Preface to the historical notes

Pages xviii-xix

Survey of London: Volume 3, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt I: Lincoln's Inn Fields. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1912.

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The names of the residents in Lincoln's Inn Fields are taken generally from the ratebooks of four authorities. (1) Those formerly belonging to the Vestry of St. Clement Danes and now in the possession of the Westminster City Council. They contain information as to the houses on the south side of Lincoln's Inn Fields, and start from the year 1653. (2) Those formerly belonging to the Vestry of St. Gilesin-the-Fields and now in the possession of the Holborn Metropolitan Borough Council. They give particulars of the houses on the west and north sides of the Fields, but are not available before 1730. (3) Those formerly belonging to the Westminster Commission of Sewers and now in the possession of the London County Council. They begin in 1700, but were only made up at intervals, and being based upon the parish ratebooks, can be neglected when the latter are available. The books for 1700, 1703, 1708, 1715, and 1723, however, form some compensation for the absence of parish ratebooks before 1730. (4) Those formerly belonging to the Lincoln's Inn Fields Trustees and now preserved in the British Museum. They run from 1757 to 1796.

It will be seen from the above that there is no ratebook evidence earlier than 1700 for the houses on the west and north sides. It is possible, however, to obtain earlier information from—

(1) Jury Presentment Lists for 1683 and 1695, in the possession of the London County Council. These are lists of persons liable to be rated for the maintenance of the Essex Street sewer, and "presented" as such by the jury summoned for the purpose. The 1695 list is incomplete for the west side. It also omits the south side entirely.

(2) A series of four Hearth Tax Rolls, preserved in the Record Office. Two of these are dated (i.) 1667 and (ii.) 1675, (fn. 1) while two are undated, but from internal evidence seem to refer to (iii.) the period 1663–66, and (iv.) circ. 1673. (fn. 2) The portion of (iii.) referring to that part of the west side to the south of No. 55, Lincoln's Inn Fields, is missing.

Other information has been obtained from deeds, and in some cases it has been possible entirely to fill up the list of early residents from this source.

The list of residents has been carried in each case down to the year 1810.

The accounts of notable residents given in the Historical Notes are usually based on the articles in the Dictionary of National Biography. In most cases, however, other authorities have also been consulted, and full references are given to these.

The ratebooks give the assessable value of the houses, and it is interesting to see how these have altered since the beginning of the 18th century. At that date the values amounted to—
(a) Houses on the north side (Nos. 1–29). £1,456. Average (fn. 3) £50.
(b)     Do.     south side (Nos. 32–48). £1,190.     do.    £70.
(c)     Do.     west side (Nos. 51–67). £1,440.       do.      £85.

The corresponding average figures for the beginning of the 19th century were—(a) £89, (b) £134, (c) £154, and in 1900 the figures had grown to (a) £337, (b) £384, (c) £411.

Although due regard should be had to the purchasing power of money, and to the fact that the houses have in most instances been rebuilt, the figures are, nevertheless, interesting.


  • 1. These are respectively known as (i.) Additional Lay Subsidies (Middlesex), Book I., No. 267, ff. 44–45; and (ii.) Subsidies (Middlesex), 143–370.
  • 2. They are (iii.) Subsidies (Middlesex), 143–193; and (iv.), Additional Lay Subsidies (Middlesex), 253–28.
  • 3. As the actual number of houses has varied from time to time owing to division of an original single house into two, etc., the average per number has been taken.