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Edward Brent of Pickle Herring in Southwark

A mid-17th Century Half Penny Trade Token Issued by Edward Brent of Southwark.

The above mid-17th century copper half penny token measures 20.6 mm and weighs 2.31 grams. It was issued in the name of Edward Brent in 1668 and attributed to a tradesman of that name who operated a business from Pickle Herring Stairs on the south bank of the River Thames in Southwark, London.

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

Obverse:  The depiction of a boat sailing right.

Reverse: A legend in five lines reads; EDWARD / BRENT / HIS . HALF / PENNY (cinquefoil) / 1668

The above token must have been issued and/or survived in the present era in relatively large quantities as it almost certainly the commonest 17th century trade token known from Southwark (1) .

The vessel depicted on the token’s obverse is a Hoy. Such vessels were small sloop-rigged coastal ships or heavy barges used for carrying cargos of up to approximately 60 tons. In the 17th and 18th centuries such vessels were a common sight on the River Thames.

A depiction of an 18th Century Hoy

An undated farthing trade token, which is likely to be of a slightly earlier date of issue , is known to have been struck in the name of Edward Brent (2) . This token also depicts a boat on its obverse and clearly states the issuer’s business address as “AT PICKELL HERRING”. The token also records the initials of its issuer, and his wife in the form of a triad of letters, “E.C.B” (i.e. Mr. E. Brent and Mrs. C. Brent).

Pickle Herring Stairs was one of the many watermen’s landing places on the River Thames where their boats (i.e. river taxis) picked-up and set down fee paying passengers (Note 1). The precise location of Pickle Herring Stairs is shown below as being on the south bank of the river in Southwark, close to the parish church of St. Olave, and off the north side of Pickle Herring Street which ran east along the backside of the waterfront buildings.

A map of Southwark  of 1720 showing the locations of St. Olave’s Church (in blue) and Pickle Herring Street (in yellow).

The Token Issuer & His Family

It is likely that Edward Brent, the issuer of the above half penny trade token, was born in the early part of the 17th century. He was possibly the individual of the same name who was christened on 7th May 1615 in the parish church of St. Olave, Southwark, and was son of Edward Brent, a stone mason of that same parish. He had at least one brother and sister who survived into adulthood (3) .

To date no details of Edward’s marriage or any apprenticeship he may have served have come to light. However, by 1647 it appears that he was married and living on the south bank of the River Thames in Southwark. This is clear as on 27th March of that year the parish registers of St. Olave’s, Southwark record the birth of his first daughter. This was to be the first of Edward’s ten recorded children all of which were registered in the same parish church between March 1647 and April of 1661 (Note 2). In none of the associated birth or baptism records of these children is the name of Edward’s wife recorded. However, based on the triad of issuers’ initials (i.e. E.C.B.) on Edward’s earlier mentioned farthing trade token, coupled with evidence presented in his Will (4) , we know that his wife’s name was Christian (Note 3).

The various parish register entries for the births and baptisms of Edward’s children are further enlightening as they record their father’s profession at the time of each of their respective births/baptisms. Between 1647 and 1652 Edward Brent is described as a “limeman”, that is to say someone employed in the trade and manufacture of burnt lime.  However, those entries from 1655 to 1661 alternatively list Edward as a “shipwright”. This is a fairly dramatic change in his stated occupation but might account for the pictorial designs selected for his farthing and half penny tokens both of which depict sailing vessels. Alternatively this design may be an indirect reference to him having been a bulk carrier of raw materials (i.e. lime, chalk and coal) on the river as would have been dictated by his apparent continued involvement in the local lime trade (5) .

From the mid-17th century, if not earlier, it appears that Edward was a man of some considerable means. By 1649 his involvement in the local lime trade was not merely as a simple commodity trader but as a producer also. In that year he purchased the manor of Ingress in Greenhithe, Kent from Mary Shires and her sons Edward and Robert, both of the Inner Temple, London. Edward paid £1,122 for this estate which included a manor house and farm, fresh and salt water marshes, a wharf, a lime-kiln together with a chalk quarry (6) . The estate and manor house was later to pass to Edward’s oldest son and remained in the Brent family until at least 1689 (7) .

Badeslade’s North Prospect of Ingress Abbey, 1719 (8) . – The Seats of Jonathan and Nathaniel Smith built in 1700 on the former estate of Edward Brent at Greenhithe in Kent (Note 4).

After 1649 it may be assumed that Edward’s principal source of burnt lime was from his own kilns in Kent. These were located both on his estate in Greenhithe and possibly in the neighbouring parish of Swanscombe where he also had business interests (9) . The feed stock for his kilns consisted of stone, quarried from his chalk pit at Ingress, coupled with fuel, in the form of coal, which is likely to have been brought in by sea from the North East Coalfield. His Kent lime works were served via fleets of horse and carts plus several hoys (Note 5) which were used to ship the final burnt lime from his wharves at Greenhithe up the River Thames to distribution and sales depots on the edge of London. Edward operated a further kiln and coal stockyard located close to Pickle Herring in Southwark where it appears many of his hoys were harboured (10) . His principal lime sales and distribution depots, or “lime shops” as he referred to them, which served the city were located close to St. Saviour’s Stairs, in Southwark, and at Hermitage Bridge in the Parish of St. Botolph’s Without Aldgate, London. Both locations would have been served by stockyards, stables and moorings for the initial off-loading and subsequent despatch of lime (11) .

In an Act of Parliament dated 14th July 1659 Edward Brent is listed as one of several individuals who were charged with the duty of appointing and mustering a local band of armed men to form the Southwark Militia.  It is not known if Edward was part of any other of the city’s “Trained Bands” of militia prior to this date but it is from this association that we may assume he was granted the title of Captain which he is known to have held (12) .

 The details of Edward’s career development and fortunes are unclear but by the time of the issued of his half penny trade token in 1668 he must have been a man of considerable standing and presumably wealth. In this year he is reported as being an Assistant Warden of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights (13) and, for the brief period between 6th August and 15th September, he was an acting Alderman, representing the Cordwainer Ward of the City of London. Edward’s electors for this post were none other than the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir. William Peake, Sir Robert Hanson (a future Lord Major of London) and Robert Gore (a London mercer) (14) .

By 1667 Edward owned several properties in addition to those premises which were directly associated with his lime trade operations. These includes an unspecified number of houses in Southwark lying in Clink Street, Angel Street, Angel Alley and two further houses in Winchester Park together with additional properties in Newington, Surrey.

While no burial register entry for Edward Brent is know we know that he died sometime shortly after making his last Will and Testament on 17th February 1676/7 as a now lost monument in St. Olave’s churchyard was recorded in 1734 bearing the inscription “EDWARD BTRENR, ESQ. 1676” (15) . He was survived by his wife Christian and at least five of his ten known children, Edward, Nathaniel, Sarah, Judith and Martha. At the time of his death it has been suggested that Edward Brent was a “dissenter” and this may account for that fact that no burial record can be found for him in the burial register of St. Olave’s Church in Southwark. Clearer evidence exists for the fact that Edward’s oldest son, Edward, was a “dissenter”, at least in his later life. Such religious beliefs could easily been have reflected those of his father/parents (Note 6).

In his Will Edward (which passed through probate on 3rd April 1677) left the bulk of his sizeable estate and lime business to his wife Christian. She was entrusted to continue her husband’s business until such time as her sons Edward and Nathaniel came of age (at twenty-one) or married. Thereafter, the following provisions were to be put in place (16) ;

  1. Edward was to go into partnership with his mother and was to jointly own the chalk extraction and lime burning operations located in the parishes of Northfleet and Swanscome in Kent in addition to the “lime shop” at Hermitage Bridge in the Parish of St. Botolph’s Without Aldgate, London. He was also to inherit several of his late father’s horses and carts plus hoys. On the death of Christian these holdings were to pass to her son, Edward and thereafter his heirs.
  2. Nathaniel was to inherit the properties, lime kilns and wharfs at Pickle Herring Stairs along with the limeshop and stables near to St. Saviour’s Stairs in Southwark. He also inherited his late father’s properties in Newington, Surrey, as well as those in Angel Street and Angel Alley plus Clink Street in Southwark. Provision was also made to ensure that his brother Edward would provide him annually with chalk, at a fixed and fair price delivered to Greenhithe, from the family’s quarries at Northfleet. Similar provisions were made for the supply of a quantity of burnt lime from his brother’s kilns. In lieu of such an alternative monetary value was set against each of the above provisions. In the event that Edward did not comply to this, then his part of the family inheritance would then revert to his brother Nathaniel. Nathaniel was also to inherit several of his late father’s horses and carts plus hoys.

The last of these two provisions was a shrewd mechanism whereby both of Edward sons would be able to separately operate parts of their late father’s business by effectively sharing the outputs of the family’s single set of quarries at Northfleet.

Edward Brent’s Will made further sizable provisions to his grandson “Little” Edward. These comprised the sum of £800 plus two properties in Winchester Park, Southwark. These were to be held in trust for young Edward by Christian and/or Nathaniel Brent until his coming of age at the age of twenty-one. Edward’s Will also made provision for his daughters, Sarah, Judith and Martha (17) .

Edward Brent made lesser bequests of £10 and £20 respectively to his nieces, Mary Hubard and Joan Albrey plus £10 to his servant Roger Lawrence. Charitable bequests of £100 and £10 respectively were also made to be distributed over time to the poor of the parishes of Greenhithe and St. Olave, Southwalk (18) .

Notes:

  1. It is believed that the name “Pickle Herring” was derived from this part of Southwark’s historical connection to the Yarmouth Herring trade. The area was also known for its brewing (19) .
  2. The following list of Edward Brent’s ten known children has been compiled from the birth and baptism entries of the parish church of St. Olave, Southwark. Where a child’s name has been found to be illegible in the original document a blank has been entered;
    1. (BLANK), a daughter, born 27th March 1647 to Edward Brent, limeman.
    2. Mary, a daughter, born 7th March 1649 to Edward Brent, limeman.
    3. (Blank), a daughter, born 2nd April 1651 to Edward Brent, limeman.
    4. (Blank), a daughter, born 11th January 1652 to Edward Brent, limeman.
    5. Judith, a daughter, born 24th February 1652 to Edward Brent.
    6. Martha, a daughter, born 30th September 1655 to Edward Brent, shipwright.
    7. Edward, a son, born 30th September 1656 to Edward Brent, shipwright.
    8. Edward, a son, buried (possibly a still-born or infant death) 7th December 1657 to Edward Brent, shipwright.
    9. Nathaniel, a son, baptised 3rd September 1659 to Edward Brent, shipwright.
    10. Rachel, a daughter, baptised 18th April 1661 to Edward Brent, shipwright.
  3. One reference names Edward Brent’s wife as Christian White, the daughter of Roger White of Dover in Kent (20) .
  4. Although pictured 30 years after the estate passed from the hands of the Brent family this view clearly shows the extent of the chalk quarries to the east and west plus what appears to be smoke rising from a possible lime-kiln located at the base of a chalk face to the south-east of the estate buildings (21) .
  5. By 1676 it is known that Edward possessed a fleet of at least ten hoys which presumably underpinned many of the haulage operations associated with his lime trade business. These vessels included the Mayflower, the Mayfloss, the Resolution, the Clout, the Prosperous, the Drift, the Providence, the Hopwell and the Luce (22) .
  6. Edward Brent’s son, Edward, followed in his father’s footsteps. He continued in the lime trade both on his father’s estate in Greenhithe and in Southwark. He became a prominent London figure in his own right and in from 1690 to his death in 1698 was a freeman and Member of Parliament for the town of Sandwich in Kent. His nonconformist leanings lead to a petition against his parliamentary election. At the time of his death it appears that Edward was suffering from financial difficulties and still appears to have been engaged in the Kent lime trade (23) .

Acknowledgements:

The author would like to thank both Tim Everson and Tim Scotney for providing preliminary information and references which were used in the preparation of this article.

References:

  1. Everson, T. – Seventeenth Century Trading Tokens of Surrey and Southwark. (Llanfyllin, 2015).
  2. G.C. – Trade Tokens Issued in the Seventeenth Century in England, Wales and Ireland by Corporations, Merchants, Tradesmen, Etc. – A New and Revised Edition of William Boyne’s Work. – Volume 2. (London, 1967).
  3. Public Record Office – National Archives Catalogue Reference: Prob 11/353.
  4. Ibid 3.
  5. Ibid 3.
  6. Hasted, E. – The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent. Volume 2. (Canterbury, 1797).
  7. Ibid 6.
  8. Kip, J; Badeslade, T & Harris, J. – English houses and gardens in the 17th and 18th centuries: A series of bird’s-eye views. (London, 1908).
  9. Ibid 3.
  10. Ibid 3.
  11. Ibid 3.
  12. Frith, C.H. & Rait, R.S. – Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. (London, 1911).
  13. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  14. Beaven, A.B. – The Aldermen of the City of London. (London, 1908).
  15. Mottley, J. (under the pseudonym Robert Seymour) – A survey of the cities of London and Westminster, borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent. Volume I. (London, 1733).
  16. Ibid 3.
  17. Ibid 3.
  18. Ibid 3.
  19. Ibid 2.
  20. Hayton, D.; Cruickshanks, S. & Handley, S. – The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1690-1715. (2002).
  21. Capon, L. – Early Roman Features, Possibly Defensive, and the modern development of the parkland landscape at Ingress Abbey, Greenhithe. Archaeologia Cantiana Volume 129. (2009).
  22. Ibid 3.
  23. Ibid 20.

 

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The Three Tuns Tavern Against the Great Conduit in Cheapside

A mid-17th century token issued by a tradesman operating from the sign of The Three Tuns, near the Great Conduit in Cheapside, London.

A mid-17th century token issued by a tradesman operating from the sign of The Three Tuns, near the Great Conduit in Cheapside, London.

The above copper farthing token measures 16.8 mm and weighs 1.17 grams. It was issued by a tradesman from the Cheapside Ward of London.

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

Obverse: (mullet) AGAINST . THE . GREAT , around the depiction of three barrels in a triangular stacked arrangement.

Reverse: (mullet) COVNDVIT . IN . CHEAPSIDE , around a twisted wire inner circle. A triad of initials within reads, I|.H.|.S

The triad of initials on the reverse of the above token are those of its issuers. In this case a Mr. I/J.H (where “I” also represents “J” in the Latin alphabet) and a Mrs. S.H.

The design on the token’s reverse is almost certainly a depiction of the trade sign which hung over its issuer’s (or his neighbour’s) business premises. If it was his personal trade sign, and not just an historic one which had long been associated with the building he worked from, its design may well offer clues as to the token issuer’s trade.

The Three Tuns (i.e. barrels) was a fairly common trade sign in 17th century London and one typically associated with taverns. The sign is likely derived from the ancient coat of arms of the Vintners Company of London which, like the token, depicts three wine barrels.

The token’s issue date is not stated in its legend. However, on stylistic grounds it arguably dates from the 1650s or early 1660s. What is clear from the token’s design is the business address of its issuer, i.e. at the sign of the Three Tuns “against the Great Conduit in Cheapside”. This places the token’s issuing location in the heart of the parish of St. Mary Colechurch in the vicinity of the Mercers’ Hall, close to where Cheapside meets Poultry. This was the historic site of the Great Conduit, this being the name given to the flow dispensing house and tap system located at the terminus of London’s first public water supply system (Note 1). This “fresh” system operated from 1245 to the time of its partial destruction during the Great Fire of London of September 1666 (Note 2).

By 1666 there were no fewer than fifteen Conduits in London. They were generally sited in the middle of streets and typically comprised an elaborate pillar like stone structure, which supported an elevated lead tank, and had multiple outlet pipes from which water could be drawn via taps.

The depiction of the "Little Conduit" in West Cheapside from a print of 1585.

The depiction of the “Little Conduit” in West Cheapside from a print of 1585.

In Search of the Token Issuer

There are few clues as to the identity of the issuer of the above token. What we can be certain of is that his Christian name began with the letter “I” or “J” and that his surname began with the letter “H”.  Furthermore, we know that at the time of the token’s production the issuer was married to a woman with a Christian name beginning with the letter “S” and that his business premises were “at the sign of The Three Tuns, against the Great Conduit in Cheapside”.  Also, the style and value of the token infers that it was issued during the 1650s or early 1660s. The central image of three barrels on the token’s obverse additionally suggests that the issuer’s profession might have been that of a vintner and proprietor of a tavern in Cheapside having the trade sign (i.e. “The Three Tuns”).

The fact that our token issuer was a resident of Cheapside in the mid-17th century is fortunate as this Ward of the City has been heavily studied as part of the “People in Place Project” (1). This has led to a considerable amount of parish records and tax return information related to this area being transcribed and published in searchable data base format (2). Using these data bases, which cover the period 1610 to 1687, but which are not all encompassing in their content, searches have been made based on the following criteria;

  1. All males in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch with surnames beginning with “H”. Then, where sufficient information is available in the original records, searching within the resultant sub-group for those individuals with a Christian name beginning with either the initial “I” or “J”.
  2. All males in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch with surnames beginning with “H” who are recorded as being married. Then, where sufficient information is available in the original records, searching within the resultant sub-group for those individuals whose wives’ Christian names begin with the letter “S”.

A summary of the results from the above searches are listed in the table below.

Analysis table of mid=17th century male inhabitants identified from the parish records of St. Mary Colechurch who could have issued The Three Tuns trade farthing (click on image to enlarge).

Analysis table of mid-17th century male inhabitants identified from the parish records of St. Mary Colechurch who could have issued The Three Tuns trade farthing (click on image to enlarge).

From an analysis of the above presented data, coupled with the estimated dates between which the above token was issued, two possible issuer’s names stand out. These are John Higgenbottom and John Heath. Both men were married, as indicated by the Pew List for the parish church of St. Mary Colechurch.

The above data indicates that John Heath was resident in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch from at least 1649 until 1661 and that he was married from at least 1649 to 1658. Unfortunately his wife’s first name is not recorded in the parish church’s pew list and subsequent searches of local parish registers has failed to find any further evidence of her. John Heath is also listed as being one of fifty eight individuals whose property was destroyed in the Great Fire of September 1666. However, his name is not recorded as one of those who staked out his original building plot, in preparation for its rebuilding, after the fire (3).

As for John Higgenbottom, the above summary table indicates that he was first recorded in the parish in 1653 and was still present (or at least a person of the same name), in a re-built property after the Great Fire, until at least 1672. The parish pew list suggests he was married from 1656 to 1661. Again there is no evidence for his wife’s Christian name.

Further searches for the above two individuals have been made in the records of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, given the suggestion by the token’s design that this was the potential trade of its issuer. In the case of John Higgenbottom, no match has been found. However, in the case of John Heath multiple matches (Note 3) are available and furthermore two of these directly place a vintner of that name in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch in both 1654 (4) and 1662/3 (5).

The Hearth Tax returns for 1662/3 lists a John Heath occupying a property containing 5 hearths in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch. Research conducted by the “People in Place Project” goes on to suggest that the property in question was one of the two indicated in yellow in the map of Cheapside parishes reproduced below (6). Both of these properties were located on the south side of Cheapside and were sandwiched between “Gropecunt Alley” on the west and “Bird in Hand Alley” on the east. Given the legend on John Heath’s token, i.e. “Against the Great Conduit in Cheapside”, it is most likely that of the two properties indicated below John Heath’s was that which faced onto the main street opposite the Great Conduit and Mercers’ Hall (i.e. that labelled number 2).

A reconstructed plan of part of Cheapside Ward, London as it would have been in the mid-17th century.

A reconstructed plan of part of Cheapside Ward, London as it would have been in the mid-17th century.

Despite being listed in the register of those who lost property in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch in the Great Fire of September 1666, John Heath is not listed in the parish as one of those who paid Hearth Tax on Lady Day of 1666. His place in the register for the properties of “Bird in Hand Alley” appears to have been taken by a Mr. William Empson (7).

This observation is puzzling but could be explained by a number of possible scenarios, including the following;

  1. Whilst still owning his property/tavern in Cheapside John Heath may have moved out of the parish, and possibly sub-let it to William Empson. Many of the wealthier classes moved out of London in 1665 to escape the ravages of the Great Plague. Not all of these people were to return to the city and many established new businesses outside of the capital whilst still retaining legal claims on their original London premises.
  2. John Heath may have been one of those thousands of unfortunate inhabitants of the city to have been claimed as a victim of the Great Plague which decimated London’s population in 1665/66. If John did die then, and was still married at that time, his widow and/or children (assuming he had any) would presumably still had claim to his property. Hence his name, as that of the lease holder of his Cheapside premises, could still have been recorded in the 1666 parish listing of those who lost property in the Great Fire.

A general search of mid-17th century London parish registers has so far failed to identify a Mr. John and Mrs. S. Heath. While the general parish records for St. Mary Colechurch contain multiple entries for John Heath and his un-named wife, their children (supposing they had any) are conspicuous by their absence in the parish’s registers of baptisms, marriages and burials. Only a single reference to the family has so far been found in this set of records and this is dated 20th September 1666 and is reproduced below;

The burial record of a "John Heath" from the parish registers of St. Mary Colechurch, London. Dated 20th September 1665.

The burial record of a “John Heath” from the parish registers of St. Mary Colechurch, London. Dated 20th September 1665.

We cannot be sure if the John Heath in this record is our token issuer or possibly a relation (e.g. his son) as neither the age or parents’ names of the diseased are given. It is tempting to think that the above register entry is a direct reference to the death of John Heath the token issuer. If this is the case it would explain why his name was absent from Cheapside Ward Hearth Tax retrurns of Lady Day 1666.  Whilst no cause of death is recorded in the register its timing coincides with that period during which the Great Plague of that year was at its height. As such it is highly likely that the above entry was for a victim of the plague.

Footnotes:

1) In this case of the Great Conduit the word “Conduit” is used in an archaic sense. In medieval times it referred to the terminal point of a water supply system, whereas today the word would apply only to the pipeline. Today such a terminal structure would probably be termed a “Cistern” or “Public Fountain”.

2) The history of the Great Conduit started in 1237 with the purchase by the City Corporation of several fresh water springs to the west of the City Walls, near Tyburn. This was the beginning of a major civil engineering project to harness this water in a reservoir from where it could be channelled over 2.5 miles, via a gravity pipe line system, into the heart of the city. From here it could be tapped off for use by the public via a series of Conduits. Construction of this water distribution system, largely comprising buried lead pipes, took several years until by c.1245 the terminal structure, known as the Conduit, was completed. This pioneering initiative must have contributed greatly to the successful growth of the City in the years that followed. It was not until the 1390’s, when second and third Conduits, located further west in Cheapside, that the original one became known as “The Great Conduit”(8).

The course of the fresh water pipe line which served the Little and Great Conduits in Cheapside Ward, London

The course of the fresh water pipe line which served the Little and Great Conduits in Cheapside Ward, London.

By the 14th, 15th and 16th Centuries the original water supplies at Tyburn became further supplemented with natural fresh water supplies on high ground further west at Marylebone and Paddington and then from others to the north at Highgate, Highbury and Dalston (9). Some of these major extension works were financed by the City Authorities while others, such as the refurbishment of the Conduit Houses themselves, were undertaken by private citizens who donated large sums of money either during their lifetimes or by bequest in their Wills.

Families living locally to each Conduit had the right to tap water for their own domestic use free of charge. Typically they collected and transferred the water to their homes in large 6 gallon vessels, known as “tankards” or “tynes”, or alternatively pails, pots or half-tubs. Independent water-bearers also operated from the vicinity of the larger Conduits. These tradesmen effectively operated under a licence granted to them by the City Authorities to whom they had to pay an annual fee in return. They collected water from the Conduits in a variety of vessels for subsequent distribution around the city to both private homes and businesses (i.e. notably brew houses, tanneries and cloth dyers etc., etc.).

A mid-17th century London trade token likely issued by a fresh water delivery man operating from the Long Acre Conduit, London. His token clearly illustrates some of the tools of his trade for delivering water. On the obverse is a man with a yoke and two pales while on the reverse is depicted a horse drawn cart carrying a water barrel.

A mid-17th century London trade token likely issued by a fresh water delivery man operating from the Long Acre Conduit, London. His token clearly illustrates some of the tools of his trade for delivering water. On the obverse is a man with a yoke and two pales while on the reverse is depicted a horse drawn cart carrying a water barrel.

There are very few good contemporary images or descriptions of the Great Conduit in Cheapside. From what evidence is available it appears that in its final form it comprised a rectangular building, with a gabled roof, together with an adjoining tower, both having castellations. The latter possibly housed the Counduit’s lead cistern or head tank which supplied a series of gravity fed discharge taps below. These were possibly located on a common discharge manifold and were located the outer facing walls of the adjacent Conduit House.

The depiction of Cheapside Market showing the "Great Conduit" (building far right). Taken from a page of Hugh Alley's “A Caveat for the City of London” published in 1598.

The depiction of Cheapside Market showing the “Great Conduit” (building far right). Taken from a page of Hugh Alley’s “A Caveat for the City of London” published in 1598.

The above described hydraulic arrangement of cistern manifold and taps is suggested in a representation of Cheapside Market contained in Hugh Alley’s “A Caveat for the City of London” published in 1598 plus in an earlier representation of the Conduit produced c.1550. The latter clearly shows the location of the Great Conduit in relation to the entrance to the Mercers Hall which was to its immediate north-west off Cheapside.

A section of a map of London (c.1550) showing the parish of St. Mary Colechurch and highlighting the location of the Great Conduit (in yellow) in front of the Mercers' Hall.

A section of a map of London (c.1550) showing the parish of St. Mary Colechurch and highlighting the location of the Great Conduit (in green) in front of the Mercers’ Hall.

A further representation of the Great Conduit, from the Agas Map of London, of c.1561, confirms its location at the junction of Cheapside and Poultry, just to the south of the parish church of St. Mary Colechurch but does not indicate the presence of the earlier noted adjoining tower structure. This omission may possibly be down to the map’s lack of precise detail and/or some degree of artistic licence in the Conduit’s representation. A lack of precise detail may also account for the omission of the same tower in the ground plan of the Great Conduit in Leake’s survey of London after the Great Fire, published in 1666. From this map the plan dimensions of the Conduit House may be roughly estimated as being 45 feet long (east to west) and 20 feet wide (north to south) (10). In both the c.1550 and 1561 representations of the Great Conduit groups of “tankards” or “tynes” can be clearly seen standing in the street immediately to the west.

A section of the Agas Map of London (c.1561) showing part of Cheapside Ward and highlighting the location of the Great Conduit (in yellow) in front of the Mercers' Hall.

A section of the Agas Map of London (c.1561) showing part of Cheapside Ward and highlighting the location of the Great Conduit (in yellow) in front of the Mercers’ Hall.

The Great Conduit was ruined by the Great Fire of 1666, and in 1669 was proclaimed as a “hindrance to the neighbourhood” and was removed by order of the City Authorities.  The resultant reclaimed materials were sold with the exception of cistern which was taken to the Guildhall (11). By the time of the Great Fire the Great Conduit was arguably no longer in great use as by then many of the surrounding houses in the neighbourhood enjoyed their own piped running water, supplied from the New River.

Manhole cover commemorating the history and location of the Great Conduit in Cheapside plus the present day entrance to its now buried undercroft chamber.

Manhole cover commemorating the history and location of the Great Conduit in Cheapside plus the present day entrance to its now buried undercroft chamber.

Today the approximate site of the Great Conduit is marked by both an official “Blue Plaque” and a further commemorative inscription on a manhole cover. This is no ordinary services manhole but one that leads directly to the remains of the Great Conduit original sub-structure or undercroft. This hidden chamber beneath Cheapside, was first discovered in 1899 during an inspection of local sewers (12). At that time it was wrongly identified as an ancient Roman Subway. Although reported at the time the discovery of this subterranean chamber was ultimately forgotten until in 1994 when it was re-discovered by British Telecom as part of the redevelopment of the site of No.1 Poultry.

At the time of its rediscovery in 1994 the Great Conduit’s undercroft had been largely backfilled with construction debris, presumably by workmen carrying out underground works nearby. The walls of the undercroft were found to be massive, measuring some 2 meters thick (13). This indicates that its original builders were fully aware of the significant loads the Conduit’s substructure would have to support from the large water filled lead cistern above.

The undercoft of the Great Conduit in Cheapside as it appeared when first discovered in 1899 and after its rediscovery and subsequent excavation by Museum of London Archaeology in 1994.

The undercroft of the Great Conduit in Cheapside as it appeared when first discovered in 1899 and after its rediscovery and subsequent excavation by Museum of London Archaeology in 1994.

Both in the 1899 and the 1994 photographs of the undercroft can clearly be seen a doorway in its eastern wall (i.e. that facing onto Poultry). This indicates that at the time the Conduit was built in the 13th century the undercroft must have been at, or just below, the original medieval street level.

3) The records for the Worshipful Company of Vintners list two separate individuals by the name of John Heath who were apprenticed in London into the trade in 1624/5 and 1634 respectively (14). Their respective entries in the company’s apprentice register are summarised below.

  1. John Heath – Son of John Heath of Bermondsey, Surrey apprenticed to Thomas Angell on 2nd March 1624/5.
  2. John Heath – Son of John Heath, a gentleman of Bristol, Gloucestershire, apprenticed to Ralph Moore on 4th November 1634.

In the 17th century the duration of most apprenticeships, served for a master of one of the London Livery Companies, was typically seven years. Boys were typically bound into such apprenticeships between the ages of 12 and 14 and would have come to the capital from all over Britain.

Records also exist in the Vintner’s Company of a John Heath, presumably referring to one or  both of the above individuals, acting as master and taking on his/their own apprentices as listed below;

  1. George Geary, apprenticed on 3rd November 1648.
  2. William Eames, apprenticed on 4th November 1651.
  3. John Moore, apprenticed on 7th September 1658.

As yet no evidence has been found linking any of the above apprentices to the parish of St. Mary Colechurch and as such the token issuer John Heath.

References:

  1. People in Place – Families, households and housing in London 1550-1720.   (history.ac.uk/cmh/pip).
  2. Merry, M & Baker, P. – Source specific data sets, Cheapside and Tower Hill, 1558-1769. On-line data sets accessible at http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/id/eprint/752 . (Institute of Historical Research, Centre for Metropolitan History, London, 2007).
  3. Mills, P. & Oliver, J. – The Survey of Building Sites in the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666. (London Topographical Society Publication. No.103. 1967).
  4. Rogers, K. – The Mermaid and Mitre Taverns in Old London. Entry for the Mitre Tavern, Cheapside. (London, 1828).
  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. (London, 1987).
  6. Ibid 5.
  7. Ibid 6.
  8. Flaxman, T. – The Great Conduit in Chepe. (Worshipful Company of Water Conservators. London, 2014).
  9. Ibid 8.
  10. Ibid 5.
  11. Ibid 5.
  12. Wintle, W.G. – London Underground: a visit to the subterranean city. (Harmsworth Magazine, Volume 3, September 1899.).
  13. Burch, M; Treveil, P. & Keene D. – The development of early medieval and later Poultry and
  14. Cheapside: Excavations at 1, Poultry and vicinity, City of London. (Museum of London Archaeology, Monograph 38, 2011).
  15. Webb, C. – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Registers. Volume 43. Vintners’ Company 1609-1800. (Society of Genealogists, London. 2006).

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Ralph Butcher in Bishopsgate Without

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Search of the History of Ralph Butcher & His Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The location of Quaker Gardens south of Old Street, London

The location of Quaker Gardens south of Old Street, London

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

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

References:

  1. G.C. – Trade Tokens Issued in the Seventeenth Century in England, Wales and Ireland by Corporations, Merchants, Tradesmen, Etc. – A New and Revised Edition of William Boyne’s Work. – Volume 2. (London, 1967).
  2. Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).
  3. Searched via the data bases available at Ancestry – Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/).
  4. Searched via the data bases available at Findmypast – Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records (www.findmypast.co.uk).
  5. Searched via the data bases available at FamilySearch – Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records (https://familysearch.org/).
  6. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  7. Webb, C – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Records – Tallow Chandlers’ Company. 1633-1800. Society of Genealogists (London, 2003).
  8. Webb, C – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Records – Wax Chandlers’ Company. 1666-1800. Society of Genealogists (London, 2000).
  9. Webb, C – London Livery Company Apprenticeship Records – Grocers’ Company. 1629-1800. Society of Genealogists (London, 2008).
  10. Davies, M.; Ferguson, C.; Harding, V.; Parkinson, E. & Wareham, A. – London and Middlesex Hearth Tax. The British Record Society. Hearth Tax Series Volume IX, Part II. (London, 2014).
  11. Reference Number: MS 9172/61. Will Number: 154. London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London
  12. Ibid 11.
  13. Berry, G. – Seventeenth Century England: Traders and their Tokens. (London, 1988).
  14. Holmes, B. – The London Burial Grounds: Notes on their history from earliest times to the present day. (New York. 1894).
  15. Butler, D.M. – The Quaker Meeting Houses of Britain Volume 1. (Friends Historical Society. London. 1999).
  16. Ibid 15.
  17. Bowes-Isaacson, L. & P. – Notes for Visitors to Bunhill. (Bunhill Fields Meeting House. 2001).
  18. The British Architect and Norther Engineer. Volume 7. January to June 1877. Bunhill Fields. Page 321. (Manchester. 1877).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Search of the History of Thomas Bonny & His Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Mr. Bonny – 3 shillings and 6 pence

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

Mr. Bonny – 3 shillings and 6 pence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16thJanuary 1671 – Marriage of Thomas Boone and Sarah Finch

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

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

 

Footnotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

References:

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

2 Comments

Filed under Tokens from North of the City Walls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnote:

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

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

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

Excavation of St. Botolph, Billingsgate – Thames News

References:

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

 

 

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Sir Charles Sedley – Issuer of An Enigmatic 17th Century Token From Honeychild Manor, Kent

The token illustrated below is different in several ways to other 17th century trade tokens discussed on this site. Firstly it is not from the city of London or its environs, although its issuer did spent the bulk of his life living in the capital. Secondly the token was not issued by a tradesman from his respective business premises but by a peer of the realm from one of his country seats.

A half penny token issued by Sir Charles Sedley from his Honeychild Manor estate on Romney Marsh, Kent

A half penny token issued by Sir Charles Sedley from his Honeychild Manor estate on Romney Marsh, Kent

The token in question is struck is brass and weights 2.05 grams and has a diameter of 21.4 mm. Its design is formerly described below.

Obverse: (sexfoil) THE (rosette) MANOR (rosette) OF, around beaded and linear inner circles. Within centre field is a large CS monogram with a (sexfoil) either side.

Reverse: (sexfoil) HONYCHILD (rosette) 1672, around beaded and linear inner circles. Within centre field the depiction of a goat’s head facing left (the crest of the Sedley family of Kent).

Comparing the above token to other examples in the 17th century series of British trade tokens its size and weight is highly suggestive of it being of a half penny denomination.

The issue date of the token, 1672, is clearly stated within its reverse legend as is the location of its issue, Honeychild Manor. This ancient manor was located just under half a mile south-east of St. Mary in the Marsh on Romsey Marsh in Kent. Other than as an occasional crop mark, viewed on aerial photographs, there is nothing left of the site of the manor house complex. It appears to have been demolished sometime between 1940 and 1960. Its buildings, including the site of a possible medieval fish pond are clearly visible in aerial photographs taken in the early 1940s.

A map of Romney Marsh (c.1813-18) indicating the position of Honeychild Manor

A map of Romney Marsh (c.1813-18) indicating the position of Honeychild Manor

While the issuer’s name is not stated on the token the combination of its issue location, the family crest illustrated on its reverse together with the obverse monogram, comprising the initials of the token issuer’s first and family names, allows it to be firmly attributed to Sir Charles Sedley (baptised: 5th March 1639; died: 20th August 1701).

Honeychild Manor and its associated lands were purchased by Charles Sedley’s father (prior to 1638) from Sir Roger Twysden for £5,000 (1). This acquisition added to the Sedley’s existing land holdings in Kent. Honeychild Manor was just part of Sir Roger Twysden’s assets on Romney Marsh. The Manor had defects that the Sedley’s were no doubt to discover in time. Like much of the land on Romney Marsh the Honeychild estate was only fit for sheep farming. By local standards the manor comprises of comparably poor land being noted as giving those sheep that grazed on it the “scab”. An added cost to the Sedley family through the purchase of the manor was the cost of its enclosure. There was poor availability of enclosure materials (i.e. timber, posts and rails etc.) on the Marsh so they had to be brought into the area at added cost (2).

Honeychild Manor and its immediate environs from aerial photographs of Romney March taken in 2010 (left) and 1940 (right)

Honeychild Manor and its immediate environs from aerial photographs of Romney March taken in 2010 (left) and 1940 (right)

The late issue date of the Honeychild Manor token places it as one of the last to be struck in the series of British trade tokens which span the period 1648/9 to 1672.

As noted earlier, while this token has the look and appearance of a typical 17th century tradesman’s token it must have been fundamentally different in that it was issued by a peer of the realm from, and possibly for use on, one of his country estates. This makes it unique in the British 17th century token series. If not used to help facilitate small trade transactions between a trader and his local customer base these tokens pose the question of what was their purpose and exactly how were they used?

A review of find locations for examples of this particular token type (Note 1) (3)(4) would indicate that their use and circulation was focused on Charles Sedley’s Honeychild Manor estate. Generally the most recent finds have been reported to be in good condition indicating relatively little circulation wear on their surfaces (2). If used as trade tokens this observation could be largely explained given their late issue. After 16th August 1672 the production and use of trade tokens were outlawed by Royal Proclamation. While there is evidence in parts of Britain to suggest that some trade tokens continued to circulate for some time after this date it may be reasonably assume that most would have been withdrawn from use shortly after the proclamation’s issue.

Sir Charles Sedley

Charles Sedley was baptised on 4th March 1639 at the parish church of St. Clement Danes, Westminster. He was the youngest of nine children born to Sir John Sedley (died August 1639) the 2nd Baronet of Aylesbury and his wife Elizabeth (died after 1651) the daughter of Sir Henry Savile. The Sedleys (sometimes spelled Sidley) had been prominent in Kent since the first half of the 14th century but during the reign of King Henry VIII their fortunes rose after one of the family married a London heiress acquiring much property (5).

At the time of Charles’ birth the family were living in a wealthy town house in Shire Lane off the Strand. He and his brothers were too young to take part in the Civil War but their mother’s royalist sympathies were well known.

Charles Sedley was educated at Wadham College Oxford but left before taking his degree. After the death of his oldest surviving brother William in 1656 he became the 5th Baronet of Aylesbuty (6).

Contemporary portrait of a young

Contemporary portrait of a young “rakish” Charles Sedley

On 9th February 1657 Charles married Lady Katherine Savage a Catholic (the Sedley’s were Protestants) and the sister to his late brother Henry’s widow. The young couple set up house in Great Queen Street between Covent Garden and Holborn. Within a year they had a daughter, Catherine. In later life the witty Catherine Sedley went on to become the mistress of the Duke of York (later King James II), who created her countess of Dorchester in 1686.

On 7th March 1660 Charles Sedley was appointed one of the royalist commissioners to reconstitute the militia in Kent and in October of that year became a captain of the Kent Volunteer Horse. It was around this time that he began his long political career.

Aged twenty-one at the Restoration, Sedley took enthusiastically to the pleasures of the court and the city, becoming one of the “Merry Gang” of courtiers, whose prominent members included John Wilmot the 2nd Earl of Rochester, George Villiers the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Charles Sackville the Lord Buckhurst, who combined riotous living with intellectual pursuits and patronage of the arts. Charles Sedley’s witty conversation and the fact that unlike others in the “Merry Gang” he never asked for any grace or financial favours of his host made him a favourite drinking companion of King Charles II.

Outside of the royal court Sedley and others in the “Merry Gang” could often be found making merry at one of their favourite haunts such as Locket’s tavern in Charing Cross, the Rose tavern in Russell Street or Will’s Coffee House in Covent Garden (7). Alternatively, as noted by the diarist Samuel Pepys, they could be frequently found behaving “loudly” in one of the city’s theatres, notably the Drury Lane Playhouse off Covent Garden.

It was while attending a raucous “boy’s night out” on 16th June 1663 at Oxford Kate’s Cock tavern in Bow Street, Covent Garden that Charles along with Lord Buckhurst and Sir Thomas Ogle orchestrated a drunken and licentious frolic on the balcony of the tavern which started a public riot and shocked London society. Although Samuel Pepys wasn’t in the audience outside the Cock tavern that day to witness the spectacle for himself he did give a summary of it in his diary entry for 1st July 1663. Such was the notoriety of these infamous events that they were still being recounted by city commentators such as Dr. Samuel Johnson almost a century later. As a result of his actions Charles Sedley was jailed for a week and fined £500, of which he paid only half, due it is said, to the kindness of the King. The details of this notorious “bad boys” night out are accurately described in the audio-visual presentation below.

On 8th May 1668 Charles Sedley won his first parliamentary election becoming the representative for New Romney in Kent. He continued to hold this seat for much of his life. Additionally he took on several more local and central government roles and offices. However, being a member of parliament didn’t prevent Sedley and his old friend Lord Buckhurst from staying out of trouble as is recounted in the following diary entry made by Samuel Pepys on 23rd October 1668;

“……among other news, the late frolic and debauchery of Sir Charles Sedly and Buckhurst, running up and down all the night with their arses bare, through the streets; and at last fighting, and being beat by the watch and clapped up all night; and how the King takes their parts; and my Lord Chief Justice Keeling hath laid the constable by the heels to answer it next Sessions: which is a horrid shame.”

William Hogarth's

William Hogarth’s “A Midnight Modern Conversation” (c.1733) – A reminiscent scene of 17/18th century gentlemen “living it large” at an evening soiree.

In the late 1660s Katherine Sedley, after showing symptoms of insanity and insisting in being called “Your Majesty”, was consigned by her husband to a Roman Catholic convent in Ghent, Holland, where she remained, living and being cared for on a pension from her husband, until her death in 1705 (8).

After successfully committing Katherine to the long term care of the nuns of Ghent, Charles tried in vain to obtain a divorce from her as he now had a new love in his life, Ann Ayscough, who he met in 1670 and by whom he soon had two illegitimate sons, William and Charles. In April 1672 Sedley went through a form of bigamous marriage with Ann Ayscough and moved to a new house in Bloomsbury Square, London (9).

Contemporary portrait of an older more

Contemporary portrait of an older more “statesman like” Charles Sedley

On the death of his friend and patron King Charles II in 1685, Sedley was illegally excluded from the parliament by the Catholic King James II. There can be no doubt that Sedley opposed James in favour of the protestant William of Orange during the “Glorious Revolution”. There was no love lost between the two. Commenting on the accession of William and Mary, Sedley is quoted as saying;

“As the king (i.e. James II) has made my daughter a countess, the least I can do, in common gratitude, is to assist in making his Majesty’s daughter (i.e. Mary) a queen”.

In March 1690 Sedley was returned to parliament, his political career reaching its zenith through his becoming Speaker of the Commons.

Charles Sedley’s relationship with Ann Ayscough lasted to the end of his life and it appears that she was a great stabilizing influence on him and his public behaviour. Charles died at Hampstead on 20th August 1701 and was buried at Southfleet Church in Kent. The Sedley baronetcy became extinct on his death.

Charles and Ann Sedley had two sons, William and Charles. William, died in infancy while his brother survived into adulthood, eventually being knighted by King William III after his coronation in 1689 and created a baronet in 1702.

While the above account of Charles Sedley’s history is focused on his family and social life it should be noted that during his lifetime he was famous as an accomplished poet, play wright and classical translator. However, above all things it was his notorious wit that his contemporaries, like Samuel Pepys, most admired him for even to the extent of forgiving him the riotous and rakish behaviour of his youth.

 

Foot Notes:

1) As early as 1869 (3) there are reports of “copper coins” (likely to be our brass tokens) found in the fields adjacent to Honeychild Manor in Kent. More recently the present author has been made aware (4) of further metal detector finds of this token type on the former site of Honeychild Manor.

References:

  1. Jessup, F. – Sir Roger Twysden 1597 – 1672: Study in the Life and Literature of the Reformation. (London, 1965).
  2. Ibid 1.
  3. Bunbury, T. – Note on page 56 of “Notes and Queries: A Medium of Inter-Communication for Literary Men and General Readers etc. Fourth Series, Volume IV. July – December 1869. (London, 1869).
  4. Private communication between the author and Duncan Pennock of Dymechurch, Kent. (16th August 2015).
  5. De Sola Pinto, V. – Sir Charles Sedley 1639 – 1701: Study in the Life and Literature of the Reformation. (London, 1927).
  6. Ibid 5.
  7. Ibid 5.
  8. Ibid 5.
  9. Ibid 5.

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John Kent at the Three Tuns Taverns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Search of the History of John Kent & his Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Foot Notes:

 

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

Apprentices

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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