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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.



  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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