Tag Archives: Great Fire of London

Thomas Bonny at the sign of the Clothworkers’ Arms in Bedlam

A half penny tradesman's token issued by Thomas Bonny of Bedlam

A half penny tradesman’s token issued by Thomas Bonny of Bedlam

The above brass half penny token measures 20.8 mm and weighs 2.28 grams. It was issued in the name of Thomas Bonny a tradesman who operated his business in the district of Bedlam in Bishopsgate Without district of the City of London.

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

Obverse: (sexfoil) THOMAS (rosette) BONNY (rosette) AT (rosette) THE , around a twisted wire inner circle within which is a depiction of Clothworkers’ Arms.

Reverse: (sexfoil) IN (rosette) BEDLAM (rosette) 1667 (rosette) , around a twisted wire inner circle within the legend in three lines reads HIS / HALFE / PENNY . Below a triad of initials reads, .T|B.| M.

The reverse of the token bears a triad of issuers’ initials, i.e. those of Thomas Bonny and his wife. Given that Thomas’s wife’s first name began with the letter “M” and given the time period in which the token was issued there is a high probability that her name was either Mary or Margaret as both names were very popular in 17th century England. The issue date of the token, i.e. 1667, is clearly stated on its reverse.

The location of the Bedlam or Bethlem district of Bishopsgate Without, London (c.1720)

The location of the Bedlam or Bethlem district of Bishopsgate Without, London (c.1720)

The token issuer’s place of abode, i.e. Bedlam, was the colloquial name given to Bethlem, a 13th century priory church founded by the Italian bishop-elect of Bethlehem to raise alms and funds to support the crusades to the Holy Land. It was located just north of St. Botolph’s Parish Church off Bishopsgate Street outside the city walls. By 1330 Bedlam was more often referred to as a hospital which in medieval terms may have simply denoted a hostel for travelling alms-seekers. By the 1370s the hospital had been seized by the crown and was becoming a far more secularized institution. It was from this period that it became first associated with the care of the mentally ill. So was to begin a centuries long tradition for which the institute, and its later nearby successor, was to became famous throughout Europe.

Detail from a map of Elizabethan London (1572) taken from "Civitates orbis terrarum" showing the location of Bethlem Hospital in the Bishopsgate Without Ward of the city

Detail from a map of Elizabethan London (1572) taken from “Civitates orbis terrarum” showing the location of Bethlem Hospital in the Bishopsgate Without Ward of the city

Although Bethlem had been enlarged by 1667 to accommodate fifty nine patients, the Court of Governors of the hospital observed at the start of 1674 that;

“The Hospital House of Bethlem is very old, weak & ruinous and to small and streight for keeping the greater number of lunatics therein at present.”

Given the increasing demand for admission and the inadequate and dilapidated state of the building it was decided to rebuild the hospital on a site at nearby Moorfields. This was just north of the city walls and one of the largest open spaces in London. The architect chosen for the new hospital, which was built rapidly and at great expense between 1675 and 1676, was the famous natural philosopher and City Surveyor Robert Hooke.

Engraving by Robert White of the new Bethlem Hospital designed by Robert Hooke and built at Moorfields, outside of the City of London in 1676

Engraving by Robert White of the new Bethlem Hospital designed by Robert Hooke and built at Moorfields, outside of the City of London in 1676

By the late 1670s the original site and any remaining buildings which had once comprised part of the original Bethlem Hospital had been absorbed by the wide spread urban development to the west of Bishopsgate Street Without. Today nothing remains of the medieval hospital. Its former site is now occupied by the Great Eastern Hotel next to Liverpool Street Railway Station.

The device illustrated in the obverse field of the token is the coats of arms of the Worshipful Company of London Clothworkers (Note 1). It is likely that in this case the device represents the trade sign that hung over, or adjacent to, the token issuer’s business premises in Bedlam and/or is a direct indication of his profession.

In Search of the History of Thomas Bonny & His Family

The following brief history of our token issuer and his immediate family has been pieced together from a wide variety of sources including parish registers (Note 2) and records, livery company records, school admission registers, tax records, contemporary newspaper entries and finally probate records.

Due to the relatively large number of 17th century Londoners having the name “Thomas Bonny” (or phonetically similar surnames, e.g. Bonney, Bonnie, Bonne, Bunny, Bunnee, Bonnes and Boune etc.) reconstructing the history of this token issuer has been challenging given the increased potential for ascribing the life events and records relating to one individual with those of contemporaries having the same or a similar name. With increased potential for such confusion being apparent added caution and conservatism has been applied in reconstructing the following brief family history. Despite such efforts the following must be considered as only a possible and not definitive history.

Thomas Bonny was born c.1616. Nothing is known of his early life or where he was born. By the time he was 31 (in 1647) we know that he was married and he and his wife had just had their second son, Thomas(1). From later evidence(2) we know that Thomas Bonny had at least two other children, Eleanor and a younger daughter by the name of Judith. It is also possible that Thomas’s first son was named Francis (Note 3).

A reference to Thomas in 1659 indicates that by that date he was a goldsmith (Note 4) and citizen of London. As a goldsmith in the mid-17th century it is also possible that Thomas’s business activities could have includes aspects of the banking trade.

In 1659 Thomas enrolled his second son Thomas, then aged 12, as a student in the Merchant Taylors’ School. Founded in 1551, by the Merchant Taylors’ Company, this early school was located in the Manor of the Rose, in Suffolk Lane in the Candlewick Ward of the city of London.

By 1657 Thomas Bonny, the goldsmith and later token issuer, was living in Cheapside in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch(3) . He was 41 years old. It has to be assumed that by this date his wife had died as in this same year he re-married. His new bride, Mary Metcalf, was the widower of John Metcalf who had lived in a property on the northern side of the church of St. Mary Colechurch on the south-west side of Old Jewry. Prior to his death, in 1656, John Metcalf had been a prominent member of the parish and keeper of the Royal Exchange(4) .

A section of the Agas Map of London (c.1561) showing part of Cheapside Ward and including location details of the home of Thomas Bonny in Old Jewery (in yellow); the parish church of St. Mary Colechurch (in red); the Mercers' Hall (in blue) and the Great Conduit (in green) being one of the city's principle supply points of "clean" water.

A section of the Agas Map of London (c.1561) showing part of Cheapside Ward and including location details of the home of Thomas Bonny in Old Jewry (in yellow); the parish church of St. Mary Colechurch (in red); the Mercers’ Hall (in blue) and the Great Conduit (in green) being one of the city’s principle supply points of “clean” water.

From 1657 until the time of the Great Fire of 1666 there is an abundance of documentary evidence for Thomas Bonny in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch(5). Much of this comes from parish records such as the churchwardens accounts and vestry minute books. A sample of this evidence is presented below.

Firstly, from annual rate assessments of the inhabitants of the parish(6);

1) For the Lord Mayor’s relief payments which were levied to support the poor house holders of the city, and which were collected door to door or at the church door on stimulated dates, we find the following entry for the years 1657, 1659, 1660, 1661 and 1666;

Mr. Thom. Bonny (also spelt Bonney) – 1 penny per week or annually 4 shillings and 4 pence

A separate payment of 1 penny a week for the above is also recorded in the name of Mrs. Bonny in 1657. 

2) For the annual assessment for the payment of the parish’s poor rates of 1663 and 1664;

 Mr. Bonny – 3 shillings and 6 pence

3) For the annual assessment of payments to pay for the wages of the parish “raker” (i.e. street cleaner) for 1666;

Mr. Bonny – 3 shillings and 6 pence

Secondly, from the three years of existing records for the congregation’s seating arrangements in the 13 sets of pews of the parish church of St. Mary Colechurch between 1657 and 1661 (i.e. 1657, 1678 and 1661) we have the following listings for the Bonny family (variously spelt in the entries as either Bonny, Bonney or Boney)(7) ;

 Mr. Bonny – Pew 12 in 1657 and 1658 and Pew 10 in 1661.

Mrs. Bonny – Pew 8 in 1657 and 1658 and Pew 9 in 1661.

Between 1662 and 1666 Thomas Bonny is known to have had associations with two adjacent properties on the west side of Old Jewry immediately north of the parish church of St. Mary Colechurch. The most southerly of these was surveyed in 1648 as comprising a cellar, 13 ft. 4 in. by 11 ft.; a shop and staircase, 16 ft. by 12 ft.; a yard 11 ft. by 4 ft. 8 in.; the hall and kitchen over the shop, 18 ft. by 12 ft.; a staircase and house of office, 5 ft. by 5 ft.; the room over the hall and kitchen, 20 ft. by 12 ft.; and 2 garrets over that room, 20 ft. by 12 ft. This house contained 3 storeys and garrets above ground and the first and second storeys would each appear to have jettied 2 ft. over the street beyond the storey below. At some time in the 1650s this property was divided into two and according to the Hearth Tax return of 1662 we know that Thomas Bonny was occupying one part of it which had 3 hearths and shared a common oven with the other part of the property(8). By the time of the Hearth Tax assessment of 1666 Thomas no longer appears to be in this property and instead can be found in the adjoining house to the north. This house had been in the possession of John Metcalf from at least 1638 until his death in 1656 and obviously passed into Thomas Bunny’s hands when he married John’s widow Mary in 1657. According to a contemporary survey this property comprised a cellar, 14 ft. by 11 ½ft.; a shop and entry, 17 ft. by 12 ft.; a yard, 11 ft. by 5 ft.; a chamber, 18 ½ ft. by 11 ½ft.; a kitchen and staircase, 11 ½ ft. by 10 ft.; a chamber, 12 ft. by 10 ft.; and a garret, 20 ft. by 11 ft.(9).

Thomas Bonny took on a 21-year lease on the latter of the 2 properties from its owners, the Worshipful Company of Mercers. Like the neighbouring tenement to the south this property was divided into 2 parts just prior to 1662 when it was probably represented by 2 houses, each with 3 hearths. In 1662 these were occupied by a Mr. Joseph Moore and Mrs. Frances Howell, a widow. By the time of Hearth Tax of 1666 the 2 houses, each of which still contained 3 hearths, were occupied by Thomas Bonny himself and a Mr. James Townsend(10,11).

In 1666 Thomas Bonny became a churchwarden for the parish of St. Mary Colechurch(12). He and his wife had survived the ravages of the plague of 1665, which had killed approximately 100,000 of the city’s population. However, they weren’t to escape the effects of the Great Fire of early September 1666 which consumed four fifths of the city including all of Cheapside Ward. Thomas Bonny is officially listed as one of those who lost his property in the parish, most likely during the course of the first full day of the fire (i.e. Monday 3rd of September).

A plan of mid-17th Century London showing the extent of destruction of the city by the Great Fire of September 1666 plus the location of Thomas Bonny's home in Cheapside Ward (yellow dot) and the main street running through the district of Bedlam in the Bishopsgate Without Ward (green line)

A plan of mid-17th Century London showing the extent of destruction of the city by the Great Fire of September 1666 plus the location of Thomas Bonny’s home in Cheapside Ward (yellow dot) and the main street running through the district of Bedlam in the Bishopsgate Without Ward (green line)

It is unclear what happened to the Bonny family immediately after the Great Fire but by 1667 we know from the numismatic and  hand writing evidence (Note 5) that Thomas and Mary were living and working in Bedlam in the Bishopsgate Without district of the city. This area of London was not directly affected by the inferno of 1666 and like other districts spared by the fire saw an immediate escalation in its property and rent prices as those who could afford to invested in new properties in the city did so.

It is possible that Thomas Bonny planned to rebuild his home in Old Jewry, Cheapside as a “Mr. Bonner” paid the sum of 6 shillings and 8 pence on 21st May 1668 to the city authorities for the staking out of his old home’s foundations(13) . Quite how far his plans got to either rebuild on or sell his cleared building plot are unclear.

It is not known in which part of Bedlam the Bonny family lived and worked but we know from the numismatic evidence that Thomas’s business address was “at” or “by” the trade sign of the Clothworkers’ Arms. The depiction of such an image on his token might be interpreted as a direct advertisement of his occupation. While it is not impossible that Thomas Bonny could have switched trades (i.e. from a goldsmith to a clothworker) after being forced out of Cheapside by the Great Fire it appears highly unlikely that he did. A search of the transcribed on-line master and apprentice records relating to the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers(14) has failed to find any one associated with this Livery Company during this period with the name Bonny (or a phonetically similar sounding surname). Furthermore, documentary evidence exists confirming that Thomas Bonny was still describing himself as a “citizen and goldsmith of London” in mid-1668(15). It appears most likely that the coat of arms depicted on his token simply represented the historic trade sign hung above the property in or adjacent to which he lived and worked. This was a time before the official numbering of properties in London’s streets, lanes and allies.

It wasn’t uncommon (Note 6) for tradesmen to apply a previous occupant’s or neighbour’s trade sign to their address, especially where such a sign was an established local land mark that was well known to the local populace.

By late June 1668 it appears that Thomas Bonny’s health was starting to fail as on the 24th of that month he made his Last Will and Testament in which he describes himself as being “sick in body but of perfect memory”(15). Despite his obvious concerns Thomas’ health didn’t finally fail him until early November 1671 as confirmed by the following burial register entry in his local parish church, St. Botolph, Bishopsgate Without.

7th November 1671 – Burial of Thomas Bonnes (aged 55)

Thomas’s Will was subsequently proven on 16th November 1671(16). He named Mary, his wife, as executrix and requested the following provisions to be made after the settlement of any debts or expenses outstanding on his estate;

a) To his eldest daughter Eleanor Churcher, 1 shilling to be paid 3 months after his death.

b) To Judith Bonny, his second daughter, 20 shillings to be paid 3 months after his death.

c) To Thomas Bonny, his son, 20 shillings to be paid 3 months after his death.

d) To George Bonny, his brother, his coloured suit and coat plus 10 shillings to be paid and delivered to him a month after his death

e) To his loving wife, Mary Bonny, the remains of his estate together with all ready money, goods and chattels

Thomas’s Will makes no reference to his eldest son. Whether Thomas outlived him or there had been a rift between the two is unknown.

Coincidentally on the same day as Thomas Bonny’s Will was proven the following entry was made in the register of the Bonny family’s parish church, St. Botolph, Bishopsgate Without;

16thJanuary 1671 – Marriage of Thomas Boone and Sarah Finch

This is possibly the marriage of Thomas Bonny (the token issuer’s) second son who was born in 1647 and would have been 24 at the time of his father’s death.

No further clear references to the Bonny family appear after the above date other than for some possible references to one of his sons and grandsons in the late 1680s and early 1690s (Note 3).

 

Footnotes:

1)  The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1528, formed by the amalgamation of its two predecessor Companies, the Fullers (incorporated 1480) and the Shearmen (incorporated 1508). It succeeded to the position of the Shearmens’ Company and thus ranks twelfth in the order of precedence of Livery Companies of the City of London.

The original craft of the Clothworkers was the finishing of woven woollen cloth: fulling it to mat the fibres and remove the grease, drying it on tenter frames, raising the nap with teasels and shearing it to a uniform finish. The Ordinances of the Clothworkers’ Company, first issued in 1532 and signed by Sir Thomas More, sought to regulate clothworking, to maintain standards and to protect approved practices.

From the later Middle Ages, cloth production gradually moved away from London, a situation exacerbated by the Great Fire of London and the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Famous members of the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers included King James I and the famous diarist and naval administrator, Samuel Pepys.

2) A search of transcribed London parish baptism, marriage and burial records(17,18,19,20) has identified various individuals in the London area in the mid-17th century by the name of Thomas Bonny (or with a phonetically similar surname). These are listed below as well as possible entries for the token issuer’s wife, i.e. Mary or Margaret Bonney etc. together with their possible children;

6th September 1636 – Baptism of Rachell the daughter of Thomas and Mary Bone. St. Botolph’s Church, Bishopsgate Without.

20th April 1641 – Burial of Thomas Bonny. St. Dunstan in the East. London

12th November 1642 – Marriage of Thomas Bonnce and Jean Fletcher. Holy Trinity Church, Minories.

16th April 1653 – Marriage of Thomas Bonner and Mary Fowler. St. Augustine’s Church, Watling Street.

13th April 1657 – Baptism of Thomas Bonus to Thomas and Joane Bonus. St. Botolph’s Church, Bishopsgate Without.

14th June 1668 – Marriage of Thomas Boane to Marry Bibble. St. James’ Church, Clerkenwell.

8th January 1670 – Burial of Mary Bones (aged 35). St. Botolph’s Church, Bishopsgate Without.

16th January 1671 – Marriage of Thomas Boone and Sarah Finch. St. Botolph’s Church, Bishopsgate Without.

7th November 1671 – Burial of Thomas Bonnes (aged 55). St. Botolph’s Church, Bishopsgate Without.

25th July 1673 – Burial of Thomas Boone, the son of Nicholas Boone. St. Andrews’ Church. Holborn.

28th August 1673 – Burial of Mary Bone. St. Sepulchre’s Church. Holborn.

Unfortunately, when analysed on their own there is no way of knowing which, if any, of the above entries are references to the same Thomas Bonny (or his wife) who issued a half penny trade token in 1667 from his premises in Bedlam. However, the burial record for Thomas “Bonnes” in the parish church of St. Botolph’s, Bishopgate is arguably of particular relevance in relation to our token issuer. Living in the district of Bedlam it is highly likely that Thomas Bonny’s local parish church was St. Botolph’s and as such that would be the obvious location for his burial, assuming he didn’t move out of the parish after 1667. This entry has been used as the principal starting point in the research presented in the above brief family history

3) It is possible that Thomas Bonny’s first son was named Francis Bonny. An individual by this name, who was also a London goldsmith, was living in the parish of St. Andrew’s, Holborn in the early 1680s. From Francis’ Last Will and Testament(21), which was made on 10th March 1683, we know his then wife was named Hester Bonny and that he had a nephew (i.e. possibly the son of one of Thomas Bonny the token issuer’s other three children) named Thomas Bonny who then lived in Covent Garden.

At some point c.1688, and possibly in relation to the internal political and religious turmoil created in the Kingdom by the Glorious Revolution, Francis Bonny and a Mr. John Whiting put up £1000 each in sureties for the bail of a Mr. Jasper Grant. Mr. Grant was indicted for “spiriting away a person beyond sea” and after being subsequently convicted of this crime “fled in rebellion to Ireland”. Francis Bonny subsequently gave John Whiting a bond to indemnify him and afterwards committed suicide(22). The following notice was published in the London Gazette on 27th February 1689(23);

“Whereas Francis Bonny late of London, goldsmith, died £1,100 indent to the Crown. These are to give notice thereof to Debtors of the said Bonny, that they may not make any payment to their own prejudice.”

In a further issue of the London Gazette that month(24) Hester Bonny, inserts a notice that Thomas Bonny (i.e. Francis’ nephew) has some time since;

“fraudulently and deceitfully got into his hands, several trunks, wherein was writings of great value and, Jewels, Plate, Linen, etc., of Francis Bonny decd and other persons. And all, persons are cautioned against buying the said goods.”

After Francis’s death a legal battle subsequently started between the Treasury (representing the Crown) and Francis’s widow Hester. The Treasury’s solicitor argued that in committing suicide Francis’s entire estate were to be forfeited to the Crown (as per the legal custom at that time). Hester’s counter argument to the Crown was that at the time of his suicide Francis was “non compos mentis” (i.e. insane).  In early 1691 Hester Bonny eventually won her legal battle and the bulk of her husband’s estate passed to her(25) as per the provisions of Francis’ Will of 1683.

4) While Thomas Bonny is clearly listed as a goldsmith and citizen of London in documents dated 1659(26) and 1668(27) a search of the transcribed master and apprentice records for the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths has failed to identify him(28).

5)  Handwriting evidence further supports that Thomas Bonny, the 1667 token issuer of Bedlam, was the same Thomas Bonny who was lining in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch up until the Great Fire of September 1666.

Signatures of Thomas Bonny - c.1666 (top) and 1671 (bottom)

Signatures of Thomas Bonny – c.1666 (top) and 1671 (bottom)

An analysis of the two signatures above supports this. The first dates to c.1666, when Thomas was churchwarden of St. Mary Colechurch. It is taken from an entry in the latter’s parish registers. The second if from Thomas Bonny’s Last Will and Testament which is dated 24th June 1668. This Will was proven 8 days after the burial entry for “Thomas Bonnes” which was made on 7th November 1671 in the registers of parish church of St. Botolph, Bishopsgate Without (i.e. the local parish church for the district of Bedlam).

6) There are many examples of mid-17th British tradesmen who issued tokens displaying trade signs that are seemingly inappropriate to their occupations. The following examples are all taken from tokens issued by goldsmiths(29);

a) Henry Pinckney of Fleet, London, at the sign of the Three Squirrels.

b) Samuel Calle of Exeter at the signs of the Smoking Man and Covered Cup.

c) Joseph Partington in Skinner Row, Dublin, at the sign of the King’s Head.

  

References:

  1. Robinson, C.J. Rev – Register of the Scholars Admitted into The Merchant Taylor’s School from A.D. 1562 to 1874. Compiled from Authentic Sources with Biographical Notes. Volume I. (London, 1882).
  2. London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London, England; Reference Number: MS 9172/61; Will Number: 311.
  3. Keene, D.J. & 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. (Centre for Metropolitan History, London, 1987).
  4. Ibid 3.
  5. People in Place Project – St Mary Colechurch: Vestry Minutes 1613-72 (London, 2011).
  6. Merry, M & Baker, P. – Source specific data sets, Cheapside and Tower Hill, 1558-1769. On-line data sets accessible at http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/id/eprint/752. (Institute of Historical Research, Centre for Metropolitan History, London 2007).
  7. Ibid 6.
  8. Ibid 3.
  9. Ibid 3.
  10. Ibid 3.
  11. Davies, M.; Ferguson, C.; Harding, V.; Parkinson, E. & Wareham, A. – London and Middlesex Hearth Tax. The British Record Society. Hearth Tax Series Volume IX, Part II. (London, 2014).
  12. Ibid 6.
  13. Mills, P. & Oliver, J. – The Survey of Building Sites in the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666. Volume I. (London Topographical Society Publication. No.103. 1967).
  14. The Records of London’s Livery Companies Online – Apprentices and Freemen 1400-1900 (ROLLCO at http://www.londonroll.org/).
  15. Ibid 2.
  16. Ibid 2.
  17. Searched via the data bases available at Ancestry – Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/).
  18. Searched via the data bases available at Findmypast – Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records (findmypast.co.uk).
  19. Searched via the data bases available at FamilySearch – Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records (https://familysearch.org/).
  20. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  21. PROB 11/394 – Will of Francis Bonny (10th March 1683), National Archives, London.
  22. Shaw, W.A. – Appendix: 1691, 2 January – 4 May in Calendar of Treasury Books. Volume 17, 1702 (London, 1939).
  23. The London Gazette – Issue 2536, Page 2. (London, 1689).
  24. Hilton-Price, F.G. – A Handbook of London Bankers with Some Account of Their Predecessors the Early Goldsmiths. (London, 1891).
  25. Shaw, W.A. – Appendix III, 1689-1692 in Calendar of Treasury Books. Volume 9 (London, 1931).
  26. Ibid 1.
  27. Ibid 2.
  28. Ibid 14.

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Filed under Tokens from North of the City Walls

The Lion & Key in Thames Street – The investigation of a mid-17th century token from London

A mid-17th century farthing token issued by by a tradesman living off Thames Street in the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate.

A mid-17th century farthing token issued by a tradesman living off Thames Street (possibly at Lion(‘s) Quay in the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate.

The above brass farthing token measures 15.5 mm and weighs 0.99 grams. It was issued in the name of a tradesman operating in, or an adjacent area to, part of Thames Street in the Billingsgate Ward of the City of London.

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

Obverse: (mullet) THE.LYON.AND.KEY.IN , around the depiction of a lion rampant (facing left) holding a key.

Reverse: (mullet) THEMES.STREETE.1651 , around a twisted wire inner circle. A triad of initials within reads, F|.R.| (rosette) E .

We cannot be sure if the emblem on the obverse of the token is the issuer’s trade sign or a pictorial indication of his precise address. While certainly not unique, the trade sign of the lion and key was not at all common in 17th or 18th century Britain. However, in this particular example it has been suggested(1) that the trade sign was a pictorial play on words based on the name of an adjacent wharf (i.e. Lion or Lion’s Quay) which was located on the north bank of the River Thames, south off Thames Street, approximately between Billingsgate Dock and Botolph Wharf. This was one of 20 quays established in 1558 off Thames Street between London Bridge and the Tower Ditch and is clearly identified in the Agas Map of London (c.1561). The general waterfront area west of between Billingsgate up to Old London Bridge appears to have always been an important area of commercial wharfs with evidence for such dating back to the Anglo-Saxon and Roman periods.

A section of the Agas Map of London (c.1561) between Old London Bridge and Billingsgate Dock showing the approximate location of Lion(‘s) Quay.

A section of the Agas Map of London (c.1561) between Old London Bridge and Billingsgate Dock showing the approximate location of Lion(‘s) Quay.

Lion Quay was very close to Pudding Lane where the Great Fire of London broke out in the early hours of 2nd September 1666 and will have been consumed by the inferno in its early stages as it rapidly spread along Thames Street and the packed warehouses and wharfs on the adjacent Thames water front.  After the subsequent redevelopment of this part of the city this general area on the north bank of the River Thames was re-named New Quay. However, the memory of Lion Quay appears to have been retained in the name given to an alley leading south off Thames Street at a location just east of the former site of St. Botolph’s Church (which was never re-built after the Great Fire) and west of Billingsgate Dock.

Part of John Ogilby and William Morgan’s 1676 Map of London showing Thames Street and the River Thames waterfront around Billingsgate Dock post its redevelopment after the Great Fire of 1666.

Part of John Ogilby and William Morgan’s 1676 Map of London showing Thames Street and the River Thames waterfront around Billingsgate Dock post its redevelopment after the Great Fire of 1666.

Trade signs and emblems based on such a pictorial play on names, such as that above, can be found on several other 17th century tokens. For example, in nearby Queenhithe, Bartholomew Fish, a fletcher, adopted the emblem of the three fish as his trade sign while the obverse design selected for the trade farthings of Robert Hancock, a wood monger of Whitefriars, show an outstretched hand on which is perched a cockerel (i.e. a “hand” and “cock”) this being a pictorial representation of his surname, i.e. “Han(d)-cock”.

The triad of initials on the reverse of the above token are those of its issuers. In this case a Mr. F. R. and a Mrs E.R. The token’s issue date, 1651, is clearly stated on its reverse together with its location of issue, i.e. Thames Street.

A search of hearth tax records for the mid-17th century has failed to identify the token issuers from the above mentioned triad of initials. The hearth tax returns for Lady Day 1666 indicates two occupants of Lion Quay in the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate, with surnames beginning with the letter “R” (i.e. as per that of the token issuers). These were James Rix, who occupied a meagre property with only a single hearth and Peter Richards, who occupied a much larger property containing 10 hearths. The entry for Peter Richards is at the start of the list for Lion Quay which may indicate its location at the head of Lion Quay Alley and the south side of Thames Street. This property’s relatively large number of hearths may be indicative of it having been a tavern. While the first name initial of Peter Richards excludes him from being the token issuer it doesn’t exclude him from being related to him. Given the 15-year time difference between the token’s issue date and the hearth tax entry it is possible that Peter Richardson was the token issuer’s son continuing in his family’s business. It is equally probable that Peter Richards may have had no connection whatsoever with the token issuers and that the absence of a Mr. F. R. from the 1666 hearth tax returns simply implies that by that time the family had moved out of the area or had even died, possibly as victims of the great plague of 1665/6 which killed approximately 1 in 5 of the city’s population at that time.

A review of businesses and trades signs in the Thames Street area immediately after its rebuilding post the Great Fire indicates the existence of a Lion and Key tavern which in 1669 which was owned first by John Pack and Joseph Staples and later that year by Nathaniel Hawe(2). This tavern was located in the eastern part of Thames Street (later known as Lower Thames Street) far removed from the entry to Lion Quay Alley and well outside of the old parish boundaries of St. Botolph, Billingsgate.

In a further attempt to identifying the token issuers a series of earlier documentary sources plus contemporary London parish registers have been consulted. Unfortunately, most of the parish registers for the mid-17th for the token issuer’s home parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate appear not to have survived the parish Church’s destruction during the Great Fire. However, one manuscript housed in Lambeth Palace Library, now commonly known as “The Inhabitants of London in 1638”(3) lists tithe payers in nine-tenths of the city of London, by parish, for the year 1638 together with the rental value of their property. Under the entry for the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate there is only one person with initials that match those of our token issuer (i.e. F.R.) and they are those of Master Francis Risden. The same Francis Risden, and his immediate family, are also recorded in the genealogical database known as Boyd’s Inhabitants of London. It is from this source that we learn the Christian name of his wife, Elizabeth. This fits perfectly with the third letter in the triad of issuers initials on the reverse of the above token. While it is impossible to categorically confirm Francis Risden as the issuer of our token there must be a high probability that he was.

From the above sources, together with additional parish register entries, and a copy of Francis Risden’s Will(4), it is possible to piece together a very basic outline of his life and family history.

Francis Risden was the oldest of four known children born to Francis Risden (senior) and his wife Catherine Olibbey. Francis and Catherine were married on 3rd March 1605 at the parish church of St. Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney. Their four known children were all baptised in the nearby parish church of St. Mary-atte-Bow between 1606 and 1611.

1606/7 – Francis Risden, son of Francis Risden, victualler, was baptised the 11th day of February

1608/9 – Thomas Risden, son of Francis Risden, victualler, was baptised the 12th day of February

1610 – John Risden, son of Francis Risden, silk weaver, was baptised the 30th day of September

1611/12 – Barbarie Risden, daughter of Francis Risden, a silk weaver, was baptised ye 16th day of February

It is interesting to note the change of occupation of Francis Risden senior between 1608 and 1610. The leap from victualler to silk weaver could be considered as an extreme change of occupation if Francis hadn’t already some related skills pertaining to the weaving trade.

In 1619 it appears that Francis Risden senior enrolled his sons Francis (then aged 12 years) and Thomas (10 years of age) into the Merchant Taylors’ School(5). Founded in 1551, by the Merchant Taylors’ Company, this early school was located in the Manor of the Rose, in Suffolk Lane in the Candlewick Ward of the city.

How long Francis stayed a pupil in the Merchant Taylor’s School is unknown as it what he did immediately after leaving the school.

The next reference we have to Francis Risden is from the earlier cited reference of 1638 in which he is listed as an inhabitant of the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate living in a property with a rental value of £60, this being the third highest listed in the parish at that time. Living in such a comparatively high value property would indicate Francis as being someone of relatively high status in the parish. A later reference(6) confirms that Francis was living in this same parish for at least some four years as his son, also named Francis, is recorded as having been born there on the 23rd November 1634. The same source also quotes that by 1648 Francis Risden (the token issuer) was a weaver. While no record of Francis’s marriage has so far been found in any surviving London parish register it is clear that by 1634 he was married and from other sources the name of his wife is confirmed as Elizabeth(7,8) while that of his one known daughter was Margaret (date of birth unknown)(9) .

In becoming a weaver Francis was obviously following in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately no record has so far been found of him becoming a registered apprentice under a master of the Worshipful Company of Weavers although he may have initially followed a different trade and then chose to buy himself onto the register of the Weaver’s Company at a later date. Such changing of career paths was not unheard of as long as the tradesman in question had sufficient funds to buy himself entry into the respective city Livery Company representing his new chosen trade and that he had sufficient talents in that trade to make a livelihood out of it. Given that Francis’s father had been a weaver it can assumed that he acquired at least some of his father’s trade skills while assisting him as a young boy.

 In 1648/9 Francis Risden enrolled his son (then aged 14) into his old school (i.e. the Merchant Taylor’s School). Francis obviously had sufficient regard for his old school to select it for his son.

Nothing further can be found recorded for Francis over the next 5 years until 19th of June 1654. By then, at the age of only 47, he was probably aware that his health was faltering as it was on that date he chose to make his last Will and Testament. Just over three months later Francis had died as the proving of his Will by the Court of Probate is dated in Westminster on 25th September 1654.

Under the provisions of Francis’s Will(10) he left the following after the payment of any outstanding debts and funeral expenses;

  1. To each of his surviving brothers and sister were to be paid the meagre sum of 12 pence.
  2. Thereafter a third of the value of his remaining estate to his children Francis and Margaret.
  3. The remaining part of his estate together with all goods and chattels were left to his “loving wife” Elizabeth who was also named as the Will’s executrix.

As an interesting aside to the above there is one other token known from mid-17th century London that was issued from Thames Street and which bears the same obverse emblem of a lion (rampant) holding a key. This additional token is undated so we cannot be sure if is contemporary, earlier or later in issue date than the one discussed above although stylistically they could be argued as being contemporary issues. Unlike the earlier described token type very few specimens of this second similar one have survived into modern collections. One such example is illustrated and described below.

A further mid-17th century farthing token issued by by a tradesman living off Thames Street (possibly at Lion('s) Quay in the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate.

A further mid-17th century farthing token issued by a tradesman living off Thames Street (possibly at Lion(‘s) Quay in the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate.

 Obverse: (mullet) IAMES.HAWKINS.AT , around the depiction of a lion rampant (facing left) holding a key.

Reverse: (mullet) LYON.KEY.IN.THEMSTRET , around a twisted wire inner circle. A triad of initials within reads, I|.H.| .V .

Arguably the direct reading of the above reverse token legend suggests that its issuer was a resident of Lion Quay, off Thames Street. However, we cannot dismiss the alternative interpretation that James’s trade establishment was at (or adjacent to) premises bearing the sign of the lion and key, which, as in the earlier described token type, was a pictorial play on words of the issuer’s address (i.e. Lion or Lion’s Quay).

What is interesting about this second token issuer is that he appears to have a direct link to Francis Risden, who was arguably the issuer of the earlier described token type.

Francis Risden’s Will was signed by three independent witnesses together with the public notary who was commissioned to prepare it on his behalf. The name of the latter was “James Hawkins”. An individual by this name is known to have acted as public notary in the preparing of a Will for at least one other near contemporary person from the parish of St. Botolph, Billingsgate (i.e. Richard Brown in 1640)(11).

If this same public notary is the name man who issued the above token it raises a few interesting questions. For example near to the time of his death did Francis Risden call on the services of Hawkins purely by chance or was he already running an established business close by or adjacent to that of Risden himself, therefore making the two men potential contemporary friends or at least neighbours? Alternatively, did James Hawkins see an opportunity arise after Francis Risden’s death by offering to buying Risden’s old trade premises from his wife and executrix Elizabeth Risden? If the latter was the case then presumably Hawkins’s tokens were issued after those of Francis Risden. Stylistically speaking their comparative designs arguably appear to be of a similar date.

If James Hawkins, the token issuer, is indeed the same person as signed Francis Risden’s Will it makes his token issue of further interest as being possibly the only known example from a London based public notary.

Footnote:

In January 1982 an area south of Thames Street, east and west of the site of the former parish church of St. Botolph, Billingsgate, and extending down to the old Thames waterfront underwent a yearlong archaeological excavation conducted by the Museum of London. The following contemporary BBC Chronicle and Thames News reports indicate some of what was found, including the evidence of the destruction caused to the area by the Great Fire of 1666 and the evidence for the redevelopment of the area thereafter.

The excavation of the post Great Fire  levels around the area of St. Botolph’s Church and Lane – BBC Chronicle – “On The Waterfront”. 1984.

The excavation of the immediate pre Great Fire  levels around the area of St. Botolph’s Church and Lane – BBC Chronicle – “On The Waterfront”. 1984.

Excavation of St. Botolph, Billingsgate – Thames News

References:

  1. Burn, H.B. – A descriptive catalogue of the London traders, tavern, and coffee-house tokens presented to the Corporation Library by Henry Benjamin Hanbury Beaufoy. (London, 1853).
  2. London Public House History (Web Site) referencing original mortgage documents held at London Metropolitan Archives, London. For specific reference and list of landlords see the following web page www.pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/AllHallowsBarking/LionKey.shtml .
  3. Dale, T.C – The Inhabitants of London in 1638. Edited from Ms. 272 in Lambeth Palace Library. Society of Genealogists. (London, 1931).
  4. PROB 11/234 – Will of Francis Risden (19th of June 1654), National Archives, London.
  5. C.J. Rev – Register of the Scholars Admitted into The Merchant Taylor’s School from A.D. 1562 to 1874. Compiled from Authentic Sources with Biographical Notes. Volume I. (London, 1882).
  6. Ibid 5.
  7. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  8. Ibid 4.
  9. Ibid 4.
  10. Ibid 4.
  11. Ibid 7.

 

 

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John Kent at the Three Tuns Taverns

The mid-17th century copper farthing tokens illustrated below are of similar weight (0.98 grams and 0.95 gams respectively) and size (15.4 mm and 15.7 mm respectively) and were both issued by the same person, namely John Kent, a vintner and citizen of London. The designs of the two tokens are described further below.

A farthing token issued in the name of the Three Tuns tavern in Gracechurch Street, London

A farthing token issued in the name of the Three Tuns tavern in Gracechurch Street, London

Obverse: (mullet) THE. 3. TVNN. TAVERNE. IN , around a twisted wire circle, within the depiction of three barrels in a triangular stacked arrangement.

Reverse: (mullet) GRACE.CHVRCH.STREETE, around a twisted wire circle, within a triad of initials comprising I | .K. | .E

A farthing token issued in the name of the Three Tuns tavern in Crutched Friars, London.

A farthing token issued in the name of the Three Tuns tavern in Crutched Friars, London.

Obverse: (cinquefoil) AT . THE . 3 . TVN . TAVERN , around the depiction of three barrels in a triangular stacked arrangement.

Reverse: (cinquefoil) IN . CRVTCHED . FRIERS , around a twisted wire circle, within a triad of initials comprising I | .K. | .E

The two separate business addresses given on the reverse side of each of these tokens (.i.e. Gracechurch Street in the Candlewick Ward of the city and Crutched Friars in the Tower Ward of the city) clearly indicates that they were issued from two different taverns but with a shared common name (i.e. the Three Tuns). The Three Tuns was a fairly common tavern sign in 17th century London. It is derived from the ancient coat of arms of the Vintners Company of London which, like the token, depicts three wine barrels lying on their sides and arranged in a triangular pattern.

The common triad of initials on the reverse of the above tokens are those of their respective issuers which in this case were John (i.e. where “I” represents “J” in the Latin alphabet) and his wife Elizabeth Kent.

Visually the two above tokens look very similar. The difference in their surface colouring is indicative of the chemical conditions that each has been exposed to since being lost in the mid-17th century. The dark green patina of the first is telling of it being buried for a considerable period in chemically rich soil. The dark brown toning of the second is typical of it being recovered from waterlogged and low oxygen content conditions and is typical of most such tokens recovered from the River Thames foreshore.

Examples of Legend dividers on 17th Century British Tradesman's tokens - A mullet (left) and a cinquefoil (right)

Examples of Legend dividers on 17th Century British Tradesman’s tokens – A mullet (left) and a cinquefoil (right)

Stylistically the first of the two tokens appears to be the older of the two. The use of the “mullet” ornament as a divider in both the obverse and reverse legends is typical of tokens dating from 1648/9 to c.1662. The alternative use of a “cinquefoil” ornament as a legend divider in the second token is indicative of a later issuing date, typically c.1662 to 1668. By the time of this second issuing period farthing tokens were being struck in far fewer numbers in comparison to half penny denomination trade tokens.

In Search of the History of John Kent & his Family

John Kent, the token issuer, was the son of John Kent a yeoman of Standon in rural Hertfordshire. In December 1631 John was sent by his father to London to be apprenticed to George Gopsell a citizen and vintner of the city (1). Like other boys entering trade apprenticeships during this period he would typically have been around fourteen years of age (i.e. suggesting his year of birth as 1617). He would have been expected to work and learn his trade under his new master for approximately seven years before receiving his freedom and becoming a member of the Worshipful Company of Vintners. There after (i.e. c.1638) he would have been free to practice his trade independently.

It is not known where in London John Kent first set up his own business but within three years after completing his apprenticeship he appears to have already established himself and felt sufficiently confident to take on an apprentice of his own on 1st June 1641 (1). This was to be the first of many apprentices he took on over his long career (Note 1). By 1643 John was obviously financially secure and settled enough to get married.  His bride was Elizabeth Winch, the daughter of a grocer and church warden originally from the parish of St. Mildred, Poultry in the Cheap Ward of the city (2). The couple married in the parish church of St. John, Hackney on 23rd December 1643. Two years later there is parish register evidence that they were living in the parish of All Hallows, Lombard Street in the Candlewick Ward of the city. John was to retain strong ties to All Hallows parish church for the rest of his life.

Within a couple of years of the marriage of John and Elizabeth the parish registers of All Hallows, Lombard Street record the christenings of their first two children, Mercy and Elizabeth Kent.

12th October 1645 – Merse the daughter of John and Elizabeth Kent was baptised.

4th November 1649 – Elizabeth the daughter of John Kente was baptised.

In 1654 the church warden’s accounts of St. Benet, Gracechurch record his tenancy in Gracechurch Street from that year until the Great Fire in 1666 (3). It has been suggested that his first business in the street was based at the Cock Tavern (4). However, by the start of 1656 he and his family were most definitely in the Three Tuns Tavern as the following family burial entries from the parish registers of All Hallows, Lombard Street confirm;

Samuell Kent – Samuell the son of John Kent, vintner, & of Elizabeth his wife was buried in the South chapel on the south side under the pew marked 9 upon the 13th day of January Anno. 1655

Francis Kent – The daughter of John Kent vintner at the 3 tuns in Gracechurch Street and Elisabeth his wife was buried in the South Chapel on ye south side underneath the pews marked 9 and 10 upon the 10th day of February in the year aforesaid (i.e. 1655/6).

A review of the Hearth Tax returns for London on Lady Day 1666 indicates an entry for a John Kent in Lombard Street at a property containing 16 hearths (5). Such a number of hearths is in keeping with a well sized tavern of the period. The layout and geographical location sub-heading in of the Hearth Tax return document would indicate John Kent’s property was located at the east end of Lombard Street on the south side close to All Hallows parish church. Given that the contemporary accepted address for the three Tuns taverns as being in Gracechurch Street this coupled with the Hearth Tax return evidence would logically put the tavern’s location as being at the south-east corner of Lombard Street at the north-south junction with Gracechurch street. Presumably the tavern’s main entrance was via Gracechurch Street, hence it being known as the Three Tuns in Gracechurch Street. According to one source (6) citing John Roque’s 1746 map of London the Three Tuns tavern was located on the western side of Gracechurch Street, due east of the church of St. Clement’s Eastcheap but within the bounds of the parish of St. Benet’s. It is likely that this refers to the later tavern of the same name built in Gracechurch street after the Great Fire of 1666 (Note 2).

Gracechurch & Lombard Streets c.1720 indicating the locations of the pre Great Fire Three Tuns Tavern (YELLOW), post Great Fire Three Tuns Tavern (GREEN( plus All Hall0ws Church (RED) and St. Clement's Eastcheap (BLUE)

Gracechurch & Lombard Streets c.1720 indicating the locations of the pre Great Fire Three Tuns Tavern (YELLOW), post Great Fire Three Tuns Tavern (GREEN) plus All Hall0ws Church (RED) and St. Clement’s Eastcheap (BLUE)

Unfortunately there was to be more sorrow in the Kent household over the next three years as the following parish register entries from All Hallows, Lombard Street attest to;

Elizabeth Kent – Elizabeth Kent the wife of John Kent vintner in Gracechurch Street was buried in the South Chapel of our church on the south side underneath the first two pews upon the 28th day of December 1657

With two known surviving children still to look after and a family business to run the loss of Elizabeth must have hit John hard despite having some potential support from his apprentice(s) (Note 1). With this in mind it is not so surprising that within a year of Elizabeth’s death John was preparing to re-marry as recorded by the following banns entry in the parish register of All Hallows, Lombard Street made on the 29th October 1658;

A marriage intended between John Kent, widower of the Parish of All Hallows Lombard Street, and Elizabeth Barret, spinster, the daughter of Peter Barret, gentleman, of the Parish Margaret Pattens London, was published in the market place of Cheapside upon three market days, in three several weeks one after another, between the hours of eleven and five of the clock according to the late Act of Parliament that is to say upon Saturday the first, Monday the third and Wednesday ye 12th days of January 1658. & no exception was made against the same.

And on the 18th of January 1658 the said parties above named were married in Margaret Pattens Church by Mr. Thomas Lye minister of this parish.

Confirmation of John’s second marriage is also documented in the parish register of St. Margaret Pattens Church.

Exactly nine months after John and Elizabeth’s marriage the Kent family was to have yet more misfortune as recorded in the registers for All Hallows Church, Lombard Street.

Sarah Kent – Sarah the daughter of Mr. John Kent of the Three Tunns in Gracechurch Street was buried in the South Chapel of our church on the south side of the pews marked as 10, 11 upon the 18th day of September 1659

No baptism record has so far been found for Sarah Kent so it is not known if she was the product of John’s first or second marriage. Either is possible but the present writer is of the opinion that she was probably the infant daughter of John and Elizabeth Barret.

One further child was born to the couple while living in Gracechurch Street.

Dixy Kent – Dixy the son of John & Elizabeth Kent vintner at the Three Tuns in Gracechurch Street was baptised in the parish church the 26th day of January by Mr. Thomas Lye the minister

The Kent family appears to have survived the Great Plague of 1665. It is not known if they evacuated the city during the plague, as so many who could afford to do so did, but it must remain a distinct possibility.  From details contained in John Kent’s Will of December 1689 (7) it is clear that at some point he acquired a considerable estate including a manor house (the Manor House of the Mark) straddling the parish boundaries of Walthamstow and Lower Leyton. This area was then a very rural part of Essex and a popular location with many of London’s leading citizens for the location of their second homes. If he had this estate in 1665 it may well have been to here or his family’s home village of Standon in Hertfordshire that he and his family escaped in order to survive the plague.

While the Kent family may have survived 1665 unscathed like most other Londoners there was to be a major upheaval in their lives in the following year.

The Great Fire of London broke out in Pudding Lane in the early hours of Sunday 2nd September 1666 and by the following evening it had consumed all of Gracechurch and Lombard Streets. The Three Tuns tavern was raised to the ground while the family’s parish church of All Hallows was severely damaged.

A view of the south end of Gracechurch Street with the Monument (marking the starting point of the Great Fire of London) clearly in full view.

A view of the south end of Gracechurch Street with the Monument (marking the starting point of the Great Fire of London) clearly in full view.

At some time prior to the Great Fire of 1666 but after 1648/9 (i.e. the year in which the first London tradesman’s tokens were issued) John Kent issued the earlier illustrated farthing trade token from the Three Tuns tavern in Gracechurch Street. Unfortunately the fact that both his wives were called Elizabeth does not allow us to use the triad of initials on the reverse of the token to date it more precisely using contemporary parish marriage records. However, as previously mentioned, stylistically the token’s appearance suggests an issue date prior to c.1662.

Despite losing their tavern and presumably home in Gracechurch Street in early September 1666, just over a month later John and Elizabeth Kent had re-established their business, under its former name of the Three Tuns, in a vacant property at the intersection of Hart Street and Crutched Friars in the parish of St. Olave’s, Hart Street (Note 3).

Seething Lane Area in 1678 - Showing the locations of Samuel Pepys' Lodgings (BLUE); the parish church of St. Olave, Hart Street (RED) and that most likely for the Three Tuns Tavern (YELLOW)

Seething Lane Area in 1678 – Showing the locations of Samuel Pepys’ Lodgings (BLUE); the parish church of St. Olave, Hart Street (RED) and that most likely for the Three Tuns Tavern (YELLOW)

This district, in the north-eastern part of the city, was one of the few areas which escaped the Great Fire. Properties in such areas would have been highly sought after and expensive after September 1666 as the Great Fire had laid waste to most of the city.

A map of London immediately after the Great Fire of September 1666 showing the extent of the devastation and the locations of the Three Tuns Taverns in Gracechurch Street and Crutched Friars

A map of London immediately after the Great Fire of September 1666 showing the extent of the devastation and the locations of the Three Tuns Taverns in Gracechurch Street and Crutched Friars

Crutched Friars is the eastern extension of Hart Street. Starting adjacent to the parish church of St. Olave this street ran alongside the north end of Seething Lane and the Navy Office where the famous diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys lived and worked respectively.

Shortly after moving into their new establishment John and Elizabeth Kent issued the undated farthing token illustrated and described earlier. In addition they also issued half penny trade tokens. As can be seen from the above images the design of this farthing token was very similar to the earlier one they issued when at the Three Tuns tavern in Gracechurch Street.

Samuel Pepys would have been a regular visitor to the Three Tuns tavern in Crutched Friars. Geographically speaking it was his “local pub”. Between November 1666 and May 1669 Pepys records in his diary visiting “the tavern in our street” on a total of seven different occasions. He frequented the tavern with friends and colleagues from the adjacent Navy Offices plus with his neighbours on the occasion of parish dinners which appear to have been regularly held there. On 17th November 1666 Pepys refers to the Three Tuns as “the new tavern come by us”. In May of the next year he further refers to the tavern as “Kent’s”. Two related and more interesting of his diary references to the tavern are reproduced below.

Thursday 9th May 1667 – ….and so home, and in our street, at the Three Tuns’ Tavern door, I find a great hubbub; and what was it but two brothers have fallen out, and one killed the other. And who should they be but the two Fieldings; one whereof, Bazill, was page to my Lady Sandwich; and he hath killed the other, himself being very drunk, and so is sent to Newgate. I to the office and did as much business as my eyes would let me, and so home to supper and to bed.

Friday 10th May 1667 – Up and to the office, where a meeting about the Victuallers’ accounts all the morning, and at noon all of us to Kent’s, at the Three Tuns’ Tavern, and there dined well at Mr. Gawden’s charge; and, there the constable of the parish did show us the picklocks and dice that were found in the dead man’s pocket, and but 18d. in money; and a table-book, wherein were entered the names of several places where he was to go; and among others Kent’s house, where he was to dine, and did dine yesterday: and after dinner went into the church, and there saw his corpse with the wound in his left breast; a sad spectacle, and a broad wound, which makes my hand now shake to write of it. His brother intending, it seems, to kill the coachman, who did not please him, this fellow stepped in, and took away his sword; who thereupon took out his knife, which was of the fashion, with a falchion blade, and a little cross at the hilt like a dagger; and with that stabbed him.

Documentary evidence suggests that John Kent lived the rest of his life as a practicing vintner in the parish of St. Olave, Hart Street and eventually even became a parish elder. However, it is unclear if he remained the resident landlord at the Three Tuns tavern in Crutched Friars after the late 1660s.

There is an additional series of interesting farthing and half penny trade tokens which were issued for the Three Tuns tavern in Crutched Friars in the names of Theophilus Pace and his wife. These are undated but in London the issue of half-penny trade tokens typically dates to the period 1664 to 1669 while farthings were issued over a longer period commencing in 1648/9. No trade tokens of any denomination were issued after their use was officially declared illegal in 1672. This highlights a question mark with regards to the exact dates of John Kent’s tenure at the Three Tuns tavern.

One possible explanation of the Theophilus Pace tokens is that the latter was let the Three Tuns tavern by John Kent sometime after 1667 and that he retained that position until his death. The parish registers for St. Olave’s, Hart Street records the burial of a “Theophilus Pais” in February 1667/68. Thereafter it is possible that John Kent took over the running of the tavern again possibly with the ultimate intention of passing it onto his son Dixy on his retirement.

Parish register entries from the later 1660s to early 1670s offer documentary evidence of a further five children (Mary, Elizabeth, Peter, John and a still-born child) belonging to John and Elizabeth Kent in addition to the seven (i.e. Mercy, Elizabeth, Sam, Francis, Sarah, John and Dixy) known to have been born while he lived in Gracechurch Street. At least three of these additional children were born while John and Elizabeth were based in Crutched Friars as is evident from the documentary evidence below. Firstly from the parish registers of Al Hallows, Lombard Street:

Mary Kent – Mary the daughter of John Kent and of Elizabeth his wife was buried in our church the last day of March 1667 towards the upper end of the south side close to the wall.

Peter Kent – Peter the son of John Kent and of his wife was buried in the south chapel 21 foot from the upper end from the head of the corpse at 2 foot from ye Side wall on the 5th of November 1667

Unbaptized – A small child of John Kent and of Elizabeth his wife. Still born was buried in our South Chapel on the 5th day of September 1670.

John Kent – John the son of John & Elizabeth Kent was buried in our South Chapel on the 13th day of August 1671 sixteen foot from ye end wall to the head of the corpse and about a foot from the side wall.

Secondly from the parish register of St. Olave, Hart Street:

John Kent – Baptism 6th September 1668 – John son of John and Elizabeth Kente.

John Kent – Burial 13th August 1671 – John son of John and Elizabeth Kente buried at All Hallows in ye church.

Elizabeth – Baptism 26th January 1672/3 – Elizabeth daughter of Mr. John Kente and Elizabeth Kente his wife born and baptised.

While the family became established in their new parish it is interesting to note that they continued to use their former parish church for family burials despite the fact that it had been badly damaged during the Great Fire of 1666. After the fire the local parishioners of All Hallows, Lombard Street attempted to “patch up” their church by rendering the walls with straw and lime in an attempt to stop any further decay (8). A bell was hung in the steeple, despite its perilous condition, as late as 1679 (9). Ultimately, however, restoration proved impractical and the old building was replaced with a new one designed by the office of Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1694.

After the birth of Elizabeth in 1673 there are no further records of John and Elizabeth Kent having any further children. Of John Kent’s twelve children only five were to survive into adulthood (11).

In 1668 John Kent’s eldest daughter, Mercy, married John Sergent, an apothecary from the adjacent London parish of St. Katherine Cree (12) (Notes 4). Oddly their marriage didn’t take place in either the bride’s or the groom’s home parish. Instead the ceremony took place in St. Mary’s Church in Leyton, Essex. As previously noted, at some point in his history John Kent acquired a considerable holding of land in this area of Essex including the Manor House of the Mark on the parish boundary of Walthamstow and Lower Leyton. By the time of the marriage of John’s daughter in 1668 the association between his family and this area of Essex already appears to have been established. By 1680 John Sergent had died making Mercy a widow. It is possible that it was through her father’s connections and/or introduction she met her second husband, Philip Stubbs, who according to their marriage license was also a widower and vintner from a neighbouring London parish to St. Olave, Hart Street (13).

28th October 1680. “Phillipp Stubbs of St Andrew Undershaft Lond. Vintner aged about 44 years and a Widdower” and “Mrs Mercy Sarjeant of St Catherine Creechurch Lond. aged about 34 years and a Widdowe ” to be married in ye parish Church of Battersey in Surrey.

On 4th December 1677 John Kent apprenticed his youngest surviving son, Dixy, to Richard Acton, a London vintner. He probably hoped that Dixy would follow in his father’s footsteps (Note 5). It is unclear what trade Dixy’s older brother, John, entered as no record has so far been found for him in the transcribed apprenticeship records of the principal London Livery Companies.

Even when John Kent was in his mid-60s he was still very active in his chosen profession being appointed one of the Masters of the Worshipful Company of Vintners in 1681. It is likely that he took on his final apprentice in 1685 (Note 6).

By the end of 1689 John Kent’s health must have been failing. He prepared his last will and testament on 14th December 1689. He died and was buried eight days later. An entry in the parish register for St. Olave, Hart Street for the 22nd December 1689 records the following;

John Kent, vintner, was buried in All Hallows, Lombard Street, Lond.

While short and to the point this entry records some interesting facts about John in that;

  1. He remained a resident of the parish of St. Olave, Hart Street until his death.
  2. At the time of his death he remained an active vintner.
  3. The historic ties to his former parish of All Hallows, Lombard Street remained strong until the time of his death and he was buried in his family’s former parish church along with his first wife and his seven deceased children.

John Kent’s Will was proven the day after his burial (i.e. 23rd December 1689). It states that he was an Elder of the parish of St. Olave, Hart Street as well as confirming him being a citizen and vintner of the city of London and that he was to be buried in the parish church of All Hallows, Lombard Street;

“at the upper end of the first isle in the right hand under the window where the seat stood.”

John’s Will further confirms that he was survived by his second wife, Elizabeth, and five of his children, namely John, Elizabeth and Dixy Kent plus his married daughters Mercy (Stubbs) and Elizabeth (Upsher).

To his eldest son, John, plus his daughters Mercy Stubbs and Elizabeth Upsher John Kent left £5 each. Similar amounts were each left to his “worthy good friends” Doctor Josiah Clarke and Mr. John Newton. To his youngest daughter Elizabeth Kent he left £500 to be paid to her on her 21st birthday or day of marriage, which ever came first. After the payment of any debts the remaining of John Kent’s estate excluding eight acres of meadow land in Leyton Marsh near the Ferry House (which was in the tenure of Edward Dawson) was to be split equally between his wife, Elizabeth, and his youngest son, Dixy. This included the various meadow and pastures lands and tenements pertaining to the Manor House of the Mark, all of which straddled the parish boundaries of Walthamstow and Lower Leyton in the county of Essex.

The signature of John Kent as it appears on the Apprenticeship Indenture of Throgmorton Underwood dated 4th February 1672/3.

The signature of John Kent as it appears on the Apprenticeship Indenture of Throgmorton Underwood dated 4th February 1672/3.

 

Foot Notes:

 

1) During the 51 year period that John Kent was an active vintner (i.e. from the completion of his apprenticeship in 1638 until his death in December 1689) the records of the Worshipful Company of Vintners record 34 separate apprentices who were bound to a master vintner by the name of John Kent.  These are listed in the summary table below.

Apprentices

While it is possible that all of the above apprentices were bound to our token issuer, particularly considering his apparent long and successful career and the fact that not all apprentices completed their binding period, it is equally possible that those listed after 1655 and 1669 respectively could relate to the apprentices of one or other of two other John Kents who were bound apprentice vintners in London in 1648 and 1662 respectively. The apprenticeship records for these two additional John Kents are summarised below.

  1. John Kent, son of William a merchant tailor of London, apprenticed to Leonard Girle on the 1st August 1648. (1655)
  2. John Kent, son of John a blacksmith of London, apprenticed to Nicholas Clarke on the 6th May 1662. (1669)

While we can be certain that both of the above boys embarked on apprenticeships to become vintners we have no evidence that either of them either completed their standard seven or eight year apprenticeships or went on to become vintners in their own right. It was not unheard of that boys who successfully completed an apprenticeship in a one particular trade went on to become a master in a totally different but often related trade.

 

2) An interesting later reference to the second Three Tuns Tavern build in the lower portion of Gracechurch Street, after the Great Fire of 1666, can be found in the Daily Journal of 16th September 1732.

“Yesterday, about 5 o’clock in the evening, notwithstanding the wind was so high, a sailor flew from the top of the Monument to the Upper Three Tuns tavern in Gracechurch Street, which he did in less than half a minute; there was a numerous crowd of spectators to see him. He came down within 20 feet of the place where the rope was fixed, and then flung himself off; and offered, if the gentlemen would make him a handsome collection, he would go up and fly down again.”

 

3) George Berry (14) suggests that the location of the Three Tuns tavern in Crutch Friars was half way along Crutch Friars on the southern side of the lane opposite the Navy Office where Samuel Pepys worked. However, the current writer believes that the tavern’s location was on the west side of the entrance to Crown Court Alley (15) at the north-west end of Crutched Friars where the lane joined Hart Street.

Part of John Rocque's Map of London (1746) indicating the location of the Three Tuns Tavern in Crutched Friards according to George Berry (BLUE) and the current writer (RED) plus the additional locations of Three Tuns Yard (YELLOW) and Samuel Pepys' lodgings (GREEN).

Part of John Rocque’s Map of London (1746) indicating the location of the Three Tuns Tavern in Crutched Friards according to George Berry (BLUE) and the current writer (RED) plus the additional locations of Three Tuns Yard (YELLOW) and Samuel Pepys’ lodgings (GREEN).

This location better fits Samuel Pepys’ own words when he records in his diary the location of the Three Tuns tavern as being “in our street”. Further support of this theory comes from later place-name evidence contained in John Roque’s famous 1746 map of London. In this map Crown Court in Crutched Friars has been re-named as Three Tuns Yard. This presumably is in recognition of the location of a tavern by the same name. An advertisement in the London Evening Post of 3rd April 1742 reads;

“To be let – the house and shop lately occupied by John Calcott blacksmith in Crutch Friars. Enquiry at the Three Tun Tavern against the Church.”

The use of the term “against the church” further suggests the tavern was located opposite St. Olave’s Church on Crutched Friars as opposed to being located down the alley that lead to Three Tuns Court.

The junction of Seething Lane, Hart Street and Crutched Friars showing the entrance to New London Street (formerly the site of the Three Tuns Alley and Tavern).

The junction of Seething Lane, Hart Street and Crutched Friars showing the entrance to New London Street (formerly the site of the Three Tuns Alley and Tavern).

Three Tuns Yard Alley was later to become New London Street, the original street entrance to which is still preserved (all be it as a dead-end turning) in the modern street plan of the north side of Hart Street.

4) It is possible that it was a close relation (i.e. a possible younger brother) of John Sergent’s the apothecary who married Mercy Kent in 1668 who was to be bound as an apprentice vintner to John Kent (the token issuer) in 1676 (see table in Note 1).

5) A Dixy Kent married Jane Brown on 11th January 1690 at All Hallows Church, London Wall. His trade is listed by Boyd as a linen draper and silversmith. If this entry is for Dixy Kent, son of John Kent, it indicates that he did not go on to follow in his father’s footsteps as a vintner despite being apprenticed as such. Dixy Kent died on 10th July 1696 and was buried in his father-in-law’s (Daniel Brown, died 1698) own vault in the parish church of St. Stephen, Wallbrook (16).

6) Further to Note 1 above it is interesting to note the areas of the United Kingdom from which the various apprentices came from. While many were from London or the Home Counties others were sent to London from as far afield as Mid-Wales and Yorkshire. It is highly likely that those apprentices listed as being from villages close to Standon in Hertfordshire plus Leyton and Walthamstow in Essex were bound to John Kent the token issuer given the close associations we know his family had to these two areas.

References:

  1. Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers. Volume 43. Vintners’ Company 1609-1800. (2006).
  2. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  3. Berry, G. – Tavern Tokens of Pepy’s London. (London, 1978).
  4. Latham, R.C. – The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Volume 10 – Companion. (London, 1995).
  5. Davies, M.; Ferguson, C.; Harding, V.; Parkinson, E. & Wareham, A. – London and Middlesex Hearth Tax. The British Record Society. Hearth Tax Series Volume IX, Part II. (London, 2014).
  6. Harben, H.A. – A Dictionary of London: Historical notes of streets and buildings in the City of London, including references to other relevant sources. (1918).
  7. PROB 11/397/409 – Will of John Kent (22nd December 1689), National Archives, London.
  8. Daniell, A.E. – London City Churches. (London, 1896).
  9. Godwin, G.; Britton, J. – All Hallows, Lombard Street. The Churches of London: A History and Description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis. (London, 1839).
  10. Milbourn, T. – The Vintners’ Company: Their Nuniments, Plate and Eminent Members with
  11. Ibid 7.
  12. Ibid 2.
  13. Stubbs, H. – Pedigree of the Kentish Family of Stubbs. Archaeologia Cantiana. Volume 18. (1889).
  14. Ibid 3.
  15. Hyde, R. – The A to Z of Restoration London (The City of London, 1676). (London Topographical Society Publication. No.145. 1992).
  16. Ibid 2.

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Filed under Tokens from Pepys' London, Tokens from within the City Walls

Richard Harper of West Smithfield

A Farthing token of Richard Harper at the sign of the Harp in West Smithfield

A Farthing token of Richard Harper at the sign of the Harp in West Smithfield

The above copper farthing token measures 15.5 mm in diameter and weighs 0.96 grams. On purely stylistic grounds it would appear to date from the 1650s. It was issued by Richard Harper, a tradesman operating from premises in West Smithfield, London. The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) RIC. HARPER. AT. THE. HARP around a depiction of a harp.

Reverse: (mullet) IN. WESTSMITHFIELD around a triad of initials comprising R | .H. | .A with a small dot below the “C”.

The triads of initials on the reverse of the token are those of its issuer, Richard Harper and his wife, Mrs. A. Harper.

The depiction of the harp on the token’s obverse almost certainly represents the trade sign which hung over Richard’s business premises in West Smithfield. Such signs often featured objects that were readily associated with a current or former premises holder’s occupation or trade. In this case the sign’s subject matter may have been purposely selected as being synonymous with the traders own surname (i.e. harp and Harper). This was not uncommon as illustrated by the following half-penny token of 1667. Its issuer was Bartholomew Fish, a fletcher, who operated from premises in Queenhithe and traded under the sign of three fish. Another obvious play on words based on the trader’s surname.

A half penny token of Bartholomew Fish of Queenhithe, London

A half penny token of Bartholomew Fish of Queenhithe, London

While the token mentions no particular street name for the location of Richard Harper’s premises its reverse legend does make it clear that it was in West Smithfield. This area, in the Ward of Farringdon Without, lay just north of the old city walls between New Gate and Alders Gate entrances to the city. Then as now it was the location of one of the city’s principal meat markets and the home to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital which, being founded in 1123, holds the title of Europe’s oldest hospital. West Smithfield lies just outside the north-western limits of that area of London which was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666.

West Smithfield, London. (c.1720) showing the Parish church of St Bartholemew the Less (above Well Yard - No.144) and St Bartholemew's Hospital(No.144)

West Smithfield, London. (c.1720) showing the Parish church of St Bartholomew the Less (above Well Yard – No.144) and St Bartholomew’s Hospital (No.144)

The Search for Richard Harper of West Smithfield

From a review of contemporary parish registers, rent books, Hearth Tax returns and livery company records it has been possible to put together an outline history of the token issuer, Richard Harper, and his immediate family and business interests.

It is likely that Richard Harper was born c.1589 in Shropshire, England. In 1601 he most probably lived with his family in the small hamlet of Woolstaston, located in the northern foothills of the Long Mynd in Shropshire. He had at least two slightly younger brothers, William and Thomas. At that time his father was described as a yeoman (1) of Woolstaston. However, by 1604 his occupation was described variously as clerk (10th July) and later (25th July) as minister (2) so by then he may have been serving his local parish church, St. Michael and All Angels, Woolstaston.

The parish church of St. Michael & All Angels, Woolstaston, Shropshire

The parish church of St. Michael & All Angels, Woolstaston, Shropshire

On 31st January 1601/2 Richard was bound by his father as an apprentice for seven years to Raffe Newbery, a citizen of London and master of the Worshipful Company of Stationers (3).

The Stationers’ Company was formed in 1403 and received a Royal Charter in 1557. It held a monopoly over the publishing trade and was officially responsible for setting and enforcing regulations within the industry. It retained this power until 1710.

It is not known if the Harper family already had associations with the publishing and book selling trade prior to young Richard being bound as an apprentice stationer in 1601/2. However, the links to this trade were to grow stronger as in 1604 Richard’s father also bound both of his younger sons to London Stationers. Richard’s brother William was apprenticed to John Bill on 25th July 1604 for a period of eight years while his brother Thomas was bound to Melchisedeck Bradwood for a period of seven years on 29th September 1604 (4).

Before focusing on Richard Harper’s later life it is worthwhile mentioning a few details regarding the careers of his brothers William and Thomas.

Thomas Harper completed his apprenticeship and received his freedom in 1611. His brother William completed his apprenticeship in 1612 (5). By 1614 the two brothers are recorded as being in partnership and operating as book sellers and stationers from a shop in old St. Paul’s Cathedral Churchyard (6). The brothers registered their first publication title, a translation of “A Discourse on Parent’s Honour and Authority” with the Stationer’s Company (as a form of early copyrighting) on 1st July 1614 (7).

The area around St. Paul’s churchyard was arguably the principal focus of London’s book and pamphlet trade throughout the first half of the 17th century. Other areas of the city were also prominent including Little Britain, with its tributary Duck Lane, Paternoster Row and London Bridge. In 1663 the French traveller, Samuel de Sorbière, commented on London’s book trade as follows (8);

“I am not to forget the vast number of booksellers’ shops I have observed in London, for besides those who are set up here and there in the city, they have their particular quarters such as St. Paul’s Churchyard and Little Britain where there are twice as many as in the Rue St. Jacques in Paris, and who have each of them have two or three warehouses.”

By 1634 Thomas Harper appears to have parted company with his brother William and was trading as a printer from his house in Little Britain (9). What became of William after he left his partnership with Thomas is unclear.

In 1639 Thomas Harper was working as a printer with a new partner, Richard Hodgkinson (10). During the early years of the English Civil War it is reported that he got into trouble on more than one occasion for printing pamphlets against the Parliament (Polder), leading several writers to label him as having Royalist sympathies. Thomas Harper appears to have continued his trade as a printer until his death in March 1655/6 (11).

We now return to the subject of Richard Harper, the slightly older brother of Thomas and William. Richard was bound into a seven-year apprenticeship with a master London stationer in 1601/2 and as such it would be expected that he would have received his freedom in 1608/9. However, the transcribed records of the Worshipful Company of Stationers (12) only record two individuals by this name and they didn’t receive their freedoms until 6th May 1633 and 4th November 1634 respectively. It is possible that one of these same named entries could be a transcribing error but equally they may both be correct. Either way thereafter the transcribed records of the Stationers’ Company appear to ascribe all future references to Richard Harper as relating to that individual who gained his freedom in 1633.

The above observations raise the question as to whether the Richard Harper who received his freedom from the Stationers’ Company in 1633 was the same Richard Harper who was bound an apprentice stationer in 1601/2. A search for the records of an additional apprentice(s) by this name, who may have been bound as a stationer in the mid 1620s, has so far failed to identify anything. The inference of this is that the young Richard Harper who was bound as an apprentice stationer in 1601/2 was very likely the same man who finally received his freedom from the Stationers’ Company in 1633. If this is the case then Richard may have failed to complete his original seven-year apprenticeship and hence becoming a freeman of the city in 1608/9 which thereafter would have allowed him to officially practice as a London stationer. Failure for individuals to complete their apprenticeship during this period was not uncommon and could have resulted from one of numerous reasons including;

  1. The death of the apprentice’s master or the failure of his business.
  2. The mutual agreement between master and apprentice for them to part ways amicably.
  3. The ill-treatment of the apprentice by the master causing the latter to run away or seek formal termination of the apprenticeship via the Livery Company or Lord Major’s Court.
  4. A change in family circumstances causing the apprentice to return home, with or without attaining any new skills in his new trade, to assist/take-over the family business or take-up an inheritance. This may or may not have included him taking up practice in his new trade if living outside of the City of London.

Having failed to complete his apprenticeship in 1608/9 didn’t necessarily preclude Richard Harper from ever officially practicing as a stationer within the City of London. There were alternative ways of becoming a registered livery company member and taking up the position of a freeman of the city. These included;

  1. By being the son of a freeman.
  2. By marrying the widow or daughter of a freeman.
  3. By redemption, that is by paying a “fine” to buy the privilege.

For Richard Harper to have become a freeman of the city and a member of the Stationers’ Company in 1633 then one of the above conditions must have applied. As he was initially bound as an apprenticeship stationer in the city in 1601/2 by his father, a yeoman/minister of Shropshire, it can safely be assumed that Richard must have either married into or bought his freedom and hence membership of the Stationers’ Company.

The transcribed records of the Stationers Company list Richard Harper as an active publisher and printer between 1633 and 1640 (13) although publications dated as late as 1652 are known to have been published in his name. He registered his first book title “Friendly Council or the Ways to Know Faithful Friend from Flattering Foe” with the Stationers’ Company on 22nd May 1633. He appears to have been a prolific publisher of popular ballads and pamphlets most of which bear his name or initials, business address and state that he was the work’s publisher. In addition the name of the publication’s printer is also given. On several of his earlier and later publications Richard contracted his brother Thomas Harper (in nearby Little Britain) to act as his printer. Between the dates 1634 to 1657 Richard Harper’s business address is variously imprinted on his publications as;

1) Richard Harper, near to the Hospital Gate in Smithfield.

2) Richard Harper at the Bible and Harp in Smithfield.

Richard Harper's address details as found in several of his publications

Richard Harper’s address details as found in several of his publications

…and less frequently as;

3) Richard Harper, in Smithfield

4) Richard Harper, at his shop in Smithfield

5) Richard Harper, in Smithfield, at the Sign of the Bible

6) Richard Harper, at the sign of the Harp in Smithfield

A review of publication dates (14) indicates that there is no chronological pattern to which of the above address formats was applied and so in spite of the variations it is likely that all of the above descriptions refer to a common shop location close to the gate to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in West Smithfield at or by the sign of the Bible and Harp. The last of the above address variations is that used on the obverse of Richard’s token.

It is likely that Richard Harper personally selected his trade sign (i.e. the Bible and Harp) rather than inheriting it from a previous shop occupant. As has been previously pointed out the image of the “Harp” is synonymous and an instant reminder of Richard’s surname “Harper”. The representation of one or more bible (often in the form of three bibles arranged in a triangular pattern) as a trade sign was commonly used by booksellers and stationers and would have been instantly recognisable to passers-by.

The obverse of a penny token of 1666 issued by Hugh Davies, Stationer at the sign of the Three Bibles in Holyhead, North Wales

The obverse of a penny token of 1666 issued by Hugh Davies, Stationer at the sign of the Three Bibles in Holyhead, North Wales

The sign is first recorded in London in 1558 (15) and was later incorporated into the coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Stationers. Putting the two component elements of Richard’s trade sign together we have Harp(er) the bookseller.

It has not been possible to precisely locate the original site occupied by Richard Harper’s shop in West Smithfield. However, its approximate location can be narrowed down from the description used in various of Harper’s publications, i.e. “near to the Hospital Gate in Smithfield”. The hospital in question is St. Bartholomew’s which in the mid-17th century still followed much of its medieval layout despite various expansions and alterations which commenced from the time of the re-foundation by King Henry VII. The original medieval hospital complex had four separate gates. These were the South or Tanhouse Gate, the Hartshorn or Giltspur Street Gate, the Little Britain Gate and lastly the Smithfield Gate (16). The latter appears to have been on the site of today’s King Henry VIII Gate which, in its present form, dates from 1703.

The main entrance to St. Bartholemew's Hospital - King Henry VIII Gate built in 1702 on the site of the original West Smithfield Gate

The main entrance to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital – King Henry VIII Gate built in 1702 on the site of the original West Smithfield Gate

It was near to this gate where Richard Harper’s shop was located. Presumably one of the buildings located on the east and west sides of the gate which fronted onto Smithfield. It appears that Richard Harper was not the only book seller in this part of West Smithfield at this time. There were several others (17)(18) ;

  1. Richard Burton (book seller) at the Hospital Gate, West Smithfield (c.1641-74)
  2. Henry Eversden (book seller) under the Crown Tavern in West Smithfield (c.1657-67)
  3. Thomas Lambert at the sign of the horseshoe near the Hospital Gate, Smithfield (c.1633-43)
  4. Andrew Sowle (printer) at Pie Corner, Smithfield
  5. John Oakes (printer) in Little St. Bartholomew, Smithfield (c.1636-44)
  6. James Crumpe (book seller and book binder) in Little St. Bartholomew’s Well Yard (c.1630-61)
  7. John Clarke (book seller) at the sign of the Fleur de Lys near the Hospital Gate in Smithfield (c.1654)
  8. Philip Brooksby (book seller) variously described as being next to the sign of the Ball or at the Golden Ball near the Hospital Gate, West Smithfield or at the sign of the Ball and Harp near the Bore Tavern, Pye Corner (c.1672-96)

Rounding the corner and going into Duck Lane and then Little Britain the concentration of book sellers and printers increased.

The rear of St. Bartholomew Hospital's King Henry VIII Gate showing the west end entrance to the parish church of St. Bartholemew the Less

The rear of St. Bartholomew Hospital’s King Henry VIII Gate showing the west end entrance to the parish church of St. Bartholomew the Less

A list of annual rents paid on properties in the Parish of St. Bartholomew the Less in 1638 (19) indicates one for £1/10 on a property referred to as “Harpers”. Presumably this was Richard Harper’s book shop. Compared to other rents in this parish listing that paid on “Harpers” is of a comparatively very low sum. This possibly indicates it being a small and basic establishment.

St. Bartholomew's Hospital in 1617 showing the West Smithfield Gate towards the bottom of the image

St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1617 showing the West Smithfield Gate towards the bottom of the plan

From the triad of issuers’ initials on the reverse side of Richard Harper’s token we know that the Christian name of his wife began with “A”. A review of London parish registers and marriage records between 1620 and 1665 has indicated three possible matches the last of which happens to be in the same parish as Richard Harper’s bookshop;

1631: Marriage of Richard Harper and Ann Rickman at St. Anne Blackfriars

1634/5, 2nd February: Marriage of Richard Harper and Anne Hutton at St. Giles Cripplegate

1646; 19th May: Marriage of Richard Harper and Anne Walke at St. Bartholomew the Less

The last record of dated publications in the name of Richard Harper, from is shop at in West Smithfield, appears to be 1657. A review of Hearth Tax returns from 1666 for the parish of St. Bartholomew the Less indicates no tax payers by the name Harper. This may indicate that Richard had moved out of the area or had died. The latter appears likely as the burial register for the parish of St. Bartholomew the Less lists an entry for a “Richard Harper” on 14th March 1659.

While Richard Harper may have died whist still trading from his premises in West Smithfield the legacy of his shop, its trade sign of the Bible and Harp, and printed address of being near the Hospital Gate in West Smithfield continued under two successive publishers and book sellers, firstly John Clarke (c.1688-78) (20) (Note 1) and then James Bissel (1687-96) (21).

Notes:

  1. This is almost certainly the same John Clarke whose publications record his address as being at the sign of the Fleur de Lys near the Hospital Gate in Smithfield in 1654. It is also probably the same named person who paid Hearth Tax on a relatively small property (i.e. one having only two hearths) in the Well Yard of St. Bartholomew the Less in 1666 (22).

 

References:

  1. Arber, E. – A Transcription of the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London. 1554-1640 A.D. Volume III. (London, 1876).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. On-line data base entry in the British Book Trade Index (www.bbti.bham.ac.uk).
  7. Ibid [1].
  8. Berry, G. – Seventeenth Century England: Traders and their Tokens. (London. 1988).
  9. Plomer, H.R. – A Dictionary of Booksellers and Printers who were at work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1641-1667. The Bibliographical Society. (London. 1907).
  10. Ibid [9].
  11. Smyth R. – Obituary of Richard Smyth, Secondary of the Poultry Compter, London: Being a Catalogue of All Such Persons as he Knew in Their Life: Extending from 1627 to A.D. 1674. Edited by Sir Henry Ellis, K.H. The Camden Society. (London, 1849).
  12. Ibid [1].
  13. Ibid [1].
  14. On-line basic search using British Library English Short Title Catalogue. (http://estc.bl.uk/).
  15. Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).
  16. Power, Sir D’A. – A Short History of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Founded 1123) – Past and Present. (London, 1935).
  17. Ibid [9].
  18. Plomer, H.R. – A Dictionary of Booksellers and Printers who were at work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1668-1725. The Bibliographical Society. (London. 1922).
  19. Dale, T. C. – The inhabitants of London in 1638. Edited from MS. 272 in the Lambeth Palace Library. Society of Genealogists. (London, 1931).
  20. Ibid [14].
  21. Ibid [14].
  22. Davies, M.; Ferguson, C.; Harding, V.; Parkinson, E. & Wareham, A. – London and Middlesex Hearth Tax. The British Record Society. Hearth Tax Series Volume IX, Part II. (London, 2014).

Acknowledgements:

The author gratefully acknowledges Patricia Fumerton (Director of UCSB’s English Broadside Ballad Archive) and Kate Jarman (Deputy Archivist, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Archives & Museum) for information supplied during the research of this article.

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Filed under Tokens from North 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.

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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).

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The Pastry Cook at the sign of the Crown in Shoe Lane

A pastry cook's farthing token from Shoe Lane, London

A pastry cook’s farthing token from Shoe Lane, London

The copper farthing token, pictured above, measures 15.3 mm and weighs 0.95 grams. It was issued in 1657 by a pastry cook operating from premises at or by the sign of the Crown in Shoe Lane off the north side of Fleet Street, London. Such tradesmen’s tokens normally had only a limited geographical area of circulation. Typically this may have been restricted to the immediate urban district in which their issuers lived and were known. However, some tokens inevitably travelled much further afield. Once captured amongst the small change in an individual’s pocket or purse they could have travelled great distances from their point of origin before ultimately being forgotten about and ultimately lost or discarded. This appears to have been the fate of the above example which was discovered approximately 350 years after its issue date on the River Thames foreshore at Gravesend in Kent.  

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

Obverse: (pierced mullet) PASTRY. COOKE. 1657., around a twisted wire circle. Within the depiction of a stylised crown of four arches studded with pearls and a jewelled headband with alternating decorations of crosses paté and fleurs-de-lis

Reverse: (pierced mullet) IN. SHOO. LANE -:-, around a twisted wire circle, within a triad of initials comprising I | .K. | .H

This is one of 21 different tokens issued by a variety of private tradesmen who lived and worked in Shoe Lane during the period 1649 to 1672. In the mid-17th century Shoe Lane linked Fleet Street and Holborn Hill. St. Bride’s (or St. Bridget’s) parish church served those in the lane who lived in the southern end against Fleet Street.

The initials, in capitalised Latin letters, on the reverse of the above token are those of the issuer and his wife, i.e.  Mr. “J/I.K.” and his wife Mrs. “H.K.”

It is clear from the above token image, along with those of other surviving examples, that the surname of the token issuer began with a “K”. However, it is understandable how poorer quality survivals of this token lead one earlier researcher to read this initial as an “R”. The combined initials of the token’s primary issuer could then be interpreted as “J.R.” which would fit perfectly with those of a potential issuer of the tokens who is mentioned in a contemporary survey of building sites in London a couple of years after the Great Fire of September 1666 (1) ;

Mr. John Reynolds May the 24th 1669

One foundation set out the day above said near Fleet Street formally the Sign of the Crown in Shoe Lane belonging to the said Mr. Reynolds…”

It is understandable how such a mistake could have been made but when faced with good condition examples of the above token there is no escaping that the actual surname initial on it is a “K” and not an “R”.  However, the above reference does contain some useful historical information in that;

  1. At the time of the Great Fire of London in early September 1666 a John Reynolds is credited with owing the building plot on which the sign of the Crown in Shoe Lane stood.
  2. The building identified by the sign of the Crown in Shoe Lane was located at the Fleet Street end of lane (i.e. the southern end).  

A review of Hearth Tax returns for Shoe Lane in 1666 (just prior to the Great Fire) indicates that in the St. Bride’s (Fleet Street) Precinct of Shoe Lane a John Reygnolds [sic] paid tax on premises with 10 hearths. This is the second largest hearth count for any building in the lane. The above mentioned person is almost certainly the same John Reynolds who rebuilt the Crown in 1669. The relatively large number of hearths recorded for the premises in 1666 suggests, together with its trade sign (i.e. the Crown), that it was a good sized tavern.  

A map showing part of the parish of St. Bride's Fleet Street (c.1720) indicating the southern end of Shoe Lane

A map showing part of the parish of St. Bride’s Fleet Street (c.1720) indicating the southern end of Shoe Lane

A further review of the 1666 Hearth Tax returns for Shoe Lane indicates that within a few buildings to the south of John Reynolds at the Crown was a property with an even higher hearth count of 14. More interestingly is the name of the man that is listed against this entry, John Knowles. It is possible that this man is the issuer of the above farthing trade token. The initial evidence for this can be drawn directly from his Hearth Tax return entry in that;

  1. He operated from a building located close to the sign of the Crown (as indicated on the token).
  2. He operated from a building containing 14 hearths (the highest count for any building in Shoe Lane). Such a high hearth/oven count would not be untypical for a pastry cook (i.e. the stated trade of the token issuer).
  3. His initials fit exactly with those of the token issuer (i.e. “J.K.”).

Further research has uncovered additional facts concerning John Knowles that almost certainly confirms him as the issuer of the above token. A review of contemporary London parish registers has confirmed that there was a family by the name of Knowles living in the parish of St. Bride’s, Fleet Street from at least the mid-1620s and that by the mid-1660s John and Hannah Knowles, together with their children, were almost certainly living in Shoe Lane.

The first reference to John and Hannah Knowles by name in the parish records occurs in 1647. This entry records the first of several of their children’s baptisms. These include;

    • Elizabeth – 27th July 1647
    • John Knowles – 29th June 1648
    • Charles Knowles – 6th August 1649
    • Mary Knowles – 9th December 1650
    • Hannah Knowles – 21st February 1651/2
    • Samuel Knowles – 10th September 1654
Party of Abraham Bosse's mid-17th century print entitled "The Pastry Shop"

Party of Abraham Bosse’s mid-17th century print entitled “The Pastry Shop”

Whilst it is unclear if John Knowles had always been a pastry cook it was certainly his stated trade in 1657 when he issued his token. Approximately 19 London cooks issued trade tokens during the period 1649 to 1672. However, only three of these are known to have been specifically pastry cooks.

Three decorated pies made using 17th century designs

Three decorated pies made using 17th century designs

As a pastry cook who presumably also sold his wares directly to the public from his Shoe Lane premises it is likely that all of the Knowles family would have assisted in some way in John’s busy work. His business was sufficiently large to warrant him taking on apprentices at various points in time. The following individuals are recorded in the post 1654 apprenticeship registers of the Worshipful Company of Cooks as being bound into service to John Knowles (2);

    • Richard Woodroffe – 2 March 1654/5
    • Michael Lucas – 28th January 1658/9
    • Edward Jarvis – 9th June 1662
    • Richard Michell – 9th July 1661

Apprentices would normally be bound to a master for a period of 7 years from the age of 14. Assuming they served their time they became eligible to apply for membership/freedom of their appropriate Livery Company.

A review of contemporary records has failed to highlight any further information about the later history of either John or Hannah Knowles. There are however two burial records in the registers of St. Bride’s, Fleet Street that may relate to that of John Knowles the token issuer. Unfortunately with our token issuer having a son of the same name it is difficult to differentiate between their deaths from a simple parish register entry without any reference to a spouse’s or parent’s name. Neither of the two burial register entries offer either such clues;

8th October 1665 – John Knoles from Shoo lane

31st January 1698/9 – John Knowles at Leues up ye steps popinge ally

However, given the earlier Hearth Tax evidence we know that a John Knowles was still head of the Shoe Lane household in 1666. If it had been John Knowles senior who had died the previous year it would be expected that the head of the household would have reverted to his widow Hannah, assuming she was still alive. At the relatively young age of 17 it is questionable if John Knowles junior could have legally qualified to become head of the household, even if his mother had previously died. Assuming John Knowles senior had sufficient funds it would be normal to expect him to have paid to put his sons into suitable apprenticeships or to have attained their freedom within his own Livery Company by means of “patrimony”.

Assuming that the above parish register entries relate to our token issuer and his son, and not coincidentally named individuals, the combined evidence points to the first burial record (i.e. in 1665) being that for the 17 year old John Knowles junior. The second (i.e. in 1698/9) is then likely to be that for John Knowles senior who must have returned to the Shoe Lane area after the Great Fire of September 1666 to re-establish his business.

Based on the above deduction it appears highly possible that John Knowles junior died while still working for the family business in Shoe Lane. The date of his death is significant as it coincides with a period in 1665 when London was being ravaged by one of the most infamous outbreaks of bubonic plague. Between the start of the outbreak in early 1665 and its eventual disappearance in early 1666 the plague is estimated to have claimed the lives of approximately 100,000 citizens. The death toll reached a peak during the warm Summer months but even into early October 1665 was still claiming between 2,000 to 4,000 victims per week. On the 8th October, the day of John Knowles junior’s internment; his body was one of 10 that were buried in the churchyard of St. Bride’s Fleet Street alone, the following day saw a further 16 burials at St. Bride’s and the day afterwards another 15.

Total deaths and plague related deaths in London during 1665

Total deaths and plague related deaths in London during 1665

The presumed burial register entry for John Knowles senior (i.e. 31st January 1698/9) indicates him living at “Leues” (an unknown personal or business premises name) up the steps in Popinjay Ally. This ally or court ran to the east and parallel to Shoe Lane. In August 1663 the famous diarist Samuel Pepys records entering this alley via a gate way off the north side of Fleet Street and visiting an alehouse there (3). This may have been the Green Dragon which is recorded as having issued its own farthing trade tokens during the mid-1650s to early 1660s (4). In addition to this alehouse it is likely that the ally contained a mixture of private homes and businesses. It is possible that “Leues” was one such business, possibly a cook house (i.e. a type of hot food take away establishment popular in mid-17th London) where in his later years John Knowles may have been living and working in semi-retirement.

 

References:

  1. Mills, P. & Oliver, J. – The Survey of Building Sites in the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666. Volume II. (London Topographical Society Publication. No.103. 1967).
  2. Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers, Cooks’ Company 1654-1800. Volume 26.  (Society of Genealogists. 1999).
  3. Latham, R.C. – The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Volume IV – 1663 (Harper Collins, 2010).

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