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Abraham le Keux in Norton Folgate

A farthing token issued by Abraham le Keux a mid-17th century tradesman of the Liberty of Norton Folgate, London

A farthing token issued by Abraham le Keux a mid-17th century tradesman of the Liberty of Norton Folgate, London

The above copper farthing token measures 15.9 mm and weighs 0.92 grams. It was issued in the name of Abraham le Keux of Norton Folgate, London.

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

Obverse: (mullet) ABRAHAM . LE . KEVX , around cable inner circle, depiction of three barrels (or tuns) lying on their sides in a triangular formation within.

Reverse: Legend within in three lines reads; . IN . / NORTON / FALGATE (rosette) below.

There is no date on the token to indicate when it was issued, however, on stylistic grounds it seems to date from the mid-1650s to early 1660s.

The token is one of 12 different designs of farthing and half penny tradesmen’s tokens know to have been issued in the Liberty of Norton Folgate between 1648/9 and 1672 (1).

A plan of the Liberty of Norton Folgate (1682)

A plan of the Liberty of Norton Folgate (1682)

In the 17th century Norton Folgate was an independent Liberty located between the Bishopsgate Ward of the City of London to the south, the parish of St. Leonard, Shoreditch to the north and the parish of Spitalfields to the east. The Liberty originally comprised monastic land outside the city gates and by the mid-17th century comprised Folgate Street (formerly White Lyon Yard or White Lion Street), Spital Square, Elder Street, Fleur de Lis Street and Blossom Street.

After the Reformation in the 1530s Norton Folgate became a self-governing area of approximately 9 acres. Like East Smithfield it was a part of London where “outsiders” were allowed to live and practice their respective trades free from the control of the city’s Guilds and Livery companies. In the early 18th century the area (including Spitalfields) became particularly popular with immigrant Huguenot weavers from France – some of whose houses and business premises survive in the area to this day.

severs1

18 Folgate Street, Norton Folgate is a fine example of a Huguenot Weaver’s House of the first half of the 18th century

This concentration of French speaking immigrants in the Spitalfields area ensured the survival of a distinctive culture and identity for several generations. Both their language, diet and fashions set them apart from the native Londoners and they soon acquired a certain respectability. Even in 1738, William Hogarth could contrast the clothing and behaviour of a French Protestant congregation leaving church with the poverty, squalor and sexual immorality of other Londoners. Many prospective English gentlemen about to set off on the Grand Tour made an initial visit to the Spitalfields area to polish their language skills.

The four times of Day – Noon by William Hogarth (1738) – Contrasts a French Huguenot congregation leaving their church against the native English Londoners of the period.

The four times of Day – Noon by William Hogarth (1738) – Contrasts a French Huguenot congregation leaving their church against the native English Londoners of the period

Based on the information given on the above token the premises of its issuer, Abraham le Keux, was at or by the sign of the three tuns in Norton Folgate. In mid-17th century London this trade sign was traditionally used to mark the location of brew houses and taverns. It also formed the central device of the arms of the Worshipful Company of Vintners (2). However, for reasons to become obvious later it is unlikely that our token issuer was engaged in any one of the above or similar trades (Note 1).

A review of Hearth Tax returns for London and Middlesex for 1666 has failed to identify anyone in the area of Norton Holgate (and the immediate environs) with the surname “Le Keux”(3). This implies that by that time the issuer and his family had either moved out of the area or had possibly perished during the Great Plague of 1665. Being outside that area of the city that was directly affected by the devastation of the Great Fire of September 1666 we can discount this as a possible reason for them leaving the area.

The token issuer’s surname offers a significant clue as to his ancestry as “Le Keux” is derived from Old French (i.e. queu, keu, kieu or cu) denoting a cook or someone who operated an eating house (4). A search of mid-17th century parish registers from this particular area of London has failed to identify an Abraham le Keux. However, a similar review of non-conformist church registers revealed the following marriage entry (the original written in French) from the registers of the Walloon and French Protestant Chapel of the Hospital, Spitalfields (Note 2).

23rd November 1642 – Abraham son of Pierre le Keux native of Canterbury & Barbe daughter of Sebastian Brigode.

Further genealogical research has identified Abraham le Keux as a third generation Huguenot immigrant. The name of his wife and father-in-law indicate that they were almost certainly of similar Calvinist descent.

Born in Canterbury on 3rd November 1617, Abraham was one the oldest of 10 children born to Pierre le Keux and his wife Anne Du Chasteau between 1617 and 1636. Abraham’s father, Pierre, was one the oldest of 4 children born between 1580 and 1590 in Canterbury to Anthoine le Keux and Jaquemyne de le Haie. It has not been possible to trace the family’s history in England any earlier than 1580 which suggests that it was only shortly before that date that they fled from persecution in France.

Huguenots were French Protestants inspired by the writings of the reformation theologian John Calvin (1509 to 1564). Their numbers peaked near to an estimated two million by 1562 and were mainly concentrated in the southern and central parts of France. While their numbers were drawn from across French society the new religion had a particular following amongst many of the educated tradesmen. At this time the Huguenots represented approximately an eighth of the number of French Christians. As the Huguenots gained influence and more openly displayed their faith, Catholic hostility grew, in spite of increasingly liberal political concessions and edicts of toleration from the French crown. A series of religious conflicts followed, known as the Wars of Religion, that were fought intermittently between 1562 and 1598. The wars began with the Massacre of Vassy on 1st March 1562, when dozens (some sources say hundreds) of Huguenots were killed, and approximately 200 were wounded. It was in this year that some Huguenots destroyed the tomb and remains of Saint Irenaeus, an early Church father and bishop. Thereafter the Huguenots became organized as a definitive political movement. Protestant preachers rallied a considerable army and a formidable cavalry, which came under the leadership of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny. Henry of Navarre and the House of Bourbon allied with the Huguenots, adding wealth and holdings to the Protestant strength. At the height of their power the Protestants controlled sixty fortified cities and posed a serious threat to the Catholic crown and Paris.

In what became known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 24th August 1572, Catholics killed thousands of Huguenots in Paris. In the weeks that followed similar massacres took place in other French towns including Aix, Bordeaux, Bourges, Lyons, Meaux, Orleans, Rouen, Toulouse, and Troyes. Nearly 3,000 Protestants were slaughtered in Toulouse alone. By mid-September almost 25,000 Parisian protestants had been killed while in the provinces a further 3,000 to 7,000 perished. Beyond Paris, the killings continued until 3rd October. An amnesty granted in 1573 pardoned the Catholic perpetrators. The persecution of the Huguenots in France finally ended with the granting of the Edict of Nantes (1598) which allowed the Huguenots substantial religious, political and military autonomy (Note 3).

Not surprisingly from the 1560s onwards increasing numbers of Huguenots started to flee France for the safety of adjacent Protestant countries who would offer them refuge. As part of this exodus many Huguenots crossed the English Channel to start new lives in south-east England. They settled initially in the coastal towns at which they landed. These included Dover, Rye, Folkestone and Sandwich.

In 1575 the town authorities in Sandwich, Kent, decided that they were reaching the limit in terms of the number of Huguenot refugees they could accommodate. It was at this point that the nearby city of Canterbury decided to accepted 100 refugee families to eleviate the situation. It is very possible that Abraham le Keux grandparents were amongst this initial influx of Huguenots into the city.

In the years that followed Canterbury became a favourite destination for those Huguenots who reached the safety of south-east England to the extent that their community came to represent the largest foreign population outside London.

These early Huguenot refugees, most of whom were known by the native English as “Walloons” or simply “strangers”, were silk weavers and wool dyers. Their textile production techniques were superior to those of the English at that time and their cloths were generally of a far superior quality. The welcome extended to the Huguenot refugees from their adoptive English communities partly reflected the perceived economic benefits they could offer, particularly with regards to developing the local textile industry. On the back of the new textile processing and weaving techniques introduced from the continent, new weaving and draperies were established in textile towns such as Canterbury. The Huguenot’s skills allowed the production of lighter fabrics, made from a mix of fibres, suitable for export to Europe, rather than the traditional heavier local woollen fabrics. Such were the economic benefits to Canterbury from the Huguenots that laws were introduced by the Privy Council to protected them when they became threatened from attack from established local textile workers and prejudicial locals.

The early 16th century Weaver’s House in Canterbury was once occupied by Huguenot weavers and remains as a permanent reminder of the City’s history with French Protestant refugee community

The early 16th century Weaver’s House in Canterbury was once occupied by Huguenot weavers and remains as a permanent reminder of the City’s history with French Protestant refugee community

Canterbury’s city authorities allowed the French refugees to conduct their own services of Christian worship (in French) in the church of St. Alphege which was made available for their use. Later, when their numbers became too great for one church, the western end of Canterbury Cathedral crypt was also made available for their worship.

It is extremely likely that Anthoine le Keux, the grandfather of our token issuer, was a silk weaver and that both his son Pierre and grandson Abraham were brought up and possibly locally apprenticed in Canterbury to learn the silk and/or cloth trades.

Industry & Idleness by William Hogarth (1742) illustrates a master weaver in London overseeing his apprentices weaving at their looms – Such workshops would have been common in Norton Folgate and Spitalfields during the 17th & 18th centuries

Industry & Idleness by William Hogarth (1742) illustrates a master weaver in London overseeing his apprentices weaving at their looms – Such workshops would have been common in Norton Folgate and Spitalfields during the 17th & 18th centuries

It is not known when Abraham le Keux left Canterbury to set up home and a new place of work in London but it must have been prior to his marriage to Barbe Brigode on 23rd November 1642. In 1642 he will have been 25 years of age. We can assume that he was apprenticed in Canterbury to a master weaver within his own community at the age of around 12. Thereafter he would have spent 7 years serving his new master and learning his trade before being finally freed to practice his trade and become a master weaver in his own right.

It is interesting to note that despite having been in England for three generations members of the le Keux family were still looking to within their own community for marriage partners. This, coupled with the fact that French was still the language of their worship and community records suggests a relatively low level of integration with the native English communities amongst whom they lived. For those Huguenot families that were privy to certain silk weaving secrets this insularism no-doubt helped protect their family’s commercial interests.

Abraham likely chose the Spitalfields area to live in as it already played host to a small Huguenot community and church (Note 4). It’s Liberty status also meant that tradesmen who settled there were free from the trading restrictions applied in most other parts of the city by the various London livery companies.

Within a year of being married Abraham and Barbe had the first of six children (listed below) all but one of whom are recorded in the baptism records of the Walloon and French Protestant Chapel of the Hospital, Spitalfields.

  1. Pierre (born 1643)
  2. Hester (born 1646)
  3. Susanne (born 1647)
  4. Isaac (born 1649)
  5. Jacob (born 1656)
  6. Marie (married 1662, date of birth unknown)

It is not known how many of the above children survived into adulthood or if any of them went on to join the family business. Unfortunately, no further record of Abraham le Keux’s business or life history are known. However, the 1662 marriage entry for Marie le Kuex (to Samuel de Lespau of Canterbury) suggests that both Abraham and Barbe were still alive and living in London at that time.

A review of Huguenot tradesmen operating in the Spitalfields area during the later 17th and 18th centuries indicates several individuals bearing the surname “le Keux”. These include the engravers Peter and Henry le Keux plus the master silk weaver Peter le Keux, a wealthy silk weaver who supervised two hundred and fifty looms in the Spitalfields area. Tracing back through the ancestry of the above “le Keux” families none of them appear to be directly related to Abraham le Keux the token issuer of Norton Folgate, despite several of their families having pre-Spitalfield origins in the Huguenot community in Canterbury (5).

Of the twelve mid-17th century token issues so far recorded for the Liberty of Norton Folgate (6) that of Abraham le Keux is the only one with a surname suggesting a Huguenot ancestry. This is not totally surprising as it wasn’t until after 1685 that the much larger extended second wave of Huguenots started to arrive in the Spitalfields area. Although not proven the case for Abraham le Keux being a silk weaver or textile worker is a strong one. A review of the mid-17th century paranumismatic record confirms that such tradesmen, along with related workers (i.e. wool combers and dyers), were known to have issued their own trade tokens. In the country as a whole mid-17th century tokens issued by weavers are common although few weavers refer to themselves as such within their tokens’ legends (7) (as likely in the example issued by Abraham le Keux). In the City of London and Middlesex a total of 11 weavers’ trade tokens have so far been conclusively identified through historical research (8)(9). These date from the period 1648/9 to 1672 and emanate from the following locations and issuers;

City of London:

Angel Alley (Dowgate Ward) – Obadiah Surridge at the sign of the Angel in Angel Alley. Half Penny. 1668.

Barbican – William Shatchwell at the sign of the Weavers’ Arms. Undated Farthing.

Green’s Rents (Fleet Bridge) – William Warde at the sign of the Weavers’ Arms, Fleet Bridge. Half Penny. 1666. As well as being recorded as a Weaver William Ward also traded as a sea coal seller from the same address.

Snow Hill (Farringdon Ward Without) – Gabriel Bonner at the sign of the Grocers’ Arms. Undated Farthing.

Finch Lane (Cornhill & Broad Street Wards) – Thomas Stubs at the sign of the Bull and Horseshoe. Half Penny. 1669.

Middlesex:

Ratcliff Highway – Robert Davers at the sign of the Weavers’ Arms. Undated Farthing.

Hackney – John Davis in Hackney. Farthing 1667.

Hog Lane (Shoreditch) – John Bavet at the sign of the Horse & Dog. Undated Farthing.

Mile End – George Smith (at the Weavers’ Arms) in Mile End, Weaver. Farthing 1658.

Wapping – Thomas Pierce at the sign of the Shears. Undated Farthing.

Spitalfields – John Ormes at the sign of the Red Lion in Spitalfield. Undated Farthing.

On first appearances, and without the benefit of further historical research results, only one of the above tokens can be conclusively identified as being issued by a weaver (i.e. that of George Smith of Mile End whose trade is included within the token’s legend). Approximately half of the tokens listed infer their issuers’ trade as being a weaver due to the selection of their respective trade sign, i.e. the coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Weavers or a pair of cloth shears/scissors.

A review of the above token issuers’ surnames suggests none of them had their origins in the Huguenot community. A review of similar tradesmen’s tokens issued in locations in Kent that are known to have had established mid-17th century Huguenot communities has similarly failed to identify any weaver’s tokens with Huguenot surnames (10). This observation potentially makes the Abraham Le Keux tokens from Norton Folgate a significant and important discovery.

Notes:

  1. Like their English puritan cousins, the Huguenots did not drink alcohol and thus despite the appearance of the three tuns trade sign on Abraham le Keux trade token. And the derivation of his surname’s meaning, he is considered extremely unlikely to have found his way into the mid-17th century hospitality or vintners’ trades.
  2. The Chapel of the Hospital was located in Spitalfields and looked after the initial needs of the emerging Huguenot community in this area of London. It was effectively established as a daughter church to London’s central French and Flemish Protestant church in Threadneedle Street. This mother church was founded in 1550 by King Edward VI who granted Protestant refugees freedom of worship by royal charter. This central church had previously been St. Anthony’s Hospital Chapel and thereafter simply became known as “the French Church”. The medieval building, which dated back to the thirteenth century, was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, but by 1669 the hardworking Huguenots had erected a new church, one of the first to be rebuilt after the fire. It was demolished in 1841 to make way for the Royal Exchange.
  3. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685 there was a large second wave of immigration by French Protestants to England and by 1700 in the region of 5 per cent of London’s population were Huguenots. The majority of this second wave of immigrants were attracted to the earlier established Huguenots communities such as those in Canterbury and Spitalfelds. With them they brought a further wealth of trade secrets and in some cases financial capital also. The Huguenots contributed overwhelmingly to the development of London’s textile, gun-making, silver, watch and clock-making industries, to the creation of the banking and insurance business as well as to the sciences and the arts. By the 18th century, the Huguenot families had begun to integrate with the local English population. The girls married local men and their names changed. Many of the others anglicised their names and most became English citizens.
  4. Many successful Spitalfields weavers established the viability of their businesses in Canterbury before making the move to London. As the Spitalfields weaving business flourished in the 18th century, the Canterbury industry went into decline, ceasing entirely in 1837 as a result of the introduction of mechanisation to the industry.

References:

  1. Dickinson, M.J. – Seventeenth Century Tokens of the British Isles and their Values. (London, 2004).
  2. Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).
  3. Hanks, P. & Hodges, F. – A Dictionary of Surnames. (Oxford, 1988).
  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. Agnew, D.C.A. Rev. – Protestant Exiles from France in the Reign of Louis XIV – The Huguenot Refugees in Great Britain and Ireland. Index Volume. (London, 1874).
  6. Dickinson, M.J. – Seventeenth Century Tokens of the British Isles and their Values. (London, 2004).
  7. Berry, G. – Seventeenth Century England: Traders and their Tokens. (London, 1988).
  8. Thompson, R.H. & Dickinson, M.J. – Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles – Volume 59 (The Norweb Collection) – Tokens of the British Isles 1575 – 1750. Part VII – City of London. (London, 2007).
  9. Thompson, R.H. & Dickinson, M.J. – Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles – Volume 62 (The Norweb Collection) – Tokens of the British Isles 1575 – 1750. Part VIII – Middlesex and Uncertain Pieces. (London, 2011).
  10. Ibid 6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sir Charles Sedley

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

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

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

Contemporary portrait of a young

Contemporary portrait of a young “rakish” Charles Sedley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Hogarth's

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

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

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

Contemporary portrait of an older more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Foot Notes:

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

References:

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

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Filed under 17th century Tokens issued by Pepys' Acquaintances Outside of London

John Kent at the Three Tuns Taverns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Search of the History of John Kent & his Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Foot Notes:

 

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

Apprentices

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

Humphrey Vaughan of White Hart Yard, Westminster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White Hart Yard, Covent Garden, c.1720

White Hart Yard, Covent Garden, c.1720

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

In Search of Humphrey Vaughan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

7) Ibid 2.

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

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

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

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Filed under Tokens from West of the City Walls

John Patston at the Iron Gate, Tower of London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Search of John Patston and his Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

References:

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

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

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

4) Ibid [2].

5) Ibid [2].

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

7) Ibid [2].

8) Ibid [6].

9) Ibid [2].

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

11) Ibid [10].

12)   Ibid [10].

Acknowledgements:

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

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Filed under Tokens from within the City Walls

Mr. Dry at the Three Sugar Loaves in Wapping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Search of Mr. Dry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Tokens from East of the City Walls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 A Brief History of the Maypole in the Strand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

2) Ibid.

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

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

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

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

7) Ibid 5.

8) Ibid 4. Foot note. Page 206.

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

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

11) Ibid 10.

12) Ibid 4.

13) Ibid 9.

14) Ibid 10.

15) Ibid 9.

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

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

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

19) Ibid 4.

20) Ibid 9.

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

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

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

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