"'Tis hard, methinks, that a man cannot publish a book but he must
presently give the world a reason for't, when yet there's not one book of
twenty that will bear a reason, not one man of a hundred, perhaps, that
is able to give one, nor one reason of a thousand (when they are given)
that was the reason of doing it." (Translation of Cicero's Letters, Robert
L'Estrange, 1680.) Whether this book be or be not that one of twenty,
or this writer that one of a hundred, here is the one reason of a thousand
which has the merit of truth. The book seems worth publishing and
therefore it is published. For my share of it—let me say I was not
importuned but importunate, that the book is meant well, and I hope that,
being weighed in the balance, it will not be found wholly wanting.
This volume contains the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Martin-in-theFields from June, 1525, to Christmas, 1603. These Accounts are contained
in thirty-eight books, which have been bound together in one large volume;
they are here reproduced verbatim and page for page. In the majority of
cases a year's accounts are preceded by a list of burials; these are of the
greater value, since the extant Registers do not begin until 1551. Until that
date these lists are the only hunting-ground our parish records offer to the
genealogist, and after that time they will be found, by those who are curious
to search, to give names not in the registers, and to supply interesting enough
details about several persons whose names appear in both sets of records.
After 1550 I have made a point of indicating those names which occur in
this book only, and I have used the Registers for filling up some of the
blanks in the Churchwardens' lists; such additions are given in [brackets],
while the footnotes distinguished by (R.) give variant forms of names
from the same source.
A volume of this nature is bound to contain many repetitions; from
personal experience I am sure that these are less exasperating than a
suspicion that something of interest or value has been edited away.
In documents prepared by professional scriveners there are, naturally,
not many difficulties of transcription; for reasons of economy the marks
of contraction and abbreviation have been uniformly represented by an
apostrophe; I have not noticed any case in which this leads to ambiguity.
In the matter of punctuation I have followed the scribes; each Book of
Accounts, therefore, is a law unto itself, and I have not aimed at enforcing
consistency. Capital letters are given where the writers of the MS. have
taken pains to make their intention clear; where, from carelessness or
other cause, they have left the matter in doubt, I have adopted modern
usage. Various types have been used in an endeavour to reproduce in
print something of the effect produced by the written pages.
The notes are intended primarily for the help of those who may wish
to learn something of the history of St. Martin's, but, from lack of
time or specific training, may not always be able to see the interest which
belongs to some apparently uninteresting items. I have done my best,
under difficulties which were my own, and therefore need not be blazoned
abroad, to render them accurate and clear. Many of them will be found
superfluous by the trained reader; the text is all he requires, and for that
he owes a debt of gratitude to the long succession of parish officials by
whose care these documents have been preserved, and to the late Vestry
by whose direction they are now printed.
I must not take any credit to myself for the absence of an Introduction.
This admirable self-restraint is forced upon me by limits of space and money.
I felt a strong temptation to add a short essay which might serve as a
guide to the matters of chief interest in the following pages, but came to
the reasonable conclusion that much the same information would be conveyed
with more detail and precision by the Subject Index; I am thus able to
find room for a few extracts from the Vestry Minutes and other sources.
I am indebted to several friends for timely aid ungrudgingly given.
Mr. Hubert Hall, F.S.A., has given me much invaluable help, besides
superintending, at the Record Office, searches which my continued absence
from London prevented me from making for myself. Professor W. E.
Collins, of King's College, kindly solved a number of my difficulties, and
made several useful suggestions on other points which he foresaw would
arise. Mr. Thomas Mason, F.R.Hist.S., has allowed me to use him as a
court of reference on all manner of questions touching the production of
this volume, and I have profited greatly by his ready sympathy and advice.
I would also acknowledge the courteous assistance of Mrs. C. C. Stopes,
Mr. H. G. Lee of the Bishop of London's Registry, and Mr. H. E. Johnson,
Deputy Registrar of the Archdeaconry of Middlesex. The help I have
thus received has gone far to remove the blemishes due to my inexperience;
but, for those which remain, I must bear the responsibility.
I cannot think it out of place if I here acknowledge some small part
of my debt to my father, who first aroused, and has since continually
fostered, the interest in this parish and in its history, which constitutes my
chief qualification for the task of preparing this volume. I hope the book
may prove not unworthy of the parish of which he is vicar.
The Index of Persons has been compiled by Miss Rose H. Schloesser
and Miss Wynifred M. Willis-Swan under my directions, and I have
verified every reference which it contains. The Subject Index is of my
own making; it does not pretend to be complete, and, with a view to
keeping it within due bounds, it has been constructed on an unscientific
system which I trust will not detract from its usefulness.
The plates have been executed by Messrs. J. C. Drummond & Co.,
of Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. Those in the text have been chosen
as illustrating the style in which the accounts were engrossed and as
examples of penmanship. The frontispiece is a reproduction of a Vertue's
print. This has the disadvantage of being an eighteenth century work,
but is the earliest obtainable likeness of the Church with which these
Accounts are concerned.
I cannot close without expressing my thanks to Messrs. J. Davy & Sons,
of The Dryden Press, for the interest and care with which they have
performed their part in the production of this volume. I am in their
debt for several valuable suggestions.
JOHN V. KITTO.
St. Martin's Vicarage.