A Dictionary of London. Originally published by H Jenkins LTD, London, 1918.
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East and south of St. Mary Aldermary Church, from Budge Row to Bow Lane (O. and M. 1677-L.C.C. List, 1912). There were houses in the churchyard in Strype's time (Strype, ed. 1720, I. iii. 24). See Romayn's Rent. The churchyard seems to lie to the south of the church now, in Bow Lane.
The Court of Aldermen of the City of London forms with the Common Council the Corporation or governing body of the City. The Lord Mayor is the senior Alderman. The Court consists of 26 members, representing the various Wards into which the City is divided. The number of Aldermen has varied accordingly from time to time with the number of the Wards, as may be seen from the lists of Aldermen and Wards set out in the Letter Books of the City. The Aldermen in early days, as the name denotes, being derived from the O.E. "aldor" = an "elder, chief, prince," were men of note and high standing throughout the kingdom, equal in dignity and importance to the Senators of ancient Rome. Only men of the highest character and capacity could attain to this rank and the veneration in which the office was held in London in early times is emphasised by the fact that the Wards were known originally by the names of the respective Aldermen who presided over them and not by their present topographical designations. This change in designation which took place about th 13th century is indicative of the change which gradually came about in the nature of the office and in the functions to be discharged by the Aldermen. It is not possible within the limits of this work to deal adequately with this subject, nor to furnish lists of the Aldermen of the City, but much valuable information is contained in the admirable history by Mr. Beavan in 2 volumes, entitled the "Aldermen of London." It is not an uncommon occurrence to find the names of Aldermen commemorated in street names in the City, especia]ly in those of later formation, as Alderman's Walk, Skinner Street, etc.
Stow speaks of it as one of the first four gates of the City, serving the northern districts (S. 34), and this view receives confirmation from the considerable Roman remains that have come to light in the neighbourhood from time to time.
Earliest mention found in records "Ealdredesgate," Etheldred's Institutes, 10 and 11 Cent. (Thorpe's Anc. Laws, p.127). But the MSS. are of the 13th century, or the latter part of the 12th century, and not authoritative as to the original form of the name.
Other forms "Aldredesgate," Reg. Clerkenwell Priory (12th century), quoted by Dugdale, IV. 83 (Cott. MS. Faust. B. 11. B.M.). "Aldredesgate," 49 H. III. (Anc Deeds, A. 1983). " Aldridesgate," 53 H. III. (ib. A. 1870). " Aldretheggate," 54 H. III. (ib. A. 1590). "Aldrethesgate," 54 H. III. (ib. A. 1530). " Alresgate," 1272-3 (Ct. H.W. I. 14). " Aldresgate," 1274 (ib. '9). "Aldreidesgate," 1285 (Cal. L. Bk. A. p.210). "Allereddesgate," 1291 (Ct. H.W. I. p.100). " Aldrichesgate," 1283 (ib. 67). " Aldersgate," 1307 (ib. 192). (But this is probably not the form in the M.S.) "Alcheresgate," 28 Ed. I. (Cal. L. Bk. C. p.37). " Aldrichgate," 1316 (ib. 264). " Aldrisgate," 1349 (ib. 547). "Aldrichegate," 1349 (ib. 605). "Alderichesgate," 1349 (ib. 622). " Aldrechegate," 1351 (ib. 665). " Alderychgate," 1361 (ib. IT. 17). "Alderichgate, Alderichegate," 1361 (ib. 27). "Alderesgate," 1363 (ib. 81). "Aldrychegate," 1380-1 (ib. 222). "Aldrychgate," 1407 (ib. 370). "Aldrychesgate," 1433 (ib. 465). "Aldrisshgate," 1436-7 (ib. 481). "Althergate, Altergate," 16th Century (Machyn's Diary).
In 1335 it was ordained that the gate should be covered with lead and a small house made under it for the gate-keeper (Cal. L. Bk. F. p.15). It was taken down and rebuilt 1617, repaired and beautified in 1670 after the Fire and again in 1739 by the Lord Mayor.
With reference to the derivation of the name, Stow says it was so named for the very antiquity of the gate, as being one of the first four gates of the City, but this derivation is obviously wrong, as in none of the forms in which the word is met with could it possibly denote" Old Gate."
The name is almost certainly derived from the personal name" Ealdred "or " Aidred," The form found in Etheired's "Instituta Londoniae" quoted above, but Mr. Loftie's statement that the Aldred in question lived in the time of the first Mayor of London (i.e. at the end of the 12th century) is clearly wrong.
The name appears in so many forms, as shown in the list set out above, that it may be of interest to classify the several forms according to the derivations which (taken by themselves) they would suggest, appending to each separate form the number of times it occurs, in the Court of Hastings Wills, Liber Albus, etc., Riley's Memorials, City Letter books, and other authorities consulted.
2. Aldrich's Gate: Aldrich (15), Aldriche (13), Aldreche (1), Aldrych (1), Aldryche (2), Aldryches (1), Alderich (1), Alderiche (4), Aldriches (32), Alderiches (1), Alderych (1), Aldrissh (1). In all seventy-three instances between 1283 and 1587. 3. Ealdor's Gate, i.e. the gate of the prince or alderman ; Alderes (1), Aldres (47), Aldris (1), Alders (4), Alder (2), Aldir (1), Alther (5), Alter (1). In all sixty-two instances between 1214 and 1597.
The form " Alres " occurs once in 1272, and although so early, must be a corruption from one of the other forms. It is remarkable that the forms suggesting "Aldred" should occur so infrequently, and that the other forms should make their appearance so early. But in dealing with the derivations of names, it is the earliest forms that are the most important, however scanty in number they may be.
Remains of a Roman ditch were found here on the site of the General Post Office, 75 ft. wide and 14 ft. deep, much wider than the remains in other parts, and it is suggested that it may have been part of a later scheme for strengthening the defences of the City (Arch. LXIII. p.278).
In 17 Rich. II. the liberty of the City extended as far as a post stuck in the ground at the corner of Sir John Syfrnast's house, which formerly belonged to Adam Stable, in Gosewellestrete" (Cal. L. Bk. H. p.397).
Other forms of name : " Aldresgatestrete," 33 Ed. I. (Cal. L. Bk. B. p.129). " Aldrichesgate Street," 1332 (Ct. H.W. I.382). Aldergatestrete," 1349 (ib. 620). " Aiderichegatestrete," 1361 (ib. 11.28). " Aldirgastrete," 1383 (lb. 237). " AldersgateStreete" (S. 311).
In the course of excavations for building the French Protestant Church at the eastern end of Bull and Mouth Street, in 1841, portions of Roman buildings were discovered. A portion of the wall ran east to west, and its continuation under the pavement indicated the exact spot where the northern gate of the City stood. A base of flint stones was found at a depth of 11 1/2 feet from the surface, 1 ft. 6 in. in height, on which rested layers of angular uncut stones imbedded in mortar, 4 ft. 6 in. high, covered by two courses of tiles; above the tiles was a ragstone wall 2 ft. 6 ins. high surmounted by two courses of tiles and another course of ragstone terminating 18 ins. under the pavement at that date. The height of the wall was 10 ft., varying in width from 9 1/2 ft. at the base to 6 ft. at the top. The wall was apparently bounded by a ditch on the north, as the workmen had to excavate 20 ft. deep for a foundation through black earth or sediment. Similar walls, etc., were found on the opposite side of Aldersgate Street, being continued to the bastion in Cripplegate Churchyard (Arch. XXX. 522-4. R. Smith, 55).
A Roman wall was found at a depth of 6 ft. 9 in. extending from Aldersgate Street to King Edward Street. A line of buildings based on this wall formed the southern boundary of St. Botolph's Church. It is probable that the church and churchyard occupy the site of the Town Ditch. The length of the wall was 131 ft., height 11-12 ft. A tower also found was apparently of later date (Arch. LII. 609 et seq.).
Aldersgate Street Station
One of the twenty-six wards of the City, on the northern side, bounded on the east by Cripplegate Ward, on the south by Farringdon Ward Within, on the west by Farringdon Ward Without, and extending north to the borough of Finsbury. It is divided into an Inner and Outer Ward, the southern portion within the City walls being called Aldersgate Ward Within, and the northern portion outside the walls, Aldersgate Ward Without. There is only one Alderman for Aldersgate Ward.
First mention found in records: "Ward of Aldreidesgate," 1285 (Cal. L. Bk. A. p.209) Called, "Ward of John Blakethorn," 1277 (Cal. L. Bk. B. p.265). Taking name of the north gate of the City (S. 305). In Stow's time it contained five parish churches: St. Anne and St. Agnes; St. Leonard, Foster Lane; St. Mary Staining; St. John Zachary; St. Botolph, Without Aldersgate. Formerly also the Collegiate Church of St. Martin le Grand. Of these churches only two remain, viz. St. Anne and St. Agnes, and St. Botolph, Without Aldersgate, the others having been destroyed in the Great Fire 1666 and not rebuilt. The parish of St. Leonard, Foster Lane, was united to Christ Church, Newgate Street, that of St. Mary Staining to St. Michael, Wood Street, and that of St. John Zachary to St. Anne and St. Agnes. See note on Wards.
Aldersgate Ward School
One of the gates in the City wall on its eastern side. It stood in the midst of the High Street, at the south-eastern corner of what is now Duke Street. It is shown in Leake's map 1666 and in Agas, Guildhall ed. 1578. There is a plan of the gate in a survey of Holy Trinity Priory made 1592, now at Hatfield (Home Co. Mag. II). The old gate stood 25 feet east from the corner of Jewry Street. See Plate IV.
Earliest mention found in records: "Alegate" occurs in the grant by Matilda in 1108, of " Portam de Alegate," to the Prior of Holy Trinity (Cal. L. Bk. C.-p. 73) and Allegate," 1108, Anc. Deeds, A. 1880.
In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ed. Plummer and Earle, p.181) mention is made in 1052 of the " Æstgate" of the city, and in the " Miraculi Beati Edmundi Regis" by Hermannus, written about 1070 (MS. Cott. Tib. B. II. I), the city was entered "a via que anglice dicitur ' ealsegate.' "
The earliest form of the name in all records is " Alegate," " Algate," and this form continued in general use until the 16th or 17th centuries The form "Aldgate" does not occur until 1486-7 (Ct. H. W. 11.589), and this may be an error in the text of the Calendar, and the 'd' may not occur in the MS. itself.
The dwelling-house above the gate was let to Geoffrey Chaucer in 1374 (Cal. L. Bk. G. 327-8). It was rebuilt in 1607-9, and when the gate was finally taken down and removed in 1761, some Roman coins were found under it. It was re-erected at Bethnal Green, but was pulled down not long after, and no trace of it now remains.
The name of the gate still survives in the Ward and street of Aldgate. Stow derives the name from the "antiquity or age thereof," but in this he is certainly wrong. The spelling in all early documents is, as stated above, usually" Algate," and the "d" is invariably absent. It is intrusive and may be entirely disregarded in determining the derivation of the name. Mr. Loftie, who is "shocked at Stow's ignorant guessing," says that it means "free to all." But he does not show how or why it was more free than other gates, nor does he hazard a suggestion as to the original form of the word.
The true etymology is undetermined, but several suggestions have been offered. Colonel Prideaux suggests in N. and Q. 9, S.I. 1, that it may mean the gate of the foreigners from "ael "=foreign. This word "ael" in Anglo-Saxon, besides being used in place of the prefixes " eal "= all, and "el "=foreign, is also used for " ele "=oil, and has further the meaning of "awl," so that there is here plenty of material for guesswork.
It may be connected with " ale', in the sense of a feast, as in the word " bridal," or in the sense of an ale-house. If the reference given above containing the form "ealse" can be taken to apply to Alegate, it suggests that the gate may have been named after some one called "Ealh," an owner or builder, as this personal name was in general use in Anglo-Saxon times. The east gate of Gloucester was known as "Ailesgate" from "Æthel," and it is conceivable that the " ale " or " Alle " in Alegate is derived from the same name "Æthel," the" th" having dropped out early, but in the circumstances the name "Ealh" seems the more probable derivation.
Portions of the foundations of an old gate (probably mediæval) were found in 1907 on the south side of Aldgate High Street, 25 ft. east from the corner of Jewry Street at a depth of 16 ft. 6 in., and on the north side of the street in 1908 under the Post Office (Arch. LXIII. p.266).
In the 14th century the name seems to have included part of the street outside the gate even as far as the Parish of St. Dunstan Stepney (Ct. H.W. I.593, II.332. Anc. Deeds, C. 549, and C. 799), and down to Stow's time it extended westward as far as Lime Street (S. 140), including part of the present Leadenhall Street. In the 14th century the name seems to have been also given to the eastern end of Fenchurch Street (Cal. Close R. Ed. III.1364-8, p.338, and Ct. H.W. I.401, 1334-5).
Former names before its rebuilding: " Black Bull Alley or Yard " (O. and M. 1677-1799). " Bull Inn Yard " (Horwood, 1799-1890). ,"Bull Yard " (O.S. 1848-51). The Black Bull Inn stood there and gave its name to the yard (Hatton, 1708).
Aldgate Churchyard (New)
-There appears to have been a new churchyard or burial ground attached to the Church of St. Botolph, Aldgate, for the use of the parishioners in the 18th century, on the east side of Churchyard Alley, Rosemary Lane.
It is described by Strype (ed. 1720, I. ii. 26) as within the boundary of the Ward of Portsoken, which must therefore at that time have included, as it originally did, the districts of St. Katherine's and East Smithfield.
Aldgate High Street
Formerly called also: " Whitechapel Street " (O. and M. 1677-Rocque, 1746). Aldgate Street without Aldgate" (L. Guide, 1758). "Aldgate High Street without Aldgate" (Lond. Rev. 1728). But the form "Aldgate High Street" seems to have been the one in general use from the beginning of the 18th century.
It must not be forgotten that Aldgate High Street forms part of one continuous thoroughfare extending from the junction of Leadenhall Street and Fenchurch Street to Mile End, and beyond the boundary of the County of London and indeed of Middlesex.
The part included within the City boundary is now known as: "Aldgate," from the east end of Leadenhall Street to Duke Street (in Aldgate Ward) and "Aldgate High Street," from Duke Street to Middlesex Street (in Portsoken Ward).
But in early days the name " Aldgate " or " Alegatestrete " (as it was more often called) had a much wider application, and was variously used to denote the high street extending from Lime Street to Whitechapel and Stepney beyond the City boundary, as well as apparently some part of Fenchurch Street or Jewry Street and Crutched Friars.
Thus mention is made in old documents of: Tenements and rents in " Alegatestrete" in parish of St. Katherine Colman in 1334-5 (Cal. of Wills, Ct. Hust. I.401). Tenements in " Algatestrete" in par. of Allhallows Stanyngechurche 1367 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Ed. III. 1364-8, p.338). "Little Jewry in Algatestrete," 14 Rich. II. 1391 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Rich. II. 1388-92, p. 417). Surrender at Court of Stebenhuthe (Stepney) manor of reversion of three shops, etc., in parish of St. Mary in " Algatestret," 9 H. V. (Anc. Deeds, A. 2630). (This must be St. Mary Matfellon or St. Mary Whitechapel.) "Whitechapel in Algatestrete," 36 Ed. III. (Cal. Feet of Fines, Lond. and Midd. I. p.139).
" Alegatestrete " 10 Ed. I. (Anc. Deeds, A. 1950). " Allgaitestrate," 13 Ed. I. (Chancery, I. p.m. (65)). "Allegatestrate," 1309 (Cal. Wills. Ct. H. I. 207). "Algatestret," 1349 (Cal. Wills. Ct. Hust. I. 596). Named after the Gate of Alegate.
Bounds set out in Stow 140-1, and Strype, ed. 1720. Strype says the ward is coterminous with the soke of Aldgate given by Matilda to the Priory of Holy Trinity in 1108, and he sets out the boundaries from Liber Dunthorne (ed. 1720, I. ii. 55). The boundaries are also given in L. Bk. C. p.224, but they seem there to be confused with the Portsoken given to the Priory by the Knightengild.
The Prior of Christchurch said to be Alderman of the Ward of Alegate 13 Ed. II.1320 (L Bk. E. p. 8). This seems strange, as he was always ex officio Alderman of Portsoken, not of Aldgate. The Priory of Holy Trinity was in this ward on the site of Duke's Place, etc.