The singularities of London

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

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'The singularities of London', in A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603, (Oxford, 1908) pp. 199-217. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]

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The singularities of the City of London.

Whatsoever is said of Cities generally, maketh also for London specially: Howbeit these thinges are particularly for our purpose to bee considered in it. The scituation: the former estimation that it hath had: the seruice that it hath done: the present estate and gouernment of it, and such benefites as do grow to the realme by the maintenance thereof.

This Realme hath onely three principall Riuers, whereon a royall Cittie may well be scituated: Trent in the north, Seuerne, in the southwest, and Thames in the southeast: of the which, Thames both for the streight course in length reacheth furthest into the bellie of the land, and for the breadth and stilnesse of the water is most nauigable vp and downe the streame: by reason whereof London standing almost in the middle of that course, is more commodiously serued with prouision of necessaries, then any towne standing vpon the other two Riuers can be, and doth also more easily communicate to the rest of the Realme the commodities of her owne entercourse and trafficke.

This Riuer openeth indifferently vpon France and Flaunders, our mightiest neighbours, to whose doings wee ought to haue a bent eye, and special regard: and this Citie standeth thereon in such conuenient distance from the sea, as it is not onely neare enough for intelligence of the affayres of those Princes, and for the resistance of their attempts: but also sufficiently remoued from the feare of any sodaine daungers that may be offered by them: whereas for the Prince of this Realme to dwell vpon Trent, were to turne his backe, or blind side to his most daungerous borderers: and for him to rest and well vpon Seuerne, were to be shut vp in a cumbersome corner: which openeth but vpon Ireland onely, a place of much lesse importance.

Neither could London be pitched so commodiously vpon any other part of the same riuer of Thames, as where it now standeth. For if it were remoued more to the west, it should lose the benefit of the ebbing and flowing: and if it were seated more towardes the East, it should be nearer to daunger of the enemie, and further both from the good ayre, and from doing good to the inner parts of the Realme: neither may I omit that none other place is so plentifully watered with springs, as London is.

And whereas, amongst other things, Corne and Cattell, Hay and Fuell be of great necessitie: of the which Cattell may be driuen frome afarre, and corne may easily be transported.

But Hay and Fuell, being of greater bulke and burthen, must be had at hande: onely London, by the benefit of this scituation and Riuer, may be sufficiently serued therewith. In which respect an Alderman of London reasonably (as me thought) affirmed, that although London receiued great nourishment by the residence of the Prince, the repaire of the Parliament, and Courtes of Justice, yet it stoode principally by the aduantage of the scituation vpon the Riuer: for whenas on a time it was told him by a Courtier, that Queene Mary, in her displeasure against London, had appointed to remoue with the Parliament and Terme to Oxford, this playne man demaunded, whether she meant also to diuert the Riuer of Thames from London, or no? and when the Gentleman had answered no, then, quoth the Alderman, by Gods grace wee shall do well enough at London, whatsoeuer become of the Tearme and Parliament. I my selfe being then a young scholler at Oxford, did see great preparation made towards that Tearme and Parliament, and do well remember that the common opinion and voyce was, that they were not holden there because prouision of Hay could not be made in all the Countrey to serue for ten whole dayes together, and yet is that quarter plentifully stored with Hay for the proportion of the shire it selfe.

For proofe of the ancient estimation of London, I will not vse the Authoritie of the Brittish Historie, nor of such as follow it, (although some hold it credible enough that London was first Trinobantum ciuitas, or Troia noua, that famous Citie in our Histories, and then Ludstoune, and by corruption London, as they report) because they bee not of sufficient force to drawe the gaynesayers. Neither will I stand much vpon that honourable testimony which Geruas. Tilberiens. giueth to London in his booke de otiis Imperialibus, saying thus, concerning the blessing of God towards it,

In Vrbe London, exceptione habet diuulgatum id per omnes æquè gentes Lucani prouerbium:
Inuida fatorum series summisque negatum Stare diu:
Nam ea annis 354. ante Romam conditam numquam amisit principatum nec bello consumpta est.

But I will rather vse the credite of one or two auncient forraine writers, and then descend to latter histories. Cornel. Tacitus lib. 14. Annal. sayth, Londinum copia negociatorum et comme atuum maxime celebris; and Herodian in the life of Seuerus the Emperour sayth, Londinum vrbs magna et opulenta. Beda, lib. Hist. Ecclesiastic.1. Cha. 29. sheweth that Pope Gregoryappointed two Archbishops Seas in England, the one at London, the other at Yorke; king Ethelstane in his lawes appointing how many Mint maisters should be in each Citie, allotteth eight to London, and not so many to any other Citie. The Penner of those lawes that are said to be made by Edward the Confessor, and confirmed by William the Conqueror saith, London est caput Regni et Legum. King Henry the first, in the third Chapter of his lawes, commaundeth that no Citizen of London should be amerced aboue 100 s. for any pecuniarie paine. The great Charter of England, that Helenafor which there was so long and so great warre and contention, in the ninth chapter saith, ciuitas London habeat omnes suas Libertates antiquas &c. About the time of King I. London was reputed regni firmata Columna, as Alexander Necham writeth, and in the beginning of the raigne of Richard the second it was called Camera regis, as Thomas Walsingham reporteth. I passe ouer the recitall of the Saxon Charter of king Williamthe Conqueror, the latine Charters of Henrythe first & second, of Richard the first, of Iohn, and of Edward the first, all which gaue vnto the Citizens of London great Priuiledges, and of Edwardthe third, who reciting al the grants of his predecessors, not onely confirmed but also increased the same, and of the latter kings who haue likewise added many things thereunto. Onely I wish to be noted by them, that during all this time, all those wise and politique Princes haue thought it fit, not onely to maintaine London in such plight as they found it, but also to adorne, increase and amplifie it with singular tokens of their liberall fauour and good liking. And whether there be not now the same or greater causes to draw the like or better estimation and cherishing, let any man be iudge, that will take the paines to compare the present estate of London, yet still growing to better, with the former condition of the same.

It were too much to recite particularly the Martiall seruices that this city hath done from time to time: neither do I think that they be all committed to writing, only for a tast as it were, I will note these few following.

Almost 60. yeares before the Conquest, a huge armie of the Danes (whereof king Sweyne was the leader,) besieged king Etheldredin London (then the which as the storie sayeth then he had none other refuge), but they were manfully repulsed, and a great number of them slaine.

After the death of this Sweyne, his sonne Canutus (after warde king of England) besieged London, both by land and water: but after much labour finding it impregnable, he departed: and in the same yeare repayring his forces, he girded it with a new siege, in the which the Citizens so defended themselues, and offended him, that in the end he went away with shame.

In the dissention that arose betweene king Edward the Confessor & his father in law Earle Goodwin (which was the mightiest subject within this land that euer I haue read of) the Earle with a great armie came to London, and was for all that by the countenance of the Citizens resisted, till such time as the Nobilitie made reconciliation betweene them. About 70. years after the Conquest, Maudethe Empresse made warre vpon king Stephenfor the right of the Crowne, and had taken his person prisoner, but by the strength and assistance of the Londoners and Kentishmen, Maudewas put to flight at Winchester, and her brother Robert, then Earle of Glocester, was taken in exchange, for whome King Stephenwas deliuered. I dispute not whose right was better, but I auouch the seruice, seeing Stephenwas in possession.

The Hystorie of William Walworththe Maior of London is well knowne, by whose manhoode and policie, the person of king Richardethe second was rescued, the Citie saued, Wat Tilarkilled, and all his straglers discomfited, in rewarde of which seruice, the Maior and other Aldermen were knighted.

Iacke Cade also hauing discomfited the kinges Armie, that was sent agaynst him, came to London, and was there manfully and with long fight resisted, vntill that by the good policie of the Citizens his company was dispersed.

Finally, in the tenth yeare of the raigne of king Edwarde the fourth, and not many dayes before the death of Henric the sixt, Thomas Neuell, commonly called the bastard of Fauconbridge, armed a great companie agaynst the king, and being denied passage through London, he assaulted it on diuerse parts: but he was repulsed by the Citizens, and chased as farre as Stratford with the losse of a great many.

Thus much of certaine their principall, and personall seruices, in war onely, for it were infinite to repeate the particular aides of men and money which London hath ministered: and I had rather to leaue it to be coniectured at, by comparison to be made between it and other Cities, whereof I will giue you this one note for an example. In the 12. yeare of the raigne of king Edward the 2. it was ordered by Parliament, that euery City of the realme should make out souldiers agaynst the Scots: at which time London was appoynted to send 200. men, and Canterburie, being then one of our best Cities, 40. and no more. And this proportion of fiue (fn. 1) to one, is now in our age increased, at the least fiue (fn. 1) to one, both in souldiers and subsidie. As for the other seruices that London hath done in tymes of peace, they are to be measured by consideration of the commodities, whereof I will speake anon. In the meane season let the estate and gouernment of this City be considered to the end that it may appeare that it standeth well with the policie of the Realme.

Cæsar in his Commentaries is witnes, that in his time the Cities of Britaine had large territories annexed vnto them, and were seuerall estates of themselues, gouerned by particular kings or Potentates, as in Italie and Germany yet be: and that Mandubratius was king of the Trinobants, whose chiefe citie London is taken to haue beene. And I find not that this gouernment was altered, either by Cæsar, or his successors, notwithstanding that the Countrie became tributarie vnto them: but that it continued vntill at length the Britons themselues reduced all their peoples into one Monarchie, howbeit that lasted not any long season: for vpon Vortiger their king came the Saxons our Auncestors, and they draue the Britons into Wales, Cornwall, and Britaine in France, and in processe of Warre diuided the Country amongst themselues into an Eptarchie, or seauen kingdomes, of the which one was called the Kingdome of the East Saxons, which hauing in maner the same limits that the Bishoprike of London now inioyeth, contayned Essex, Middlesex and a part of Hertfordshire, and so included London. Again, it appeareth that in course of time and about 800. yeares after Christ, Egbert (then K. of the west Saxons) Vt pisces sape minutos magnus comest, ouercame the rest of the kings, and once more erected a Monarchie, the which till the comming in of the Normans, and from thence euen hitherto, hath continued.

Now I doubt not (whatsoeuer London was in the time of Cæsar) but that vnder the Eptarchie and Monarchy it hath beene a subiect, and no free City, though happily endowed with some large priuiledges. For king William the Conqueror found a Portreeue there, whose name was Godfrey (by which name he greeteth him in his Saxon Charter (fn. 2), and his office was none other then the charge of a Bayliffe, or Reeue, as by the selfe same name continuing yet in Grauesend, and certain other places, may well appeare. But the Frenchmen vsing their own language, called him sometime a Prouost, and sometime a Bayliffe: whatsoeuer his name and office were, he was perpetuus Magistratus, giuen by the Prince, and not chosen by the Citizens, as it seemeth, for what time king Richard the first needed money towardes his expedition in the Holy land, they first purchased of him the Libertie to choose yearly from amongst themselues two Bayliffes: and king Iohn his successor, at their like sute changed their Bayliffes into a Maior, and two shriffes. To these Henrie the third added Aldermen, at the first elegible yearly, but afterward by king Edward the third made perpetuall Magistrates, and Iustices of the peace within their wards, in which plight of government it presently standeth. This shortly as I could, is the Historical and outward estate of London: now come I to the inward pith and substance.

The estate of this Citie is to be examined by the quantitie, and by the qualitie.

The quantitie therefore consisteth in the number of the Citizens, which is very great, and farre exceedeth proportion of Hippodamus, which appoynted 10000. and of others which haue set downe other numbers, as meete stintes in theyr opinions to bee well gouerned, but yet seeing both reason and experience haue freed vs from the law of any definite number, so that other things be obserued, let that bee admitted: neither is London, I feare me, so great as populous: for well sayth one, Non idem est magna Ciuitas & frequens, magna est enim quæ multos habet qui arma ferre possunt, whatsoeuer the number bee, it breedeth no feare of sedition: for as much as the same consisteth not in the extreames, but in a verie medio critie of wealth and riches, as it shall better appeare anone. And if the causes of English rebellions be searched out, they shall bee found in effect to bee these twaine, Ambition and Couetousnes, of which the first raigneth in the mindes of high and noble personages, or of such others, as seeke to be gracious and popular, and haue robbed the hearts of the multitude, whereas in London, if any where in the worlde, honos vere onus est, and euery man rather shunneth then seeketh the Maioraltie which is the best marke amongst them, neyther hath there been any strong faction, nor any man more popular then the rest, forasmuch as the gouernment is by a Paterne, as it were, and alwayes the same, how oftensoeuer they change their Magistrate. Couetousnesse, that other Syre of sedition, possesseth the miserable and needy sort, and such as be naughty packes, vnthrifts, which although it cannot be chosen, but that in a frequent City as London is, there shall be found many, yet beare they not any great sway, seeing the multitude and most part there is of a competent wealth, and earnestly bent to honest labour. I confesse that London is a mighty arme and instrument to bring any great desire to effect, if it may be woon to a mans deuotion: whereof also there want not examples in the English Historie. But forasmuch as the same is by the like reason seruiceable and meete to impeach any disloyall attempt, let it rather be well gouerned then euil liked therefore, for it shall appeare anon that as London hath adhered to some rebellions, so hath it resisted many, and was neuer the author of any one. The qualitie of this Citty consisteth eyther in the law and gouer<n>ment thereof: or in the degrees and condition of the Citizens, or in their strength and riches.

It is besides the purpose to dispute, whether the estate of the gouernement here bee a Democratie, or Aristocratie, for whatsoeuer it bee, being considered in it selfe, certayne it is, that in respect of the whole Realme, London is but a Citizen, and no Citie, a subiect and no free estate, an obedienciarie, and no place indowed with any distinct or absolute power, for it is gouerned by the same law that the rest of the Realme is, both in causes Criminall, and Ciuill, a few customes onely excepted, which also are to bee adiudged or foriudged by the common law. And in the assembly of the estates of our Realme (which we call Parliament) they are but a member of the Comminaltie, and send two Burgesses for theyr Citie, as euerie poore Borough doth, and two knights for their Countie as euery other shyre doth, and are as straightly bound by such lawes as any part of the Realme is, for if contribution in subsidie of money to the Prince bee decreed, the Londoners haue none exemption, no not so much as to assesse themselues: for the prince doth appoint the Commissioners.

If Souldiers must be mustered, Londoners haue no law to keepe themselues at home, if prouision for the Princes housholde bee to bee made, their goods are not priuiledged. In summe, therefore, the gouernment of London differeth not in substance, but in ceremonie from the rest of the realme, as namely, in the names and choise of their officers, and in their Guildes and Fraternities, established for the maintenance of Handicrafts, and Labourers, and for equitie and good order, to be kept in buying and selling. And yet in these also are they to be controlled by the generall law: for by the statutes 28. E. 3. Chap. 10. and 1. H. 4. Chap. 15. the points of their misgouernment are inquirable by the inhabitants of the Forren shyres adioyning and punishable by such Iusticiars as the Prince shall thereunto depute. To conclude therefore, the estate of London for gouernment is so agreeable a Symphony with the rest, that there is no feare of daungerous discord to ensue thereby.

The multitude (or whole body) of this populous Citie is two wayes to bee considered, generally and specially: generally, they bee naturall Subiects, a part of the Commons of this Realme, and are by birth for the most part a mixture of all countries of the same, by bloud Gentlemen, Yeomen and of the basest sort, without distinction, and by profession busie Bees, and trauellers for their liuing in the hiue of this common wealth, but specially considered, they consist of these three parts, Marchantes, Handicrafts men, and Labourers. Marchandise is also diuided into these three sortes, Nauigation, by the which Marchandizes are brought, and carried in and out ouerthe Seas: Inuection by the which commodities are gathered into the Citie, and dispersed from thence into the Countrey by lande: and Negotiation, which I may call the keeping of a retayling or standing shop. In common speech they of the first sort be called Marchanted, and both the other Retaylers. Handicrafts men bee those which do exercise such artes as require both labour and cunning, as Goldsmithes, Taylors, and Haberdashers, Skinners, &c. Labourers and Hirelings I call those quorum operae non arts emuntur, as Tullie sayeth, of which sort be Porters, Carmen, Watermen, &c. Againe these three sortes may be considered, eyther in respect of their wealth, or number: in wealth Marchants, and some of the chiefe Retaylers haue the first place: the most part of Retaylers, and all artificers, the second or meane place: and Hyrelings the lowest roome: but in number they of the middle place be first, and doe farre exceede both the reset: Hyrelings be next, and Marchantes bee the last. Now, out of this, that the estate of London, in the persons of the Citizens, is so friendly enterlaced, and knit in league with the rest of the Realme, not only at their beginning by birth and bloud as I haue shewed, but also verie commonly at their ending by life and conuersation (for that Marchantes and rich men, being satisfyed with gaine, doe for the most part marry theyr Children into the Countrey, and conuey themselues after Ciceroes counsell, veluti ex portu in agros & possessiones): I doe inferre (fn. 3) that there is not onely no danger towardes the common quiet thereby, but also great occasion and cause of good loue and amitie; out of this, that they be generally bent to trauell, and doe flie pouertie, per mare, per saxa, per ignes, as the Poet sayeth, I draw hope, that they shall escape the note of many vices, which adle people do fall into. And out of this, that they beea great mutitude, and that yet the greatest part of them be neyther too rich nor too poore, but doe liue in the mediocritie, I conclude with Aristotle, that the Prince needeth not to feare sedition by them, for thus sayth hee: Magnæae vrbes magis sunt a seditione liberæae, quod in eis dominetur mediocritas, nam in paruis nihil medium est, sunt enim omnes vel pauperes vel opulenti. I am now to come to the strength and power of this Cittie, which consisteth partly in the number of the Citizens themselues, whereof I haue spoken before, partly in their riches, and in their warlike furniture, for as touching the strength of the place (fn. 4) it selfe, that is apparant to the eye, and therefore is not to be treated of.

The wealth and warlicke furniture of London is eyther publicke or priuate, & no doubt the common treasure cannot be much there, seeing that the reuenew they haue hardly sufficeth to maintaine their bridge and Conduits, and to pay their Officers and seruantes. Their Tolle doth not any more then pay their Fee Farme, that they pay to the Prince. Their Issues for default of Appearances be neuer leuied, and the profites of their Courtes of Iustice do goe to particular mens handes. Argumentes hereof be these two, one that they can do nothing of extraordinarie charge without a generall contribution: an other that they haue suffered such as haue borne the chiefe office amongst them, and were become Bankrupt, to depart the Cittie without reliefe, which I think they neyther would nor could haue done, if the common tresure had sufficed to couer their shame, hereof there fore we need not be afraide. The publike armour and munition of this Citty remayneth in the Hals of the Companies, as it doth throughout the whole Realme for a great part in the Parrish churches, neyther is that kept together, but onely for obedience to the law, which commandeth it, and therefore if that thereaten daunger to the estate it may by another law bee taken from them, and committed to a more safe Armourie.

The priuate riches of London resteth chiefly in the handes of the Marchantes and Retaylers, for Artificers haue not much to spare, and Labourers haue neede that it were giuen vnto them. Now how necessarie and seruiceable the estate of Marchandise is to this realme, it may partly appeare by the practise of that peaceable, politike and rich Prince king Henry the seauenth, of whome Polidore (writing his life) sayeth thus: Mercatores ille sæpenumero pecunia multa data gratuito iuuabat, vt mercature ars vna omnium cunctis æque mortalibus tum commoda, tum necessaria, in suo regno copiosior esset. But chiefly by the inestimable commodities that grow thereby: for who knoweth not that we haue extreame neede of many thinges, whereof forraine Countries haue great store, and that wee may spare many thinges whereof they haue neede: or who is ignorant of this, that wee haue no mines of siluer or golde within our realme: so that the encrease of our coyne and Bulloine commeth from else where, and yet neverthelesse we be both fed, clad, and otherwise serued with forraine commodities and delightes, as plentifull as with our domesticall: which thing commeth to passe by the meane of Marchandise onely, which importeth necessaries from other Countries, and exporteth the superfluities of our own. For seeing wee haue no way to encrease our treasure by mines of gold or siluer at home, and can haue nothing without money or ware from other countries abroad, it followeth necessarily, that if wee follow the counsel of that good olde husband Marcus Cato, saying, Oportet patrem familias vendacem esse, non emacem, and doe carrie more commodities in value ouer the seas, then we bring hether from thence, that then the Realme shall receiue that ouerplus in money: but if we bring from beyond the seas marchandise of more value, then that which we do send ouer may counteruaile, then the Realme payeth for that ouerplus in ready money, and consequently is a looser by that ill husbandrie: and therefore in this part great and heedefull regard must be had that Symmetria and due proportion be kept, least otherwise eyther the Realme bee defrauded of her treasure, or the subiectes corrupted in vanitie, by excessive importation of superfluous and needles Marchandize, or els that wee feele penurie, euen in our greatest plentie and store, by immoderate exportation of our own needfull commodities. Other the benefites that marchandise bringeth, shall hereafter appeare in the general recitall of the commodities that come by London, and therefore it resteth that I speake a word of Retaylors, and finally shewe that much good groweth by them both. The chiefe part of Retayling, is but a handmaide to marchandise, dispersing by peecemeale, that which the marchant bringeth in grosse: of which trade be Mercers, Grocers, Vinteners, Haberdashers, Ironmongers, Millayners, and al such as sell wares growing or made beyond the seas, and therefore so long as Marchandise it selfe shalbe profitable and such proportion kept as neyther we loose our treasure thereby nor be cloyed with vnnecessary forrain wares, this kind of Retailing is to be retayned also.

Now that Marchantes and Retaylors of London be very rich and great, it is so farre from any harme, that it is a thing both prayseworthy and profitable: for Mercatura (sayeth Cicero) si tenuis est, sordida putanda est, sin magna est et copiosa non est vituperanda. And truely Marchants and Retaylars doe not altogether intus canere, and profit themselues only, for the prince and realme both are enriched by their riches: the realme winneth treasure, if their trade be so moderated by authority, that it breake not proportion, & they besides beare a good fleece, which the prince may sheare when shee (fn. 5) seeth good.

But here before I conclude this part, I haue shortly to aunswere the accusation of those men, which charge London with the losse and decay of many (or most) of the auncient Citties, Corporate Townes and markets within this Realme, by drawing from them to her selfe alone, say they, both all trade of traffique by sea, and the retayling of Wares, and exercise of Manuall Artes also. Touching Nauigation, which I must confesse, is apparantly decayed in many port townes, and flourisheth onely or chiefly at London, I impute that partly to the fall of the Staple, the which being long since a great trade, and bestowed sometimes at one town and sometimes at another within the realme, did much enrich the place where it was, and being now not onely diminished in force, but also translated ouer the seas, cannot but bring some decay with it, partly, to the empayring of hauens, which in many places haue empouerished those townes, whose estate doth ebbe and flow with them, and partly to the dissolution of religious houses, by whose wealth and haunt, many of those places were chiefly fedde and nourished. I meane not to rehearse particular examples of euery sort: for the thing it selfe speaketh, and I hast to an ende: As for Retaylers therefore, and Handicraftes men, it is no maruaile if they abandon Countrie Townes, and resort to London: for not onely the Court, which is now a dayes much greater & more gallant then in former times, and which was wonte to bee contented to remaine with a small companie, sometimes at an Abbey or Priorie, sometimes at a Bishops house, and sometimes at some meane Mannor of the kings own, is now for the most part either abiding at London, or else so neare vnto it, that the prouision of thinges most fit for it, may easily be fetched from thence: but also by occasion thereof, the Gentlemen of all shires do file and flock to this Citty, the yonger sort of them to see and shew vanity, and the elder to saue the cost and charge of Hospitality, and house keeping. For hereby it commeth to passe that the Gentlemen being eyther for a good portion of the yeare out of the Countrie, or playing the Farmours, Grasiars, Brewers or such like, more then Gentleman were wont to doe within the Countrie, Retaylers and Artificers, at the least of such thinges as pertayne to the backe or belly, do leaue the Countrie townes, where there is no vent, and do file to London, where they be sure to finde ready and quicke market. And yet I wish, that euen as many Townes in the Low countries of king Philips doe stand some by one handy arte, and some by an other: so also that it might be prouided here that the making of some things, might (by discrete dispensation) be allotted to some speciall townes, to the end, that although the daintinesse of men cannot be restrayned, which will needes seeke those things at London, yet other places also might be relieued, at the least by the Workmanship of them.

Thus much then of the estate of London, in the gouernment thereof, in the condition of the Citizens, and in their power and riches. Now follow<s> the enumeration of such benefited, as redound to the Prince and this Realme by this City: In which doing I professe not to rehearse all, but onely to recite and runne ouer the chiefe and principall of them.

Besides the commodities of the furtherance of Religion, and Iustice: The propagation of Learning: The maintenance of artes: The increase of riches, and the defence of Countries (all which are before shewed to grow generally by Cities, and be common to London with them) London bringeth singularly these good thinges following.

By aduantage of the scituation it disperseth forraine Wares, (as the stomacke doth meat) to all the members most commodiously.

By the Benefite of the riuer of Thames, and greate trade of Marchandize, it is the chiefe maker of Marriners, and Nurse of our Nauie, and ships (as men know) be the wooden Walles for defence of our realme.

It maintaineth, in flourishing estate, the countries of Norfolke, Suffolke, Essex, Kent and Sussex, which as they lie in the face of our most puissant neighbour, so ought they, aboue others, to bee conserued in the greatest strength and riches: and these, as it is well knowne, stand not so much by the benefite of their owne soile, as by the neighbourhood and nearnes which they haue to London.

It releeueth plentifullie, and with good policie, not onely her owne poore people, a thing which scarsely any other Towne or shire doth, but also the poore that from each quarter of the Realme doe flocke vnto it, and it imparteth liberally to the necessitie of the Uniuersities besides. It is an ornament to the realm by the beautie thereof, and a terror to other countries by reason of the greate welth and frequencie. It spreadeth the honour of our Countrie far abroad by her long nauigations, and maketh our power feared, euen of barbarous Princes. It only is stored with rich Marchants, which sort onely is tollerable: for beggarlie Marchantes do byte too neare, and will do more harme then good to the Realm.

It onely of any place in this realme is able to furnish the sodaine necessity with a strong armie. It auayleth the prince in Tronage, Poundage and other her customes, much more then all the rest of the realme.

It yeeldeth a greater Subsidie then any one part of the realme, I meane not for the proportion of the value of the goodes onelie, but also for the faithfull seruice there vsed, in making the assesse, for no where else bee men taxed so neare to their iust value as in London: yea many are found there, that for their countenance and credite sake, refuse not to bee rated aboue their abilitie, which thing neuer hapneth abroade in the country. I omit that in ancient time, the inhabitants of London & other Cities, were accustomably taxed after the tenth of their goods, when the countrie was assessed at the fifteenth, and rated at the viij. when the countrie was set at the xii. for that were to awake a sleeping Dogge, and I should be thought dicenda, tacenda locutus, as the Poet said.

It onely doth and is able to make the Prince a readie prest or loane of money.

It onely is found fit and able to entertaine strangers honourablie, and to receiue the Prince of the Realme worthily.

Almightie God (qui nisi custodiat ciuitatem, frustra vigilat custos) grant, that her Maiestie euermore rightly esteeme & rule this Citie, and he giue grace, that the Citizens may answere duty, aswell towards God and her Maiestie, as towards this whole realme and countrey, Amen

An Appendix contayning the examination of such causes as haue heretofore moued the Princes, either to fine and ransome the Citizens of London, or to seize the Liberties of the Citty it selfe

These all may be reduced to these few heads: for eyther the Citizens haue adheared, in aide or armes, to such as haue warred vpon the Prince: or they haue made tumult, and broken the common peace at home: or they haue misbehaued themselues in point of gouernment and iustice: or finally, and to speake the plaine truth, the princes haue taken hold of small matters, and coyned good summes of money out of them.

To the first head I will referre whatsoeuer they haue done either in those warres that happened betweene king Stephen and Maude the Empresse, being competitors of the crowne: or betweene king Iohn and his nobles, assisting Lewes the French kings sonne when he inuaded the Realme: for it is apparent by all Histories, that the Londoners were not the mouers of these wars, but were onely vsed as instruments to maintayne them. The like is to be said of all the offences that king Henry the third, whose whole raigne was a continuall warfare, conceiued against this City, concerning the bearing of Armour against him: for the first part of his raigne was spent in the continuation of those warres that his father had begun with Lewes. And the rest of his life he bestowed in that contention, which was commonly called the Barons warres. In which Tragedy London, as it could not be otherwise, had now and then a part, and had many a snub at the kings hand for it. But in the end when he had triumphed ouer Simon Mountford at Euesham, London felt it most tragicall: for then hee both seysed their liberties, and sucked themselues drie: and yet Edictum Kenelworth, made shortly after, hath an honourable testimonie for London, saying, Te London laudamus, &c. As for the other offences that he tooke against the Londoners, they pertaine to the other parts of my diuision.

Next after this, against whom the Londoners did put on armes, followeth king Edward the second, who in the end was depriued of his kingdome, not by their meanes but by a generall defection, both of his owne wife and sonne, and almost of the whole Nobility and Realme besides. In which trouble, that furious assault and slaughter committed by them vpon the Bishop of Excester, then Treasurer of the Realme, is to be imputed, partly to the sway of the time wherewith they were carried, and partly to a priuate displeasure which they had to the Bishop.

Finally commeth to hand King Richard the second: for these three onely in all the Catalogue of our kings, haue beene heauie Lordes to London, who also had much contention with his Nobilitie, and was in the end deposed. But whatsoeuer countenance and aide the Citie of London brought to the warres and vprores of that time, it is notoriously true that London neuer led the dance, but euer followed the pipe of the Nobilitie. To close vp this first part therefore I affirme, that in all the troublesome actions during the raigne of these three kings, as also in all that heauing in, & hurling out, that after ward happened betweene king H. the sixt, and king Edward the fourth, the City of London was many times a friend and fautor, but neuer the first motiue or author of any intestine warre or sedition.

In the second room I place a couple of tumultuous affrayes that chaunced in the daies of king R. the first, the one vpon the day of his Coronation against the Iewes, which contrary to the kings owne proclamation, would needes enter the Church to see him sacred, & were therefore cruelly handled by the common people. The other was caused by Williamwith the long beard, who after that he had inflamed the poore people against the richer sort, and was called to answere for his fault, tooke Bow church for Sanctuary, and kept it Castle like, till he was fiered out.

Here is place also for the stoning to death of a Gentleman, seruant to the halfe brother of king Henry the third, which had before prouoked the Citizens to fury, by wounding diuers of them without any cause, 1257: for the riotous fray betweene the seruantes of the Goldsmithes and the Taylors, 1268: for the hurly burly and bloodshed betweene the Londoners and the men of Westminster, moued by the young men vpon an occasion of a wrestling on Saint Iames day, 1221, and made worse by one Constantine an ancient Citizen: for the braule and businesse that arose about a Bakers loafe at Salisbury place 1391: for the which and some other misdemeanors king Richard the 2. was so incensed by euill counsell against the Londoners that he determined to destroy them, & race their Citie: and for the fight that was betweene the citizens & sanctuary men of S.Martins 1454, vnder king Henry the sixt: and finally for the misrule on euill May day 1519. and for such other like if there haue beene any.

To the third head may be referred the seiser of their liberties, for a false iudgement giuen against a poore widdow, called Margaret Viel, 1246. the 2. seueral seisers in one yeare 1258. for false packing in collections of money, and other enormities: and finally the seiser made by king Edward the first for taking of bribes of the Bakers 1285. But all this security in seising and resuming of the liberties, which was in old time the onely ordinarie punishment, was at length mitigated by king Edward the third and king Henry the fourth in their statutes before remembred.

In the last place stand those offences, which I repute rather taken then giuen, and do fall within the measure of the adage, ut canem cædas, cito inuenias baculum: for king Iohn in the tenth of his raigne deposed the Bailiffes of London, because they had bought vp the wheate in the market, so that there was not to serue his Purueyers. King Henry the third his sonne compelled the Londoners to pay him because they had lent to Lewes the French the like summe, of a good mind to dispatch him out of their Citie and the realme, at such time as the Protector and the whole Nobilitie fell to composition with him for his departure. And the same king fined them at three thousand markes, for the escape of a prisoner out of Newgate, of whom they tooke no charge: for he was a Clarke, prisoner to the Bishop of London, voder the custody of his owne seruants, and as for the place, it was onely borrowed of the Londoners to serue that turne. Hitherto of these things to this end, that whatsoeuer misdemeanor shall bee obiected out of Historie against London, the same may herein appeare, both in his true place, and proper colour.


  • 1. fiue 1603; ? twenty-five, or -sixe.
  • 2. Charter] Chre 1603
  • 3. inferre] referre 1603
  • 4. place] peece 1598, 1603
  • 5. Shee] he 1633