Tag Archives: Samuel Pepys

The Fleece in Covent Garden

A farthing token issued in the name of the Fleece Tavern in Covent Garden, Westminster

A farthing token issued in the name of the Fleece Tavern in Covent Garden, Westminster

The above copper farthing token measures 15.6 mm and weighs 0.94 grams. It was issued in the name of The Fleece Tavern in Bridges Street. This now lost street lay off the eastern side of Covent Garden in Westminster.

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

Obverse: (mullet) AT.THE.FLEECE.TAVERNE , around the central depiction of  a sheep’s body facing left and suspended in a harness around its middle.
Reverse: (mullet) .IN.COVEN.GARDEN. , around twisted wire inner circle, letters W.C within.

This is one of two undated tokens, a farthing and a half penny, of similar design which were issued from the Fleece Tavern in Covent Garden and which bear the issuer’s initials W.C. The slightly larger half penny tokens also carry the issuers name in full, William Clifton, so there is no doubt who was responsible for their issue.

Although not a common inn sign today the emblem of the Fleece or Golden Fleece was not uncommon in the 17th century. As well as being a common inn sign it was also adopted by tradesmen working in branches of the wool trade.

A plan of Covernt Garden (c.1720) showing the approxiamest location of the Fleece Tavern

A plan of Covent Garden (c.1720) showing the approximate location of the Fleece Tavern

Immediately after the Restoration the taverns of Covent Garden, notably the Rose and the Fleece taverns on Bridges Street, gained an unsavoury reputation as places of licentiousness and violence which included several mur­derous assaults that took place on their premises.

The establishment of the Fleece tavern dates to the building of Bridges Street in 1632. According to one early token researcher, Henry Beaufoy,(1)  an entry in the 1651 rate book for the Covent Garden area notes the Fleece tavern as being located six houses down from the corner of Bridges Street and Russell Street, an area later taken up by the Drury Lane Theatre. The same rate book also confirms that William Clifton was then the tavern’s landlord. The location of the Fleece on the south-west side of Bridges Street is confirmed by later authors. However, John Aubrey (2) writing in 1696 claims it to have been in York Street. This may allude to the tavern having a back entrance, no doubt a very convenient resource for such a dubious establishment.

Prior to 1633/4 William Clifton was landlord of the Goat tavern in nearby Russell Street before moving to the Fleece where he took over from the previous landlord, Thomas Gough (3) . After arriving in his new premises in Bridges Street he soon appeared to have issues with William and Mary Long, who ran the neighbouring Rose tavern which was located on the corner of Bridges Street and Russell Street. The Fleece seems to have been a more prosperous establishment than its neighbour. According to one previous study (1)  in the local rate book of 1657 William Clifton is assessed at 26/- whilst William Long at the Rose was assessed at only half that amount. This relative prosperity bias may be down to the comparative size of the two establishments. In the 1666 Hearth Tax return from the Covent Garden district the entry for William Clifton is for a sizeable premises with 24 hearths while that for Mary Long (at the Rose) is for on 14 hearths. Despite running a large tavern such as the Fleece it appears that William Clifton still found time to undertake additional responsibilities within his local parish (St. Paul’s, Covent Garden). In 1644 he is reported as being an overseer of the poor (4).

The churchwardens’ accounts for St. Paul, Covent Garden contain several references to the Fleece;

1657 – refer to a payment of 26/- “for mending the grate over the sewer by the Fleece Tavern”.

1658 – payment on 12th April to “Mr. Clifton £3-13-0 for wine for the last yeare”‘.

There is a further mention of William Clifton in an issue of the Kingdom‘s Intelligencer of December 1661. A public announcement refers to the loss of a looking-glass and some gilt leather hangings. Anyone who knew of their whereabouts and who reported the matter to “Mr. Clifton at the Fleece Tavern” was to be rewarded with 40 shillings.

In the original research undertaken into this token issuer by Henry Beaufoy he mentions that he was unable to discover Clifton’s name in the burial registers of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden although there were interments recorded for the following related or associated individuals;

12th November 1658 – Mr. Clifton’s man

21st March 1661 – Thomas, son of William Clifton

13th September 1672 – Amey Watts, Mr. Clifton’s servant

26th February 1675 – Widow ………… More, from the Fleece – The parish clerk had left a blank in the register and added a footnote that he did “not lerne her christian name” 

St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden - Much as it would have appeared when originally built in 1633

St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden – Much as it would have appeared when originally built in 1633

Clifton was vintner at the Fleece from 1633/4 until at least 1672. According to one source William died in 1672 and his wife, Martha, continued as landlady. The current researcher has not been able to find any records of the marriage of William and Martha Clifton. The farthing and half penny tokens issued in the name of the Fleece only bear William’s initials, instead of the a triad of token issuer’s initials which are usually displayed if the primary issuer is a married man. On the basis that neither of the token types issued by William Clifton from the Fleece probably date to no later than c.1660 it would be reasonable to assume that William and Martha weren’t married until after this time.

The seal of William Clifton of the Fleece tavern in Govent Garden. The bottle is of the shaft and globe variety (1650-80) and was found by MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) on excavations on St. Helen’s Place, Bishopsgate in the City of London. Photograph by Nicholas Major and supplied by Nigel Jeffries (MOLA).

The seal of William Clifton of the Fleece tavern in Govent Garden. The bottle is of the shaft and globe variety (1650-80) and was found by MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) during excavations on St. Helen’s Place, Bishopsgate in the City of London. Photograph by Nicholas Major and supplied by Nigel Jeffries (MOLA).

While it is not known when he died a foot note in a manuscript copy (held in the library of the Royal Society) of John Aubrey’s earlier sited reference to the Fleece tavern states “Clifton the master of the house, hanged himself having perjured himself”. This being the case it fully explains why no burial record can be found for William Clifton in the parish register for St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden or for that matter any other parish burial records. As a suicide victim Clifton would have not been eligible for burial in consecrated ground and hence his death will have gone unrecorded in church records.

According to one source (3) the Fleece burnt down in 1688 and was rebuilt as a private house. This building was still standing in 1722 as an advertisement in the Daily Post for 22 January 1722 relates “To be let furnished or unfurnished a very good house in Bridge Street, two doors from the Play House, the corner of Vinegar Yard at the Green Raith which was formerly the Fleece Tavern“. The former location of the Fleece, like the Rose, must have been engulfed in the exten­sions to the Drury Lane Theatre in 1766.

Despite its reputation the Fleece Tavern was a popular haunt of Samuel Pepys . Between the period 1660 to 1669 he visited the tavern on at least 4 separate occasions which he records in his famous diaries. The associated entries are listed below chronologically.

1st December 1660

“I went to my Lord St.Albans lodgings, and found him in bed, talking to a priest (he looked like one) that leaned along over the side of the bed, and there I desired to know his mind about making the catch stay longer, which I got ready for him the other day.  He seems to be a fine civil gentleman.  To my Lord’s, and did give up my audit of his accounts, which I had been then two days about, and was well received by my Lord.  I dined with my Lord and Lady, and we had a venison pasty.  Mr. Shepley and I went into London, and calling upon Mr. Pinkney, the goldsmith, he took us to the tavern, and gave us a pint of wine, and there fell into our company old Mr. Flower and another gentleman; who tell us how a Scotch knight was killed basely the other day at the Fleece in Covent Garden, where there had been a great many formerly killed.”

The “Scottish knight” referred to above confuses two facts regarding this actual occurrence.  The knight in question was in actuality Sir John Godschalke of St. Martin in the Field, and the murderer reputed to be one Scotsman named “Balenden”.

9th October 1661

“This morning went out about my affairs, among others to put my Theorbo out to be mended, and then at noon home again, thinking to go with Sir Williams both to dinner by invitation to Sir W. Rider’s, but at home I found Mrs. Piece, la belle, and Madam Clifford, with whom I was forced to stay, and made them the most welcome I could; and I was (God knows) very well pleased with their beautiful company, and after dinner took them to the Theatre, and shewed them “The Changes” and so saw them both at home and back to the Fleece tavern, in Covent Garden, where Luellin and Blurton, and my old friend Frank Bagge, was to meet me, and there staid till late very merry.”

25th November 1661

“Having this morning met in the Hall with Mr. Sanchy, we appointed to meet at the play this afternoon.  At noon, at the rising of the House, I met with Sir W. Pen and Major General Massy, who I find by discourse to be a very ingenious man, and among other things a great master in the secresys of powder and fireworks, and another knight to dinner, at the Swan, in the Palace yard, and our meat brought from the Legg; and after dinner Sir W. Pen and I to the Theatre, and there saw  “The Country Captain,” a dull play, and that being done, I left him with his Torys1 and went to the Opera, and saw the last act of “The Bondman” and there found Mr. Sanchy and Mrs. Mary Archer, sister to the fair Betty, whom I did admire at Cambridge, and thence took them to the Fleece in Covent Garden, there to bid good night to Sir W. Pen who staid for me; but Mr. Sanchy could not by any argument get his lady to trust herself with him into the tavern, which he was much troubled at, and so we returned immediately into the city by coach, and at the Mitre in Cheapside there light and drank, and then yet her at her uncle’s in the Old Jewry.”

31tst December 1666

“Rising this day with a full design to mind nothing else but to make up my accounts for the year past, I did take money, and walk forth to several places in the towne as far as the New Exchange, to pay all my debts, it being still a very great frost and good walking. I staid at the Fleece Tavern in Covent Garden while my boy Tom went to W.Joyce’s to pay what I owed for candles there.”


I would like to thank Nigel Jeffries of Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) for drawing my attention to the existence of glass bottles (1650-80) in their in their collection with seals bearing the details of William Clifton of the Fleece in Covent Garden.


1) Burn, H.B. – A descriptive catalogue of the London traders, tavern, and coffee-house tokens presented to the Corporation Library By Henry Benjamin Hanbury Beaufoy. (London, 1853).

2) Aubrey, J – Miscellanies Upon Various Subjects (Forth edition, London, 1857).

3) Sheppard, F. H. W.(General Editor) – Survey of London. Volume 36 – Covent Garden. (London, 1970).

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

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George Carter in St. Albans Street, Westminster

issued in the name of George Carter in St. Alban's Street, Westminster

A half penny token issued in the name of George Carter in St. Alban‘s Street, Westminster

The above brass token measures 21.2 mm and weighs 1.51 grams. Based on it size alone it arguably best fits into the category of a penny token although that lack of it carrying a mark of value (as most penny token of the series do) probably means that it is more likely to be a half penny token. It was issued in the name of George Carter who was possibly a tavern owner operating from premisses in St. Alban’s Street, in the Parish of St. James, Westminster.

Obverse: (rosette) GEORG. CARTER. AT. YE. ST. ALBAN , around twisted wire inner circle, within the depiction of a standing figure (presumably St. Alban) facing and wearing a crown or peer’s coronet and holding a cross in its left hand and a sword in its right. What appears to be an open book on top of a draped alter or lectern is visible to the right of the figure.

Reverse: A legend in six lines reads IN .ST / ALBANS / STREET / NEERE. ST. / IAMES . / MARKET

It is possible that the George Carter recorded on the token was one and the same as the similarly named individual in the 1664 Hearth Tax return who is noted as occupying premisses with 15 hearths in Garndner Lane, St. Margret’s Parish, Westminster. While Hearth Tax returns were recorded for the eastern side of St. Albans Street in 1666 there are as then no occupants with the surname Carter.

St. Alban's Street, Parish of St. James, Westminster (c.1720)

St. Alban’s Street, Parish of St. James, Westminster (c.1720)

St. Alban’s Street took its name from its developer and one of the area’s principal earliest inhabitants, Henry Jermyn, the 1st Earl of St Albans, a man sometimes refered to as the “Farther of the West End”.

In the 1650s the open space west of the Haymarket and north of Pall Mall, known at St. James’ or Pall Mall Fields was considered ripe for development but hitherto such had been forbidden by the Crown. In March 1661/2 the Earl of St Albans was granted a lease of much of this area by the Queen Mother. Development of the area was given further impetus in July 1662 when a meeting of commissioners for reforming the streets and buildings of London ordered the “paving of the way from St. James’, north, which was a quagmire, and also the Haymarket about Piqudillo”. A further Act of that same year also made provision for the paving of Pall Mall, the Haymarket and St. James’ Street. By September 1663 the development of St. James’s Fields by the Earl had begun. By April 1665, despite strong opposition, especially from the Lord Southampton who was a rival developer, Earl St. Albans obtained a freehold grant for over 11 acres (approximately half) of St. James’ Fields. On this land and his adjacent leaseholds he proposed a piazza, or square, of 13 to 14 houses, with subsidiary streets and plus a large covered market. This proposed development was similar to that of the Earl of Southampton’s estate of Bloomsbury. Despite some opposition and difficulties in 1665 Earl St. Albans had begun construction on his own house on his piazza, St. James’ Square. Completion of the square followed over the next decade or so.

Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St. Albans

Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St. Albans

By September 1665 a covered market (St. James’ Market) had been opened between the newly founded St. James Square and the Haymarket. The southern entrance to the market was connected to the west side of St. James’ Square via a short street (St. Albans Street) leading off King Charles Street.  All of these streets were part of Earl St. Albans development of the area which the diarist Samuel Pepys comments on in his diary entry for the 1st April 1666;

“Up and down my Lord St. Alban his new building and market-house, looking to and again in every place building.”

In the 1666 Hearth Tax returns for St. Alban’s Street there are only entries for the eastern side of the street and some of these indicate that at that point in time several of the houses were recorded as newly built and still un-occupied. It is possible that by 1666 the western side of the street was still under construction and/or still comprised empty plots.

In Volume I of J.T. Smith’s 1846 publication “An Antiquarian Ramble in the Streets of London: With Anecdotes of Their More Celebrated Residents” reference is made to a mansion-house (supposedly once the residence of Earl St. Albans himself?) on the western corner of St. Albans Street at the junction with King Charles Streets which supposedly became a tavern and remained so until the building was demolished as part of improvements made to Reagent’s Street in 1820 and 1821. The same author associates this tavern as being the premises from which George Carter issued his undated trade token. As yet I have found nothing to confirm this one way or the other. That Early St. Albans took up residence in St. James Square c.1667 does not preclude him from living at the alternative address at a slightly earlier date of his development of this general area of St. James’ Fields.

There are several indicators that point to this token being issued relatively late in this mid-17th century series. These include;

1)      The token’s reverse legend style

2)      The identification of the token as possibly being of a penny denomination

3)      The construction completion date of its street of issue

All of these factors point to a date of issue in the period 1667 to 1672.

At the time of this token’s issue the wording on its reverse side could be taken to indicate that many Londoners may not have known whereabouts its place of issue in the city was. Presumably while many people may not have heard of relatively new and obscure road by the name of St. Albans Street most of them will have been much more familiar with the neighbouring location of St. James Market.

While this token issue is the only one known from St. Albans Street there are over twenty types recorded from the neighbouring area of St. James Market-place. The earliest of these is dated 1664.

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The Blue Boar’s Head, King Street, Westminster

A farthing token issued in the name of the Boar's Head in King Street, Westminster

A farthing token issued in the name of the Boar’s Head in King Street, Westminster

The above copper farthing token measures 15.7 mm and weighs 0.94 grams. It was issued in the name of Blue Boar’s Head tavern which was located on the west side of King Street in St. Margaret’s Parish, Westminster. The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (star) THE.BORS.HEAD.IN.KINGS, around twisted wire inner circle, boar’s head looking left within.

Reverse: (star) STREETE.WESTMINSTER , around twisted wire inner circle, triad comprising I |.W.|(rosette) D within.

The initials of the couple that ran The Blue Boar’s Head tavern at the time the token was issued, a Mr. “J/I.W.” and his wife Mrs.” D.W.” as yet have not been identified.

The style of this farthing token would suggest an early date in the series, possibly 1650 to 55.

The location of Boar's Head Yard off King Street, Westminster (c.1720)

The location of the Blue Boar’s Head Yard off King Street, Westminster (c.1720)

The Blue Boar’s Head was of the oldest established tavern in the Parish of St. Margaret’s, Westminster.  It dated back to the late 14th Century. Extensions in 1396 and 1401 gave it 16 bedchambers which were sumptuously furnished. It was located adjacent to a yard which bore its name and which connected the narrow and congested King Street on its eastern side with De La Haye Street to its west.

Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector, gave a suite of apartments in King Street to his mother. She lived here until her death in 1654. These apartments are understood to have been located on the north side of the Blue Boar’s Head Yard adjacent to the tavern.

Owing to its narrowness and want of light and air, and the crowded courts by which it was hemmed in on either side, King Street was among the first parts of Westminster to suffer from the plague in 1665. On its appearance, so close to the gates of the royal palace, Charles II and his courtiers, left Whitehall for the comparative safety of Oxford.

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

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

The construction of Westminster Bridge and Great George Street in 1750 led to the demolition of the old Blue Board’s Head tavern and its stable yard, which were rebuilt a short distance to the north at what was to become 34, Kings Street, Westminster. It was finally demolished, along with what was left of King Street, in 1899.

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The Hercules Pillars in Fleet Street

A farthing token issued in the name of The Hercules Pillars in Fleet Street, London

A farthing token issued in the name of The Hercules Pllars in Fleet Street, London

The above brass farthing token measures 15.8 mm and weighs 0.93 grams. It was issued in the name of The Hercules Pillars Tavern in Fleet Street, London.

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

Obverse: (star) THE.HERCVLVS.PILLERS , around twisted wire inner circle, depiction of Hercules with a rope wrapped around his waist pushing against two pillars.
Reverse: (star) IN.FLEET.STREETE.WESTMINSTER , around twisted wire inner circle, triad I /. S . / .M within.

Stylistically this undated farting token probably dates to the mid 1650s and was probably struck by David Rammage at the Tower Mint. The initials of the couple that ran The Hercules Pillars at the time this token was issued (i.e. Mr. “J (or I).M” and his wife Mrs.”S.M.”) have not been positively identified although one researcher has proposed that those of the landlord belong to a Mr. John Symons.

From c.1657 to at least 1666 The Hercules Pillars tavern was run by Edward Oldham who issued his own half penny token in the names of himself and his wife. stylistically this later token appears to date to the mid 1660s. In the 1666 Hearth Tax return the tavern appears to have 17 hearths.

The location of Hercules Pillar Alley off the south side of Fleet Street from John Ogilby & William Morgan’s 1676 Map of the City of London

The location of Hercules Pillar Alley off the south side of Fleet Street from John Ogilby & William Morgan’s 1676 Map of the City of London

The Hercules Pillars was built-in the time of King James I and was a tavern of great repute in the 17th century with lovers of good living. It stood at the head of Hercules Pillar Alley on the south side of Fleet Street, south-west of St. Dunstan’s Church and north of Temple Churchyard. In John Strype‘s Survey of London (1720) he describes Hercules Pillars Alley as;

“Hercules Pillars Alley, but narrow, and altogether inhabited by such as keep Public Houses for Entertainment, for which it is of Note.”

In a letter of advice to a foreigner visiting England in 1679 the philosopher John Loche sates the following on the subject of “the home made ales of England”;

“There are also several sorts of compound ales, as cock-ale, wormwood-ale, lemon-ale, scurvy-grass-ale, colledge-ale etc. These are to be had at Hercules’ Pillars, near the Temple.”

The Hercules Pillars tavern was a popular haunt of Samuel Pepys . He mentions it in 26 separate entries in his famous diaries. These entries are listed chronologically below.

11th October 1660

“Here, in the Park, we met with Mr. Salisbury, who took Mr. Creed and me to the Cockpitt to see “The Moore of Venice,” which was well done. Burt acted the Moore; ‘by the same token, a very pretty lady that sat by me, called out, to see Desdemona smothered. From thence with Mr. Creed to Hercules Pillars, where we drank and so parted, and I went home.”

30th October 1660

“In the afternoon, to ease my mind, I went to the Cockpit all alone, and there saw a very fine play called “The Tamer Tamed;” very well acted. That being done, I went to Mr. Crew’s, where I had left my boy, and so with him and Mr. Moore (who would go a little way with me home, as he will always do) to the Hercules Pillars to drink, where we did read over the King’s declaration in matters of religion, which is come out to-day, which is very well penned, I think to the satisfaction of most people.”

4th January 1660/61

“After dinner Mr. Moore and I to the Theatre, where was “The Scornful Lady,” acted very well, it being the first play that ever he saw. Thence with him to drink a cup of ale at Hercules Pillars, and so parted.”

30th July 1661

“So in Fleet Street I met with Mr. Salisbury, who is now grown in less than two years’ time so great a limner (i.e. a portrait painter or book illuminator) that he is become excellent, and gets a great deal of money at it. I took him to Hercules Pillars to drink, and there came Mr. Whore (whom I formerly have known), a friend of his to him, who is a very ingenious fellow, and there I sat with them a good while, and so home …..”

27th March 1663

“Thence I to the Exchequer again, and thence with Creed into Fleet Street, and calling at several places about business; in passing, at the Hercules pillars he and I dined though late, and thence with one that we found there, a friend of Captain Ferrers I used to meet at the playhouse, they would have gone to some gameing house, but I would not but parted, and staying a little in Paul’s Churchyard, at the foreign Bookseller’s looking over some Spanish books….”

29th October 1663

“…Being wearied with looking upon a company of ugly women, Creed and I went away, and took coach and through Cheapside, and there saw the pageants, which were very silly, and thence to the Temple, where meeting Greatorex, he and we to Hercules Pillars, there to show me the manner of his going about of draining of fenns, which I desired much to know, but it did not appear very satisfactory to me, as he discoursed it, and I doubt he will faile in it. Thence I by coach home….”

21st June 1667

“Thence homewards, calling at my Tailor’s to bespeak some coloured clothes, and thence to Hercules Pillars, all alone, and there spent 6d. on myself, and so home and busy all the morning. At noon to dinner, home….”

6th February 1667/68

“At last I did find my wife staying for me in the entry; and with her was Betty Turner, Mercer, and Deb. So I got a coach, and a humour took us, and I carried them to Hercules Pillars, and there did give them a kind of a supper of about 7s., and very merry, and home round the town, not through the ruines; and it was pretty how the coachman by mistake drives us into the ruines from London-wall into Coleman Street: and would persuade me that I lived there.”

20th April 1668

“Thence with Creed, thinking, but failed, of dining with Lord Crew, and so he and I to Hercules Pillars, and there dined, and thence home by coach….”

22nd April 1668

“Up, and all the morning at my office busy. At noon, it being washing day, I toward White Hall, and stopped and dined all alone at Hercules Pillars, where I was mighty pleased to overhear a woman talk to her counsel how she had troubled her neighbours with law, and did it very roguishly and wittily.”

28th April 1668

“Thence with Creed to Hercules Pillars by the Temple again, and there dined he and I all alone, and thence to the King’s house….”

1st May 1668

“Thence I by coach to the Temple, and there set him down, and then to Sir G. Carteret’s to dine, but he not being at home, I back again to the New Exchange a little, and thence back again to Hercules Pillars, and there dined all alone, and then to the King’s playhouse, and there saw “The Surprizall…”

2nd May 1668

“At noon with Lord Brouncker in his coach as far as the Temple, and there ‘light and to Hercules Pillars, and there dined, and thence to the Duke of York’s playhouse, at a little past twelve, to get a good place in the pit……”

13th May 1668

“Thence, at noon, to Hercules Pillars, and there dined all alone, and so to White Hall, some of us attended the Duke of York…”

23rd June 1668

“So I away with my wife and Deb., whom I left at Unthanke’s, and so to Hercules Pillars, and there we three supped on cold powdered beef, and thence home and in the garden walked a good while with Deane, talking well of the Navy miscarriages and faults. So home to bed.”

31st August 1668

“Up, and to my office, there to set my journal for all the last week, and so by water to Westminster to the Exchequer, and thence to the Swan, and there drank and did baiser la fille there, and so to the New Exchange and paid for some things, and so to Hercules Pillars, and there dined all alone, while I sent my shoe to have the heel fastened at Wotton’s, and thence to White Hall to the Treasury chamber, where did a little business, and thence to the Duke of York’s playhouse…..”

9th November 1668

“So I staid about the Court a little while, and then to look for a dinner, and had it at Hercules-Pillars, very late, all alone, costing me 10d. And so to the Excise Office, thinking to meet Sir Stephen Fox and the Cofferer….”

18th November 1668

“Lay long in bed talking with my wife, she being unwilling to have me go abroad, saying and declaring herself jealous of my going out for fear of my going to Deb., which I do deny, for which God forgive me, for I was no sooner out about noon but I did go by coach directly to Somerset House, and there enquired among the porters there for Dr. Allbun, and the first I spoke with told me he knew him, and that he was newly gone into Lincoln’s Inn Fields, but whither he could not tell me, but that one of his fellows not then in the way did carry a chest of drawers thither with him, and that when he comes he would ask him. This put me into some hopes, and I to White Hall, and thence to Mr. Povy’s, but he at dinner, and therefore I away and walked up and down the Strand between the two turnstiles, hoping to see her out of a window, and then employed a porter, one Osbeston, to find out this Doctor’s lodgings thereabouts, who by appointment comes to me to Hercules pillars, where I dined alone, but tells me that he cannot find out any such, but will enquire further.”

23rd November 1668

“Thence with W. Hewer, who goes up and down with me like a jaylour, but yet with great love and to my great good liking, it being my desire above all things to please my wife therein. I took up my wife and boy at Unthank’s, and from there to Hercules Pillars, and there dined, and thence to our upholster’s, about some things more to buy, and so to see our coach, and so to the looking-glass man’s, by the New Exchange, and so to buy a picture for our blue chamber chimney, and so home…”

9th December 1668

“This done, and having spent 6d. in ale in the coach, at the door of the Bull Inn, with the innocent master of the house, a Yorkshireman, for his letting us go through his house, we away to Hercules Pillars, and there eat a bit of meat: and so, with all speed, back to the Duke of York’s house, where mighty full again; but we come time enough to have a good place in the pit, and did hear this new play again….”

20th January 1668/69

“Thence to my wife at Unthanke’s, and with her and W. Hewer to Hercules Pillars, calling to do two or three things by the way, and there dined, and thence to the Duke of York’s house, and saw “Twelfth Night,” as it is now revived; but, I think, one of the weakest plays that ever I saw on the stage.”

10th February 1668/69

“Up, and with my wife and W. Hewer, she set us down at White Hall, where the Duke of York was gone a-hunting: and so, after I had done a little business there, I to my wife, and with her to the plaisterer’s at Charing Cross, that casts heads and bodies in plaister: and there I had my whole face done; but I was vexed first to be forced to daub all my face over with pomatum: but it was pretty to feel how soft and easily it is done on the face, and by and by, by degrees, how hard it becomes, that you cannot break it, and sits so close, that you cannot pull it off, and yet so easy, that it is as soft as a pillow, so safe is everything where many parts of the body do bear alike. Thus was the mould made; but when it came off there was little pleasure in it, as it looks in the mould, nor any resemblance whatever there will be in the figure, when I come to see it cast off, which I am to call for a day or two hence, which I shall long to see. Thence to Hercules Pillars, and there my wife and W. Hewer and I dined, and back to White Hall, where I staid till the Duke of York come from hunting, which he did by and by, and, when dressed, did come out to dinner; and there I waited: and he did tell me that to-morrow was to be the great day that the business of the Navy would be dis coursed of before the King and his Caball, and that he must stand on his guard, and did design to have had me in readiness by, but that upon second thoughts did think it better to let it alone, but they are now upon entering into the economical part of the Navy.”

12th February 1668/69

“….and so away vexed, and called my wife, and to Hercules Pillars, Tom and I, there dined; and here there coming a Frenchman by with his Shew, we did make him shew it us, which he did just as Lacy acts it, which made it mighty pleasant to me. So after dinner we away……”

22nd February 1668/69

“After the play done, we met with W. Batelier and W. Hewer and Talbot Pepys, and they follow us in a hackney-coach: and we all stopped at Hercules’ Pillars; and there I did give them the best supper I could, and pretty merry; and so home between eleven and twelve at night, and so to bed, mightily well pleased with this day’s work.”

21st April 1668/69

“This we were discoursing when my boy comes to tell me that his mistress was at the Gate with the coach, whither I went, and there find my wife and the whole company. So she, and Mrs. Turner, and The., and Talbot, in mine: and Joyce, W. Batelier, and I, in a hackney, to Hyde Park, where I was ashamed to be seen; but mightily pleased, though troubled, with a drunken coachman that did not remember when we come to ‘light, where it was that he took us up; but said at Hammersmith, and thither he was carrying of us when we come first out of the Park. So I carried them all to Hercules-Pillars, and there did treat them: and so, about ten at night, parted, and my wife, and I, and W. Batelier, home; and he gone, we to bed.”

30th April 1668/69

“This morning I did visit Mr. Oldenburgh, and did see the instrument for perspective made by Dr. Wren, of which I have one making by Browne; and the sight of this do please me mightily. At noon my wife come to me at my tailor’s, and I sent her home and myself and Tom dined at Hercules’ Pillars; and so about our business again, and particularly to Lilly’s, the varnisher about my prints, whereof some of them are pasted upon the boards, and to my full content. Thence to the frame-maker’s one Morris, in Long Acre, who shewed me several forms of frames to choose by, which was pretty, in little bits of mouldings, to choose by.”

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John Parrett at the Sword & Buckler, Shire Lane, Temple Bar

A half penny token issued by John Parrett of Shire Lane, Temple Bar, London

A half penny token issued by John Parrett of Shire Lane, Temple Bar, London

The above copper half penny measures 20.8 mm and weighs 2.05 grams. It was issued in the name of John Parrett at the Sword and Buckler in Shire Lane in the district of Temple Bar Within, London in 1667.

Obverse: (rosette) IOHN.PARRETT.AT THE.SWORD , around twisted wire inner circle, within the depiction of a sword and buckler (i.e. small round shield).

Reverse: (rosette) AND.BUCKLER.SHEERE.LANE , around twisted wire inner circle. Legend within, HIS / HALFE / PENNY / 1667 in four lines.

Shire (or Sheere) Lane ran north off Fleet Street from its junction with the Strand at Temple Bar.

Shire Lane from John Ogilby & William Morgan’s 1676 Map of the City of London

Shire Lane from John Ogilby & William Morgan’s 1676 Map of the City of London

From the information displayed on his token’s we can’t tell what John Parrett’s occupation was. There is also no record of him in Shire Lane in the 1666 London Hearth Tax returns. It is possible the tat the sign of the Sword and Buckler could have been used by a tavern but this is by no means certain. The sign itself may have been an indication that buckler play or so-called sword and buckler play may have been exhibited there or near by at some point in time. Sword and buckler play was once common in England, especially in the time of Elizabeth I.

Elizabeathan gentlemen engaging in sword and buckler play

Elizabeathan gentlemen engaging in sword and buckler play

By a proclamation of 1609 buckler play, bear-baiting and the singing of ballads was banded in the City of London and adjoining counties was to be prohibited and those transgressors of the new law were to be severely punished. However, on the restoration of King Charles II licences for the pastime of buckler-play and other mischievous sports were, for the payment of a fee, made available from the Master of Revels.

It is likely that it was a sword and buckler fight which Samuel Pepys described in his diary entry for 37th May 1667;

“So to my chamber, and there did some little business, and then abroad, and stopped at the Bear-garden-stairs, there to see a prize fought. But the house so full there was no getting in there, so forced to go through an alehouse into the pit, where the bears are baited; and upon a stool did see them fight, which they did very furiously, a butcher and a waterman. The former had the better all along, till by and by the latter dropped his sword out of his hand, and the butcher, whether not seeing his sword dropped I know not, but did give him a cut over the wrist, so as he was disabled to fight any longer. But, Lord! to see how in a minute the whole stage was full of watermen to revenge the foul play, and the butchers to defend their fellow, though most blamed him; and there they all fell to it to knocking down and cutting many on each side. It was pleasant to see, but that I stood in the pit, and feared that in the tumult I might get some hurt. At last the rabble broke up, and so I away to White Hall…”

In the time of John Stow, the famous Elizabethan historian of the City of London, it is recorded that every haberdasher sold bucklers. Hence it is said that the device was often associated with haberdasher.

In addition to John Parrett in Shire Lane the sign of the sword and buckler is also recorded during the period 1660 to 1720 by businesses operating at the following London addresses;

  •  Swan Alley, East Smithfield.
  • Ludgate Hill.
  • Old Fish Street, Queenhithe.

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The Trumpet in King Street, Westminster

A farthing of The Trumpet Tavern, King Street, Westminster

A farthing of The Trumpet Tavern, King Street, Westminster

The above brass farthing token measures 15.8 mm and weighs 0.71 grams. It was issued in the name of The Trumpet Tavern which was once located in King Street in St. Margaret’s Parish,Westminster. The design of the token may be formally described as follows;

Obverse: (star) THE.TRVMPET.IN.KINGS, around twisted wire inner circle, trumpet within.
Reverse: (star) STREETE.WESTMINSTER , around twisted wire inner circle, .C. over T (rosette) I within.

King Street, Westminster (c.1720)

King Street, Westminster (c.1720)

The initials of the couple that ran The Trumpet at the time the token was issued, a Mr. “T.C” and his wife Mrs.” J/I. C” have not as yet been positively identified by researchers. There are four individuals living in King Street at the time of the 1664 Hearth Tax who had initials that make them possible contenders;

King Street (North from the New Palace to the Sanctuary Gate):

1) Thomas Collins – 5 hearths recorded

King Street (North End):

2) Jane Charlton – 5 hearths recorded
3) Thomas Crispe – 6 hearths recorded
4) Captain Cooke – 6 hearths recorded

However, there are strong arguments that this token cannot be identified with any of the above. Firstly, in his diary entry for Saturday 9th January 1663/64 Pepys refers to the Trumpet as Mrs. Hare’s. Not a Mrs. C’s. Furthermore the style of this farthing token would identify it (and hence the tenancy of its issuers) with an earlier date than 1664. It is perfectly conceivable that by the time of the 1664 Hearth Tax our Mr. and Mrs. “C” may well have moved on.

The Trumpet is one of five taverns in King Street, Westminster, that was mentioned by Samuel Pepys in his diaries. The other mentioned were; The Bell, The Dog, The Sun and The Angel. The Angel and The Trumpet are the least two mentioned of this group and were obviously not his favourite drinking establishments in the street.
The Trumpet is mentioned in five separate entries in Pepys’ diary as listed chronologically below. On the last occasion (in January 1664/5) it appears that he was using it as a rendezvous for one of his many illicit extra marital liaisons, safe in the knowledge that none of his acquaintances would be there.

Saturday 4th August 1660

…I went and bespoke some linen of Betty Lane in the Hall, and after that to the Trumpet, where I sat and talked with her, &c. At night, it being very rainy, and it thundering and lightning exceedingly, I took coach at the Trumpet door, taking Monsieur L’Impertinent along with me as far as the Savoy, where he said he went to lie with Cary Dillon, and is still upon the mind of going (he and his whole family) to Ireland.”

Saturday 9th January 1663/64

“After dinner by coach I carried my wife and Jane to Westminster, leaving her at Mr. Hunt’s, and I to Westminster Hall, and there visited Mrs. Lane, and by appointment went out and met her at the Trumpet, Mrs. Hare’s, but the room being damp we went to the Bell tavern, and there I had her company, but could not do as I used to do (yet nothing but what was honest) … So I to talk about her having Hawley, she told me flatly no, she could not love him.”

Monday 15th August 1664

“To the Coffee-house I, and so to the Change a little, and then home to dinner with Creed, whom I met at the Coffee-house, and after dinner by coach set him down at the Temple, and I and my wife to Mr. Blagrave’s. They being none of them at home; I to the Hall, leaving her there, and thence to the Trumpett, whither came Mrs. Lane, and there begins a sad story how her husband, as I feared, proves not worth a farthing, and that she is with child and undone, if I do not get him a place. I had my pleasure here of her, and she, like an impudent jade, depends upon my kindness to her husband, but I will have no more to do with her, let her brew as she has baked, seeing she would not take my counsel about Hawly. After drinking we parted……”

Friday 9th December 1664

“At noon home to dinner, Mr. Hunt and his wife with us, and very pleasant. Then in the afternoon I carried them home by coach, and I to Westminster Hall, and thence to Gervas’s, and there find I cannot prevail with Jane to go forth with me, but though I took a good occasion of going to the Trumpet she declined coming, which vexed me. “Je avait grande envie envers elle, avec vrai amour et passion”. (Trans: I longed for her with true love and passion). Thence home and to my office till one in the morning……”

Sunday 22nd January 1664/65

“After dinner walked to Westminster, and after being at the Abbey and heard a good anthem well sung there, I as I had appointed to the Trumpett, there expecting when Jane Welsh should come, but anon comes a maid of the house to tell me that her mistress and master would not let her go forth, not knowing of my being here, but to keep her from her sweetheart. So being defeated, away by coach home, and there spent the evening prettily in discourse with my wife and Mercer, and so to supper, prayers, and to bed.”

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