of the church of St. Martin Pomary(5) . It is possible that the latter property was where he lived while the former was his place of work. The map below indicates the approximate locations(5) of the above referenced properties. It dates from 1676 and shows the extent of the re-building of the district after the Great Fire of 1666 which consumed most of London within the bounds of the old city walls. As such it does not show the area exactly as it had been in the 1650s although the rebuilding did respect the old street layout and many of the original building foundation lines. Noticeable absences from the new street plans after the re-building of this part of the city were the churches of St. Martin Pomary and St. Mary Colechurch.

Up until this point there has been no evidential link between Gabriell Marden, member of the Company of London cordwainers(6) in 1651 and resident of Cheapside through most of the 1650s, and Gabriell Marden the token issuer of 1659 from Durham Yard in St. Martin-in-the-Fields. However, as part of the writer’s current research, it is believed that the two men can now be shown fairly conclusively as being one and the same person.

After renting a shop on Poultry in the Cheapside Ward of London in 1650, possibly after the death of his wife Judith in the previous year, Gabriell Marden re-married on 23rd January 1650/1 in the church of St. Mary Woolnoth on the west end of Lombard Street in the adjoining Walbrook Ward of the city. The parish register entry for the marriage records that the couple was from the parish of St. Mildred Poultry and that the bride, Thomasin Matty, was a widow. It is possible that after their marriage the couple moved into Gabriell’s rented premises on the south-east side of Ironmonger’s Lane. While living in Cheapside Gabriell and Thomasin had at least two children. Both of whom were baptised locally at the church of St. Olave, Old Jewry. Their son, Gabriell, was born on 30th September 1651 and their daughter, Jane, followed on 4th August 1653. 

A map of the Poultry area of the Cheapside Ward of London showing the house and shop rented by Gabriel Marden between 1651-57 plus churches where he and his family are recorded within the parish registers. Pink - St. Mary Colechurch; Dark Blue - St Olave Jewry; Licht Blue - Rented Shop; Yellow - Rented House; Green - St. Mildreds Poultry; Red - St. Martin Pomarry.

A map of the Poultry area of the Cheapside Ward of London showing the house and shop rented by Gabriel Marden between 1651-57 plus churches where he and his family are recorded within the parish registers. Pink – St. Mary Colechurch; Dark Blue – St Olave Old Jewry; Licht Blue – Rented Shop; Yellow – Rented House; Green – St. Mildreds Poultry; Red – St. Martin Pomary.

It is known that Gabriell Marden relinquished his lease on the property in Ironmongers Lane in 1657. I now believe that this was due him and his surviving children moving out of Cheapside after the death of his second wife. Although I can find no record of Thomasin’s burial alternative documentary evidence confirms(7) that by the beginning of 1658 Gabriell had re-married a third time and was living in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster.

A record exists for the marriage of a Gabriell Marden from the parish register of St. Nicholas Cole Abbey on 2nd February 1657/8. The marriage entry states Gabriell’s home parish as being St. Martin-in-the-Fields while that of his bride, Constance Griffeth, as St. Stephen Coleman Street. The latter parish was close to where Gabriell’s shop had been in Cheapside. There can be hardly any doubt that this individual is the same person who is recorded as living in Durham Yard in the Westminster Rate Book entries for 1658 and who issued a farthing token from the same location in 1659. The triad of issuer’s initials on the reverse of Gabriell’s token confirms that at the time of its issue the christian name of his wife began with a “C”.  This fits with that of Constance Griffeth.

A copy of the last Will and Testament of Gabriell Marden of St. Martin-in-the-Fields survives in the National Archives(8) . It was made on 17th November 1662 and confirms that at that time he was still married to Constance. More importantly from a historical context, the Will also confirms that he was previously married to Thomasin Matty and had two surviving sons of his own, Thomas, for whom I can find no baptism record, and Gabriell, who we know was born in 1651. The Will makes no mention of Jane Marden (born 1653) so it is assumed that she didn’t survive childhood.

One of the most revealing facts highlighted in Gabriell’s Will is his final occupation. In 1662 (and possibly from the time of first moving into Durham Yard in c.1658) he recorded his occupation as a woodmonger and not a cordwainer. It is noted that Strype’s description of Durham Yard in 1720(1) confirms the presence of two woodmonger’s wharfs backing onto the yard. Exactly how Gabriell managed to make the rapid transformation from leather shoe maker to a trader in domestic fuels from the banks of the River Thames is by no means clear. It is possible that Gabriell may have inherited the property and wharf in Durham Yard after the death of one of his or his new wife’s relatives who was already an established woodmonger. This theory is further under pinned by the fact that in the description of Gabriell’s estate within his Will there is reference to 60 acres of managed woodland in the county of Essex. Presumably this woodland was the source of some of the fuel which was sold from Gabriell’s wharf at Durham Yard.  After felling, and possibly a period of drying, the timber, as logs, would most likely have been shipped directly up the River Thames to Gabriell’s wharf on barges. As a London woodmonger of this period it is almost certain that Gabriell would have sold both wood and sea-coal. The latter would also have arrived at his wharf via barge. Such small boats were used to transfer coal from collier vessels 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.

In his Will Gabriel names his two sons as executors. His goods and estate, which appears to have included some tenancies and freehold property in Essex, were to be equally divided between his wife and two sons only after a provision of £132 each had first been deducted and paid to his five step children (Elizabeth, Mary, Sarah, Henry and Edward). These were Thomasin’s children by her first husband, named in the Will as Edward Matty. It appears that when Gabriell married Thomasin Matty in 1650/1 he also inherited her former husband’s estate. In his Will Gabriell ensured that the residue of this inheritance was to be bequested to Edward’s children. 

Exactly when Gabriell Marden died is unclear as no burial record has yet been identified for him. A probate note added in Latin into the bottom margin of his Will confirms that it wasn’t administered until 1665. Given the current evidence it is only possible to confirm that Gabriell died sometime after mid November 1662 but before the end of 1665. It is the writer’s opinion that a date closer to the start of this period is most likely.

 

References:

  1.  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).
  2. Brushfield, T.N. – Raleghana. Part V. The History of Durham House. Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art. Volume XXXV. 1903.
  3. Strype, J. – A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster: Containing the Original, Antiquity, Increase, Modern Estate and Government of those Cities. – Corrected, Improved, and very much Enlarged Edition. (London, 1720).
  4. Latham, R.C. – The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Volume IX – 1668-9 (Harper Collins, 2010).
  5. Keene, D.J. and Harding, V. – Historical gazetteer of London before the Great Fire: Cheapside; parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary, St Mary le Bow, St Mary Colechurch and St Pancras Soper Lane. 1987.
  6. Whitebrook, J.C. and Whitebrook, W. – London Citizens in 1651, Being a Transcription of Harleian MS. 4778.
  7. Westminster Rate Book 1634-1900 Transcriptions. Highway Rate 1663 Poor Rate Ledger 1658-1663 Overseers’ Accounts 1658-1659. Entry for Gabriell Marden of Durham Yard, 1658. Assessed via http://www.findmypast.co.uk. 
  8. PROB/11/309. National Archives (London).
  9. All parish register entries referenced have been accessed via http://www.ancestry.co.uk.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

Edward Munns at the sign of the Sugarloaf on London Bridge

A half penny token issued by Edward Munns - A tradesman working on London Bridge

A half penny token issued by Edward Munns – A tradesman working on London Bridge

The copper half penny token, pictured above, measures 21.2 mm and weighs 2.59 grams. It was issued in 1668 by Edward Munns, a tradesman operating from premises at or by the sign of the Sugar Loaf on London Bridge.

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

Obverse: (sexfoil) EDWARD. MVNS. AT. THE. SVGAR , around a twisted wire circle. Within the depiction of a sugarloaf

Reverse: (sexfoil) ON. LONDON. BRIDG. 1668, around a twisted wire circle, within three lines the legend HIS / HALFE / PENNY

Edward Munns was one of only six tradesmen who lived and worked in one of the buildings which were perched along the sides of old London Bridge who are known to have issued private trade tokens (1).

A map of London & The South Bank showing Old London Bridge (c.1720).

A map of London & The South Bank showing Old London Bridge (c.1720).

Old medieval London Bridge comprised a broad road carried by twenty asymmetrical narrow stone arches resting on large piled masonry piers. It was the city’s only bridge over the River Thames which, prior to the building of the Victoria Embankment on its northern side, was considerably wider than it is today. On the south side of the bridge, at Southwark, its entrance was marked by a fortified gate house. For centuries the boiled and tarred (for preservation) heads and severed limbs of executed traitors were held aloft on pikes from the top of this gate house and publically displayed to all entering the city from the south.

Traitors heads on public display on the fortified gate way at the southern end of London Bridge

Traitors heads on public display on the fortified gate way at the southern end of London Bridge

It is believed that the practice of exhibiting traitor’s heads from the gate house at the south of the bridge continued into the first quarter of the 18th century. After the re-building of the city, post the Great Fire of 1666, the new Temple Barr gate way became a more regular location for their display.

An engraving by Claes Visscher showing Old London Bridge in 1616 from Southwark

An engraving by Claes Visscher showing Old London Bridge in 1616 from Southwark

The approach to the bridge on its northern side was via Lower Fish Street, just west of the church of St. Magnus the Martyr, in the Bridge Ward of the City.

By the start of the 17th century both the east and west sides of the bridge were covered in a near continuous row of three to five storey wooden tenements which contained both private dwellings and shops which fronted onto the road. From the 1580s the bridge also housed a tidal water wheel powered pump under arches at its northern end. This pump provided the city with one of its earlier supplies of water directly from the River Thames.

A reconstruction of London Bridge as it may have appeared in the 17th century

A reconstruction of London Bridge as it may have appeared in the 17th century

In 1579 a new grand and highly elaborate five storey building, Nonsuch House, was erected towards the southern end of the bridge. As part of this re-development one of arches of the bridge was taken out and replaced by a drawbridge. Whilst this added some additional protection to the City it allowed larger vessels access to the upper part of the River Thames for the first time in hundreds of years.  Nonsuch House was Britain’s first recorded fully prefabricated building. It was built and trial erected in Holland before being shipped in pieces to London in 1578 where it was re-assembled on a space cleared for it on the southern part of the bridge.

An artists impression of Nonsuch House in the early 17th century showing the draw bridge imeadiately in front of its entrance.

An artists impression of Nonsuch House in the early 17th century showing the draw bridge immediately in front of its entrance.

In 1633 a fire broke out on the north end of the bridge which destroyed forty three houses and shops (2). Although there was some degree of re-building at this end of the bridge in the immediate years that followed a gap remained in the continual line of tenements. Luckily it was this natural fire brake which protected the buildings perched on the mid and southern parts of the bridge from being incinerated during the Great Fire of London. The Great Fire consumed most of the city of London over a period of four days in September 1666. It started in a bakery in Pudding Lane close to the bridge’s northern end.

 It was from within the hustle and bustle of the unique surroundings on old London Bridge that Edward Munns issued his half-penny trade tokens. These tokens display the trade sign (i.e. the sugarloaf) and location (i.e. on London Bridge) at or close to which Edward’s premises stood. This was a time before the formal address numbering of buildings. Ornate and memorable trade signs, in association with specific street names, were the standard means of expressing a location’s address. Trade signs would typically be suspended above a trader’s business premises or built into their fabric.  In isolation the sign of a sugarloaf is highly suggestive of its owner being a grocer(3). As one of the staple products sold by grocers in the 17th century, sugar, in the form of a distinctive wholesale loaf, would have been instantly associated with their trade by the public.  

Reconstruction of a 17th century maid braking sugar from a sugar loaf

Reconstruction of a 17th century maid braking sugar from a sugarloaf

Whilst normally indicative of a grocer the sign was also adopted by a few other tradesmen in addition to some taverns of the period. However, a review of contemporary records has indicated that Edward Munns was neither a grocer nor a tavern keeper. A clue to his occupation was initially provided in a list of the individuals and their trades who lost their properties in the London Bridge Fire of 1633. This list indicates that at the north end of the bridge, at least, there was a predominance of tradesmen involved in aspects of the cloth and clothing trade (2).

 Edward Munns was the youngest of three sons born to Thomas Munns and Susan Foster. Thomas was a citizen of London and draper from the parish of St. Mary Abchurch whilst Susan Foster was originally from the parish of St. Saviour’s, Southwark(4). The couple married in 1605 and although Thomas died in 1615 all three of his sons (Thomas b.1606, John b.1608 and Edward, b. circa 1615) went on to become drapers like their father(4). Each of the boys would have served a seven-year apprenticeship with a master draper. On completing their apprenticeships they received their freedom from their respective masters (Thomas in 1628, John in 1632 and Edward in 1637)(4) . Thereafter each of the young men would have been eligible to join the Worshipful Company of Drapers. Shortly after receiving his freedom Edward Munns started his own business from premises on London Bridge. This is confirmed from an entry in the London Poll Tax returns for 1641(2) ;

Munns, Edward – girdler on the bridge

On the 3rd March 1645 an Edward Munns married Ann Grimes at the church of Holy Trinity, Minories just outside the eastern boundaries of the city, close to the Tower of London. According to a leading genealogical index of London families(4) Edward Munns (the draper of London Bridge) had one recorded child, Ann, who married a John Heather in 1663. If Ann Munns was born circa 1645/6 this would have made her 17/18 at the time of her wedding. Given that it was common practice in the 17th century for parents to pass the mother’s first names on to their first born daughter this adds further support to Edward Munns the draper being the man who married Ann Grimes of the Minories in 1645.

 I can find no further references to Edward Munns’ wife in any surviving records. Edward’s trade tokens of 1668 carry only his name. Often, but not always, if a trader was married he would incorporate both his and his wife’s initials into the reverse of his token design. While this was very common on the farthing tokens issued by London traders during the period 1649 to the early 1660s it was not so conventional on the half penny tokens which became increasingly predominant from the early 1660s to 1672. Edward’s final Will makes no reference to a wife and implies he only had one (or at least one surviving) child, Ann. Combining all these facts together it is tempting to speculate that Edward Munns’ wife died shortly after the birth of the couples only child. She may not even have survived the birth of this child. Death of mothers in or as a result of child birth was not at all uncommon in the 17th century.

 A search of the Hearth Tax returns for 1666 has failed to identify Edwards Munns on London Bridge. However, we know he was still trading there in 1668 as that is the date on his tokens which confirms him on the bridge at or by the sign of the sugarloaf.

Two clues exist as to the precise location of the sign of the sugarloaf on the bridge. In mid-November 1667 an entrepreneur by the name of James Peters placed an advert in the London Chronicle informing those who were looking to buy or sell vacant plots of land in the city, post the Great Fire of 1666, to register with him(5) . James Peters was effectively offering his services as a land sale agent by compiling a registry of vacant and available land in the city. The advert clear states how those interested in taking advantage of his services were to find him;

 “…the dwelling house of Mr. James Peters Scrivener, at the Sign of the Sugar-loaf near the Draw-bridge on London-Bridge…”

 Returning to the Hearth Tax returns of 1666 an entry can be found for the above mentioned individual;

 James Peters – Paying tax on a property with 6 hearths located on the Bridge on the East Side

 Thus it can be deduced that Edward Munns’ shop was located by the sign of the sugarloaf which was on the south-east part of the bridge close to the draw bridge which was located on the south side of Nonsuch House.

London Bridge in the early 17th century (looking from the West) showing the general location of the sign of the sugar loaf and Edward Munns shop south of Nonsuch House

London Bridge in the early 17th century (looking from the West) showing the general location of the sign of the sugarloaf and Edward Munns shop south of Nonsuch House

 Edward Munns had a long and seemingly successful career as a London draper. In 1667 he became a member of the Worshipful Company of Drapers. From 1678 he went on to be elected to various senior offices within the Company(6) . These included;

  •  Assistant – In 1682/3 and 1683/4
  • Warden – In 1678/9, 1685/6 and 1687/8

 Over his career Edward Munns took on no fewer than seven different apprentices(6). These included(4) ;

  •  Samuel Pain – Received his freedom from Edward Munns on 23rd February 1649
  • James Goldham – Received his freedom from Edward Munns on 6th May 1657
  • Edward Kidder – Apprenticed to Edward Munns on 20th March 1666.
  • Francis Cade – Received his freedom from Edward Munns on 20th November 1667
  • John Clarke – Apprenticed to Edward Munns on 10th March 1680

 Edward Kidder was the son of Thomas Kidder, a merchant tailor, who also had premises on London Bridge prior to his death in 1656(4). No doubt Edward Munns had known the Kidder family well before he took Edward on as his apprentice. John Clare, the son of a London butcher, was almost certainly Edward Munns’ last apprentice as Edward died in 1689/90(4)(6). By this date he was in his mid-70s and so had lived to a very respectable age for the period.

 Edwards Munns’ Last Will and Testament was written on 23rd October 1688(7) and confirms that he had amassed a considerable amount of money as well as a certain amount of property during his life time. Edward made his son-in-law, John Heather, executor of his Will in which he left the bulk of his goods and estate to his daughter Ann with provision that it went primarily to her and then to her son John and not her husband. Presumably John was the eldest of the Ann and John Heather’s five children, the others being Susan, William, Elizabeth and Alice. Separate provisions were made in Edward’s Will for all five of his grandchildren. Such provisions comprised various monetary amounts. These were payable in the forms of individual differing annuities plus final sums which were to be paid to each grandchild on them reaching certain stipulated ages or, in the case of the girls, their marriages, which ever occurred first. Particularly generous provisions were made for John and Susan in Edward’s Will compared to those made for his other three grandchildren.

 Edward’s Will makes no reference to him owning any leases or property on London Bridge. This coupled with the absence of his name against any of the returns from the Hearth Tax of 1666 suggests that his premises on the bridge were either rented or held by a lease which had expired by the time he made his final Will in October 1688.  However, his Will clearly indicates that he did own land and property in Barrons Court and Barrons Alley in the Aldgate Without district of London. As yet I have been unable to locate the precise location of this address on contemporary maps or gazetteers within the fairly well-defined bounds of Aldgate Without. Interestingly the general location of this property was close to the parish church where it is believed Edward Munns married Ann Grimes in 1645 (i.e. Holy Trinity, Minories). As such it is possible that the bequeathed property in Edward’s Will was related to an inheritance secured from his late wife’s family.

   

References:

  1. Dickinson, M.J. – Seventeenth Century Tokens of the British Isles and their Values. (London, 2004).
  2. Upcott, W. – Great Fire on London Bridge, in 1633. The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 94, Part 2. November 1824.
  3. Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).
  4. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  5. The London Gazette, Number 209, November 14th to 18th, 1667.
  6. Johnson, Rev. A.H. – The History of the Worshipful Company of the Drapers of London. Vol. IV. (Oxford, 1922).
  7. PROB/11/396. National Archives (London).

2 Comments

Filed under Tokens from within the City Walls