Calendar of Wills Proved and Enrolled in the Court of Husting, London: Part 2, 1358-1688. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1890.
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Historical and literary importance of wills.
THE historical and literary importance of wills was scarcely recognized until the commencement of the present century. Previous to the production of a series of wills under the title of 'Testamenta Vetusta,' by Sir Harris Nicolas in 1826, nothing of the kind had been attempted, if we except the 'Royal and Noble Wills,' which appeared in 1780; but since that time various literary societies—and notably the Camden, (fn. 1) Surtees, (fn. 2) and Chetham (fn. 3) Societies, not to mention others—have turned their attention to the wills once preserved at Doctors' Commons, but some time since removed to Somerset House, as well as those in various provincial registries. The result has been that a new field for research has been opened for the genealogist, the biographer, the philologist, and the topographer. It was Sir Harris Nicolas's opinion (expressed in his preface to the work just mentioned (fn. 4) ) that if several thousand wills were printed literally from the originals, with glossarial notes and copious indexes, from the earliest period to the end of the seventeenth century, "the most valuable illustration of the dresses, manners, language, and, in a word, of everything connected with the domestic history of this country would be formed which could possibly be produced." Again, with respect to genealogical research, the same authority unhesitatingly asserts that a miscellaneous collection of wills, well indexed, cannot fail to throw considerable light upon descents now contradictory or uncertain; and whether the facts developed on these points confirm what was doubtful or establish what was unknown, the value of them is unquestionable. (fn. 5)
The wills enrolled in the Court of Husting, London—a calendar of which is brought to an end in the present volume—substantially realize the words of Sir Harris Nicolas just cited in two respects, for in number they comprise "several thousand," and they extend "from the earliest period to the end of the seventeenth century." To have literally followed out his suggestion and to have printed the wills in extenso and in their original language would have been at once exceedingly laborious and expensive, and moreover would have been doing more than he himself practised when engaged on a similar, though far less voluminous, work. Enough of the wills has been set out in these two volumes to afford the reader an insight into the domestic lives of families and individuals intimately associated with the municipal history of London, and oftentimes prominent in the more public affairs of the nation, such as he is seldom able to acquire.
Wills of eminent citizens and others.
It is only necessary to mention the names of a few of the most eminent of those whose wills are found enrolled in the Court of Husting in order to justify this statement:—
1. John de Kyrkeby, Bishop of Ely, who endowed his see with houses, vines, and gardens situate at Holborn, whose gift is remembered at the present day by the names of Ely Place, Vine Street, and Kirby Street, and whose gardens, part and parcel of the gift, call to mind the well-known lines put into the mouth of the Duke of Gloucester by Shakspeare ('Richard III.,' Act III. sc. iv.):—
My Lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn, I saw good strawberries in your garden there.
2. William de Farndon, Alderman of Farringdon Ward, to which he gave its name, and Nicholas [le Fevre?], who married his daughter, took his name, and became Alderman of his ward, which he afterwards disposed of by will to John de Pulteneye, although the latter appears never to have been de facto Alderman of the ward.
3. William de Elsing, the founder of Elsing Spital, on the site of which was afterwards built Sion College with its almshouses, one of the few picturesque relics of Old London which till lately remained to us, but now vanished.
4. William Walworth, whose prowess when Mayor against the rebel Wat Tyler at Smithfield is sufficiently well known.
5. Sir John Philippot, who was appointed joint treasurer with Walworth for receiving the subsidy granted to Richard II. on his accession, and who received the honour of knighthood with Walworth, Nicholas Brembre, and others.
6. John Northampton and Nicholas Exton, so long rivals of one another, the latter supporting Nicholas Brembre in his endeavour to sustain the monopoly enjoyed by the free fishmongers of the City, in opposition to the former.
7. Richard Whityngton, four times Mayor of London, whose munificent gifts and charitable acts need not be recorded here, as they are already household words.
8. John Colet, Dean of S. Paul's, Sir Andrew Judde, Sir Andrew Laxton, and many others whose names are associated with the cause of education, not only within the City of London, but in all parts of the country.
9. Sir Martin Bowes, the wealthy and charitable goldsmith, whose almshouses at Woolwich still bear witness to his generosity, and who bequeathed to the Mayor of the City of London for the time being and his successors a goodly cross of gold set with pearls and precious stones to hang at the collar of gold worn by the Mayor at high feasts, "as mentioned in the Repertory." (fn. 6)
10. And, lastly, Sir Thomas Gresham (not to mention numerous others), the founder of the college within the City which still bears his name, and to whose munificence the merchants of the City were indebted for their first bourse, or Royal Exchange.
Common form of Husting wills.
All the wills in the Court of Husting may be said to be drawn up more or less in "common form" fashion. As a rule, the testator gives directions at the outset as to the place where he wishes to be buried, and immediately afterwards prescribes the number of masses to be said for his soul, or founds a perpetual chantry. His obit, or anniversary of his decease, is to be observed, and in some cases a memorial service is directed to be held one month after his decease; this went by the name of the testator's "month's mind," (fn. 7) just as the observance of his obit was called his "year's mind." Then follow bequests to his parish church, comprising service books, vestments, &c.; to the various orders of friars in London, religious houses, hermits and anchorites, inmates of hospitals, prisons, and compters; and, in many cases, bequests to provide marriage portions for poor maidens, for the repair of highways and bridges, and other pious and charitable objects. Occasionally we find a sum of money left to provide for a pilgrimage on the testator's behalf to the shrine of S. Thomas of Canterbury or Our Lady of Walsingham, or across the seas to Rome, to the Holy Land, or to Santiago of Compostella in Spain.
In the disposal of his worldly goods among his relatives and friends, a testator's debts and funeral expenses are given priority over all legacies. His wife is next satisfied of her dower by some specific bequest, or left to take what law or custom allows her in that respect, and a life interest is usually given to her in her husband's real estate or some portion of it, with remainder over to members of his family in tail. Bequests of specific chattels are numerous, and possess more than ordinary interest to the student of mediæval life, comprising as they do a variety of goods, furniture, tapestry, &c., appertaining to the testator's household, articles of wearing apparel, his armour, offensive and defensive, and the implements of his trade. In the later wills we find gifts of mourning gowns and rings coming into fashion, and a large amount of real property becoming vested in civic companies, mainly (but not universally) in trust for pious and charitable uses.
Directions for funeral obsequies.
The knowledge of a person's burial-place often leads to the discovery of much valuable information respecting him and his family, and on that account a testator's place of burial has been always given in the Calendar whenever mentioned in the enrolment.
In former days many interments took place within the walls of a church, and a testator sometimes expressed a wish to be buried near his pew or customary seat (II. 532, 546); or, again, he desired to be buried in the middle of the processional way, (fn. 8) a pathway running up the sides of a church and passing behind the altar (II. 156, 218), the object being to keep the deceased's memory alive by compelling worshippers at the church to step on his or her tombstone. (fn. 9) Peter Trente, whose will is enrolled in this volume (II. 194), expressed a wish to be buried without a coffin (sine cista (fn. 10) ).
Mary de St. Pol, widow of the unfortunate Aylmer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, and foundress of Pembroke College in the University of Cambridge, by her will dated 1376, desired to be buried in the church of the Sisters Minors of Denny, co. Camb., of which monastery she was also the foundress, her corpse being clothed in the habit of the order (II. 194); and Margery Broun, also a widow, in the same year desires to be buried in her mantle and veil in which she became professed, without any coffin (II. 220). Here it may be mentioned that it was not uncommon for a widow to enter a convent and become a professed sister, or to avow chastity and become "espoused to God." The form of this last ceremony, or Benedictio vidue, is given in the 'Liber Pontificalis' (fn. 11) of Edmund Lacy, Bishop of Exeter. After vowing perpetual chastity, the widow was clothed with a mantle, and a ring put on her finger in token of her marriage with Christ. What practical distinction there was between becoming a spouse of Christ and taking the veil it is not easy to determine. All we know, as an historical fact, is that Eleanor, sister of Henry III. and widow of William, Earl of Pembroke, went through the ceremony of Benedictio vidue before the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Chichester, and yet was not hindered from subsequently marrying Simon de Montfort, (fn. 12) which probably she could not have done had she taken the veil and become professed.
William Wydollson, a mercer (1524), directs that his body shall be carried from his house to the church of S. George in Southwark on a horse litter (II. 645); and in 1618 we find a testator giving the following precise directions as to the way his corpse should be conveyed into Nottinghamshire, there to be buried in the "closset" belonging to the manor of Nuthall in Nuthall parish church: his body is to be "embalmed ceared and encoffined or any other way soe as it may be carried safely in good sorte to Nuthall aforesaid w out feare or danger of burstinge open or other disgrace in the way And in a Coache or otherwise as shalbe more fitt." (fn. 13)
Bequests by way of mortuary.
In giving directions for his burial a testator frequently left a sum of money to the parson of the church wherein he wished to be buried. On the occasion of an interment of a knight or other person of distinction it was the custom to head the funeral procession with the deceased's best charger, fully equipped, and carrying the knight's armour or some portion of it. These were claimed as a mortuary or burial fee by the church (somewhat after the manner of a heriot), but were redeemable. They also went by the name of "principal" or "corse-present," and sometimes by that of "foredrove," from the custom of driving them at the head of the procession. The Anglo-Saxon term for the mortuary was "soulesceat." In the will of Sir William Langeford, Knt. (1346), it will be seen that the testator desires to be buried in the church of Clerkenwell, and leaves to the prioress and convent his best horse, with equipment for one man, by way of principal (I. 489). Again, John Rokel (1368) desires to be buried in the churchyard of the church of SS. Peter and Paul at Braughin, co. Essex, and leaves to the church a heifer to be driven before his corpse at his funeral (II. 123), showing that the custom of mortuaries existed in that county, (fn. 14) although it did not obtain in all parts of England.
In course of time excessive mortuaries came to be claimed and demanded as a matter of right, and this exaction pressed hardly upon those who died in poverty or who happened to die whilst journeying and away from home, in which case it appears that more than one mortuary was often claimed. To remedy the abuses thus engendered a statute (fn. 15) was passed in 1530 enacting, among other things, that no one should be compelled to pay for a mortuary more than was due; that no mortuary should be demanded of any person whose movable goods at the time of his decease were under the value of ten marks; that mortuaries should only be claimed in places where the custom of paying them had up to that time prevailed; and that no persons should pay mortuaries in more places than one, that is to say, in the place where they usually dwelt.
Bequests for pious uses.
Having made arrangements for the disposal of his body after death, the testator next turned his thoughts towards the spiritual welfare of his soul. To this end he usually left sums of money to his parish church for the maintenance of fabric, lights, and ornaments, as well as to the parson of the church for tithes and oblates which during his lifetime he may have been guilty of forgetting to pay or of wilfully withholding. Large sums of money were also devoted to the maintenance of chantry priests, whose duty it was to say mass for the repose of the testator's soul. The number of masses to be said was often specified by the testator; thus Laurence de Chayham, a girdler of London, provides for a "trental" (i. e., a service of thirty masses) to be celebrated by each of the orders of Friars Minors and Augustinian Friars (I. 385); and later on we find mention made of a "trental of S. Gregory" (II. 137, 158, 160, 216, &c.), a service which consisted of thirty masses, three to be said on each of the ten chief festivals, viz., Christmas, the Circumcision, the Purification, the Annunciation, the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and her Nativity. (fn. 16)
Chaucer, in describing the manner of preaching pursued by a "Lymytour," or mendicant friar licensed to beg in a certain locality, says:—
And specially aboven every thing Excited he the poepul in his preching To trentals.
"Trentals," sayd he, "delyvereth fro penaunce Her frendes soules, as well eld as yonge." (fn. 17)
Another testator (fn. 18) leaves directions for a thousand masses to be said for the good of his soul within three days of his death, and five hundred masses to be said each quarter of the year following his decease. With the more wealthy and devout it was the practice to erect little chapels, which were either added to churches or enclosed by screens within them, where chantry priests might celebrate mass for the good of their souls in perpetuity. Andrew Aubrey obtained permission from the rector of the church of S. Antonin to erect a vestibule, chapel, and dwelling-house for two or three priests upon a piece of land on the north side of the said church, the appointment of the priests to remain with Andrew Aubrey, his heirs and assigns, whenever a vacancy should occur by death or otherwise. (fn. 19)
The character and conduct of these chantry priests must have become somewhat of a lax order in the sixteenth century; otherwise we should scarcely have found a pious testator, desirous of appointing a secular priest to the church of Wilmslow, co. Chester, giving express directions that such a priest was to be "no viciouse persone of lyevyng, diser, carder, bowler, cokkefyghter, noder commyne ale goer." (fn. 20)
King Henry VIII. was determined to put a stop to any further increase of the number of perpetual chantries, or of chantries to be maintained for long periods of years out of the rents and profits of lands, tenements, and hereditaments; and an Act (fn. 21) was passed declaring that all assurances of lands to churches for the purpose of a perpetual chantry or of a chantry to be maintained for a longer term than twenty years should in future be void. His successor went a step beyond this, and an Act (fn. 22) passed in the first year of his reign vested in the Crown all real and certain personal property devoted to the maintenance of obits, anniversaries, lights, lamps, &c., in any church or chapel within the five years next preceding (fn. 23) the passing of the statute. It is noteworthy that there is no statute making grants for superstitious uses void generally. (fn. 24)
Bequests of church service books, vestments, &c.
Of service books bequeathed to churches may be mentioned:—an Antiphonar, Portifory, and a Gradual or Grail, an Ordinary of the Use of Sarum (II. 169, 210, 469), and a Breviary of the Use of S. Paul's (I. 644), of which Use little remains to us of the present day; (fn. 25) a Catholicon, or collected general epistles (II. 169); a complete Manual (Manuale plenarium), containing the occasional services of the Church (II. 521); a Legend of the Saints (I. 607; II. 511); a small Psalter covered with cloth of Tars (I. 681); and a bequest for the purchase of a "Legger" for the use of a church (II. 521). The portable Breviary known as Portifory or Porthors (from its being small enough to carry about) forms frequently the subject of bequests.
John Draper, skinner (1496), directs his executors to cause five silver chalices to be made and given to poor churches standing in need of them in the county of Essex (II. 596); and Thomas Clayton, baker (1554), leaves two goblets with gilt covercles ornamented with roses and flowers on the "knoppe," each goblet bearing the mark of a hand, to be converted into chalices for church purposes (II. 659). This conversion of things secular to ecclesiastical uses was by no means uncommon, and has continued down to the present day. (fn. 26) William Estfeld (1445) bequeaths his personal apparel of silk and gold, as well as that of his late wife, for the purpose of having them made into vestments, besides directing that, in case of certain events happening, the gold cup and ewer which he received as his fee when attending the coronation of King Henry VI. in his official capacity as Mayor of London shall be sold for providing chalices for poor country churches (II. 510). There are numerous other bequests of vestments, comprising albs, amices, chasubles, copes, dalmatics, tunicles, and fanons (phanons) or maniples. These were often of fine and costly material, and enriched with lace and embroidery. Special mention may be made of a chasuble of red velvet with apparel for festivals, and a processional (II. 469); and of another of cloth of gold lined with blue carde, a kind of flock, known also as caddas (II. 37). Henry Barton, skinner (1434), leaves to the church of S. John, Walbrook, a vestment of black velvet, with orphreys (or ornamental bands) of feather work, (fn. 27) and others of cloth of gold, besides altar-cloths and hangings (II. 477-8). Walter de Berneys (1377) leaves two pairs of orfreys and a cloth of white rakemas, (fn. 28) and ten pounds for the purchase of two copes for S. Paul's Church (II. 206); and William Estfeld makes a specific bequest of a vestment ornamented with popingeays. Another instance of a vestment being ornamented with birds is to be found in the will of Margery, widow of Thomas Broun (1376), whose gifts to the church of S. Dunstan in the East embrace a chesiple of cloth of gold diapered with figures of birds (distempartum cum gallis aureis) (II. 220). John Gysors (1350), who gave the name of Gysors Hall to a tenement remarkable, among other things, for the architectural beauty of its crypt, bequeathed many valuable service books and vestments to the church of S. Martin in the Vintry, where he and many of his family were buried. Among the latter we find a cope of camaca, a costly material in use in this country towards the end of the fourteenth century, but of which little is known except that in all probability it was made of camel's hair and silk, and as such may be taken to have differed but little from camlet, which also appears to have afforded material for the same article of ecclesiastical apparel (fn. 29) (I. 644). Vestments varied in the richness of material according as they were for use on weekdays or high days and festivals. Thus Margery Broun (1376), of whom mention has already been made, leaves to the church of S. Katherine de Colman two pairs of vestments, one of white Fustien for weekdays, and the other of silk in imitation of Baudekyn, (fn. 30) besides a chalice and paten, Missal, &c. (II. 221). Many attempts have been made to explain the nature of the former material and the derivation of its name. It was probably of a coarse type of cloth, and, as the bequest itself points out, of a white colour, and not, as some have supposed, of a dusky hue as if dyed (fusco tinctus). In another bequest it is found in juxtaposition with Worstede (II. 383). Matilda Holbech (1392) bequeaths to the church of S. Dunstan in the East three pairs of vestments, viz., a best pair for festivals, another pair for weekdays, and a white pair for Lent (II. 303). The prevailing colour for vestments during the Lenten season is now violet.
Among other bequests to churches may be mentioned the following:—a corporal or corporas, the name given to the cloth covering the holy elements, and kept in a case or cas corporas (I. 644); a large ivory image of Our Lady, a silver censer, and a gold cross with the bastons of four pieces and relics (II. 294); coupes of silver or silver gilt (Lat. ciboria) for holding the reserved Host suspended over the altar, for which purpose one testator leaves his own seal-chain (I. 650; II. 246, 266, 478); paxbord or paxbred, more commonly known at the present day as the pax, a small tablet of wood or metal, ornamented with some sacred device, and kissed by the faithful in the service of the Mass, and hence called in Latin osculatorium (I. 660; II. 469); a mustrance or monstrance (Lat. ostensorium), for exhibiting the consecrated wafer to the congregation (II. 632); phials and cruets for holding the wine and water, or perhaps the holy oil (I. 644; II. 385, 469, 521); a scoppe of latten for the holy water (II. 27), and a silver stoup for the same purpose, together with a sprinkler and a silver bell (II. 62); a sencer of silver parcel gilt of the value of one hundred shillings (II. 632), to which may be added bequests of silver-gilt mazer-stands for making a thurible (II. 51), and of a testator's silver girdle for the censer in the church of S. Stephen, Coleman Street (II. 162); savenaps or sanenaps, napkins and towels, the latter in one instance comprising a towel of melynges and another of crucicule or cross work (fn. 31) (II. 220); and lastly a sum of money for the purchase of a "bearinge cloth" for Christian burial, the name of the donor embroidered thereon (II. 739).
Bequests for Paschal candle and Easter Sepulchre.
The Paschal candle was a wax light of unusual dimensions, being many feet in height and several inches in diameter, and was kept burning at stated hours throughout the period between Easter Day and Ascension Day. It stood on a high column, which was often of fine marble, and sometimes elaborately wrought; and during the ceremony of its benediction grains of incense were stuck in it. Collections were made from the communicants of each parish for the purpose of defraying the expense of this candle, which may at times have come to be burdensome. It is not surprising, therefore, to find occasional bequests by pious testators for relieving parishioners from payment of this "candle silver," as it was called (II. 447, 562, 571, 592, 594, 619). The will of Thomas Wellys, draper (1472), expressly leaves a sum of money to the church of S. Mary Woolnoth for the purpose, that parishioners who were houseled yearly on Shere Thursday, Easter Eve, Easter Day, and Easter Monday, and in the weeks next before and next after Easter, might be discharged every year of "candell silver," such as was wont to be asked by the wardens of the said church of the people houseled, and by them paid at their kneeling "atte Goddesborde" in the said church to be houseled (II. 571).
The Easter Sepulchre in a church sometimes consisted of a chapel, at others of a wall recess usually situate on the north side of the chancel, and at others of some temporary structure elaborately carved and sumptuously enriched, where the crucifix was placed and the Eucharist reserved from Maundy Thursday until Easter Day. They are found in small churches situate within the altar rails, where at other seasons of the year they are used as credence tables. Thomas Exton, goldsmith (1420), among others, leaves a sum of money for providing a wax taper of ten pounds for Christ's tomb on the day of the Preparation within the church of S. Leonard, Foster Lane (II. 448, 455, 594). Again, Agnes, widow of William Pikerell (1373), shows her devotion by giving two cloths of sarzinet, (fn. 32) a coverlit smalchekerd, and her best sheet of cloth of Reynes (fn. 33) (the first - mentioned cloths being embroidered with the letters "W" and "A," the initial letter of her late husband's Christian name and of her own), for covering the holy Sepulchre at Easter in the church of S. Vedast, besides providing for the maintenance of tapers to burn thereat (II. 155). William Drope, an Alderman (1506), also leaves a sum of money for the repair and gilding, when necessary, of the Sepulchre in the church of S. Michael, Cornhill (II. 626).
Bequest for "syngyng candells."
There is one other kind of candle for use in church mentioned in these wills, namely, those known as singing - candles. Thus in the will of Henry Barton, skinner (1434), the Prior of Elsing Spital is charged with providing two pounds of wax to be made into small candles called "syngyng candells," for masses to be said so long as the said candles shall last upon the testator's mass day (II. 477)—a proceeding which calls to mind the custom which at one time prevailed of conducting an auction "by inch of candle."
Bequests to shrines.
Among bequests to tombs, images, and other objects of veneration we find Margery Broun, whose name has been already mentioned in connexion with pious gifts to churches, leaving a large pearl ring, wherewith she became professed, to the tomb of Edward the Confessor at Westminster. Nearly every other will contains some bequest towards either the old or new work of S. Paul's, or some reference to a tomb, picture, or image with which the Cathedral in its early years was enriched. Nothing, however, within its walls was more venerated than the tomb of the beloved Bishop Erkenwald. Upon his decease a great struggle took place between the Canons of S. Paul's and the monks of the abbey which the Bishop had founded at Chertsey, for the privilege of burying him, but the people of London took away his body and caused it to be buried in the Bishop's own cathedral church. It afterwards received a more formal and ceremonious burial in a sumptuous shrine, to which, as well as to the chaplains serving it, gifts were frequently made by pious testators (I. 350; II. 139, 160, 203). A curious bequest of the kind is to be found in the will of Thomas Morice, a pleader (1368), who, besides a sum of money, leaves a black girdle with silver buckles to the crucifix at the north door of S. Paul's Church, another girdle of yellow (yolw) with similar buckles to the image of the Blessed Virgin in the New Work (an image which is frequently mentioned in the wills), and another girdle of blue (blew) to the shrine of S. Erkenwald (II. 108).
Besides his abbey at Chertsey, this good bishop founded another for his sister Ethelburga at Barking, co. Essex, to which we find a certain fishmonger—a native of the place, to judge from his name, William de Berkyngge—leaving, by will dated 1354, a gold ring and forty pence (I. 684).
Outside the City of London the tomb of the murdered Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, son of Gilbert Becket, sometime Portreeve of London, was perhaps the richest and most venerated of all shrines, surpassing even that of Edward the Confessor at Westminster. Matthew Paris (fn. 34) relates how John de Briesne, King of Jerusalem, when on a visit to England in 1223, offered at his tomb four of the largest and finest sapphires he had ever seen (iiii maximos saphiros quibus non vidimus nobiliores). Gifts of rings to this and other shrines are very common; when, therefore, the Convent of Christ Church, Canterbury, declined to pay its quota of a subsidy demanded of the city in 1327, the citizens called a meeting, and resolved, among other things, that no pilgrim should be allowed to enter the church until he had sworn not to make even the smallest offering, and they threatened to provide themselves with rings for each finger of both hands from the gold rings belonging to the shrine. (fn. 35) In 1445 we find William Estfeld, to whose will reference has already been made, leaving to this shrine an ouche of gold set with pearls and precious stones; whilst the same testator makes also a similar rich offering to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham—a shrine which rivalled in popularity even that of S. Thomas of Canterbury. The road which led to Walsingham, where a miraculous statue of the Virgin and a phial of her milk were religiously preserved, was called the "Palmers' Way," and numerous chapels were built along the line.
Bequests for repair of highways and bridges.
Before the introduction of rates for the purpose of keeping highways in repair their maintenance largely depended upon chance and the goodwill or necessities of those who lived in the neighbourhood and had most occasion to use them. Sometimes the Sheriffs in their "turns" ordered a tax to be levied on those whose lands abutted on a highroad and whose duty it was on that account to keep it in repair; but such a proceeding often met with a protest to Parliament on the ground that the roads and bridges were "sufficient enough." (fn. 36) The watching over the good condition of the roads, as well as the building and maintenance of bridges, has always been looked upon as being more or less a religious duty. Hence we find, among other charitable bequests contained in these wills, sums of money frequently left by a testator for the repair of "noyous and jeoperdes wayes," more especially within the City of London and its vicinity, although sometimes the benefit was extended to other parts of the country. Occasionally we find mention made of particular roads upon which the testator wishes his bequest to be expended, and it may reasonably be supposed that these were the roads which he had had occasion in his lifetime chiefly to use, and with the wretched state of which he was only too well acquainted. Thus Walter Neel, whose occupation as a "blader" or cornmonger in the middle of the fourteenth century had probably made him familiar with many of the highways leading to the City, left a sum of money for the repair of the several roads leading from Newgate to Wycombe, co. Berks, from Aldgate to the town of Chelmsford, co. Essex, from Bishopsgate to Ware, co. Herts, and from Southwark Bar to the city of Rochester, co. Kent (I. 673). That the money was not left by the testator before it was needed is evident from the fact that within five years from the date of Neel's will the roads leading from the City's gates were so foundrous that complaint was made to the Mayor and Aldermen by those engaged in carrying victuals and wares to London. A tariff of charges was thereupon made for every horse and cart entering or leaving the City, and officers were appointed to levy the same at each of the City's gates and at London Bridge.
In 1349 Walter de Mourden, a stoekfishmonger, left a sum of money for the repair of the road leading from Southwark Bar to Croydon (I. 654). Later on we find bequests made for the repair of the following highways: the highway between London and Hoddesdon (II. 510); for the repair of Mapes Lane, running between Kilburn and Willesden (II. 656); the highway from Gray's Inn Lane to Battle Bridge (II. 670); between Hackney and London, between Bishops Hatfield and Barnet, and between the "Ringe Crosse there" and Islington (II. 674); the several highways between Ware and Pukeridge, between the City of London and St. Albans, between Barnet and Baldock, and between London and Ware (II. 685); the highway between Whitchapel and Yelford or Ilford (II. 695); the highway between the "Spittle howse" and Highgate, and the corner of S. John's Wall and the common highway leading from Highgate through Kentish Town to Battle Bridge (II. 705).
The sense of a moral and religious duty which attached to the repair of highways was felt even stronger in respect of building and maintaining bridges. From earliest times bridges partook somewhat of a religious character, and the very name of pontifex, or bridge-builder, whereby the sacrificing priest in pagan Rome was formerly known, has been transferred to the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Hence it was that even religious houses, holding as they did property in frankalmoign, and as such free of every service except that of praying for the soul of their benefactor, were yet obliged to contribute towards the repair of bridges—a duty which formed part of that threefold necessary burden known as the trinoda necessitas, from which none were exempt.
Leland (fn. 37) gives us the following lines composed in honour of the principal founder of a bridge at Culham, near Oxford:—
Another blissid besines is brigges to make, There that the pepul may not passe after great showers; Dole it is to drawe a deed body out of a lake That was fulled in a fount stoon, (fn. 38) and a felow of oures.
Among the works of charity which Truth in the 'Vision concerning Piers the Plowman' exhorts the wealthy to execute are the repair of "wikkid wayes" (bad roads) and the mending of broken bridges:—
....brygges to-broke by the heye weyes Amende in som manere wise. (fn. 39)
The pious character of bridges is also shown by the existence of chapels upon them; that on the bridge at Stratford atte Bow being dedicated to S. Katherine, and that on London Bridge to S. Thomas of Canterbury.
Taxes were not unfrequently levied under colour of being required for the making or repairing of a bridge. This led to the insertion in Magna Carta of a clause declaring that no town nor individual should be called upon to make bridges for river banks except such as were by ancient right bound so to do. (fn. 40) Tolls were often illegally demanded, and legal tolls misappropriated by the wardens whose duty it was to collect them, so that, notwithstanding the protection afforded to bridges by the trinoda necessitas and by indulgences granted to their benefactors, and the income they enjoyed from tolls, they would scarcely have been maintained in sufficient repair but for the offerings made to their chapels by wayfarers and the bequests of pious testators.
Of bridges which form the object of charitable gifts in the wills enrolled in the Court of Husting, London Bridge, as might be supposed, excels all others in the number of bequests made to its "use," and next to it comes the bridge at Rochester. The Roman occupation of London left but few traces behind it save London Bridge and London Wall. The former was of timber, and was succeeded by others of the same material until the twelfth century, when the first stone bridge was commenced by Peter of Colechurch. Great enthusiasm prevailed at the building of this bridge, and King John bestowed certain vacant lands for the erection of tenements, the profits of the same to be to the use of the bridge. This property, together with other estates similarly bestowed, (fn. 41) was vested in the Mayor and Commonalty of the City of London as Wardens of London Bridge, and formed the nucleus of what is known as the "Bridge House Estate," an estate which derived its name either from a dwelling-house attached to the chapel wherein dwelt the Brethren of the Bridge House, (fn. 42) or from a house situate in Southwark near the bridge end, used at one time for storing building material for the bridge. This trust estate, augmented with gifts and bequests of pious and charitable citizens, produces at the present day a very considerable yearly income, and is charged with the support, and expenses attaching to the paving, lighting, and cleansing, of the several bridges of Blackfriars and Southwark, as well as of London Bridge. A list of benefactors to the last-mentioned bridge is said to have been kept at one time in the chapel.
Rochester Bridge was similarly endowed with real estate, certain manors having been assigned for its maintenance, known as "contributory lands." It was the duty of the Archbishop of Canterbury to maintain one pier and a certain number of beams, another pier was kept in order at the cost of the bishop of the diocese, and the "contributory lands" were responsible for the rest of the structure. (fn. 43) Both this bridge and London Bridge suffered greatly from the severe frost, "such as no man living could remember the like," which commenced at Christmas, 1282, and continued until the Feast of the Purification. The chronicler relates how five of the arches of the latter and the whole of the former were "borne downe and carried away with the streame, and the like hapned to many bridges in England." (fn. 44) Bequests in aid of Rochester Bridge will be found infra (II. 154, 261, 392, 428, 597, 623).
Other bridges receiving benefits under the wills are the following: "Brayntebregge," which possibly may have been in the neighbourhood of Brentford (I. 461); a new bridge at "Colbrook," co. Bucks, spanning the river Coln, which divides the shires of Buckingham and Middlesex (II. 760); "Ebrugge," beyond (ultra) Derwent, near Derby (I. 681); the bridge at Harpeford near Whatele (Wheatley [?] near Oxford) (I. 461); the bridge spanning the river Weaver at Northwich, co. Chester (II. 683); the bridges at Maydenheth or Maidenhead (I. 461) and at Newcastle-upon-Tyne (II. 554); the great and little bridges at Oxford (I. 461), the former known as Grandpont, situate to the south of the city, but more commonly spoken of, at the present day, as Folly Bridge, the latter identical either with Magdalen Bridge (which was formerly called Pettypont, to distinguish it from Grandpont), or with the bridge known as "Quaking Bridge," which crossed a little stream running near the Castle, and which is also described in ancient charters as parvus pons, or little bridge; (fn. 45) a bridge over the Medway at "Theston" or Teston, co. Kent (II. 600); and the bridge over the Thames at Wallingford (II. 509).
Bequests to mendicant orders.
Bequests to the four orders of mendicant friars in London occur in almost every other will. The orders referred to are: (1) The Carmelites or White Friars, who had their house near the Temple, the site of which still bears their name. (2) The Dominicans or Black Friars, who made their appearance in London in 1221, and originally took up their abode in Holborn, but afterwards (in 1285) moved to the spot on the river's bank still known as Black Friars. (3) The Franciscans or Grey Friars, who arrived in London a few years after the Dominicans, and eventually settled down near the unsavoury Shambles in Newgate, either in token of humility, as some say, or because a parcel of land in that locality happened to be bestowed upon them by John Ewen for a site of their house. The Grey Friars or Friars Minors received material assistance from other citizens and more especially from Henry le Galeys or Waleys, who was no less a benefactor to the sisters of the same order, called Minoresses or Poor Clares, whose house was situate without Aldgate, and in whose chapel, erected by himself, he desired by will (1301-2) to be buried (II. 96). (4) The Augustinian, Augustine, or Austin Friars, who made their first settlement in London in 1253, and the site of whose house near Broad Street is still remembered by their name. A portion of their church was assigned in 1550 to the Dutch Congregation, and so was for a time preserved, whilst the rest was perverted by the Marquis of Winchester, into whose hands it had fallen, for the storage of corn, coal, and other things. Besides bequests to these four orders, there are occasionally bequests made to a fifth order, viz., the order of Crossed or Crutched Friars, known also as Friars of the Holy Cross, who had their house in Hart Street, near the Tower.
Bequests to anchorites and hermits.
From the Anglo-Saxon times until the Reformation hermits, as well as anchorites or recluses, were a numerous class in England. The essential difference between an anker or anchorite and a hermit appears to have been that whereas the former passed his whole life shut up in a cell, the latter, although leading indeed a solitary life, wandered about at liberty. This, at least, was the distinction drawn by Giraldus Cambrensis, (fn. 46) who uses the expressions anchoritæ conclusi, heremitæ solivagi. An anchorite's cell—or ankerhold, as it was sometimes called—was usually in or near a church, although not always; it was so situate that the recluse might see the altar and hear the service, and its door was locked and often walled up, one or more iron-barred windows being left open by which he could receive the Communion and the necessaries of life. He was often a priest and much resorted to as a confessor, as, indeed, were also some hermits. The latter, however, commonly followed a trade or occupation. (fn. 47)
Although anchorites were not hermits, ankerholds were sometimes called hermitages, and the distinction between the two classes of religious is not always preserved in the Husting wills. Thus we have in one will a reference made to the tenement of the hermit of Cripplegate (I. 450)—a hermitage founded by Mary de St. Pol, Countess of Pembroke, for the soul of her unfortunate husband Aylmer de Valence—and in another a bequest made to the anchorite at Cripplegate, as well as to the anchorite at Holborn (II. 148). That both classes were held in high esteem by the citizens of London is shown by the numerous bequests made to every anchorite and every hermit in or near London. Besides the anchorites or hermits at Cripplegate and Holborn, we have special mention made of the hermit in the meadows beyond the Thames, the hermit near Charing Cross, and the hermit near Bishopsgate (fn. 48) (II. 107); the anchorite living in the church of S. Peter, Cornhill (I. 483, 638); Friar John Ingram, the anchorite near the Hospital of S. Katherine in the neighbourhood of the Tower (II. 228), previously described in the will of Geoffrey Patrik (1371) as the hermit living at a place called "le Swannesnest" near the Tower (II. 147); and, in the same will, Friar Richard de Swepeston, the hermit near the church of S. Laurence in the Jewry, and Geoffrey his companion. The mention of a companion for a hermit seems incongruous, but it appears from a rule for solitaries drawn up by Grimlaic, an anchorite priest in the ninth century, or perhaps somewhat later, that several were permitted to dwell together in one enclosure and have communication by a window, provided the cell of every one was separate. (fn. 49)
The hermit's cell was visited for advice and consolation not only by the wealthy burgher, but also by crowned heads. In a miserable penthouse standing against the parish church of Haselberg, co. Dorset, there dwelt in the twelfth century a hermit whose fame was spread throughout the length and breadth of England. Henry I., King of England, thought it no derogation of his kingly dignity to turn aside to consult this holy man, who had suddenly given up horses and hounds and a church living to pass the remainder of his life in solitude and prayer. It was the cry of this recluse which arrested Stephen, Henry's nephew and successor, whilst riding past the hermitage, and it was he who foretold Stephen's accession to the throne, praying him at the same time, when that day should come, to protect the Church and defend the poor. (fn. 50) Matthew Paris (fn. 51) tells the story how Richard the Lionhearted, when on a crusade in Syria, was sent for by a hermit, and obeying the summons found the hermit lying stark naked and emaciated, having lived on nothing but herbs and roots since the day the true Cross had disappeared from the earth. He foretold the failure of Richard's expedition, and in order to prove his power of forecasting the future said that he (the hermit) would die on the seventh day from then. Richard took the hermit with him to prove his words, which were found to come true, the hermit dying on the day named.
There was also a notable hermit who lived in the "Anchorite's House" near S. Margaret's Church, Westminster, called in one of the wills the "recluse" at Westminster (II. 398), to whom King Richard II. is reported to have confessed himself before going to Smithfield to meet Wat Tyler and the Kentish rebels. (fn. 52)
Female anchorites or anchoresses were not unknown. We read of such a one, by name Christina, who lived the life of a recluse at St. Albans, and had acquired a reputation for making embroidery; (fn. 53) there are, however, but few mentioned in the wills. Hugh Peyntour in 1361 leaves money, however, to the several anchoresses of S. Giles, S. Benedict, and S. Mary de Manny (II. 107). Stow mentions an anchoress (at or near Bishopsgate) who received forty shillings a year from the Sheriffs of London. Their manner of life is minutely described in the 'Ancren Riwle,' (fn. 54) which, though addressed to three anchoresses, supposed to be living at Tarent Keynes, co. Dorset, who had applied to the author to draw up for them a rule of life, was written to a great extent for the guidance of anchoresses generally.
Bequests to inmates of hospitals and prisons.
Up to the time of the Reformation hospitals were usually connected with a priory or other religious house. The suppression of the monasteries not only flooded the streets of London with the poor and destitute who had hitherto depended for their support upon the charity of these houses, but it left the sick, the aged, and the impotent without the shelter and care which they had been accustomed to find within their hospitable walls, and drove them to the parish churches. (fn. 55) The danger arising from this state of things was represented to the King by the municipal authorities, who asked (1) that the hospitals of S. Mary without Bishopsgate, S. Bartholomew, and S. Thomas, and the abbey called New Abbey at Tower Hill, which were practically lying idle, might be conveyed to them for the purpose of relieving those who were in real distress and punishing "sturdy beggers not wyllyng to labo," so that by God's grace they hoped that few or no persons should be seen abroad to beg or ask alms; and (2) that they might have the churches of the four orders of friars within the City conveyed to them for the purpose of seeing to the due performance of religious services therein. Nearly ten years were allowed to elapse before the King did anything with respect to these petitions, and it was not till the beginning of the year 1546-7 that he caused letters patent to be issued granting to the Mayor, Commonalty, and citizens of London the church of the Grey Friars near Newgate, thenceforth to be a parish church under the name of Christ Church within Newgate; the Hospital of S. Bartholomew for the relief and sustentation of the poor, thenceforth to be known as the "House of the Poor in West Smithfield of the foundation of King Henry VIII."; and the custody of the Hospital of Bethlem near Bishopsgate. The King died within a fortnight after making this grant; but Edward, who succeeded him, followed the lines laid down by his father, and gave to the Corporation of London the site of the Hospital of S. Thomas (called after Thomas Beckett, (fn. 56) the Martyr) in Southwark, as well as the church attached to it and a portion of its endowments, the rest of the endowments being conveyed to the City only upon payment of the sum of 2,461l. 2s. 6d. (fn. 57) This took place in 1551, and two years afterwards the royal mansion house of Bridewell was handed over to the Mayor and Commonalty, who were thereupon constituted a body corporate under the name of the "Governors of the Possessions, Revenues, and Goods of the Hospitals of Edward VI., King of England, of Christ, Bridewell, and S. Thomas the Apostle."
In addition to the hospitals already mentioned and others which were devoted generally to the relief of bodily suffering as well as providing education for the young and work for those capable of working, there were certain hospitals set apart exclusively for lepers. The chief of these, sometimes called the three "Colleges" of lepers near London, (fn. 58) were the hospital in Southwark, which went by the name of le loke, a name which survives in the Lock Hospitals of the present day; (fn. 59) the Hospital of S. Giles in the Fields, founded by Matilda, Queen of Henry I., whose devotion to those suffering with this disease has been recorded by more than one chronicler; (fn. 60) and the lazar house at Hackney, serving as an outlying ward of S. Bartholomew's. In one of the wills (fn. 61) mention is made of the "meselcotes" at Hackney, the French term meseau or mesel signifying a leper; (fn. 62) to which may be added a lazar house at Knightsbridge and the lazer cotes in the neighbourhood of London mentioned in another will. (fn. 63) The will of William de Elsingg, mercer (1348), is especially interesting, inasmuch as the testator was the founder of the hospital, which long bore his name, for the relief of the poor and blind, whose wants, he plaintively laments, his means were insufficient to satisfy (I. 562). The hospital was situate near London Wall in the Ward of Cripplegate. After its suppression its site was occupied, and continued to be occupied until recent times, by Sion College.
There are numerous bequests to poor prisoners in Newgate, Ludgate, (fn. 64) and the Flete, as also to those confined in the King's Bench, the two Marshalseas (one of which was, like the King's Bench, situate in Southwark, and the other was in or near the King's Palace at Westminster, being subject to the jurisdiction of the Marshal of the King's House, otherwise called Knight Marshal), the Clinck in Southwark (II. 742), and in the gaol known as the White Lion, also in Southwark, which formerly served as a common hostelry (II. 718).
There were, moreover, two Sheriffs' prisons or Compters situate within the City, one being in the Poultry and the other in Bread Street. The treatment of prisoners in the Compters, confined there chiefly for debt, depended in a great measure upon their ability to pay for superior accommodation. There appears to have been a place in these prisons known as the "hole," and another, and probably better, called the "two-penny ward," which a prisoner could enjoy by disbursing a small sum of money (II. 756). The usual fee for a bed in a Compter for one night was one penny; but if a prisoner expressed a wish to stay in the Compter rather than be transferred to Newgate or Ludgate, whether for debt, trespass, or any other cause except treason and felony, the Sheriff could suffer him to remain there "for his comfort" on payment of fourpence, sixpence, eightpence, or twelvepence a week, and no more, towards the rent, according as the clerks of the Compter might assess him, taking into consideration his arrest and his estate. (fn. 65) Great irregularities having taken place in the Bread Street Compter, the prisoners were removed in 1555 to a new Compter, provided by the Corporation, situate in Wood Street. (fn. 66) In 1791 the Compter was again removed, and this time to a spot in Giltspur Street, over against S. Sepulchre's Church. Upon the removal of debtors to Whitecross Street the building was used partly as a house of correction, and partly for the reception of "night charges" and for the detention of persons under remand. (fn. 67) It was pulled down in 1855.
Mention of another prison will be found in these wills, viz., the prison of the Abbot of Westminster (II. 471, 554, 568, 742). This prison was in the old Gatehouse of the Abbey, which was divided into two chambers, one of which served as the Bishop of London's prison for convicted clergy and for Roman Catholic recusants, whilst the other acquired an unenviable name as the public prison of Westminster. (fn. 68) It was for the relief of the "clerks convict" that testators left sums of money. (fn. 69)
Bequests for pilgrimages.
There were occasions, such as a time of sickness or trouble, when a citizen would vow to make a pilgrimage in his own person to the shrine of S. Thomas of Canterbury or Our Lady of Walsingham, or, it might be, to the more remote shrines in Italy, Spain, and the Holy Land, in expiation of his sins. A pilgrimage of this kind was often enjoined by confessors by way of penance, sometimes with the further injunction that the traveller should make the journey barefoot (fn. 70) or in his shirt. Citizens of London did not always find it convenient to undertake these travels themselves, and were contented to leave a sum of money for providing another to make the journey on their behalf. This vicarious service of devotion had been recommended by the preachers of the Crusades. At first the rule prevailed that the person sent must be of equal rank with the sender, but this involved so much difficulty that it had to be relaxed. (fn. 71) Hence there arose a tribe of men who made pilgrimages their profession, who were ready to go anywhere for a consideration, and whose whole existence was passed in travelling from one sanctuary to another, always on the road and always begging.
As may be supposed from what has been already said touching the shrines of S. Thomas of Canterbury and Our Lady of Walsingham, most pilgrims wended their way to one or other of these places. The road to Canterbury was perhaps the more frequented of the two, inasmuch as it was the high road to the Continent. A regular service of horses for hire was established along it; a fixed tariff of twelvepence being charged for them between Southwark and Rochester, and between Rochester and Canterbury. In 1474 the "noyous" state of the streets of Canterbury became such a public scandal, owing to the report of them which was spread abroad by pilgrims, that the municipal authorities found it to their advantage to put them in good repair rather than to run the risk of losing the trade which pilgrims brought to the city. (fn. 72) Other shrines mentioned in the wills are those of S. Edmund, S. Mary de Stokes, and S. Mary de Manlond (II. 98).
A pilgrim desiring to visit a shrine beyond the seas might either start on his journey by himself, in which case he would run some risk of being robbed of what little money he carried with him, or he could wait for a general pilgrimage (commune passagium, II. 105), when he would have the benefit of travelling in company. Letters of safe conduct were necessary in either case; (fn. 73) but if a man happened to become involved in any legal proceedings during his absence, time did not run against him except from the time of his knowledge, and there was a distinction, says Bracton, (fn. 74) in the case of an essoin at law according as the defendant was absent on a "simple pilgrimage" or on a "general passage."
"Likewise there is the essoin of being beyond the sea, the essoin of being beyond the sea of the Greeks, as if any one has set forth on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. And in which case a distinction must be made whether he has set out on a simple pilgrimage to the Holy Land or on a general passage. But if on a simple pilgrimage there shall be allowed him at least a whole year and one day, and so essoins are allowed for being beyond the sea and within the sea of the Greeks for forty days at least and one flood and one ebb."
The time usually allowed for putting in an appearance, technically known as "essoin," for one residing within the kingdom was fifteen days, but an extension of time was required by, and granted to, one who was abroad serving in the army, or on a pilgrimage, or on account of some necessity.
The shrine of S. James, brother of S. John the Evangelist, whose body is said to have been brought from Compostella to Santiago in Galicia, Spain, was much frequented by pilgrims (who acquired the name Jacobitæ or Jacobipetæ (fn. 75) ) as early as the ninth century. It seems also to have been regarded by citizens of London with especial favour, if we may judge from the wills before us. English travellers usually went thither direct by sea; the inconveniences of the voyage arising from overcrowding, sea-sickness, &c., have been graphically portrayed in a poem of the fifteenth century by one who had evidently experienced them. (fn. 76)
We find also bequests for pilgrims to go to the Holy Land on behalf of testators. Thus, for instance, John de Holegh, hosier (1348), leaves a sum of twenty pounds for providing one to go for him on a visit to the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, as well as to the tomb of S. Katherine on Mount Sinai, (fn. 77) besides a further sum of seven pounds for providing another to make a similar pilgrimage on his behalf to Santiago of Compostella. If his executors be unable to find persons willing to undertake such pilgrimages, they are directed to distribute one half of the money among the poor, and devote the other half to the repair of highways within twenty miles of London (I. 657).
There was keen competition between towns possessing relics, and much ingenuity was bestowed on their discovery in order to attract pilgrims; (fn. 78) for pilgrims brought trade not only to innkeepers and victuallers, but also to dealers in the images and tokens worn by pilgrims as a sign of their having visited such and such a shrine. These tokens varied at different places. At Canterbury they took the form of an ampulla, or little flask; at Santiago of Compostella they were scallop-shells; and at Rome the holy sudary or vernicle, such as Chaucer represented his Pardoner as wearing. (fn. 79)
One of the methods pursued, and one which surpassed all others in attracting pilgrims, was that of granting indulgences to those visiting a particular shrine. In this respect the city of Rome could outbid all others. Hundreds, nay thousands of years of indulgence or pardon were granted to those who visited certain churches on days appointed. The visitation, no less than the shrine visited, appears to have been known as a "station." (fn. 80) Some altars were held in especial favour, and if visited on their respective feast days the ordinary indulgences were doubled. The number of stations throughout the year is computed to have been in round numbers four hundred, (fn. 81) so that a pilgrim could, under ordinary circumstances, only visit a portion of them. There was a quarter near S. Peter's at Rome where the English pilgrims resided, known as the Angle-School, sometimes called their "Borough" (burgus). This school is recorded in the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle' as having been burned down A.D. 816. We find a testator, (fn. 82) whose will is enrolled in the Court of Husting, leaving a sum of ten marks for providing an honest man to go to Rome on his behalf, should he himself die before making the journey, and to remain there visiting the stations (staciones ituro) and praying for his soul throughout the season of Lent (II. 251). Another testator (fn. 83) leaves money to provide two pilgrims to go to Rome and cause masses to be said for the good of his soul in the chapel of the Blessed Mary called Scala Cæli (II. 234). This chapel, which was built over the cemetery of S. Zeno, and stood outside the walls of the city of Rome on the Ostian road, derived its name from a vision of S. Bernard, who, while celebrating a funeral mass, saw the souls for whom he was praying ascending to heaven by a ladder (fn. 84) :—
In pat place a chapelle ys,
Scala cely called hit ys,
"Laddere of heuen" men clepep hit
In honoure of our lady be my wytte.
Special indulgences attached to this chapel. (fn. 85) The name was also applied to Henry VII.'s Chapel in Westminster Abbey, (fn. 86) as well as to certain chapels in the church of the Augustine Friars at Norwich and S. Botolph's Church at Boston. Margaret, Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of Henry VII., obtained Papal bulls of indulgence for Henry VII.'s Chapel at Westminster similar to those granting privileges to the chapel of Scala Cæli near Rome, (fn. 87) and it appears that the same privileges were attached to the chapels of the same name in the churches at Norwich and Boston just mentioned, causing those churches to be much frequented by pilgrims who found it easier to pay their devotions in these places than to make a journey to Rome. (fn. 88)
Bishop Bale, in his play of 'Kynge Johan,' (fn. 89) written to promote and confirm the Reformation, makes the King complain of the clergy extorting money
For legacyes, trentalls, with Scalacely messys, Wherby ye have made the people very assys.
Bequests of household chattels, bed furniture, &c.
The chattels which form the subject of bequests in the wills are both numerous and interesting, notwithstanding a great lack of inventories, which often add so much interest to wills. They enable us to form a vivid idea of the interior of a mediæval dwelling-house occupied by the humble craftsman as well as the wealthy merchant of the City of London. From them we learn the nature of the ustilimenta or utensilia (words which originally applied only to the loom as being the utensil of the house par excellence, but which afterwards came to be used generically for all household chattels) of the parlour (locutorium), the bed-chamber, pantry, and kitchen in a citizen's house. Among them will be found the following: andirons or fire-dogs for supporting billets of wood, variously spelt aundires, aundernes, and aundirnes (I. 346, 651, 690; II. 10, 41); bord-cloths or borte-cloths, for table-covers (I. 690, 692); an iron broche or spit, and a gossespet (I. 690; II. 210); a broche harnessed with silver, and a gilt broche, articles for personal ornament rather than domestic use like the former (II. 41, 233); a chafing dish, chaufre or chaufepoun (of silver in some instances), which served to heat the room, or took the place of hot-water bottles and muff-warmers of the present day (I. 644; II. 461, 685, 702, 742); a chair of ease of wainscot (II. 702); chests or coffers of various kinds, comprising Flemish and Gascony chests (II. 11, 97, 250); "a spruce (fn. 90) desked cofer" (II. 576); a ship chest (II. 576); a great huche (I. 690); a pair of trussyng kofrers (II. 250); and strong boxes or forcers, one being of cipres (I. 335, 498, 649; II. 343). Of articles, besides spits, belonging to the kitchen we find mention made of a ferpanne and an iron plate for the fire (II. 343), a frying panne (I. 690), a gredire or gridiron (I. 690), and rakkes and maungers (II. 406).
Among other chattels of a miscellaneous character are the following: a comb of wire (II. 210); a horn of bugle (II. 271, 451); a silver powder-box, for perfumed powder for the clothes or perhaps for seasoning for food; tables or tablets of ivory, of "peces of Lombardy," and other material (I. 682, 692; II. 10, 107, 343); and a "little birding peece" (II. 737).
The walls of the mansion house of the wealthy citizen were hung with pieces of tapestry, known as costers or dorsers, elaborately worked with the needle to represent coats of arms or the figures of birds and beasts, or else stained (i. e., painted) with pictures of some historical event or fabulous legend; such tapestry being sometimes spoken of as halling, from its being hung chiefly in the hall. The following examples of it occur in the wills:—Tapestry with the arms of the Earl of Pembroke (II. 195); dorsers, costers, and quysshyns (cushions), with figures of peacocks, &c. (II. 250); a piece of tapestry powdered with leopards' heads (II. 190); three pieces of blue tapestry worked with grey treyfoylis (II. 262); a dorser and banker (cloth for covering a bench) powdered with birds and roses (II. 152); a halling of worstede stained with divers beasts (II. 250); and others painted or embroidered with the story (history?) of the Prince of Wales (II. 190), the story of Joseph (II. 661), and with King Richard and Hector of Troy (II. 41).
The growth of luxury and increase of comfort which our ancestors began first to enjoy towards the middle of the fifteenth century are further attested by the elaborate description of bedfurniture, with hangings and curtains often richly embroidered, which we find in the later wills. There were countrymen living in Holinshed's day whose fathers were fain to be content with a straw pallet to sleep on, with a good round log under their heads instead of a bolster or pillow; and if a man could within seven years of his marriage purchase a mattress or flock bed and a sack of chaff to rest his head upon "he thought himselfe to be as well lodged as the lord of the town, that peraduenture laie seldome in a bed of downe or whole fethers." (fn. 91) Pillows were at one time thought to be requisite only for women in childbed; and as for servants, if they had a sheet to cover them, they seldom had one beneath them "to keepe them from the pricking straws that ran oft through the canuas of the pallet and rased their hardened hides."
The bedstead, we gather from the wills, was usually of wood or bords; thus we find mention made of a wooden bedstead of bord (II. 228, 250), a bordidbed (II. 277), and a bequest of twelve pairs of best bedbordis (II. 406), besides a bedstede new bottomed with sackcloth (II. 685), and a foldenbord and bedstedes (II. 703). Thomas Thwaytes, mercer (1503), bequeaths a sparver, "the whiche sumtyme was Henryes the vjth" (II. 621). It is not quite clear whether a sparver is a bedstead, or whether it does not rather represent a bed with its hangings and other stuff. (fn. 92) We have also a "feild bedsted," with curtains, vallance, and covering of green saie, two feather beds upon the same bedstead, two boulsters, and two pillows (II. 740).
The custom of hanging curtains round a bed and covering in the top with a tester or half-tester (silur or demi-silur) prevailed in former days more than it does now. Pepys notes with surprise that when, at the time of the Great Fire in the City, he went home late one night to Sir W. Penn's, he found the bed provided for him to be without curtains and hangings, all being down; "so here I went the first time into a naked bed," says he, "only my drawers on."
What an entire bed comprised may be gathered from a bequest of one made by Margaret Bradford (1400) to her servant. This consisted of three curtains with selur of blue card, a coverlet with testur of green, a pair of sheets, two blankets, and a "quylt" (II. 348). Bed-hangings were sometimes of coloured say, or serge (II. 190), sometimes of worstede (II. 202, 207). Mention is also made of a bed of Norffolk or swansdown bed (II. 207).
We have coverlets of Tirteyn, a kind of linsey woolsey (I. 453), and others ornamented with representations of animals, e.g., dogs (II. 202), and butterflies (II. 221), or of flowers, e.g., roses (II. 158). In like manner testers were ornamented with figures of conies (II. 215), dolphins (II. 186), dragons and birds (II. 305), or boars' heads (II. 214). The coverlet and tester were frequently made to match in colour and ornamentation; thus Richard Betaigne leaves a red bed, viz., coverlit and tester, powdered with roses (II. 277). In another will we find a coverlit and tester of red worked with unicorns (II. 262); and in another they are stained (i.e., painted) with the story of Idonia and Amedas (II. 274). Of other articles of bed-furniture may be mentioned a silk mattress (quilt?) with cloth of Venice in the middle (I. 176), and a mattress covered with Borddalisandre (II. 221), a stuff frequently mentioned in old inventories of churches, (fn. 93) which took its name from Alexandria in Egypt, though not exclusively manufactured there. Dr. Rock, in his excellent little work on 'Textile Fabrics,' shows that this was a striped silk, "bord" in Arabic meaning a striped cloth. Canvas is frequently mentioned in connexion with bed-furniture, serving probably for sheets (II. 202, 214, 229); we find also sheets of Holland, which were of a coarse quality (II. 740), whilst the finer sheets were made of fine flax and "cloth of Raynes," a linen cloth manufactured at Rennes in Brittany. Pillows and bolsters under the name of "travesayls" (I. 471), and pillow-cases or "pillowberes," go to complete the bed-furniture (II. 676, 702, 740).
Personal apparel, furs, girdles, &c.
Among articles of apparel mentioned in the wills are the following:—a holiday cassock of cloth and another of "tawney moccaddowe" (fn. 94) (II. 672, 696); cloaks of "bluet" (fn. 95) (II. 86), of "faldyng" (fn. 96) (I. 658; II. 91, 252), of "broun murre" (fn. 97) and "red melle" (fn. 98) (II. 257), of "taune" (II. 140), and of "ray" or striped cloth (II. 86); a bequest from one man to another of a pair of "corsetys" (fn. 99) (II. 561); a piece of blanket for corset (II. 186); a "courtepy" (fn. 100) of black medley (II. 13), and a like garment and kirtle (fn. 101) of red "say" or serge (II. 210); a pair of "demesens" (fn. 102) (II. 698); a "tawny satten doublett" (II. 672), and doublets of velvet and worsted (II. 669, 670, 672).
The garment of ordinary wear both for men and women was usually spoken of as a gown (roba), and this was of various colours and material, e.g., a gown of blue lined with "blak bokeram" (II. 576); two gowns of "browne blewe," one faced with "lezardes" (fn. 103) and the other with budge (fn. 104) (II. 656, 702); a gown trimmed with "burnet" (fn. 105) (I. 683); gowns of "cendryn" or "sendryn" (fn. 106) (I. 584, 647, 692); a gown faced with damask (fn. 107) (II. 656); another of "mottelee" (fn. 108) (II. 163); gowns of "muster-devilers" (fn. 109) furred (II. 512, 589); and "puke" (fn. 110) gowns faced with "tawnye taffeta" (fn. 111) or "conye" and furred with budge (II. 655, 656, 670).
It was the fashion for wealthy citizens to bestow mourning gowns upon the poor of their Company or of their parish. These were usually of russet (fn. 112) cloth, but sometimes of Welsh (fn. 113) or Bristol frieze (II. 383, 675, 688). Robert Downe, "iremonger" (1556), leaves gowns of "mantell frise" to twelve poor torch-bearers at his funeral (II. 664); and Sir Martin Bowes leaves to twenty-four poor men gowns of such colour as was customary to be given at burials at the time of making his will, and he instances "Rattes culer" and "Shepes culer" (fn. 114) or such like (II. 695). John Holmes, a weaver (1568), leaves a gown of "sheepes collor" faced with foynes (II. 702); and Sir Cuthbert Buckle, who died during his mayoralty (1593-4), bequeaths mourning gowns for poor men, of "new colour" (II. 721).
Among other articles of apparel we find hoods of silk and Paristhred (II. 241); a "workedaie jackett" (II. 670); a jerkyn of branched (i.e., figured) velvet (fn. 115) to shoot in (II. 656), as well as one of crimson and tawny velvet (II. 667); kyrtells of blanket, by which was intended a white material (II. 103, 302), and of sanguyne, a material of deep red colour (II. 228); a "tawnye mockadowe kertell fringed and laide abowte the skirtes with lace" (II. 705); a paltok, or doublet reaching to the middle of the thigh, whence the modern paletot may possibly be derived (I. 670; II. 93); a slop, or smock with a hood (II. 252); and a wardecorps or gardecorps, a kind of vest (II. 32).
Notwithstanding the stat. 11 Edward III. c. 4, which limited the right of wearing fur to earls, barons, knights, prelates of the Church, and those who expended one hundred pounds at least by the year, we find fur constantly used not only for livery gowns on State occasions, but for decorating articles of apparel for every-day wear. In addition to those already incidentally mentioned, we meet with the following: beaver (II. 192, 304, 341); bisshe or bys, generally supposed to be made of the skin of the hind (Fr. biche), although we find it also mentioned in connexion with rabbits, hares, and squirrels (II. 136, 214); budge or lambs-wool, both black and white (II. 223, 246, 317, 696); calabre, some kind of inferior fur (II. 93, 99, 186); ficheux, or fur of the marten (II. 329); fox, e.g., "a foxe furred gowne" (II. 667, 670); foyne, the fur of the wood or beech marten (II. 262); gennette, an animal resembling in some degree the skunk (II. 702); gris or grey, a rich fur made of the backs of squirrels when they have their winter coat on (fn. 116) (II. 215, 221, 235, 241); fur of "lezardes" or "leuzernes," from the skins of the lynx, as already mentioned; fur of martilet or marten (II. 317); menever, a fur held in the highest esteem, but difficult of identification at the present day, perhaps the fur of the belly of the squirrel (II. 214); otter (II. 93, 192, 304, 329); putes, the skin of wild cats or weasels (II. 221); and shankes, or fur from the legs of animals (fn. 117) (II. 702).
Beatrix de Barton (1379) bequeaths a tunic with fur of kyngges, probably meaning ermine, as that fur was forbidden to all but the royal family (II. 210).
Girdles were at one time articles of universal wear, and their richness varied according to the wealth and rank in life of the wearer. Some consisted of simple leather bands, whilst others were made of costly material, overlaid with jewellery and precious stones, and fastened with handsome buckles or clasps. Chaucer in the 'Romaunt of the Rose' describes a "girdle of riches" such as is mentioned in the will of William Brangewayn, vintner (II. 41). Many other girdles which form the subjects of bequest in the wills were harnessed with silver (II. 170, 304, 320); another girdle is described as fastened with botonet and clasps with the letters [I H C] (II. 182); another as powdered with pearls (II. 97); another as being of blue silk full of representations of griffins in gold (II. 190); another as composed of scaloppes (I. 658); and another as being of silver, with the inscription In principio erat verbum (II. 528). The girdle was not only ornamental, but served the useful purpose of carrying a variety of articles, as, for instance, the baselard or long dagger so frequently mentioned in the wills, keys, purse, knives, &c. (fn. 118)
Bequests of jewellery and rings.
Among articles of bijouterie, or minute res as they are called by one testator (I. 677), will be found bequests of paternosters or rosaries, the beads of which were often of amber (I. 653, 694; II. 11, 25, 51, 214, 216, 233, 316, 599, 698) or of jet (II. 210, 214). A rosary usually comprised 165 beads, 150 of which represented Aves, and 15 Paternosters. The latter, called gaudes, were of a larger size than the rest, and so arranged as to make one Paternoster come after every ten Aves; they were further distinguished from the rest by being of silver or silver gilt (II. 25, 210, 698).
A fermail, in the shape of a clasp or brooch, was sometimes attached to the rosary (fn. 119) (II. 214, 310). Other noteworthy bequests of fermails are those mentioned in the will of Margaret Tonk (1378), one having the royal arms of England, and another representing the four points of a compass (ad modum quatre mye compays) (II. 214).
Very similar to the fermail was the nouche (fn. 120) or ouche, if indeed they were not different names for the same thing. (fn. 121) Alice Northall (1361) leaves a brooch of gold called "ouche," set in pearls (II. 23); and Isabella Corp, a widow of a pepperer (1354), leaves to the Rector of Codmersham, among other things, a small nouche with an agnus dei pendant (I. 688).
The will of Margaret, widow of Sir John Hawkins (the famous navigator, friend of Sir Walter Raleigh, and relative of Sir Francis Drake), is interesting, some of the bequests comprising articles of foreign manufacture which her late husband had probably picked up during his voyages. In her will (II. 746) we meet with carcanettes, (fn. 122) or necklaces, of gold, of very elaborate workmanship; thus one is described as being enamelled black and blue, containing eleven pieces set with sixty-six pearls, having a tortis pendant set with a blue sapphire; another weighs 2 1/2 oz. "lacke penny waight," and contains twenty-three pieces set with pearl, with a jewel pendant of five diamonds; and another contains eleven buttons, "being of massy Spanish work," enamelled and set with pearls, with a jewel pendant having in it three diamonds, three rubies, and one very fair pearl. She further leaves her best pair of Spanish borders, enamelled black and trimmed with pearls, the upper border containing nineteen pieces and the nether border seven pieces; and a "pointed" diamond ring given to her by the Countess of Warwick.
Diamond rings are the most frequently mentioned, after which come rings with sapphires, rubies, pearls, and emeralds. Anne Hawes (1646) disposes by will of her three wedding rings as well as of that of her grandmother (II. 764), and we have one instance of a man bequeathing his wedding ring to his servant (II. 727). Mary de St. Pol, Countess of Pembroke, bequeaths to the King, as a memento, a ring of precious stones, hoping that he will favour the religious house which she had established at Denny, co. Camb. (II. 195). We have also, among others, a gold ring, called "a Comellin" (fn. 123) (II. 702); a great "Turkas rynge," or ring set with a turquoise (II. 675), such as Shylock would not have parted with for a "wilderness of monkeys"; (fn. 124) a ring with the "Pawnsey" (fn. 125) (II. 752); and a ring with a "Todestone" (II. 711). Both the turquoise, turkise, or turkey-stone, and the toadstone or crapaudina, were popularly believed to possess talismanic properties. The latter, supposed to be found in the head of the toad (fn. 126) (but probably the fossil palatal tooth of a species of ray), was esteemed for its efficacy in protecting new-born children and their mothers from the power of the fairies, as well as indicating the presence of poison by perspiring and changing colour. (fn. 127)
A ring which was considered to possess healing or talismanic property was called in mediæval Latin virtuosus, and it is more than probable that the sapphire "of value" (virtutis) and the silver ring with "precious stone" (petra virtutis) left by Richard Constantyn (1342) to his son were stones of this character, and should have been so translated (I. 482).
Upon the death of an archbishop or bishop the King was formerly entitled to a gold ring among other things. In the province of Canterbury the second-best ring of the bishop was usually surrendered, together with the seals, to the Metropolitan. In 1310, on the death of the Bishop of Ely, the ring was withheld by the monks of Ely, and the Archbishop was driven to issuing a mandate for its recovery, describing the ring as annulum qui pontificalis vulgariter appellatur......qui de jure et consuetudine nostre ecclesie Cantuariensis ad nos dignoscitur pertinere. (fn. 128) It is, therefore, all the more remarkable that we find Michael de Northburgh, Bishop of London (1361), bequeathing his mitre and pontifical ring direct to his successors (II. 61).
In the will of John Mercer (II. 752) we have a bequest of a "Gymball ringe." This ring, better known as gemmel or gemmow, was constructed of twin or double hoops, kept together by a hinge (Fr. gemeaux, twins). Rings of this kind are frequently represented with clasped hands—the "clippyng of ij handes" in the will of Roger Elmesley already referred to (fn. 129) —and were used as betrothal or wedding rings. Other fancy rings mentioned in the wills are one bequeathed by Johanna Fastolf (1418), with the inscription Vous aime de tout moun coer (II. 419), and another engraved with a lute and the letters "I" and "L," the initials of John Lute, the testator (II. 710). A similar conceit is to be found in the will of Sir Martin Bowes (1565), who bequeaths to Sir Percival Harte a gold ring "with two Bowes bente and a deathes hed graven betwene them upon it," according to a sample left with his executors, with the Scripture about it, "Remember thy ende" (II. 695).
The last-mentioned ring was evidently a mourning ring. The custom of having rings specially made for distribution among the friends of the deceased at funerals began to prevail towards the beginning of the sixteenth century and continued down to quite recent times. That this custom obtained in the City of London (fn. 130) is shown by numerous bequests of money for the making of memorial rings which occur in the later wills.
In 1369 a man being convicted of having sold rings or fermails of latten, coloured in such a way as to resemble gold and silver, in order to deceive, was adjudged by the Mayor and Aldermen to suffer the punishment of the pillory, with the rings and fermails aforesaid hung about his neck, and afterwards to be committed to prison. (fn. 131)
Bequests of armour, offensive and defensive.
Bequests of armour are scarcely so numerous as one would expect, seeing that every freeman in the kingdom was bound by various statutes to provide himself with certain offensive and defensive armour according to his condition. The first statute of the kind was the famous "Assize of Arms" (fn. 132) instituted by Henry II. in 1181. It included the whole free population, and specified the particular arms to be borne by landholder and burgher and freeman possessed of chattels varying from sixteen to ten marks. Its object was to organize a force which could be depended upon in case of foreign invasion, and it was confirmed from time to time by subsequent legislation. Thus the Statute of Winchester (31 Edward I., stat. 2, c. 6) in 1285 enacted that every man possessing fifteen pounds in land and forty marks in goods should provide himself with a haubergeon or hauberk of chain mail, (fn. 133) a chapel de feer or iron helmet, a sword, a knife, and a horse; whilst those who were not so well off were to find themselves in less expensive arms in manner prescribed. The assize of arms was to be strictly kept, and constables were appointed to hold a view of armour twice a year. A few years later (A.D. 1297) we find the Corporation of London enjoining all citizens to provide themselves with two pieces of armour, viz., with haketon (a jacket of quilted leather sometimes worn under the armour and sometimes used as armour itself) and gambeson or wambeys, sometimes called "pourpoint," another garment worn under the hauberk; or, in the alternative, with haketon and plates, the latter being pieces of armour for protection of breast and back. (fn. 134) Every City ward was provided with armour and weapons placed in charge of some responsible person, those belonging to the Ward of Cornhill being preserved at one time in the steeple of the parish church of S. Michael. It was usual to hold a review of the City's forces every year at Midsummer, known as the "Midsummer Watch." This was composed of a "Standing Watch," all in bright harness, and a "Marching Watch," which passed through the principal thoroughfares of the City, the whole distance traversed by it extending to "three thousand two hundred tailor's yards of assize." There was little seriousness, however, about the display, the opportunity being taken for showing off liveries and pageants; and as it involved considerable expenditure it was forbidden for a season by Henry VIII. in 1539, after a muster of citizens of more than ordinary splendour had passed through London to Westminster, returning home by way of Holborn. The custom of holding the Watch ceased from that time, except during the mayoralty of Sir John Gresham, and all efforts to revive it failed. (fn. 135)
The bequest made by Michael Northburgh (1361), Bishop of London, of an entire suit of armour (II. 61), recalls the time when clerics were found participating in the dangers and glories of the battle-field. (fn. 136)
The following pieces of armour are specifically mentioned (among others) in the wills: a bacinet or basnet, a close-fitting headpiece of iron, (fn. 137) sometimes worn under a larger helmet or cetelhat (II. 298); bacinet fitted with an aventail or grating (sometimes movable) for the purpose of ventilation (I. 484, 649; II. 25, 149, 266, 298, 300, 341, 351); bacinet with an umbrer or visor (I. 649), and bacenettes of London make (II. 341); braaz or bracers, comprising vambras and rerebras, armour plates for the front and back part of the arm (fn. 138) (I. 649; II. 149, 298, 341); doublets, with or without hoods (II. 226, 304, 352); gloves of plate (fn. 139) (II. 149); haketon or aketon (I. 648; II. 25), and haubergeoun (II. 149, 341), of which mention has already been made; a jack, or defensive garment, usually stuffed with cotton, although occasionally formed of mail; a jacke of morre furred with foynes (II. 164), which was probably an article of apparel for time of peace; jambes, jambers, or legharneys, composed of a variety of pieces for protecting the thighs and legs (I. 649; II. 298, 341); a pair of musekyns, which, if referable to Fr. musequin and Lat. musachinum, would appear to be some kind of armour for protecting the back (I. 649); a palet with hood, representing in this case probably a coat of mail, and not, as in most cases, a headpiece, whether of iron or leather (II. 304); a pair of panns or pauns for defending the paunch or belly (II. 149); a pisan or pysan, a kind of breastplate (I. 484, 649); pairs of plates, one for defending the breast and the other the back (I. 648; II. 25, 298, 300, 555); gauntlets also, which were originally of scalework, came afterwards to be made of plate (II. 149, 266, 300, 341); quissers or cushes covered with cloth of camaca, for the protection of legs and thighs (I. 649); and lastly, a bequest of a targett or shield (II. 657), and of a bokeler covered with plates of silver (II. 310).
More than once we find a bequest of a barrel in connexion with armour (II. 298, 341), and this is to be explained by the custom which prevailed of cleaning armour of chain-mail by rolling it in a barrel, probably with sand or some other agent. (fn. 140)
Of offensive weapons we have scarcely any mention, if we except baselards, which were long daggers worn at the girdle, more, perhaps, for ornament than use. There are, however, bequests of bows, with or without "tyllers cases," shafts, and pins, among the later wills (II. 326, 657, 661, 670, 672); of arrows fitted with peacocks' feathers (II. 41); a dagg (fn. 141) or pistol (II. 304); a mase (II. 657); and a piece with bandeleeres (II. 747). There is also a remarkable bequest made by Mary de St. Pol, Countess of Pembroke (1376), who leaves to the King of France a sword qui est sanz pointe (II. 195). This was presumably a sword which had the edge and point rebated or turned back, in other words what was known as a "bastard sword." Mention is made of such a sword in the will of John Chelmyswyk (1418). (fn. 142) Swords of state usually had their point thus blunted; the sword, for example, of King Edward the Confessor—the first sword carried before the Kings of England at their coronation, and known as "curteyn" (Lat. curtana)—had its point broken, as an emblem of mercy.
Bequests of cups, plate, &c.
The increasing wealth of the citizens of London may be seen in the number of silver cups, mazer cups, cups called "Bikers," and others, which they handed down to their children. Some of these were flat, e.g., a "flat biker" (II. 238); others were mounted on a stand, and went by the name of "chalicecuppes" (II. 318) or "standyng cuppes" (II. 424). The stands were occasionally made to represent animals; thus John Botiller (1361) leaves a silver cup standing upon three lions (II. 51), John Foot or Maryns (1381) leaves a cup called "calixcoppe" (chalice cup) with silver covercle standing on lions silver gilt (II. 248), and another leaves a piece of silver standing on greyhounds (II. 455). The covercles of the cups were sometimes surmounted with animals, e.g., a unicorn (II. 126), a "dolfyn" (II. 238), or a stag (II. 455); at other times with a "pommel" or "knoppe," which took the form of an acorn (I. 287, 688; II. 126), and occasionally with a Saracen's head (II. 126) or a "George" (II. 632). Silver cups were often richly ornamented with wreaths, garlands, and roses (II. 108, 521, 638, 698), with figures of swans and eagles (II. 472), or with the owner's name, arms, or mark (I. 681-2; II. 81, 337, 472, 547, 721).
On the bottom of the cups was often to be found the name "Jesus" engraved (I. 557; II. 305), or the figure of some saint, e.g., S. John or S. Katherine (I. 484; II. 103, 344). A testator of the name of "Cony" (1517) bequeaths to the Carpenters' Company, of which he probably was a member, a silver cup with covercle parcel gilt, commonly called a "goblette," having a silver-gilt coney on the top, weighing 25 3/8 oz. Troy (II. 692). Another, who was a baker by trade, leaves various goblets and cups marked with a "Clement," or figure of the saint of that name, the patron of the bakers of London. He further leaves to the master of his company an ale-pot with a cover all gilt, with two axes on the top enamelled (II. 659). Silver cups and other objects were given as presents to children at their baptism (I. 375; II. 555). Besides silver cups, we find mention made of cups of other materials; e.g., a cup of "albastre" (I. 667), a cup of jasper (II. 606), and high-standing goblets called towers of glass (tours de veer (fn. 143) ). These last must not be confounded with cups of Tours workmanship (de fabrica de Tours) made of silver, mentioned in the will of Juliana Russel (I. 173, 174).
By far the largest number of drinking vessels met with in the wills were, however, of wood, and were known as "mazers." These were usually made of maple-wood, and more especially the spotted or speckled variety known as birdseye maple. (fn. 144) The term "mazer" is, in the opinion of Prof. Skeat, merely an extended form of the Middle High German mase, Old High German m´s´, meaning "a spot"—whence also our word "measles"—and the cup is so called from its being made of "spotted wood." It was customary to mount mazers on a foot, in which case they were known as "standing mazers." An illustration of this is afforded us in the will of Richard Willesdon (1398), where mention is made of a mazer called "le Fotidcupp" (II. 337).
In the bottom of almost every mazer there was a medallion or boss, (fn. 145) sometimes called the print, which for the most part was ornamented with sacred devices or figures of saints, e.g., the figures of S. John and the Virgin Mary (II. 81), of S. John and S. James (II. 344), the figure of S. Martin (II. 126), and the passion of S. Thomas the Martyr (II. 305).
It was also a mediæval custom to give names to favourite drinking cups, and of this, too, we find illustrations in the following names of cups which are the subject of bequests in the wills:—mazer cups called "Bride" and "Balloc" (I. 557); a mazer called "God Morwe" (II. 207); a "byker" called "Katherine" (II. 61); a mazer called "Montagu" (II. 81); a silver goblet called "Peregryn" (I. 649); a cup called "Warr," probably from its being made of box-wood (I. 691; II. 32); and a silver cup called in English "the grete grubbe" (II. 505).
Pardons and indulgences were sometimes attached to mazers and other drinking vessels. Mr. W. H. St. John Hope gives us an instance of the kind in a bowl belonging to the Dean and Chapter of York, the silver-gilt band of which is inscribed with a notification that Archbishop Scrope had granted forty days' pardon "to all tho that drinkis of this cope," and that a similar pardon had been granted by Richard Messing, Bishop of Dromore. The only instance of such a cup to be found in the wills is a bequest made by Martin Elys, a Minor Canon of S. Paul's (1393), to his surviving brethren of a mazer cup with silver covercle called "Pardoncuppe" (II. 305).
There was another kind of drinking cup called "Gripesey," from its being formed out of the egg of a griffin ([gryps], gryps), a more or less fabulous bird or beast, the egg used for the purpose being in all probability that of an ostrich, such as are used at the present day. These frequently form subjects of bequests in the wills, and are sometimes described as ornamented with silver and gold (I. 661, 667; II. 97, 181). There is also an instance where the feet of the same bird are represented as forming a stand for a cup called "le horn" (II. 555).
There are also mentioned cups called "Notes," from their being formed of a cocoa-nut (I. 479; II. 26, 90). These were mounted on stands, and "garnished" or "harnessed" with gold and silver ornaments (II. 307, 589, 672, 681); such a stand could be made out of an inverted mazer, thus forming a double cup (I. 371).
The only other cups are the goblets (godettes) and bolcuppis or bolpeces, all of which were vessels of considerable capacity. Henry Barton, skinner (1434), left to the Skinners' Company bowls weighing 7 lb 10 oz. Troy, which were to be used for serving wine to the Mayor, Aldermen, or Sheriffs attending his obit, and upon every general meeting of the Company in their Hall (II. 478). Bowls and goblets were made to fit one inside another, so as to form "a neste" (II. 670, 698).
Previously to the introduction of fictile ware towards the end of the fifteenth century the ordinary service of the table was of wood, pewter, tin, brass, or latten. There were old men living in Holinshed's time who reckoned the use of pewter platters in the place of wooden ("treene"), and silver or tin spoons in the place of wooden spoons, as one of the most marvellous changes in the shape of luxury that had taken place in their lifetime. (fn. 146)
Among the wills there are bequests of "half a dozen peautre vessel" (II. 277, 347), "half a garnish of vessell" (II. 656), and others of a similar kind, which are explained and illustrated by the following passage taken from a description of England in Holinshed's 'Chronicle': (fn. 147) —
"Such furniture of household of this mettall [i.e., pewter] as we commonlie call by the name of vessell is sold vsuallie by the garnish, which dooth conteine twelue platters, twelue dishes, twelue saucers, and those are either of silver fashion, or else with brode or narrow brims, and bought by the pound, which is now valued at six or seven pence, or peraduenture at eight pence......In some places beyond the sea a garnish of good flat English pewter of an ordinarie making......is esteemed almost so pretious as the like number of vessels that are made of fine siluer, and in maner no less desired among the great estates, whose workmen are nothing so skilfull in that trade as ours, neither their mettall so good, nor plentie so great, as we haue here in England."
Silver plate was for the most part reserved to decorate the cupboard—or "vesseller," as it was sometimes called (II. 207)—and the buffet, only the wealthiest employing it for ordinary service. That amiable gossip Pepys, whose income at the time must have been considerable, records in his 'Diary,' on the last day of the year 1666, his own astonishment that one in his condition "should have come to abound in good plate, so as at all entertainments to be served wholly with silver plate, having two dozen and a half."
No article for the dining-table was held in greater estimation than the salt-cellar or "salt." These were often very handsome pieces of plate, of silver or silver gilt, standing a considerable height from the table, and richly chased. Many of the Livery Companies of the City are the proud possessors of salts which have been handed down from generation to generation. The most notable salt mentioned in the wills is that bequeathed by Thomas Clayton, baker (1554), to his daughter, which had a gilt cover surmounted with an image of S. Clement, the patron saint of the bakers of London as already mentioned, and with the initial letters of the names of himself and his wife (II. 659).
Of spoons we have several instances: apostle spoons (II. 698, 739), having "postellis" at the end, and spoons ornamented with acorns (II. 51, 58), dragons' heads (I. 688), "mayden heds" (II. 698), leopards' heads (II. 238), and gilt "knoppes" (II. 676).
Fraternities, Guilds, and Companies.
By the aid of the wills before us it is easy to trace the early history of the modern Livery Companies in the ancient Guilds or Fraternities, which, in addition to the exercise of religious and social duties, took an active part in regulating the various trades and handicrafts followed by the citizens of London. We see the Fraternity or Guild founded by the Tailors of London in honour of S. John the Baptist giving place to the Company of Merchant Taylors, the Fraternity or Guild of S. Antony of the Pepperers of London succeeded by the Company of Grocers, and the same taking place with respect to the Mercers, Drapers, Skinners, and other civic Companies.
The trade or craft guild was also in part a religious guild; it had a patron saint, maintained a chaplain, ministered to the spiritual wants of its members whilst alive, and duly observed their obits and anniversaries when dead. (fn. 148)
When, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, it became practically impossible for any craftsman to pursue his calling within the City and liberties unless he first enrolled himself in the guild which had the oversight of his particular craft, art, or mistery, (fn. 149) the craft guilds became very strong trade unions. Members had a vested interest in their guild, and something in the nature of esprit de corps was kindled among them. We find a tanner who carried on his trade in the Tanners' Seld in Cheapside leaving the table at which he worked to his wife, provided she remained unmarried or married one of the craft. (fn. 150) Another testator, by name Laurence Robiout, a member of the Girdlers' Company, (fn. 151) leaves his wife a dwelling - house so long as she remain unmarried or shall marry a "mere girdell cutter." (fn. 152) Nor is it surprising that members are found leaving considerable property to those associations with which many had been connected from their childhood.
Property so left to the Livery Companies was devised either—
1. Absolutely and unconditionally, or
1. If left absolutely to the only use and behoof of the devisee, the whole of the estate so left is as much the absolute property of the beneficiary Company at the present time, albeit its value may have enormously increased, as the hereditary estate of any wealthy peer in the kingdom. That much real property within the City was so left to the Companies no one who studies the wills enrolled in the Court of Husting can deny, (fn. 153) and this accounts in no small measure for the position held by the greater Companies at the present day.
2. If property be left subject to a condition, the effect varies according as to whether the will declares the whole value of the property is to be appropriated in a certain way or only a specific portion of it. This distinction is of the highest importance, more especially in cases where the value of the property devised has since increased. Where, for instance, a citizen has devised lands or tenements and profits of the lands to purposes which at the time exhaust the whole proceeds, but in consequence of an increase in the value of the estate an excess of income subsequently arises, the courts, in their exercise of equitable jurisdiction, will order the excess or surplus to be applied in the same or a similar manner with the original amount. (fn. 154) If, on the other hand, he appropriates only specific sums, which at the time of the gift do not exhaust the whole annual value of the property devised, to a certain object, and gives the residue or surplus of the rents to the Company to whom he has devised the legal estate in the property, or makes no disposition of them, the Company is primâ facie entitled to the surplus rents, after payment of the specific sums. (fn. 155)
A large number of conditional legacies consisted of property left to Companies charged with the maintenance of chantries, lights and lamps, and observance of obits. Property so left was confiscated by the Act (1 Edward VI. c. 14) which seised into the King's hands all fraternities, brotherhoods, and guilds, as well as all free chapels and chantries, being or in esse within five years next before the first day of the Parliament in which the Act was passed. (fn. 156) This effectually abolished the religious element of the Companies, and deprived them of a large part of their revenues, but it did no more. The secular element, or chartered rights, still remained, and remain at the present day. Thenceforth no citizen could legally make a bequest for a "superstitious use"; he was fain to be content with leaving sums of money for sermons or lectures. As a matter of convenience rather than favour, the Crown allowed the Companies to buy back the rents confiscated under the Act, and to hold them free of any condition whatsoever. (fn. 157) The Corporation of London and the Companies, desiring to "get as good Penyworths as they could of the King," agreed to purchase the rents on the terms offered, the sum paid for their recovery exceeding eighteen thousand pounds. Many of the Companies were unable to provide their share of the purchase money without parting with some portion of their estate. (fn. 158)
For many years afterwards the Corporation and the Companies were the objects of suspicion as having "concealed lands," i. e., lands held for superstitious uses, but which they had failed to divulge. It was no uncommon thing for the Crown to grant out "the arrearages of lands given to superstitious uses," and the patentees were naturally zealous to obtain information by every possible means, including the subornation of spies or "concealers," as to the conditions (if any) on which the several Companies held their estates.
In or about the year 1582 the City Companies had occasion to complain to the Court of Aldermen of proceedings having been taken against them in the Court of Exchequer upon informations of intrusion touching certain houses in the City supposed to be
concealed lands, the rents of which the late King had received by virtue of the Act before mentioned as being employed to superstitious uses, but had subsequently sold to the several Companies "to the full value of such profits," by whom they had been bestowed in good and charitable uses. The Barons of the Exchequer allowed the Companies as a favour to plead the general issue and to continue in possession on their promising that certain specified wills enrolled in the Husting should be truly copied out and delivered to the parties prosecuting on Her Majesty's behalf. (fn. 159) Vexatious proceedings continued to arise under the Act of Edward VI. until the year 1623, when a statute was passed entitled 'An Act for the General Quiet of the Subjects against all Pretences of Concealment whatsoever' (stat. 21 James I. cap. 11).
R. R. S.
The Guildhall, London, October, 1890.
Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage; Minds innocent and quiet take That for an hermitage.
Hit were no nede to no mon in Crystyante To passe yn to [th]e holy lond oueir [th]e see To ierusalem, nor to seynte Kateryne.
Say that I linger'd with you at your shop,
To see the making of her carkanet.
When used with reference to armour, a gorget of chain mail.