Billinsgate warde

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

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John Stow, 'Billinsgate warde', A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603, (Oxford, 1908), pp. 205-211. British History Online [accessed 15 June 2024].

John Stow. "Billinsgate warde", in A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603, (Oxford, 1908) 205-211. British History Online, accessed June 15, 2024,

Stow, John. "Billinsgate warde", A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603, (Oxford, 1908). 205-211. British History Online. Web. 15 June 2024,

Billinsgate warde

Billinsgate Ward.; Smarts key. Billinsgate.

Billinsgate Ward, beginneth at the west ende of Towerstreete warde in Thames streete about Smarts Key, and runneth downe along that streete on the southside to saint Magnus Church at the Bridge foote, and on the North side of the said Thames street, from ouer against Smarts Key, till ouer against the north west corner of saint Magnus Church aforesayd: on this north side of Thames streete is saint Marie Hill lane, vp to saint Margarets Church, and then part of saint Margarets Pattens streete, at the ende of saint Marie hill lane: Next out of Thames streete is Lucas lane, and then Buttolph lane, and at the North end thereof Philpot lane, then is Rother lane,of olde time so called, and thwart the same lane is little Eastcheape, and these be the bounds of Billinsgate warde. Touching the principall ornaments within this ward. On the south side of Thames streete, beginning at the East ende thereof, there is first the saide Smarts Key, so called of one Smart sometime owner thereof, the next is Belinsgate whereof the whole warde taketh name, the which (leauing out of the fable thereof, faigning it to be builded by King Beline a Briton, long before the incarnation of Christ) is at this present a large Watergate, Port or Harbrough for shippes and boats, commonly arriuing there with fish, both fresh and salt, shell fishes, salt, Orenges, Onions, and other fruits and rootes, wheate, Rie, and graine of diuers sorts for seruice of the Citie, and the parts of this Realme adioyning. This gate is now more frequented then of olde time, when the Queenes Hith was vsed, as being appointed by the Kings of this Realme, to be the speciall or onely port for taking vp of all such kind of marchandises brought to this Citie by strangers and Forrenners, and the draw bridge of timber at London bridge was then to be raised or drawne vp for passage of ships with tops thither.

Customes of Billinsgate.

Touching the auncient customes of Belinsgate in the raigne of Edward the third, euerie great ship landing there, payd for standage two pence, euery little ship with Orelockes a penny, the lesser boate called a Battle a halfepenny: of two quarters of corne measured, the king was to haue one farthing, of a Combe of corne a pennie, of euery weight going out of the Citie a halfepennie, of two quarters of sea coale measured a farthing, and of euery Tunne of Ale going out of England beyond the seas, by Marchant strangers foure pence, of euery thousand Herring a farthing, except the franchises, &c.

Sommers key.;Lion key.

Next to this is Sommers key, which likewise tooke that name of one Sommer dwelling there, as did Lion key of one Lion owner thereof, and since of the signe of a Lion.

Buttolphs wharfe.

Then is there a faire Wharfe or Key, called Buttolphes gate; by that name so called in the times of William the Conqueror, and of Edward the Confessor, as I haue shewed alreadie in the description of the Gates.

Parish church of S. Buttolph.

Next is the parish Church of Saint Buttolphs, a proper church, and hath had many fayre monuments therein, now defaced and gone: notwithstanding I find by Testimonies abroad, that these were buried there, to wit, Roger Coggar, 1384. Andrew Pikeman, and Ioan his wife, 1391. Nicholas Iames Ironmonger, one of the Shiriffes, 1423. William Rainwell, Fishmonger, and Iohn Rainwell his sonne, Fishmonger, Maior, 1426. and deceasing 1445. buried there with this Epitaph.

Iohn Rainwel his opinion.

Citizens of London, call to your remembrance,
The famous Iohn Rainwell, sometime your Maior,
Of the Staple of Callis, so was his chance.
Here lieth now his Corps, his soule bright and faire,
Is taken to heauens blisse, thereof is no dispaire.
His acts beare witnes, by matters of recorde,
How charitable he was, and of what accorde,
No man hath beene so beneficiall as hee,
Vnto the Citie in giuing liberallie, &c.

Billinsgate ward, Downgate ward, and Aldgate ward, discharged of all fifteenes.

He gaue a stone house to bee a Reuestrie to that Church for euer: more, he gaue landes and Tenements to the vse of the Comminaltie, that the Maior and Chamberlaine should satisfie vnto the discharge of all persons, inhabiting the wards of Belinsgate, Downegate, and Aldgate, as oft as it shall happen any fifteene, by Parliament of the king to be graunted, also to the Exchequer in discharge of the Shiriffes, ten pound yearely, which the shiriffes vsed to pay for the Farme of Southwarke, so that all men of the Realme, comming or passing with carriage, should be free quitted and discharged of all Toll and other payments, afore time claimed by the shiriffes. Further, that the maior and Chamberlaine shall pay yearely to the shiriffes eight pound, so that the said shiriffes take no maner Toll or money of any person of this Realme, for their goodes, Marchandizes, victuals, and carriages for their passages at the great gate of the Bridge of the Citie, nor at the gate called the draw Bridge, &c. The ouerplus of money comming of the said lands and Tenements, deuided into euen portions, the one part to bee imployed to instore the Grayners of the Citie with Wheate for the releefe of the poore Comminaltie, and the other moytie to cleare and clense the shelues, and other stoppages of the riuer of Thames, &c.

Stephen Forstar Fishmonger, Maior in the yeare 1454. and Dame Agnes his wife, lie buried there. William Bacon Haberdasher, one of the Shiriffes, 1480. was there buried, besides many other persons of good worship, whose monuments are al destroyed by bad and greedy men of spoyle.

The number of strangers lately increased in this Citie.

This parish of saint Buttolph is no great thing, notwithstanding diuerse strangers are there harboured, as may appeare by a presentment, not many yeres since made, of strangers inhabitants in the warde of Billinsgate in these wordes. In Billinsgate warde were one and fiftie housholds of strangers, whereof thirtie of these housholdes inhabited in the parish of saint Buttolph in the chiese and principall houses, where they giue twentie pounde the yeare for a house lately letten for foure markes: the nearer they dwell to the water side, the more they giue for houses, and within thirtie yeares before there was not in the whole warde aboue three Netherlanders, at which time there was within the said parish leuied for the helpe of the poore, seauen and twentie pound by the yeare, but since they came so plentifully thither, there cannot bee gathered aboue eleuen pound, for the stranger will not contribute to such charges as other Citizens doe. Thus much for that south side of this warde.

Bosse Alley and the Bosse of Billinsgate

On the North side is Bosse Alley, so called of a Bosse of spring water continually running, which standeth by Billinsgate, against this Alley, and was sometimes made by the Executors of Richard Whittington.

S. Mary hill lane.; Parish church of S. Mary hill.

Then is saint Marie hill lane, which runneth vp North from Billinsgate, to the end of S. Margaret Pattens, commonly called Roode lane, and the greatest halfe of that lane is also of Belinsgate warde. In this saint Marie hill lane is the faire parish church of saint Mary called on the hill, because of the ascent from Billinsgate.

Alice Hackney found vncorrupted more then 100 yeres after she was buried.

This Church hath beene lately builded, as may appeare by this that followeth. Richard Hackney one of the shiriffes in the yeare 1322. and Alice his wife were there buried, as Robert Fabian writeth, saying thus. In the yeare 1497. in the moneth of Aprill, as Labourers digged for the foundation of a wall, within the Church of saint Marie hill neare vnto Belinsgate, they found a coffin of rotten timber, and therein the Corps of a woman whole of skinne, and of bones vndeseuered, and the ioyntes of her armes plyable, without breaking of the skinne, vpon whose sepulchre this was engrauen, Here lieth the bodies of Richard Hackney Fishmonger, and Alice his wife. The which Richard was shiriffe in the fifteenth of Edward the second, her bodie was kept aboue grounde three or foure dayes without noysance, but then it waxed vnsauorie, and so was againe buried. Iohn Mordant stockefishmonger was buryed there, 1387. Nicholas Exton Fishmonger, Maior, 1387, William Cambridge Maior, 1420. Richard Goslin shiriffe, 1422. William Phillip Sergeant at Armes, 1473, Robert Reuell one of the shiriffes, 1490. gaue liberally towarde the new building of this Church, and steeple, and was there buried, William Remington Maior, 1500. sir Thomas Blanke, Maior, 1582, William Holstocke Esquire, Controller of the Queenes (fn. 1) shippes, sir Cutbert Buckle Maior, 1594.

S. Margaret Pattens (fn. 2) lane; Parish church of S. Margaret Pattens. (fn. 2); Fire in Rode lane.

This lane on both sides is furnished with many fayre houses for Marchantes, and hath at the North end thereof, one other lane called S. Margaret Pattens, because of olde time Pattens were there vsually made and sold: but of latter time this is called Roode lane, of a Roode there placed, in the Churchyeard of Saint Margaret whilest the olde Church was taken downe, and againe newly builded, during which time the oblations made to this Roode, were imployed towardes building of the Church, but in the yeare 1538. about the 23. of May in the morning the sayde Roode was found to haue beene in the night preceding (fn. 3) (by people vnknown) broken all to peeces, together with the Tabernacle, wherein it had beene placed. Also on the 27. of the same moneth, in the same parish amongst the Basketmakers, a great and sudden fire happened in the night season, which within the space of three howres consumed more then a dozen houses, & nine persons were brent to death there, and thus ceased that worke of this Church, being at that time nigh finished to the steeple.

The lane on both sides beyond the same church to the midway towardes Fenchurch streete is of Bellinsgate warde.

Rope lane or Lucas lane.;Parish church of S. Andrew Hubbert.

Then againe out of Thames streete, by the west end of Saint Mary hill Church, runneth vp one other Lane, of old time called Roape Lane, since called Lucas lane, of one Lucas owner of some part thereof, and now corruptly called Loue Lane, it runneth vp by the east end of a parish church of saint Andrew Hubbert, or Saint Andrew in East Cheape: This Church and all the whole Lane called Lucas lane is of this Belinsegate Warde.

Then haue yee one other lane out of Thames streete, called Buttolph Lane, because it riseth ouer against the Parrish Church of S. Buttolph, and runneth vp North by the east end of S. Georges Church, to the West end of S. Androwes church, and to the south end of Philpot lane.

Parish church of S. George, Buttolph lane.

This Parrish Church of S. George in Buttolph lane is small, but the Monuments for two hundred yeares past are well preserued from spoyle, whereof one is of Adam Bamme Mayor 1397. Richard Bamme Esquier, his sonne of Gillingham in Kent, 1452. Iohn Walton Gentleman 1401. Marpor a Gentleman, 1400. Iohn Saint Iohn Marchant of Leauaunt, and Agnes his wife, 1400. Hugh Spencer Esquier, 1424. William Combes Stockfishmonger, one of the Shiriffes, 1452. who gaue forty pound towardes the workes of that Church. Iohn Stokar Draper one of the Shiriffes, 1477. Richard Dryland Esquier, and Katherine his wife, Daughter to Morrice Brune Knight of South Ockendon in Essex (fn. 1), Steward of Housholde to Humfrey Duke of Glocester, 1487, Nicholas Partrich one of the Shiriffes, 1519. in the Churchyeard, William Forman Mayor, 1538. Iames Mumforde Esquier, Surgeon to King Henry the eight, buried 1544, Thomas Gayle Haberdasher, 1340. Nicholas Wilford Marchant Taylor and Elizabeth his wife, about the yeare 1551. Edward Heyward 1573, &c. Roger Delakere, founded a Chauntrie there.

Rother lane or Red rose lane.

Then haue yee one other lane called Rother Lane, or Red Rose Lane, of such a signe there, now commonly called Pudding Lane, because the Butchers of Eastcheape haue their skalding House for Hogges there, and their puddinges with other filth of Beastes, are voided downe that way to theyr dung boates on the Thames.

This Lane stretcheth from Thames streete to little Easte Cheape chiefly inhabited by Basketmakers, Turners and Butchers, and is all of Billinsgate Warde. The Garland in little East Cheape, sometime a Brewhouse, with a Garden on the backside, adioyning to the Garden of Sir Iohn Philpot, was the chiefe house in this East Cheape, it is now diuided into sundry small tenements, &c.

This Warde hath an Alderman and his Deputie, common Counsellors <seuen> (fn. 1), Constables eleuen, Scauengers sixe, for the Wardmote inquest foureteene and a Beadle, it is taxed to the fifteen in London at 32. pound, and in the Exchequer at one and thirty pound, ten shillings.


  • 1. Queenes] kings 1598, 1603
  • 2. Pattens] Patents 1598; patentes 1603
  • 3. preceding] proceeding 1598, 1603
  • 4. South Ockendon]: Southuckenton 1603
  • 5. blank in 1598, 1603