Tag Archives: Samuel Pepys

A Ticket to Attend The Royal Touching Ceremonies of Charles II

Royal Touching Ceremony Entrance Ticket or Pass dating to the reign of Charles II

Royal Touching Ceremony Entrance Ticket or Pass dating to the reign of Charles II

The object above is an entrance ticket or pass dating from the reign of King Charles II. It measures 29.7 mm and weighs 11.15 grams and is bi-metallic comprising an inner brass core and an outer copper collar.

Unlike the tradesmen’s tokens which are the primary focus of this website the above ticket or pass had no monetary value at the time of its use between the 1660s to 1680s. It was issued by official agents of the Crown to sufferers of scrofula as a form of official entrance ticket or pass to one of Charles II’s royal healing or “touching” ceremonies. These were held in the Banqueting House of the Palace of Whitehall throughout his reign.

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

Obverse: CAR . II . D . G. M . B . FR . ET . HI . REX (six pointed star) around the depiction of a three masted ship sailing left (Note 1).

Reverse: SOLI DEO GLORIA (six pointed star) around the depiction of the angel Michael spearing a recumbent dragon at his feet.

Before considering the method of issue and use of the above types of ticket or pass it is worth explaining further the context of their use and the formal ceremony to which they gave their bearer access.

 The Curative Royal Touch for King’s Evil and the presentation of Touch-Pieces

Historically in Britain scrofula or the “King’s Evil” was a name applied to a variety of skin diseases but in particular a form of tuberculosis, affecting the lymph nodes of the neck and which resulted in bulbous swellings and sores. It has been estimated that in 17th century London 1% of the population were suffers of the disease which effected people of all social classes.

From the reigns of King Edward the Confessor in England (1003 to 1066) and Philip I (1052 to 1108) in France it was believed that a touch from the king could cure diseases given that the monarch had been granted divine powers. Subsequent English and French kings were believed to have inherited this “royal touch”, which was taken as an indication of their god given right to rule. In grand ceremonies, kings touched hundreds of suffers afflicted by scrofula. In later years those attending such healing ceremonies also received a gold coin, typically an Angel, from the monarch which was also believed to be blessed with an extension of the monarch’s healing powers. These presentational coins became known as “touch-pieces” and over time became treated as amulets and were pierced for wearing around the recipient’s neck by a ribbon.

A gold Angel of Henry VIII - First Coinage Issue, 1509-1526

A gold Angel of Henry VIII – First Coinage Issue, 1509-1526

The last Angels to be minted for general circulation were issued in 1642(1) from the Royal Mint which was located in the Tower of London. After this date the mint was seized by Parliament at the start of the Civil War and in whose control it remained until the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.

During the reign of James I the location of the royal touching ceremony was transferred from the Chapel Royal to the Banqueting House within the Palace of Whitehall(2) , Westminster. This continued to be the London venue for the ceremony throughout the reign of Charles I. During the Commonwealth period the practice ceased on British soil although it was continued by Charles II while in exile on the continent. On his restoration in 1660 he was quick to restore the ceremony, presumably as a means of re-affirming his rightful position as monarch through the practice of a divinely given gift (i.e. that of healing by touch).

In September 1660 Thomas Simon, the mint’s then chief engraver, was ordered to prepare sketches and dies for a new series of Angels(1).

Thomas Simon's Sketch for the proposed new Angel coinage of Charles II

Thomas Simon’s Sketch for the proposed new Angel coinage of Charles II

While there was an obvious early intent by Charles II to restore the Angel into common circulation within the Kingdom, and for use as touch-pieces, it never happened. However, in February 1664/5 Charles commissioned a new supply of purpose made gold “touch-pieces” from the mint at the Tower of London(2). The first issue of these new presentational medalets was struck from dies which were almost certainly cut by John Roettiers who was one of the mint’s chief engravers. Over Charles II’s reign six separate sets of dies were commissioned for the on-going striking of touch-pieces. Although the same emblems as used on the old Angels (i.e. St. Michael spearing a fallen dragon plus a ship in full sail) were maintained on the new touch-pieces their designs were different to those of the earlier Angels in that the monarch’s titles were switched to appear on the side depicting the ship, thus making it the obverse whereas on the Angel it had been on the reverse side.

A golden Touch-Piece of Charles II

A golden Touch-Piece of Charles II

During Charles II’s reign the royal touching ceremony became immensely popular. It is estimated that between 1660 and 1684 the king administered the royal touch to no fewer than 105,000 people, all of whom would have received one of the touch-pieces which contained the equivalent of 10 shillings worth of 22 carat gold(2).

During the reign of Charles II the touching ceremonies were held on Fridays between 1st November and 18th December, then during the months of January and for a month over Easter. It was suspended over the warmer months of the year to lessen the risk of spreading infection of any diseases amongst the gathered masses.

The first of Charles II’s touching ceremonies was attended by 600 suffers. However, thereafter the number was reduced to a more manageable 200 per session. While most of those who attended the Whitehall touching ceremony would have been from London and the Home Counties there is evidence that some of those who attended were from much further afield. Records exist of a petition addressed to the local assembly of Portsmouth, New Hampshire (USA) which was presented by a colonial sufferer of scrofula who wanted financial assistance to travel to London to be receive the royal touch(2).

The first touching ceremony performed by Charles II after his restoration was held on Saturday 23rd June 1660. It was recorded by both the diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. Pepys’ diary entry relating to this event is only very brief(3).

“So to my Lord’s lodgings, where Tom Guy came to me, and there staid to see the King touch people for the King’s evil. But he did not come at all, it rayned so; and the poor people were forced to stand all the morning in the rain in the garden. Afterward he touched them in the Banquetting-house.”

John Evelyn’s account of the event however, is far more detailed despite the fact that it entered erroneously in his diary under the date 6th July(4).

“His Majesty began first to Touch for the Evil according to custome: Thus, his Majestie sitting under his State in the Banqueting house: The Chirurgeons cause the sick to be brought or led up to the throne, who kneeling, the King strokes their faces or cheekes with both his hands at once: at which instant a Chaplaine in his formalitie, says, He put his hand upon them, and he healed them, this is sayd, to everyone in particular: when they have been all touch’d they come up againe in the same order and the Chaperlaine kneeling and Angel gold, strung on white ribbon on his arme, delivers them one by one to his majestie: and Who puts them about the neck of the Touched as the passe: whilest the first Chaperlaine repeates: That is the true light who came into the World: Then followes an Epistle (as at first a Gospell) with the Liturgy prayers for the sick with some alteration: Lastly the blessing; And then the Lo: Chamberlaine and Comptroller of the household bring basin, Ewer and towell for his Majestie to wash:”

(Left) Front piece from John Browne's Adenochoiradelogia (London, 1684) depicting Charless II presiding at a Royal Touching Ceremony at the Banqueting House, Westminster. (Right) The Banqueting House as it appears today.

(Left) Front piece from John Browne’s Adenochoiradelogia (London, 1684) depicting Charles II presiding at a Royal Touching Ceremony at the Banqueting House, Westminster. (Right) The Banqueting House as it appears today.

After Charles II’s death touching ceremonies continued under his brother King James II although it is understood that he was a less keen advocate of the practice as his older brother had been. After the succession of King William III and Queen Mary the ceremony was temporarily stopped until being resumed for a final period (in Britain at least) under the patronage of Queen Anne. She performed the ceremony for the last time on the 30th March 1712 in St. James’s Palace, Westminster.

Amongst the last 300 people that day who receive the royal touch and receive one of the last issued golden touch-pieces was a young boy of nearly three years of age who suffered from poor eyesight believed to be a result of scrofula. The little boy was the son of a book seller from Lichfield in Staffordshire. His family had been recommended to seek the royal touch for their son by Sir John Floyer, a former physician to Charles II. After making the three day journey to London with his parents and attaining an entrance ticket to the ceremony, after first being medically certified as eligible by an appointed doctor, he was admitted to the royal touching ceremony. The ceremony obviously made a marked impression on the young boy’s memory. As a grown man, many years later, he recalled his vague memories of the event and how he had met a lady wearing diamonds and a long black hood(2).While he may not have recalled receiving a golden touch-piece from her he undoubtedly did as he wore it on a ribbon around his neck for the rest of his life. After his death this touch-piece was kept safe and later found its way into the collection of the British Museum where it remains today. While this is not a particularly remarkable story it is made far more interesting once the identity boy is revealed. The boy grew up to become the famed Dr. Samuel Johnson the renowned poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.

Dr. Samuel Jouhnson Touch-Piece - Presented to him by Queen Anne 30th March 1712 at the last ever Royal Touching Ceremony held in Britain

Dr. Samuel Johnson Touch-Piece – Presented to him by Queen Anne 30th March 1712 at the last ever Royal Touching Ceremony held in Britain

Royal Touching Ceremony Entrance Tickets

The number of sufferers wishing to attend the royal touching ceremonies throughout the 17th century was considerable. While there was a genuine belief on the part of most attending such ceremonies that they could be healed there was also the allure of 10 shillings worth of gold in the form of the presentational touch-piece they would be given. While sufferers were only meant to attend one touch ceremony in their lifetime the temptation of receiving 10 shillings worth of gold meant that many fraudulently tried and did attend on multiple occasions(5). From the reign of Charles I onwards, in order to control the numbers of people attending each ceremony and to ensure that they didn’t attend on multiple occasions, certain control measures were put in place. The list of control measures were further extended after the restoration of Charles II and by then included the following;

1)      Those wishing to attend the ceremony had to obtain a special certificate or declaration letter from their parish minister and church wardens confirming that they were suffering from the “King’s Evil” and that they had not previously attended a royal touching ceremony.

2)      The day prior to the ceremony those wishing to take part were to attend the Sergeant-Surgeon whose duty it was to confirm them as suffering from the “King’s Evil”.

3)      On the basis that those wishing to receive the royal touch had met the above two requirements they were given an admission ticket to the ceremony in the form of a metal token or ticket. On presenting this ticket to officials at the Banqueting House on the day of the ceremony the bearer was granted admission.

Both Charles I and II employed the use of entrance tickets to their touching ceremonies. None of the entrance tickets used during the reign of Charles I have survived whist those used during the time of his son have. The entrance tickets used under Charles II were almost identical in design to the gold touch-pieces medalets commissioned in 1664/5. However, at 29 mm as opposed to 22 mm, their diameter was slightly larger than the new touch-pieces. Also the tickets incorporated six pointed stars which separated the beginning from the end of their obverse and reverse legends. Like the new touch-pieces, the dies used to strike the admission tickets were probably engraved by John Roettiers of the Royal Mint in the Tower of London. There is no evidence to confirm when in Charles II’s reign the admission tickets were introduced. The similarity of their design to that of his new touch-pieces has led some to the conclusion that the tickets were a copy of touch-pieces and so were introduced shortly after the striking of the first batch of the new medalets. However, given that Charles was conducting touching ceremonies as early as July 1660, presumably using a supply of earlier dynastic Angels, there is no reason that the admission tickets weren’t struck early in his reign and that the design of the new touch-pieces of 1664/5 was based on those of the tickets. As early as July 1660 there is official mention in the Parliamentary Journal of “tickets” being issued to gain access to the touching ceremony(6).

“His Majesty hath for the future, appointed every Friday for the core; at which time, two hundred and no more are to be represented to him, who are first to repair to Mr. Knight, the king’s surgeon, living at the Cross Guns in Russel Street, Covent Garden over against the Rose Tavern, for their tickets. That none might lose their labour, he thought fit to make it known, that he will be at his home every Wednesday and Thursday, from two till six of the clock, to attend that service; and if any persons of quality shall send to him, he will wait upon them at their lodgings, upon notice given to him.”

It is possible that the tickets referred to in the contemporary account above could have been hand written or, less likely, metallic tickets-tokens previously used in the time of Charles I.

After their collection on the day of each touching ceremony the admission tickets were re-issued for use on future occasions.  However, to further reduce the possibility of people gaining fraudulent entry to the ceremonies (possibly via the use of counterfeit tickets) the organising officials randomly alternated between the use of four different varieties of the tickets which, while obviously different in appearance, varied only in as much as the metal flans on which they were struck, i.e. copper, copper with a brass centre (as per the one illustrated at the beginning of this article) brass and brass with a copper centre. The bi-metallic copper & brass tickets are much rarer than the other two types.  It is noted that some surviving examples of these entrance tickets have either one or two notches filed in their upper edges. The notches have been made purposely and in a non-haphazard fashion. It has been suggested that such identifying marks were made as a further method of establishing their validity and to counter-act fraudulent entry to the ceremonies(2).

The continual collection and re-issue of the tickets would help account for their comparative scarcity. Some will have inevitably been lost in the continual process of reuse. Some examples have been clearly pierced for suspension which has given rise to the idea that these examples, at least, were actually used as touch-pieces in place of the usual gold medalets. Alternatively these pierced base metal tickets may just have escaped collection and then been pierced for wearing in the belief that they posed the same healing powers as the gold touch-pieces.

Notes:

1)      The ship on both the touching ceremony entrance tickets and Charles II’s gold touch-pieces can be identified as “The Sovereign of the Seas” which was launched at Woolwich in 1637. At 1,637 tons with 102 guns the ship was the largest afloat at that time. She cost £65,000 to build which was ten times more than any other man-of-war of the time. It is ironic that Charles II should have selected an image of this ship to adorn his touch-pieces as it had contributed so much to his father’s downfall through the unpopular Ship Tax

His Majesty's royal ship the Sovereign of the Seas - a contemporaneous engraving by J. Payne

His Majesty’s royal ship the Sovereign of the Seas – a contemporaneous engraving by J. Payne

The ship was re-named “The Sovereign” in 1651 and then “The Royal Sovereign” in 1685. During her operational life she took part in the battles of Kentish Knock, Beachy Head and La Hogue. The vessel was accidentally destroyed by fire on 27th January 1696 at Chatham. A few days later the diarist John Evelyn wrote in his diary(4), “The R. Sovereign burnt at Chatham, that ship built in 1637 was perhaps the original Cause of all the after trouble to this day” – a judgement written seven years after the “Glorious Revolution”.

References:

  1. Farquhar, H. – Royal Charities. Part II – Touchpieces for the King’s Evil. – British Numismatic Journal. Volume 15. (London, 1919).
  2. Woolf, N. – The Sovereign Remedy: Touch-Pieces and the King’s Evil – British Numismatic Journal. Volume 49. (London, 2011).
  3. Latham, R.C. – The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Volume I – 1660 (Harper Collins, 2010).
  4. De Beer, E.S. – The Diary of John Evelyn. (Everyman Edition. London 2006).
  5. Lysons, Rev. D. – The Environs of London: Being an Historical Account of the Towns, Villages and Hamlets within 12 miles of the Capital. Volume I. County of Surrey. (London. 1792). Page 82, Footnote 40 siting Mercurious Politicus, 21st February 1661.
  6. Lysons, Rev. D. – The Environs of London: Being an Historical Account of the Towns, Villages and Hamlets within 12 miles of the Capital. Volume I. County of Surrey. (London. 1792). Page 82-83, Footnote 41 siting Parliamentary Journal, 2 to 9th July 1661.

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Filed under Tokens from Pepys' London, Tokens from West of the City Walls

Gabriell Marden of Durham Yard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

References:

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

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Edward Munns at the sign of the Sugarloaf on London Bridge

A half penny token issued by Edward Munns - A tradesman working on London Bridge

A half penny token issued by Edward Munns – A tradesman working on London Bridge

The copper half penny token, pictured above, measures 21.2 mm and weighs 2.59 grams. It was issued in 1668 by Edward Munns, a tradesman operating from premises at or by the sign of the Sugar Loaf on London Bridge.

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

Obverse: (sexfoil) EDWARD. MVNS. AT. THE. SVGAR , around a twisted wire circle. Within the depiction of a sugarloaf

Reverse: (sexfoil) ON. LONDON. BRIDG. 1668, around a twisted wire circle, within three lines the legend HIS / HALFE / PENNY

Edward Munns was one of only six tradesmen who lived and worked in one of the buildings which were perched along the sides of old London Bridge who are known to have issued private trade tokens (1).

A map of London & The South Bank showing Old London Bridge (c.1720).

A map of London & The South Bank showing Old London Bridge (c.1720).

Old medieval London Bridge comprised a broad road carried by twenty asymmetrical narrow stone arches resting on large piled masonry piers. It was the city’s only bridge over the River Thames which, prior to the building of the Victoria Embankment on its northern side, was considerably wider than it is today. On the south side of the bridge, at Southwark, its entrance was marked by a fortified gate house. For centuries the boiled and tarred (for preservation) heads and severed limbs of executed traitors were held aloft on pikes from the top of this gate house and publically displayed to all entering the city from the south.

Traitors heads on public display on the fortified gate way at the southern end of London Bridge

Traitors heads on public display on the fortified gate way at the southern end of London Bridge

It is believed that the practice of exhibiting traitor’s heads from the gate house at the south of the bridge continued into the first quarter of the 18th century. After the re-building of the city, post the Great Fire of 1666, the new Temple Barr gate way became a more regular location for their display.

An engraving by Claes Visscher showing Old London Bridge in 1616 from Southwark

An engraving by Claes Visscher showing Old London Bridge in 1616 from Southwark

The approach to the bridge on its northern side was via Lower Fish Street, just west of the church of St. Magnus the Martyr, in the Bridge Ward of the City.

By the start of the 17th century both the east and west sides of the bridge were covered in a near continuous row of three to five storey wooden tenements which contained both private dwellings and shops which fronted onto the road. From the 1580s the bridge also housed a tidal water wheel powered pump under arches at its northern end. This pump provided the city with one of its earlier supplies of water directly from the River Thames.

A reconstruction of London Bridge as it may have appeared in the 17th century

A reconstruction of London Bridge as it may have appeared in the 17th century

In 1579 a new grand and highly elaborate five storey building, Nonsuch House, was erected towards the southern end of the bridge. As part of this re-development one of arches of the bridge was taken out and replaced by a drawbridge. Whilst this added some additional protection to the City it allowed larger vessels access to the upper part of the River Thames for the first time in hundreds of years.  Nonsuch House was Britain’s first recorded fully prefabricated building. It was built and trial erected in Holland before being shipped in pieces to London in 1578 where it was re-assembled on a space cleared for it on the southern part of the bridge.

An artists impression of Nonsuch House in the early 17th century showing the draw bridge imeadiately in front of its entrance.

An artists impression of Nonsuch House in the early 17th century showing the draw bridge immediately in front of its entrance.

In 1633 a fire broke out on the north end of the bridge which destroyed forty three houses and shops (2). Although there was some degree of re-building at this end of the bridge in the immediate years that followed a gap remained in the continual line of tenements. Luckily it was this natural fire brake which protected the buildings perched on the mid and southern parts of the bridge from being incinerated during the Great Fire of London. The Great Fire consumed most of the city of London over a period of four days in September 1666. It started in a bakery in Pudding Lane close to the bridge’s northern end.

 It was from within the hustle and bustle of the unique surroundings on old London Bridge that Edward Munns issued his half-penny trade tokens. These tokens display the trade sign (i.e. the sugarloaf) and location (i.e. on London Bridge) at or close to which Edward’s premises stood. This was a time before the formal address numbering of buildings. Ornate and memorable trade signs, in association with specific street names, were the standard means of expressing a location’s address. Trade signs would typically be suspended above a trader’s business premises or built into their fabric.  In isolation the sign of a sugarloaf is highly suggestive of its owner being a grocer(3). 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 associated with their trade by the public.  

Reconstruction of a 17th century maid braking sugar from a sugar loaf

Reconstruction of a 17th century maid braking sugar from a sugarloaf

Whilst normally indicative of a grocer the sign was also adopted by a few other tradesmen in addition to some taverns of the period. However, a review of contemporary records has indicated that Edward Munns was neither a grocer nor a tavern keeper. A clue to his occupation was initially provided in a list of the individuals and their trades who lost their properties in the London Bridge Fire of 1633. This list indicates that at the north end of the bridge, at least, there was a predominance of tradesmen involved in aspects of the cloth and clothing trade (2).

 Edward Munns was the youngest of three sons born to Thomas Munns and Susan Foster. Thomas was a citizen of London and draper from the parish of St. Mary Abchurch whilst Susan Foster was originally from the parish of St. Saviour’s, Southwark(4). The couple married in 1605 and although Thomas died in 1615 all three of his sons (Thomas b.1606, John b.1608 and Edward, b. circa 1615) went on to become drapers like their father(4). Each of the boys would have served a seven-year apprenticeship with a master draper. On completing their apprenticeships they received their freedom from their respective masters (Thomas in 1628, John in 1632 and Edward in 1637)(4) . Thereafter each of the young men would have been eligible to join the Worshipful Company of Drapers. Shortly after receiving his freedom Edward Munns started his own business from premises on London Bridge. This is confirmed from an entry in the London Poll Tax returns for 1641(2) ;

Munns, Edward – girdler on the bridge

On the 3rd March 1645 an Edward Munns married Ann Grimes at the church of Holy Trinity, Minories just outside the eastern boundaries of the city, close to the Tower of London. According to a leading genealogical index of London families(4) Edward Munns (the draper of London Bridge) had one recorded child, Ann, who married a John Heather in 1663. If Ann Munns was born circa 1645/6 this would have made her 17/18 at the time of her wedding. Given that it was common practice in the 17th century for parents to pass the mother’s first names on to their first born daughter this adds further support to Edward Munns the draper being the man who married Ann Grimes of the Minories in 1645.

 I can find no further references to Edward Munns’ wife in any surviving records. Edward’s trade tokens of 1668 carry only his name. Often, but not always, if a trader was married he would incorporate both his and his wife’s initials into the reverse of his token design. While this was very common on the farthing tokens issued by London traders during the period 1649 to the early 1660s it was not so conventional on the half penny tokens which became increasingly predominant from the early 1660s to 1672. Edward’s final Will makes no reference to a wife and implies he only had one (or at least one surviving) child, Ann. Combining all these facts together it is tempting to speculate that Edward Munns’ wife died shortly after the birth of the couples only child. She may not even have survived the birth of this child. Death of mothers in or as a result of child birth was not at all uncommon in the 17th century.

 A search of the Hearth Tax returns for 1666 has failed to identify Edwards Munns on London Bridge. However, we know he was still trading there in 1668 as that is the date on his tokens which confirms him on the bridge at or by the sign of the sugarloaf.

Two clues exist as to the precise location of the sign of the sugarloaf on the bridge. In mid-November 1667 an entrepreneur by the name of James Peters placed an advert in the London Chronicle informing those who were looking to buy or sell vacant plots of land in the city, post the Great Fire of 1666, to register with him(5) . James Peters was effectively offering his services as a land sale agent by compiling a registry of vacant and available land in the city. The advert clear states how those interested in taking advantage of his services were to find him;

 “…the dwelling house of Mr. James Peters Scrivener, at the Sign of the Sugar-loaf near the Draw-bridge on London-Bridge…”

 Returning to the Hearth Tax returns of 1666 an entry can be found for the above mentioned individual;

 James Peters – Paying tax on a property with 6 hearths located on the Bridge on the East Side

 Thus it can be deduced that Edward Munns’ shop was located by the sign of the sugarloaf which was on the south-east part of the bridge close to the draw bridge which was located on the south side of Nonsuch House.

London Bridge in the early 17th century (looking from the West) showing the general location of the sign of the sugar loaf and Edward Munns shop south of Nonsuch House

London Bridge in the early 17th century (looking from the West) showing the general location of the sign of the sugarloaf and Edward Munns shop south of Nonsuch House

 Edward Munns had a long and seemingly successful career as a London draper. In 1667 he became a member of the Worshipful Company of Drapers. From 1678 he went on to be elected to various senior offices within the Company(6) . These included;

  •  Assistant – In 1682/3 and 1683/4
  • Warden – In 1678/9, 1685/6 and 1687/8

 Over his career Edward Munns took on no fewer than seven different apprentices(6). These included(4) ;

  •  Samuel Pain – Received his freedom from Edward Munns on 23rd February 1649
  • James Goldham – Received his freedom from Edward Munns on 6th May 1657
  • Edward Kidder – Apprenticed to Edward Munns on 20th March 1666.
  • Francis Cade – Received his freedom from Edward Munns on 20th November 1667
  • John Clarke – Apprenticed to Edward Munns on 10th March 1680

 Edward Kidder was the son of Thomas Kidder, a merchant tailor, who also had premises on London Bridge prior to his death in 1656(4). No doubt Edward Munns had known the Kidder family well before he took Edward on as his apprentice. John Clare, the son of a London butcher, was almost certainly Edward Munns’ last apprentice as Edward died in 1689/90(4)(6). By this date he was in his mid-70s and so had lived to a very respectable age for the period.

 Edwards Munns’ Last Will and Testament was written on 23rd October 1688(7) and confirms that he had amassed a considerable amount of money as well as a certain amount of property during his life time. Edward made his son-in-law, John Heather, executor of his Will in which he left the bulk of his goods and estate to his daughter Ann with provision that it went primarily to her and then to her son John and not her husband. Presumably John was the eldest of the Ann and John Heather’s five children, the others being Susan, William, Elizabeth and Alice. Separate provisions were made in Edward’s Will for all five of his grandchildren. Such provisions comprised various monetary amounts. These were payable in the forms of individual differing annuities plus final sums which were to be paid to each grandchild on them reaching certain stipulated ages or, in the case of the girls, their marriages, which ever occurred first. Particularly generous provisions were made for John and Susan in Edward’s Will compared to those made for his other three grandchildren.

 Edward’s Will makes no reference to him owning any leases or property on London Bridge. This coupled with the absence of his name against any of the returns from the Hearth Tax of 1666 suggests that his premises on the bridge were either rented or held by a lease which had expired by the time he made his final Will in October 1688.  However, his Will clearly indicates that he did own land and property in Barrons Court and Barrons Alley in the Aldgate Without district of London. As yet I have been unable to locate the precise location of this address on contemporary maps or gazetteers within the fairly well-defined bounds of Aldgate Without. Interestingly the general location of this property was close to the parish church where it is believed Edward Munns married Ann Grimes in 1645 (i.e. Holy Trinity, Minories). As such it is possible that the bequeathed property in Edward’s Will was related to an inheritance secured from his late wife’s family.

   

References:

  1. Dickinson, M.J. – Seventeenth Century Tokens of the British Isles and their Values. (London, 2004).
  2. Upcott, W. – Great Fire on London Bridge, in 1633. The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 94, Part 2. November 1824.
  3. Lillywhite, B. – London Signs: A Reference Book of London Signs from Earliest Times to about the Mid Nineteenth Century. (London, 1972).
  4. Boyd, P. – Inhabitants of London. A genealogical Index held by the Society of Genealogists, London.
  5. The London Gazette, Number 209, November 14th to 18th, 1667.
  6. Johnson, Rev. A.H. – The History of the Worshipful Company of the Drapers of London. Vol. IV. (Oxford, 1922).
  7. PROB/11/396. National Archives (London).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. John Reynolds May the 24th 1669

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three decorated pies made using 17th century designs

Three decorated pies made using 17th century designs

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

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

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

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

8th October 1665 – John Knoles from Shoo lane

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

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

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

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

Total deaths and plague related deaths in London during 1665

Total deaths and plague related deaths in London during 1665

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

 

References:

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

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Thomas Railton in White Horse Street, Ratcliff

A farthing token issued in the name of the Thomas Railton of White Horse Street, Ratcliff in the parish of Stepney

A farthing token issued in the name of the Thomas Railton of White Horse Street, Ratcliff in the parish of Stepney

The above copper farthing token measures 15.3 mm and weighs 0.77 grams. It was issued by Thomas Railton, a baker living in the village of Ratcliff in the parish of Stepney, Middlesex.

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

Obverse: (mullet) THOMAS. RAILTON. BAKER , around a twisted wire circle, within is the depiction of a wheatsheaf.

Reverse: (mullet) IN. WHITHORS. STREETE, around the depiction of a pair of un-laden pan scales. Either side of the scale’s upper suspension hoop the token issuer’s initials T and R.

The token is undated but on stylistic and historical record grounds is likely to date from the period 1650s or early 1660s. As the token does not carry the usual triad of initials, representing the names of the married couple who issued the token it may be evidence that at the time of this farthing’s issue Thomas Railton was a bachelor.  

White Horse Street, Ratcliff in the parish of Stepney (c.1720)

White Horse Street, Ratcliff in the parish of Stepney (c.1720)

Thomas Railton lived and worked in premises on White Horse Street, a road of ancient origins which ran from Ratcliff to the parish church of St. Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney. Today the course of this street is represented by White Horse Road and the eastern end of Cable Street. During the mid-17th century the area to the east of the Tower of London was still relatively lightly populated and semirural. It contained a scattering of villages which collectively were to become the borough of Tower Hamlets.

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

Little is known about Thomas Railton, the issuer of the above token, other than his stated profession as a baker. At least one of the emblems on his token, i.e. a pair of scales and a wheat sheaf, may have been a representation of sign under which he traded. Both of these devices were associated with the baking trade and appeared on the coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Bakers of the City of London. 

St. Dunstans and All Saints parish church, Stepney (1755)

St. Dunstan and All Saints parish church, Stepney (1755)

A search of local parish registers has identified the following entries, all of which are from St. Dunstan and All Saints Church (Stepney), which may be of relevance to the token issuer.

1601/02 February – Marriage between Thomas Railton and Judith Linford, both of Poplar

It is probable that the later entry is for that of the token issuer’s parents.

1615, 14th April 1615 – Baptism of Thomas son of Thomas Railton a labourer of Poplar

1641, 8th August – Thomas Railton of Stepney, Mariner and Rose Ward, maid, the daughter of Henry Ward of Lamborne in the County of Essex, yeoman married by Lysence from the Office of Faculties

It is possible that the last entry refers to the token issuer prior to him becoming a baker. While there may be some uncertainty about this particular reference there doesn’t appear to be any with respect to the following entry from the same set of parish registers.

1663, 7th May – Marriage of Thomas Raileton of Ratcliff, baker and Susanna Fredd

No further reference can be found relating to Thomas Railton after this date. Even a review of the Hearth Tax returns for White Horse Street, Stepney for 1666 has failed to identify anyone by the name of Railton. 

It is possible that Thomas either fled the area never to return or perished without record during the devastating outbreak of plague which struck London in 1665.

While outside the city the parish of Stepney was hit hard by the plague both during the outbreaks of both 1625/6 and 1665/6. The large churchyard of St. Dunstan’s owes its size (approximately 7 acres) to extensions brought about as a means of accommodating the increased number of burials resulting from these epidemics.  

Comparative maps showing the growth of the parish burial ground of St. Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney between c.1615 (right) and c.1720 (left) due to the excessive burial demands brought about by sucessive outbreaks of Plague in 1625 and 1665

Comparative maps showing the growth of the parish burial ground of St. Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney between c.1615 (right) and c.1720 (left) due to the excessive burial demands brought about by successive outbreaks of Plague in 1625 and 1665

The vestry minutes from around these periods refer frequently to the extensions to the grave yard and instructions given to the sexton as to burials not to be within a certain distance of the church. In 1625/6 over 3,960 burials took place and a southern extension was added to the ancient churchyard.  The over powering smell of putrefaction from many of the shallower graves in the old overcrowded section of the churchyard was so bad that additional earth and gravel had to be brought in to raise the ground level. So great was the number of burials that by license granted by the Bishop on 24th January 1625/6, the Parish Clerk was empowered to bury parishioners, because there was more work than the Curate could cope with on his own.  

A contemporary wood cut illustrating the mass burial of London plague victims in 1665. Such scenes were almost certainly played out in the parish church yard in Stepney.

A contemporary wood cut illustrating the mass burial of London plague victims in 1665. Such scenes were almost certainly played out in the parish church yard in Stepney.

During the outbreak of plague of 1665/6 a further 6,500 victims were buried in the churchyard. At this time the population of the parish was largely comprised of sailors. The plague so devastated the area time that the Lord Chancellor of the time (Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon) later recorded the following in his memoirs (1).

Plague in Stepney

References:

1)      Hyde, E. – The Life of Edward Earl of Clarendon, Lord High Chancellor of England. Oxford. 1760.

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Thomas Blagrave at the Crown tavern in Threadneedle Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 31st January 1664/65

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

Wednesday 15th February 1664/65

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

Monday 22nd January 1665/66

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

Wednesday 14th February 1665/66

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

Saturday 3rd March 1665/66

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

Friday 16th March 1665/66

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

Monday 2nd April 1666

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

Monday 4th June 1666

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

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

 

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

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

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

Foot Notes:

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

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

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

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

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James Stephens in Giltspur Street

A farthing token issued by James Stephens operating from the sign of the Three Nuns in Giltspur Street, London.

A farthing token issued by James Stephens operating from the sign of the Three Nuns in Giltspur Street, London.

The above copper farthing token measures 15.2 mm and weighs 1.19 grams. It was issued by James Stephens, possibly a tavern keeper or tradesman, operating from premises at or by the sign of “The Three Nuns” in Giltspur Street in the Farringdon Ward Without district of London.

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

Obverse: (star) IAMES. STEPHENS. AT. YE, around a solid line circle, within the depiction of three nuns standing in a line facing.

Reverse: (star) IN.GVLTSPVR. .STREET, around solid line circle, within a legend in four lines; WITH / OVT / NEW / GAT.

The token is undated but is likely to have been issued prior to the early to mid-1660s by which time the issue of farthings was in decline in favour of half penny tokens. This tradesman’s token is one of six different issues known from this very small street. All were produced during the period 1648/9 to 1672 (1).

The location of Giltspur Street  opposite the Newgate entrance to the City of London (c.1720)

The location of Giltspur Street opposite the Newgate entrance to the City of London (c.1720)

In mid-17th century Giltspur Street was located immediately to the north-west of the Newgate entrance to London. Newgate was one of the city’s ancient fortified gates. It was located on the north-west perimeter of the old city walls in the Farringdon Ward of the city.

The Newgate entrance to the City of London from an engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar (c.1650)

The Newgate entrance to the City of London from an engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar (c.1650)

The current alignment of Giltspur Street is slightly to the west of the course it took in the mid-17th century. It now runs directly alongside the eastern perimeter of the churchyard of the parish church of St. Sepulchre, Holborn. Tradition has it that it was at the end of Giltspur Street, at the junction with Cock Lane in West Smithfield, that the Great Fire of London of 1666 reached its farthest limit in this part of the city before being finally extinguished on the last day of the Great Fire. Today the spot is still marked by the statue of the Golden Boy of Pye Corner (2).

The statue of the Golden Boy of Pye Corner at the corner of Cock Lane and Giltspur Street - Detail inset top right

The statue of the Golden Boy of Pye Corner at the corner of Cock Lane and Giltspur Street – Detail inset top right

Little to nothing is known of this token’s issuer, James Stephens. An initial search of the London Hearth Tax returns from the 1660s has failed to return any mention of him. A search of London parish registers and other genealogical sources has only yielded one probable reference to him. The parish registers for St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, located only a stone’s throw to the west of Giltspur Street, records the burial of a James Stephens on 29th March 1664.

The sign of the Three Nuns is first recorded in London in 1367 as a brew house. It was a fairly common sign in the capital and is often thought to have denoted a site with former religious associations. While the sign was used by several inns or taverns it was not exclusive to that trade. In the 18th century the sign was chiefly associated with linen drapers, mercers and milliners. It may well have had similar but less frequent associations in the mid-17th century.

Foot Notes:

1)      There are six separate tradesmen in Giltspur Street who are known to have issued tokens in the mid-17th century. Five of the token types are of farthing denomination while the sixth is a half-penny. Of these tokens two of the farthings were issued by separate tradesmen using the sign of “The Three Nuns”. Other than James Stephens the other issuers were Samuel and Hannah Botley. Samuel Botley (born 1639) married Hannah White on 2nd May 1662 in Acton, Middlesex. Samuel is recorded as a cordwainer (i.e. shoe maker) of the parish of St. Sepulchre. It is impossible to say if Samuel Botley and James Stephens were neighbours or if Samuel Botley took over the premises of James Stephens after the latter’s probable death in March 1664. Either way married life for Mr. and Mrs. Botley in Giltspur Street would have been fairly short lived. Presuming that the couple made it through the Great Plague of 1665 Giltspur Street and the adjacent parish church of St. Sepulchre were both consumed during the latter stages of the Great Fire of London in September 1666 (see location map below).

A map of mid-17th century London showing the extent of the Great Fire of 1666 plus the relevant location of Guiltspur Street

A map of mid-17th century London showing the extent of the Great Fire of 1666 plus the relevant location of Guiltspur Street

2)      Below the statue of the Golden Boy of Pye Corner is a tablet bearing the following inscription;

 This Boy is in Memory Put up for the late FIRE of LONDON Occasion’d by the Sin of Gluttony.

The statue, made of wood and covered in gold is a listed monument and according to its listing entry was formerly winged. Originally the statue may also have been painted naturalistically.  A larger more modern sign below the monument explains more of its history;

The boy at Pye-Corner was erected to commemorate the staying of the Great Fire, which beginning at Pudding Lane was ascribed to the sin of gluttony when not attributed to the Papist as on the Monument and the boy was made prodigiously fat to enforce the moral.

The statue was originally built into the front of a Public-House called “The Fortune of War“, which used to occupy this site before it was demolished in 1910.

The Fortune of War Public House at the corner of Cock Lane and Guiltspur Street prior to it demolition in 1910 - Note the position of the Golden Boy of Pye Corner statue in its upper wall

The Fortune of War Public House at the corner of Cock Lane and Guiltspur Street prior to it demolition in 1910 – Note the position of the Golden Boy of Pye Corner statue in its upper wall

In 1761, the tenant of this public house, Thomas Andrews, was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to death. However, he was pardoned by King George III in one of the first cases of public debate about homosexuality in England. A further claim to fame of this establishment was that until the 19th century, it was the chief house north of the River Thames for “resurrectionists”. It was officially appointed by the Royal Humane Society as a place “for the reception of drowned persons”. Prior to it demolition the landlord used to show the room in the pub where benches were placed around the walls and where bodies laid out to await their inspection and collection by the surgeons from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.

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