Historical Gazetteer of London Before the Great Fire Cheapside; Parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary, St Mary Le Bow, St Mary Colechurch and St Pancras Soper Lane. Originally published by Centre for Metropolitan History, London, 1987.
This free content was born digital. All rights reserved.
This property was known as the Tanners' Seld and later as the Cow Face. It lay between 37-41 on the W. and 43 on the E. In the late 12th and for much of the 13th century 42 and 43 were a single property. To the N., Tanners' Seld appears to have been bounded by 36. In 1304 104/38 apparently adjoined 105/12; if this was the case, 104/42 would at that time have been bounded by 104/38 on the N.; it is possible, however, that the owner of 38 held part of the Tanners' Seld for a short period.
Twelfth and thirteenth centuries and quit-rents
In the late 12th and in the 13th centuries the property represented by 42 and 43 was charged with £2. 10s. rent to Canterbury Cathedral Priory. In the late 12th century this was due as 2 rents, one of £1 from John Pepercorn and one of £1. 10s. from John's brother Lawrence; both rents were due in equal portions at Easter and Michaelmas. It is possible that the rents were due from properties corresponding to 42 and 43, which had formerly been one and had been divided between the 2 brothers. In later records, however, the total amount due is treated as a single rent. About 1220 the £2. 10s. rent was due from the land which had belonged to John Pepercorn. Constantine son of Alard was said to owe the rent, but it is likely that this was an error for Constantine son of Alulf. Later in the 13th century the rent was due from the land of Constantine the young (iuvenis), which was said to be the place where hides (coria bovina) were sold. According to the Canterbury rentals the next holder of the property was John de Budene. By the early 14th century the rent was due from 43 (q.v.) alone. (fn. 1)
42 was evidently being used by the city's tanners by the 1240s, for in 1246 a pentice built on to Cheapside at Tanners' Seld (selda tannariorum) was reported to the itinerant justices. By this date the tanners were probably in possession of the property, but the descendants of Constantine the young appear to have received substantial quit-rents from both 42 and 43. Thus by his will, enrolled in 1280, Stephen Costentin' left £3. 6s. 8d. (5 marks) rent from Tanners' Seld to his wife Juliana for life, with remainder to his daughters Emma, Margery, Sarah, Isabel, and Katharine. Margery was later in possession of this rent and granted it to Sarah, who in 1308-9, as widow of Peter de Audham, granted it with other rents to Robert de Keleseye, citizen. In return de Keleseye was to pay Sarah a total of £26. 6s. 8d. and a rent of £10. 13s. 4d. during her lifetime; after her death he was to pay her nephew Stephen £5 a year for life. The rent from 42 was now said to be due from le Tannereselde. At his death in 1336 de Keleseye left the rent for the maintenance of a chaplain in the church of St. Mary Magdalen Milk Street, where he was to celebrate for the souls of the grantor, his wife Juliana when she died, Henry le Waleys, and Sarah de Eldham. In 1406 the endowment of this chantry was seized by the Crown and the chantry was refounded with a licence to hold the property in mortmain. The parish was still receiving the £3. 6s. 8d. rent in the first half of the 16th century, and in 1547, when the chantry was dissolved, the income was being used to augment the priest's living. Subsequently the rent appears regularly to have been received by the Crown. (fn. 2)
There are references to another rent of £3. 6s. 8d. from Tanners' Seld. It belonged to Robert de Bykenore, who died in 1365 and probably inherited it from his father, John, who probably inherited it from his father, Roger Bykenore. At Robert's death the rent pertained to the manor of Portebrugge in Dartford (Kent). John Bykenore entered into possession of the manor and then granted it to the king, who in 1366 granted it to Dartford Nunnery. The rent is mentioned in the king's foundation charter of 1372, but there is no later indication that the nunnery had an interest in Tanners' Seld. It is possible that this rent was identical with that of the same value which had passed to the daughters of Stephen Costentin' and that a member of the Bykenore family acquired a claim to it by marriage; if so, this claim was presumably defeated by the successors to Robert de Kelsey. Alternatively, the property may have been charged with 2 rents of 5 marks. (fn. 3)
Fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries
In this period Tanners' Seld was at any one time in the possession of several different tanners, each of whom had a plot, stall, table, or board there. To judge from the other holdings of these tanners, their stalls served as the retail outlet in the city's principal marketing area for men whose tanneries were usually near the Fleet in St. Sepulchre parish or, less commonly, in the parish of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate. The holdings at Tanners' Seld were frequently passed on to widows, sons, and apprentices on the understanding that the recipient would continue to practise the tanner's craft. The seld was thus associated more closely with a particular trade than any other seld in this part of Cheapside. In the mid 14th century the 'brothers and sisters of the house of Tannarseld' evidently held and managed the property for the common benefit of the tanners who were free of the city, and in the early 15th century the seld was said to be the communal property of the London craft of tanners. Unenfranchised tanners, according to an ancient custom enunciated in 1369, (fn. 4) were supposed to use a seld in Friday Street, a much less advantageous location for trading. The system of communal management of the seld began to break down in the later 14th century, when parts of the seld came into the full possession of individuals, some of whom were not tanners. Before then interests in stalls and other parts of the property seem generally to have been passed on by testament to other working tanners, while in the later 14th century shares in the seld began to be the subject of grants.
Structurally, the seld differed from the others in the neighbourhood. There were no shops between Tanners' Seld and the street, and there are no references to the chests, coffers, and cupboards which characterized the other selds. The tables and boards which are recorded were clearly more appropriate for displaying and selling tanned hides. The tanners who held the stalls were presumably jointly responsible for maintaining the structure, several times described as a house, which enclosed and roofed them.
From time to time the tanners holding the seld were involved in pleas of nuisance or intrusion, the records of which give some indication of the total numbers of tanners with stalls there. One such case concerned a dispute between tanners, but the others concerned disputes with their neighbours to the W. who held parts of 37-41. The wall separating these properties was regularly a source of difficulty. In 1313 18 named tanners, each of whom presumably held a stall or some other interest in the seld, sought an assize of nuisance against the holders of 37-41, complaining that they had a common seld which was in disrepair, but that they were unable to repair the seld because the wall forming part of 37-41 was ruinous and must first be rebuilt. In 1358 the owners of 38 and 40 sought a plea of intrusion against 8 individuals who evidently held 42. Six of the 8 immediately sought an assize of nuisance against the owner of 38, complaining that he had rebuilt his gutter so that the rainwater entered their tenement rotting their timber. In 1360 the owner of 39 complained of intrusion against 6 individuals who held 42, and in 1388 a tanner complained against 4 others who apparently held the property. (fn. 5) A deed of 1398 concerns a fifth part of 42, and a deed of 1419 concerns a fourth part of the property (see below). The numbers of tanners occupying the seld may thus have fallen from 18 c. 1300, to 8 in the 1350s, to 5 c. 1390, and to 4 c. 1420.
The holdings of a number of the tanners named in these pleas are also recorded in wills and deeds, and accounts of these holdings follow. After that are given the names of the others who were listed in the pleas, but whose holdings are not otherwise recorded.
Identifiable holdings within Tanners' Seld
A number of holdings are mentioned only once in deeds and wills. By his will, enrolled in 1294, Robert Lambyn, fishmonger, left to John his younger son the rent at farm which he had in Tanners' Seld. By his will, enrolled in 1299, Geoffrey de Hundesdich, a name which indicates a connection with the Bishopsgate area, left his board (borda mea) in Tanners' Seld to his son William; several members of this family had interests in the seld in 1313, when Gervase de Houndesdiche and Philip de Houndesdiche were among the tanners named. When he died in 1331, William dictus Godalle left his wooden chest standing in Tanners' Seld to his son Richard. When he died in 1337, Roger de Chipstede, tanner, left his plot with a table (placea mea cum tabula) in the house called Tanners' Seld to his wife Avicia for so long as she remained a widow and afterwards if she married a tanner, with remainder to his son Lawrence who was still alive in 1361. Roger was one of the tanners named in 1313 and the Walter de Chipstede who was also named was presumably a relative. Walter de Schenefeld, citizen and tanner, died in 1348-9, and left his table and plot (tabula mea cum placea terre) in the house called Tanners' Seld to his illegitimate son John de Hadham, whose mother was Alice de Hadham; Walter was one of the tanners named in 1313 and the Lawrence, Walter, and Stephen de Hadham who were also named were probably relatives of Alice de Hadham. Bartholomew Arnald, tanner, died in 1349, leaving to his son John his plot in Tanners' Seld so long as he and his heirs followed the tanner's trade; if John did not follow the trade the plot was to go to Bartholomew's apprentice John for life, paying 8s. rent to the son John during his life with remainder to the guild (societas) of tanners. (fn. 6)
The Richard Ussher named in 1313 was probably a relative of the Walter Ussher, tanner, who died in 1336-7 leaving his plot with a table (placea mea cum tabula) in the house called Tanners' Seld to his wife Alice so long as she remained a widow and afterwards if she married a tanner, with remainder to Walter's son John. Richard Ussher, tanner, died in 1339-40, leaving his plot with a table adjacent (placea cum tabula adjacente) to his son John and his heirs who were tanners, with remainder to his relative Ralph de Mordon. The son John was probably the John le Ussher, tanner, who died in 1340-1, leaving his table in Tanners' Seld to his wife Imana, with remainder on her marriage, whether or not her new husband was a tanner, to his son Richard if he practised the trade, with remainder to his nephew, Ralph de Mordon. (fn. 7) A John Ussher, however, was associated with the seld in 1351 (see below).
William de Hakeneye was one of the tanners named in 1313, and at his death in 1339-40, when he was described as citizen and tanner, left his plot in Tanners' Seld to John de Mymmes, who was to pay for a trental at the church of St. Mary le Bow; should John fail to do this the others who held the seld were to take possession of the plot and pay for the trental. John was probably the son of the William de Mymmes, tawyer, who died in 1334-5 and owned 42, and William de Mymmes was probably the tanner of that name listed in 1313. John de Mymmes, citizen and tanner, died in 1360-1 and left his stall (stallum) in Tanners' Seld to his son John, who in 1371 as John Mymmes, tanner, granted the stall and his holdings in St. Sepulchre parish to Margery, widow of John Styrap. This grant was in security for a loan of £15 repayable in annual instalments of £1. The loan was repaid and in 1393 John Mymmes, citizen and tanner, granted his share in Tanners' Seld to his son John Mymmes, chaplain. (fn. 8)
When William Forester, senior, citizen and tanner, died in 1350-1 he left his table in Tanners' Seld to his apprentice John should he die without an heir following the tanner's trade. In 1358 a William Forester and a Philip Forester were among those who held 42. William Forester was among those who held the property in 1360, but the table descended according to the will of William Forester, senior, to Philip Forester, citizen and tanner, who in 1380 granted it to William de Walleworth, citizen and merchant (mercator). In 1381 William Aldenham and his wife Maud, neice of William Forester, senior, quitclaimed to de Walleworth in this table, which they said that Forester had left in his will to his apprentice Philip Forester. The identity of Philip Forester is thus uncertain, since the name of the apprentice in the enrolled text of the will was John; the will, however, also names a Philip brother of William Forester, junior, who was to receive a cash legacy. De Walleworth died in 1385, and in 1388 his widow Margaret, John atte Feld (see below), John Mymmes (see above), and William Forster were impleaded by William Kyriel, citizen and tanner, on account of their alleged intrusion in the parish of St. Mary le Bow. The William Forster, junior, mentioned in the will of William Forester, senior, was probably the William Forester who occurred in connection with this property in 1351, 1358, 1360, and 1388, and was probably identical with the William Forester, citizen and tanner, whose heir was his sister Isabel. This Isabel married Robert Rede, citizen and tanner, and in 1419 the 2 of them granted their fourth part of the house called Tanners' Seld to Roger Thornton, merchant of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, William Massy, esquire, Thomas Howden, and John Mordon. (fn. 9)
William Mousehacche was one of the owners of 42 in 1351, 1358, and 1360. By his will, enrolled in 1370, when he was described as citizen and tanner, he left his table in Tanners' Seld to his wife Joan for life if she remained a widow or married a man in the tanner's trade, with remainder to his son Richard and heirs and assigns so long as they followed the trade, and then to William atte Felde and his heirs and assigns in the trade; whoever held the table was to celebrate masses in the churches of St. Sepulchre and St. Mary le Bow, and if this condition was not met the fraternity of Tanners' Seld was to retain the table. William Mousehacche was probably associated with or related to John atte Felde, who occurs among the owners of 42 on several occasions between 1358 and 1388. In 1398 Alice Focher, daughter of John atte Felde, formerly citizen and tanner, granted to John Credy, esquire, her fifth part of the tenements and lands lying between 43 on the E., 36, 38, 40 on the W., and 36 on the N. (fn. 10)
Most of the tanners operating in Tanners' Seld are probably named in an indenture of 1351 by which John de Edelmeton, William Moushacch, Lawrence de Chippestede, William Forester, John Mymmes, John Ussher, and Joan Michel, with the assent of the brothers and sisters of the house of Tannarseld, granted at farm to William Baldewyn, citizen and tanner, a plot of land for selling his merchandise in the house for the term of his life at 4s. rent payable to de Edelmeton and Moushacch, who were at that time wardens; the grantors were to be responsible for the services due to the lords of the fee. (fn. 11)
Holders of unidentifiable parts of Tanners' Seld
The following were named among the owners of 42 but their holdings cannot otherwise be identified: in 1313 Geoffrey de Chelchehethe, Geoffrey Drie, Simon atte Smalebregge, Roger de Edelmeton, John Swift, William le Meleward, and Richard Beryng; in 1351, 1358, and 1360 John Bristowe and Joan Michel; in 1358 John Roger; and in 1388, William Kyriel, citizen and tanner. (fn. 12)
Fifteenth to seventeenth century
In 1405 Tanners' Seld was taken into the king's hands on the grounds that it had lately been given to the community of the craft of tanners without licence, and the king granted it to his servant Peter Walbeer. In the grant the seld was said to be worth £20 a year and to measure 8 1/2 ells (25 ft. 6 in.; 7.77 m.) in front, 7 1/2 ells (22 ft. 6 in.; 6.86 m.) at the rear, and 33 ells (99 ft.; 30.18 m.) in length. Later that year a jury found that the seld had not been given to the community of tanners and could see no reason why it should belong to the king. (fn. 13)
The seld presumably then reverted to those who had shares in it. John Credy, who had acquired a fifth part of the property in 1398 (see above), granted his share in 1421 to John Carpenter, citizen and common clerk of London, William Frye of Devon, John Spore, citizen and ironmonger, and William Hammond. In 1433 Carpenter, as sole survivor, granted this share to Robert Marshall, citizen and grocer, who already held the remaining part (see below). The property was now described as a seld or tenement called le Cowhede, presumably after a sign on the Cheapside frontage. (fn. 14) A late 17th-century schedule of deeds describes a record of an Exchequer plea in 1481-2, when the descent of the share of the property which had belonged to John Mymmes (presumably the John Mymmes, chaplain, who had acquired a share in 1391: see above) was described. Mymmes enfeoffed Robert Maltby, who enfeoffed Roger de Thornton and Robert de Whelpington. De Thornton was presumably the merchant of Newcastle of that name who acquired William Forester's share of the seld in 1419 (see above), and was probably also identical with the Roger Thornton, esquire, who died in 1430 seised of three parts of the messuage called Tannersheld. Whelpington survived Thornton and enfeoffed Robert Marshall who then, in 1433, acquired possession of the whole property (see above). Marshall then enfeoffed a group of feoffees headed by the Chief Baron of the Exchequer, of whom the two survivors enfeoffed William Welbeck, Robert Billesden, John Welbeck, Robert Bardesey, and Richard Welbeck. William Welbeck was evidently the principal beneficiary of this transaction and in 1477, John Welbeck having died, released his estate in the tenement or messuage called the Cowhead or Cowface to his three cofeoffees. Later the same year these three conveyed the property to William Welbeck, his wife Joan, Robert Byfeild, and William Byfeild, to hold during Joan's lifetime with remainder to William Welbeck's heirs and assigns. Soon afterwards the Crown seized the property from these feoffees for the same reason as in 1405. This occasioned the Exechequer suit in 1481-2, as a result of which the property was returned to Welbeck and his cofeoffees. (fn. 15)
By about 1400, or soon after, Tanners' Seld probably lost its specific association with the community of tanners, and from then on the publicly-regulated market for tanned hides was located elsewhere in the city. Between 1437 and 1443 it occupied a seld beneath the Mayor's Court on the N. side of Guildhall, and later in the 15th century it came to be established at Leadenhall. A trade in leather items, probably among the range of goods known as haberdashery, nevertheless persisted at the Cheapside property, for in 1537 gloves were purchased for Lady Lisle at the 'Cow Face'. (fn. 16)
William Welbeck, a haberdasher and alderman, remained in possession of the Cow Face until his death in 1509-10, when the property passed to his heirs. Among these was William Welbeck the younger, a merchant of the Calais Staple and probably the elder Welbeck's son. In 1517-18 the property was held and probably occupied by Thomas Shower, haberdasher, who paid the quit-rent due to the church of St. Mary Magdalen Milk Street in that year. Between 1518 and 1532 John Smith, haberdasher, paid this rent. The younger William Welbeck's widow, Anne, married John Latton, gentleman, of Chilton in Derbyshire, who held the property by his wife's right of dower from 1532 onwards, when he paid the quit-rent. After Anne's death the property was due to revert to Leonard Welbeck of Cassington (Oxon.), gentleman, who was cousin and heir of the younger William Welbeck. In 1547 Latton, his wife, and Leonard Welbeck leased the property, now described as 2 messuages called 'the Cowface' with shops, cellars, solars, warehouses, and yards, to Edward Banks, citizen and haberdasher, for a term of 40 years at £18 rent. Banks inhabited one of the messuages and William Bykner had lately inhabited the other. Banks had probably occupied his messuage since at least as early as 1541, and in both 1541 and 1544 the other messuage was probably inhabited by William Byknell. In November 1559 Banks sold his term in this lease to Robert Mathew, mercer, and John Barton, grocer, on condition that if Banks or his heirs paid them 5s. for the redemption of the lease the sale would be void. Later in the same month Leonard Welbeck sold the property for £250 to Edward Banks, who was to allow Anne Latton to remain in possession during her lifetime and to pay the quit-rent of £3. 6s. 8d. which was now due to the Crown. (fn. 17)
In 1560 Banks sold the property for £600 to Wolstan Dixie, citizen and skinner. Anne Latton still had a life interest, and one of the messuages appears still to have been occupied by Banks while the other was subject to a lease granted by Banks to Matthew Norton at £9 rent for a term of which 27 years were still to come. When Dixie died in 1594 he was still in possession of the 2 messuages, then or late in the tenures of Henry Page and Edward Ryve and said to be worth £5 a year clear. Dixie's wife, Agnes, survived him and his heir was said to be his brother Richard Dixie of Barnwell (Northants.). By his will of 1592 Sir Wolstan Dixie had entailed his lands on Sir Wolstan Dixie of Market Bosworth (Leics.), who was in possession of the two messuages in 1612. The entail on Dixie's messuages in London and his lands in Middlesex was broken in 1612 by means of a fine and a common recovery. In the same year Dixie, in return for payments of £1100 to himself and 10s. to his co-grantor, Richard Shepeye of Market Bosworth (who had been among the parties to the fine and recovery), conveyed the Cheapside property to Richard Burrell, citizen and grocer, who was to pay the rent to the Crown. One of the messuages was now known as the Cow Face and the other was known as the Red Cross, and both were subject to leases granted by Dixie. In 1598 the Cow Face had been granted to Thomas Massinghall for a term of 21 years at £41. 13s. 4d. rent, and in the same year the Red Cross, then known as the 'Floure de Luce', had been granted to Richard Ascroft, citizen and embroiderer, for a term of 21 years at £21. 13s. 4d. rent. It seems likely that the Cow Face occupied the Cheapside frontage and that the Red Cross lay to the rear. (fn. 18)
Richard Burrell contracted debts amounting to £1900 in which he was jointly bound with his fellow grocer, Robert Mildmay. In order to secure Mildmay, Burrell in 1614 sold Mildmay the two messuages on condition that if he had discharged the bonds by March 1616 Burrell would be able to regain possession. The bonds were discharged, or the basis of Burrell's obligation to Mildmay was altered, and in 1616 Burrell and Mildmay sold the property to Robert Pennington, citizen and fishmonger, for £1380. In both 1614 and 1616 the messuages were said then or lately to be in the tenures of William Harvye and Thomas Steed, and the names of these tenants were repeated in conveyances up to 1645. Harveye may be identical with the (blank) Harvey who shortly before 1620 held one of the two messuages in 37-41 (q.v.), and so it is possible that part of 42 was occupied with part of 37-41 as a single house. Thomas Steed was probably identical with the Thomas Stead, girdler, who acquired the freehold of 37-41 (q.v.) in 1620. He was probably also identical with the Mr. Steede whose house in this part of St. Mary le Bow parish was valued at £40 a year in 1638. This house probably occupied a part of 42 and perhaps also a part of 37-41. The other part of 42 in 1638 was probably the house of Mr. Stonard valued at £50 a year. (fn. 19)
In 1624 Robert Pennington sold the two messuages to his son Daniel Pennington, citizen and fishmonger, subject only to the dower due to Robert's wife Joan. In 1645, when Daniel Pennington was about to marry Elizabeth Peare, widow, the property was settled to the use of Daniel for life, with remainder up to a value of £100 a year to the use of Elizabeth for life, and then to the use of Daniel's right heirs for ever. In 1652 Pennington leased one of the two messuages, probably the Red Cross, to William Collins for a term of 16 1/4 years at £70 rent, and in 1656 let the 'Cowes Face' to Harman Sheafe for a term of 21 years at £80 rent and for a fine of £140. Sheafe and Collins were named as tenants in 1664, when Pennington settled the messuages, now known as the Golden Cross and the Cow Face, on Lewis Montgomery of London, gentleman, William Holgate, citizen and leatherseller, and Thomas Watson of London, gentleman, to his own use for life and then to the use of his daughter Sarah, wife of Thomas Goodyer, for life; the Cow Face was then to remain successively to the use of Sarah's son Daniel and his heirs, of her other sons, of Penington's nephew Daniel Penington, of the grantor's brother Arthur Penington and his male heirs, and then of the grantor's right heirs; the Golden Cross was to remain successively to the use of Sarah's second son and then as for the Cow Face. William Collins assigned his lease to Thomas Lemon, draper, who in 1666 on the eve of the Fire occupied a house of 6 hearths; at the same time Sheafe, a silkman, occupied a house of 8 hearths. (fn. 20)
The two houses destroyed by the Great Fire occupied a site measuring 22 ft. by 80 ft. (6.71 m. by 24.38 m.), but the rooms were so intermixed that the houses could not be rebuilt separately. Shortly before the Fire Lemon had paid a fine of £100 and had spent £150 on repairs; he now declined to rebuild and was ordered by the Fire Court to surrender his lease and pay £35 to Thomas Watson as manager of Pennington's estate. Sheafe wished to have the whole site for rebuilding and there was said to be room for 2 shops, a fore house, and a back house; he was offered half the combined site and a contribution towards the cost of building, but refused this and other offers. Eventually, Sheafe was ordered to pay £80 to Watson, who was to undertake the building at an estimated cost of £1200. In addition, Watson was to have the property for 40 years after the death of Sara Goodyer, paying £60 a year for the maintenance of her and her children. Two foundations were surveyed for Watson in March 1669. (fn. 21)