Tag Archives: Hearth Tax

Ralph Butcher in Bishopsgate Without

A farthing tradesman's token issued by Ralph Butcher of Bishopsgate Without, London (Image courtesy of Simmons Gallery)

A farthing tradesman’s token issued by Ralph Butcher of Bishopsgate Without, London (Image courtesy of Simmons Gallery)

The above brass farthing token measures 16.9 mm and weighs 0.90 grams. It was issued in the name of Ralph Butcher a tradesman who operated his business in the Bishopsgate Without district of London.

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

Obverse: A legend in italics in three lines reads; Ralph / Butcher / 1666 .

Reverse: (circle with eight radiating rays) WITHOVT . BISHOPS . GATE , around a twisted wire inner circle within the depiction of a rod from which is suspended six candles, three either side of a lion rampant facing left.

The design on the token’s reverse is almost certainly a depiction of the trade sign which hung over Ralph Butcher’s premises or that of premises adjacent to his. If it was his personal trade sign, and not just an historic one which had long been associated with the building he worked from, its design may well offer clues as to the token issuer’s trade. The rod with suspended candles would have been instantly recognizable in the 17th century as an emblem associated with a wax or tallow chandler (Note 1).

The district in which Ralph Butcher’s trade property was located, i.e. Bishopsgate Without, lay immediately to the north east of London’s city walls outside the Bishopsgate entrance to the city and along the Old North Road. It was one of the parts of London which was spared by the Great Fire of September 1666 which, by coincidence, was the year in which Ralph Butcher issued his token.

In Williamson’s standard catalogue of 17th British tradesmen’s tokens (1) a foot note against the entry for the above token indicates that in 1664 the same Ralph Butcher was trading in Tower Street, within the heart of the City of London. His evidence for this being the existence of a farthing token bearing the sign of the Three Sugar Loaves with the obverse and reverse legends; RALPH BVTCHER. 1664. IN. TOWER. STREETE. The token’s reverse bears a triad of issuer’s initials; R.B.A.

A farthing trade token of Tower Street issued by R & A B in the name of the Three Sugar Loaves in 1664

A farthing trade token of Tower Street issued by R & A B in the name of the Three Sugar Loaves in 1664

In addition to indicating the presence of a tradesman by the name of Ralph Butcher operating in Tower Street in 1664 we may deduce from the token that the Christian name of the issuer’s wife began with the letter “A” (e.g. Ann or Agnes for example). In addition, the trade sign indicated (take this word out***), if personal to the issuer and not just a historical one associated with his premises etc., may be indicative of Ralph Butcher being a grocer. The trade sign of one or more sugar loaves was commonly adopted by grocers in 17th century London to mark and advertise their shops (2).

A map of the Ward of Bishopsgate Without, London in c.1720

A map of the Ward of Bishopsgate Without, London in c.1720

In Search of the History of Ralph Butcher & His Family

The following brief account of the life of the above token issuer and his immediate family has been pieced together from a variety of sources including parish registers, livery company records, hearth tax and probate records and finally burial registers related to the Society of Friends of London.

Initial searches of transcribed London parish registers and related genealogical data bases (3)(4)(5)(6) has indicated two families with the surname Butcher living in 1660s London having heads of the family by the name Ralph. The first of these families (Ralf and Mary Butcher) lived in the parish of St. Sepulchre, Holborn while the second (Ralph and Ann Butcher) lived, or at least had strong associations, to the parish of St. Botolph, Bishopsgate Without. Given that the Ralph Butcher we are interested in was issuing trade tokens in Bishopsgate Without in 1666 (if not also in Tower Street in 1664) the primary focus obviously falls on the second of the above two identified families.

In an attempt to confirm Ralph Butcher’s profession the trade signs on both the earlier described trade tokens associated with his name have been used as a guide. As previously noted the depiction of a rod of suspended candles or sugar loaves and on trade signs of the period is strongly associated with candle makers and grocers respectively. A review of the master and apprentice records for the Worshipful Companies of Tallow Chandlers, Wax Chandlers and Grocers (7)(8)(9) has failed to identify a Ralph Butcher associated with any of them. As such it is reasonable, but by no means certain, to conclude that our token issuer’s practiced an alternative trade.

The first reference to Ralph and Ann Butcher in the parish of St. Botolph, Bishopsgate Without, occurs in the parish baptisms records where we find the following entry for his son;

5th May 1660 – Simon the son of Ralph and Ann Butcher

Ralph Butcher is further recorded as living in the ‘first precinct on the West” of the parish in the returns from the 1662/3 Hearth Tax. He is listed as paying 10 shillings on a property with 5 hearths (10). Unfortunately the Hearth Tax assessments for Bishopsgate Without from 1666 have not survived. However, those for Tower Street have but contain no listing for a Ralph Butcher.

We can’t be sure if Ralph Butcher, the token issuer of 1666 from Bishopsgate Without, is the same individual who issued the earlier farthing token from a business in Tower Street in 1664. Having now ascertained that both the former and latter tokens were issued by a Ralph Butcher who had a wife whose Christian name began with “A” further supports Williamson’s assumption that both tokens were issued by the same individual.

By 25th January 1668/9 Ralph Butcher’s health was obviously a cause for concern for him as it was on this date that he draw up his Last Will and Testimony (11)  This document is very enlightening as its opening sentences not only confirms the status of his health, i.e. being “weak in body but of sound and perfect mind and memory”, but goes on to verify him as being of the parish of St. Botolph, Bishopsgate Without, and his standing as a “citizen and poulterer of London” (Note 2). As a poulterer Ralph would have sold both poultry and game to the general public typically from a street facing open fronted shop located either in front of or below the private rooms of his home.

A 17th Century Poulterer's Shop - By Frans Snyders (1579–1657)

A 17th Century Poulterer’s Shop – By Frans Snyders (1579–1657)

Ralph Butler’s Will confirms him as still being married to his “loving wife” Ann who he made executrix and principal beneficiary of his estate and worldly goods. His Will makes no mention of any surviving children but does mention the existence of three other “kinsfolk”, namely Richard Butcher, Elizabeth Watkins and a nephew, John Block. To each of these individuals he left only the token sum of one shilling each. Additional sums of 40 shillings each were bequeathed to his good friends William Harwood and Ezekiel Woolley who he also requested to act as overseers of his Will.

Ralph’s Will clearly indicates he owned or had interests in multiple properties. These included his own home and a neighbouring one in the Bethlem district of the parish, the latter of which was then occupied by a William Pemberton. Ralph’s other holdings comprised two copyhold properties in the village of Plaistow in Essex (some 6 miles from Bishopsgate). At that time these were in the hands of tenants, namely George Sherebofe and Ralph’s friend Ezekiel Woolley.

Ralph Butcher went on to live a further 20 months after making his Will. His burial record is enlightening in that it more accurately confirms whereabouts in the parish he was living at the time of his death, the cause of his death (as best known at the time), where he was buried and his precise religious denomination.

Ralph’s death was not recorded in the burial register of St. Botolph, Bishopsgate Without, despite the fact he was still living in the parish at the time. Instead it is to be found in the London and Middlesex burial records of the Society of Friends. It appears that Ralph Butcher was a Quaker. His burial register entry (for 25th November 1670) reads as follows;

Ralph Butcher neer halfe Moon Ally without Bishopsgate Departed this Life the 25th day of the 9th Month 1670 and was buryed in the Burying in Checker Ally his Distemper was given in a Dropsie.

Assuming Ralph didn’t move residences within the parish during the last 20 months of his life we know that the location of his home was between Half Moon Alley and Bethlem (or Bedlam as it was more commonly known). This puts it approximately within the bounds of the red circle in the map below, where Half Moon Alley is marked in yellow.

A map of the Ward of Bishopsgate Without, London (c.1720) indicating the general area where Ralph Butcher is believed to have lived. Half Moon Alley is indicated in yellow.

A map of the Ward of Bishopsgate Without, London (c.1720) indicating the general area where Ralph Butcher is believed to have lived. Half Moon Alley is indicated in yellow.

Ralph’s cause of death is given in his burial record as dropsy. This was the term commonly given in the 17th century to edema, a condition whereby liquid is retained in parts of the body and under the skin causing severe swelling.

Ralph Butler’s body was interred in Chequer Alley Quaker Burial Ground (Note 3) which was located north of the city walls on Bunhill Fields between Upper Moor Fields and Old Street. His Will was proven on 2nd December 1670 (12).

No further conclusive record has been found relating to either Ann or Simon Butcher after Ralph’s death. However, the burial registers of the Society of Friends of London do record the interment, in Chequer Alley Burial Ground, of a still born child on 15th September 1672 to a Richard and Ann Butcher. This poses the question – did Ann Butcher marry Ralph’s “kinsman” Richard after her husband’s death?

Footnotes:

1)  An almost identical token in terms of style, design, trade sign and issuing location to that described above for Ralph Butcher was issued in the name of Henry Slater in 1667. It is unclear if Henry operated from neighbouring business premises to Ralph Butcher, thereby qualifying him to use the same trade sign, or if he took over those formerly occupied by Ralph in 1666.

2) George Berry has previously identified only two 17th century poulterers’ token from London. These were issued by John Puller of the Strand and Edmund Warner of Newgate Market (13). The identification of Ralph Butcher’s trade now brings the count of known London poulterers’ token issues to three.

A half penny trade token of 1666 issued by Edmund Warner, a poulterer, of Newgate Market.

A half penny trade token of 1666 issued by Edmund Warner, a poulterer, of Newgate Market.

3) The site of Chequer or Checker Alley Quaker Burial Ground lies in an area historically known as Bunhill Fields. This name is possibly derived from a corruption of “Bone Hill”, alluding to the area having been used for occasional burials since the early medieval period. There was certainly a mass secondary interment of human remains on the site in 1549 when over 1,000 cartloads of bones were brought from the charnel house of St Paul’s Cathedral after its demolition (14). The initial burial ground site, which comprised 30 square yards, was purchased for the sum of £270 in 1661 by the London Quakers (15). This was the first freehold property owned by Quakers in the city. The plot lay between of Checker Alley, on its southern side and Coleman Street, on its northern edge. This cemetery opened four years earlier than that of the nearby “Dissenters'” burial ground, on the eastern side of Bunhill Row and north of the “New Artillery Ground”. The latter still forms part of Bunhill Fields Cemetery and Memorial Gardens today.

A map of Bunhill Fields in 1676 showing the location (in yellow) of Checker Alley Quaker Burial Ground at its maximum extent in size

A map of Bunhill Fields in 1676 showing the location (in yellow) of Checker Alley Quaker Burial Ground at its maximum extent in size

As well as burials arising from routine deaths Checker Alley Burial Ground also contains the graves of 1,177 Quakers who died in the Great Plague of 1665/6. The initial plot of 30 square yards quickly became full and additional plots of land were purchased to extend it, until by c.1845 about £3,600 had been invested in the site (16).

Graves were not individually marked with monuments or gravestones. The sole exception was a small tablet on the wall, simply inscribed “G. F.”, in commemoration of George Fox (1624–1691), one of the founders of the Quaker movement. However, so many Quakers came to visit this that it was denounced as being idolatrous by Robert Howard, a prominent member of the Society, and it was destroyed. George Fox is now commemorated by a more modern marker which has also been set against the wall (17).

The location of Quaker Gardens south of Old Street, London

The location of Quaker Gardens south of Old Street, London

The burial ground closed in 1855 by which time it contained approximately 12,000 burials. Shortly after this date work began on the site’s redevelopment. In 1880, as part of the initial land reclamation works some 5,000 bodies were exhumed and re-buried with carbolic acid in a corner of the remaining site (18). The cleared land was subsequently built on until less than half an acre of the original open site remained. What remains of the site today has now been neatly laid out and constitutes Quaker Gardens, a small public garden in the extreme south of the London Borough of Islington. Apart from a couple of memorial plaques, one of which commemorates George Fox, nothing remains to remind the passer-by of its former use or history.

The following video clip presents further information of the Checker Alley Quaker burial ground along with other lost cemeteries of London.

References:

  1. G.C. – Trade Tokens Issued in the Seventeenth Century in England, Wales and Ireland by Corporations, Merchants, Tradesmen, Etc. – A New and Revised Edition of William Boyne’s Work. – Volume 2. (London, 1967).
  2. Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).
  3. Searched via the data bases available at Ancestry – Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/).
  4. Searched via the data bases available at Findmypast – Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records (www.findmypast.co.uk).
  5. Searched via the data bases available at FamilySearch – Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records (https://familysearch.org/).
  6. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  7. Webb, C – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Records – Tallow Chandlers’ Company. 1633-1800. Society of Genealogists (London, 2003).
  8. Webb, C – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Records – Wax Chandlers’ Company. 1666-1800. Society of Genealogists (London, 2000).
  9. Webb, C – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Records – Grocers’ Company. 1629-1800. Society of Genealogists (London, 2008).
  10. 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).
  11. Reference Number: MS 9172/61. Will Number: 154. London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London
  12. Ibid 11.
  13. Berry, G. – Seventeenth Century England: Traders and their Tokens. (London, 1988).
  14. Holmes, B. – The London Burial Grounds: Notes on their history from earliest times to the present day. (New York. 1894).
  15. Butler, D.M. – The Quaker Meeting Houses of Britain Volume 1. (Friends Historical Society. London. 1999).
  16. Ibid 15.
  17. Bowes-Isaacson, L. & P. – Notes for Visitors to Bunhill. (Bunhill Fields Meeting House. 2001).
  18. The British Architect and Norther Engineer. Volume 7. January to June 1877. Bunhill Fields. Page 321. (Manchester. 1877).

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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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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

Humphrey Vaughan of White Hart Yard, Westminster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White Hart Yard, Covent Garden, c.1720

White Hart Yard, Covent Garden, c.1720

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

In Search of Humphrey Vaughan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

7) Ibid 2.

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

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

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

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Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

John Patston at the Iron Gate, Tower of London

A farthing tradesman's token issued by John Patston at the Iron Gate adjacent to the Tower of London

A farthing tradesman’s token issued by John Patston at the Iron Gate adjacent to the Tower of London

The above copper farthing token measures 16.9 mm and weighs 1.10 grams. It was issued in the mid-17th century by John Patston a tradesman living adjacent to the Tower of London in the liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower, Middlesex.

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

Obverse: (mullet) IOHN. PATSTON. , around twisted wire inner circle. Two monograms possibly arranged to form a merchant’s mark. Upper most a conjoined “T” and “S”. Below “I” followed by conjoined “H”, “O”, “N” and finally a “P” in the style of a merchant’s mark.

Reverse: (mullet) AT. THE. IRON. GATE , around twisted wire inner circle. Within a triad of initials comprising I | .P. | .A , with three dots below.

The token is undated but on both stylistic and probability grounds most likely dates to the period 1649 to the early 1660s.

The triads of initials on the reverse of the token are those of its issuer, John Patston, and his wife, Mrs. A. Patston. A further abbreviation of the token issuer name (i.e. John P.) appears in the second of the merchant mark like arrangement of monograms on the tokens obverse. The significance of the first monogram (i.e. Ts) is unknown and remains a tantalising mystery. Could it be the abbreviation of a business partner’s name or something totally different?

John Patston’s business address is clearly stated on his token as being at the Iron Gate. This location was within the precincts of the Tower of London at the south-east corner of the Tower Ditch (i.e. the moat) immediately adjacent to a set of water stairs that took their name from the gate. On the west side of the Iron Gate was Tower Wharf and on the east side St. Katherine Street which led into the Liberty of St Katherine by the Tower. This extra-parochial district of east London comprised approximately 1,000 houses many of which were in a poor state of repair and were crammed along narrow lanes. The district was inhabited by many seamen and rivermen plus vagabonds and prostitutes. Foreign craftsmen and immigrants were also attracted to the area as the Liberty did not come under the jurisdiction of the City’s guilds. Despite the areas high population density in the Great Plague the Liberty’s mortality rate was only half of the rate in areas to the north and east of the City of London.

The Tower of London and part of the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower showing the location of the range of buildings adjacent to the “Iron Gate” from where John Patston traded (map c.1720).

The Tower of London and part of the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower showing the location of the range of buildings adjacent to the “Iron Gate” from where John Patston traded (map c.1720).

In the maps published to illustrate Strype’s Survey of London and Westminster of 1720 (1) only one range of buildings are shown adjacent to the Iron Gate. This survey describes the approach to the gate from the west as follows;

Next, on the same South side, toward the East, is a large Water Gate, for Receipt of Boats and small Vessels, partly under a Stone Bridge from the River Thames. Beyond it is a small Postern, with a Draw-Bridge seldom let down, but for the Receipt of some great Persons, Prisoners. Then towards the East is a great and strong Gate, commonly called the Iron Gate, but not usually opened.

The plan illustrating Haiward’s and Gascoyne’s survey of the Tower of London pre-dates that in Strype’s Survey by 123 years. It shows two significantly longer and parallel ranges of buildings on the south side of the Tower Ditch leading up to the Iron Gate. It was one of these tenements that was later occupied by John Patston and his family in the mid-17th cen

The Liberty of the Tower of London from Haiward’s and Gascoyne’s survey of the Tower (1597)

The Liberty of the Tower of London from Haiward’s and Gascoyne’s survey of the Tower (1597)

Interestingly this particular token is reported to have been found by a “mudlark” in recent times on a stretch of the River Thames foreshore immediately south of the Tower of London. As such it was literally only a stone’s throw from its original issuer’s premises at the Iron Gate where it had originated some 360 years earlier.

(Left) Volunteers from the Thames Discovery Project surveying the foreshore in front of the Iron Gate & Tower Wharf where the John Patson farthing token is believed to have been found in the 1990s (Right) Arial view of the Tower of London clearly showing the once location of the Iron Gate and the Tower beach foreshore

(Left) Volunteers from the Thames Discovery Project surveying the foreshore in front of the Iron Gate & Tower Wharf where the John Patson farthing token is believed to have been found in the 1990s (Right) Arial view of the Tower of London clearly showing the once location of the Iron Gate and the Tower beach foreshore

In Search of John Patston and his Family

Other than working at premises at or by the Iron Gates near the Tower of London John Patston’s token gives no clue as to what his trade might have been. However, sufficient references remain in the historical record to allow us to address this question and many others relating to the life of this particular token issuer and his family.

The following partial life history of John Patston has been generated from parish registers, Livery Company records, hearth tax returns and probate records. While there is always the chance of confusing the historical records relating to different individuals, who share the same name, the use of specific time line, family relationship and geographical identifiers can often be used to help eliminate or minimise this risk. Where available such criteria have been applied in this case.

John Patston was born c.1636 in Northamptonshire (Note 1). On 10th May 1648 his father John, a vintner in Northampton, bound him as an apprentice grocer to John Barnaby of London (2). It appears that that young John Patston was the last of four separate apprentices that John Barnaby took on over his career. The young John would almost certainly have been bound into a standard seven year apprenticeship after which he would have received his freedom and become eligible to set up business himself as a member of the Worshipful Company of Grocers.

Unfortunately John Barnaby died in late 1650 (3) and it can only be assumed that John Patston was re-bound to another master grocer in order to complete his apprenticeship. Irrespective of this initial upset in his early career by 1659 John had become a citizen grocer of London. This is apparent from the apprenticeship records of the Worshipful Company of Grocers which recorded on 1st September of that year John took on his own fist apprentice. This was Collyer Hutchinson the son of Francis Hutchinson a yeoman of the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower, Middlesex (4). Collyer was the first of four apprentices that John took on over the duration of his career.

Collyer Hutchinson’s family lived in the Liberty adjacent to the business address as stated on John Patston’s farthing token (i.e. the Iron Gate). Whether this is an indication that by this date John had already taken up residence in premises at the Iron Gate isn’t certain. However, by 10th January 1659/60 an entry in the registers for St. Katherine by the Tower clearly places him locally and therefore it might be deduced that he was already established at the Iron Gate. This particular register entry is further illuminating in that it not only records the christening of John’s son, also named John, but additionally the name of his then wife, Anna. This is almost certainly the same “Mrs. A. Patston” whose initials are recorded in the triad on the reverse of John’s farthing token (Note 2).

The Royal Hospital and Collegiate Church of St. Katharine by the Tower. Demolished in 1825 to make way for St. Katherine' Docks

The Royal Hospital and Collegiate Church of St. Katharine by the Tower. Demolished in 1825 to make way for St. Katherine’ Docks

On 14th December 1664 John Patston took on a second apprentice namely John Sperry, the son of a yeoman (of the same name) from Riseley in Bedfordshire (5).

The Hearth Tax returns for 1666 records that John Patston was occupying premises with 6 hearths on the south side of Tower Ditch (6), i.e. that area adjacent to the Iron Gate. At this time this constituted the second largest number of hearths recorded from any of the premises bordering the south side of the Tower.

On 4th May 1666 John took on new apprentice. This was Humphrey Hutchins, the son of a Thames waterman (of the same name) from the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower, Middlesex (7). A further review of the Hearth Tax returns for 1666 indicates that Hutchins family lived in a dwelling having only 2 hearths in Lees Court close to St. Katherine’s Church (8). Presumably John Patston knew the father of his new apprentice well. The two would have likely worshipped at the same parish church. Also as a waterman, presumably plying his trade from the local Iron Gate and St. Katherine’s Water Stairs, it can be imagined that Humphrey would have ferried John Patston up and down the River Thames on many occasions.

How the Patston family’s fortunes fared during the Great Plague of 1665 is unknown but given that John appears to have re-married sometime prior to 1672 one assumption is that Anna may have been a victim of the deadly outbreak that cut short the lives of an estimated 100,000 Londoners in less than a 12 month period. No record of Anna’s burial has so far come to light.

John’s second wife was named Elizabeth. A record of their marriage has so far not been identified although on 20th October 1672 the couple christened their daughter, also named Elizabeth, at the nearby parish church of St. Dunstan in the East. This was followed two years later, on 5th October 1674, by the christening of their son, named John, at the same parish church (Note 3). Evidence exists that John Patston had an earlier daughter, named Sarah, in 1668 (Note 4). There is no conclusive evidence as to who her mother was but it was very possibly Elizabeth.

It is interesting to note that in the mid-1670s the Patston family appeared to favour the parish church of St. Dunstan in the East over their previous association with the collegiate church of St. Katherine by the Tower. While both churches were local to the Tower of London St. Dunstan’s was slightly further away from the Iron Gate. It may be that this was Elizabeth Patston’s original home parish or that the Patston family were no longer trading from their former premises having possibly moved further west into the city. From evidence in John Patston’s later history it is clear that by the end of his life he had re-established an association with the church of St. Katherine by the Tower.

In 1680 John Patston was in his mid-40s and was still actively trading as a grocer. On 2nd April of this year he took on what was to be his fourth apprentice. This was Joseph Faircliff the son of Humphery Faircliff an embroiderer from the neighbouring parish of All Hallows-by-the-Tower, London (9).

On entering his apprenticeship the young Joseph Faircliff would have been expecting to serve his new master for at least the next seven years of his life. However, this was not to be. Less than a year later John Patston’s health appears to have taken a turn for the worse. John must have been aware that whatever was afflicting him was gravely serious as on 22nd February 1680/1 he prepared his Will in which he described himself as “weak in body but sound and perfect in mind” (10). Within ten days of making his Will John was dead. The register of St. Katherine by the Tower records his death on 12th March 1680/1 and his burial in the adjoining churchyard on 15th March.

Places mentioned in the history of John Patston in and around the Liberty of the Tower of London (from Strype's Survey of 1720)

Places mentioned in the history of John Patston in and around the Liberty of the Tower of London (from Strype’s Survey of 1720)

John Patston’s Will, which was proven on 14th March 1680/1 (11), is enlightening in that it reveals several more facts relating to his family history.

It is clear from his Will that at some time after 1674 (i.e. the last known reference to his wife Elizabeth) John had re-married for a third time. As yet no record has been identified of either John’s marriage to his last wife Blanch or to the death of his second wife, Elizabeth.

At the time of John Patston’s death he had three surviving children, a son John and two daughters Sarah and Elizabeth. All three were under the age of 21 and un-married. The mention of only one son suggests that his first recorded child (.i.e. John, born to him and Anna in January 1659/60) was already dead.

By the provisions of John’s Will his wife Blanch was bequeathed £200. His three surviving children, Sarah, Elizabeth and John, who are seemingly listed within the Will in order of their respective ages, were each bequeathed £100 which was payable to each of them on reaching the age of 21 or, in the case of the two girls, on the occasion of their marriages. To his surviving apprentice Joseph Faircliff, who is described as a mealman (i.e. a trader in grain and cereal) John left the sum of £5. After the payment of all outstanding debts John left the balance of all his goods and estate to the executor of his Will, namely Humphrey Hutchins, waterman of the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower (12). Rather than just being the father of John’s third apprentice it appears that Humphrey Hutchins was also one of his most trusted friends.

Notes:

1) John Patston’s estimated year of birth (i.e. 1636) has been back calculated from the date when his father bound him as an apprentice grocer to John Barnaby in 1648. In the mid-17th century the typical age for boys to be bound into apprenticeships was 12 although there are examples of some boys being older (i.e. in the range 14 to 18) which could push John Patston’s birth year back to as early as 1630.

2) An entry for 8th March 1655 in the parish registers for St. Mary Whitechapel in east London contain reference to the marriage of a John Patston, of the parish of St. Albans Wood Street (aged 25) and Anne Rappitt of St. Mary Whitechapel (aged 19) who was the daughter of William Rappitt, a baker of the same parish. While the names and ages of this couple fit well with the triad of initials of our token’s issuers’ the occupation stated in the marriage registry for John (a gold wire drawer) does not fit with his previous and later known occupation as a grocer. As such this record has been discounted a being a reference to a different Mr. J. and Mrs. A. Patston to that of our token issuers.

3) In addition to the contemporary documentary references to John and Elizabeth Patston evidence of their marriage is further substantiated from the numismatic record.

A half penny tradesman's token issued by John and Elizabeth Patston at the Iron Gate adjacent to the Tower of London. This example was found by a "mudlark" on the foreshore of the River Thames.

A half penny tradesman’s token issued by John and Elizabeth Patston at the Iron Gate adjacent to the Tower of London. This example was found by a “mudlark” on the foreshore of the River Thames.

Examples of a second trade token type exist which bear an almost identical set of monograms to those on the reverse of John Patston’s farthing token. This second token is struck on an octagonal brass flan and is of a half penny denomination. The obverse of the token depicts a representation of the coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Grocers around which is the triad of initials of its issuers I. P. and E. Above a legend, in three lines, gives the token issuer’s address as “AT IRON GATE”. The reverse of the token bears the legend “HIS HALFE PENNY” in three lines. Below are two monograms possibly arranged to form a merchant’s mark either side of which is a rosette decoration. The upper most monogram comprises a conjoined “T” and “S”. The second below comprises an “I” followed by conjoined “H”, “O”, “N” (i.e. for JOHN) and finally a conjoined “P” and “E”. The added letter “E” in the monogram and the triad displayed on this token is an obvious reference to John Patston’s second wife Elizabeth.

While this second token type is undated its use of a distinctive octagonal flan is something that is only seen in the last four years of the generally accepted issuing period of 17th century British tradesmen’s tokens which ran from 1649 to 1672.

4) On 25th June 1691 a Sarah Patston, aged 2 (i.e. born c.1668) of the Liberty of St. Katherine by the Tower married Jabez Phillips aged 23 at the parish church of All-Hallows, London Wall. This is very probably the marriage of John Patston’s daughter Sarah as recorded in his Will. A review of baptism entries in the registers of the church of St. Katherine by the Tower for 1668 has failed to identify an entry for Sarah. However, it does contain the following puzzling entry which cannot be easily reconciled with the currently perceived family history of John Patston the token issuer.

  • John, some say a bastard, the son of Sarah Patston, daughter of John, was born the 13th of December, baptised the same day.

The above entry is reported here for completeness and as an example of how difficult such research can be, particularly where there is more than one person living in an area of study during the same period and who share a common name or set of initials.

 

References:

1) 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).

2) Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers, Grocers’ Company Apprenticeships 1629-1800. Volume 48. (Society of Genealogists. 2008).

3) PROB/11/213. National Archives (London).

4) Ibid [2].

5) Ibid [2].

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

7) Ibid [2].

8) Ibid [6].

9) Ibid [2].

10) PROB/11/366. National Archives (London).

11) Ibid [10].

12)   Ibid [10].

Acknowledgements:

I would like to thank Nathalie Cohen of Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) for her permission to reproduce her photograph of volunteers of the Thames Discovery Programme surveying the foreshore in front of the Tower of London (as viewed from the north end of Tower Bridge).

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Filed under Tokens from within the City Walls

Mr. Dry at the Three Sugar Loaves in Wapping

A farthing tradesman's token issued at the sign of the three sugar loaves in Wapping, Middlesex.

A farthing tradesman’s token issued at the sign of the three sugar loaves in Wapping, Middlesex.

The above copper farthing token measures 15.9 mm and weighs 0.99 grams. It was issued in 1650 by a tradesman in Wapping, a district of eastern London which runs along the north bank of the River Thames.

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

Obverse: (mullet) AT. THE. 3. SVGER. LOAES, around twisted wire inner circle, depiction of three sugar loaves hanging from a common suspension hoop.

Reverse: (mullet) IN . WAPPIN . 1650 . , around twisted wire inner circle. Within, in two lines, the legend T (rosette) E / DRY

The two initials above the surname “Dry” on the reverse of the token are those of its issuer and his wife respectively, i.e. Mr. T. and Mrs. E. Dry.

During the mid-17th century the area to the east of the Tower of London was still relatively lightly populated and in parts semi-rural. It contained a scattering of villages, including Wapping and Shadwell, which collectively were to become the borough of Tower Hamlets.

Wapping developed along the north embankment of the Thames, hemmed in by the river to the south and the drained Wapping Marsh to the north. This gave it a peculiarly narrow and constricted shape, consisting of little more than the axis of Wapping High Street and some north-south side streets. John Stow, the 16th century historian, described it as a “continual street, or a filthy strait passage, with alleys of small tenements or cottages, built, inhabited by sailors’ victuallers” (1). A chapel to St. John the Baptist was built in Wapping in 1617 although the hamlet continued to remain part of the parish of St. Dunstan and All Angels, Stepney until it was constituted as a parish in its own right in 1694.

The Parish of St. John's Wapping with inset map indicating its relative location within Eastern London (c.1720).

The Parish of St. John’s Wapping with inset map indicating its relative location within Eastern London (c.1720).

Being located on the north bank of the River Thames, Wapping had long been associated with ship building, fitting and provisioning. It was inhabited by sailors, mast-makers, boat-builders, blockmakers, instrument-makers, victuallers and representatives of all the other associated maritime trades. Wapping was also the site of “Execution Dock”, where pirates and other water-borne criminals faced execution by hanging from a gibbet constructed close to the low water mark. Once dead their bodies would be left suspended until they had been submerged three times by the tide.

The "Prospect of Whitby" dates from 1520 and though Execution Dock is long gone, a gibbet is still maintained on the Thames foreshore next to this famous public house

The “Prospect of Whitby” dates from 1520 and though Execution Dock is long gone, a gibbet is still maintained on the Thames foreshore next to this famous public house

In Search of Mr. Dry

Other than working at (or by) the sign of the three sugar loaves in Wapping Mr. Dry’s farthing token gives no clue as to where precisely in the hamlet his business was located. However, the design selected for his trade sign does offer a potential clue as to his trade.

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

 A trade sign incorporating one or more sugar loaves is highly suggestive of its owner being a grocer (2). 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 recognisable and associated with their trade by the public. While this particular trade sign was very much favoured by grocers, examples of it are also known to have been used by certain other tradesmen. Amongst these are occasional examples belonging to taverns plus sundry use by confectioners plus at least one ironmonger and a chandler.

(Right) Reconstruction of a 17th century maid braking sugar from a sugarloaf (Left) A 17th century sugarloaf mold found in excavations in London plus a replicated sugarloaf

(Right) Reconstruction of a 17th century maid braking sugar from a sugarloaf (Left) A 17th century sugarloaf mold found in excavations in London plus a replicated sugarloaf

An examination of the names of 17th century apprentices and masters belonging to London’s Worshipful Company of Grocers (3) has failed to identify anyone with the surname “Dry”. However, this is by no means conclusive evidence that our token issuer didn’t practice in this trade.

A review of 17th century entries from the parish registers in the Tower Hamlets area has indicated several entries in the name of “Dry” or “Drye” that could be potentially related to the token issuer and his family. Principals amongst these are;

1) Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Dry and his wife Elizabeth – Buried 4th October 1665 at St. John’s Church, Wapping.

 2) Thomas son of Thomas Dry of Wapping, Sawyer, and Anne – Christened 7th February 1665/6 at St. Dunstan and All Saints Church, Stepney.

3) Thomas Dry of Well Alley – Buried 12th February 1668/9 at St. John’s Church, Wapping. A sub-notes in the register’s margin indicate that at the time of his death Thomas was poor and bed-ridden.

East London (c.1720) from the Tower of London to Shadwell indicating the location of Well Alley (in red), Wapping

East London (c.1720) from the Tower of London to Shadwell indicating the location of Well Alley (in red), Wapping

It is by no means certain that all or any of the above records refer to the same Mr. T. Dry who issued the above farthing token in Wapping in 1650. However, on the grounds of meeting so many of the historical pre-requests as outlined on the token the first of the three listed must have a very high probability of referring to Mr. T. and Mrs. E. Dry the token issuers.

The second entry may relate to a later marriage of the token issuers, presumably after the death of the Mr. E. Dry referred to on the reverse of the earlier token of 1650.

An analysis of east London Hearth Tax returns from the 1660s has indicated one that could relate to the token issuer, assuming he was still alive and living in the area at that time. In 1666 a Thomas Drye paid tax on a property in Wapping Hamlet having 7 hearths (4). Such a number of hearths would indicate fairly substantial premises. A further, but by no means exhaustive, examination of contemporary 17th century documentation for the east London area has identified two further potential references to the above token issuer. The earliest of these is dated 14th July 1659 and comprises a list of those men appointed by the Commonwealth Parliament to act as commissioners for the militia within “the Hamblets for the Tower of London”. Amongst those listed is one Thomas Dry (5).

Re-enactors portraying the 17th century Tower Hamlets Militia or Trained Guard

Re-enactors portraying the 17th century Tower Hamlets Militia or Trained Guard

A further reference to a Thomas Dry can be found in the Middlesex Sessions Rolls for 1664. On 17th July 1664 a Thomas Dry, a grocer of Whitechapel (then an adjacent hamlet north of Wapping), came before the Justices of the Peace at Stepney.

Depiction of a mid-17th century Conventicle Preacher being brought before the Justices (by Robert Inerarity Herdman c.1873-76)

Depiction of a mid-17th century Conventicle Preacher being brought before the Justices (by Robert Inerarity Herdman c.1873-76)

Thomas was one of approximately a hundred others (most likely Puritans) who had assembled illegally at the home of William Beanes of Stepney for the purpose of exercising religion practices other than those allowed by the Church of England under the Conventicles Act of 1664. The entire group was found guilty and in the case of Thomas Dry the sentence handed down was 3 months imprisonment in Newgate gaol or payment of a fine of 40 shillings (6). It is not know which of these two options Thomas opted for but he must have known that even 3 months in Newgate could potentially result in a death sentence. It has been estimated that one in 10 of those imprisoned in the gaol during the second half of the 17th century died within its walls due to the foul and overcrowded conditions which were a breeding ground for germs and decease.

By linking together the above references in chronological order it is possible to construct various possible adult life histories for Thomas Dry. However, it is impossible to say with any certainty that all of the referenced quotes relate to a single individual and that he was the same Mr. T. Dry who issued trade tokens in Wapping in 1650.

References:

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

2) 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).

3) Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers, Grocers’ Company Apprenticeships 1629-1800. Volume 48. (Society of Genealogists. 2008).

4) 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).

5) Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. His Majesty’s Stationery Office. (London, 1911).

6)      Middlesex County Records: Volume 3, 1625-67. Middlesex County Record Society. (London, 1888).

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Filed under Tokens from East of the City Walls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 A Brief History of the Maypole in the Strand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

2) Ibid.

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

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

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

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

7) Ibid 5.

8) Ibid 4. Foot note. Page 206.

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

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

11) Ibid 10.

12) Ibid 4.

13) Ibid 9.

14) Ibid 10.

15) Ibid 9.

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

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

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

19) Ibid 4.

20) Ibid 9.

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

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

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

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Filed under Tokens from West of 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

George Carpenter, Mealman of Wapping

A farthing token issued by George Carpenter - A mid-17th century grain dealer of Wapping, London.

A farthing token issued by George Carpenter – A mid-17th century grain dealer of Wapping, London.

The above copper farthing token measures 15.6 mm in diameter and weighs 0.80 grams. It was most likely issued in the 1650s. The token was issued by George Carpenter, a mealman (i.e. a dealer in cereal grains and milled flour) operating from premises in Wapping. The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) IORG. CARPENTR. IN around a twisted wire inner circle, within a depiction of a wheat sheaf.

Reverse: (mullet) WAPING. MELL. MAN. around a twisted wire inner circle, within a triad of initials comprising G | .C. | .S with a small dot below the “C”.

Even by the phonetic spelling standards of the 17th century the obverse legend on this token appears clumsy, i.e. JORG. for GEORG. along with the missing “E” in the issuer’s surname.

The triads of initials on the reverse of the token are those of its issuer, George Carpenter, and his wife, Mrs. S. Carpenter.

The depiction of the wheat sheaf on the token’s obverse almost certainly represents the trade sign which hung over George’s business premises in Wapping. The symbol of a wheat sheaf was popular in 17th century London as a tavern sign and was also adopted by many bakers and mealmen, an emblem synonymous with their respective trades (1).

During the mid-17th century the area to the east of the Tower of London was still relatively lightly populated and in parts semi-rural. It contained a scattering of villages, including Wapping and Shadwell, which collectively were to become the borough of Tower Hamlets.

Wapping developed along the north embankment of the Thames, hemmed in by the river to the south and the now drained Wapping Marsh to the north. This gave it a peculiarly narrow and constricted shape, consisting of little more than the axis of Wapping High Street and some north-south side streets. John Stow, the 16th century historian, described it as a “continual street, or a filthy strait passage, with alleys of small tenements or cottages, built, inhabited by sailors’ victuallers”(2). A chapel to St. John the Baptist was built in Wapping in 1617. However, the hamlet continued to remain part of the parish of St. Dunstan and All Angels, Stepney until it was constituted as a parish in its own right in 1694.

The Parish of St. John's Wapping with inset map indicating its relative location within Eastern London (c.1720).

The Parish of St. John’s Wapping with inset map indicating its relative location within Eastern London (c.1720).

Being located on the north bank of the River Thames, Wapping had long been associated with ship building, fitting and provisioning. It was inhabited by sailors, mast-makers, boat-builders, blockmakers, instrument-makers, victuallers and representatives of all the other associated maritime trades. Wapping was also the site of “Execution Dock”, where pirates and other water-borne criminals faced execution by hanging from a gibbet constructed close to the low water mark. Their bodies would be left suspended until they had been submerged three times by the tide.

A further farthing token is known to have been issued in the name of George Carpenter, mealman of Wapping. It is very similar to the one described earlier other than for the following differences;

1)      The die sinker has corrected the spelling of the issuer’s name from JORG. to GEORG. CARPENTER on the token’s obverse.

2)      The triad of initials on the reverse of the token have been altered to G | .C. | .M

Surviving examples of this second token are far commoner than first type described which until relatively recently was unrecorded.

A farthing token issued by George Carpenter - A mid-17th century grain dealer of Wapping, London.

A farthing token issued by George Carpenter – A mid-17th century grain dealer of Wapping, London.

The fact that the anomalous spelling of George’s name has been corrected on this second token is suggestive of it being a later farthing struck in the name of the original token’s issuer. The change in the triad of initials on the reverse of this second token (i.e. from “S” to “M”) is also of note and suggests that the issuer had re-married by the time this second farthing was commissioned.

The Search for George Carpenter of Wapping – A Tale of two Mealmen?

A good point to start the search for any 17th century London token issuer are Parish Registers, particularly those in the immediate locality to the area from which their trade premises were located. A review of parish registers from eastern London yields several references to a person(s) named George Carpenter in the neighbourhood of Wapping in the 1640s to 1660s. Looking at these entries as a whole it is obvious that there was more than one individual in the Wapping area during this period bearing the name “George Carpenter” and that some, if not all, of them were related.

From the parish register entries alone it is difficult to draw precise and accurate conclusions as to the history and relationships of those individuals whose initials are presented in the triads on the reverse sides of the two above trade tokens (i.e. Mr. G.C and Mrs. S.C plus Mr. G.C. and Mrs. M.C.). However, thanks to the preservation of the Will of one George Carpenter, mealman of Wapping, in the National Archives it is possible to address most of the gaps and questions raised from the Parish Register entry evidence.

It is possible that George Carpenter was the son of Thomas and Joyce Carpenter of (Old) Gravel Lane, Wapping. While it is not certain when he was born it is likely to have been several years prior to his sister Elizabeth whose baptism is probably that recorded on the 15th June 1632 in both the parish church registers of St. John’s Wapping and the neighbouring St. Mary’s, Whitechapel.

On 16th February 1636 a George Carpenter married an Alice Caustin at All Saints’ Church, Wandsworth, Surrey. It is possible that these individuals are one and the same as those recorded in the following parish register entries for St. John’s Church, Wapping which must almost certainly refer to the same George Carpenter whose Will is preserved in the National Archives at Kew (3);

1642 – August: Baptism of James son of George and Alice Carpenter

1644 – 22nd November: Baptisms of Sarah and Rebecca twins of Alice and George Carpenter, mealman

From the earlier mentioned Will of George Carpenter, mealman of Wapping, it is clear that at the time of its preparation in February 1651/2 George’s second oldest son was named William. The Will contains no mention of Sarah or Rebecca so it can be assumed that they both died in infancy.

At some time after the 1644 but prior to 1647 it appears that George Carpenter re-married as indicated from the further parish register entries from St. John’s Church, Wapping, listed below.

1647 – 16th October: Birth and baptism of William Carpenter son of George Carpenter, mealman of Old Gravel Lane, and Susana Carpenter

1650 – 24th October: Baptism of William Carpenter son of George Carpenter and Susana Carpenter

1651 – 26th June: Burial of Henry son of George Carpenter

Presumably Alice Carpenter died some time shortly after the birth of Sarah and Rebecca although no burial record has so far been found for her. A baptism record has similarly not been identified for Henry Carpenter so it is unclear if he was the son of Alice or George’s second wife Susana.

It is interesting to note from the above parish register entries that in 1647, at least, the Carpenter family were living in the same area of Wapping, i.e. Old Gravel Lane, as George’s parents had lived at the time of his sister Elizabeth’s baptism in 1632.

A map of Wapping showing the location of Old Gravel Lane (c.1720).

A map of Wapping showing the location of Old Gravel Lane (c.1720).

As yet a marriage record for George and Susana Carpenter has not been identified but presumably they must have been married by the end of in 1646 at the latest.

At the time George Carpenter made his last Will and Testament on 3rd February 1651/2 he describes his condition as being “sick and weak in body”. He states himself as still being a mealman of the hamlet of Wapping and still married to “his loving wife” Susana, who he named as executrix of his Will and whose duty was to be assisted by three overseers, namely his brother-in-law, Robert Hutton and two of his friends, Edward Parsons and George Street.

According George’s Will in February 1651/2 he had four surviving children all of whom were under the legal age of entitlement (i.e. 21). In addition to providing several interesting details concerning his surviving family, George’s Will also identifies some of his closest friends, property holdings and personal wealth. In accordance with the provisions of his Will George divided his estate and belongings into the following bequests;

1)      To his eldest son George on his 21st birthday:

The sum of £300 plus two free hold tenement properties complete with a “Corn yarde with Corn flatts, pitts, Cisternes (and) Mill Kill(n)” in Long Lane, Bermondsey. George had recently purchased these properties from William Hirrocks a citizen and brewer of London. At the time the Will was prepared both properties were being occupied by Edward Birknell, a tanner.

2)      To his second eldest son James on his 21st birthday:

The sum of £500.The interest from which was to be used for their education and maintenance until the time of their coming of age and receipt of their full inheritance.

3)      To his two youngest sons John and William on their 21st birthdays:

The sum of £250 each. The interest from which was to be used for their education and maintenance until the time of their coming of age and receipt of their full inheritance.

4)      To his cousin and servant George Carpenter:

The sum of £60.

5)      To his sister Elizabeth Hutton, brother-in-law Robert Hutton and his good friends Edward Parsons and George Street:

The sum of 40 shillings each for the purchase of mourning rings with which to remember him by.

6)      To his wife Susanna:

All the remains of his worldly house hold goods, stock, ready money, plate and leases.

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

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

Within a week of George making his Will the following record was entered into the parish register of St. John’s Church Wapping.

1651/2 – 9th February: Burial of George Carpenter the husband of Susan

George’s will was proven on 18th February 1651/2.

Without any doubt whatsoever it is certain that the first of the two farthing tokens illustrated above (i.e. that bearing the reverse triad of initials G | .C. | .S) was issued by George and Susanna Carpenter sometime between 1648/9, when the issue of such farthings commenced in London, and the death of George in February 1651/2. So what of the second token (i.e. that bearing the reverse triad of initials G | .C. | .M) issued in the name of George Carter, mealman of Wapping? The third initial does not match the Christian name of either of George’s known two wives, Alice or Susanna. So who did issue the second farthing token? The answer to this question is inferred in the following entry from the parish register of St. Dunstan’s Church, Stepney;

1654 – 10th December: Christening of George (15 days old) son of George Carpenter, mealman of Wapping, and Mary Carpenter

It appears that the second token was issued by George Carpenter junior and his wife Mary after his father’s death in 1651/2. George junior obviously decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and became a dealer in cereal grain whist staying, at least for a time, in his family home of Wapping. He even issued an almost identical farthing trade token to the one circulated by his father some years earlier. Based on the style of George junior’s token it is likely to date to the mid-1650s to early 1660s. The comparative high frequency with which these slightly later tokens appear in the paranumismatic record suggests they were issued in larger numbers and had a longer circulation life than the ones issued by his father.

A marriage record, dated 27th March 1651, exists for a George Carpenter and Mary Ward of the parish St. Margaret’s, Westminster. While this could be the marriage of George Carpenter junior it is dated nearly a year prior to George Carpenter senior’s Will in which there is no mention of his eldest son, who was then still less than 21 years of age, being married.

A further review of the London parish registers of the period has revealed several other references to George Carpenter junior, mealman of Wapping and his family.

1654 – 28th November: Birth of George Carpenter the son George and Mary – St. John’s, Wapping.

1657/8 – 4th February: Burial of a male child still-born of George and Mary Carpenter – St. John’s, Wapping.

1659 – 3rd April: Baptism of John the son of George Carpenter, mealman of Wapping Dock, and Mary Carpenter – St. John’s, Wapping.

1663 – 21st April: Christening of George (15 days old) son of George Carpenter, mealman of Upper Shadwell, and Mary Carpenter – St Dunstan’s, Stepney.

1665 – 28th May: Burial of George Carpenter the son of George and Mary Carpenter – St. John’s, Wapping.

The death of George and Mary’s infant son in May 1665 was probably due to him contacting plague. Like other areas of London the Tower Hamlets area was badly hit by the infamous outbreak of bubonic plague which decimated the capital’s population during 1665 and into 1666.

The period 1654 to 1665 the Carpenters address is variously given in the above parish register entries as Wapping (1654), Wapping Dock (1659) and finally Upper Shadwell (1663). The Hearth Tax returns from Wapping Hamlet of 1666 indicates a George Carpenter occupying premises with four hearths. Unfortunately the hearth tax entry fails to identify which part of Wapping he lived in.

References:

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

2)      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).

3)      PROB/11/220. National Archives (London).

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Filed under Tokens from East of the City Walls