A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603. Originally published by Clarendon, Oxford, 1908.
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Of Orders and Customes
Of Orders and Customs in this Citie of old time Fitzstephen saith as followeth: Men of all trades, sellers of all sorts of wares, labourers in euery worke, euery morning are in their distinct and seuerall places: furthermore, in London vpon the riuer side, betweene the wine in ships, and the wine to be sold in Tauerns, is a common cookerie or cookes row: there dayly for the season of the yere, men might haue meate, rost, sod, or fried: fish, flesh, fowles, fit for rich and poore. If any come suddenly to any Citizen from afarre, wearie and not willing to tarrie till the meate bee bought, and dressed, while the seruant bringeth water for his maisters hands, and fetcheth bread, he shall haue immediately from the Riuers side, all viands whatsoeuer he desireth, what multitude soeuer, either of Souldiers, or straungers, doe come to the Citie, whatsoeuer houre, day or night, according to their pleasures may refresh themselues, and they which delight in dilicatenesse may bee satisfied with as delicate dishes there, as may be found else where. And this Cookes row is very necessarie to the Citie: and, according to Plato in Gorgias (fn. 1), next to Phisicke, is the office of Cookes, as part of a Citie.
Smithfield for a plain smooth ground, is called smeth and smothie. Market for horses and other cattell.; Marchants of al natious traded at this City, & had their seuerall Keyes and wharfes.; The Authors opinion of this Citie, the antiquitie thereof.; This Citie diuided into wards more than 400. years since, and also had then both Aldermen and Shiriffes.; Customes of London.
Without one of the Gates is a plaine field, both in name and deed, where euery fryday, unlesse it be a solemne bidden holy day, is a notable shew of horses to bee solde, Earles, Barons, knights, and Citizens repaire thither to see, or to buy: there may you of pleasure see amblers pacing it dilicately: there may you see trotters fit for men of armes, sitting more hardly: there may you haue notable yong horse not yet broken: there may you haue strong steedes, wel limmed geldings, whom the buiers do especially regard for pace, and swiftnes: the boyes which ride these horses, sometime two, sometime three, doe runne races for wagers, with a desire of praise, or hope of victorie. In an other part of that field are to be sold all implements of husbandry, as also fat swine, milch kine, sheepe and oxen: there stand also mares and horses, fitte for ploughes and teames with their young coltes by them. At this Citie Marchant straungers of all nations had their keyes and wharfes: the Arabians sent golde: the Sabians spice and frankensence: the Scithian armour, Babylon oyle, India purple garments, Egypt precious stones, Norway and Russia Ambergreece and sables, and the French men wine. According to the truth of Chronicles, this Citie is auncienter then Rome, built of the ancient Troyans and of Brute, before that was built by Romulus, and Rhemus: and therefore useth the ancient customes of Rome. This Citie euen as Rome, is diuided into wardes: it hath yearely Shiriffes in steede of Consulles: it hath the dignitie of Senators in Aldermen. It hath under Officers, Common Sewers, and Conductes in streetes, according to the qualitie of causes, it hath generall Courtes: and assemblies upon appointed dayes. I doe not thinke that there is any Citie, wherein are better customs, in frequenting the Churches, in seruing God, in keeping holy dayes, in giuing almes, in entertayning straungers, in solemnising Marriages, in furnishing banquets, celebrating funerals, and burying dead bodies.
The onely plagues of London, <are> immoderate quaffing among the foolish sort, and often casualties by fire.— Most part of the Bishops, Abbots, and great Lordes of the land haue houses there, wherevnto they resort, and bestow much when they are called to Parliament by the king, or to Counsell by their Metropolitane, or otherwise by their priuate businesse.
Men of trades and sellers of wares in this City haue often times since chaunged their places, as they haue found their best aduantage. For where as Mercers, and Haberdashers vsed to keepe their shoppes in West Cheape, of later time they helde them on London Bridge, where partly they yet remaine. The Goldsmithes of Gutherons lane, and old Exchange, are now for the most part remooued into the Southside of west Cheape, the Peperers and Grocers of Sopers lane, are now in Bucklesberrie, and other places dispersed. The Drapers of Lombardstreete, and of Cornehill, are seated in Candlewickstreete, and Watheling streete: the Skinners from Saint Marie Pellipers, or at the Axe, into Budge row, and Walbrooke: The Stockefishmongers in Thames streete: wet Fishmongers in Knightriders streete, and Bridge streete: The Ironmongers of Ironmongers lane, and olde Iurie, into Thames streete: the Vinteners from the Vinetree into diuers places. But the Brewers for the more part remaine neare to the friendly water of Thames: the Butchers in Eastcheape, Saint Nicholas Shambles, and the Stockes Market: the Hosiers of olde time in Hosier lane, neare vnto Smithfield, are since remooued into Cordwayner streete, the vpper part thereof by Bow Church, and last of all into Birchouerislane by Cornehil: the Shoomakers and Curriors of Cordwayner streete, remoued the one to Saint Martins Le Grand, the other to London wall neare vnto Mooregate, the Founders remaine by themselues in Lothberie: Cookes, or Pastelars for the more part in Thames streete, the other dispersed into diuerse partes. Poulters of late remooued out of the Poultrie betwixt the Stockes and the great Conduit in Cheape into Grasse streete, and Saint Nicholas Shambles: Bowyers, from Bowyers row by Ludgate into diuers places, and almost worne out with the Fletchers: Pater noster makers of olde time, or Beade makers, and Text Writers, are gone out of Pater noster Rowe, and are called Stationers of Paules Church yarde: Pattenmakers of Saint Margaret Pattens lane, cleane worne out: Labourers euerie worke day are to bee founde in Cheape, about Sopers lane ende: horse coursers and sellers of Oxen, Sheepe, Swine, and such like, remaine in their olde Market of Smithfield, &c.
That Marchants of all nations had theyr Keyes and wharfes at this Citty whereunto they brought their Marchandises before, and in the raigne of Henry the second, mine author wrote of his owne knowledge to be true, though for the antiquity of the Citty, he tooke the common opinion. Also that this Citie was in his time and afore diuided into wards, had yearely Sherifs, Aldermen, generall courts, and assemblies, and such like notes by him set down, in commendation of the Cittizens, whereof there is no question, he wrote likewise of his owne experience, as being borne and brought vp amongst them. And to confirme his opinion, concerning Marchandises then hither transported, whereof happily may bee some argument. Thomas Clifford (before Fitzstephens time) writing of Edward the Confessor, sayeth to this effect: King Edward intending to make his Sepulchre at Westminster, for that it was neare to the famous Cittie of London, and the Riuer of Thames, that brought in all kinde of Marchandises from all parts of the world, &c. And William of Malmsberie, that liued in the raigne of William the first and seconde, Henry the first, and king Stephen, calleth this a noble Cittie, full of wealthy citizens, frequented with the trade of Marchandises from all partes of the world. Also I reade in diuers records that of olde time no woade was stowed or harbored in this Citty, but all was presently solde in the ships, except by licence purchased of the Sheriffes, till of more latter time, to witte in the yeare 1236. Andrew Bokerell being Mayor, by assent of the principall cittizens, the Marchants of Amiens, Nele and Corby, purchased letters insealed with the common seale of the Cittie, that they when they come, might harborow their woades, and therefore should giue the Mayor euery yeare 50. marks starling: and the same yeare they gave 100. l. towardes the conueying of water from Tyborn to this cittie. Also the Marchantes of Normandie made fine for licence to harbor their Woades till it was otherwise prouided, in the yeare 1263. Thomas Fitz Thomas being Mayor, &c. which proueth that then, as afore, they were here amongst other nations priuiledged.
It followeth in Fitzstephen, that the plagues of London in that time were immoderate quaffing among fooles, and often casualties by fire. For the first, to wit of quaffing, it continueth as afore, or rather is mightily encreased, though greatlie qualified among the poorer sort, not of any holy abstinencie, but of meere necessitie, Ale and Beere being small, and Wines in price aboue their reach. As for preuention of casualties by fire the houses in this citty being then builded all of timber and couered with thatch of straw or reed, it was long since thought good policie in our Forefathers, wisely to prouide, namely in the yeare of Christ, 1189. the first of Richard the first, Henry Fitzalwine being then Mayor, that all men in this Citty should builde their houses of stone up to a certaine height, and to couer them with slate or baked tyle: since which time, thanks be giuen to God, there hath not happened the like often consuming fires in this cittie as afore. But now in our time, instead of these enormities, others are come in place no lesse meete to bee reformed: namely, Purprestures, or enchrochmentes on the Highwayes, lanes, and common groundes, in and aboute this cittie, whereof a learned Gentleman, and graue cittizen hath not many yeares since written and exhibited a Booke to the Mayor and communaltie, which Booke whether the same haue beene by them read, and diligently considered vpon I know not, but sure I am nothing is reformed since concerning this matter.
The Coach man rides behinde the horse tayles, lasheth them, and looketh not behind him: The Draye man sitteth and sleepeth on his Drea, and letteth his horse leade him home: I know that by the good lawes and customes of this Citty, shodde carts are forbidden to enter the same, except vpon reasonable causes as seruice of the Prince, or such like, they be tollerated. Also that the fore horse of euery carriage should bee lead by hand: but these good orders are not obserued. Of olde time Coatches were not knowne in this Island, but chariots or Whirlicotes, then so called, and they onely vsed of Princes or great Estates, such as had their footmen about them: and for example to note, I read that Richard the second, being threatned by the rebels of Kent, rode from the Tower of London to the Myles end, and with him his mother, because she was sicke and weake in a Wherlicote, the Earles of Buckingham, Kent, Warwicke and Oxford, Sir Thomas Percie, Sir Robert Knowles, the Mayor of London, Sir Aubery de Vere that bare the kinges sword, with other Knights and Esquiers attending on horsebacke. (fn. 2) He followed in the next year the said king Richard, who took to wife (fn. 2) Anne daughter to the king of Boheme, that first brought hether the riding vpon side saddles, and so was the riding in Wherlicoates and chariots forsaken, except at Coronations and such like spectacles: but now of late yeares the vse of coatches brought out of Germanie is taken vp, and made so common, as there is neither distinction of time, nor difference of persons obserued: for the world runs on wheeles with many, whose parents were glad to goe on foote.
Last of all mine Author in this chapter hath these words: Most part of the Bishops, Abbots, and great Lordes of the land, as if they were Citizens and free men of London, had many fayre houses to resort unto, and many rich and wealthy Gentlemen spent their money there. And in an other place hee hath these words Euery sonday in Lent a fresh companie of young men comes into the fields on horsebacke, and the best horseman conducteth the rest, then march forth the Citizens sonnes, and other young men with disarmed launces and shieldes, and practise feates of warre: many Courtiers likewise and attendants of noble men repaire to this exercise, & whilst the hope of victorie doth enflame their mindes, they doe shew good proofe how seruiceable they would be in martial affaires, &c. Againe he saith: This Cittie in the troublesome time of King Stephen shewed at a muster 20000. armed horsemen, and 40000. footmen, seruiceable for the warres, &c. All which sayings of the said Author well considered, doe plainely proue that in those dayes, the inhabitants & repayrers to this Citie of what estate soeuer, spirituall or temporal, hauing houses here, liued together in good amity with the citizens, euery man obseruing the customes & orders of the Citty, & chose to be contributary to charges here, rather than in any part of the land wheresoeuer. This citty being the hart of the Realme, the Kinges chamber, and princes seate whereunto they made repayre, and shewed their forces, both of horses and of men, which caused in troublesome time, as of king Stephen, the Musters of this Cittie to be so great in number.
Great families of old time kept.
And here to touch some what of greater families and householdes kept in former times by noble men, and great estates of this Realme, according to their honours or dignities. I haue seene an account made by H. Leicester, cofferer to Thomas Earle of Lancaster, for one whole yeares expences in the Earles house, from the day next after Michaelmasse in the seuenth yere of Edward the second, vntill Michaelmasse in the eight yeare of the same king amounting to the sum of seuen thousand, nine hundred, fiftie seuen pound thirteene shillings foure pence halfe penny, as followeth,
Item for two clothes of Skarlet for the Earle against Christmasse, one cloth of Russet, for the Bishop of Angew, 70. clothes of Blew for the knights, (as they were then termed) 15. clothes of Medley for the Lords clearkes, 28. clothes for the Esquiers, 15. clothes for Officers, 19. clothes for Groomes, 5. clothes for Archers, 4. clothes for Minstrels and Carpenters, with the sharing and carriage for the Earles Liueries at Christmasse, 460.li. 15.d.
Item for 7. Furres of variable Miniuer (or powdred Ermin) 7. whoodes of Purple, 395. Furres of Budge for the Liueryes of Barons, Knights, and Clarkes, 123. Furres of Lambe for Esquiers, bought at Christmasse, 147.li. 17.s. 8.d.
Item 65. clothes saffron colour, for the Barons and Knights: in sommer, 12. red clothes mixt for Clearkes, 26. clothes ray for Esquiers, one cloth ray for Officers coates in sommer, and 4. clothes ray for carpets in the hall, for 345.li. 13.s. 8.d.
Item 100. peeces of greene silke for the knights, 14. Budge Furres for surcotes, 13. whoodes of Budge for Clearks, and 75. furres of Lambs for the Lordes liueryes in sommer, with Canuas and cords to trusse them, 72.li. 19.s.
The expences of the Countesse at Pickering for the time of this account, as in the Pantrie, Buttrie, Kitchen, and other places, concerning these Offices, two hundred fourescore and fiue pounds, thirteene shillings, halfepennie.
More, I read that in the 14. of the same Edward the second, Hugh Spencer the elder (condemned by the communaltie) was banished the Realme, at which time, it was found by inquisition, that the said Spencer had in sundrie shires 59. Mannors: he had 28000. sheepe. 1000. Oxen and steeres, 1200. Kine, with their Calues, 40. Mares with their Coltes, 160. drawing horse, 2000. Hogges, 300. Bullockes, 40. Tunnes of wine, 600. Bacons, 80. carkases of Martilmasse beefe, 600. Muttons in larder, 10. Tuns of Sidar. His armour, plate, iewels, and ready money, better then 10000.li. 36. sackes of wooll, and a librarie of bookes. Thus much the Record: which prouision for houshold sheweth a great familie there to be kept.
Richard Neuell Earle of Warwicke, with 600. men, all in red Jackets, imbrodered with ragged staues before and behind, and was lodged in Warwicke Lane: in whose house there was oftentimes six Oxen eaten at a breakfast, and euery Tauerne was full of his meate, for he that had any acquaintaunce in that house, might have there so much of sodden and rost meate, as hee could pricke and carrie vpon a long Dagger.
Richard Redman Bishop of Elie, 1500, the 16. of Henrie the seuenth, besides his great familie, house keeping, almesse dish, and reliefe to the poore, wheresoeuer he was lodged. In his trauailing, when at his comming, or going to or from any towne, the belles being rung, all the poore would come togither, to whom he gaue euery one 6.d. at the least.
And now to note of our owne time somewhat. Omitting in this place Thomas Wolsey Archbishop of Yorke, and Cardinall, I referre the Reader to my Annales, where I haue set downe the order of his house, and houshold, passing all other subiectes of his time. His seruants dayly attending in his house were neare about 400. omitting his seruants seruants, which were many.
Nicholas West Bishop of Ely, in the yeare 1532. kept continually in his house an hundred seruants, giuing to the one halfe of them 53.s. 4.d. the peece yearely: to the other halfe each 40.s. the peece, to euery one, for his winter Gowne, foure yeards of broad cloath, and for his Sommer coate thre yards and a halfe: he dayly gaue at his Gates besides bread and drinke, warme meate to two hundred poore people.
The housekeeping of Edward late Earle of Darbie, is not to be forgotten, who had 220. men in checke roll: his feeding aged persons, twice euery day, sixtie and odde besides all commers, thrise a weeke appoynted for his dealing dayes, and euery good Fryday 2700. with meate drinke and money.
Thomas Audley Lord Chauncellor, his familie of Gentlemen before him in coates garded with veluet, and Chaines of gold: his yeoman (fn. 3) after him in the same liuerie not garded.
Thomas Lord Cromwel, Earle of Essex kept the like, or greater number in a liuery of gray Marble, the Gentlemen garded with Veluet, the yeoman (fn. 4) with the same cloth, yet their skirtes large inough for their friends to sit vpon them.
Edward Duke of Sommerset was not inferiour in keeping a number of tall and comely Gentlemen, and yeoman (fn. 4) though his house was then in building, and most of his men were lodged abroade.
The late Earle of Oxford, father to him that now liueth, hath beene noted within these fortie yeares, to haue ridden into this Citie, & so to his house by London stone, with 80. Gentlemen in a liuery of Reading Tawny, and chaines of gold about their necks before him, and 100. tall yeomen in the like liuery to follow him without chaines, but all hauing his cognisance of the blew Bore, embrodered on their left shoulder.
Of charitable almes in old times giuen.
These as all other of their times gaue great relief to the poore: I my selfe, in that declining time of charity, haue oft seene at the Lord Cromwels gate in London, more then two hundered persons serued twise euery day with bread, meate and drinke sufficient, for hee obserued that auncient and charitable custome as all prelates, noble men, or men of honour and worship his predecessors had done before him: whereof somewhat to note for example, Venerable Bede writeth that Prelates of his time hauing peraduenture but wodden Churches, had notwithstanding on their borde at theyr meales one Almes dish, into the which was carued some good portion of meate out of euery other dish broght to their Table, all which was giuen to the poore, besides the fragments left, in so much as in a hard time, a poore Prelate wanting victuals, hath caused his almes dish, being siluer, to be diuided amongst the poore, therewith to shift as they could, til God should send them better store.
Such a Prelate was Ethelwald Bishop of Winchester in the raigne of King Edgar, about the yeare of Christ, 963. hee, in a greate famine, solde away all the sacred vessels of his Church, for to relieue the almost starued people, saying that there was no reason that the senseles Temples of God should abound in riches, and liuely Temples of the holy Ghost to lacke it.
Robert Winchelsey Archbishoppe of Canterbury, about the yeare 1293. besides the dayly fragments of his house, gaue euery fryday and sunday vnto euery beggar that came to his gate, a lofe of bread sufficient for that day, and there more vsually, euerie such Almes day in time of dearth, to the number of 5000. and otherwise 4000. at the least: more, hee vsed euery great Festiuall day to giue 150. pence to so many poore people, to sende daylie meate, bread and drinke, to such as by age, or sickenesse were not able to fetch his almes, and to send meate, money and apparell to such as he thought needed it.
I reade in 1171, that Henrie the second after his returne into England, did pennance for the slaughter of Thomas Becket, of whom (a sore dearth increasing) ten thousand persons, from the first of April, till new corne was inned, were dayly fed & sustained.
More, I find recorded that in the yeare 1236, the 20. of Henrie the third, William de Haucrhull the kinges Treasurer was commaunded, that vppon the day of the Circumcision of our Lord, 6000. poore people should be fed at Westminster, for the state of the king, Queene, and their children. The like commaundement, the said king Henrie gaue to Hugh Gifford, and William Browne, that vpon Fryday next after the Epiphanie, they should cause to be fed in the great Hall at Windsore, at a good fire, all the poore and needie children that could be found, and the kings children being weighed and measured, their weight and measure to be distributed for their good estates. These fewe examples for charitie of kings may suffice.
I reade in the raigne of Edward the third, that Richard de Berie Bishop of Durham, did weekely bestow for the reliefe of the poore eight quarters of wheate made into bread, besides his almes dish, fragments of his house, and great summes of mony giuen to the poore when he iourneyed. And that these almes dishes were as well vsed at the Tables of Noble men, as of the Prelates, one note may suffice in this place.
I reade in the yeare 1452, that Richard Duke of Yorke then clayming the Crowne, the Lord Riuers should haue passed the Sea about the kings business, but staying at Plimmoth till his money was spent, and then sending for more, the Duke of Sommerset sent him the Image of Saint George in siluer and golde, to be solde, with the almes dish of the Duke of Glocester, which was also of great price, for coyne had they none.
To ende of Orders and Customes in this Citie: also of great families kept by honourable persons thither repayring. And of charitable almes of olde time giuen, I say for conclusion, that all noble persons, and other of honour and worship, in former times lodging in this Citie, or liberties thereof, did without grudging, beare their parts in charges with the Citizens, according to their estimated estates, as I haue before said, and could proue by examples, but let men call to minde sir Thomas Cromwel then Lord priuie Seale, and Vicker generall, lying in the Citie of London, hee bare his charges to the great muster there, in Anno 1539. he sent his men in great number to the Miles ende, and after them their armour in Carres, with their coates of white cloth, the armes of this Citie, to wit, a red crosse, and a sword on the breast, and backe, which armour and coates they ware amongst the Citizens, without any difference, and marched through the Citie to Westminster.