The Inhabitants of London in 1638. Originally published by Society of Genealogists, London, 1931.
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THERE is in the Lambeth Palace Library a manuscript. Cod. Lambeth 272, bound in a volume lettered "Settlement of Tithes, 1638" The volume, which measures 8¾×5 in., contains 408 folios, some of which are blank and some of which are written on both sides. It contains a list of the householders in 93 out of the 107 parishes in the City of London, together with the rentals paid for the houses and the tithes paid. The rents are described as "moderated," a phrase that is explained to mean a fourth part abated of the actual rent.
No returns were made for eleven parishes, namely, St Alphege London Wall, St Anne Blackfriars, St. Benet Paul's Wharf, St. Katherine Cree, St. Mary Aldermanbury, St. Michael Wood St., St. Peter le Poer, St. Sepulchre, St. Stephen Coleman St., and St. Swithin. Returns are summarised for the parishes of All Hallows Bread St, St. Bartholomew the Great, Christ Church Newgate St., St. Mary Colechurch, but no names of the inhabitants are given. One parish of which only a small part lay within the Liberties of London, St. Olave Southwark, is included but no names are given.
It will thus be seen that the MS. forms a sort of Directory of London, combined with a valuation list, for nine-tenths of London in the reign of Charles the First. Unfortunately some of the Incumbents by whom the lists were made, omitted to add the Christian names of the householders, but contented themselves with styling them plain "Mr." In some parishes the situation of the houses is described with some particularity. Thus the Rector of St. Margaret's, New Fish St., is careful to explain the exact situation of all his parishioners. In Fish Street, the West side, Mr. Clifton had "a house by the stayers in the alley above the Dragon" In Pudding Lane, East side, Mr. Fox lived at "the first door on the left hand in the fish yard". Mr. Shaw, costermonger, "next below the Star back door," Mr. Pinn "by the stayers above Shaw's house." If only all the Incumbents had been equally careful to describe where their parishioners lived, how much light would have been thrown upon the topography of London!
For the most part the return simply gives the name of the tithe-payer, and his estimated rental, and not even the name of the street where he lived. Nevertheless some interesting particulars may be gathered. Thus on London Bridge, in spite of the fact that as the Rector relates, "the best third part of the Parish was consumed by the late fire on London Bridge" (which took place in 1632) there were still twenty-five houses standing. Little Nonesuch was divided into two parts, each of which let for £40 at a moderated rent. It was an expensive place for houses for even an ale cellar let for £3 per ann. In the parish of St. Vedast alias St. Foster the Mermayd Tavern, on the North side of Cheapside, not to be confused with its more famous namesake in Bread St., was valued at £60 per ann, as high a rent as any tavern in London. Unfortunately the Rector of All Hallows, Bread St., gives no particulars in his return, so that the rental of the Mermayd in Bread St. is not known In St. Andrews in the Wardrobe, the Wardrobe and house was valued at £150 and Kings College House at £25. As stated above, these were regarded as moderated rent, that is, as three-quarters of the actual rental value.
In the same parish dwelt Sir Anthony Vandike, paying £20 rent. The most fashionable parish seems to have been St. Botolph Aldersgate, probably because in that parish there was still plenty of room for gardens and orchards. In that parish lived the Countess of Westmoreland, £30, the Lord Peter (no rent given), the Lady Anne Tufnall, Edward, Lord Gorge, the Countess of Rutland, the Earl of Winchelsea, the Lady Catherine Wentworth, the Countess Humes, the Earl of Thanet, and about half-a-dozen knights or baronets, for none of whom is any rent given Within the Walls in the parish of St. Olaves, Hart St., lived Lord Savage, £100, Lord Banning, £100, Sir John Wolstenholme, £80, Sir Abraham Dawes, £50 In St. Giles Without Cripplegate lived the Earl of Bridgewater (no rent given) and Lady Lucie, £50. In St. Michael Bassishaw lived the Hon. Richard Fenne, Lord Mayor, £70, and Sir Richard Ducy, Bart., £80
The original return gives not only the rent paid for the house but the tithe paid as well. This last item I have omitted, partly because to have given the tithes would have added much to the labour of transcription and to the cost of printing, already very great, and partly because the amount of tithe paid in each case was purely arbitrary and gave no information likely to be of general interest. Thus, for example, in the case of St. Vedast (MS. p. 112) Mr Alderman Gourney's rent was estimated at £70; he paid 7s. in tithe; Herne, £70 and 11s; Glyde, £60 and 10s.; Lewis, £50 and 6s. 8d.; Bateman £50 and 10s, the Mermaid, £60 and 11s. 6d.; the Nags Head, £60 and 15s; the Starre, £60 and 15s.
The return was compiled by the clergy of London in response to an order of the King in Council dated 22nd April, 1638, which directed the clergy in conjunction with the Alderman of the Ward and the principal inhabitants to make an estimate of the moderate rental value of the houses in each parish together with the actual tithe now paid for each house. As the citizens had objected that some of the clergy had also a considerable income derived from "casualties" (which would nowadays be called fees), from the proceeds of glebe, and from endowment for lectureships, etc, the clergy were also directed to make a return of their official income from all sources. They were also to give an account of all the charges upon their incomes such as pensions, subsidies, tenths, etc, that it might be clearly seen exactly how much the net income of each incumbent was. The clergy of London had long had a grievance that they did not receive so much tithe as they were by law entitled to be paid. For when in the reign of Henry VIII most of the ancient dues of the parochial clergy were swept away, so that they were no longer to receive mortuaries, fees for masses for the dead, etc, an Act of Parliament was passed which gave to the incumbents the right to receive a tithe of two shillings and nine pence in the pound on the rental value of every building in the City of London and its Liberties. The Act, 37 Hen VIII, c. 12 runs: "There shall be paid of every 10s rent by the year of all and every house, shop, warehouse, cellar and stable, 1s. 4½d and of every 20s. rent by the year, 2s. 9d., and so above the rent of 20s. by the year, ascending from 10s to 10s. . . Every householder paying 10s or above shall for himself or herself be discharged of their four offering days. But his wife, children, servants, or others of their family shall pay two pence for their four offering days yearly. This decree shall not extend to the houses of great men or noble men or noble women, kept in their own hands and not letten for any rent which in time past hath paid no tithes, nor to any halls of crafts or companies so long as they be kept unletten. . . . That where less sum than after 2s. 9d. in the 20s. rent hath been accustomed to be paid for tithes, that then in such places the said citizens and inhabitants shall pay but only after such rate as hath been accustomed." (fn. 1)
On the face of it, an Act which made so many exceptions, would not appear to have been very beneficial to the clergy, but they seem nevertheless to have made it the basis of their demands. The times seemed to be propitious. In the Sixteen-Thirties the King seemed to be at the height of his power. Laud who had been Bishop of London, was in 1633 made Archbishop of Canterbury, and was all-powerful with the King. The Royal Prerogative which had already done so much, might easily be used to provide a better provision for the clergy, especially in view of the Act of King Henry VIII, which was still in force. Accordingly the clergy put forth a petition to the King in Council that the Act might be put into force by a Decree of the Privy Council. The contents of the Petition and the arguments by which it was recommended, can be best learned by a document preserved amongst the State Papers (Domestic, vol. 535, no 5) of Charles I.
I. 1. That the Benefices in London were great before the 25th of Henry 8, (1) for that 3s. 5d. was paid upon every pound rent for houses, shops, warehouses, etc., secundum verum valorem: (2) By reason of Church Lands in former times belonging to Parsons and their successors which are now taken away: (3) By reason of the payment of privie or personal Tithes during the continuance whereof some rich men in the City paid more Tithes than some of the benefices be now worth: (4) By reason of Obventions made unto Saints or Images not only by Parishioners but also by strangers: (5) By reason of obits and mortuaries which were beneficial to the Parsons or Vicars: (6) By reason of the easy Recovery of the Parsons duties then usually without suits in Law, the Ordinary being then to enquire at his Visitation about the detention or not payment of them, and to excommunicate or curse the offenders: (7) In regard of the great conscience that Citizens and others then made for the compensation and recompensing of Tithes and Offerings detained, neglected, or forgotten as appears by their Wills and Testaments.
II. That the Benefices in London at this present are poore and mean, some being not 30li. per ann. in Tithes, the greater part not 70li. and very few above an 100li. (as we shall be able to make good by particulars when we shall be required thereunto) which we conceive to be the harder and more unequal for that some Impropriations in the City are greatly improved. Christ Church for instance from 50li. to 350li. and one undivided house therein from 53s. to 18li. yet the parishioners notwithstanding were order to allow 100li. per ann. to a Lecturer there. Allgate also for that it is an Impropriation held of the King hath been much improved by the farmer thereof suing for tithes in the Exchequer where double leases have been judged to be against the Decree in the true intent thereof.
(1) For that the Decree, now in force, abates 8d. of every pound rent which formerly was paid: (2) That the Lord Major is both party and judge in this case by whom matters have been so carried: (1) That one Minister's cause hath depended for the years of seven several Lord Majors successively: (2) One of them professed he was sorry the Minister had so good proofs: (3) Many have said The case is their own, and some have given hard language to some Ministers appearing before them and have suffered their Officers under them so to do: (4) None of them do at any time discover the true value of the Rents by the Oath of the Parties and seldom of the Witnesses: (5) Causes of Tithe are usually ended by their Arbitration to which the Minister is persuaded to yield by the Lord Mayor who ofttimes gives them not the half, sometimes not the Tithes of their due according to the letter of the Decree.
(7) Whereas in case of non-payment of accustomed Tithes, the parties complained of is to be by the Lord Major caused to pay or to be committed, neither hath been done, but a Bill of the Parties given to the Minister who thereby is put upon it either to sue the Bill or loose his Tithe which notwithstanding the Bill given is still unpaid
V. That many frauds have been put in practise to defeat the Ministers, as they conceive, contrary to the True meaning of the Decree, and that by the advice of the Common Counsell assistant to the Lord Major in Judgement who do usually Affirme and avouch the same to be Law: As
(5) Yea sometimes no rent at all hath been reserved but a peppercorn when yet it was covenanted to pay £280 by £40 yearly, Devises never heard of before the making of the Decree nor put in practice before the Lord Major became our Judge by which means we have not generally the 6th part of that which is given us by decree.
(1) for that the means of the Ministers provision is six times dearer than they were when the Decree was made: (2) for that their pains in Preaching both by Law and custom is much greater than formerly (3) for that the Ministers in London are in greater danger by reason of the plague than other parts.
III. Inconveniences which they conceive do follow upon the premises: (1) The raising of many unkind suits between the Ministers and the People: (2) The exposing of them (by necessary dependance upon voluntary contributions) not only in their persons to contempt but in their Ministerial services to diverse great and dangerous inconveniences: (3) That the meaner sort now pay the greater part of our Tithes, diverse Aldermen paying under 20s. per ann.: (4) That the people committed to our charge live in practises which were signified to be unjust and sacrilegious under the hands of the Reverend Bishops and the Heads of Houses of both Universities, Anno 1620. And it was judged also by the Barons of the Exchequer (in a suit of Tithes had before them May 11 in the 16th of King James) that the meaning of the Decree was that Tithes should be paid after 2s. 9d the pound according to the true value of houses as the same are worth to be let per ann And Sir Henry Yelverton (then the King's Attorney-General) as in a cause of Tithes to him mutually referred, by his award doth plainly appear.
IV. Remedies which we humbly submit: (1) That in favour of the Church the Decree for tithes may receive in doubtful pleas such exposition as may be agreeable to the true intent thereof: (2) That Prohibitions in this case may be restrained that so our suits in the Ecclesiastical Courts may proceed: (3) That (if this may not be) the proceedings before the Lord Major may be regulated so as the cause may be heard with convenient Expedition; that the parties and the witnesses at the instance of the Ministers may answer upon Oath and the Leases be produced and so an end made according to the true intent of the Decree: (4) That whereas King Henry the 8th before the said decree did command the payment of the Tithe of 2s. 9d by Proclamation, his Majesty would be pleased by Proclamation likewise to command the payment of the said Tithe according to the Decree whereby those frauds may be liable to Punishment which do enervate the true intent and meaning thereof."
It seemed worth while to transcribe this rather lengthy document because it gives clearly the case for the Clergy, and shows the facts on which they chiefly relied. Next to it in the volume of State Papers comes another document which reads as if it too had been drawn up for the instruction of Counsel.
From this paper and from the printed Statutes of the Realm it is clear that authorization of the payment of tithe at 2s. 9d. in the pound was first made by a Royal Proclamation at Easter, 1535, followed by an Act of Parliament (27 Henry VIII. 21) at the beginning of the following year, 1535/6 (Statutes Henry VIII, p. 552). Some doubt having arisen as to the interpretation of this Act, another Act was passed in 1545, 37 Henry VIII, 12 (1 c p. 998), authorizing the Council to make directions for the carrying out of the Act. Accordingly on the 24th of February, 1545/6, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, "and other Lords" made a decree in which there were "nineteen Branches." It was ordered that the Decree should be enrolled in Chancery, and "and should stand and be as an act of Parliament and bind for ever." It was this decree on which the clergy of London relied
This second paper of instructions for Counsel (as it appears to be), after summarizing much the same sort of information as is contained in the previous document given above, goes on to lay great stress on the poverty of the livings in London They are "poor and mean, some not worth above £20 Tithes per ann. as St. Marys Steinings, some not at £30, as St. Pancras, and others, many not above £40 or £50 per ann. and very few within the walls amounting to £100 per ann. in Tithe. And yet they stand valued in the King's Books the highest of any in England. Some pay £100, some £60, some £40, the most £30 or £20, so there are not so many poor benefices anywhere else in England as in London considering the valuation, and yet many have no house for the parson and to hire one costs as much as some of the Livings are worth."
When the purchasing power of money in the first half of the XVII Century is taken into account, it is astonishing that the Clergy should have felt themselves to be so poor. For the purchasing power of a pound then must have been at least ten times what it is now, probably twelve times would be nearer to the mark. And yet they evidently felt themselves to be desperately poor with tithes of £37, St. Antholin, £97, St. Augustine, £31, St. Bennet Sherehog, sums which for purchasing power would now amount to £370, £970, £310, at the least. On the other hand £20 was regarded as sufficient stipend for a curate while he could be got for £17, that is for £200 or £170 at the present value of money. Though it is often stated that many of the clergy were pluralists this does not seem to be borne out by the facts. A glance at the list of clergy given in the table of contents will show that only four held two benefices in London itself. Nor do they appear to have combined a country cure with their town cure, for although many objections were made by the parishioners, against paying the proposed increase of tithe, that of holding two cures was only brought forward in four cases, two of which concern the same man. There is in the Lambeth Palace Library, an MS. Chartæ Misc, vol. 9, containing a long document entitled "The Exceptions taken by the Parishes." This extremely interesting document is a summary apparently made for the use of the clergy of the reasons put forward by the various parishes why they should not be called upon to pay any more tithe The parishioners of St. Mary Abchurch, and of St. Clement Eastcheap, point out that their Rector has the two livings and so gets £200 a year. "Not one in ten in the parish" say the parishioners of St. Clements somewhat bitterly, "is of like ability to him now." St. Martin Orgars' folk say that their Rector, Brian Walton, the famous Orientalist, afterwards Bishop of Chester, has another living worth £200 a year, and £1,000 in estate and upwards, "having no charge but himself and his wife." Dr. Walton had the living of Sandon in Essex, and had had also that of St. Giles-in-the-Fields for a short time The late incumbent of St. Faith's parish, Dr. Lesly, "preferred to a Bishopric in Scotland," was also Dean and Prebendary of Hereford and Parson of Hartingfordbury. (fn. 2) The present incumbent Jonathan Brown, has 410 marriages yearly at his church which at 5s. a piece amounts to £102 10s. per ann. This piece of good fortune the incumbent denies. "The weddings of my church are . . . no profit at all to me. They are neither my parishioners nor Citizens but strangers that the Surrogate brings thither to be married and hath all the profit of them."
There may have been, and indeed probably were, other incumbents who held two livings, but it is significant that this, the obvious, objection to raising the tithes was only brought forward by four out of the 107 parishes which joined in this "Exception."
But we are not left in doubt as to what objections were raised to the increased payment of tithes, for in State Papers, Domestic, vol 268, no. 105, the objections that had been raised by the citizens with the appropriate answers, are set forth by the clergy at some length. The document is dated May, 1634 "Objections The Ministers' living would be too great, Parsons would be Bishops, some worth £1,000 some £2,000 per ann.
Answer. Though their livings should be never so great, yet what is due of right to them ought not therefore to be detained, it is unjust to detain any man's right though it would make him never so rich, whoever was so senseless as to object this to an Alderman or rich Citizen, men may defraud you for if they should pay you all, you would be too rich. And besides how absurd it is to say your living would be too great if you had all which the law allots. Therefore I'll pay you what I please, or [to say] some Ministers without the Walls would be like Bishops, therefore you within the Walls shall be like beggars. If those livings be too great the remedy should be to divide them into lesser livings, and not to defraud the Minister of his due.
2. But to answer this more particularly. This objection concerns not the Ministers within the Walls in whose parishes few new buildings can be raised for want of ground. And if tithe should be paid them according to the utmost value, yet diverse livings would not be worth above £100 or £150 per ann., the most not above £200, some few £300 or £400 at the most: which if it were paid yet it is no more than the livings of the like valuation in the King's book are worth in the Country, some being valued at £100, some at £60, many at £40, and the most at £20 or £30 . . . .
3. Nor should their means be greater or near so great [as] they were before the Decree, when as yet they had not, nor could have any such charge, being tied to live single, and the pains of preaching nothing comparable to ours, the bare tithes or offerings of St. Magnus parish anno 1474 come to £87/11/11ob. per ann. besides other duties, which was as sufficient to maintain a man then as £500 is now.
The tithes for the London houses are so small that if one who knew not the men should look on their quarterly payments, he would think they dwelt in houses without chimneys rather than in fair houses.
5. Why cannot Ministers be content now as formerly their predecessors were ? (1) Ministers cannot live now as formerly, all things being dear especially here where they buy all by the penny: (2) Rents did not rise presently after the Decree but continued for some years without any great alteration: (3) A late Lord Chancellor answered frauds did not grow ripe at first but crept up by little and little, and the Ministers did bear long till they were come to the height, then they complained lest by longer forbearance they should be past help."
Two objections raised in the "Exceptions of the Parishes" the clergy ignored, the one probably because it needed no answer, the other because it was unanswerable. First their parishioners pleaded the bad state of trade. Business was in a bad way, and there were many poor people out of work who had to be supported by the parishes. In St. Fosters als St. Vedast's parish, "trading much decayed, especially among Goldsmiths whose shops are now shut up or possessed by petyte trades, and the unruly market checks their intercourse with customers. Their allies stuft with poor whom they maintain." St. Faith "their trade much decayed by the shutting up of doors into St. Paul's Church." St. Margaret Lothbury, "the parish little and in small trade, the parishioners for the most part handicrafts men. In it are thirty families relieved with alms." St. Matthews, Friday St, "the parish consists but of twenty-four houses and they of young and small traders The parish far poorer than formerly." St. Botolph Aldgate "there are eleven hundred houses, being half the parish, which receive alms."
How much truth lay behind this plea of bad trade, it is difficult to say. A community which is asked to pay increased dues is inclined to plead poverty. But it is certain that within a very few years the City raised very large sums for the Parliamentary service.
The second objection, the small size of the parishes, could not be answered for the parishes were very small St. John the Evangelist in Watling St. was perhaps the smallest with twenty-four houses and one hundred and forty communicants. There were at least-the return is not quite complete -fifteen other parishes with less than fifty houses, and twenty-six other parishes which had not more than a hundred houses The largest parish within the Walls was All Hallows, Barking, with three hundred houses, next to it came St. Dunstans in the East two hundred and seventy houses, and All Hallows the Great two hundred and sixty houses and twelve hundred and thirty two communicants, the number of communicants for the other two parishes is not given. Only four other parishes had more than two hundred houses: St. Leonard, Foster Lane; St Olave, Hart St.; St. Martin Vintry, and St. Andrew Undershaft The parishes outside the Walls, except the two St Bartholomews, were large, and indeed very large if the portions outside the Liberties of the City be included. But unfortunately the return does not give the number of houses in the out-parishes.
It remains to sum up briefly the course of the negotiations as recorded in the State Papers (Domestic and Privy Council), of Charles I For the references it may suffice to refer to the index of the printed Calendars of the Domestic Series and to the manuscript index of the Privy Council Papers of the years cited The matter first came up in the form of a petition of the clergy of London in May, 1634, the details of which have been given above On Nov 5 the matter was heard by the King in Council (P.C 2/44, pp. 207) The Recorder and some of the Aldermen attended and were asked if they would consent to refer the cause to his Majesty as arbitrator. They asked for time in which to consult the Lord Mayor and the Common Council On Nov 16 they again attended and pleaded that the Common Council was only for "matters of Government and not for medling with the rights of any" This plea was not accepted and they were directed to appear again Accordingly on Dec. 14 they appeared again and definitely submitted themselves as did the Bishop and the other clergy of London, to the judgement of the King But the City representatives had not brought with them a signed and sealed "submission" There being no escape, this "instrument" was duly brought to the King in Council on 19 Dec., 1634. Both sides then prepared their case as set forth in the documents quoted above, and the matter dragged on. There is no further reference to any proceedings before the Privy Council till 22 April, 1638 (P C 2/49, p 128), when the order was given that the civic authorities and the Minister of each parish should make a joint return of the total emoluments of the incumbent and the annual value of each house in the parish As a result of this order the information contained in the MS. printed in this book was collected, though as the civic authorities for the most part refused to take any part in the valuation, the work was done by the clergy alone. A certificate for each parish was to be presented on the first Sunday in June On the 27 May, a longer time having been asked for, the certificates were made returnable on the first Sunday after Michaelmas. Apparently the returns made were never actually presented for there is no record in the minutes of the Privy Council Indeed, so late as 10 Oct. a special order was directed to the Alderman of the Ward of Walbrook to bid him present the demands of the clergy of his Ward to the Common Councillors and obtain their answer. (Cal State Papers Domestic, 1638/9, p. 51).
But the King and his Council had more weighty matters to attend to than the payment of tithes for in the year 1638 the Scottish revolt began Less important matters had to be set on one side And this they recognized for on 22 Jan, 1639, the King made an order in Council (P C. 2/50 p. 47) that "until his Majesties more weighty affairs permit him to make a final end in that business" the clergy might sue for their tithes in Courts Ecclesiastical or Temporal, such suits having been suspended during the negotiations. This was the end The clergy who were as a whole strongly Royalist, within a few years found themselves ejected from their livings.
Possibly a fresh effort might have been made after the Restoration, though the welcome which the City gave to its returning King was not extended to the returning clergy Pepys notes that they were everywhere received with black looks. But the great catastrophe of the Fire of London, which for the time being ruined the citizens and made the payment of any tithes at all impossible, put an end to whatever hopes the clergy might have had. Some provision however, had to be made for the clergy and in 1671 an Act was passed by which the tithes paid in the parishes consumed by fire were commuted for a fixed annual payment charged on the parishes by way of rate. Fifty-one parishes were so dealt with embracing the eighty-seven parishes destroyed by the Fire. Eight incumbents received £100 a year, thirty-two less than £150, six £200, the highest sum paid, the remainder between £150 and £200. These stipends when the purchasing power of money is taken into account, seem liberal enough. But the trouble was that the purchasing power of money decreased so that a man who could live in modest comfort on £100 a year in 1671, found himself poor indeed in 1804, while owing to the great increase in the value of City property, the charge in lieu of tithe became insignificant. Hence in 1804 a new statute was passed (44 Geo. III, c. 89) which raised the lower stipends to £200 and the higher to £366, and at this rate the stipends still remain The parishes that escaped the fire did not come under the scope of either of these Acts, and have profited accordingly
It only remains to return thanks to the late Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Davidson, of Lambeth, who gave permission for the MS. to be printed, and to His Grace the present Archbishop who continued that permission; to Dr. Jenkins, the Lambeth Librarian, and to Dr Irene Churchill, the SubLibrarian, who between them have saved me from many errors; to my sister, who has helped me in the tedious work of checking the index, no light task in the case of an index that contains many thousand names; and above all to my generous friend who prefers to remain unnamed, through whose liberality this work sees the light.