Portsoken warde

A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603. Originally published by Clarendon, Oxford, 1908.

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'Portsoken warde', in A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603, (Oxford, 1908) pp. 120-129. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/survey-of-london-stow/1603/pp120-129 [accessed 20 April 2024]

Of Portesoken warde, the first in the East part.

Portsoken warde.

Seeing that of euery these Wardes, I haue to say somewhat, I will begin with Portsoken warde, without Ealdgate.

Lib. Trinitate, Knighten Guild.; Boundes of Knighten Guild or Portsoken warde.; Lib. Trinitate.; Priorie of the Trinity within Ealdgate.; KnightenGuild geuen the Canons of the holy Trinity.; Constables of the Tower.; Part of Cnitten Guild withheld by the Constables of the Tower.; Prior of the Trinitie an Alderman of London.

This Portsoken, which soundeth, the Franchise at the gate, was sometime a Guild, and had beginning in the dayes of king Edgar, more then 600. yeares since. There were thirteene Knights, or Soldiers welbeloued to the king and realme, for seruice by them done, which requested to haue a certaine portion of land on the East part of the Citie, left desolate and forsaken by the Inhabitants, by reason of too much seruitude. They besought the king to haue this land, with the libertie of a Guilde for euer: the king granted to their request with conditions following: that is, that each of them should victoriously accomplish three combates, one aboue the ground, one vnder ground, and the third in the water, and after this at a certaine day in East Smithfield, they should run with Speares against all commers, all which was gloriously performed: and the same day the king named it knighten Guild, & so bounded it, from Ealdgate to the place where the bars now are toward the east, on both the sides of the streete, and extended it towards Bishopsgate in the North, vnto the house then of William Presbiter, after of Giffrey Tanner, and then of the heyres of Coluer, after that of Iohn Easeby, but since of the Lord Bourchier, &c. And againe towardes the South vnto the riuer of Thames, and so farre into the water, as a horseman entering the same, may ride at a low water, and throw his speare: so that all East Smithfield, with the right part of the streete that goeth to Dodding Pond into the Thames, and also the Hospitall of Saint Katherins, with the Mils, that were founded in king Stephens dayes, and the outward stoene wall, and the new ditch of the Tower are of the said Fee and Libertie: for the saide wall and ditch of the Tower were made in the time of king Richard, when he was in the holy land, by William Longshampe, Bishop of Ely, as before I have noted vnto you. These knightes had as then none other Charter by all the dayes of Edgar, Ethelred, and Cnutus, vntill the time of Edward the Confessor, whom the heires of those knights humblie besought to confirme their liberties, whereunto he graciously graunting, gaue them a deede thereof, as appeareth in the booke of the late house of the holy Trinitie. The said Charter is faire written in the Saxon letter and tongue. After this king William the sonne of William the Conquereor made a confirmation of the same liberties, vnto the heyres of those knights in these wordes. William king of England to Maurice Bishop, and Godffrey de Magum, and Richard de Parre, and to his faithfull people of London, greeting: know yee mee to have granted to the men of Knighten Guilde, the Guilde that belonged to them, and the land that belonged thereunto, with all customes, as they had the same in the time of king Edward, and my father. Witnesse hugh de Buche: at Rething. After him. king Henry the first confirmed the same by his Charter, to the like effect, the recitall whereof, I pretermit for breuitie. After which time, the Church of the holy Trinitie within Ealdgate of London, being founded by Queene Matilde, wife to the saide Henrie, the multitude of brethren praysing God day and night therein, in short time so increased, that all the Citie was delighted in the beholding of them: insomuch that in the yeare 1115. certaine Burgesses of London, of the progenie of those Noble English knights to wit Radulphus Fitzalgod, Wilmarde le Deuereshe, Orgare le Prude, Edward Hupcornehill, Blackstanus, and Alwine his kinsman, and Robert his brother, the sonnes of Leafstanus the Goldsmith, Wiso his sonne, Hugh Fitzvulgar, Algare Secusme, comming togither into the Chapter house of the said Church of the holy Trinitie, gaue to the same Church and Canons seruing God therein, all the lands and soke called in English Knighten Guilde, which lieth to the wall of the Citie, without the same gate, and stretcheth to the riuer of Thames, they gaue it, I say, taking vpon them the Brotherhoode and participation of the benefites of that house, by the handes of Prior Norman. And the better to confirme this their graunt, they offered vpon the Altar there, the Charter of Edward, togither with the other Charters, which they had thereof: and afterward they did put the foresayd Prior in seisine thereof, by the Church of Saint Buttolphes which is builded thereon, and is the head of that land: These things were thus done, before Bernard Prior of Dunstable, Iohn Prior of Derland, Geffrey Clinton Chamberlaine, and many other Clarkes and Laymen, French and English. Orgar le Prude(one of their Companie) was sent to king Henrie, beseeching him to confirme their gift, which the king gladly granted by his deede. Henrie king of England to R. B. of London, to the Shiriffes, and Prouost, and to all his Barons, and faithfull people, French and English, of London, and Middlesex, greeting. Know ye mee to haue graunted, and confirmed to the Church and Canons of the holy Trinitie of London, the Soke of the English knighten Guilde, and the land which pertaineth thereunto, and the Church of S. Buttolph, as the men of the same Guilde haue giuen, and granted unto them: and I will and straightly commaund, that they may hold the same well and honourably and freely. with sacke and soke toll, and Theam, infangthefe, and all customs belonging to it, as the men of the same Guild in best sort had the same in the time of K. Edward, and as king William my father, and brother did grant it to them by their writs. Witnesse A. the Queene, Geffrey Clinton the Chauncellor, and William of Clinton at Woodstocke. All these prescribed writings (saieth my booke) which sometime belonged to the Priorie of the holy Trinitie, are registred in the end of the booke of Remembrances, in the Guildhall of London, marked with the letter C. folio 134. The king sent also his Shiriffes to wit, Aubery de Vere, and Roger nephew to Hubert, which vpon his behalfe should inuest this church with the possessions hereof, which the said Shiriffes accomplished comming vpon the ground. Andrew Bucheuite. and the forenamed witnesses, and other standing by: notwithstanding, Othowerus, Acoliuillus, Otto, and Geffrey Earle of Essex, Constables of the Tower by succession, withheld by force a portion of the said land, as I haue before deliuered. The Prior and Chanons of the Holy Trinitie, being thus seised of the said land and Soke of knighten Guilde, a part of the Suburbe without the wall, (but within the liberties of the Citie) the same Prior was for him, and his successors, admitted as one of the Aldermen of London, to gouerne the same land and Soke: according to the customes of the Citie, he did sit in Court and rode (fn. 1) with the Maior, and his Brethren the Aldermen, as one of them, in Scarlet, or other leuery, as they vsed, vntill the yeare 1531. at the which time, the said Priory by the last Prior there was surrendred to king Henry the eight, in the 23. of his raigne, who gaue this Priorie to sir Thomas Audley, knight, Lord Chauncellor of England, and he pulled downe the Church. Sithens the which dissolution of that house, the sayde Ward of Portsoken hath beene gouerned by a temporall man, one of the Aldermen of London, elected by the Citizens, as by the Aldermen of other wardes. Thus much for the out boundes of Cnitten Guilde, or Portsoken Warde, and for the antiquitie and gouernment thereof.

Hospitall of S. Katherins. A second foundresse.

Now of the parts therein, this is specially to be noted. First the East part of the Tower standeth there, then an Hospitall of Saint Katherins founded by Matilde the Queene, wife to king Stephen, by licence of the prior and Couent of the holy Trinitie in London on whose ground she founded it. Helianor the Queene wife to king Edward the first, a second foundresse, appointed there to be a Maister, three brethren Chaplaines, and three Sisters, ten poore women, and sixe poore Clarkes, she gaue to them the Mannor of Carlton in Wiltshire, and Vpchurch in Kent, &c. Queene Philip wife to king Edward the third 1351. founded a Chauntrie there, and gaue to that Hospitall ten pound land by yeare: it was of late time called a free chappell, a colledge, and an Hospital for poore sisters. The Quire, which of late yeares was not much inferior to that of Paules, was dissolued by Doctor Wilson a late maister there, the brethren and sisters remaining: this house was valued at 315. pound, foureteene shillings, two pence, being now of late yeres inclosed about, or pestered with small tenements, and homely cottages hauing inhabitants, English and strangers, more in number then in some citie<s> in England. There lie buried in this church, the countesse of Huntington, countesse of the March in her time, 1429. Iohn Holland Duke of Excester and Earle of Huntington 1447. and his two wiues, in a fayre Tombe on the North side the Quire, Thomas Walsingham Esquire, and Thomas Ballarde Esquire by him, 1465. Thomas Flemming knight. 1466. &c.

New Abbey on Eastsmith field.

On the East and by North of the Tower, lieth Eastsmithfield, and Tower hill two plots of ground so called, without the wall of the citie, and East from them both was sometime a Monasterie called new Abbey, founded by king Edward the third, in the yeare 1359. vpon occasion as followeth.

Buriall for the dead prepared in time of pestilence.

In the yeare 1348. the 23 of Edward the third, the first great pestilence in his time began and increased so sore, that for want of roome in churchyardes to burie the dead of the citie, and of the suburbes, one Iohn Corey clearke, procured of Nicholas prior of the holy Trinitie within Ealdgate, one Toft of ground neare vnto Eastsmithfield, for the burial of them that died, with condition that it might be called the Church yard of the holy Trinitie, which ground he caused by the aide of diuerse deuout citizens to be inclosed with a wall of stone. Robert Elsing sonne of William Elsing, gaue fiue pound thereunto: and the same was dedicated by Ralph Stratford Bishop of London, where innumerable bodies of the dead were afterwardes buried, and a chappell built in the same place to the honour of God: to the which king Edward setting his eie (hauing before in a tempest on the sea, and perill of drowning, made a vow to build a Monasterie to the honour of God, and our Ladie of grace, if God would grant him grace to come safe to land) builded there a Monasterie, placing an Abbot, and Monkes of the Cistercian, or white order. The bounds of this plot of ground togither with a decree for Tithes thereof, are expressed in the Charter, the effect whereof I haue set downe in another place, and haue to shew. This house, at the late general suppression was valued at 546.l. 10. d. yearely, it was surrendered in the yeare 1539. the 30. of Henrie the 8. since the which time, the said Monasterie being cleane pulled downe by sir Arthur Darcie knight, and other, of late time in place thereof is builded a large Storehouse for victuale, and conuenient Ouens are builded there, for baking of Bisket to serue her Maiesties Shippes. The groundes adioyning belonging to the said Abbey, are employed in building of small tenements.

Tower hill.; Marchant Tailers almes houses at the Tower hill.

For Tower hill, as the same is greatly diminished by building of tenements and garden plots, &c., so it is of late, to wit in the yeare of Christ 1593. on the North side thereof, and at the West ende of Hogstreete, beautified by certaine faire Almes houses, strongly builded of Bricke and timber, and couered with slate for the poore, by the Marchant Taylers of London, in place of some small cottages giuen to them by Richard Hils sometime a master of that companie, 100. loades of timber for that use being also giuen by Anthonie Radcliffe of the same societie, Alderman. In these Almes houses 14. charitable brethren of the said Marchant taylers yet liuing have placed 14. poore sole women, which receyue each of them of their founder sixteene pence, or better, weekely, besides 8.l. 15. s. yearely, paide out of the common Treasurie of the same corporation for fewell.

Abbey of Saint Clare Nunnes, called the minories.

From the west part of this Tower hill, towards Ealdgate, being a long continuall streete, amongst other smaller buildings in that row, there was sometimes an Abbey of Nunnes of the order of Saint Clare, called the Minories, founded by Edmond Earle of Lancaster, Leycester and Darbie, brother to king Edward the first, in the yeare 1293. the length of which Abbey conteyned 15. perches, and seuen foote, neare vnto the kings streete, or high way, &c as appeareth by a deede dated 1303. a plague of pestilence being in this Citie, in the yeare 1515. there died in this house, of Nunnes professed, to the number of 27. besides other lay people, seruants in their house. This house was valued to dispend 418. pounds, 8. s. 5.d. yearely, and was surrendered by Dame Elizabeth Saluage, the last Abbeyes there, vnto king Henry the 8. in the 30.of his raigne, the yeare of Christ 1539.

Store house for armour.; Parish church of S. Trinitie.

In place of this house of Nunnes, is now builded diuerse faire and large storehouses, for armour, and habiliments of warre, with diuerse worke houses seruing to the same purpose: there is a small parrish Church for inhabitants of the close, called S. Trinities.

A farme by the Minories wherein hath beene sold 3. pints of milke for one halfe pennie in memorie of men liuing.

Neare adioyning to this Abbey on the South side thereof, was sometime a Farme belonging to the said Nunrie, at the which Farme I my selfe in my youth haue fetched many a halfe pennie worth of Milke, and neuer had lesse then three Ale pints for a half-pennie in the Sommer, nor lesse then one Ale quart for a halfe pennie in the Winter, alwayes hote from the Kine, as the same was milked and strained. One Trolop, and afterwardes Goodman, were the Farmers there, and had thirtie or fortie Kine to the paile. Goodmans sonne being heyre to his fathers purchase, let out the ground first for grazing of horse, and then for garden plots, and liued like a Gentleman thereby.

Ditch of the citie lay open and was clensed, but now filled vp.

On the other side of that streete, lieth the ditch without the walles of the Citie, which of olde time was vsed to lie open, alwayes from time to time cleansed from filth and mud, as neede required, of great breadth, and so deepe, that diuers watring horses where they thought it shallowest, were drowned both horse and man. But now of later time, the same ditch is inclosed, and the banks thereof let out for Garden plots, Carpenters yardes, Bowling Allies, and diuerse houses thereon builded, whereby the Citie wall is hidden, the ditch filled vp, a small channell left, and that verie shallow.

Parish church of S. Bottolph.; Hoggelane.

From Ealdgate East, lyeth a large streete, and high way, sometime replenished with few, but faire and comely buildings on the North side, whereof the first was the parrish Church of Saint Buttolph, in a large Cemitarie, or Churchyard. This Church hath beene lately new builded at the speciall charges of the Priors of the holy Trinitie, patrones thereof, as it appeareth by the Armes of that house engrauen on the stone worke. The Parishioners of this parish being of late yeares mightily increased, the Church is pestered with loftes and seates for them. Monumentes in this Church are few: Henrie Iorden founded a Chaunterie there, (fn. 2) Iohn Romeny, Ollarius, and Agnes his wife (fn. 2) were buried there about 1408. Richard Chester Alderman, one of the Shiriffes 1484. Thomas Lord Darcie of the North, knight of the Garter, beheaded 1537. Sir Nicholas Carew of Bedington in Surrey, knight of the Garter, beheaded 1538. sir Arthur Darcy youngest sonne to Thomas Lorde Darcie, deceased at the new Abbey on the Tower hill, was buried there. East from this Parrish Church there were certaine faire Innes for receipt of trauellers repayring to the Citie, vp towards Hog-lane end, somewhat within the Barres, a marke shewing how farre the liberties of the Citie do extend.

This Hogge lane stretcheth North toward Saint Marie Spitle without Bishopsgate, and within these fortie yeares, had on both sides fayre hedgerowes of Elme trees, with Bridges and easie stiles to passe ouer into the pleasant fieldes, very commodious for Citizens therein to walke, shoote, and otherwise to recreate and refresh their dulled spirites in the sweete and wholesome ayre, which is nowe within few yeares made a continuall building throughout, of Garden houses, and small Cottages; and the fields on either side be turned into Garden plottes, teynter yardes, Bowling Allyes, and such like, from Houndes ditch in the West, so farre as white Chappell, and further towards the East.

Water conduit at Aldgate.

On the Southside of the high way from Ealdgate, were some few tenements thinly scattered, here & there, with many voyd spaces between them, vp to the Bars, but now that street is not only fully replenished with buildings outward, & also pestered with diuerse Allyes, on eyther side to the Barres, but to white Chappell and beyond. Amongst the which late buildings one memorable for the commoditie of that East part of this Cittie, is a fayre water Conduite, harde without the Gate, <at> the building whereof, in the yeare 1535. Sir Iohn Allen being Maior, two fifteenes were granted by the Citizens for the making, and laying of Pypes to conuey water from Hackney to that place, and so that worke was finished.

Hounds ditch.; Bedred people in Hounds ditch.

From Aldgate Northwest to Bishopsgate, lieth the ditch of the Cittie, called Houndes ditch, for that in olde time when the same lay open, much filth (conueyed forth of the Citie) especially dead Dogges were there layd or cast: wherefore of latter time a mudde wall was made inclosing the ditch, to keepe out the laying of such filth as had beene accustomed. Ouer against this mudde wall on the other side of the streete, was a fayre fielde, sometime belonging to the Priorie of the Trinitie, and since by Sir Thomas Audley giuen to Magdalen Colledge in Cambridge: this fields (as all other about the citie) was inclosed, reseruing open passage there into, for such as were disposed. Towards the street were some small cottages, of two stories high, and little garden plottes backewarde, for poore bedred people, for in that streete dwelt none other, builded by some Prior of the holy Trinitie, to whom that ground belonged.

In my youth, I remember, deuout people as well men as women of this Citie, were accustomed oftentimes, especially on Frydayes weekely to walke that way purposely there to bestow their charitable almes, euerie poore man or woman lying in their bed within their window, which was towards the streete open so low that euery man might see them, a clean linnen cloth lying in their window, and a payre of Beades to shew that there lay a bedred body, vnable but to pray onely. This streete was first paued in the yeare 1503.

Brasse ordinance cast in Hounds ditch.

About the latter raigne of Henrie the eight, three brethren that were Gunfounders surnamed Owens, gate ground there to build vpon, and to inclose for casting of Brasse Ordinance. These occupied a good part of the streete on the field side, and in short time diuerse other also builded there, so that the poore bedred people were worne out, and in place of their homely Cottages, such houses builded, as doe rather want roome then rent, which houses be for the most part possessed by Brokers, sellers of olde apparell, and such like. The residue of the fielde was for the most part made into a Garden, by a Gardener named Cawsway, one that serued the Markets with Hearbes and Rootes: and in the last yeare of King Edwarde the sixt, the same was parceled into Gardens, wherein are now many fayre houses of pleasure builded.

On the ditch side of this streete, the mudde wall is also by little and little all taken downe, the Banke of the ditch beeing raysed made leuell ground, and turned into Garden plottes, and Carpenters yardes, and many large houses are there builded, the filth of which houses, as also the earth cast out of their Vaultes, is turned into the ditch, by which meanes the ditch is filled vp, and both the ditch and wall so hidden, that they cannot bee seene of the passers by. This Portsoken warde hath an Alderman and his deputie, common Councellers sixe, Constables foure, Scauengers foure, for the Wardemote inquest eighteene, and a Beedle. To the fifteene it is cessed at foure pound ten shillings.


  • 1. rode] road 1603
  • 2. –1 Iohn Romeny Olarie and Agnes his wife 1603; John Romany, Olarie and Agnes his wives 1633.