Tag Archives: Hearth Tax

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1)      Octagonal

2)      Heart-shaped

3)      Square

4)      Diamond-shaped

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Parr's tomb and memorial in Westminster Abbey.

Thomas Parr’s tomb and memorial in Westminster Abbey.

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

The Bell Tavern in King Street, Westminster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However it was reportedly also dirty (4);

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To his brother George the sum of £5.

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

castle token 2

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

 John Peek

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

The Savoy Hospital c.1650

The Savoy Hospital c.1650 by Wenceslaus Hollar

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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Gabriell Marden of Durham Yard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

References:

  1.  Thompson, R.H. & Dickinson, M.J. – Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles – Volume 62 (The Norweb Collection) – Tokens of the British Isles 1575 – 1750. Part VIII – Middlesex and Uncertain Pieces. (London, 2011).
  2. Brushfield, T.N. – Raleghana. Part V. The History of Durham House. Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art. Volume XXXV. 1903.
  3. Strype, J. – A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster: Containing the Original, Antiquity, Increase, Modern Estate and Government of those Cities. – Corrected, Improved, and very much Enlarged Edition. (London, 1720).
  4. Latham, R.C. – The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Volume IX – 1668-9 (Harper Collins, 2010).
  5. Keene, D.J. and Harding, V. – Historical gazetteer of London before the Great Fire: Cheapside; parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary, St Mary le Bow, St Mary Colechurch and St Pancras Soper Lane. 1987.
  6. Whitebrook, J.C. and Whitebrook, W. – London Citizens in 1651, Being a Transcription of Harleian MS. 4778.
  7. Westminster Rate Book 1634-1900 Transcriptions. Highway Rate 1663 Poor Rate Ledger 1658-1663 Overseers’ Accounts 1658-1659. Entry for Gabriell Marden of Durham Yard, 1658. Assessed via http://www.findmypast.co.uk. 
  8. PROB/11/309. National Archives (London).
  9. All parish register entries referenced have been accessed via http://www.ancestry.co.uk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. John Reynolds May the 24th 1669

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three decorated pies made using 17th century designs

Three decorated pies made using 17th century designs

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

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

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

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

8th October 1665 – John Knoles from Shoo lane

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

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

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

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

Total deaths and plague related deaths in London during 1665

Total deaths and plague related deaths in London during 1665

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

 

References:

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

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John March of the Swan in Ratcliff Cross

A farthing token issued in the name of the John March of the Swan  in Ratcliff Cross in the parish of Stepney

A farthing token issued in the name of the John March of the Swan in Ratcliff Cross in the parish of Stepney

The above copper farthing token measures 16.0 mm and weighs 1.29 grams. It was issued by John March, a tradesman of Ratcliff Cross in the parish of Stepney, Middlesex.

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

Obverse: (mullet) IHON. MARCH. THE. SWN , around a depiction of a swan walking left with wings raised and with a chain around its neck.

Reverse: (mullet) AT. RATLLIF. CROSE, around a twisted wire circle, within a triad of initials comprising I | .M. | .M with a dot below the upper “M”.

The token is undated but on stylistic and historical record grounds is likely to date from the period 1650s or early 1660s. The initials on its reverse are those of its issuer (i.e. John March where “J” in Latin script is equivalent to “I”) plus that of his wife’s Christian name (i.e. possibly Mary or Martha etc.). 

Ratcliff in the parish of Stepney (c.1720) Indicating Ratcliff Cross area (in yellow) and Swan Yard (in green)

Ratcliff in the parish of Stepney (c.1720) Indicating Ratcliff Cross area (in yellow) and Swan Yard (in green)

John March lived and worked from premises at or by the sign of the Swan, Ratcliff Cross in the village of Ratcliff. During the mid-17th century the area to the east of the Tower of London was still relatively lightly populated and semirural. It contained a scattering of villages which collectively were to become the borough of Tower Hamlets.

By the early 17th century Ratcliff was one of the largest communities in the parish of Stepney. It had a population of approximately 3,500 inhabitants. Being located on the north bank of the River Thames It had long been associated with ship building, fitting and provisioning and was home to many mariners.

Very little is known about John March. His associate trade sign, i.e. the chained swan, may suggest that he was a publican or brewer. The sign of the swan had been favoured in London by brew houses and taverns from as early as the 14th century (1).

A review of early maps of the Ratcliff area indicate that just north-west of Ratcliff Cross, on the south-east corner off Broad Street was a court area known as Swan Yard. It is tempting to think that this marked the location of a tavern or brew house of the same name. This location has a very high probability of being where John March had his home and business.

A search of local parish registers has identified two baptism records which may throw further light on John March’s trade. Both of these records are from John March’s home parish, i.e. St. Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney. A summary of these records is given below;

5th July 1650 – Baptism of Joseph, son of John March of Ratcliff, cook and Mary

15th May 1667 – Baptism of Mary, daughter of John March of Dog Road, silk weaver and Mary

It is impossible to say if either of the above refer to John March and his wife. In both entries the mother’s Christian name starts with a letter that fits with that of the token issuer’s. The first entry fits with the location of the token issuer. The location of “Dog Road” mentioned in the second entry is unclear. Given the two dissimilar trades mentioned in the above parish register entries it is unlikely that the John Marchs mentioned are one and the same person despite them both having a wife with the same Christian name.

A review of Hearth Tax returns for Ratcliff and other locations in the parish of Stepney for 1666 has failed to identify a John March. There is however a mention of a widow March living in a property with two hearths in Nightingale Lane in the adjoining village Lime House in the same parish. No burial record has so far come to light for a John March within the parish of Stepney during the period between the mid-1650s to mid-1660s. One possibility for the apparent disappearance of John March from the Hearth Tax returns from the parish of Stepney in 1666 is that he and his surviving family may have fled the area, as did so many Londoners, during the infamous outbreak of Plague in the capital during 1665/6.

 References:

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

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Thomas Blagrave at the Crown tavern in Threadneedle Street

A half penny token issued in the name of Thomas Blagrave of Threadneedle Street, London

A half penny token issued in the name of Thomas Blagrave of Threadneedle Street, London

The above brass half penny token measures 20.7 mm and weighs 2.34 grams. It was issued by Thomas Blagrave (or Blagrove), the one time keeper of “The Crown” tavern off Threadneedle Street in the Broad Street Ward of the City of London.

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

Obverse: (six pointed mullet) THO. BLAGRAVE. AT. YE. TAVERN, around a twisted wire circle, within the depiction of a crown.

Reverse: (six pointed mullet) IN. THREEDNEEDLE. STREET, around a twisted wire circle, within a legend in three lines; HIS / HALFE / PENY

The token is undated but is likely to have been issued during the mid to late 1660s.  

The location of the Crown tavern in Threadneedle Street (London)  opposite the Royal Exchange (c.1720)

The location of the Crown tavern in Threadneedle Street (London) opposite the Royal Exchange (c.1720)

 The Crown tavern stood in a little alley leading off the north side of Threadneedle Street, facing the north end of Castle Alley. The latter alley ran along the west side of the Royal Exchange building. During this period there were reputedly at least 20 different taverns close by the Royal Exchange and several more coffee houses. These were very well frequented by the local business community and were a popular haunt of the Fellows of the Royal Society. These included Robert Hooke, Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Boyle who regularly called at the Crown after attending lectures at nearby Gresham College. According to Robert Hooke the Society also held their annual Anniversary dinners at the Crown tavern between 1673 and 1679. The 1668 Hearth Tax returns suggest  that the Crown had 19 hearths which indicates it was a tavern of considerable size (3).

Contemporaies of Samuel Pepys who were regulars in the Crown Tavern - From left to right are Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke

Contemporaies of Samuel Pepys who were regulars in the Crown Tavern – From left to right are Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke

The Crown tavern was burnt down during the Great Fire of 1666 but was soon rebuilt. The new tavern was on the eastern side of the first Bank of England close to the re-built parish church of St. Christopher le Stocks.

Thomas Blagrave was born in Lambourn, Berkshire in c.1627 the son of William and Dorothy Blagrave (1). It is not known when Thomas moved to London but by March of 1641/2 he is recorded as an apprentice to William Trestene in the registers of the London Vintners’ Company (2). Between c.1653 to c.1659 Thomas, and his wife Jane (maiden name Taylor), ran the King’s Head tavern in New Fish Street, London. During their tenancy at this tavern they issued a set of farthing trade tokens bearing a triad of their combined initials on their reverse sides. Thereafter the couple moved to the Antwerp tavern in Bartholomew Lane, opposite the Royal Exchange, off Threadneedle Street. This was a tavern of some considerable size as confirmed from the Hearth Tax returns of 1662 which records it having 18 hearths. Thomas Blagrave kept this establishment until c.1663 (2) when his family moved literally round the corner to take over the running of the Crown tavern on Threadneedle Street.

The Royal Exchange Building off Threadneedle Street London (c.1569)

The Royal Exchange Building off Threadneedle Street London (c.1569)

During their marriage Thomas and Jane had at least four children (4). Two of them, Benjamin (b.1659) and Charles (b.1661), were born while they kept the Antwerp Tavern. A further two, Hannah (b.1667) and Thomas (b.1670/71), were born while they were resident at the Crown tavern.

 In the accounts of St. Christopher le Stocks parish church “Captain” Thomas Blagrave is variously listed from 1664 as being one of the leading parishioners (3). From 1681 Thomas’ rating assessment within the parish was second only to that of John Houblon who is frequently mentioned by Samuel Pepys in his diaries. Houblon was the first Governor of the Bank of England. 

John Houblon - a contemporary of Thomas Blagrave ad also a fellow leading parishener in the parish of St. Christopher le Stocks

John Houblon – a contemporary of Thomas Blagrave ad also a fellow leading parishener in the parish of St. Christopher le Stocks

While Pepys diaries make no reference to Thomas Blagrave by name it does contain eight separate mentions of the diarist visiting the Crown tavern during the period 1665 to 1666. These diary entries are listed below.  References to the “club” and “’Change” in these refer to the Royal Society and Royal Exchange respectively.

Tuesday 31st January 1664/65

So to the ‘Change, back by coach with Sir W. Batten, and thence to the Crowne, a taverne hard by, with Sir W. Rider and Cutler, where we alone, a very good dinner. Thence home to the office, and there all the afternoon late.

Wednesday 15th February 1664/65

Thence with Creed to Gresham College, where I had been by Mr. Povy the last week proposed to be admitted a member;1 and was this day admitted, by signing a book and being taken by the hand by the President, my Lord Brunkard, and some words of admittance said to me. But it is a most acceptable thing to hear their discourse, and see their experiments; which were this day upon the nature of fire, and how it goes out in a place where the ayre is not free, and sooner out where the ayre is exhausted, which they showed by an engine on purpose. After this being done, they to the Crowne Taverne, behind the ‘Change, and there my Lord and most of the company to a club supper; Sir P. Neale, Sir R. Murrey, Dr. Clerke, Dr. Whistler, Dr. Goddard, and others of most eminent worth. Above all, Mr. Boyle to-day was at the meeting, and above him Mr. Hooke, who is the most, and promises the least, of any man in the world that ever I saw. Here excellent discourse till ten at night, and then home…

Monday 22nd January 1665/66

Thence by water in the darke down to Deptford, and there find my Lord Bruncker come and gone, having staid long for me. I back presently to the Crowne taverne behind the Exchange by appointment, and there met the first meeting of Gresham College since the plague. Dr. Goddard did fill us with talke, in defence of his and his fellow physicians going out of towne in the plague-time; saying that their particular patients were most gone out of towne, and they left at liberty; and a great deal more, &c. But what, among other fine discourse pleased me most, was Sir G. Ent about Respiration; that it is not to this day known, or concluded on among physicians, nor to be done either, how the action is managed by nature, or for what use it is. Here late till poor Dr. Merriot was drunk, and so all home, and I to bed.

Wednesday 14th February 1665/66

So home, they set me down at the ‘Change, and I to the Crowne, where my Lord Bruncker was come and several of the Virtuosi, and after a small supper and but little good discourse I with Sir W. Batten (who was brought thither with my Lord Bruncker) home.

Saturday 3rd March 1665/66

After a small dinner and a little discourse I away to the Crowne behind the Exchange to Sir W. Pen, Captain Cocke and Fen, about getting a bill of Cocke’s paid to Pen, in part for the East India goods he sold us. Here Sir W. Pen did give me the reason in my eare of his importunity for money, for that he is now to marry his daughter.

Friday 16th March 1665/66

Up and all the morning about the Victualler’s business, passing his account. At noon to the ‘Change, and did several businesses, and thence to the Crowne behind the ‘Change and dined with my Lord Bruncker and Captain Cocke and Fenn, and Madam Williams, who without question must be my Lord’s wife, and else she could not follow him wherever he goes and kisse and use him publiquely as she do.

Monday 2nd April 1666

Thence to the Crowne tavern behind the Exchange to meet with Cocke and Fenn and did so, and dined with them, and after dinner had the intent of our meeting, which was some private discourse with Fenn, telling him what I hear and think of his business, which he takes very kindly and says he will look about him.

Monday 4th June 1666

Thence back with Mr. Hooke to my house and there lent some of my tables of naval matters, the names of rigging and the timbers about a ship, in order to Dr. Wilkins’ book coming out about the Universal Language. Thence, he being gone, to the Crown, behind the ‘Change, and there supped at the club with my Lord Bruncker, Sir G. Ent, and others of Gresham College.

 Thomas Blagrave’s wife Jane died in May of 1683 and was buried at the neighbouring church of St. Christopher le Stocks where two of the couple’s children, Benjamin and Thomas, had previously been interred in May and June of 1676 respectively. In 1687 it appears that Thomas got re-married to a 36 year old widower by the name of Hannah Taylor. While he was still running the Crown tavern his place of residence was given on the marriage license as Isleworth in Middlesex. Thomas died on 17th September 1693 aged 66.

 

An aerial view of the west end of Threadneedle Street showing the new Royal Echange building plus the south facing view of the Bank of England. The Crown tavern was located to the right hand side of the Bank of England's main entrance which is marked in red

An aerial view of the west end of Threadneedle Street showing the new Royal Echange building plus the south facing view of the Bank of England. The Crown tavern was located to the right hand side of the Bank of England’s main entrance which is marked in red

By the start of the 18th century the Crown tavern had become a coffee-house and by the 1760s it was no-longer trading and had become absorbed within the buildings of its neighbour the Bank of England. Its location on maps of the period is marked by the site of Crown Court. Today the tavern is long gone. Its location would have been slightly to the east of the main entrance of the present Bank of England at the western end of Threadneedle Street.

Foot Notes:

1)      Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London – A data base comprising 238 volumes and 27 volumes of Index which lists some 60,000 inhabitants of London from 15th to the 19th centuries.

2)      Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers. Volume 43. Vintners’ Company 1609-1800. (2006). – According to the summarised entry of Thomas’ apprenticeship indentures his place origin is listed as Wing in Buckinghamshire. This was his mother’s home village and he may have moved from Lambourn in Berkshire (his birth place) to live with family on his mother’s side prior to moving to London.

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

4)      According to Boyd’s “Inhabitants of London” Thomas and Jane Blagrave had a further child, Jane who was married a Thomas Lechmere in 1677 in Westminster Abbey. The present writer has not been able to find conclusive evidence to support this or that Jane was not the daughter of a different Thomas Blagrave, i.e. Thomas Blagrave the Royal Court musician (d. 1688) who lived in Westminster and who was possibly very distantly related to the same Berkshire family as Thomas Blagrave the token issuer).

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The Black Bell in Thames Street

A farthing token issued by a tradesman operating from the sign of the Black Bell in Thames Street, London.

A farthing token issued by a tradesman operating from the sign of the Black Bell in Thames Street, London.

The above copper farthing token measures 15.6 mm and weighs 1.03 grams. It was issued in 1652 by a tradesman, possibly a tavern keeper, operating from premises at or by the sign of the Black Bell in Thames Street, London.

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

Obverse: (mullet) AT. THE. BLACK. BELL , around a depiction of a bell.

Reverse: (mullet) IN.THEMS.STREETE, around twisted wire inner circle, within a legend in three lines; P.N / NVCE / 1652.

It is not clear if the initials above the issuers surname “Nuce” stand for the first and last names of the issuer or alternatively represent the Christian names of the primary token issuer plus his wife (i.e. Mr. P. Nuce and Mrs. N. Nuce). It is typical to find the latter sets of initials on the reverse side of 17th century tokens in the form of a triad.

Thames Street was an important and very long thoroughfare which ran parallel to the warehouses, homes and other buildings on the north bank of the Thames between the Tower of London and Puddle Dock (south of the West End of St. Paul’s Cathedral).

The Church of All Hallows the Great on Thames Street (c.1720)

The Church of All Hallows the Great on Thames Street (c.1720)

A review of London parish registers plus other genealogical sources has so far failed to identify a Mr. P. Nuce. However, a review of London Hearth Tax returns for the years 1662 and 1666 indicates one possible candidate with matching initials plus the surname “Nuce”. This match, from the 1662, is for a man by the name of Philipp Nuce who paid tax on a property with 6 hearths in the second precinct of the parish of All Hallows the Great in the Dowgate Ward of the city. It so happens that Thames Street passes directly through this Ward, more over All Hallows Parish Church lies on the south side of Thames Street. As such Philipp Nuce must be considered as a very definite contender as the issuer of this farthing token. The fact that Philipp Nuce is not recorded in the London Hearth Tax returns for 1666 (pre the Great Fire of September 1666) may suggest that by that date he had either left the city or had died. Either of these options is possible.

We can’t be certain of the trade of this particular token issuer but the sign of the Bell or Black Bell was commonly used by taverns in the city during the 17th century. As such our token issuer may well have been a tavern keeper.

Thames Street and the surrounding areas were all consumed during the Great Fire of London in September 1666. It is unlikely that the re-use or memory of the sign of the Black Bell in Thames Street will have survived after the conflagration other than in the paranumismatic record.

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Thomas White in Fore Street, Cripplegate Without

A farthing token issued by Thomas White operating from the sign of the Tree or Bush in Fore Street, London.

A farthing token issued by Thomas White operating from the sign of the Tree or Bush in Fore Street, London.

The above copper farthing token measures 15.9 mm (maximum) and weighs 0.82 grams. It was issued in 1661 by a tradesman operating from premises at or by the sign of the Bush or Tree in Fore Street in the Parish of St. Giles Without Cripplegate.

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

Obverse: (rosette) THOMAS. WHITE, around a twisted wire inner circle, within a depiction of a Tree or Bush with the date numerals 16 & 61 either side.

Reverse: (rosette) IN.FORE.STREET, around twisted wire inner circle, within the initials T W plus two rosettes above and below.

This particular token is oddly shaped. It should be round but is far from it. Instead it appears to have been struck on a roughly square or diamond shaped blank with rounded ends. It is possible that this is the result of the blanks, on which the token was struck, being cut from an undersized strip of sheet copper.

Fore Street in the Parish of St. Giles Without Gripplegate from John Ogilby & William Morgan’s 1676 Map of the City of London

Fore Street in the Parish of St. Giles Without Gripplegate from John Ogilby & William Morgan’s 1676 Map of the City of London

There is no mention of a White family in Fore Street in the 1666 Hearth Tax returns. By this date it is possible that Thomas may have left the area or he and his family could have fallen victim to the Great Plague of 1665.

 A search of parish registers for the area has failed to identify any entries in the name of Thomas “White” around this period. However, references do exist to a Thomas “Quait” which is an accepted alternative spelling of this surname at this period. Thomas Quait of St. Giles Cripplegate married Joan Whitlock in the neighbouring parish church of Saint Michael’s Bassishaw, London on 13th February 1657/8. Thomas is elsewhere recorded as a Cordwainer (i.e. a shoe maker). It is by no means certain that Thomas Quait of St. Giles Without Cripplegate is synonymous with Thomas White of Fore Street in 1661. If they are the same person it is interesting why only his initials appears on the reverse of his token instead of the triad of both his and his wife’s initials. One obvious answer to this could be that by 1661 his wife was no-longer living.

The parish church of St. Giles Without Cripplegate, London - In 1620 a then obsure country gentleman from Huntingdon by the name of Oliver Cromwell was married within this church to Elizabeth Bourchier.

The parish church of St. Giles Without Cripplegate, London – In 1620 a then obsure country gentleman from Huntingdon by the name of Oliver Cromwell was married within this church to Elizabeth Bourchier.

Previous authors have officially recorded the image on the obverse of this token as a tree. However, in Bryant Lillywhite’s extensive survey “London Signs” (published in 1972) there is no reference of the emblem of the “tree” being used in London as a tradesman’s sign. However, the sign of the “bush” was very popular in London during this and earlier periods as a tavern sign or as a sign denoting a place where liquor was obtainable.

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