Introduction chapter V: the subsidies and the London population
3: wards and occupations

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Centre for Metropolitan History

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Eilert Ekwall

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1951

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81-87

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'Introduction chapter V: the subsidies and the London population: 3: wards and occupations', Two Early London Subsidy Rolls (1951), pp. 81-87. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=31909 Date accessed: 23 September 2014.


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III. Wards and Occupations.

The occupation of many taxpayers is unknown or doubtful, especially in wards with numerous small taxpayers. But that of a sufficient number is known for it to be possible to find out the chief occupations represented in most of the wards. We take the river wards first and begin with Tower.

Tower ward in 1319 was the chief centre of woolmongers. The Woolwharf or Woolquay was in this ward. At least 20 taxpayers were certainly woolmongers or connected with the wool trade (as Richard le Pakkere, no. 47). The woolmongers seem to have resided chiefly in All Hallows Barking and St. Dunstan. There were also some styled merchants (partly very likely woolmongers), two drapers, one feathermonger, one cornmonger, 4 fishmongers, one or two vintners, 3 cordwainers. A definite group is formed by 7 or 8 shipwrights of Petty Wales at the eastern end of Thames St in All Hallows Barking.

Billingsgate in 1292 was one of the chief wards of fishmongers, some 20 being certainly or probably identifiable. No stockfishmongers are met with. But there were not a few merchants, especially woolmongers (7), cornmongers (3), general merchants (3 or 4), perhaps one wood-merchant. We may further note one boat-builder, two butchers and 4 bakers. In 1319 the fishmongers show a slight decrease, some 16 or 17 being recorded. There were several cornmongers (7 or 8 inclusive of two cornmeters), 5 woolmongers, one draper (and woolmonger), one linen-draper, 2 merchants, one woodmonger.

Bridge in 1292 was the chief centre of fishmongers and stockfishmongers. Some 40 fishmongers and 19 stockfishmongers can be identified. Other merchants were few; one draper, one haymonger, one skinner, one ironmonger have been noted. Another group is formed by butchers of Eastcheap (5). Various trades, such as those of glover (3), tailor, girdler, hatter, cutler, are represented. These people probably had their businesses on London Bridge. In 1319 the fishmongers show a decided decrease, not more than some 15 being with certainty identifiable. Very likely many fishmongers had removed their business to the Stocks Market in Walbrook, founded in 1282. The number of stockfishmongers is about the same as in 1292. There were still at least 4 butchers, also a few merchants of various descriptions, and as in 1292 a good many shopkeepers and craftsmen, such as pursers (4), glovers (2), girdlers (2), cutlers (3), and one ironmonger, who is known to have done business on the Bridge. The stockfishmongers, so far as they can be located, appear to have been chiefly of St. Michael Crooked Lane.

Dowgate was the seat of the Ropery. In 1292 there were in this ward numerous corders, drapers, woolmongers and general merchants, but it is difficult to draw the line between these groups. Many corders and drapers were at the same time woolmongers. Many among the Rokesles were corders, but it is not certain that all had that special occupation. Some 15 are definitely styled corders, 13 drapers, while some 10 doubtless belonged to one of these categories. A few are referred to as merchants simply, two or three as woolmongers. There was a small group of vintners, apparently of Greenwich Lane (7 in number), also one pepperer. Noteworthy are 4 lodging-house keepers (probably at the same time merchants or brokers) and one shearman. Handicraftsmen were few. In 1319 the number of taxpayers had gone down considerably, but the proportion of the various occupations was much the same as in 1292. There were some 10 corders, about as many drapers, 2 woolmongers, further 3 or 4 skinners, one woodmonger, some merchants. There were 6 vintners or taverners and probably 5 shearmen.

Vintry was primarily the ward of vintners, but not so many can be definitely classed as vintners or taverners as might have been expected (some 20 certain and half a dozen probable instances). Probably many of those whose occupation is not stated were vintners (or taverners), and very likely a number of people who had some other chief occupation took part in the wine trade. Alan de Suffolk, cordwainer, seems to have been a wine-merchant at least as much as a cordwainer. Special uncertainty attaches to the taxpayers with the surnames Fraunceys and Taylor. The probability seems to be that they were vintners. Philip le Tailor, former alderman of Vintry, was a vintner, and his surname may have been adopted by persons connected with him. The coopers (2) and joiners (3) may well have been employed in the wine trade. There were in Vintry (in 1292) also 4 cornmongers, 3 corders, 4 clerks.

Queenhithe was one of the centres for fishmongers and for cornmongers. According to early regulations corn was to be landed at Queenhithe only and likewise fish from foreign parts. In 1292 a little under 20 fishmongers and a dozen cornmongers (inclusive of cornmeters) can be identified, but to one of these groups probably belonged some persons of unknown occupation. Noticeable is a group of 4 dyers. In 1319 the numbers of fishmongers and cornmongers were about the same as in 1292 (16 or 17 fishmongers and 16 or more cornmongers, inclusive of cornmeters). There were one or two dyers and fullers. There were in this ward relatively many small taxpayers of unknown occupation.

Castle Baynard was a relatively poor ward. In 1319 most of the taxpayers that can be identified were fishmongers (some 10). A fairly considerable group is formed by woodmongers (7 or 8) and coalmongers (2); the Woodwharf was in this ward. We further note a few cornmongers and one haymonger, two drapers or merchants, one or two woolmongers, and perhaps one salt-merchant, further 4 or 5 dyers.

Next follow the wards north of the river wards.

BreadSt ward shows a peculiar mixture of occupations, but a great percentage of its inhabitants may be described as victuallers in a wide sense. There were a considerable number of fishmongers (10), doubtless of Old Fish St, which bounds the ward on the south, and also some stockfishmongers. Bread St, to judge by its name, will have been at one time a street of bakers, but only three have been identified in 1319. No less than 6 cooks (keepers of eatinghouses) and two pastry-cooks are recorded, and also one fruiterer, 8 taverners or vintners. We may here add 6 or 7 cornmongers and 3 or 4 salt-merchants. A small group is formed by 6 goldsmiths, who may have lived in the part adjoining the Goldsmithery in St. Matthew Friday St in FarrI. We may add some 7 cordwainers, 4 tailors, 3 armourers, 3 hosiers. There were few merchants.

Cordwainer was in our period a centre of pepperers (spicers); the Spicery was apparently in Soper Lane in this ward. In 1292 a dozen pepperers can be identified, and the number should probably be added to. They seem to have mostly been residents of St. Antholin. Six hosiers are recorded and 5 cordwainers, 8 mercers and 4 merchants. In 1319 the number of pepperers shows an increase (some 20). There were at least 9 hosiers (one alternatively styled draper), 7 mercers; one draper and one linen-draper, 2 or 3 skinners, 2 sackers, 3 merchants (two of foreign origin), also two goldsmiths.

Walbrook. In this ward two main groups can be distinguished, skinners and burellers. In 1292 the skinners were at least some 25, the burellers a dozen. Both the skinners and the burellers are generally placed in well-defined groups, as has been pointed out pp. 23 f. No other groups can be established. In 1319 the proportion of skinners and burellers was about the same as in 1292, 25 or more skinners and 16 or 17 burellers. Here also skinners and burellers occur in groups. The skinners seem to have been chiefly residents in St. Stephen and St. John Walbrook, the burellers in St. Swithin and St. Mary Abchurch.

Candlewick was one of the chief butchers' quarters, centred round Eastcheap, perhaps mostly in St. Michael Crooked Lane. Some 15 butchers can be identified in 1319. The series 8-17 is noteworthy. Smaller groups are formed by stockfishmongers (4 or 5), fishmongers (2), brewers (5), and plumbers (6). Candlewick Street means "the street of the chandlers", but in 1319 only four chandlers or wax-chandlers have been identified.

Langbourn in 1319 was the centre of chaloners and tapicers. The words chaloner and tapicer seem to have been on the whole synonymous, and very likely the English word webbe was used in the same sense. Some 20 taxpayers with this occupation can be identified certainly or probably. Only small groups can otherwise be established, as 3 fishmongers, 3 or 4 bakers, 4 woolmongers. The tapicers and chaloners seem to have resided mostly in St. Dionis, St. Gabriel Fenchurch, All Hallows Staining. The large number of women among taxpayers (12) is noteworthy.

Aldgate. Only a few taxpayers can be with some certainty identified, as 4 potters, two butchers, 2 or 3 corders, 2 brewers, one horse-merchant, one draper, and one moneyer.

Portsoken. In 1292 we can identify 4 butchers, 2 or 3 potters, 3 tilers, 2 tanners, one or two carters and one brewer. In 1319 may be noted 6 or more butchers, 5 brewers, 5 potters, 2 limeburners, 2 shoemakers, also 5 girdlers, if the surname Ceinturer (Girdeler) indicates the occupation.

Lime St. Three of its eleven taxpayers were potters, two carpenters, one a mason, one a fripperer, one an embroiderer, one a mercer.

Bishopsgate. In 1292 may be noted in BishI 3, perhaps 5 horse-merchants, one farrier, one pig-dealer, in BishE 3 tanners or curriers and 3 kissers, two linen-drapers, one fruiterer. In 1319 there were one horsemonger and one farrier, perhaps two pig-dealers, one whittawer and two kissers, 3 fruiterers, 3 brewers, 2 or 3 haymongers, 3 carpenters, one mason, one cornmonger, 2 fripperers, and one calendrer.

Cornhill. Here was a market often referred to in records. It was forbidden in 1310 to hold a common market after noon in any other place in the City save upon Cornhill (LBD 229). This market appears to have been frequented particularly by fripperers and other small dealers, who did business even at night, which was contrary to the custom of the City (see LBE 156 ff.). At least some 15 among the taxpayers in Cornhill in 1319 are known to have been fripperers, and doubtless many more had that occupation. There were some 10 skinners, 2 drapers, 4 cutlers, 3 fishmongers, 3 poulterers.

Broad St. Only small groups can be distinguished in this ward. In 1292 we note a group of mercers (8 or 9), two hosiers, 3 tailors, 2 or 4 fripperers. There were further a number of metal-workers, as 4 coffrers, 2 potters, 2 or 3 cutlers, one armourer, 2 batours, also one ironmonger and probably 3 goldsmiths; also a few leatherworkers, as 2 whittawers, one currier, 2 kissers and 3 or 4 cordwainers or shoemakers. In 1319 we note 3 mercers, 5 or 6 tailors, and probably 8 fripperers. Broad St ward is partly on Cornhill and thus near the market-place referred to. There were 4 fishmongers, 2 or 3 poulterers, probably resident near the Poultry. One glazier may be noted. Metal- and leather-workers were few. There were 2 girdlers, one armourer, one ironmonger (or at least a son of an ironmonger). Many taxpayers are of unknown occupation.

Coleman St. Most of the taxpayers who can be identified were metal-workers, as batours (8), girdlers (4), one smith, one nail-smith, one wire-drawer, one founder, one latoner, one garlander, one seal-engraver, and one ironmonger.

Bassishaw. In 1292 there were only 14 taxpayers, two among whom were fripperers, one perhaps a mercer, most of the remaining ones being metal-workers (2 girdlers, one nail-smith, one founder, one batour, one ironmonger). In 1319 there were 36 taxpayers. Of these seven were mercers, three perhaps fripperers, three ironmongers, one a cutler, one a nail-smith, one a girdler, one a goldsmith. The numerous mercers are noteworthy.

Cheap ward. Here we note first a considerable number of merchants with various specialities, doubtless mostly resident near Cheap, the street, some 20 mercers, 14 pepperers, some 8 cordwainers, one hosier, 2 skinners. 10 or 11 vintners may be noted and a number of dealers in provisions, as fishmongers (one or two), cheesemongers (2), bakers (2 or 3), poulterers (4, doubtless of St. Mildred Poultry), chandlers (6). There were also 7 tailors, 2 glovers, 3 pursers, 5 saddlers, one or two paternostrers. A large group is formed by metal-workers, doubtless chiefly resident in the parts adjoining Bassishaw and Coleman St (St. Stephen Coleman St is partly in Cheap). We note a dozen armourers, 6 coffrers, a dozen or so girdlers or bucklemakers, 6 founders, 4 batours, 3 cutlers, one latoner, 3 pewterers, 3 furbishers, also 3 ironmongers and one gold-beater.

Cripplegate Infra. No large groups can be distinguished here in 1292. There were some goldsmiths, 6 or 7 cordwainers, 6 skinners and 8 tailors, also 3 pepperers, 2 or 3 mercers, one draper, one hosier. There were a number of metal-workers, as 4 lorimers, 2 girdlers, one armourer (gorget-maker), one cutler, one burnisher, also 4 curriers and 2 painters. In 1319 we can identify a larger number of goldsmiths and gold-beaters (some 15), 4 pepperers, 7 mercers, 8 or 9 tailors, 3 hosiers, one draper, one skinner, also 4 cornmongers. There were some metal-workers, as 4 lorimers and one batour, also some leather-workers, as 4 or 5 curriers or tanners, 2 kissers, 6 or 7 saddlers or fusters. Noteworthy are 2 hanapers, 2 cuppers, one disher, also 2 painters.

Cripplegate Extra in 1292 appears foremost as a centre of leather-workers or -sellers, 3 tanners and one currier, 3 fusters and 2 cheverelmongers being recorded. Noteworthy are 3 painters, one dyer and one glazier. We may add 2 or 3 goldsmiths and one goldbeater, one or two mercers and one woolmonger. Very likely many among the persons of unknown occupation were tanners, for in 1319 the tanners and curriers numbered some 25. There were in 1319 also 2 saddlers and 7 fusters, one kisser, 2 skinners and one cheverelmonger. A not inconsiderable group is formed by 7 painters.

Aldersgate. Here may be noted in 1319 a number of goldsmiths (at least 5) and one seal-engraver, one moneyer, further 3 cornmongers, 2 carpenters, one or two masons and 3 lorimers. There were 4 curriers, doubtless of Aldersgate Without.

Farringdon Infra. In this large ward several groups can be distinguished. The Goldsmithery was in this ward (in St. Matthew Friday St and St. Peter Westcheap), and some 20 goldsmiths or gold-beaters have been noted. One of the chief meat-markets was in St. Nicholas Shambles, and this parish was doubtless the main centre of 20 or more butchers. The Saddlery was in St. Vedast. Some 16 saddlers and fusters have been identified. Smaller groups are formed by cordwainers (some 10), chandlers (9, some resident in Ivy Lane), hatters and cappers (4). There were at least 5 cornmongers; it may be noted that the parish of St. Michael le Querne derived its additional name from a corn-market. 5 cross-bowmakers (or bowyers), 3 paternostrers, one bookbinder, and the only parchment-maker and sculptor in the subsidy were of this ward. There were very few merchants, perhaps 3 or 4 mercers, 2 skinners, one haberdasher.

Farringdon Extra. The largest group is formed by tanners, at least 12 in number. Another group is that of cappers and hatters of Fleet St (perhaps some 8 or 9). A third is that of armourers (8 or 9), with whom may be grouped a cross-bowmaker, two furbishers and some other metal-workers, as 2 spurriers, 4 cutlers, one batour, some farriers. Four goldsmiths and one gold-beater, one bookbinder, also one coal-merchant and 2 horse-dealers may be added. Merchants were few and mostly had small assessments. Two woolmongers, two cornmongers, one mercer, and one or two hosiers and skinners have been noted.