St. Mary le Bow 104/21-2

Pages 294-298

Historical Gazetteer of London Before the Great Fire Cheapside; Parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary, St Mary Le Bow, St Mary Colechurch and St Pancras Soper Lane. Originally published by Centre for Metropolitan History, London, 1987.

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These properties occupied the N.E. corner of Bow Lane and Watling Street and lay in the parishes of St. Mary le Bow and St. Mary Aldermary. They were bounded by 104/23 on the N. and E. and by property in St. Mary Aldermary parish on the E. In the late 15th century the properties were acquired by the Goldsmiths' Company, and before then they probably also belonged to a single landlord. The greater part of the site lay in St. Mary Aldermary parish and is identified here as 21; no attempt has been made to trace the development of this part of the property in detail. The part of the property which lay in St. Mary le Bow parish occupied the northern end of the Bow Lane frontage: it is identified here as 22 and was bounded by 23 on the N. and E. In 1858 21 corresponded on the Bow Lane frontage to no. 71 Watling Street and nos. 40-1 Bow Lane, and 22 was nos. 42-3 Bow Lane.

In the late 13th century 21-2 belonged to Philip le Taillour, who granted the property to Nicholas de Wynton, his wife Rose, and their heirs and assigns. Philip died in or before 1292 and Nicholas died in or before 1293. Rose later married John le Riche of Pentlow (Essex), with whom in 1314 she granted her life interest in the property to Richard Constantyn, citizen and draper, and his wife Sabina, who was Rose's daughter and Philip le Taillour's granddaughter. Rose was presumably the daughter of Philip le Taillour, and her daughter Sabina appears to have been named after Philip's wife of the same name. Richard Constantyn and his wife Sabina were to pay to the grantors a rent of £10. 13s. 4d. during Rose's life, and after her death the property was to revert to Sabina. By May 1319 Rose had died and Sabina had entered into possession and had herself died, so that Richard Constantyn held the property by the courtesy of England from Sabina's daughter and heir Margaret, who was married to Richard Constantyn's son Richard. In 1315 Isabel de Writele took naam in that part of the property which lay in the parish of St. Mary le Bow (22) for a year's arrears of a rent of 18s. due from tenements which she claimed were held of her by Elias le Chaucer from year to year at will. In successive pleas in Husting over the years 1317-19 Richard Constantyn claimed that the naam had been taken in his tenements and recited his claim to them. In the grant of 1314 21-2 was described as tenements with houses built on them, rents, and appurtenances in the parishes of St. Mary le Bow and St. Mary Aldermary between 23 on the N. and E., a tenement of Avicia Fizrichard (presumably in St. Mary Aldermary parish) on the E., Watlingstrate on the S., and Cordewanerstrate on the W. (fn. 1)

The right of Margaret as daughter of Sabina daughter of Rose in the property prevailed. She died in 1349 and as Margaret widow of Richard Costantyn son of Richard Costantyn left her tenements in Cordewanerstret to her son John. This was John Costantyn, alderman, who died in 1358x61 and left his estate to his wife Idonia during the minority of his son John. In 1361 this John was a minor in the custody of William Swallowe, citizen and draper. Swallowe died in 1361 and left John's custody to the master of the hospital of St. Thomas of Acre. Swallowe may have been tenant of and resident in 21-2, or a part of it, for he left to his wife Alice his estate and term in the house which he inhabited and in the shops in Cordewanerstret and Watlyngstret, with remainder if she died or remarried to the hospital of St. Thomas of Acre. The master of the hospital evidently had had custody of John in 1365, when at the city chamberlain's request he rendered account for John's property. Guardianship then passed to the city authorities. John probably attained his majority in 1375, when the chamberlain delivered to him 438 deeds together with other documents. About 1379 John married Philippa daughter of John Pecche, who had acted as his guardian, but the couple were divorced in 1381. (fn. 2)

The elder John Costantyn (d. 1358x61) granted a rent of £1. 6s. 8d. from his tenements in Cordwanerstrete to John de Berkyng, who granted it for the term of his own life to John Bouemarche, citizen and draper. In 1369 Bouemarche granted his right in this rent to his daughter Joan Bouemarche. (fn. 3) Between 1374 and 1389 Robert Rysby, draper, and his wife Alice probably held the part of the property which lay in the parish of St. Mary le Bow (22). In 1374 Robert de Hengham, mercer, and his wife Joan complained of their intrusion concerning a tenement in this parish. De Hengham complained again in 1387. In 1378 John Costantyn, son and heir of John Costantyn, sought an assize of mort d'ancestor against them concerning a rent of 6s. 8d. in St. Mary le Bow parish. St. Mary Spital seems also to have had an interest in the property, for in 1385 and 1389 the prior complained against Rysby and Alice of intrusion concerning a tenement in the parish. (fn. 4)

In 1406 John Costantyn, citizen, granted his properties in the parishes of St. Mary le Bow and St. Mary Aldermary and in other parishes in the city to a group of trustees: Richard Baynard of Essex; Thomas Seggeford, mercer, Ralph Middelton, mercer, Robert Luton, draper, John Fauntleroy, mercer, all citizens; John Sumpter and Matthew Sayer, both of Essex; and William Islyp, rector of Little Birch (Essex). John Costantyn appears to have died by 1416, and it was probably his son John who, as John Costantyn, citizen, in 1416 granted his properties in these two parishes to the following trustees: Robert Tey, esquire, and William Tenderyng, esquire, both of Essex; John Fauntleroy, mercer, Martin Killom, mercer, Nicholas Waldern, draper, all citizens; and John Graunt, clerk. In 1417 John Costantyn's other son, William Costantyn, who was also known as William Peeche (presumably because he was grandson of John Pecche), quitclaimed to his brother John Costantyn and the group of trustees established in 1416 in all his late father's properties in London. In 1418 Katharine, widow of John Costantyn, esquire, sought from her husband's son John her dower in her late husband's estate in London. On this occasion the property in St. Mary Aldermary parish (21) was described as 5 messuages and 6 shops with solars over, and that in St. Mary le Bow parish (22) as a messuage with a shop. (fn. 5)

These properties descended to William Constantyne, of Gray's Inn, gentleman, who died in 1470x2. In September 1472 21-2 were in the possession of William's son, William Costantyne, priest, who with the approval of his brother Ralph Costantyne leased the tenement in the parishes of St. Mary le Bow and St. Mary Aldermary to Richard Gowle, citizen and mercer, for a term of 44 years. William Shore, mercer, had held and occupied the property and Gowle now occupied it. Gowle had spent a great sum on repairing the tenement, and in consideration of this he was to pay only 6s. 8d. rent to William Costantyne during the first 20 years of the term, when he was to be responsible for repairs; during the remainder of the term the tenant was to pay £4. 13s. 4d. rent and the landlord was to be responsible for repairs, cleansing, and paving. When Gowle died in 1503, he was or had recently been a resident of St. Mary le Bow parish, although probably not of this property. In 1473 William Costantyne, chaplain, granted the property to John Sulyard, gentleman, Thomas Feldyng, gentleman, Richard Feldyng, mercer, John Sulton, mercer, and Ralph Tylney, grocer, on condition that the grant was to be void if the lessee enjoyed the property without disturbance from the lessor. In the same year William's brothers, Ralph Costantyne, gentleman, and William Costantyne, gentleman, acknowledged this conveyance. (fn. 6)

The Goldsmiths' Company subsequently acquired 21-2 and other properties in fulfilment of the will of Sir Edmund Shaa, who died in 1488. Rent from this estate contributed to the support of Shaa's obit in the church of St. Thomas of Acre. Shaa directed in his will that his executors were to acquire properties for the maintenance of this obit and other purposes, but the process of acquisition may already have been under way before his death. The first stage in the acquisition may have taken place in 1479-80, when Thomas Hille, alderman, Ralph Tylney, John Storke and Richard Gowele recovered possession against Ralph Costantyn of 2 messuages (22) in St. Mary le Bow parish and Cordwainer ward. Tylney and Hille quitclaimed in the messuages to Storke and Gowele, who in 1483 granted them to Hille, Edmund Shaa, Robert Plomer, gentleman, Robert Forster, gentleman, Robert Molyneux, gentleman, William Dunthorn, gentleman, and Tylney. Thomas Hille's son and heir William Hille later granted these 2 messuages (22) and 6 others in the parish of St. Mary Aldermary (21) to Richard Gowle, mercer, and William Dyconson, tailor, who in 1488 granted the 8 messuages to the executors of Sir Edmund Shaa (Reginald Bray, knight, Lady Juliana Shaa, widow, Geoffrey Downes, esquire, John Shaa, goldsmith, and Thomas Riche, mercer). In 1495 Henry Cote, John Sworder, and Bartholomew Rede recovered possession of the 8 messuages against Bray, Downes, John Shaa, and Riche, presumably with the intent of eliminating Lady Shaa's claim to dower. Cote, Sworder, and Rede probably then reconveyed the 8 messuages to Shaa's executors, and in 1506 Thomas Riche, as the surviving executor, granted them and quitclaimed to Thomas Fereby, citizen and goldsmith. Immediately afterwards Fereby drew up a testament by which in fulfilment of Edmund Shaa's will he left the 8 messuages (21-2) and the other endowments of Shaa's obit to the Goldsmith's Company. In 1506 21-2 was said to measure 85 ft. 6 in. (20.06 m.) along 'Bowlane' and 101 ft. 6 in. (30.94 m.) along Watling Street. (fn. 7)

The Goldsmiths' Company seems already to have had charge of the property by 1494, when the two houses in St. Mary le Bow parish (22) can probably be identified in a view of repairs as those held by Piers Barbour and John London. At the former of these it was necessary to mend the windows, pave a kitchen, and install a cistern, and at the latter it was necessary to pave the yard and kitchen and repair the cellar doors. In 1497 the company had 8 tenements in Bow Lane and Watling Street 'bequeathed by Sir Edmund Shaa'. Three of them were in Bow Lane: a great messuage held by Ralph London for £6. 13s. 4d. rent, a tenement held by Piers Barbour for £2 rent, and a tenement held by Matthew Cardy for £1. 13s. 4d. rent. Of these, London's tenement was certainly in St. Mary le Bow parish and Barbour's probably was. Cardy's tenement was probably in St. Mary Aldermary parish. (fn. 8)

In 1533 Thomas White, citizen and merchant tailor, desired to have on lease from the Goldsmiths' Company the 'greate mease and tenement' in Watling Street which Mrs. Beadle 'the skinner's wife' had lately inhabited. White was prepared to pay £6. 13s. 4d. rent. This may have been the messuage formerly held by Ralph London for the same rent, but is more likely to have been one of the tenements in St. Mary Aldermary parish fronting on to Watling Street. In 1535 White obtained a new lease for a term of 20 years of the great house which he held of the company in Watling Street (part of 21). In 1540 he obtained a new lease of the corner house in Bow Lane with the skinner's house next to it and the new house (probably 22) 'next to Christopher Campyon' for the term of 25 years. White was to pay £25 down, to pave the yard within a year, and covenanted not to expel James Banke, skinner, from the house he lived in. Campyon's house was probably part of 23A on the Bow Lane frontage and adjoining the N. side of the gateway leading to the capital messuage which occupied the rear part of 23A (q.v.). White probably thus acquired most of 21-2 on lease, and in 1543 was granted a new lease for a term of 30 years of all the tenements he held of the Goldsmith's Company in Bow Lane and Watling Street, including the great tenement in Watling Street where he lived. White was still tenant of the company in 1560, when the pavement before his shop in Bow Lane was in need of repair. (fn. 9)

The tenants of 22 cannot then be identified until the early 17th century. In 1605 22, known at the 'Pellican', was the dwelling house of Roger Jones, merchant tailor, who offered £20 fine for a new lease. This messuage was later leased to Ann Jones for a term of 25 years from 1609 at £5. 6s. 8d. rent and for a fine of £160. It was occupied by Nicholas Elton in 1610 and was later represented by 2 messuages let to Richard Elton for a term of 20 years from 1637 at £5. 6s. 8d. rent and for a fine of £100. In 1638 the messuages were probably inhabited by Mr. Lecane and Mr. Ager, who paid tithe for houses here valued at £20 and £16 a year, respectively. Mr. Ager probably acquired the lease granted to Elton, and was probably the father of the John Ager of St. Mary le Bow parish, gentleman, who died in 1649 leaving to his cousins Francis Ager and John Prichard the reversionary interest in certain houses in Bow Lane which was due to him on the death of his mother. (fn. 10)

John Ager's mother was probably the Elizabeth Ager, widow, who held the 2 tenements representing 22 in 1651, when the Goldsmiths' Company was negotiating new leases with its tenants in order to raise money. Early in 1652 Mrs. Ager was granted a new lease of the two tenements for a term of 70 years from 1657, when the existing lease ran out, at a rent of £5. 6s. 8d. and for a fine of £480. One of the tenements, inhabited by Mrs. Ager, occupied the Bow Lane frontage. The other lay to the rear and in 1651 was held by John Crosse. Overall, the property measured 26 ft. 3 in. (8 m.) along Bow Lane and 62 ft. (18.9 m.) from E. to W., and included a parcel of ground measuring 33 ft. (10.06 m.) E./W. and 7 ft. 6 in. (2.29 m.) N./S. on the S. side of the yard of the rear tenement. The rooms in the two houses were enumerated in a view of 1651 and in the lease of 1652 (see Fig. 6). The tenement next to the street contained a cellar, over which was a large shop divided into front and rear compartments; the entry to the rear tenement was on the S. side of the shop and beneath the next house (part of 21) to the S.; at first floor level there was a hall next to the street and a kitchen to the rear; on the second floor were two chambers, and over them were two garrets. A paved yard separated the front from the rear tenement, where there was a large cellar, apparently divided into 2 parts; over the cellar was a warehouse or open gallery, also divided into two parts; there was also a counting house in the yard; at first floor level were a hall, kitchen, and 2 closets or butteries; on the second floor were 2 chambers and 2 closets, and over them were a garret chamber and a closet, with another garret adjoining them to the S. The arrangement of the two tenements was changed between 1651 and 1652, for at the earlier date the rear tenement included another garret over the rear part of Mrs. Ager's house while the front tenement had only one garret next to the street. There was presumably a structure on one side of the yard connecting the two tenements. In the view of 1651 the front tenement was said to be worth £30 a year and the rear one £35 a year. (fn. 11)

Later in 1652 Elizabeth Ager sub-let the rear part of the property to John Crosse, merchant, for a term of 21 years at £30 rent. She died in 1656-7 and left her interest in the messuage where she dwelled, which was known as the Black Swan, to John Prichard, son of her cousin Elizabeth Prichard, who in 1670 was still a minor. Elizabeth Ager left her interest in the other messuage, which was inhabited by Crosse and was known as the Pelican, to her cousin William Prichard on his return from overseas with remainder, should he fail to return, to John Prichard. William evidently did not return and John was later in possession of both parts of the property. Crosse assigned his interest in the Pelican to James Wheeler. On Wheeler's death this interest reverted to Crosse, who assigned it to Thomas Gardner, citizen and barber-surgeon. In 1666 Gardner, described as a surgeon, inhabited a house of 7 hearths which presumably represented the rear part of 22; the front part of the property was probably the house of 3 hearths occupied by George Pawley, joiner.

In 1667, after the property had been destroyed in the Great Fire, it was decided that Grosse and Gardner should surrender the sub-lease and assignments to Prichard and his guardian, Richard Evans, and that each should pay Prichard £15. In 1669 Gardner agreed with Evans that he would rebuild the property and hold it for a term of 51 years from 1670 at £15 rent. Evans was to pay Gardner £20 when the roof of the front house was complete. Gardner evidently built two houses on the site of 22, but the surviving surveys of foundations record only the one to the rear. (fn. 12)


  • 1. HR 21(66), 22(64), 42(85); HCP 41, m. 12; HCP 43, m. 10. Rose is wrongly identified as Philip le Taillour's granddaughter in Williams, 333 (based on HR42(91)).
  • 2. HR 77(26), 89(240); LBG, 202; LBH, 16, 141-2.
  • 3. HR 97(98).
  • 4. HCP 98, m. 8d; HCP 109, m. 8; PL 99, m. 7; PL 110, m. 4; PL 111, m. 9.
  • 5. HR 133*(27), 144(49, 69); HCP 142, m. 5d.
  • 6. Thrupp, 334; Cal PMR 1458-82, pp. 72-4, 77; PRO, PROB 11/14, f. 54v.
  • 7. HR 213(13), 218(6); PL 168, m. 48; PL 170, m. 16; GC, Great Register, ff. 275v, 277v-8; PRO, PROB11/8, ff. 95-9.
  • 8. GC, MS 1521, pp. 45, 225, 293.
  • 9. GC: MS 1523, pp. 22, 102, 105, 107, 109, 175; MS 1524, pp. 52, 71; MS 1525, pp. 114-15.
  • 10. GC: MS 1532, p. 428; MS 1913. Inhabitants in 1638, 109; PRO, PROB11/210, ff. 118v-119.
  • 11. GC: MS 1725, pp. 133-4; MS 1730, f. 58; MS 1731, f. 24; MS 1915, ff. 8, 11v, 13, 15, 50v.
  • 12. Fire Court i, 31-2; Fire Ct. Decrees F, ff. 227v-8v; M & O iv, f. 118; PRO, PROB11/266, ff. 289v-91; PRO, E179/252/32/16.