Historical introduction: Hoxton, east of Kingsland Road

Pages 40-47

Survey of London: Volume 8, Shoreditch. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1922.

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By far the larger part of that portion of the parish of Shoreditch which lies to the north of Old Street and Hackney Road was formerly included in Hoxton, which comprised not only all the land west of Kingsland Road as far as the parish boundary, but also as much of that lying to the east of that thoroughfare as was not included in Haggerston. It seems probable that in early times the name applied to an even larger area, for the fact that the manor of Hoxton (fn. 1) seems to have originally lain entirely in Hackney, points to a former northward extension of the name.

There are very few ancient instances of the name Hoxton, the only two really early examples being:

(i) Hochestone, which occurs in Domesday (1086), and

(ii) Hocston, which is used in a fine of 1220–1. (fn. 2)

It seems probable that, as in so many other instances, the name is formed from the A.S. tun (a fortified enclosure, village, manor) compounded with the genitive of the name of a person. (fn. 3)

At the time of the Conquest the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's held two estates (fn. 4) in Hoxton, one of which was dignified with the title of manor. This, no doubt, was coincident with or included the prebendal manor of Hoxton, (fn. 5) while the prebendal manor of Eald Street may represent the other.

With the exception of a few houses at the south end of Kingsland Road, the population of the village of Hoxton seems in ancient times to have been concentrated along the village street (Hoxton Street). Many of the houses seem to have been of good size, and even as late as the second half of the 17th century, when Hoxton Square had become the favoured quarter, Hoxton Street contained many good houses. In earlier times it had contained the residences of many well-to-do, and some eminent, persons. (fn. 6) The Portuguese Ambassador was living there in 1568, although unfortunately it has not been found possible to identify the house. This residence on one occasion provided the parish with a little healthy excitement, causing the parish constable to stand "in greate feare off his liffe. (fn. 7)

It has been found convenient to deal with Hoxton in three sections: (i) that part lying east of Kingsland Road, (ii) the part lying between Kingsland Road and Hoxton Street, and (iii) the part west of Hoxton Street.

(i) Hoxton, east of Kingsland Road.

Shoreditch In 1642, From Eyre's views of The Fortifications of London.

It has proved a task of more than usual difficulty to ascertain the facts concerning this part of the parish, and the result is far from complete. Nevertheless, sufficient information has been obtained to enable the general history of the district to be traced. It is proposed to deal first with the frontage to Kingsland Road from the corner of Hackney Road, as to which Stow states (fn. 8) that, at the beginning of the 17th century, it was built on "more than a good flight shoote, towardes Kingesland."

On 7th September, 1602, Anne Mayowe sold (fn. 9) to William Muschamp four messuages and a three-acre close. The latter is dealt with below. The former were the Green Lattice, with a garden; the Smith's House, divided into five tenements; the Saracen's Head (fn. 10); and the house "sometymes called the Clarkes house, and nowe knowne by the name or signe of the Spread Eagle." The present Nos. 2 and 4, Kingsland Road, occupy a portion of the site of the Smith's House. (fn. 11)

North of these premises were six houses, sold on 4th August, 1649, by George and John Cressenor to Mary Playsted, (fn. 12) and described as bounded on the south by the land of William Muschamp. The eastern boundary was the land of "Master Hill, scrivener," (fn. 13) and the northern the land "now or heretofore of William Sydom." The houses occupied a site 66 feet square.

By his will, (fn. 14) dated 5th October, 1549, Thomas Armerer left to his wife, Anne, for life "sixe tenementes . . . lately purchased of . . . Mr. Thomas Marrowe," with reversion to Nicholas Appleton. The latter's will (fn. 15) is dated 1st May, 1559. By it he left to his wife, Sisley, "my sixe tenementes at the church ende to helpe to bring upp my children withall," with proviso that on reaching the age of 21 his son, William, should have the four nearest houses and his son, Stephen, the "two furtherest." On 20th January, 1582–3, Stephen sold, (fn. 16) to Richard Grymes, the two "furthiest," described as abutting west on the Queen's highway, east on the orchard or ground occupied by Robert Borne, and north by the oatmeal mill.

The oatmeal mill was a little later in the possession of William Siddon, for on 31st March, 1601, Richard Martin sold (fn. 17) to Henry Siddon and William, his son, a messuage and the " oatemeale myll," described as on the east side of the highway. Inasmuch as Mary Playsted's houses were also bounded on the north by the property of William Siddon, there seems a case for identifying them with the six houses of Appleton. (fn. 18) We may therefore tentatively assume that the order, south to north, ran (i) Muschamp's houses, (ii) Playsted's houses, (iii) Siddon's houses.


It seems likely that the same oatmeal mill is referred to in the sale (fn. 19) by John and Thomas Austen, on 1st April, 1608, to Cuthbert and Richard Burbage (fn. 20) of a house and garden, abutting on the tenement of William King, oatmeal maker, south, the street from London to Ware west, and that from Hackney to London east. The premises can be traced for a century and a half, (fn. 21) but their exact position cannot be ascertained. The fact that they reached from one highway to the other suggests that they must have been south of the open space marked "Thornhill" in Chassereau's Map. This places their northern limit in the neighbourhood of the present Bernales Buildings, about 220 feet north of the corner of Hackney Road.

The next property to be dealt with is Copt Hall. On 6th September, 1502, John Austen sold (fn. 22) to Edward Hales, a messuage, called Copt Hall, with gardens, meadows, etc., and forty years later Marcelyn Hales transferred to Thomas Armerer the close called Copt Hall, on the east side of the King's highway, and another close of 4½ acres. (fn. 23) Armerer died in 1549–50, leaving (fn. 24) "the close called the Copte Hall close, and twoo acres and a half of land lyeng in Huntes Hill . . . whereof one acre . . . and a half I purchased of Thomas Marrowe, Esquyer, and Alice, his wyf, etc." (fn. 25) to his wife Anne, for life, with reversion to John Haryong, and on 17th December, 1555, Anne and John sold (fn. 26) the premises (Copthall close = 2 acres, and close in Hunts Hill = 2½ acres) to John Mery, who seems to have parted with them (and other property) in 1560 (fn. 27) to Simon Burton. From him they apparently passed to his cousin, Simon Waterson. In 1653 John and Isabel Waterson sold to Thomas Webb three messuages and five acres of land. (fn. 28) Webb died in 1662, leaving all his freehold property in Shoreditch to Christ's Hospital for the maintenance and education of three (afterwards six) children belonging to Shoreditch. (fn. 29) These lands are identified by Dr. Denne with "Copthall in Church End," and Chassereau's Map (Plate 1.) shows them lying in three portions (fn. 30) between Kingsland and Hackney Roads.

The same authority shows Copt Hall yard, probably the site of Copt Hall, as entering Kingsland Road on the site of Union Street, and Christ's Hospital property at the present day extends as far south as the rear of the houses on the south side of Union Street.

Another part of Simon Burton's property (probably also purchased from Mery) can be identified with some exactness. By his will, (fn. 31) dated 17th May, 1593, he left to St. Thomas's Hospital his two closes of land and meadow, containing 3½ acres, between "Hargastone Lane leadinge from Kingeslande," east; lands of Roger Haryong, west; the highway leading from Hackney, south; and "the towne of Hargastone towardes the north." The land is marked B on Chassereau's Map. The lands of Roger Haryong are evidently in the main those marked "Ingram L." (fn. 32) In another part of this volume particulars are given of the property mortgaged by Roger Haryong in 1565 (fn. 33) which eventually came into the hands of Ingram. Included were 13 acres of pasture "lying in certeine severalls in Hoxton . . . whereof six acres . . . do lie in a feild there called Nicholl feild; (fn. 34) and one close thereof conteyning . . . three acres . . . is called Crabtreefeild, and one other feild residue thereof is called the Foure Acres, all three lying on the east syde of the highway leadinge to Ware." (fn. 35)

Coming south, the next property in Chasseraeau is marked "Pippit L." This was included in the five messuages, three orchards and six acres of land in Shoreditch and Holy Trinity Minories sold by John and Mary Pascall to John Millington in 1622. (fn. 36) Thirty years later, the latter's son and heir, John, sold (fn. 37) it to Thomas Austen under the description of a close, "heretofore two severall closes" containing 5 acres "abutting on ye lands . . . of Henry Stevens [i.e., the Roger Haryong property] on ye north and west partes, ye lands now or sometymes of one John Stanes on ye south, a parcell of land now or sometymes belonging to St. Thomas Hospitall in Southwarke on ye east parte."

The premises sold by Anne Mayowe to William Muschamp (fn. 38) in 1602 included "three acres of land or pasture . . . now severed and divided, wherein brick is now made." This was alienated in three portions. First was a plot (marked D on Chassereau) containing one rood and thirtythree perches, sold (fn. 39) by William Muschamp to the parish authorities in 1625 for the purposes of a burial ground. (fn. 40) On 10th October, 1654, Edmund Muschamp, great-grandson of William, sold (fn. 41) to Thomas Muschamp the remainder of the close, said to be 2½ acres, "lying neere a feild there called Nicolls Feild, betweene a lane there called Collyer Lane, leading to Hackney on the east parte . . . and the new churchyard on the south parte." In 1657 it was resold to Edmond, who disposed of it in two portions. On 16th August, 1659, he sold (fn. 42) to William Bevin and Christopher Raymond a piece 131 feet north and south, and 120 feet east and west, with four brick messuages lately built thereon by Bevin. On 28th May, 1660, he sold (fn. 43) to Constance Waddington a new-built messuage, and a parcel of meadow or pasture ground of 2 acres, abutting east on Collier Lane and south on the land of Bevin, and on 8th April, 1689, Thomas Waddington, son of Constance, and others disposed (fn. 44) of the premises to Francis Tyssen, in whose family they continued for very many years. The ground is described as "heretofore meadow or pasture ground, now used for garden ground, being for the most part walled in with a brick wall, containing two acres." Chassereau's Map shows the property as "Tyssen, Esq." The whole of Muschamp's three acres can therefore be identified as reaching from a point about 40 feet north of Union Street to the rear of the premises on the south side of Harman Street.

The history of the property lying immediately south of Copt Hall Close on the Hackney Road frontage is uncertain. On the one hand the land south of Copt Hall Close is stated in the transfer from Anne Armerer to John Mery in 1555 to belong to Thomas and Alice Marrowe, which certainly suggests that it had been part of the estate of Richard Haryong, Alice's father. On the other hand, it is quite certain that the priory of Holywell owned land in this quarter, and the description of a two-acre close belonging to the priory as "abuttyng upon the lane theyre called Colyer Lane on the este and on the highway ledying from London unto Ware on the west and upon a close of Mastelyn Hales on the north," (fn. 45) answers to the land required. (fn. 46)

As regards the Kingsland Road frontage north of Copt Hall, it may be mentioned that in the same sale by Anne Armerer Copt Hall Close is said to be bounded on the north partly by the lands of Sir Thomas Chaloner, and the close north of Copt Hall Close is said to lie "next to the landes of the saide Sir Thomas Chaloner towardes the west." Chaloner had married the widow of Sir Thomas Legh, and the lands in question were probably part of the property belonging to Holywell Priory, which had come into Legh's hands. At the present time the Christ's Hospital estate only reaches the main road at its extreme south-west, and the priory property presumably lay somewhere north of this. In this connection it is to be noticed that in the early part of the 18th century Henry Hunt was in possession of the site of Geffrye's almshouses, (fn. 47) and of three messuages and two closes containing two acres, extending southward from the almshouses along the side of the high road. (fn. 48) Henry Hunt had married Katherine, one of the daughters and heiresses of William Wall (d. 1676). Among the property mentioned in the inquisition (fn. 49) held after the death of William Wall the elder, grandfather of the younger William, are a parcel or close of land called Grinings, containing 3½ acres, and a close called Pingells containing one acre. Both are said to be held of the King in chief by knight's service, a circumstance which suggests that they were originally monastic property. Combining this with the fact that Hunt's property seems to occupy the site of the lands of Sir Thomas Chaloner, i.e., of Sir Thomas Legh, it seems clear that it is to be identified with the three acres in St. Nicholas Field (i.e., Nicholl Field) included among Legh's possessions. (fn. 50)

As will be seen from Chassereau's Map (Plate 1) building in this district was, in the middle of the 18th century, confined to the corner of Kingsland and Hackney Roads and to the frontage of the former thoroughfare, and the foregoing narrative will have made it clear that but little could have existed north of Copt Hall Yard (Union Street) before the beginning of that century. Horwood's map of 1799 shows that by the end of the century it had extended along the frontage of Hackney Road, and that the greater portion of the interior of the tongue of land lying between Kingsland and Hackney Roads had then been built upon.


  • 1. See pp. 4; 79.
  • 2. Final Concord between Geoffrey de Verley and Peter de Hocston.
  • 3. Gover (Place Names of Middlesex, p. 50), gives the meaning of the name as "farm or enclosure of Hocg." Ellis's theory (History of Shoreditch, p. 118) that the first element in the word is derived from the A.S. eaca (an addition) and indicates that the "tun" was not built until after Shoreditch, is quite impossible for several reasons, not the least being that it fails to explain the presence of the "s." The genitive (or any oblique case) of eaca was eacan.
  • 4. "In Hochestone the canons of St. Paul's have one hide. Land for one plough, and it is there now, and [there are] three villans holding this land under the canons. Pasture for the cattle. This land was worth, and is worth twenty shillings. This lay, and lies, in the demesne of the church of St. Paul." "MANOR. The canons hold Hochestone for three hides. There is land for three ploughs, and they are there; and [there are] seven villans who hold this land, and sixteen cottagers. In the whole it is worth fifty-five shillings; the same when received; in the time of King Edward sixty shillings. This manor lay, and lies, in [the demesne of] the church of St. Paul."
  • 5. The prebendal manor was fairly extensive, for quit rents were payable by the parish to the prebend of Hoxton in respect of: Land of Promise, between Kingsland Road and Hoxton Street (see p. 65), site of Fuller's Almhouses, Old Street Road (see p. 25), burial ground in Hackney Road (see p. 46) (Ware's Account of Shoreditch Charities, p. 114).
  • 6. Not that they had a monopoly. It is rather surprising to find that the little village in Edward VI.'s reign contained seven alehouses. (Middx. County Records, I., p. II.)
  • 7. "The maner and order of the execucion of the Commissioners letteres for Causes Ecclesiasticall at the Portugalles Embassadors house at Hoxton in Mydd. upon Sonday the xxiiijth of October, 1568. "First the said letteres beinge delivered to Humfrey Pirwhich the constable ther on the said Sonday in the morninge, the said Perwhich appointed one to watche what nomber of Englishe persons went in ther that morninge. And when the Embassadors was goinge to masse word shold be brought to the said Perwhich to the parishe churche. "Item that as sone as the said Perwhich had notice brought him of the Embassadors goinge in to masse, he came furth of his parishe churche beinge accompanied with Raffe Typpinge, Willm Rolf, and other of the said parishe whom the constable had required in the Quenes Majesties name to be assistauntes unto him, and go with him/ "Item that as sone as the constable came to the howse, the gate beinge open he went imediatlie to the chappell accompanied with the said Raffe Typpinge, Richard Awsten, and John Calverley but one of the Embassadors servauntes met them in the court. Whoe made hast towardes the chappell to have prevented thier doinges. But the said Constable and Raff Tippinge made such hast after, that they were in the chappell as sone as the Embassadours man, but the chappell dore was shutt against the others. "Item that the said constabell imediatly after his cominge into the chappell, the prist beinge at masse, and to the nomber of viij Englishe persons as nere as cold be estemed knelinge at the said masse the constable chardged all such Englishe persons in the Quenes Majesties name, to arrise and go with him/the said constable nor Tipping not having any weapon about them. "Item that then the Embassadors men began to kepe a great sturre and every man tooke his weapon some with partisans, pikes, and other weapons and some with gonnes and dagges. So as the constable and others that came with him were in great feare of their lyves, the gattes being shutt and locked, that they cold not go owte/ And then thimbassador himself came unto them very feircely callinge them villains, dogges, and suche like, and enquired by what authorite they came. "Whereupon the constabell caused the letteres of the Comissioners to be read and a Portugall that understood Englishe standinge bye declared theffecte thereof to the Ambassador. Then the Ambassador enquired whose handes were at the same letteres, unto whome aunswer was made, the bisshop of London and others that were in Comission for suche matters, whereunto the Imbassador sayd he cared not for the busshop of London his hand, if the Queenes hand were not at yt/ "And so with most vile wordes caused them to be thruste out of the gattes/ And so all the Englishe persons ther at masse conveied awaye/ "Md. it is to be noted that the gate is never lefte open at any tyme all the day, but when as they be at masse, to them that are Englishe persons that come to yt maye streght go to the chappell without staie or lett, and not to be seen/ Humfrey Perwiche, Raufe Typpinge." (State Papers, Domestic, Eliz., Vol. XLVIII., No. 26.)
  • 8. Survey of London (Kingsford's edn.), II., p. 74.
  • 9. Close Roll, 1723.
  • 10. It is possible that this is the house with the signboard shown in the view of 1642.
  • 11. See p. 127. The rest of the site, as well as a portion of the sites of houses to the north, was in 1768 thrown into the public way. The Act 8 Geo. III., c. 33, authorised the setting back of the houses "from the corner of the high street, on the north-east side, as far as a certain house known by the sign of the Cherry Tree."
  • 12. Close Roll, 3478.
  • 13. In 1608, Thomas Hill, of Fulham, purchased of Thomas White (Feet of Fines, Midd., 6 Jas. I., Mich.) one messuage with appurtenances, in Shoreditch, and on 10th June, 1648, sold (Close Roll, 3412) to Henry Cocke, "all that capitall messuage. sometyme in the occupacion of Thomas White, Esq., neare to the said parishe church," and two messuages at the Church End. The premises were afterwards sold to John Wiburd (Feet of Fines, Midd., 3 Wm. & Mary), and are apparently the same as those mortgaged by Danl. Gallier to David Ribotier in 1754 and described as on the north side of the road, leading from Shoreditch to Hackney (Middx. Reg. Memls., 1754, I., 480).
  • 14. P.C.C., 8, Coode.
  • 15. Archdeaconry of London, register II., p. 300
  • 16. Close Roll, 1152.
  • 17. Close Roll, 1693.
  • 18. The problem is not quite so simple as it looks, for there is reason to think that one of the two Appleton houses sold to Grymes also came into the possession of Siddon, and this may be the northern boundary of the Playsted property, which in that case represented only the four southern Appleton houses. Even so, however, the net result is much the same.
  • 19. Close Roll, 1950.
  • 20. Cuthbert, elder son of James Burbage, founder of The Theatre (see p. 184), seems to have been a man of business rather than an actor, and no doubt took a leading, if not the chief, part in the management of The Globe. He died in September, 1636, and was buried in Shoreditch Church (see p. 99). Richard Burbage, younger son of James, was born about 1567, and probably started to act while still a boy, for he played two of the principal parts in the Seven Deadly Sins of Richard Tarleton. His great claims to attention are his friendship with Shakespeare and the fact that he played leading parts in the first or early performances of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Lear, Othello, Richard III., etc., Ben Jonson's Every Man in His Humour, Every Man out of His Humour, Webster's Duchess of Malfi, and many plays of Beaumont and Fletcher. He was also a painter of merit, one at least of his pictures (a woman's head) being preserved at Dulwich. He died on 13th March, 1618–19, and was buried three days later in Shoreditch Church.
  • 21. Sold by William Burbage to Jas. Kirke, 1645 (Feet of Fines, Midd., 21 Chas. I., Hil.); by Sir John Kirke to Francis Wakehn, 1677 (Ibid. 29 Chas. II., Easter); by Charlotta Wakelin to John Brown, 1755 (Midd. Reg. Memls., 1755, III., 501).
  • 22. Close Roll, 363.
  • 23. Copy of deed preserved in Shoreditch Public Library.
  • 24. P.C.C., 8, Coode.
  • 25. See Final concord between Thos. Armerer quer: and Thos. and Alice Marrowe deforc: of 8 messuages, 6 gardens, 4½ acres of land in Shoreditch Street, Hunts Hill, Nichol Field and Hoxton (Feet of Fines, Midd., 3 Edward VI., Easter).
  • 26. Close Roll, 517.
  • 27. Final concord concerning 1 messuage, 1 garden, 1 orchard, 6 acres of land, 3 acres of meadow and 8 acres of pasture (Feet of Fines, Midd., 2 Eliz., Easter).
  • 28. Feet of Fines, Midd., 1653, Hil.
  • 29. Ware's Account of the Charities of Shoreditch, p. 59.
  • 30. The northernmost of the three seems to be a mistake. This plot does not appear to belong to Christ's Hospital.
  • 31. P.C.C. 23, Dixy.
  • 32. The lands thus marked included 3¼ acres purchased by Henry Marchant from Sir John Lee (owner of Burgoyn's lands) in 1660 (Feet of Fines, Midd., 12 Chas. II., where the land is described as 3½ acres, and Chancery Proceedings, C. V., 411/127).
  • 33. See pp. 61–2.
  • 34. Nicholl or Nicholls Field (also called Spenlow or Spenlocks Field) evidently lay to the north of Hunts Hill, but the exact boundaries of neither can be determined. Nicholl's Field is mentioned as early as 1258–9: "tres acre jacent in campo qui vocatur Nicholes feld." Final concord between Thos. le Vineter and Robt. de Linsted (Feet of Fines, 43 Henry III.).
  • 35. Indenture dated 10th May, 1616, between Uric Stevens and Geoffrey Marchant (Close Roll, 2277).
  • 36. Feet of Fines, Midd., 19 Jas. I., Easter.
  • 37. Close Roll, 3680.
  • 38. See p. 42.
  • 39. Ware's Account of the Charities of Shoreditch, p. 69.
  • 40. Among those buried in this graveyard is Thomas Fairchild, born probably in 1667. He established himself about 1690 as a nurseryman and florist at Hoxton, where he carried on a prosperous trade, and was one of the latest cultivators of a vineyard in England. He acquired a great reputation for both practical horticulture and botanical research, and was the first to succeed in scientifically producing an artificial hybrid. He was also an ardent collector, as will be seen from the following notice:—"Mr. Fairchild, the celebrated gardiner at Hoxton, who has been many years collecting foreign grapes and other rarities in his way, has amongst his curious collection a bunch of grapes ½ yard in length, and above an ell in circumference, and the grape in proportion as large, which far exceeds everything of the like nature in England" (Parker's London News, 28th August, 1724). In accordance with his will he was buried "in some corner of the furthest churchyard belonging to the parish of St. Leonard, Shorcditch, where the poore people are usually buried." The original stone having decayed, a new one was substituted in 1846 (restored in 1891), with the following inscription:— "Sacred to the memory of Mr. Thomas Fairchild of Hoxton gardener who departed this life the 10th day of October 1729 in the 63rd year of his age. Mr. Fairchild was a benefactor to the parochial schools and founder of the Vegetable Lecture annually preached in Shoreditch Church on Whit Tuesday on the subject of the wonderful works of God in the creation or on the certainty of the resurrection of the dead proved by the certain changes in the animal and vegetable parts of the creation."
  • 41. Close Roll, 3811.
  • 42. Ibid., 4036.
  • 43. Ibid., 4051.
  • 44. Ibid., 4700.
  • 45. Lease by prioress to Thomas Armerer (Exch. Augment., Conventual Leases, Middx. 6).
  • 46. It will be remembered that Hales sold Copt Hall Close to Armerer in 1541–2 (p. 44).
  • 47. See p. 128.
  • 48. Sold by Thomas Hunt and Ric. Longford (the mortgagee) to Edward Jones, 12th May, 1718 (Middx. Reg. Memls. 1718, v., 195–6).
  • 49. Inq. P. M., Chancery, 2nd Series, 604/116.
  • 50. See p. 17.