The Environs of London: Volume 3, County of Middlesex. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1795.
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Name and etymology.
History of Stratford, commonly called Bow-bridge.
This place takes its name in common with Stratford on the opposite side of the river, and many others in various parts of the kingdom, from an ancient ford near one of the Roman highways. In the reign of Henry I. a bridge of one arch having been built here over the river Lea, the place came to be distinguished by the addition of atte bogbe, atte bougbe, or at the bow (fn. 1). In Leland's Collections is the following account of this bridge: "Matilda, wife "of Henry I. having herself been well washed in the water, caused two bridges to be builded in a place one mile distant from the Old ford, of the which one was situated over Lee at the head of the town of Stratford, nowe called Bowe, because the bridge was arched like unto a bowe, a rare piece of work, for before that time the like had never been seen in England. The other over the little brooke, commonly called Chanelse Bridge. She made the King's highway of gravel between the two bridges. Moreover, she gave manors and a mill, commonly called Wiggen Mill, to the Abbess of Barking, for the repayringe of the bridges and highwaie. But afterwards Gilbert de Mountsichet founded the Abbey of Stratford in the marishes, the Abbot whereof, by giving a piece of money, purchased to himself the manors and mill afore said, and covenanted to repair the bridges and way; till at length he laid the charge upon one Godfrey Pratt, allowing him certain loaves of bread daily, that he should repair the bridges and way; who being holpen by the aid of travellers, did not only perform the charge, but also was a gainer to himself; which thing the Abbot perceiving, withholdeth from him part of the bread promised, whereupon Godfrey demandeth a toll of the wayfaring men; and to them that denied he stopped the way, till at length, wearied with toil, he neglecteth his charge, whereof came the ruin of the stone bridges and way (fn. 2)." Leland's account differs in many particulars from the following, which may be regarded as the more authentic, having been given in upon oath, at an inquisition taken before Robert de Retford and Henry Spigurnell, the King's justices, in the year 1303. The jurors declared upon their oath, that at the time when Matilda, the good Queen of England, lived, the road from London to Essex was by a place called the Old Ford, where there was no bridge, and during great inundations, was so extremely dangerous, that many passengers lost their lives; which coming to the good Queen's ears, she caused the road to be turned where it now is, namely between the towns of Stratford and Westham; and of her bounty caused the bridges and road to be made, except the bridge called Chaner's Bridge, which ought to be made by the Abbot of Stratford. They said farther, that Hugh Pratt, living near the roads and bridges in the reign of King John, did of his own authority, begging the aid of passengers, keep them in repair. After his death, his son William did the same for some time, and afterwards, through the interest of Robert Passelewe, the King's justice, obtained a toll, which enabled him to make an iron railing upon a certain bridge, called Lockbridge, from which circumstance he altered his name from Pratt to Bridgwryght; and thus were the bridges repaired till Philip Basset and the Abbot of Waltham, being hindered from passing that way with their waggons in the late reign, broke down the railing, whereby the said William, being no longer able to repair it, left the bridge in ruins; in which state it remained, till Queen Eleanor of her bounty ordered it to be repaired, committing the charge of it to William de Capella, keeper of her chapel. After which one William de Carlton, yet living, repaired all the bridges with the effects of Bartholomew de Castello, deceased. The jurors added, that the bridges and roads had been always repaired by bounties, and that there were no lands or tenements charged with their repair, except for Chaner's bridge, which the Abbot of Stratford was bound to keep in repair (fn. 3). In the year 1366, a toll was granted for the repair of Stratford bridge, to continue during three years, it being very ruinous, and no one obliged to repair it (fn. 4).
Situation of the parish of Stratford Bow.
Boundaries and extent.
Soil, and land-tax.
The parish of Stratford-Bow was separated from that of Stepney, of which it was formerly a hamlet, about the year 1720. The village of Bow, as it is usually called (dropping its original name of Stratford, and preserving only the distinction), is situated two miles to the east of London on the Essex road. The parish lies within the hundred of Ossulston, and is bounded on the east by the river Lea, which separates it from Low-layton and Westham in Essex; on the north by Hackney; on the north-west by Bethnal-green; on the west and south-west by Stepney; and on the south-east by St. Leonard Bromley. It contains about 465 acres of land, of which 218 are arable, the remainder pasture, upland pasture, and marsh land, except 13 acres occupied by nursery gardens. Mr. Gordon, who has grounds both in this parish and in that of St. Leonard Bromley, is well known for his extensive culture of exotic plants. The soil at Stratford-Bow is various, loam, sand, and gravel. This parish pays the sum of 459l. 9s. 10d. to the land-tax, which is at the rate of 1s. 6d. in the pound.
The principal manufacture at this place is that of calico printing, once in a very flourishing state; there is now only one ground of any extent, which belongs to MacMurdo, Lane, and Tibbalds. Scarlet-dying, for the East India Company, was carried on to a great extent about forty years ago, but there are no dyers now in the parish. The celebrated manufacture of China, which took its name from this place, was carried on at Stratford, on the other side of the water. It has been some time dropped. Stratford-Bow is said to have been famous formerly for its number of bakers, who supplied a great part of the metropolis.
Frequent mention is made, both in printed books and in the calendars at the Tower, of a convent at Stratford-Bow; but upon carefully examining all the charters to which they refer, it appears that they all apply either to the convent of Monks at Stratford in Essex, or that of Nuns at St. Leonard Bromley.
On the 7th of June 1556, thirteen persons were burnt to death at this place for what was then deemed heresy (fn. 5).
The old place at Oldford.
At Oldford, a hamlet in this parish (so called from the ford beforementioned), are the remains of an ancient mansion, vulgarly called King John's Palace. Mr. Bagford, in his letter prefixed to the first volume of Leland's Collectanea, says it was a palace of Henry VIII. I have met with no record or memorial of any kind to prove that it ever was in the crown. I suppose it to have been the same mansion which was formerly called Giffing-place, or Petersfield, which place, with 19 acres of land in Oldford, was conveyed, anno 1418, by John Gest, to Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, William Louthir, and others (fn. 6); and by Louthir, the same year, to Nicholas Hulme, Ralph Shakerly, and their heirs (fn. 7). As early as Queen Elizabeth's time, the "old place," or "great place," at Oldford, was divided into tenements, as appears by frequent entries in the register of baptisms and burials. Only one gateway of very ancient brick-work now remains. The bases of the arches under the gateway are of stone, and terminate with figures of angels holding shields, and some grotesque representations. The site of this mansion was given to Christ's hospital, in the year 1665, by William Williams, citizen of London (fn. 8). The governors of the hospital have no records belonging to it of an older date.
Sir William Furnival, who died in 1383, was seised of a messuage and garden in Oldford, held of the Bishop of London, Joan, his daughter, wife of Thomas Nevill, being his heir (fn. 9).
Edmund Lord Sheffield.
John le Neve.
Edmund Lord Sheffield, who distinguished himself in the sea-sight against the Spanish Armada, resided at Stratford-Bow in 1613 (fn. 10). John le Neve, author of the Monumenta Anglicana, had a house there (fn. 11). It was the residence also of Dr. Samuel Jebb, an eminent physician, who published a life of Mary Queen of Scots, in Latin; editions of Aristides; Bacon's Opus Majus; Caius de Canibus, &c. (fn. 12).
The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary, was built as a chapel of ease to Stepney, in the early part of the 14th century. The chantry-roll at the Augmentation-office says, that it was founded by Edward III. on a piece of ground, which was part of the King's highway. The original structure, which is of slint and stones, still remains. It consists of a chancel, nave, and two aisles, separated from the nave by octagonal pillars, and pointed arches. The tower is of stone, square and plain, not embattled. On the south wall of the chancel is the monument of James Walker, Esq. (fn. 13), 1707, with busts in white marble of the deceased and his wife. On the north wall is a monument for Mr. Thomas Jorden (fn. 14), merchant, 1671; he married Katherine, daughter of Richard Whitlock. On the floor are the tombs of James Harrison, Esq. 1699; Thomas Salwey, merchant, 1705; the Rev. Thomas White, A. M. prebendary of Litchfield, rector of Stepney, and minister of Stratford-Bow (ob. 1710); and the Rev. Thomas Foxley, 30 years rector of Stratford-Bow, 1770.
At the east end of the north aisle is the monument of Alice, daughter of Thomas Coburne, Gent. 1689, with a bust of the deceased in white marble (fn. 15). In the south aisle are the monuments of Grace, daughter of John Wylforde, and wife of John Amcotts (fn. 16), citizen of London, 1551; and Elizabeth, wife of Mr. Samuel Summers, aged 95, 1764. On the floor are the tombs of Mr. Charles Maxfield Forster Gerrard Hallsey, 1756; and Mr. William Vanleute, 1758. In the nave is the monument of Mrs. Prisca Coburne (fn. 17), a liberal benefactor to the parishes of Stepney and Stratford-Bow, 1701; and a hatchment to the memory of Rachel, daughter of George Wilmer, Esq. (fn. 18), 1670. At the west end of the church is the monument of Edward Rust, citizen and draper, 1704.
There were formerly in this church the monuments of Thomas Beaufiz, justice of peace and coroner, 1458; Henry Wilson, of Oldford, 1502; John Tate, 1508; and Richard Gray, 1532 (fn. 19). In the church-yard are the tombs of Philip Ludwell, Esq. 1716; Mr. William de Young, 1729; Mrs. Mary Skinner, 1765; Sarah, wife of Mr. William Gilbert Matthews, 1780; and Mrs. Anne Willis, 1786. On the outside of the church are the monuments of Mrs. Joyce Hunt, 1758; and John Cook, collar-maker to his Majesty, 1763.
Stratford-Bow church built as a chapel of ease.
In the year 1311, a licence was granted by Bishop Baldock (dated from Stepney) to the inhabitants of Stratford and Oldford, to build a chapel for the convenience of attending divine service, they being so far distant from their parish church, and the roads in winter impassable by reason of the floods (fn. 20). By the terms of this licence, the inhabitants were to assign a sufficient income for the chaplain to attend divine service on all the great holidays at the mother-church, and contribute to its repair. Long after this, some differences having arisen between the inhabitants of Stepney and those of Stratford, who seem to have been desirous of rendering themselves independent of the mother church, they were compromised in the year 1497, and an agreement was then drawn up, whereby the inhabitants of Stratford promised for the future to acknowledge themselves parishioners of Stepney, and their chapel subject to that church; the inhabitants of Stepney, on their part, agreed to accept of 24s. per annum, in lieu of all charges for repairs of the mother church, and to dispense with their attendance there, except on the feast of their patron, St. Dunstan; and on the Wednesday in Whitsun-week, when they were to accompany the rest of the parishioners in procession to St. Paul's cathedral (fn. 21). In the reign of Henry VIII. when Westminster was made a bishopric, the parish of Stepney was excused from this procession to St. Paul's, upon condition, that the rector and church-wardens of Stepney, and the curate and chapel-wardens of Stratford, should attend on the said day, and make an offering at St. Peter's, Westminster (fn. 22).
Lands left to the chapel.
Hellen Hilliard gave certain lands and tenements, valued at 50 s. per annum, for a chantry in the chapel at Stratford-Bow. Various persons gave lands and tenements, valued in the whole at 13l. 6s. 8d. to augment the priest's wages (fn. 23). When the chantries and guilds were seized by the King, the lands belonging to this chapel shared the general fate. The inhabitants, thinking that the endowment of this chapel did not come within the statute, attempted to recover them, but it appears that their endeavours were ineffectual (fn. 24). In the inventory of goods (fn. 25), &c. belonging to parish churches, taken by order of the government in the first year of Edward the Sixth, is the following entry: "Payd for a learned counsell, at suche tyme as the Kyng's commissioners demaunded our lands, whyche we thought had been without the compas of the statute, 5 l. Mem. that all the olde Latin boks were caryed to the chancellor of the Bishop of Westminster, according to the statute." The curate of Stratford-Bow was appointed by the vicar of Stepney; his salary in Henry VIII's time was 8l. per annum.
In the year 1654, the sum of 92 l. per annum was voted to Fulk Bellers, minister of Stratford-Bow (fn. 26).
Made a parish church and rectory.
The chapel at Stratford-Bow was consecrated as a parish church, on the 26th of March 1719. In the year 1730, an act of parliament passed for providing a maintenance for the rector. By this act, the sum of 3500 l. (out of certain monies raised by a duty on coals, for endowing the fifty new churches) was allotted to be laid out in the purchase of lands, or other hereditaments, in see-simple (fn. 27), for the rector of Stratford, who receives under the same act, the sum of 40l. per annum out of the money which the church-wardens are authorized to receive for graves, vaults, &c. He is entitled also to the customary dues for reading the burial-service, and other surplice-fees. The great tithes were reserved by the act to Brazen Nose College. The rector of Stratford was to pay 10l. per annum to each of the portionists of Stepney, during their respective incumbencies. This rectory is not to be held in commendam. The rector enjoys the sum of 8l. per annum, said to have been a benefaction of Edward VI. (fn. 28) Perhaps it was settled on the minister in lieu of the lands which were seised, as mentioned in the preceding page.
Mrs. Prisca Coburne, who died in 1701, left 20l. per annum, for ever, to the minister of Stratford-Bow, and 4l. to the clerk.
Rectors. Robert Warren, &c.
The first rector of Stratford-Bow was Dr. Robert Warren, of whom mention has been made in the account of Hampstead (fn. 29). The present rector is the Rev. Thomas Eccles, M. A. who succeeded Thomas Foxley in 1770.
The register of baptisms, burials, and marriages, begins in 1538, and has been ever since kept dictinctly from that at Stepney.
Comparative state of population.
|Average of Baptisms.||Average of Burials.|
This place appears to have increased within the two last centuries, in a proportion of three to one. The present number of houses is about 330.
In 1603, there were 130 burials; 89 persons died of the plague. In 1625, there were 102 burials, of which 30 only are marked (plague). In 1665, there were 139 burials.
Extracts from the Register.
"Humphrey, son of Sir Humphrey Brown, Knt. baptized Dec. 15, 1554."
"John Harman, Esquyer, one of the gentilmen hushers of the chambre of our soverayn Lady the Quene, and the excellent Lady Dame Dorothye Gwydott, widow, late of the town of Southampton, married Dec. 21, 1557."
Dr. William Gouge.
"William Gowge, the son of Thomas Gowge, was christened the 6th of November, 1575." William Gouge, whose baptism is here recorded, was an eminent divine among the Puritans. He was minister of Blackfriars. Neale says he was for many years esteemed the father of the London ministers (fn. 32). He sat in the assembly of divines, and frequently supplied the moderator's place. His works are, "The whole armour of God;" commentaries on the epistle to the Hebrews, and on Canticles; a tract on the calling of the Jews; several sermons; an exposition of the Lord's prayer, &c. (fn. 33) His son, Thomas Gouge, a person of eminence also, was baptized at Stratford-Bow, on the 29th of Sept. 1605. He established numerous schools in Wales, at which he caused to be educated at his own expence near 2000 children, who were taught the English language. He printed 8000 Welch Bibles, 1000 of which he gave away, and directed the remainder to be sold at a cheap rate in the principal towns in Wales (fn. 34). Thomas Gouge published several devotional and religious tracts (fn. 35), a volume of sermons, and some single discourses. He died in 1681. Archbishop Tillotson preached his funeral sermon.
Birth of Henry Earl of Holland.
"Henry, son of the Right Honble Robert Lord Rich, baptized Aug. 19, 1590." This Henry was the celebrated Earl of Holland, of whom anecdotes have been given in the account of Kensington (fn. 37).
A King of Portugal at Stratford-Bow.
"A Portugalle, beinge Treasurer to the Kinge of Portugall, dyed in the howse of Robert Ridgdaile, inholder, at the Peter and Powle, when the said King laid in this parish, and was buried the first daie of Aprill 1591." The King of Portugal, here mentioned, was Don Antonio Perez, prior of Crato, who pretended to the crown of that kingdom in opposition to Phillip II. King of Spain. He was crowned at Lisbon, but was soon obliged to quit his new dominions by the superior power of Philip. He came to England in 1581, where he met with a kind reception from Queen Elizabeth (fn. 38).
Marriage of Dr. Whitaker.
"William Whitaker (fn. 39), Doctor Theologiæ, of Cambridge, widower, and Joan Fenner, widow, married April 8, 1591."
"Mrs. Mary Yorke, daughter of Sir Edmund Yorke, Knt. buried Dec. 29, 1591."
"Sr Gerard Samms, Knt. and Ursula Saxy, widow, married Nov.4, 1619."
"Thomas, son of Sir Arthur Ingram (fn. 42), Knt. baptized June 20, 1616."
"Sr Thomas Hynton, of Chilton Foliot, Knt. and the Lady Mary Harvie, late wife of Sir Sebastian Harvie, Knt. married Oct. 1, 1622."
"Rose, daughter of Sir Henry O'Neale, and Martha, baptized Nov. 30, 1631."
"Sir Laurence Smith, Knt. buried Feb. 24, 1665–6."
"Sir Harry Fitzjames, Knt. buried Mar. 5, 1685–6; Lady Fitzjames, May 13, 1689."
"Mary, daughter of the Hon. William Maynard (fn. 43), buried in Essex, Feb. 20, 1687–8."
Marriage of William Penkethman.
"William Penkethman (fn. 44), batchelor, of St. Paul's Covent Garden, and Elizabeth Hill, maiden, of St. Paul Shadwell, married Nov. 22, 1714."
Marriage of Orator Henley.
"The Rev. John Henley (fn. 45), of St. Andrew, Holborn, and Mary Clifford, married Feb. 1, 1725–6."
Sir John Jolles, anno 1613, founded a school in this place for 35 boys of Stratford-Bow and St. Leonard Bromley. Mrs. Prisca Coburne, who died in 1701, gave a rent-charge of 501. per annum to a schoolmaster and his wife for instructing poor children, not to exceed 50 in number, which school might either be incorporated with that of Sir John Jolles or not, as her executors should think best (fn. 46). Mrs. Meliora Priestley, a few years ago, founded a school for six girls.
Benefactions to the poor.
The said Mrs. Coburne also gave the sum of 20l. per annum, to poor inhabitants of this place not receiving alms. These benefactions she charged upon her estates at Stratford and Bocking. Mrs. Elizabeth Summers, who died in 1764, gave the interest of 200l. to be distributed annually among the poor on New Year's day.
Mrs. Priestley left 20 sixpenny loaves, to be distributed among the poor once a month.
Sir John Jolles founded an alms-house in St. Leonard Bromley, for four poor belonging to that parish, and four belonging to Stratford-Bow (fn. 47).