Tag Archives: History

Henry Gibbon at the sign of the Falcon in Fetter Lane

A farthing token issued by Henry Gibbon at the sign of the Falcon in Fetter Lane, London

A farthing token issued by Henry Gibbon at the sign of the Falcon in Fetter Lane, London

The above brass farthing token measures 15.8 mm and weighs 0.99 grams. It was issued in 1650 by Henry Gibbon a tradesman of Fetter Lane in the Farringdon Ward Without district of London. Its design may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (mullet) HENRY. GIBBON . AT .THE , around a twisted wire inner border, within the depiction of a bird of prey facing left with its wings raised.

Reverse: (mullet) FALCON . IN . FETTER . LANE , around a twisted wire inner border. Within the date 1650 with a rosette above and below.

In the mid-17th century, as now, Fetter Lane linked Holborn in the north with Fleet Street in the south. During this period the lane was home to a considerable number of token issuers with thirty eight separate examples so far recorded from a wide variety of different tradesmen. These include tavern keepers, a grocer, a candle maker, grain dealer and a cheesemonger(1)(2). Interestingly a review of these tokens shows that five of them were issued by tradesmen operating at or adjacent to premises bearing the trade sign of the falcon. A summary listing of these is given below;

  1. Henry Gibbon at the Falcon in Fetter Lane; 1650; farthing
  2. J. B. at the Falcon in Fetter Lane; farthing
  3. G.L. & P.L. at the Falcon in Magpie Yard, Fetter Lane; farthing
  4. Robert Langborne & J. Langborne at the Falcon in Fetter Lane; farthing
  5. Robert Langley & J. Langley at the Falcon in Fetter Lane; farthing

Given that British trademen’s token were issued over an extended period in the third quarter of the 17th century (i.e. 1648 to 1672) it is possible that one or more of the above were issued by successive traders operating from the same business premises. In addition it is arguable that at least two of the above tokens were issued by the same tradesman. By the standards of 17th century phonetic spelling the issuers “Langborne” and “Langley” could easily be the same individual. The likelihood of this is even more probable given that in both cases the token issuer wife’s Christian name initial is “J”. Given such observations it is possible that there could have been fewer than five premises in Fetter Lane during the third quarter of the 17th century displaying the sign of the falcon.

As a trade sign the falcon is first recorded in London in 1423. Its appears to have found common but not necessarily exclusive use as a brew house and tavern sign(3) .Bryant Lillywhite’s Survey of London Trade Signs(4) records four separate examples of this sign between 1650 and 1966. Correctly or not he attributes all of them to taverns, ale houses or inns;

  1. The Falcon Tavern in Fetter Lane – 1650 to c.1715
  2. The Falcon at No. 127 Fetter Lane – 1826 to c.1860s
  3. The Falcon Hotel in Fetter Lane – 1866
  4. The Falcon Tavern at No. 10 Fetter Lane – 1739(5) to 1966 (Note 1)

A Golden Falcon is also recorded in Fetter Lane in 1710(6). It is uncertain if this is an additional example to those listed above or just a name variant of one of them.

Fetter Lane c.1720 - Showing known locations where there were businesses displaying the sign of the Falcon plus the parish church of St. Dunstan in the West.

Fetter Lane c.1720 – Showing known locations where there were businesses displaying the sign of the Falcon plus the parish church of St. Dunstan in the West.

A review of the Hearth Tax returns for London and Middlesex for Lady Day 1666 has failed to identify a Henry Gibbon or Gibbons in Fetter Lane or any other part of the city(7). This may imply that by 1666 he had moved out of his business premises (and possibly the capital) or had died. Analysis of a range of different contemporary documents, including several London Livery Company apprenticeship records, have further failed to identify him with any certainty.

An entry for a Henry Gibbon is contained in Boyd’s Inhabitants of London data base (8). While we have no means of confirming if this record is for the token issuer of 1650 it certainly offers a possibility. Boyd’s record lists Henry Gibbon as one of nine children born to Simon and Jane Gibbon. Simon Gibbon was a goldsmith and parishioner of St. Mathew’s, Friday Street, London. Boyd gives Henry’s birth year as 1611 which would have made him 39 in 1650 (i.e. the year of the above token’s issue). A further set of contemporary references to a Henry Gibbon (alternatively spelt Gibbons and Gibbens) has been found in the Westminster Rate Books and the Minutes Books of the Governors of Bridewell and Bethlem hospitals. In the current writer’s option these are less likely to be references to Henry Gibbon the token issuer of 1650 (see Note 2).

Of all the contemporary records so far viewed in the search for Henry Gibbons two stand out as offering the highest degrees of potential. The first of these is the Will (dated 16th May 1653 and proven in July 1653) of Henry Gibbons a stationer living in the parish of St. Dunstan in the West(9). This parish included much of the lower part of Fetter Lane and its surroundings. The second record is potentially even more significant. It takes the form of a burial entry in the registers of the parish church of St. Dunstan in the West. This church, located on the north side of Fleet Street at a point just west of its intersection with Fetter Lane.

 14th January 1652/3 – Mr. Henry Gibbons, chandler, buried, out of Fetter Lane.

While the individuals in these last two records share a common name and home parish their stated professions and different dates of death confirm that they are two separate individuals.

In summary the limited available historic evidence points to Henry Gibbon(s) being a candle maker who lived and worked at premises at or by the sign of the Falcon in the lower part of Fetter Lane and who died within three years of him issuing his own farthing trades tokens.

 

Notes:

1) During 1796 the Falcon Tavern at No.10 Fetter Lane played host to meetings of the celebrated London Corresponding Society (10). The premises survived the intense German bombing of the early 1940s and remained until the 1970s when the area was re-developed. Today the tavern’s former location is marked by the southern part and service entrance of the Slug and Lattice Bar on the south-eastern side of Fetter Lane.

The Falcon Tavern at No.10 Fetter Lane as it appeared in the 1970s (viewed looking south-east into Fleet Street).

The Falcon Tavern at No.10 Fetter Lane as it appeared in the 1970s (viewed looking south-east into Fleet Street).

2) While thought less likely to relate to Henry Gibbon the token issuer of 1650 two additional sets of contemporary references to a man of similar name have earlier been noted. These almost certainly refer to two separate individuals. A summary of these references are given below for completeness.

a) A Henry Gibbon or Gibbons is variously recorded in the Governors’ Court Minute Books as a patient in Bridewell Hospital between the period 1618 and 1647.

b) A Henry Gibbon/Gibbons or Gibbens is variously recorded in the Westminster Rate Books (11) between 1646 and 1674. It is unclear if these entries refer to a single or multiple individuals. A summary of entries by year and address are listed below;

1646 – The Strand, St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1646 – Bedford Street (Landside), St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1647 – The Street, St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1648 – Little Church Street, St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1649, 1651 & 1654 – The Street, St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1654 – Bedford Street (Landside), St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1655 – The Street, St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1655 & 1658 – Bedford Street (Landside), St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

1673 – St. Margaret’s, Westminster.

1674 – Swan Yard, St. Margaret’s, Westminster.

References:

  1. Williamson. G.C. – Trade Tokens Issued in the Seventeenth Century in England, Wales and Ireland by Corporations, Merchants, Tradesmen, Etc. – A New and Revised Edition of William Boyne’s Work. – Volume 2. (London, 1967).
  2. Dickinson, M.J. – Seventeenth Century Tokens of the British Isles and their Values. (London, 2004).
  3. Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).
  4. Ibid.
  5. Newman, I. – London Corresponding Society Meeting Places – Exploring the 1790s Alehouse (www.1790salehouse.com; February 2012).
  6. Ibid.
  7. 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).
  8. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  9. PROB 11/230/110 – Will of Henry Gibbons (16th May 1653), National Archives, London.
  10. Ibid [5].
  11. Westminster Rate Books 1634-1900 Transcription – Entries for Humphrey Vaughan for 1656, 1663, 1666, 1672 and 1705.

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Filed under Tokens from within the City Walls

Humphrey Vaughan of White Hart Yard, Westminster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White Hart Yard, Covent Garden, c.1720

White Hart Yard, Covent Garden, c.1720

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

In Search of Humphrey Vaughan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

7) Ibid 2.

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

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

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

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Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

John Patston at the Iron Gate, Tower of London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Search of John Patston and his Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

References:

1) Strype, J. – A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster: Containing the Original, Antiquity, Increase, Modern Estate and Government of those Cities. – Corrected, Improved, and very much Enlarged Edition. (London, 1720).

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

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

4) Ibid [2].

5) Ibid [2].

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

7) Ibid [2].

8) Ibid [6].

9) Ibid [2].

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

11) Ibid [10].

12)   Ibid [10].

Acknowledgements:

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

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Filed under Tokens from within the City Walls

Mr. Dry at the Three Sugar Loaves in Wapping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Search of Mr. Dry

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

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

 A trade sign incorporating one or more sugar loaves is highly suggestive of its owner being a grocer (2). As one of the staple products sold by grocers in the 17th century, sugar, in the form of a distinctive wholesale loaf, would have been instantly recognisable and associated with their trade by the public. While this particular trade sign was very much favoured by grocers, examples of it are also known to have been used by certain other tradesmen. Amongst these are occasional examples belonging to taverns plus sundry use by confectioners plus at least one ironmonger and a chandler.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

2) Strype, J. – A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster: Containing the Original, Antiquity, Increase, Modern Estate and Government of those Cities. – Corrected, Improved, and very much Enlarged Edition. (London, 1720).

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Tokens from East of the City Walls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 A Brief History of the Maypole in the Strand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

2) Ibid.

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

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

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

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

7) Ibid 5.

8) Ibid 4. Foot note. Page 206.

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

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

11) Ibid 10.

12) Ibid 4.

13) Ibid 9.

14) Ibid 10.

15) Ibid 9.

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

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

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

19) Ibid 4.

20) Ibid 9.

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

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

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

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Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

Richard Harper of West Smithfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A half penny token of Bartholomew Fish of Queenhithe, London

A half penny token of Bartholomew Fish of Queenhithe, London

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

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

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

The Search for Richard Harper of West Smithfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and less frequently as;

3) Richard Harper, in Smithfield

4) Richard Harper, at his shop in Smithfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

 

References:

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

Acknowledgements:

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

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Filed under Tokens from North of the City Walls

George Carpenter, Mealman of Wapping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4)      To his cousin and servant George Carpenter:

The sum of £60.

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

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

6)      To his wife Susanna:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

2)      Strype, J. – A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster: Containing the Original, Antiquity, Increase, Modern Estate and Government of those Cities. – Corrected, Improved, and very much Enlarged Edition. (London, 1720).

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

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